WASHINGTON — Israel and the United States will work “in lockstep” to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, President Barack Obama said.
In a pre-Super Bowl interview on NBC Sunday, Obama also discounted reports that Israel is getting ready to strike Iran.
“I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” he said.
Asked if Israel would give him advance warning of a strike, Obama said he would not go into details of conversations, but added, “We have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we’ve ever had…
“My number 1 priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel, and we are going to make sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically.”
Obama downplayed reports of an Iranian attack on U.S. soil, and said a military confrontation would be destabilizing.
“Obviously, any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us – it can have a big effect on oil prices,” he said. “We’ve still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran. And so our preferred solution here is diplomatic, we’re going to keep pushing on that front.”
He repeated, however that “we’re not going to take any option off the table.”
In related developments, Jewish and Israeli institutions in the United States are on high alert over concerns that Iran or its proxy will target them, a U.S. news network reported.
The institutions have established special precautions, ABC reported Feb. 3, citing an Israeli internal security document. The document was a letter from the head of security for the Israeli consul general for the Mid-Atlantic states, according to ABC, which said the security threat has increased on “guarded sites” such as Israeli embassies and consulates, and “soft sites” such as synagogues, as well as Jewish schools, restaurants and community centres.
ABC reported that local and regional law enforcement and intelligence officials in U.S. and Canadian cities including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Toronto have increased security at Israeli and Jewish institutions, and that federal officials have also increased vigilance in looking for imminent attacks.
“In the past few weeks, there has been an escalation in threats against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world,” ABC quoted a U.S. regional intelligence document as saying.
The document said that “law enforcement should be vigilant when making periodic checks at all Jewish facilities.”
In addition, an Israeli intelligence report warned that forged Israeli passports might be used by potential terrorists trying to leave the Middle East and enter the United States and Canada.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Feb. 3 that his country is prepared to assist those who would confront Israel and the United States.