U.S. President Barack Obama has used his strongest
language yet in referring to the post-election violence in Iran. Much of the
president's news conference was devoted to questions about the U.S. response to
President Obama began the session with reporters
by directly addressing the Iranian government's violent response to the
demonstrations in Tehran.
"The United States and the
international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings
and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions,
and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life
that is lost," said President Obama.
Mr. Obama has been under pressure from Republicans and
Democrats to react more forcefully to Tehran's crackdown on those who are
protesting the results of the Iranian elections. But the president said he has
taken a more measured approach to avoid the appearance that the United States is
meddling in Iranian affairs.
"But only I am the President
of the United States. And I have got responsibilities in making certain that we
are continually advancing our national security interests, and that we are not
used as a tool to be exploited by other countries," he added.
Iranian media report that
the government's Guardian Council will not annul the results of last week's
election, in which an overwhelming victory was declared for President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad. Reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi said he won,
and claimed the election was fraudulent. Mr. Obama said Iran's main concern
should not be the U.S. response to the election, but the response of the Iranian
"There [are] significant
questions about the legitimacy of the election. And so ultimately, the most
important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes
of its own people," Said Mr. Obama.
At least 17 people have been killed in protests since the
election. Mr. Obama paid tribute to one of them, a young woman, Neda Agha
Soltan. The president said video of her apparent shooting death, circulated
worldwide, is a "searing image."
It's….it's heartbreaking. And I think that anybody who sees it knows that there
is something fundamentally unjust about that," he said.
The president said if Iran chooses a path that abides by
international norms and principles, then the United States is interested in
healing the wounds of 30 years of bad relations between the countries.