Iranian President Hassan Rouhani used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday to denounce American pressure and send a message of resistance and resilience to the United States, signalling no matter the pressure, the country will refuse to budge.
In his pre-recorded video message, Rouhani started by pointing out that COVID-19 has put the global community in the same boat.
“But instead of being able to benefit from international cooperation, my nation is faced with the harshest sanctions in history, in obvious and fundamental violation of the UN Charter, international agreements, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231,” the president said.
He evoked the image of George Floyd, whose killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officers sparked enormous protests in late May.
Rouhani said such images are familiar for Iranians who have felt the pressure of other nations for decades, but have continued to strive for peace and progress.
After listing a wide variety of Iranian initiatives aimed at achieving regional piece and efforts he said were in line with standing up to “occupation, genocide, displacement and racism” in the 40 years since the formation of the Islamic Republic, Rouhani directly addressed the 75th UNGA President Volkan Bozkir.
“Such a nation does not deserve sanctions. The answer to peace is not war. The reward of fighting extremism is not terror.”
One day after the 40th anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War that started after US-backed leader Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and killed an estimated 500,000 people on both sides, Rouhani also recalled the conflict.
“We must know that claims don’t matter and only actions matter,” the president said, pointing out the US supported an Iraq armed with chemical weapons while boasting of peace.
According to the president, the US is doing the same thing with the ISIL (ISIS) armed group, supporting warmongering in the Middle East, selling billions of dollars in arms, and most recently, going against the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Iran.
On Sunday, the US declared it has reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, including an indefinite ban on an arms embargo that is set to expire as part of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
But the UNSC dismissed the claim as lacking legal basis while member states renewed their commitment to the landmark nuclear deal that the US unilaterally withdrew from in May 2018.
“It is a victory not just for Iran, but for the transition period of the international order in the post-western world, that the regime that boasts of having hegemony has been mired in such self-made isolation,” Rouhani said.
Addressing all members of the UNGA, the Iranian president slammed the US for turning its back on the nuclear deal, whose negotiations took more than a decade, while still claiming to support talks.
“The US can neither impose negotiations on us, nor war,” Rouhani asserted. “Living with sanctions is difficult, but more difficult is living without independence.”
Trump has repeatedly claimed he will reach a new deal with Iran within weeks if he is re-elected in November.
Rouhani concluded his UNGA speech by saying Iran will not be a “bargaining tool” for US elections, and no matter who the next US president is he will “inevitably surrender to the resilience of the great Iranian nation”.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has announced in recent weeks that if elected, he will come back to the nuclear deal, but will work to pressure Iran into wider negotiations that will include its ballistic missiles programme.
In his pre-recorded speech for UNGA earlier today, Trump made only a passing reference to Iran, saying: “We withdrew from the terrible Iran nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.”
He also boasted about killing Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in early January in Iraq, who Trump called “the world’s top terrorist”.
Soleimani’s killing by a US drone strike brought Iran-US tensions to a boiling point, prompting the country to repeatedly promise “harsh revenge” for one of its most revered figures.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also told the assembly on Tuesday issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme should be resolved under international law through dialogue and diplomacy, and through abiding by the 2015 international agreement.
“I repeat our call for all parties to abide by their responsibilities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which provides serious contributions to regional and global security,” he said.
The US on Monday announced new sanctions against Iran’s defence ministry and others involved in its nuclear and weapons programmes. They were meant to back Washington’s disputed assertion that all UN sanctions against Tehran are now restored.