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Iran calls U.S. sanctions 'economic terrorism' at UNGA

By Sheetal Sukhija, Jamaica News
26 Sep 2018, 15:11 GMT+10

NEW YORK, U.S. - While the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's insult-laden speech at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly featured several accusations, not once did it feature the name of the person that his jabs targeted.

Yet, there was no ambiguity about the fact that Rouhani was aiming directly at the man who, merely hours earlier had urged the same gathering to isolate Iran.

The U.S. President Donald Trump, who has not only abandoned the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal that was signed between six world powers and Iran, but has also reimposed crippling economic sanctions against the country, that were earlier lifted as part of the deal.

Then, after burdening Iran with sanctions that have sent the country's economy into free fall, Trump has continued to lead an overt campaign to financially isolate Iran from the world, after accusing the country of being "the world's leading sponsor of terrorism."

With his country now set to reimpose the second batch of even more damaging sanctions on Iran's oil, shipping and its central bank in November, Trump used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly to urge world leaders to "isolate Iran" and criticized the country's "corrupt dictatorship."

Trump claimed that Iran's leaders were responsible for death and destruction and said that his reimposition of nuclear sanctions had severely weakened the Iranian government.

The U.S. President said that the Obama-era nuclear deal was a "windfall for Iran's leaders," claiming that it boosted the country's military budget by nearly 40-percent to "finance terrorism and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen."

He also accused Iranian leaders of embezzling billions of dollars and lining their own pockets.

Trump declared, "The U.S. has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. We ask all nations to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues. We cannot allow the world's leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet's most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants death to America and that threatens Israel with annihilation."

Iran's full-throated response

Hours after Trump's speech, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed world leaders at the UNGA and delivered a full-throated response to Trump, but didn't name him once.

The actions by the United States and the impact of those actions dominated Rouhani's speech on Tuesday.

Criticizing Washington for its hostile policy toward Iran, Rouhani declared that the U.S. approach was doomed to failure.

He said, "The government of the United States of America, at least the current administration, seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual."

Commenting on America's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said that the U.S. has been wrong from the beginning on its policies on Iran.

Labelling the U.S. sanctions on Iran as economic terrorism," Rouhani said, "No state and nation can be brought to the negotiation table by force and if so what follows is the accumulation of the grapes of wrath to be reaped later by the oppressors."

Rouhani said, "The economic war that the United States has initiated under the rubric of new sanctions not only targets the Iranian people but also entails harmful repercussions for the people of other countries, and that war has caused a disruption in the state of global trade."

He then warned Trump not to underestimate the resiliency of the Iranian people and said, "The multi-millennial history of our country demonstrates that Iran and Iranians have never broken in the face of a storm of events."

Rouhani also suggested that the U.S. Presidents withdrawal from global institutions was a character defect.

The Iranian President also attacked Trump's criticism of globalism and said, "Confrontingmultilateralism is not a sign of strength. Rather it is a symptom of the weakness of intellect - it betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world."

Rouhani also said that the U.S. is exuding a "Nazi disposition" under Trump, without naming him.

He explained, "It is unfortunate. We are witnessing rulers in the world ride public sentiments and gain popular support through the fomenting of extremist nationalism and racism and through xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition, as well as through the trampling of global rules and undermining international institutions.

He then rejected Trumps offer to hold bilateral talks and said, "On what basis and criteria can we enter into an agreement with an administration misbehaving such as this?"

Accusing the U.S. of plotting a regime change in Iran, Rouhani said, "It is ironic that the U.S. government doesnt even conceal its plan for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks."

Then, in a dig directed at Trumps Singapore summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Rouhani said that dialogue does not require a photo opportunity.

He declared that he was starting the dialogue right here," adding, "We invite you to come back to the negotiating table you left We invite you to remain in international institutions.

Rouhani claimed, "What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfilment of obligations."

The Iranian President then clarified that his country had no intention of succumbing to the U.S. pressure and said, "The United States understanding of international relations is authoritarian... Its understanding of power, not of legal and legitimate authority, is reflected in bullying and imposition."

He pointed out, "Our proposal is clear: commitment for commitment; violation for violation; threat for threat; and step for step, instead of talk for talk."

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