JERUSALEM, March 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed his opposition to a nuclear Iran and warned the danger of Syria's arsenal falling in the hands of hostile groups.
A nuclear armed Iran will "raise the risk of nuclear terrorism, undermine the non-proliferation regime, spark an arms race in a volatile region, and embolden a government that has shown no respect for the rights of its own people or the responsibilities of nations," Obama said during a speech to Israeli students in Jerusalem.
He is in Israel on a three-day visit, the first since he became U.S. president in 2009.
Western countries have long accused Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran has vehemently denied. Iran insists its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
Obama repeated Thursday the message he sent the previous day to Israel that the United States stands with Israel, especially when it comes to security.
"As president, I have said to the world that all options are on the table for achieving our objectives. America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran," Obama said, adding "The Iranian government is now under more pressure than ever before, and that pressure is increasing."
But contrary to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Wednesday that the international community needs to apply both diplomatic and military pressure on Iran, Obama said there is still time for a peaceful solution.
"All of us have an interest in resolving this issue peacefully. Strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons," he said, adding that war can bring great costs and unintended consequences.
Meanwhile, on Syria, he said the United States is drawing a red line on the use of chemical weapons against Syrian population.
"We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people or the transfer of these weapons to terrorists. The world is watching, and we will hold you accountable," he said, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The Syrian government and exiled opposition are trading accusations over the alleged use of chemical weapons in a Tuesday attack in northern Aleppo province, in which at least 31 people, reportedly including 10 army personnel, were killed by a rocket stuffed with chemical substance at the Khan al-Asal town.
Syrian officials said the rocket was launched from a rebel- controlled area and landed near a military base in the town that is under the government troops' control, while the Syrian National Coalition, Syria's main opposition group in exile, said Wednesday that "all evidences now indicate that the Assad regime is using these weapons against its own people."
Last December, the Syrian government informed the UN of its worries that some countries that support the rebels would provide them with chemical weapons.