WASHINGTON - In his toughest appearance since riots broke out in Iran, United States President Barack Obama harshly condemned Tehran for resorting to violence against demonstrators.
However, the US leader hinted he will not directly interfere in the mayhem.
The US and the entire world are "appalled and outraged" by the violence displayed by Iranian authorities, Obama said. The US president also slammed the "threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days."
"I strongly condemn these unjust actions," Obama said during a White House news conference Tuesday. However, he added that "I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering in Iran's affairs."
Turning his attention to Iranian protestors, Obama said that "we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place."
'We've seen courageous women'
Obama noted the killing of a young woman, Neda Agha Soltan, whose apparent shooting death was captured on video and circulated worldwide.
"We have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets," Obama said. "While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history."
Asked if Iran will face consequences for how it's acted, Obama said the world is watching, and that how Iran handles dissent from its own people "will help shape the tone not only for Iran's future but also its relationship to other countries."
AP contributed to the report