(JNS.org) In his speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama focused heavily on the wide range of issues afflicting the Middle East, including the anti-American protests, the Iranian nuclear threat and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The president said a nuclear-armed Iran “is not a challenge that can be contained” and that “it would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.”
Obama began his address by remembering U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and condemning the attackers. He emphasized to the crowd of world leaders that Stevens’s assassination was an attack on all nations, not just the U.S.
“[The Middle East protests] are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded,” he said.
Obama spoke out against the incitement and hatred of the region, specifically stressing the importance of condemning slander against Christians and Jews.
“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” Obama said. “Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.”
Obama also said he is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. While still voicing support for diplomacy, he said, “time is not unlimited.”
The president’s remarks come amid controversy surrounding the issue of setting “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program. Obama has resisted calls to establish an official U.S. red line, which has led to a rift with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who favors tougher language and sanctions.
When pressed on red lines during an interview that aired on the CBS program “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Obama said he would “block out any noise that’s out there” on Iran. He said “any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people.” Obama is not meeting with any foreign leaders on his UN trip, and reportedly turned down a meeting with Netanyahu in Washington (though the White House denied that report).
On the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Obama’s remarks were brief. He spoke out against “those who reject the right of Israel to exist” and called for “a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also spoke on the Iranian threat Tuesday during the Clinton Global Initiative conference.
“We should not forget—and cannot forget—that not far from here, a voice of unspeakable evil and hatred has spoken out, threatening Israel and the civilized world,” Romney said of Iran.