All options are on the table for Iran, but a diplomatic solution to the impasse over its nuclear weapons program is still a possibility, President Obama said in his State of the Union speech.
Obama said Iran was more isolated than ever because of the intensified sanctions he has introduced or encouraged.
“Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal,” he said. “But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.”
Obama also referred to the defense alliance with Israel, but did not mention—as he has in past speeches—his efforts to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“Our iron-clad, and I mean iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history,” he said to a standing ovation.
Speaking of the “Arab Spring” wave of protests across the region, Obama said the outcome was still uncertain, and alluded to concerns about Islamist victories in elections in Egypt and Tunisia.
“While it is ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well,” he said. “We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews.” He predicted the demise of the Assad regime in Syria.
Much of Obama’s speech was focused on proposals to spur job creation.
The State of the Union marked one of the last appearances in Congress of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who is still recovering from a shooting attack a year ago and who is resigning from Congress as of tomorrow to focus on her recovery.
Giffords was cheered walking into the chamber, accompanied by her close friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Obama sought Giffords out for a hug before he began his speech.