US President Barack Obama has clarified a statement by Vice President Joe Biden who said Sunday, “If the Netanyahu Government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.” Biden’s statement ignited a debate over whether the White House had hardened its position on Iran.
Asked in a CNN interview Tuesday whether the US had given Israel the “green light” for an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, Obama replied, “Absolutely not.” “I think Vice President Biden stated a categorical fact, which is that we can't dictate to other countries what their security interests are,” Obama added.
Sate Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, “I certainly would not want to give a green light to any kind of military action. Israel is a sovereign country and we're not going to dictate its actions."
Iranian parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, has since warned that Iran would hold the US responsible for any Israel attack on Iranian nuclear cites.
The Washington Times, however, reported Tuesday that neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor any of his top deputies have formally asked for American permission to attack Iran out of fears of the White House’s disapproval. “There was a decision not to press this because it was probably inadequate for the engagement policy and what we know about Obama’s approach to Iran,” a senior Israeli official told the Washington Times.