Not content to sit back and let President Donald Trump hog all the attention at this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took the stage on Wednesday and proceeded to deliver a lengthy speech almost entirely devoted to blasting President Trump.
Without actually naming Trump, Rouhani said that yesterday, words were spoken in the UN General Assembly that were “hateful” and “unfit to be heard in the UN, which was established to promote peace.” In case there was any confusion as to whom Rouhani was referring, almost simultaneously, Rouhani’s official Twitter account tweeted using similar language specifically calling out the US president:
Ugly, ignorant words were spoken by the US president against the Iranian nation. Full or hatred & baseless allegations and unfit for #UNGA— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) September 20, 2017
This comes one day after Trump used his speech at the UN to slam Iran. He labeled Iran’s government “a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy” that has “turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.”
Trump also sharply criticized the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, calling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” and signaling that he may be considering pulling the US out of the deal soon.
Rouhani in his speech Wednesday fired back, declaring, “We are unmoved by threats and intimidation” and stating, "it will be a great pity if this deal is destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics," referring to the Trump administration.
On October 15, Trump will once again have to certify to Congress whether Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal, an agreement between the US, Iran, and European and Asian powers that lifted a series of punishing economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran accepting strict curbs on its nuclear-related activities. The punishment for Iranian cheating — like operating prohibited technology used to produce nuclear material — is the reimposition of sanctions. So it’s fair to say the animosity between the two countries couldn’t come at a worse time.
Rouhani also used his speech to distance Iran from its many wrongdoings around the world. He said his government condemns terrorism, dictators, and human rights violators, glossing over inconvenient facts including that Iran is one of the greatest sponsors of terrorism with its support of Hezbollah and other Shia militias in the Middle East; backs the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war; and regularly commits egregious human rights violations at home.
During a global conference meant to promote peace, the comments of Rouhani and Trump put the US and Iran on a more antagonistic path.