US President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that there would be consequences for the United States as well as Israel if a premature strike is launched on Iran.
“This is not just an issue of Israeli interests. This is an issue of American interests,” he said at a last-minute press conference. "It’s also not just an issue of consequences for Israel if action is taken prematurely. There are consequences for the United States as well."
He warned against the “casualness” of talk of possible military action and American politicians’ “beating the drums of war,” saying those who speak so loosely should consider the consequences of their words.
Three of the four Republican candidates appeared at AIPAC Tuesday and criticized Obama for not acting aggressively enough to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability.
“There is a cost,” Obama said, recalling visits to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and condolence letters he sends to families.
“Sometimes we bear that cost, but we think it through,” he continued. “We don’t play politics with it. When we have in the past, when we haven’t thought it through and it gets wrapped up in politics, we make mistakes."
Republican candidates have been hammering Obama on his Iran policy, with three of the four candidates calling on his to take more aggressive steps against Tehran earlier in the day at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.
Obama’s comments come the day after he hosted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for three hours of talks devoted largely to Iran.
Following their meeting, Netanyahu gave an impassioned address to AIPAC, in which he repeatedly stressed Israel’s right to take whatever actions are necessary to defend itself and recalled that the US chose not to devote resources to destroying Auschwitz during World War II, in comparing the situation of the Jewish people before and after the creation of the State of Israel.
Obama himself noted that Israel “must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat” in his own remarks to AIPAC on Sunday. But he also stressed that a window remains open for negotiations and that diplomacy is the preferred way to resolve the issue.
In Tuesday’s press conference, he reiterated that there is a “window of opportunity.” He said he didn’t expect a breakthrough in the first meeting, and added that it would be quickly be possible to gague how serious Iran was.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not comment on Obama’s remarks.