WASHINGTON: Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu left Washington Tuesday with assurances that the United States is prepared to use force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, just not yet.
Netanyahu, who met with President Barack Obama on Monday and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, put the world on notice that his patience was wearing thin and, if necessary, he would launch unilateral strikes.
"As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation," he told 13,000 delegates in a keynote speech on Monday night at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.
"Unfortunately, Iran's nuclear program has continued to march forward. Israel has waited... for diplomacy to work, we've waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer."
Sitting alongside the president at the White House before going into talks on Monday, Netanyahu told Obama that Israel must remain the "master of its fate," in a firm defense of its right to mount a unilateral strike.
Obama, who assured Netanyahu that he has Israel's "back," stressed that he sees a "window" for diplomacy with Iran, despite rampant speculation that Israel could soon mount a risky go-it-alone military operation.
While no one knows exactly what was said behind closed doors in the Oval Office, Obama publicly kept to a far more dovish line and appeared notably at odds with Netanyahu over just how immediate the Iranian threat is.
"This notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks or month or two months is not borne out by the facts," he told a press conference Tuesday. (AFP)