GOP rep.: Israel has different "red line" on Iran

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

(CBS News) The Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that Israel and the United States have two different red lines when it comes to responding to Iran's nuclear activity.

The specter of a nuclear-armed Iran is creating a potential division in the relationship between Israel and the U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree that Iran must not be allowed to build a nuclear weapon, but the president wants time to let sanctions and diplomacy work.

When the two men spoke to reporters in Washington on Monday, Netanyahu never mentioned diplomacy. And in a speech last night to American Jewish supporters, Netanyahu signaled impatience with the president's preferred solution. "(Israel has) waited for diplomacy to work, we've waited for sanctions to work. We cannot afford to wait much longer. ... I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation."

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On "CBS This Morning," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told Charlie Rose he did not believe Mr. Obama has convinced Netanyahu to wait for sanctions to work.

"I really don't think so. I think that there are two different red lines: one that President Obama has set out, and [one] when the Israelis believe that they have to take action or they won't be able to take action against an Iranian nuclear program.

"We have to remember, Charlie, all of the other things that are going on in Israel right now to understand, I think, where they're at. Egypt now has become an unpredictable partner; they're very concerned. Hamas is now well-armed thanks to Iran, more so than they've ever been before. Hezbollah, up to 30,000 more accurate rockets aimed at Israel. So they're looking at all of this pressure and the fact that they believe if Iran goes nuclear, they believe Ahmadinejad will use it against the Israelis.

"So they're looking at it through a very different prism, I think, than we are, and therefore they have a lower red line of 'We have to take action' than the United States might have," he said.

Rogers, who met with Netanyahu and his advisers in Israel two weeks ago, said he feels the Israelis are "a little frustrated" with Washington, and that they believe while sanctions are having an impact, time is running out when it comes to their ability to impact the Iranian nuclear program.

"Of course, the IAEA inspectors being thrown out recently didn't help that cause," Rogers said.

The instability of Syria - an ally of Iran - is also of concern. Rogers suggested that more aggressive actions can be taken - not direct military action - to bring a quicker end to the Assad regime. That, he said, would be a "wound" to Iran.

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Rogers continued, "But their - our argument is, remember, if the consequences of Iran going nuclear are so much bigger, Saudi Arabia says they'll get a nuclear weapon, Egypt says they'll get a nuclear weapon. And that, they believe, is really a threat to their existence."

It was reported this morning that Iran is now allowing IAEA inspectors in to the Parchin military installation.

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"Doesn't that suggest that the sanctions are working and that perhaps they should be allowed to [continue]?" asked Rose.

"Listen, I believe in sanctions," Rogers replied. "I think we have two schools of thought here: where the Israelis are coming from, where the Iranians are coming from - I guess three schools of thought - and where the administration is. I think sanctions can work. I think we should draw them up now. There's other things we can do that we're laying on the table - draw it up and put as much pressure as we can.

"But remember, they denied that very site just a few weeks ago. We know that there is activity at that site. And now they saying, 'Well, you can come back with certain conditions.' They don't want them to see everything at that particular site. As an old FBI agent, Charlie, we used to call that a clue. Something bad's going on there. "

To see the complete interview with Rep. Rogers click on the video player above.