The White House indicated Tuesday that President Obama would resist pressure for a tougher Iran policy coming from Israel and some U.S. lawmakers who argue that Tehran should not be allowed to acquire even the capability to eventually develop a nuclear weapon.
The push to toughen the U.S. policy comes ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As part of the war of nerves that the United States and Israel are conducting with Iran -- and with each other -- Netanyahu's government has broadly hinted at using airstrikes against Iran's nuclear sites if it determines that Tehran had developed the scientific knowledge and industrial means to build a nuclear bomb.
That is a lower threshold than the Obama administration's so-called red line of preventing Iran from building a nuclear device.
The Israelis, along with Republican presidential hopefuls, GOP senators and some hawkish Democrats, want Obama to move toward that Israeli position. They all believe that he is politically vulnerable to accusations of being weak on Iran and have stepped up their pressure in recent days as Obama prepares for his meeting with Netanyahu and a speech he is scheduled to give Sunday to the country's largest pro-Israel lobbying group. Tuesday, however, White House officials said Obama would not make any public policy shift.