US pours cold water on Israel’s call for military action against Iran
WASHINGTON - The White House warned Wednesday that any military action against Iran would create "greater instability" that could threaten the safety of Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The warning came days before a planned March 5 meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Any military action in that region threatens greater instability in the region," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Israel has given mixed messages in recent weeks on the possibility it might attack Iran to halt its controversial nuclear development program.
Iran "borders both Afghanistan and Iraq," Carney said during his daily press briefing. "We have civilian personnel in Iraq. We have military personnel as well as civilians in Afghanistan."
So far, the United States has no conclusive evidence the Iranians are building a nuclear weapon, he said.
The Obama administration is advocating for a political solution to the crisis that includes International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring of Iran's nuclear program.
"We continue to ratchet up the pressure on Tehran," Carney said. "And I think it's important to note that, while Tehran does not and has not lived up to its international obligations... we do have visibility into their programs."
The Iranian government insists it is developing nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes, such as electrical generation and cancer treatment. The Iranians deny they plan to make nuclear weapons.
The Israeli government has been vocal in contesting Iran's claims that it seeks only peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Carney said the lack of evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons has given the United States the "time and latitude to continue the policy we have applied since the president took office."
The policy has focused on isolating Iran, such as through economic sanctions, until its government gives up its nuclear program.
So far, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he plans to continue his country's nuclear program. However, he has sent negotiators to discuss the issue with Western countries.
Iran's nuclear program will be the "main topic" of discussion when Obama and Netanyahu meet at the White House Monday, according to the Israeli prime minister.
Obama's pressure on the Israelis not to attack Iran has strained relations between the allies.
Netanyahu's visit will be his first to the United States since he met with Obama in September.