President Barack Obama will pledge in a speech to world leaders today that the U.S. is committed to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that the time for resolving the issue through diplomacy “is not unlimited.”
While the U.S. believes “there is still time and space” to settle the matter, Obama will tell the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that a nuclear-armed Iran would imperil Israel and destabilize the global economy, according to excerpts released by the White House.
“Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” Obama will say, according to the excerpts. “That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Obama’s handling of foreign policy is a rising issue in the U.S. presidential campaign. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has sought to attack Obama over the handling of relations with Israel, the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the recent Middle East turmoil sparked by an anti-Islam video made in the U.S.
In his UN speech, scheduled for about 10 a.m. New York time, the president will condemn the wave of violence in Muslim countries sparked by the video, according to the excerpts. Obama will also praise the work of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, along with three colleagues on Sept. 11.
“We must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers,” Obama will say, according to the excerpts. “There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy.”
Obama has no announced one-on-one meetings with world leaders during his time at the UN, a schedule that has drawn criticism from Republicans. That’s in contrast to last year, when he had more than a dozen private sessions with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, France, the U.K. and other nations.
Romney yesterday questioned Obama for remarking in an interview broadcast Sept. 23 on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that there would be “bumps in the road” for Arab countries transitioning to democracy.
“Um, bumps in the road?” Romney said at an event in Pueblo, Colorado. “We had an ambassador assassinated, we had a Muslim Brotherhood member elected to the presidency of Egypt, 20,000 people have been killed in Syria, we have tumult in Pakistan, and, of course, Iran is that much closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.”
Romney is scheduled to speak this morning in New York at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, a philanthropic organization founded by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Obama is scheduled to speak before the same conference at about noon local time.
White House press secretary Jay Carney yesterday called Romney’s foreign policy attacks “desperate” and “offensive” attempts by the former Massachusetts governor and fellow Republicans to gain a political advantage in the race.
In an interview scheduled to air today, Obama said it’s clear that the attack in Benghazi that killed Stevens and his American colleagues “wasn’t just a mob action” while declining to call it an act of terrorism before an investigation is complete.
“We don’t have all the information yet and we’re still gathering it,” Obama said in an interview for “The View,” a daytime talk show on ABC Television. “There’s no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, that the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action.”