US to do everything to prevent Iran from going nuclear: Obama

Talking tough on Iran, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that America will "do what we must" to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Updated: Sep 25, 2012, 23:41 PM IST

United Nations: Talking tough on Iran, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that America will "do what we must" to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which he said threatens the elimination of Israel and carries the risk of triggering a nuclear arms race in the region.

Obama used his last major international address to the world before the November 6 presidential elections to press Iran on its nuclear programme, saying the country has time and again failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

"America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited," Obama said in his address to the 67th session of the General Assembly.

In a reference to Iran`s support for President Bashar Al Assad, Obama said just as Tehran restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government "props up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad.

While Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, western nations claim Tehran wants to build a nuclear weapon.

Obama said, "Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.

"It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. 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," he said.

Obama said America respects the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that power is harnessed only for peaceful purposes.

The President stressed that America will "never retreat from the world" and would bring justice to those who harm its citizens and friends.

While America will stand with its allies and is willing to partner with countries to deepen bilateral ties, Obama said for such a partnership to be effective, its citizens must be secure and its efforts welcomed.

Referring to the issue of Israel and Palestine, Obama said the parties must work towards a Jewish state of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine.

"Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist. The road is hard but the destination is clear a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine.

"Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey," he said.

He noted that nations in every part of the world have travelled the hard path to peace and security.

"From Brazil to South Africa; from Turkey to South Korea; from India to Indonesia; people of different races, religions, and traditions have lifted millions out of poverty, while respecting the rights of their citizens and meeting their responsibilities as nations," he said.

Demanding "sanctions and consequences" for atrocities in Syria, Obama said Bashar al-Assad`s rule must come to an end.

"The future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people," Obama told the UN General Assembly in a keynote address.

"If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings."