Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, in a pre-recorded speech to the 76th UN General Assembly on Tuesday, said the US “hegemonic approach” is no longer credible, calling on the Biden administration to lift its sanctions on Tehran.
In a scathing speech hitting out at both US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, the newly elected conservative leader said the world “doesn’t care about America First or America is Back,” asserting that the “perseverance of nations is stronger than the power of superpowers.”
Referring to two incidents that shook the world this year – the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol in January and young Afghans falling to their deaths from a US plane departing the Afghan capital Kabul on Aug. 16 – Raisi called these the result of the US “seeking global hegemony.”
He said the US has been making the mistake of modifying its “way of war” with the world instead of changing its “way of life,” calling it a “mistaken path.”
Throwing the ball in the US court, he said Iran is willing to negotiate with world powers to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but the Biden administration must “lift sanctions at once” imposed on Iran under the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign.
Iran’s president called US sanctions on Iran, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a “crime against humanity,” accusing Washington of using sanctions as a “new way of waging war,” echoing the words of his reformist predecessor who often accused the US of “economic terrorism.”
He said the US sanctions had “hampered Iran's efforts” to import COVID-19 vaccines, adding that Iran was keen from the outset to purchase and import vaccines from “reliable international sources.”
COVID, Afghanistan, nuclear deal
He called the coronavirus pandemic a “wake-up call” for the world, a reminder that “the safety of all human beings is interdependent.”
On recent events in Afghanistan, Raisi said in fact US forces “did not withdraw” from the region this summer but were “expelled,” adding that the US presence in countries like Iraq and Syria only “impedes democracy.”
Earlier in the day, Iran’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held a series of meetings with his counterparts from India, Luxembourg, Vietnam, and Finland, later calling the bilateral talks “productive.”
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he is expected to hold talks with his counterparts from Russia, China, France, Germany, and the UK as well as the EU foreign policy chief, with the revival of Vienna talks on reviving the nuclear deal topping the agenda.
Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh shot down speculation that there would be a meeting in New York between the foreign ministers of Iran and the P4+1 countries (Russia, China, Britain, France, plus Germany).
He also said the Vienna talks will resume in the "next few weeks" while stressing that Iran’s foreign policy team has not yet reached a final conclusion on the roadmap for the next round of talks to revive the nuclear deal.
Importantly, Amir-Abdollahian is the first Iranian foreign minister to be allowed to visit New York since 2019, when his predecessor Javad Zarif was sanctioned and barred from entering US soil./aa