Barack Obama
Barack ObamaReuters

US President Barack Obama on Monday announced new sanctions targeting regimes that commit atrocities against civilians during a speech commemorating America's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Obama vowed at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington to “always be there for Israel,” adding, “when efforts are made to equate Zionism to racism, we reject them. When international forums single out Israel with unfair resolutions, we vote against them."

“When attempts are made to de-legitimize the state of Israel, we oppose them," Obama added. "And when faced with a regime that threatens global security and denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel, the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

"Our work will never be done,” Obama said, saying the lesson of the Holocaust was that the United States and the international community must ensure that there are “never again” mass killings anywhere in the world.

“National sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people,” he said sternly.

Obama then announced the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board, which will coodinate the US government’s efforts to identify and address atrocities worldwide.

He’s also signed an executive order aimed at punishing individuals in Iran and Syria who use information technology to crack down on dissidents who oppose the violent regimes there.

Obama said it must be “the work of our nation and all nations” to maintain “dignity for every human being,” including the Jewish people.

His administration, he claimed, has “saved countless lives.”

Obama's administration maintains that the only way to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - whose brutal 13-month crackdown on dissent has killed at least 9,100 civilians - is by way of military force.

Nonetheless, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton last week ruled out providing military aid to the rebel Free Syrian Army or direct military intervention to end the atrocities in Syria.

Instead, the Obama administration continues to pursue "other measures," which in diplomatic language is code for sanctions.