U.S. President Barack Obama remains committed to preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capabilities, a White House official said on Thursday, following comments by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, according to which the American president received a new intelligence report brought the U.S. position on the matter closer to that of Israel.
Earlier Thursday, Barak confirmed Haaretz's report that Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel's view that Iran has made significant progress toward military nuclear capability, and said that the report has raised the urgency of the issue.
Speaking on Israel Radio on Thursday morning, the defense minister said that there is a U.S. intelligence report "being passed around senior offices," and that, as far as Israel knows, this report has brought the U.S. position over Iran closer to the Israeli position, and made the issue more urgent.
Asked to respond to Barak's comments later Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that he couldn't "comment on intelligence matters or intelligence reports the president may or may not have received."
"I can tell you that the President remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and that we are leading an international effort to impose upon Iran what even the Iranian president has identified as the most stringent sanctions ever imposed on any country," Carney added.
However, Carney also indicated that Washington was still pursuing the diplomatic track to resolve Iran's nuclear standoff, saying that the American effort is designed to take advantage of what we believe remains to be a window of opportunity to persuade Iran through these sanctions and through diplomatic efforts to forego its nuclear weapons ambitions and live up to its international obligations. "
"I won't discuss intelligence assessments or intelligence matters," Carney said, adding that he would, however, that he would "discuss the fact that this president has led an effort to isolate and pressure Iran that is unprecedented, that we absolutely share Israel's, as well as other countries' concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions."
Earlier Thursday, stern diplomats and Israeli officials have informed Haaretz that Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel's view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability.
This NIE report on Iran was supposed to have been submitted to Obama a few weeks ago, but it was revised to include new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran's nuclear program. Haaretz has learned that the report's conclusions are quite similar to those drawn by Israel's intelligence community.