NEW YORK — President Barack Obama will strongly condemn this month's violence in the Middle East in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and will call for a consideration of the "deeper causes" of the regional crisis.
Obama, who has come under fire from Republicans for a slow reaction to the attack on the Libyan consulate that killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, will call the incident an "assault" on the values of the international body — and reject the notion that an anti-Muslim video justified the violence.
"Today, we must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers," Obama will say according to excerpts distributed by the White House. "Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations."
And despite reports suggesting that the precipitating factor of the attack was not the anti-Islamic video originally cited by the White House, Obama will allude to it, saying it is not an excuse for violence.
"There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. 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."
In his remarks, Obama is also set to emphatically rule out any "containment" strategy with a nuclear Iran, saying the United States "will do what we must" to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb.
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. We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. 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.