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December 5, 2013 11:06 am

Former Obama Adviser: White House Convinced Israel Not to Strike Iran in 2012

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Dr. Gary Samore, the recently retired White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, being interviewed by Israel's Ynet. Photo: Screenshot / Ynet.

Dr. Gary Samore, the recently retired White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, being interviewed by Israel's Ynet. Photo: Screenshot / Ynet.

Dr. Gary Samore, the recently retired White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, told Israel’s Yediot Ahronot that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama talked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu down from striking Iran in 2012 to harm its ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Dr. Samore is now a senior international affairs lecturer at Harvard University, and is visiting Herzliya this week, taking part in a conference on Israel’s overall strategy, Yediot said.

In the interview, Dr. Samore said he was skeptical at the possibility of reaching a final agreement with Iran in six months because of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s inability to let go of the desire to have a nuclear weapon. But, he said he thought that a new interim agreement could be struck to extend the negotiations further, possibly through the end of Obama’s presidency in 2016, with additional nuclear constraints and further sanctions relief for each successful step as they chase a final agreement.

He said that as long as the Ayatollah is in power, Iran’s intent to acquire weapons capabilities will not end, leaving the world powers in a position to impede that ability, and only agree to measures for industrial nuclear use.

“Nothing would make me trust the Iranians,” he said.

In terms of Israel’s ability to strike Iran, Dr. Samore said that, in the absence of a diplomatic agreement, he would take Netanyahu at his word, but, noted that the diplomatic course seems most likely. He said the sanctions produced the desired result of electing a moderate, President Hassan Rouhani, to government, which sent a message to the Ayatollah that people demanded change, which led to the talks.

Watch the interview, in English and with subtitles, below:

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