Marcus Evans Group | Worldwide Headquarters | American Offices | Latin America | European Offices | African / Asian Offices

Obama: US and Israel ‘in lockstep’ to stop Iran becoming nuclear power

US president doubts Israel has yet decided on whether to strike, but America keeps all options open

Barack Obama has said that the United States will work in “lockstep” with Israel to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, but he did not believe Israel had decided whether to launch a military strike.

The US president’s comments appeared to be an attempt to downplay speculation that Israel was preparing to attack Iran following a report last week that the US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, believes an Israeli strike could happen this spring.

Obama told NBC television in an interview from the White House on Sunday that Israel is “rightly” very concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, but said: “I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do”.

He said that he hopes that the crisis will be resolved diplomatically but reiterated that the US has removed no option from consideration.

Asked about a potential attack by Iran on the US minlanbd, Obama said, “We don’t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now.”

Tensions between Israel and Iran have continued to ratchet up in recent days. The Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak claimed on Thursday that there is a “wide global understanding” that military action may be needed, while Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Israel on Friday a “cancerous tumor that should be cut [out] and will bet”.

Meanwhile, Obama said during the same interview that he deserves re-election, despite the difficulties of the US economy, adding that his administration is creating more than 250,000 jobs a month, the most since 2005, and a reversal from the 750,000 jobs the economy was losing three years ago.

The president said US manufacturing still needs a boost: “We have got to make sure we are pushing American energy, not just oil and gas, but clean energy.”

Obama also said the country needed to return to “old-fashioned American values,” so “everyone gets a fair shake”.

Three years ago, Obama had said if the economy hadn’t turned around by this time, his presidency would be “a one-term proposition”. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds