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President Hassan Rouhani of Iran provided a sharp contrast to President Trump’s UN speech, charging the US with undermining international law and of isolating the US, while practicing economic terrorism against Iran and bullying other countries

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SPEAKER: To the United Nations, his excellency the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Hassan Rouhani, and to invite him to address the assembly.

GREG WILPERT: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani addressed the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly for the sixth consecutive time this Tuesday. Rouhani directed nearly his entire speech at the United States and at President Trump.

HASSAN ROUHANI: We have assembled here today, as the world is suffering from recklessness and disregard of some states for international values and institutions. The message of our presence here is that the preservation of interest and security in the world in the least costly manner is solely possible through the cooperation of and coordination among countries. However, it is unfortunate that we are witnessing rulers in the world who think they can secure their interests better, or at least in the short term ride public sentiment 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.

GREG WILPERT: He went on to highlight how the U.S. is hoping to achieve security by denying others peace and security, and issued an indirect dig at President Trump’s intelligence because of his rejection of multilateralism.

HASSAN ROUHANI: Confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength; rather it is a sign of weakness of intellect. It betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world.

GREG WILPERT: Rouhani’s critique of the U.S. government’s actions against Iran was meticulous, pointing out how the U.S. is violating international laws and norms.

HASSAN ROUHANI: The current administration seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual. This government, having withdrawn from a multilateral agreement adopted by the Security Council, in contravention of the rules and norms of international law; invites the Islamic Republic of Iran to bilateral talks; openly violates state obligations undertaken under its predecessor. On what basis and criteria can we enter into an agreement with an administration misbehaving such as this? Any talks should be within the framework, and in continuation of the JCPOA and Security Council Resolution 2231, and not in a framework of breaching them and reverting to the past.

The JCPOA is the outcome of more than a decade of diplomatic efforts and a period of intensive negotiations to resolve an artificial crisis. This document was passed unanimously by the Security Council Resolution 2231, and codified into an international obligation. Based on twelve consecutive reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, Iran has thus far complied with all its commitments. However, the United States, from the very beginning, never remained faithful to its obligations.

GREG WILPERT: He was unsparing in his assessment of the actions that the U.S. has undertaken against Iran, pointing out how President Trump openly threatened countries that would not play along with U.S. pressure on Iran.

HASSAN ROUHANI: Additionally, the United States also pressures other countries to violate the nuclear accord. And more dangerously, the United States is threatening all countries and international organizations with punishment if they comply with Security Council resolution 2231. It is the first time in the history of the United Nations that such a general invitation to violation of law is coupled with threatening law abiders with punishment. This is not just peculiar to the JCPOA, but a pattern that even applies to the U.S. approach to the International Criminal Court.

GREG WILPERT: A crucial part of Rouhani’s speech was calling U.S. sanctions against Iran a form of economic terrorism.

HASSAN ROUHANI: Unlawful, unilateral sanctions in themselves constitute a form of economic terrorism, and a breach of the right to development. 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.

The United States’ understanding of international relations is authoritarian. In its estimation, might makes right. Its understanding of power, not of legal and legitimate authority, is reflected in bullying and imposition.

GREG WILPERT: Rouhani reiterated Iran’s view of how international diplomacy ought to function, and its role in the region.

HASSAN ROUHANI: What Iran says is clear: No war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying. Just acting according to the law and the fulfillment of obligations. We support peace and democracy in the entire Middle East. We consider nuclear knowledge an imperative, and nuclear weapons prohibited.

GREG WILPERT: Finally, he also referred to the recent terror attack in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, where at least ten people were killed last weekend.

HASSAN ROUHANI: As victims of terrorism in the past and today, we have always been and will always remain in the forefront of genuine confrontation with terrorism. Today we mourn the martyrdom of tens of innocent people, who were recently murdered on Saturday in cold blood, by terrorists who shamelessly accepted responsibility from a number of Western capitals for their heinous crime.

But why can leaders of these terrorist operations, including the organization that has publicly claimed responsibility for Saturday’s crime, live and operate freely in Western countries, and even openly solicit funds? Are these activities not in violation of international counterterrorism norms? Why have the official state financiers of anti-Iranian terrorist organizations, with a record of funding al Qaeda, ISIS, and al Nusra, not only been spared any punishment, but are supported and armed?

GREG WILPERT: Rouhani concluded with a review of other problem areas in the region, such as Syria, Yemen, Israel, Palestine, and the Persian Gulf.

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Gregory Wilpert is Managing Editor at TRNN. He is a German-American sociologist who earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1994. Between 2000 and 2008 he lived in Venezuela, where he first taught sociology at the Central University of Venezuela and then worked as a freelance journalist, writing on Venezuelan politics for a wide range of publications and also founded, an English-langugage website about Venezuela. In 2007 he published the book, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (Verso Books). In 2014 he moved to Quito, Ecuador, to help launch teleSUR English. In early 2016 he began working for The Real News Network as host, researcher, and producer. Since September 2018 he has been working as Managing Editor at The Real News. Gregory's wife worked as a Venezuelan diplomat since 2008 and from January 2015 until October 2018 she was Venezuela's Ambassador to Ecuador.