President Barack Obama told the United Nations that “containment” of a nuclear Iran is not an option and would pose an existential threat to Israel.
“Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” said Obama in his speech to the General Assembly Tuesday. “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.”
Obama has explicitly rejected containment of a nuclear Iran for months, but attaching its prospect to an existential threat to Israel is the starkest warning he has made and reflects increased anxiety in Israel about suspicions that Iran is accelerating a nuclear weapons program.
The address came as Iran test-fired four missiles near the Strait of Hormuz that it said were capable of sinking warships. Tehran is seen as likely to try to shut down the flow of Persian Gulf oil through the strait if Israel or the United States attacks its nuclear facilities, and several nations have moved ships into the area to prevent that from happening.
Iran also successfully test-fired a domestically produced anti-aircraft missile system, Iranian media reported.
The Ra’d air defense system, a mid-range missile system, hit a large flying target and destroyed it, the Iranian Fars News Agency reported late Monday.
“The indigenous system has been manufactured to confront advanced U.S. jet fighters,” Iran’s Press TV reported.
Fars quoted Revolutionary Guard General Ali Fadavi as saying that the missile system “can reach the entire Persian Gulf coastline and beyond where the U.S. bases are.”
Announcement of the successful test comes a day after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard senior commander threatened to launch a pre-emptive attack on Israel and said that any attack by Israel on Iran could start “World War III.”
In New York to speak to the UN for the eighth time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talked tough in response to questions about a potential Israeli attack.
“We do believe that [the Israeis] have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end,” he told reporters, through an interpreter, at the Warwick Hotel, according to Reuters. “Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs. We don’t even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated.”
Speaking to CBS News, Ahmadinejad said his country’s nuclear program posed no threat to the United States because the U.S. has “5,600 modern bombs … What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?”
Iran has long insisted its nuclear research is for peaceful purposes.