United Nations – US President Donald Trump called for Iran’s international isolation in a combative and unashamedly boastful speech at the United Nations Tuesday, prompting accusations from his Iranian counterpart that he was trying to topple his government.
In his second appearance before the General Assembly, Trump also lashed out at other adversaries such as Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and took aim at international institutions such as the UN-backed world court.
He even provoked derisive laughter from fellow leaders on the floor of the normally staid assembly by trumpeting the performance of his administration whose “America First” foreign policy continues to cause alarm bells.
But Trump also had warm words for the main target of his rhetoric at his UN debut last year as he praised the “courage” of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
Hours before Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani spoke from the same rostrum, Trump denounced the clerical regime in Tehran for sowing “chaos, death and destruction” as he defended his decision to ditch an internationally brokered nuclear deal.
“We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons,” Trump said, in an allusion to Tehran’s support for Islamic militant movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
“We cannot allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth,” he said.
“We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.”
Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in May, to the dismay of the other parties that had invested years in negotiations to achieve a milestone agreement on keeping Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check.
In his address, Rouhani stressed Tehran’s continued commitment to the deal and ridiculed Trump as a “preposterous” leader who was himself isolated.
– EU rejects sanctions –
In a sign of how some allies are unwilling to automatically follow Trump’s lead, the five remaining parties to the Iran nuclear agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — announced Monday plans to keep business ties alive with Iran, staring down Washington’s move to impose sanctions.
Rouhani poured cold water on the idea of resuming talks with Washington, saying that claims by senior US officials that they were not seeking regime change fooled no one.
“It is ironic that the US government does not even conceal its plan for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks,” Rouhani said.
“For dialogue to take place, there is no need for a photo opportunity. The two sides can listen to each other right here in this Assembly.
“I am starting the dialogue right here, and state, in unequivocal terms, that the question of international security is not a toy in American domestic politics.”
French President Emmanuel Macron used his speech to urge “dialogue and multilateralism” on dealing with Iran, crediting the 2015 accord with curbing Tehran’s nuclear program.
“What will bring a real solution to the situation in Iran and what has already stabilized it? The law of the strongest? Pressure from only one side? No!” Macron said.
He also said that trade agreements will be contingent on membership in the Paris climate pact, in a clear bid to pressure the United States into rethinking its withdrawal from the accord.
Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, another ally whose relations with Trump have cooled, did not mention the US president by name but there was little doubt who he had in mind when he said it was “very easy to create chaos but difficult to re-establish order.”
In his opening speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said trust in the rules-based global order and among states was “at a breaking point” and international cooperation was becoming more difficult, again without specifically mentioning Trump.
“Today, world order is increasingly chaotic. Power relations are less clear,” Guterres told the 193-nation assembly.
“Universal values are being eroded. Democratic principles are under siege,” he added just minutes before Trump took the podium.
– Trump denounces ‘globalist’ view –
Trump robustly attacked the “globalist” view of the world and vowed that “America will never apologize for protecting its citizens.”