Nightly News   |  March 05, 2012

Obama urges diplomatic resolution with Iran

In a meeting between the two world leaders, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not back down from possible military action against Iran, while President Barack Obama said there is a still a window during which sanctions could work. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> in the office of the current president said, a face-to-face meeting over an issue of great and urgent concern, iran . what to do about the possibility that it could build a nuclear weapon . president obama and israel 's prime minister benjamin netanyahu tried to project an image of a unified front today. but there are real differences over when and whether to take military action . we get more on this tonight from our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: president obama urged patience before taking military action against iran , promising prime minister netanyahu his commitment to israel 's security is rock solid.

>> the united states will always have israel 's back when it comes to israel 's security.

>> iran 's leaders know that, too. for them, you're the great satan. we're the little satan.

>> reporter: but in two hours of talks, including 30 minutes one-on-one without aides, there were critical differences over timing. the president still believes sanctions could work.

>> we do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue.

>> reporter: how long a window? u.s. officials say they would know if iran decides to build a weapon. and would have a year before iran could build a bomb. israel sees a much shorter time line and no margin for error.

>> when it comes to israel 's security, israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions.

>> reporter: how soon might israel act?

>> israel views the window of opportunity as closing this year, maybe even this spring or summer, while the united states sees a much longer time line where things can play out.

>> reporter: israel 's supporters know that no american president would let israel go it alone, especially not in an election year. mitt romney and the other republicans have been pounding mr. obama for months.

>> if barack obama gets reelected, iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change.

>> reporter: in a poll, 21% direct military strikes to prevent iran from getting a weapon. 32% want stronger diplomatic action and sanctions, this while iran 's ayatollah khamenei undermined president ahmadinejad . some see a faith-saving way out for iran . the ayatollah -- israeli officials say no one takes it seriously. but prime minister netanyahu said today to the president he has not made a decision to take