TAPPER: Just following up on the subject of Prime Minister Netanyahu, there was — there are reports from an attendee of a meeting between the U.S. ambassador to Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu about a very heated meeting and the prime minister expressing serious concerns about the U.S.’ or President Obama’s failure to specify the red lines beyond which Iran cannot cross, and with suggestions that nobody in the Israeli or Iranian government believes that President Obama would act, that there is no actual threat because no one believes the U.S. would do anything. First of all, can you confirm — or what can you tell us about the meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ambassador (Shapiro)*? And second of all, just what do you make of skepticism that the U.S. would act if Iran crossed a line, because nobody knows what the line is?’
CARNEY: The line is the president is committed to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and he will use every tool in the arsenal of American power to achieve that goal. And he is –
TAPPER: So it’s construction of a weapon?
CARNEY: Look, it is not fruitful as part of this process to engage in that kind of specificity. What we know as a — and I have said an many others have said is that we have eyes into the program, we are aware of developments, and we would know if there were a so- called breakout move by Iran to — toward the building of a nuclear weapon.
And that has not happened. There remains time, based on the information that we have, and we and the Israelis share back and forth, to continue to pursue the two-pronged effort here: a diplomatic push paired with this intense pressure through punitive sanctions and other means that have isolated and pressured the regime in Tehran — because, ultimately, the best way to ensure that Iran has given up its nuclear weapons ambitions is through a process by which the diplomatic effort works and a decision is made in Tehran to give up those ambitions and to abide by, in a verifiable way, its United Nations obligations.
But the president has always made clear — and I would dispute the characterization that people doubt his will — the president has always made clear that he retains all options and that he will use and have available to him all the tools in — of American power as necessary to deal with this very serious issue.
TAPPER: Just to be clear, it’s not my characterization. It is reportedly Prime Minister Netanyahu’s characterization. Do you have any comment on the meeting itself and reports about the meetings?
CARNEY: I don’t. I’ve seen reports about it. I believe Ambassador Shapiro has discussed it. But I have known — no other information to provide to it — about it. I can tell you what I think you already know and I’ve stated, and that is that this relationship has never been stronger. There has never been the level of cooperation and integration between American and Israeli military and intelligence agencies.
The level of support provided by this admnistration to Israel’s security needs has never been greater, and that will continue. And that has been attested to by Israel’s leaders, not just by those of us over here.
So our commitment is clear. The president’s resolve is absolute. But it is certainly the case that we need to continue to pursue the policy that we’ve had in place because there remains time and space to do that and because ultimately if pressure on Iran, sanctions on Iran, diplomatic isolation on Iran produces a change in Iranian behavior, that is the best way to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.
TAPPER: I’m sorry if I misstated the ambassador’s name.
CARNEY: No, that’s fine.
TAPPER: But you don’t — you do or do not concieve that Prime Minister Netanyahu wishes the U.S. would be more public about the red lines?
CARNEY: I don’t — I don’t want to characterize Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position on this or other issues. What I can tell you is that we have regular consulations with the Israeli leadership — including the prime minister, defense minister, other leaders — on this issue as well as many others involving Israel’s security. There is no daylight between the United States and Israel when it comes to what we percieve to be happening in Iran with regards to its program or when it comes to the commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
*(Note, in my question I misstated the name of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.)