As part of a mini press-tour to set up his first presidential trip to Israel next week, Barack Obama told an Israeli television station that Iran is at least a year away from developing a nuclear weapon. In an interview with Channel 2 News, Obama tried to reassure Israelis that the need for a preemptive strike against is still a long way off, while simultaneously trying to convince them that his position on an Iranian bomb is "crystal clear" and that it continues to be a "red line" for the U.S.
Everyone seems to have a educated guess—some more educated than others—about how far along the Iranians have progressed in their quest for nuclear bombs, but the fact that this guess is coming from the President of the United States makes the number fairly official. Also consider his intended audience, whose trust he desperately wants to earn. Obama has already stressed that he plans to speak directly to the Israeli people next week, in order to avoid his message being filtered through the lens of Israel's own politicians. The president has ignored offers to speak to the Israeli Knesset (as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did) and will instead deliver his largest address during the trip at a public convention center. He will meet with Israel's president and prime minister, of course, but aides say he wants the chance to deliver his message directly to the public and Israeli youth. The speech is said to contain echoes of his address to the Muslim world, delivered in Cairo shortly after he took office.
President Obama arrives in Israel next Wednesday, and will spend four days in various meetings and public tours before returning to the United States on Saturday.