NEW YORK — President Obama defended the U.S. threat to strike Syria before the United Nations on Tuesday and urged world leaders to demonstrate that the assembly “means what it says” when it condemns the use of chemical weapons.
The Syrian regime must verify that it is turning over its stockpiles of chemical weapons to international monitors, Obama said, or face consequences for failing to do so.
“If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws,” Obama said. “On the other hand, if we succeed, it will send a powerful message that the use of chemical weapons has no place in the 21st century and that this body means what it says.”
Much of Obama’s early address to the gathering was devoted to the Syrian crisis and laid the basis for his other calls to action, in opposition to the Iranian nuclear program and in support of Palestinian statehood through direct negotiations with Israel.
He said he is encouraged by the apparent willingness of the new Iranian president to discuss dismantling the nuclear program but warned that “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.” Friends of Israel must profess a belief that the country’s security as a Jewish and democratic state “depends on the realization of a Palestinian state,” he said.
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