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Hassan Rouhani uses U.N. stage to slam Trump over nuclear deal

September 25, 2018

UNITED NATIONS | Iran’s president used the stage of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to slam President Trump’s withdrawal of the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, claiming the rest of the world won’t go along with the U.S. move and that Washington’s re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran is a “form of economic terrorism.”

Hassan Rouhani’s remarks came just a few hours after Mr. Trump stood at the same podium at the gathering of world leaders here in New York, calling on them to isolate Iran and accusing Tehran of spreading terrorism and clandestinely building a nuclear arsenal in violation of the Obama-era nuclear accord.

“We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons,” Mr. Trump said. “We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.”

The president, who has indicated that he won’t meet with Mr. Rouhani in New York this week, withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in May, saying the agreement rewarded Tehran for its bad behavior.

Mr. Rouhani roundly criticized the move Tuesday, although he never directly mentioned Mr. Trump by name. Instead, he lamented that the current U.S. government has unilaterally broken from other world powers, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, who also signed the 2015 nuclear deal.The deal was the outcome of more than a decade of diplomatic efforts and a period of intensive negotiations to resolve an artificial crisis, the Iranian president claimed, adding that it was unanimously approved by the U.N. Security Council prior to going into effect.Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. and the other signatories gave Tehran billions of dollars worth of economic sanctions relief in exchange for limits to Irans nuclear program, long suspected of building atomic weapons in violation of past Security Council resolutions.Mr. Trump says the deal was a failure because it did not go far enough. Specifically, it did not address Irans development of ballistic missiles that also violates past Security Council resolutions, and that it ignored Tehrans support of militant proxy groups scattered around the Middle East activities Mr. Trump says were only bolstered by the sanctions relief Iran got in 2015.Irans leaders sow chaos, death and destruction, Mr. Trump said in his U.N. speech Tuesday. Irans leaders plunder the nations resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles [and to] finance havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen.While the other signatories to the nuclear deal say they intend to keep it alive with Iran, the Trump administration has moved swiftly in recent months to reimpose U.S. sanctions. Administration officials say they hope the fresh damage to the Iranian economy will inspire the Islamic republics leaders to engage in new negotiations directly with Washington.

Mr. Rouhani said Tuesday that Mr. Trump’s approach won’t work because Iran won’t “be brought to the negotiation table by force.”

He went on to suggest Mr. Trump abandoned the nuclear deal purely for U.S. domestic political reasons because “it is the legacy” of the Obama administration. The Iranian president also said Tehran might be willing to engage in new talks with Washington, but only in a “multilateral” setting through the United Nations.

“We invite you to come back to the negotiating table you left,” he said. “We invite you to come back to the security council resolution. We invite you to remain in the international institutions. Do not engage in imposing sanctions. Sanctions and extremism are two sides of the same coin. Extremism involves negating the thinking of others and sanctions negate the life and prosperity of people.”

- Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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