US President Donald Trump blasted Iran as a “corrupt dictatorship” in his UN address today (Reuters)
U.S. President Donald Trump blasted Iran on Tuesday as a “corrupt dictatorship” that is plundering its people to pay for aggression abroad, using his speech to the United Nations General Assembly to threaten more sanctions against Tehran.
“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Trump told the annual gathering. “They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations.”
Trump’s speech in the green-marbled U.N. hall, while relatively low key, was aimed squarely at Iran, which the United States accuses of harboring nuclear ambitions and fomenting instability in the Middle East through its support for militant groups in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Trump, who said in a Twitter post on Tuesday morning that he had given up hope for a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani while both were in New York, said he would keep up economic pressure on Tehran to try to force a change in its behavior.
In May, he withdrew the United States from the 2015 international deal to put curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.
“Additional sanctions will resume November 5th and more will follow and we are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially,” Trump told the United Nations.
Trump compared U.S. relations with Iran to what he called improved ties with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who Trump had met in Singapore in June as part of a still-unfulfilled drive to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.
In his address last year to the U.N., Trump insulted Kim as a “rocket man” bent on nuclear destruction. On Tuesday, Trump praised Kim for halting nuclear and missile tests, releasing Americans held prisoner and returning some remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950s Korean War.
The two leaders are trying to arrange a second summit.
International trade reforms
Trump also used his speech to call for international trade reforms and littered his remarks with vows to protect American sovereignty and reject globalism.
“America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” he said.
Trump delivered a harsh message to OPEC members, calling on them to stop raising oil prices and to pay for their military protection. He threatened to limit U.S. aid only to countries that are friendly to the United States.
Starting his speech on an upbeat note about his economic record in less than two years in office, Trump prompted some murmuring and chuckles from the crowd of world leaders and diplomats when he boasted that he had accomplished more as president than almost any other administration in history.
“I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay,” he said.
But Trump’s main message was aimed at Iran and attempting to drive a wedge between its leadership and its people, days after an attack in southwestern Iran on a military parade killed 25 people and unsettled the country.
In remarks to reporters on his way to his speech, Trump said he would not meet the Iranians until they “change their tune.”
Both Trump and Rouhani were attending the annual U.N. event.
“Iran has acted very badly,” said Trump. “We look forward to having a great relationship with Iran, but it won’t happen now.”
Foes for decades, Washington and Tehran have been increasingly at odds since the Republican U.S. president pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran and announced sanctions against the OPEC member.
The accord was negotiated under Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama.
Over the summer, Trump had said he would meet with Rouhani without preconditions to negotiate a new deal, an offer reiterated on Sunday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and extended to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
Rouhani said on Monday Tehran would not talk to Trump until the United States returned to the 2015 deal..
The top adviser to Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, rejected the U.S. offer on Tuesday, saying “Trump’s and Pompeo’s dream would never come to reality,” the IRNA news agency said.
Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s U.N. mission, told Reuters that Iran has not requested a meeting with Trump.
Some Iranian insiders have said any talks between Rouhani and Trump would effectively kill the existing nuclear accord.
“Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man,” Trump wrote in Tuesday’s Twitter post.
© Thomson Reuters 2018
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