Obama says ‘military options’ still not off table on Iran

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All options to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb are on the table, including military strikes, U.S. President Barack Obama told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, after the latter’s warning that Iran’s diplomatic “sweet talk” cannot be trusted.

“We take no options off the table, including military options,” Agence France-Presse quoted Obama as saying.

Netanyahu, meeting with Obama at the White House, insisted that Iran’s “military nuclear program” must be dismantled and called for maintaining or strengthening sanctions on Tehran.

Netanyahu’ss limousine pulled up at the West Wing of the White House, as chants of “try Bibi (a nickname for Netanyahu) for war crimes” rang out from protesters across the street, AFP reported.

Netanyahu’s arrival comes three days after Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rowhani spoke by telephone in the highest-level contact between the countries in more than three decades. The call fueled hopes for a resolution of Iran’s decade-old nuclear standoff with the West.

Obama said the conversation had convinced him there was genuine hope of a “resolution” of Iran’s dispute with the West over its nuclear program but would require “meaningful” and “transparent” action by Tehran.

The Israeli prime minister, however, signaled he would not block Obama’s efforts to seek a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear impasse.

“If diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

But Israel’s Channel One network reported that Netanyahu would tell Obama that Israel would abandon diplomacy if Iran’s nuclear program is not completely dismantled.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a deal with Iran could be reached within months if Tehran proves that its nuclear program was not being used to build atomic weapons.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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