Obama talks tough on Iran during State of the Union
US president stresses support for Israel’s security, backing for Mideast transitions to democracy.
Obama State of Union address Photo: REUTERS
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama had tough words for Iran in his State of
the Union address Tuesday night, but separately endorsed American military
“The leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a
diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they
meet their obligations,” Obama declared.
“And we will do what is
necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”
earned applause for his statement, some of the toughest words he has uttered on
Iran at a State of the Union address. His message to Tehran comes as the US
warned that the window for diplomacy was closing and has applied increasingly
But elsewhere in his remarks, which focused mainly on
US domestic issues, he spoke of America’s ability to defend against dangers
without deploying American soldiers in every conflict.
Al-Qaida, while “a
shadow of its former self,” had new affiliates and branches that threatened
violence, Obama noted. “But to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of
thousands of our sons and daughters abroad or occupy other
Instead, Obama pointed to countries such as Yemen, Libya and
Somalia, where the US would help local security forces, and Mali, where America
provided assistance to French fighters.
Obama also took a stern tone with
North Korea, which earlier in the day conducted a nuclear
“Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only further
isolate them, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense and
lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” he
Obama also made a nod to the prospect of peace and progress in the
Middle East, referring to American support for Israel and for regional citizens
protesting their oppressive regimes.
“In the Middle East, we will stand
with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable
transitions to democracy,” Obama stressed, though he added a word of
“We know the process will be messy, and we cannot presume to
dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt,” he said, adding that the
US would still continue to pressure Syria.
“And we will stand steadfast
with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace,” Obama maintained,
receiving a standing ovation.
He noted that these messages on the Middle
East were ones he would deliver when visiting the region next
Reflecting the almost military- like planning for the visit, as
well as the message Israel hopes emerges from the trip, the Prime Minister’s
Office has given a code name to the visit: “Nations United.”
Security Council head Ya’acov Amidror, charged with coordinating the visit,
convened what was described as a large meeting about the visit on Wednesday. He
is scheduled to go to Washington next week to plan for the twoand- a-half day
visit which one official described as a major logistical operation.
Keinon contributed to this report.