Analysis: US and Israel Have Different Views on Iran, But Are They Close Enough?

It really is all about timing. In the case of Iran’s nuclear program it could be the difference between war and a peaceful deal, or between dodging a bullet or allowing terrorists to develop nuclear weapons.

Israeli media have reported that the US and Israel have long seen the Iranian threat in different ways. Israel is concerned with preventing Iran from even getting close to nuclear weapons, so their 11th hour to stop Iran is close at hand. The US, however, is more concerned with preventing Iran from actually having weapons – so they have more time. But will they wait too late? There may be hope that they won’t, based on the latest public statements from US President Barack Obama.

On Monday, US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met and their public comments subtly highlighted their different Iran approaches, but also their similarities.

According to the White House transcript of their comments, Netanyahu said of Iran, “The bottom line is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program.” Notice his focus on the entire program. Slow and steady Iranian progress is not acceptable – what if the US can’t stop them at the brink? What if Iran sneaks its way to nukes?

At first, Obama sounded like his main concern was just that Iran not acquire nuclear weapons – anything less would be, therefore, ok. “It is imperative that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon,” he said.

But then Obama sounded closer to Netanyahu than has been believed to be the case. “It is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient, that we have to have actions that give the international community confidence that, in fact, they [Iran] are meeting their international obligations fully, and that they are not in a position to have a nuclear weapon.” “Not in a position” sounds a lot closer to Israel’s timeline.

Another hint of good news is that both leaders spoke of verifying Iran’s compliance in the next round of diplomacy before major sanctions are removed. Like a rebellious child, Iran is sounding nice because they want the punishment on them to end. But the US has to make sure it won’t lessen until Iran makes real changes and gives up their nuclear weapons ambitions.

Overall, Israel still sounds more concerned about Iran than the US, and that’s not good. But it sounds like their differences are smaller than before. Here’s hoping that the US won’t accidentally let Iran get the world’s most dangerous weapons and put the whole world at risk. Promising words, but now it’s your move, Mr. Obama.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 30, 2013)

What do you think?