President Barack Obama pledged in a speech to world leaders Tuesday that the United States will do what it takes to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon and warned that time for a diplomatic resolution "is not unlimited."
While there is still a chance to negotiate, Obama told the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a nuclear-armed Iran would imperil Israel, ignite a regional arms race and destabilize the global economy.
"Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained," Obama said in a speech aimed at two distinct audiences: Mideast leaders, including those of new governments emerging from the Arab Spring, and U.S. voters who in six weeks choose between him and Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential election. "The United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
The Middle East and North Africa were the focus for Obama in his U.N. speech, and he used the bulk of the address to talk about the attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts triggered by an anti-Islam video made in the U.S. The deadliest was a Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The violence has opened a line of attack by Romney on Obama's foreign policy, particularly his handling of relations with Israel and the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions. In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative in New York just before Obama spoke, Romney said the U.S. seems "at the mercy of events rather than shaping events."
At the U.N., Obama called the assaults in Libya "attacks on America" and vowed that the U.S. would be "relentless" in tracking down the killers.