Last Updated: Sun Mar 04, 2012 21:44 pm (KSA) 18:44 pm (GMT)

Obama says he will not hesitate to use force against Iran

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington. (Reuters)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington. (Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday he would not hesitate to strike Iran but warned against “loose talk” of a war with Iran ahead of a crucial meeting where he plans to press Israel’s prime minister to avoid a premature strike on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.

“Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests,” Obama said in a keynote address to a pro-Israeli lobby group.

Obama, who will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks at the White House on Monday, pledged his staunch support for the Jewish state and said military action remained an option to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Amid speculation that Israeli might move on its own to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, Obama said too much talk of war could be counterproductive.

“I would ask that we all remember the weightiness of these issues; the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world. Already, there is too much loose talk of war,” Obama said , adding that such talk was benefiting Tehran because it was leading to higher prices for Iranian-produced oil.

Obama last week issued his most direct threat yet of U.S. military action against Iran, saying in an interview with the Atlantic magazine, “I don’t bluff.”

However, as he did in the AIPAC speech, Obama argued in the interview for focusing on sanctions as the course of action with the most likely chance of success.

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