US President Barack Obama followed Israeli President Shimon Peres in addressing the opening of the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC convention in Washington, Sunday, March 4. Both condemned a nuclear Iran as a threat to the US, Israel and the world. President Obama urged the efficacy of diplomacy backed by pressure since “Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon.”
He also stressed that his policy is not one of containment but preventing Iran obtaining nuclear weapons by every element of US power including a military effort. Obama added: “There is no doubt about the resolve of the US or about Israel’s right to make its own decisions about its security needs.”
He said no one should doubt his commitment to Israel’s security: “When the chips are down I have Israel’s back,” he said to applause.
President Obama then made a point of listing the great effort he had invested in engagement with Iran and sanctions during his three years in office. He did not explain why the only result so far was the unprecedented acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program in defiance of pressure, sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
As for sanctions, European oil sources reported Saturday, March 3 that since last month, when the European Union imposed an embargo on Iranian oil, Tehran’s exports to European nations had mushroomed and Iran was now supplying 46 percent of the continent’s oil needs – not far below the 49 percent sold by Saudi Arabia.
“No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear bomb in the hands of a regime that denies the holocaust, threatens to wipe if off the map and supports terrorists committed to its destruction. So I understand the responsibility on the shoulders of Binyamin Netanyahu,” said Obama.
“A nuclear Iran is a threat to American national security,” he stressed. The job is not over and there is more to be done.
“Both Israel and US have an interest in solving the problem diplomatically,” he went on to say, without going into the core of his dispute with the Israeli prime minister whom he meets at the White House Monday, which is at what point will America decide to use all the “elements of American power” to stop a nuclear Iran.
“There is still time for Iran’s leaders to make the right decision,” said Obama, “I hope President Ahmadinejad makes it.”
A few hours before the Obama speech at AIPAC, nearly final results of Iran’s parliamentary election were in, showing that Ahmadinejad’s great rival, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had swept up three quarters of the house, throwing out most of the president’s supporters and leaving him a lame duck for the remaining 18 months of his presidency.
debkafile’s Iranian sources report that Ahmadinejad can hang onto his political credibility only by making a mighty effort to bring Iran’s nuclear weapon program to a successful conclusion.
In this sense, time is not exactly on the side of the US president’s policy.
He closed his speech by saying, “There has been too much talk of war,” and quoting the famous Roosevelt rule: "Speak soft and carry a big stick.”
His first words were an announcement that President Peres was to be awarded the signal honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The AIPAC convention has still to hear the Israeli Prime Minister.