Rouhani Threatens Europe at U.N.: ‘Our Patience Has a Limit’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrives to speak during the 74th Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 25, 2019. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a speech to the U.N. General Assembly against the United States and its allies, with a constant drumbeat of threats that regional “peace” and “stability” can only be achieved by meeting Iranian demands.

Some of these threats were directed at the European Union, which has not provided Iran with the benefits it expected in exchange for remaining in the nuclear deal.

Rouhani complained about “terrorist strikes and bombardments in Yemen, Syria, occupied Palestine, Afghanistan, and other countries of the world, including Iraq.” 

In other words, Rouhani was accusing the United States and its allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, of terrorism in an effort to deflect allegations of Iranian military aggression and support for terrorism.  Later he called the United States a “warmonger” that should be punished for “leveling allegations and grudges” against “innocent” nations such as Iran and accused the U.S. of supporting ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

Rouhani said the Middle East is “burning in the flames of war, bloodshed, aggression, occupation, and religious and sectarian fanaticism and extremism,” with the “suppressed people of Palestine” as the “biggest victims.”

“Discrimination, appropriation of lands, settlement expansions, and killings continue to be practiced against the Palestinians,” he charged, predicting that “U.S. and Zionist plans” for the Palestinian territories are “certainly doomed.”

Rouhani claimed Iran’s “regional and international assistance and cooperation on security and counterterrorism,” exemplified by Iran’s alliance with Russia and Turkey in Syria, have been “decisive” against the “destructive plans” of the United States.

“I hail from a country that has resisted the most merciless economic terrorism and has defended its rights to independence and science and technology development,” the Iranian president said.

“The U.S. government, while imposing extraterritorial sanctions and threats against other nations, has made a lot of efforts to deprive Iran of the advantages of participating in the global economy, and has resorted to international piracy by misusing the international banking system,” he alleged.

“We Iranians have been the pioneers of freedom-seeking movements in the region, while seeking peace and progress for our nation as well as our neighbors,” Rouhani claimed. 

“We have never surrendered to foreign aggression and imposition. We cannot believe the invitation to negotiation of people who claim to have applied the harshest sanctions in history against the dignity and prosperity of our nation,” he said, restating several times that his regime does not view the current U.S. government as a trustworthy negotiating partner.

Rouhani accused “criminal” U.S. officials of pursuing sanctions in an “addictive manner” against a range of ostensibly innocent countries such as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China, and Russia.

He said the sanctions are harming “83 million Iranians, particularly women and children,” although later he also claimed that the sanctions have had little negative effect on Iran’s economic and social development.

“The attitude of the incumbent U.S. government towards the nuclear deal, or JCPOA, not only violates the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, but also constitutes a breach of the sovereignty and political and economic independence of all of the world’s countries,” he argued.

“In spite of the American withdrawal from the JCPOA, for one year Iran remained fully faithful to all of its nuclear commitments in accordance with the JCPOA. Out of respect for the Security Council resolution, we provided Europe with the opportunity to fulfill its 11 commitments, made to compensate for the U.S. withdrawal. However, unfortunately, we only heard beautiful words while witnessing no effective measures,” he said.

Rouhani threatened Europe by saying Iran’s “patience has a limit” and it has almost been reached with respect to Europe’s “inability” to give Tehran what it wants. He implied that Iran’s national “dignity” would therefore compel it to begin violating the JCPOA in increasingly broad ways.

“On behalf of my nation and state, I would like to announce that our response to any negotiation under sanctions is negative,” he said.

“The government and people of Iran have remained steadfast against the harshest sanctions in the past one and a half years, and will never negotiate with an enemy that seeks to make Iran surrender with the weapon of poverty, pressure, and sanctions,” he declared.

“The only way for talks to begin is to return to commitments and compliance. If you are sensitive to the name of ‘JCPOA,’ well then, you can return to its framework and abide by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. Stop the sanctions so as to open the way for the start of negotiations,” he said. 

Rouhani suggested Iran might be willing to “give more” if the Western world agrees to “pay more” in a revised nuclear deal, although he did not detail either his offers or demands.

Rouhani claimed Iran is interested in maintaining “the peace and stability of the Persian Gulf, and providing freedom of navigation and safety of movement in the Strait of Hormuz.” 

He lamented that “recent incidents have endangered such security” and suggested the “umbrella” of safe passage could only be restored if all regional countries joined a “Coalition of Hope” that would respect Iran’s needs as well. This coalition would pointedly exclude all powers outside the Middle East and would obstruct the deployment of foreign naval vessels to secure the freedom of navigation.

“The security of our region shall be provided when American troops pull out. Security shall not be supplied with American weapons and intervention,” Rouhani said explicitly. 

“The United States, after 18 years, has failed to reduce acts of terrorism. However, the Islamic Republic of Iran managed to terminate the scourge of Daesh with the assistance of neighboring nations and governments,” he claimed, using another name for the Islamic State (and grievously insulting the U.S.-supported Kurdish forces who did much of the fighting against ISIS).

“The ultimate way towards peace and security in the Middle East passes through inward democracy and outward diplomacy,” he said. “Security cannot be purchased or supplied by foreign governments … America is not our neighbor.”

“The security of Saudi Arabia shall be guaranteed with the termination of aggression towards Yemen,” Rouhani said, effectively telling the Saudis they can halt Iranian attacks on their oil fields by surrendering control of Yemen to Iranian proxies.

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