In a 2004 interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Barack Obama, who was then running for the U.S. Senate, said that military strikes might be necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the BuzzFeed website reported on Sunday.
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As U.S. president, a post to which he was elected in 2008, Obama has stated a preference for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. But in 2004, Obama said that he would choose military intervention over allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
"The big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures, including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point are we going to, if any, are we going to take military action?" Obama said in 2004.
"In light of the fact that we're now in Iraq, with all the problems in terms of perceptions about America that have been created, us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in," Obama said.
"On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse. So I guess my instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran. ... And I hope it doesn't get to that point. But realistically, as I watch how this thing has evolved, I'd be surprised if Iran blinked at this point."
Last Wednesday, Obama said the window for a diplomatic solution with Iran over its nuclear program was "shrinking," and he encouraged Iran to seize the opportunity of talks with world powers to avert "even worse consequences."
Obama, speaking at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, insisted there is still "time and space" for a diplomatic solution, in lieu of a military strike to set back Iran's progress toward a possible bomb, but said "the window for diplomacy is shrinking."