Israel ambassador keeps door open to Iran strike

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren addresses the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington Nov. 8, 2009.
AFP/Getty Images

(CBS News) Israel's ambassador to the United States reiterated the possibility of his country striking Iran over its nuclear program, saying on "CBS This Morning" Thursday that the nation "has not just the right but the duty and the ability to defend itself."

Ambassador Michael Oren dismissed comments made by Israel's former spy chief in an interview broadcast on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday in opposition to Israel launching a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear program. Israel and the United States have accused Iran of trying to use the program to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran has denied.

"Listen, at the end of the day, the person who has the make the decisions are the democratically elected leaders of Israel as in the United States," Oren told Charlie Rose.

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President Obama wants to use economic sanctions and diplomacy to pressure Iran, a strategy which Oren said Israel agreed with but wouldn't say for how long.

"America, big country, has a big window, looks out that window and sees the Middle East far away; Israel, a small country with a very small window, we look out that window and we see Iran in our backyard," said Oren. "Prime Minister Netanyahu said the other day that we're not talking about years but we're not talking about days and weeks either."

Above, watch Michael Oren explain Israel's position on Iran