President Barack Obama voiced doubt on Tuesday on the prospects for progress with Moscow on missile defense until after the November U.S. election as he staunchly defended remarks caught on camera the day before with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Obama was overheard assuring Medvedev on Monday that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with contentious arms-control issues after the November 6 presidential ballot, drawing sharp criticism back home from his Republican foes.
Speaking on the sidelines of a global nuclear security summit in Seoul, Obama sought to put the controversy to rest but made clear that his earlier comments reflected a political reality that “everybody understands.”
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before presidential and congressional elections in the United States and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia,” Obama told reporters with Medvedev at his side.
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Monday to pursue further nuclear arms cuts with Russia, urged China to follow suit and issued stern warnings to North Korea and Iran in their nuclear standoffs with the West.
Acknowledging the United States has more warheads than necessary, Obama held out the prospect of new reductions in the U.S. arsenal as he sought to rally world leaders for additional concrete steps against the threat of nuclear terrorism.
“We can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need,” Obama told students at South Korea’s Hankuk University a few hours before a global nuclear security summit opened in Seoul.
Read more: Obama vows more nuclear cuts with Russia
New poll shows Americans favor diplomacy over war with Iran
- 69% of Americans prefer a diplomatic approach instead of an Israeli attack on Iran, according to a new poll from the University of Maryland
- 38% of Republicans polled favor military action by the Israeli government, a percentage likely to surprise experts and policymakers
- 17% of Democrats and independents polled agreed with their Republican counterparts, preferring military action over diplomacy source
A majority of Americans would support military action against Iran if there were evidence that Tehran is building nuclear weapons, even if such action led to higher gasoline prices, a Reuters/Ipsos polled showed on Tuesday.
The poll showed 62 percent of Americans would back Israel taking military action against Iran for the same reasons.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said all options are on the table in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
Israel has asked the United States for advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites, an Israeli official said on Thursday.
“Such a request was made” around the time of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week, the official said, confirming media reports.
But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, played down as “unrealistic” reports that the United States would condition supplying the hardware on Israel promising not to attack Iran this year.
North Korea agreed on Wednesday to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches, and to allow checks by nuclear inspectors, in an apparent policy shift that paves the way for resuming long-stalled disarmament talks.
The surprise breakthrough, announced simultaneously by the U.S. State Department and North Korea’s official news agency, makes possible the resumption of six-nation nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang. It followed talks between U.S. and North Korean diplomats in Beijing last week.
While analysts cautioned that Pyongyang has backtracked repeatedly on past deals, the moves by North Korea mark a sharp change in course, at least outwardly, by North Korea’s reclusive leadership following the death in December of veteran leader Kim Jong-il.
Read more: North Korea agrees to nuclear moratorium
Iran is threatening to respond to any U.S. aggression in a crushing manner amid heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
“We will respond to any threat or aggressive action in a crushing manner,” spokesman Massoud Jazayeri said. “Our response will definitely lead them to regret their actions. We hope that this doesn’t happen. If it does happen, however, history will prove whether it is Iran or the U.S. that just talks.”
Iran did not carry out an earlier threat to take action if the U.S. moved an aircraft carrier into the Gulf when the U.S. did so last week. [Report by Lindsey Parietti]