While Obama avoids Iran red line, Senate resolution sets one at nuclear capability

Click photo to download. Caption: The Arak heavy water production plant in Iran. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.(JNS.org) While the Obama administration refuses to set a red line—the point after which America would take military action—for the Iranian nuclear threat, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution stating that containment of a nuclear-capable Iran is not an option.

The non-binding bipartisan resolution, which passed 90-1, was co-sponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and affirms that it is a “vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”

The language of the bill sets an apparent “red line” at nuclear capability, which is similar to the position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. U.S. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has repeatedly said he will not establish an official red line. In a conference call with rabbis before Rosh Hashanah, the president said no leader “wants to tie his hands” by setting red lines or deadlines.

More recently, in an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Obama responded to a question about red lines by saying, “When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.”

The Israeli government, reacting to the Senate bill’s passage, said it “welcomes the bipartisan support Israel receives in Congress.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also praised the resolution. “AIPAC applauds the Senate for rejecting a policy of containment of an Iranian nuclear weapons capability and calling for an increase in sanctions against the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” the group said in a press release.

Posted on September 24, 2012 .