Iran says its program is for peaceful energy and research purposes but Western nations fear the Islamic republic is determined to develop nuclear weapons and fundamentally reshape the balance of power in the Middle East. That would pose a grave threat to Israel.
Israel has threatened to strike Iran's nuclear facilities if Tehran doesn't stop uranium enrichment a process that can be a pathway to nuclear arms. Israel could decide to strike Iran's nuclear sites on its own, and Israeli leaders say time to act is running out. They have also hinted they would like U.S. support for any such attack.
An Israeli strike on Iran with or without Washington's involvement would likely draw retribution from Tehran including possible attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests overseas or disruptions to the transit of tankers through the Strait of Hormuz, which could send oil prices skyrocketing.
Obama has counseled patience as public as American public support for another Mideast conflict is low with the Iraq war over and the conflict in Afghanistan winding down.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Andrew Miga contributed to this report.
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