WASHINGTON — The United States declined Wednesday to respond to “buzz” or “rumors” in Israel about reports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking cabinet support for a strike on Iran.
The White House said it was focused squarely on a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear drive, and said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had recently expressed discomfort about the impact of Iranian sanctions.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that he would not comment on “buzz, rumors, decisions that may or may not have been made, debates that may or may not have been had.”
“I’m not going to respond to that kind of speculation.”
Carney was asked to comment after a report in Haaretz newspaper on Wednesday cited a senior Israeli official as saying Netanyahu was working with Defense Minister Ehud Barak to win support from skeptical members of the cabinet who oppose attacking Iranian nuclear facilities.
The report followed days of renewed public discussion among Israeli commentators about the possibility that the Jewish state would take unilateral military action against Iran.
Carney said that the Obama White House was “very focused” on the threat from Iran and the need for Tehran to uphold its international obligations on its nuclear program.
“I believe the president of Iran himself recently conceded that … sanctions are having dramatic negative impact on their economy.”
“We remain focused on a diplomatic channel here, a diplomatic course in terms of dealing with Iran.”