President Barack Obama returns to the White House in Washington, DC, early morning March 3, 2011. UPI/Chris Kleponis/Pool | License Photo
WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama says he will order the U.S. military to destroy Iran's nuclear program if sanctions don't prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Obama said he will try to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to hold off on any plans for Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. Obama and Netanyahu are scheduled to meet Monday in Washington.
Obama told the magazine Iran and Israel ought to take seriously the prospect of U.S. military action if it becomes necessary.
"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff," Obama said.
"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are," he said. "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."
Obama told The Atlantic, as he has said before, "all options are on the table," including, as a last resort, the "military component." However, he said international economic sanctions against Iran have put Iran in a "world of hurt."
"Without in any way being under an illusion about Iranian intentions, without in any way being naive about the nature of that regime, they are self-interested," the president said.
Obama said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a "profound" national security threat to the United States and the region.
"The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world," he said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday sanctions are affecting internal politics in Iran. He said when Obama took office, "the world was divided about what to do over Iran's nuclear ambitions and Iran was unified."
"The reverse is now true because of the approach the President took, and leading the international community by demonstrating his willingness to negotiate -- discuss with Iran, to sit down and talk with Iran if it were willing to demonstrate its commitment to upholding its international obligations," Carney said.
"By taking that approach, he has helped unify the international community in an unprecedented level of unanimity in its approach to Iran, which has resulted in an unprecedented level of international action against Iran as a result of its behavior."