The meeting between the two leaders comes amid growing tension over Iran
President Barack Obama warns military action is a possibility, though he prefers diplomacy
The prime minister says Israel has the right to defend itself against Iranian threats
(CNN) — What to do about Iran and its nuclear program?
That question is expected to dominate discussions Monday when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.
The meeting between the two leaders comes amid growing international concern after Israel made clear it considers a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to its existence and has suggested a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear infrastructure.
Tensions between Iran and the West have risen dramatically in recent months over its nuclear program, after a nuclear watchdog agency found that Iran was increasing its uranium enrichment capacity and could be developing nuclear weapons.
Obama warned Sunday that “all elements of American power” remain an option to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. He also made clear that he preferred diplomacy over war both as a principle and in the case of Iran.
The president stated his policy was not containment of a nuclear Iran, but preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. At the same time, he emphasized that Iran “should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.”
While Obama’s position was consistent with his past pronouncements, his specific reference to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon — rather than the capability of building a nuclear weapon — maintained what some consider to be a difference from Israel’s position.
Israeli officials say that if Iran was able to enrich weapons-grade uranium, it would potentially cross the “red line” of nuclear weapons capability that Israel fears.
Netanyahu will meet with Obama at the White House before speaking at the AIPAC conference later in the day.
In a statement issued after Obama’s speech, Netanyahu expressed appreciation for the president’s position that all options were on the table to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“I also appreciated the fact that he made clear that when it comes to a nuclear-armed Iran, containment is simply not an option, and equally in my judgment, perhaps most important of all, I appreciated the fact that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” Netanyahu said.