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Rouhani And Trump In Virtual Battle At UN General Assembly

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a virtual address to the United Nations on Tuesday accused the United States of dishonoring the UN by imposing sanctions in violation of the UN Charter. 

“Instead of international cooperation [during the coronavirus pandemic], my nation is facing the harshest sanctions in history and unmistakable violation of an international treaty,” Rouhani said in his address to the UN General Assembly, which is taking place on the UN’s 75th anniversary.

Rouhani also thanked the Security Council, its chairs – Indonesia in August and Niger in September – and council members China and Russia, for “saying no” to the US moving the “snapback” of UN sanctions on Iran in August.

“The [US] can neither impose negotiations, nor war! Life is hard under sanctions, but it is harder without independence,” he said, and called on the international community “to stand up against bullying.”

The Iranian President also declared that Iran was not a bargaining chip in the US presidential election of November 3 and maintained that any American administration “will have to surrender to the resilient Iranian people.”

Earlier on Tuesday in a recorded address to the UN, US President Donald Trump cited his actions against Tehran, including leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, among the achievements of his administration that would contribute to peace in the Middle East.

Trump in May 2018 unilaterally withdrew from the agreement officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was endorsed by the UNSC Resolution 2231 in 2015. His administration now insists it has re-instated all UN sanctions that were lifted by the resolution.

“We withdrew from the terrible Iran nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” Trump said. “We obliterated the ISIS Caliphate 100 percent, killed its founder and leader, [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi, and eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qassem Soleimani [leader of Iran’s al-Quds military brigade, who was killed by a US missile strike in Baghdad in January].”

US officials on Tuesday reiterated that the US is the largest financial supporter of the UN, in an apparent bid to imply that the UN should pay more attention to US wishes.

“The American people deserve good stewardship for their generosity. We seek a UN that works well and advances our foreign policy interests,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted on Tuesday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a tweet said the US “will continue working to ensure that the UN serves its members effectively, with integrity, and in a fair and transparent manner.”

The US was snubbed by the Security Council in August first when most members, including all other veto-wielding members, abstained from a 2-2 vote on August 14 on a US draft resolution to extend an arms embargo on Iran due to expire in October.

The US next draft resolution on August 20 to restore all UN sanctions on Iran did not have a better fate. Like his Indonesian predecessor, the Nigerian ambassador to the UN, who chaired the Council in August, took no action on the draft US resolution.

While Rouhani on September 16 called events at the Security Council a “victory for Iran,” Washington insists that as of September 20 it considers all UN sanctions on Iran to be back in place. On Monday September 21, the US announced more sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities including the Defense Ministry. The US has also criticized the European members of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran -- France, Germany and Britain, collectively known as E3 – for inaction.

On Monday Andreas Feicht, the German State Secretary for Economic Affairs, speaking on behalf of the European Union in Vienna, urged Tehran to “immediately” return to full compliance with the provisions of the nuclear agreement. He reiterated that the EU remains committed to the agreement and to the lifting of UN sanctions.

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