News / Middle East

Obama Warns Iran Over Nuclear Program in UN Address



U.S. President Barack Obama says United Nations sanctions passed this year against Iran for its controversial nuclear program show that international law is not an "empty promise."

Full speech of U.S. President Barack Obama

In an address to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday, Mr. Obama said Iran is being held accountable for failing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the international community.

He said the door remains open to diplomacy, but that Iran must demonstrate the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.

Many in the international community accuse Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies.

The U.S. president also called for international support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the hope of securing a comprehensive agreement in a year's time.

He said nations that support an independent Palestinian state "must stop trying to tear Israel down," and to provide political and financial support for the Palestinian Authority.  He also reiterated his administration's view that Israel should extend a ban on new settlement construction in land Palestinians want for a future state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumed direct direct peace negotiations in Washington earlier this month.

The negotiations appear to be at a standstill over Israel's refusal to extend a moratorium on settlements in the occupied West Bank that is scheduled to expire next week.  Mr. Abbas has threatened to walk out of the meetings if the construction resumes.

Mr. Obama also said America is changing the way it confronts al-Qaida terrorists which he described as a global security threat.

He noted that since he took office the United States has withdrawn nearly 100,000 troops from Iraq and that local forces there have taken a lead responsibility for security in the country.  In Afghanistan, he said U.S. forces and their allies are working toward a transition to Afghan responsibility next July.

Mr. Obama said "from South Asia to the Horn of Africa" the United States is moving toward a more targeted approach to security that will strengthen its partners and dismantle terrorist networks without deploying large American armies.

The U.S. president also noted that economic uncertainty had put pressure on human rights as some seek short-term stability at the expense of freedom.  He noted as examples leaders abolishing term limits, crackdowns on civil society and corruption hampering entrepreneurship.

President Obama's remarks on Middle East peace process:

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