President Barack Obama will warn Iran on Tuesday that the United States will “do what we must” to prevent it acquiring a nuclear weapon, and appeal to world leaders for a united front against further attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Muslim countries.
Preparing to take the podium at the United Nations six weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Obama hopes to counter criticism of his foreign record by Republican rival Mitt Romney, who has accused him of mishandling the Arab Spring uprisings, damaging ties with Israel and not being tough enough on Iran.
Seeking to step up pressure on Iran, Obama will tell the U.N. General Assembly that there is still time for a diplomacy but that “time is not unlimited,” according to advance excerpts of his speech, due to begin sometime around 1315 GMT.
His tough talk appears aimed at easing Israeli concerns about U.S. resolve to curb Tehran’s nuclear drive, as he reasserts before the world body that he will never let Iran develop an atomic bomb and then simply contain the problem.
But he will stop short of meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand to set a clear “red line” that Iran must not cross if it is to avoid military action.
“A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” he will say. “It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy …
“The United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Obama is also seeking to reassure voters that he is doing everything he can to head off any more violence like the Sept. 11 attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues.
A wave of Muslim anger over a crude anti-Islam video made in California has swept the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Americans were stunned by images of U.S. flags again burning in the Muslim world, the focus of intense personal diplomacy by the president at the start of his term.