February 6th, 2012
11:08 AM ET
11 years ago

Obama: Israel undecided on attack against Iran

(CNN) - President Barack Obama on Sunday said Israel has not decided whether it will strike Iran, but added if tensions escalate this spring, no options would be taken off the table.

“I don't think Israel has made a decision,” Obama said in the president’s traditional pre-Super Bowl interview, this time with NBC’s Matt Lauer.

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But he stressed that the United States would work with Israel to resolve the situation using diplomacy.

“(Israel), like us, believe(s) that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program,” he said.

The United States, he said in an additional portion of the interview which aired Monday, has "a pretty good bead on what's happening with the nuclear program."

"I think we have a very good estimate of when they could potentially achieve breakout capacity, what stage they're at in terms of processing uranium," the President said.

He acknowledged challenges in predicting Iranian moves, including internal divisions within the country.

His comments came after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters on Thursday there is a growing likelihood Israel could attack Iran in the spring.

Obama argued Iran is “feeling the pinch” after the international community has enforced sanctions in an “unprecedented” way to pressure the country away from developing its suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

“Until they do, I think Israel is going to be rightly very concerned. And we are, as well,” Obama said.

Obama said the U.S. has closer “intelligence and military consultations” with Israel than ever. And while he insisted his administration is adamant for a peaceful resolution, the president didn’t rule out military involvement.

“We're not going to take options off the table. And I've been very clear, we're going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating a nuclear arms race in a volatile region,” Obama said.

Turning to politics, the president re-visited his pre-Super Bowl interview from 2009, when he said if his economic ideas failed to turn around the struggling economy, his presidency would be “a one-term proposition.”

The line has become a staple on the campaign trail for many Republican presidential candidates, who argue that the president's economy policies have indeed failed.

But on Sunday, the president said the economy has made progress since he took office and emphasized the need to stay on a track that “doesn’t throw that progress off.”

“I deserve a second term. But we are not done,” Obama said, outlining the need to boost American manufacturing and energy. “And we have to return to old-fashioned, American values. Everybody getting a fair shot. Everybody doing their fair share. And everybody playing by the same rules.”

As for his Super Bowl pick, the president–despite repeated questioning–would not take the bait and gave no predictions on which team will take home the trophy.

“I think this is going to be a tough game. Both teams have their weaknesses. They're not as strong as they were I think a couple years ago. When you look at the Patriots, their defense is a little shaky. The Giants have just come back,” Obama said. “I can't tell you who's going to win this thing.”

- CNN's Ashley Killough and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Iran • Israel • President Obama
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Brando - "Our founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like." – OBAMA
    Why does this buffoon think this country has lasted so long??? Does he think wild changes in one direction or another fosters stability??? This shows you how dangerous Obama is to this REPUBLIC.

    February 6, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Jerry wrote:

    Mr. President, PLEASE don't screw up with one of our most sincere allies (Israel).
    Boil off the fat and Israel is really nothing more than a welfare state. Israel would not exist in its' current from without extensive US aid. In fact, Israel receives multiples of billions more in US aid than any other country.

    February 6, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Rudy NYC - Rest assured, if a Republican wins the presidential race in 2012 we will be at war with Iran within weeks of being sworn in.
    Welll, since Obama has done nothingto keep Iran from developing nukes, I suppose you agree with Ron Paul that that is not a problem? Is that Obama's new foreign policy, "Obama's Nukes for Kooks" policy???

    As usual, Obama will leave a Middle East IN FLAMES, many of our allies gone compliments of Obama and Iran with nukes. And then of course blame it on others. Just more of the same....

    February 6, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Fair is Fair - Israel won't tell him simply because they don't trust him to keep is mouth shut.
    Pinetta sure proved this to be true!!!

    February 6, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |

    To hell with Israel. Let them protect themselves. I know the U.S. is the protector of Israel, but I frankly don't care about what happens. There are actual Israelis who don't believe Israel should be a state. This all about who has control over Jerusalem. They intend on raising Solomon's temple for you know who.

    February 6, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. lbjack

    "And I've been very clear, we're going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating a nuclear arms race in a volatile region."

    And he's going to keep repeating that until they have it. Then what?

    February 6, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    They are never undecided when they make mistakes and ask us to cover the butts. They are never undecided when they come here for their regular monetary handouts (welfare).

    Are THEY going to pay for our services to help them? NO.

    February 6, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. letsgotowar

    "we're going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon "

    Yes, like assinating scientists with magnetic car bombs and the CIA/Mousaad recrurting terrorists to launch attacks inside Iran.

    Strap in, buy your war monger stocks, the machine has decided to go to war. Evidence, rational thought and peaceful motives be ignored.

    February 6, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Iran has been able to advance a nuclear weapons program because the US removed the most effective check and balance on Iran's military, Saddam Hussein.` Iraq would regularly launch attacks against Iranian targets Saddam suspected of nuclear research. They even did so during the 1990s following the Gulf War while the coalition forces turned a blind eye. Saddam wanted to be the only Arab military power in the Middle East.

    February 6, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. Chuk

    What about Israel's nuclear arms??? Frankly, I'm not worried about Iran's nuclear arms, as long as the West keeps playing this silly favoritism game. Israel has no more rights to the bomb than Iran does! So if the West is not prepared to discuss ALL the bombs in the area, including Israel's, then shut up already. Don't want to hear your silly wining.

    February 6, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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