Obama: I can't tell Israel not to fear Iran
U.S. president tells Newsweek he understands very clearly Israel sees Iran as an 'existential threat.'
United States President Barack Obama has said he cannot tell Israel not to fear Iran's nuclear ambitions, in comments published Saturday ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"I understand very clearly that Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and given some of the statements that have been made by President Ahmadinejad, you can understand why," Obama told Newsweek. The magazine will publish the full interview on May 25.
"Their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute," he added. "They're right there in range and I don't think it's my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are."
Obama's comments came after CIA chief Leon Panetta informed Netanyahu last week that the U.S. President Obama demanded that Israel not launch a surprise attack on Iran.
Netanyahu is expected to raise the issue of Iran's nuclear program, which Israel and Western nations say is aimed at manufacturing atomic weapons, during his visit to Washington.
In the Newsweek interview, Obama said he wanted to offer Iran an opportunity to align itself with international norms and international rules.
"We are going to reach out to them and try to shift off of a pattern over the last 30 years that hasn't produced results in the region," he said.
But the president added that he was "not naive" about the difficulties of such a process. He said if the overtures to the Islamic Republic failed, "The fact that we have tried will strengthen our position in mobilizing the international community, and Iran will have isolated itself."