McCain: Sanctions not deterring Iran from nukes

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on "CBS This Morning" Monday, March 5, 2012.

(CBS News) Sen. John McCain said today that sanctions have not stopped Iran from seeking a nuclear weapon, and that Israel should not rely on the judgment of President Obama on whether the Iranian regime has been or can be deterred from building such a weapon to use against Israel.

On Sunday Mr. Obama told a conference held by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that the United States will not sit idly by and watch Iran build a nuclear weapon. "I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say," Mr. Obama said.

But the president urged more diplomacy first and sought to tone down talk of military strikes against Iran. "I only use force when the time and circumstances demand it," Mr. Obama said. "Already, there is too much loose talk of war."

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On "CBS This Morning," McCain, R-Ariz., told Charlie Rose that Mr. Obama's remarks may not reassure Israel.

"Speeches are excellent - policies, are not so good," McCain said. "From the beginning, when the president insisted on a settlement freeze as a pre-condition for talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the relations have been worse than they have ever been.

"Charlie, suppose that there was a country in our hemisphere that was dedicating to 'wiping us off the map,' they were developing a nuclear weapon, and at some point we didn't have the capability to remove that threat but we had to rely on another ally to do that for us. That's basically the situation that the Israelis may find themselves in."

McCain said the U.S. has been "surprised" in the past when both Pakistan and North Korea acquired nuclear weapon technology. "So what the president is asking the prime minister of Israel to do is to rely on his judgment as to when force may be necessary,' McCain said.

"By the way, the sanctions which the president praised, which I praise as well, in view of all of us have not deterred the Iranians from the path that they're on."

To watch the complete interview with Sen. McCain click on the video player above.