WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama said Tuesday there is a diplomatic "window" that must be tried before considering military action against Iran.
Obama also ripped into unnamed Republican candidates who talk about sterner measures against Iran.
"We will not countenance Iran getting a nuclear weapon," the president told a White House news conference. "At this stage it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity that this still can be resolved diplomatically."
Obama said top U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials agree on that assessment. He said Israel, as a sovereign nation, is making its own decisions.
The president criticized "what's said on the campaign trail."
"Those folks [Republican candidates] don't have the responsibility. They aren't the commander in chief. ... This is not a game."
Obama said when reporters ask the unnamed candidates "what they would do," they repeat what he's been doing over the last three years, including sanctions.
"If some of these folks decide that it's time to start a war they should say so and explain it to the American people," Obama said.
Asked to explain why the United States has not used armed forces to intervene in Syria, as NATO did in Libya last year, Obama said, "For us to take military action unilaterally as some have suggested, or to think there's a simple solution, in my view is a mistake."
The president said the United States would continue to work with key Arab states and international partners to resolve the Syrian crisis where the government is waging war on its own people.