U.S. official: Obama didn’t give Bibi what he was looking for


Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was publicly venting his frustration with the international community — read: Obama administration — for failing to draw a clear red line regarding Iran’s nuclear program. But he seemed to be stepping back from a public spat after a late-night phone call with the president, which Netanyahu described as a "good conversation."

But how good was it? The New York Times is out with a story quoting an unnamed senior administration official saying that Obama refused to set down the red lines Netanyahu has been asking for — like military action if Iran reaches a defined threshold on nuclear material or fails to adhere to a deadline on negotiations .

Here’s the money section:

Mr. Obama, the official said, repeated the assurances he gave to Mr. Netanyahu in March that the United States would not allow Iran to manufacture a nuclear weapon. But the president was unwilling to agree on any specific action by Iran — like reaching a defined threshold on nuclear material, or failing to adhere to a deadline on negotiations — that would lead to American military action.

“We need some ability for the president to have decision-making room,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the talks. “We have a red line, which is a nuclear weapon. We’re committed to that red line.”

Of course, if you are an Obama backer, you could also pitch this as further evidence that the administration rejects containment as a strategy — i.e. that the White House continues to signal that military action will be on the table if Iran goes through with building a bomb.

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