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. John the Historian

    First of all we do not know if Iran is working a a nuclear weapon and even if they are there is nothing they can do with it. Don't believe the government. Remember weapons of mass destruction and Iraq. We were told it is a slam dunk. Israel can take care of itself. Hopefully we are pushing them not to go to war. Israel needs to find a solution to the Palestinian problem and create a free and independent Palestinian state. Demographics are against the Jewish state. Why don't the Israelis work for a multicultural country. Orthodox Jews don't work and only pray the Torah so who will economically support future Jews. The demographics of the Arab countries surrounding Israel looks very bad for Israel. So Israel must work for peace in the region and not start another war. The Arab Spring will bring democracy to the region and no thanks to the Us who supported the dictatorships. War is not inevitable. Work for peace and understanding.

    February 5, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Trevor A. Lane

    Horrible leadership. Stop announcing, when and if they are going to attack. You are putting increased pressure on Israel.

    February 5, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  3. Mark

    I don't know about POTUS but, I'm taking the Giants.

    February 5, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  4. Joan

    Tell Israel, " No options odd the table!! If they bomb Iran"!!!!

    February 5, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  5. Name

    I support Israel's decision it is not a game, for Israel it is a life and death situation

    February 5, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. Ralf

    OMG....What kind of comment is that coming from the President of the USA? Seems he is less informed than my dog Fido...!

    February 5, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  7. Al

    Am I the only guy NOT watching the Super Bowl? OBAMA 2012!!!!!

    February 5, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. What's good for U.S. citizens in general?

    I believe we should support our allies, but giving Israel a blank check to have it's way with its neighbors is just plain stupid and making us the most hated nation in the mid-east. If someone invades Israel, then we should do something, unless Isreal brings it on themselves, by constantly pushing the envelope with it's borders. If they are determined to go beyond the borders the U.N. has laid out, then let them be on their own.

    February 5, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. Hayden

    I hope President Obama doesn't get us involved with Iran. I doubt he would. Russian and China have already warned us not to interfere with Iran's nuclear activity.

    February 5, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. callinmclaughlin

    Ok, so the war comes, and Iran eventually becomes another Iraq...and they find no evidence of any nuclear weapons making capabilities! Then what? Seriously.....THEN WHAT!!!!!??????

    February 5, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Stay out of that mess! If people haven't learned anything the last 10 years then you cannot help such people.

    February 5, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  12. russh

    I hope Israel does not tell Obama, just something else he and his constiguents would take cred for

    February 5, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  13. Znod

    Obama did not say that Israel is undecided on attack on Iran. He said “I don't think Israel has made a decision [on attacking Iran].”

    February 5, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. zlul

    yeah clearly since Obama can't fund the government as it is, going 1.5 trillion over budget every year, and everyone calling for budget cuts, where does he think he's going to get this money for a war in Iran, while also exploring options for military action in Syria. I hope he does decide to attack Iran so that he can go down as the president who destroyed America.

    February 5, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  15. VRage13

    With BO record of keeping military information quiet, I wouldn't tell him if I had a plan either. Let him be just as surprised as the now smoldering nuclear weapons plant.

    February 5, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  16. Docmartin

    Bah bah bah...bomb bomb Iran. This is your move, Israel!

    February 5, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  17. truth

    Great, another warmonger president leading us to conflict, and going to bat for Israel

    February 5, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  18. Descarado

    I would not want to wrestle with the decision that Obama must make every morning in The White House:

    "Am I really God, or am I really RuPaul?" That is the question. Only his teleprompters know.

    February 5, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. shining3210

    Im israeli, no way i'll let my government make peace with the idea of a nuclear iran.
    The religious fanatics in iran said very well what they wish and plan for israel, and i know those crazies mean it.

    February 5, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  20. Biginfidel

    "And I've been very clear, we're going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon" please...he hasnt done jack schitt in my opinion. Until iran fizzles israel, nobody is doing anythin and its a shame.

    February 5, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    level them already

    February 5, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. The Founders Would Laugh

    Why do we even care? If Israel wants to attack Iran, let them. In the mean time we'll save billions while the two spoiled brats duke it out.

    February 5, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  23. fredflintstone

    They must wait for the inspections to end.............Let’s hope Iran does the right thing for its people and complies with the NPT treaty liked they signed twice.....This only means the government of Iran has lied to the international communities faces and their written signature is useless.

    February 5, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. nik green

    If Israel strikes Iran, we can say bye bye to the economy. Iran will not sit back and let international terrorists strike thewir nation, as happened on 9/11. They will hit back, and hard.

    February 5, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  25. John

    because we need to go fighting again?????????????????????????????? America and israel are the biggest nazi countries.

    February 5, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
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