President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday and, as expected, touched on U.S. relations with Iran and actions to be taken in Syria if it fails to surrender its chemical weapons. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
Looking to reset a relationship that's been fractured for more than 30 years, President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday that he wants to test a diplomatic path towards a deal for Iran to swear off nuclear weapons. He described his correspondence with new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.
"While the status quo will only deepen Iran's isolation, Iran's genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and the world," Obama said.
The president, though, said that nice statements aren't enough.
"Conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable," he said.
The reception for Iran and its new president was much less cordial outside the U.N. Protesters railed against Rouhani and the religious Ayatollahs, who hold real power, saying that they're responsible for human rights violations, including the death of activists.
"We believe the Iranian regime is the same as long as there is a theocracy in the country," said one protester.
The president also challenged the U.N. to enforce a chemical weapons ban on Syria, citing the horrific nature of those weapons and evidence that the Assad government used them against its own people.
"The Syrian government took a first step by giving an accounting of its stockpiles," Obama said. "Now, there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so.
The president said that restarting the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is critical for the entire Middle East.
"Peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future," he said.
The president warned those wishing for less American involvement in world affairs, saying that that would create a leadership vacuum that no other country is ready to fill.