Israeli President Peres Sees ‘Frank Discussion’ With Obama on Iran Threat

Israeli President Shimon Peres promised today that Iran’s nuclear weapons program “will be stopped” and said there’s no disagreement between the U.S. and Israel on that goal.

Israel doesn’t seek a war “but if we are forced to fight, trust me, we shall prevail,” Peres said today at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington.

“The United States and Israel share the same goal -- to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” Peres said, praising President Barack Obama for his support before Obama was scheduled to speak to the same group, followed by a meeting between the two men.

“There is no space between us. Our message is clear: Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon,” Peres said.

Today’s meeting will be followed by talks in the White House tomorrow between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two allies try to bridge disagreements over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. officials have called for more time to let stricter sanctions force Iran to give up the program. Israeli leaders have warned publicly that time is running out for a military strike that could stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“I don’t think the U.S. or international community can afford for themselves a nuclear Iran,” Peres said in an e- mailed statement sent from his office in Jerusalem. “We have to give sanctions time to work while keeping ready all the alternatives, as Israel once again emphasizes that all options are on the table.”

Netanyahu spent the weekend in Ottawa meeting Canadian officials before he travels to Washington today.

Three Steps

Speaking on March 2 after meeting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Netanyahu laid out three steps by Iran that he said would preclude an Israeli attack: Dismantling its underground nuclear facility in Qom, stopping uranium enrichment and disposing of all enriched material other than what would be used to make medical isotopes or generate atomic power.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Army Radio today that Netanyahu’s recent statements make it clear that in the meeting with Obama “it will be emphasized that Israel is a sovereign state that maintains its right to defend itself.”

Military Option

Obama, in an interview published March 2 in the Atlantic magazine, said Iran can’t be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon and the U.S. will do what’s necessary. He repeated that the U.S. is leaving all options open and that the ultimate option is the “military component.”

The U.S. and the European Union tightened economic sanctions following a November 2011 report by United Nations inspectors that Iran’s nuclear research program may include pursuing the capability to build an atomic weapon. It said there was evidence Iran was working on a weapon designed to fit on a missile that could reach Israel and Europe. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian energy and medical research.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said today that amid the failure of the international community to act to stop bloodshed in Syria “what is the value of its promises to protect the security of Israel?” Liberman spoke on Army Radio.

To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at cbendavid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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