Published March 21, 2013
EXCLUSIVE: Israeli President Shimon Peres said Thursday he believes that if all diplomatic options get exhausted "America is not a chicken" and President Obama is prepared to launch a U.S. strike against Iran to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Peres stressed that "shooting is the last option," but said he believes -- based on private talks he had Wednesday with Obama and public comments Obama made at a separate news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- that the Obama administration is ready to take military action if necessary.
"America is really looking for peace, but if somebody threatens peace, America is not a chicken," Peres said in a sitdown interview in the garden of his official residence in Jerusalem, where he will host Obama for a State Dinner on Thursday night.
The 89-year-old Peres said in his long experience with U.S. presidents, they do not make the types of commitments Obama made on Wednesday without carefully weighing their words before suggesting he is ready to use force, if necessary. At his news conference with Netanyahu, Obama vowed he would do "what is necessary" to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Peres said that statement was part of a purposeful effort by Obama to show that he is not just talking about having the military option on the table.
"From my experience, I know that an American president does not announce something by accident," Peres said, adding that America's credibility is on the line. "So I would say about all presidents: They are very careful with their words because they have to keep the American credibility."
Peres added that it is normal for Obama to continue to pursue economic sanctions against Tehran, and by having a credible military option on the table it may force Iran to pull back.
"Only if all of this (diplomacy) will not fly, then there must be another option," Peres said of the military option. "If there won't be another option, all the others don't exist."
Asked if he believes the U.S. is ready to "shoot if necessary," Peres said, "Yes."