(WASHINGTON) — When it comes to Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, President Obama continually says “all options are on the table.” But what exactly does that mean?
President Obama sat for an extensive interview with The Atlantic’s’ Jeffrey Goldberg and elaborated.
“Go back to this language, ‘All options on the table,’” Goldberg says. “You’ve probably said it 50 or 100 times. And a lot of people believe it, but the two main intended audiences, the supreme leader of Iran and the prime minister of Israel, you could argue, don’t entirely trust this. The impression we get is that the Israeli government thinks this is a vague expression that’s been used for so many years. Is there some ramping-up of the rhetoric you’re going to give them?”
“I think the Israeli people understand it, I think the American people understand it, and I think the Iranians understand it,” Obama said. “It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 [the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany] and ensures that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] is robust in evaluating Iran’s military program; and it includes a military component. And I think people understand that.”
The president continued: “I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff. I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Larry Register, CNN
Holly Yan and Joe Sterling, CNN
Laura Smith-Spark, Erin McLaughlin and Nina dos Santos, CNN