Obama: Iran more than one year from getting nuclear weapon

President Obama said the United States believes Iran is more than a year away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.

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"Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon," Obama told Israeli Channel 2 TV ahead of his trip to the country next week. 

"But obviously, we don't want to cut it too close. What we are going to do is to continue to engage internationally with Iran."

The president went on to reiterate that Iranian possession of a nuclear weapon was a "red line" for the United States, but that he continued to hope that diplomacy would avert nuclear armament.

"There is a window — not an infinite period time, but a window of time — where we can resolve this diplomatically," Obama said.

Obama added that he was hopeful that economic sanctions against the country were having their intended effect, pressuring the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

"They are not yet at the point, I think, where they've made a fundamental decision to get right with the international community," the president said. "But I do think they are recognizing that there is a severe cost for them to continue down the path they are on and that there's another door open."

The president was also asked about reports of tension with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader was a decades-old friend of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. During the presidential campaign, Republicans suggested that Obama had struggled to develop a partnership with the prime minister. But Obama said such concerns were overblown, calling the critique political in nature.

"There are conservative views both here in the United States and in Israel that may not jibe with mine, particularly when there is an election season coming up," he said.

Obama was also asked about the possible release of Jonathan Pollard, and American citizen arrested in 1985 on espionage charges. Pollard admitted to giving American military secrets to Israel, and is now serving a life sentence. Israel has acknowledged that Pollard is a spy, and the country has asked for his release, granting him citizenship and offering to take him in.

"I have no plans of releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately," Obama said.

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