On Obama's Many Promises to Stop Iran's Nuclear Program

President Obama, who has been maligned in every possible way on the topic of Israel and its security, continues to affirm his commitment to stopping Iran's nuclear program. Not that you would notice from the coverage. I've believed, since I reported this Atlantic story last year, that Obama is quite serious about keeping nuclear weapons out of Iran's hands.

Earlier this month, following the damning IAEA report on the progress of Iran's nuclear program, Obama spoke of marshaling an international front that "makes clear to Iran this is unacceptable." This happened during bilateral meetings with Chinese and Russian leaders, no less. For some reason, and despite his other successes, doubt about Obama's resolve on the nuclear question continues to dog him especially among right-leaning Israelis and their right-leaning American supporters. As a public service, Goldblog has compiled some of his statements on Iran and its nuclear ambitions:

Speaking to AIPAC in 2008, a speech in which he stated his opposition to dividing Jerusalem, Obama said this:

"I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything."

During a vertiginous ride through the No Spin Zone with Bill O'Reilly in 2008, one in which Obama labeled Iran "a major threat" and said that Iran possessing a nuclear weapon would be "unacceptable," Obama also said this:

"It's sufficient to say I would not take military action off the table and that I will never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect the homeland and the United States' interests."

In the days following his election, President-elect Obama said this:

"Let me repeat and state what I stated during the course of the campaign: Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening."

A month later, after a meeting with Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reported that President-Elect Obama told him of his  "view that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons is unacceptable."

During the signing of the New START Treaty in April 2010, with President Medvedev at his side, President Obama said:

That's why the United States and Russia are part of a coalition of nations insisting that the Islamic Republic of Iran face consequences, because they have continually failed to meet their obligations. We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran. And we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT, risk an arms race in a vital region, and threaten the credibility of the international community and our collective security.

The recent announcement that the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada would coordinate new biting sanctions against Iran also speaks to the assiduousness of the Obama administration in confronting Iran:

U.S. officials familiar with the plans say they target Iran's nuclear sector as well as plugging key gaps that have allowed Iran to work around existing sanctions on its energy and financial sectors. The United Kingdom and Canada are both expected to announce unilateral measures to limit Iran's access to their economies, with the UK essentially cutting off Iran's access to its financial sector.

In related news, the European Union will follow suit, meeting in early December to discuss more sanctions. Should all of these efforts fail, I have seen no proof to suggest that Obama would simply give up the fight.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


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