JERUSALEM — U.S President Barack Obama reached out to a skeptical Israeli public in an interview aired Monday saying that only an agreement, not military action, can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Obama said "I can, I think, demonstrate, not based on any hope but on facts and evidence and analysis, that the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable, tough agreement."
Obama's remarks come as an end-of-June deadline for an Iranian deal is fast approaching.
"A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it," he said in excerpts from his interview with Israeli Channel 2 TV's investigative program "Uvda."
The full interview will be broadcast Tuesday night.
Israel has said the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran is a bad deal and that a military option is still on the table to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. Relations between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been tense at times and the Iran issue has been a source of contention between the traditionally close allies.
The proposed deal would freeze Iran's nuclear program for a decade, in return for sanctions relief. Iran insists that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, while the West fears it could allow it to build nuclear weapons.
Israel has long claimed a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a grave threat to world peace and security, and it views a nuclear-armed Tehran as a threat to its very existence, citing Iran's repeated calls for Israel's destruction, its long-range missile program and its support for violent anti-Israel groups like the Hezbollah in Lebanon.
When asked how he would respond if Israel were to act militarily without notifying him, Obama said he "won't speculate on that."
He tried to pacify an Israeli public widely skeptical of the deal by saying "I understand your concerns and I understand your fears."