West turns up heat on Iran, Syria at UN

2012-09-26 09:00
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad walks through a nuclear facility in Iran. (File)

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad walks through a nuclear facility in Iran. (File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Western and Arab leaders ramped up the pressure on Syria and Iran at the United Nations on Tuesday, as US President Barack Obama vowed to keep Tehran from getting its hands on nuclear weapons.

The United States, France and Qatar led the charge as the West and its allies attempted to use the UN General Assembly to win support for tougher international action against the Middle East's twin pariah regimes.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon set the tone, condemning the bloodshed in Syria, where the beleaguered regime is battling an armed revolt and subjecting its citizens to what the UN peace envoy dubbed "medieval forms of torture".

Under pressure from his domestic rivals to take a tough stance, Obama went further, declaring: "The regime of Bashar Assad must come to an end so the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin."

The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, a key supporter of the Syrian opposition, called for an Arab military intervention.

"It is better for Arab countries themselves to intervene out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed," he told the General Assembly.

Protected areas

A US State Department official said the United States will soon announce an increase in its aid to the Syrian rebels, but would still stop short of sending weapons and ammunition.

And French President Francois Hollande urged the United Nations to declare protected areas in "liberated zones" under opposition control in Syria so that humanitarian aid could reach refugees.

Obama was also unequivocal on Iran, which is locked in a standoff with the West over a nuclear programme that Washington alleges is designed to produce a weapon that could tip the balance of power in an already volatile region.

"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," Obama warned.

"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 declared.

Hollande also took a tough line on Iran, accusing it of supplying weapons and men to Assad to prop up his regime and dubbing this "unacceptable".
 
Outreach to Muslims

Six weeks before his re-election bid is decided, Obama is under pressure on the foreign policy front, with criticism of his handling of the killing of US diplomats and claims he is not standing closely enough behind Israel.

His speech aimed to counter those claims from White House rival Mitt Romney and also renew his outreach to the Muslim world after two weeks of anti-American violence triggered by an online video that insulted Islam.

Obama said the Arab Spring would lead to improved democracy and living standards in a Middle East region more in line with US values but, while he condemned the film, he insisted no insults could justify violence.

He vowed that the militants who stormed the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September, killing the American ambassador to Libya and three colleagues, would face justice, and said the United States would always defend free speech.

"There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy," he said.

"There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan," he said.

Deadlock

Debate in New York in the run-up to the assembly focused on the violence in Syria and the risk that the Iranian stand-off could lead to a broader conflict if Israel or the United States launched a pre-emptive strike.

Ban spoke for many delegates when he called on world powers to put aside their differences and unite behind a plan to pressure the parties to settle their conflicts through negotiation.

The UN chief dubbed the Syria conflict "a regional calamity with global ramifications" and said: "The international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control."

"We must stop the violence and flow of arms to both sides and set in motion a Syrian-led transition as soon as possible," Ban added.

The 15-nation Security Council has become paralysed by deadlock over the 18-month-old war, which Syrian activists say has left more than 29 000 dead.

Ban also expressed concerns for the mounting tensions surrounding Iran, denouncing what he called: "The shrill war talk of recent weeks."

While Obama took no option off the table in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, Ban called on the United Nations to reject threats of military action, warning: "Any such attacks would be devastating."

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York, shrugged off talk of an attack on his country's nuclear facilities and said the Islamic republic would not end what it claims is peaceful civilian nuclear research.

Read more on:    un  |  francois hollande  |  mahmoud ahmadinejad  |  bashar assad  |  barack obama  |  mitt romney  |  ban ki-moon  |  syria  |  libya  |  iran  |  nuclear  |  iran nuclear programme  |  syria conflict  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  us elections 2012  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
17 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.