Obama says Iran shouldn’t misinterpret U.S. response to Syria

Sunday, September 15, 2013
By Paul Martin

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
WashingtonPost.com
September 15, 2013

President Obama declared that the United States is still prepared to act militarily to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons despite the decision to pursue a diplomatic deal and not strike Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons.

He also acknowledged that his approach to the Syria crisis has been uneven, but defended it as producing the right results.

Obama spoke in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” taped Friday before the United States and Russia agreed on a plan to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control in order to avoid military strikes.

But Obama said Iran should not interpret the diplomatic response — coming after he threatened to use strikes — as suggesting that the United States wouldn’t attack Iran to stop the development of nuclear weapons.

“I think what the Iranians understand is that the nuclear issue is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue, that the threat . . . against Israel that a nuclear Iran poses is much closer to our core interests,” Obama said. “My suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck [Syria] to think we won’t strike Iran.”

Obama said, however, that what the Iranians should draw from this episode is that it is possible to resolve this type of disagreement diplomatically.

“My view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact you can . . . strike a deal,” he said, confirming that he had communicated with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by letter.

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