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March 14, 2013

Obama tells Israeli TV Iran is still a year away from a nuclear weapon

Ahead of next week's trip to the Middle East, President Barack Obama granted an interview to an Israeli television station, telling its viewers that "Iran possessing a nuclear weapon is a red line" for his administration.

In the interview with Channel 2 news broadcast Thursday night, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Obama said he'll tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "that if diplomatic efforts to thwart the Iranian nuclear program fail, he is ready to use other means prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

"I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon, that is a red line for us,' Obama said. "It's something that would not only be dangerous for Israel but would be dangerous for the world, be dangerous for U.S. national security interests."

But Obama said its in the world's best interest to pursue diplomacy, and he said there's still time. He said the assessment of the American intelligence community is that Iran would need "over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don't want to cut it too close."

Asked whether his Cabinet -- which the reporter noted includes a Defense Secretary and Secretary of State "who don't want to see the US embroiled in another war" would sign off on a military attack on Iran, Obama said "You get a lot of advice, but ultimately it's your decision."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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