Obama: ‘All options’ — including diplomacy — still on with Iran

WASHINGTON (JTA) – 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 address.

Obama said Tuesday night in his address to the nation that 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," the president 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 Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"Our ironclad — and I mean ironclad — 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 Middle East, 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."

Obama also predicted the demise of the Assad regime in Syria.

Much of his speech was focused on proposals to spur job creation at home.

The State of the Union marked one of the last official appearances in Congress of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who is resigning from Congress as of Wednesday to focus on her recovery from a shooting attack a year ago.

Giffords, the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from Arizona, was cheered as she walked into the chamber, accompanied by her close friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). Obama sought out Giffords for a hug before he began his speech.

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