September 28, 2012, 1:32 PM. By Jared Favole and Colleen McCain Nelson
Obama, Netanyahu Discuss Iran in Phone Call.
President Barack Obama spoke Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Iran’s nuclear program and the two reiterated their stance that Iran shouldn’t have a nuclear weapon, the White House said.
“The two leaders discussed a range of security issues, and the President reaffirmed his and our country’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security,” the White House said in a brief summary of the call. “The two leaders underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Their call comes amid increasing tension between the two leaders. Mr. Netanyahu has pressured Mr. Obama to take a more aggressive stance toward Iran, and in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York Thursday the Israeli leader urged global powers to set a strict limit on Tehran’s nuclear fuel production as the clear “red line” that would trigger military strikes.
He also left room for a diplomatic solution –Mr. Obama’s preferred approach– by suggesting Israel wouldn’t considering attacking Iran until the spring of next year. He said by then Iran will have amassed enough medium-enriched uranium to convert into fuel for a nuclear bomb in a matter of weeks or months.
Mr. Netanyahu “welcomed” Mr. Obama’s comments Tuesday to world leaders about Iran, the White House said. Mr. Obama told the gathering of world leaders in New York that the U.S. “will do what we must” to ensure Iran doesn’t obtain a nuclear weapon.
This is their second call in the last several weeks, and may do little to silence those who have criticized Mr. Obama for not meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in person while he’s in the U.S. The White House has said they didn’t meet because of scheduling conflicts. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Mr. Netanyahu for over an hour Thursday in New York.
The last time Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu spoke, two weeks ago, the call lasted about an hour and was prompted by sharp attacks from the Israeli leader about the Obama administration’s Israeli policy. This call lasted more than 20 minutes, according to a White House official.
Also Friday, Mitt Romney said that he spoke to Mr. Netanyahu about Iran’s nuclear capability. He said they discussed where the “red line” ought to be drawn, but the Republican presidential candidate said he didn’t feel comfortable revealing the details of the call.
“We have, very much have the same interest to make sure that Iran does not develop nuclear capability, which would threaten the existence of Israel, threaten devastation potentially in other nations in the world, and we must make every effort to prevent them from developing that nuclear capability,” Mr. Romney said.
Mr. Romney said he thinks that it is possible to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities, and he doesn’t believe that military action will be necessary. But he didn’t rule it out.
“I can’t take that option off the table,” Mr. Romney told reporters aboard a flight to Boston. “It must be something which is known by the Iranians as a possible tool to be employed to prevent them from becoming nuclear. But I certainly hope that we can prevent any military action from having to be taken.”
When describing the differences between his position and the president’s, Mr. Romney said the president has moved closer to Mr. Romney’s view on Iran.
“From the very beginning, I thought crippling sanctions needed to be put in place,” Mr. Romney said. “Part is to see action as opposed to just words. His words more recently are more consistent with the words I’ve been speaking for some time, and we’ll see what actions he pursues.”