Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, addressing world leaders at the 73rd UN general assembly meeting on Tuesday has emphasized that unfair US unilateral sanctions can be viewed as a form of economic terrorism.

According to an Iran Press report, addressing world leaders in New York president Rouhani drew the attention of the international community  to a string of violations of international treaties and accords by the Trump administration, and admonished the US leadership for abrogating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Addressing American politicians and leaders, president Rouhani pointedly said: "We invite you to rejoin the multilateral treaty that you unilaterally withdrew from. We invite you to rejoin international bodies which are working for world peace. We invite you to join the international community."

President Rouhani added: "The government of the United States—at least the current administration—seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual. This government, having withdrawn from a multilateral agreement adopted by the Security Council, in contravention of the rules and norms of international law, invites the Islamic Republic of Iran to bilateral talks. An administration that is inviting Iran to engage in talks is not ready to consult its own experts nor willing to recognize the requirements of a modern state, including the paramount principle of continuity of state responsibility, and hence openly violates state obligations undertaken by its predecessor.

On what basis and criteria can we enter into an agreement with an administration misbehaving such as this? Any talks should be within the framework and in continuation of the JCPOA and Security Council resolution 2231, and not in a framework of breaching them and reverting to the past. It is ironic that the US government does not even conceal its plan for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks!

Iran's approach to foreign policy very different to United States

The approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of foreign policy has been based on multilateralism and compliance with the recognized principles of international law. Our respect for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the long and difficult negotiations with the Group of 5+1, which led to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the JCPOA—illustrates a clear manifestation of this approach.

We are pleased that the international community did not acquiesce to the US government’s unilateral and illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA, and adopted a categorical position vis-à-vis that decision. The JCPOA is the outcome of more than a decade of diplomatic efforts and a period of intensive negotiations to resolve an artificial crisis. This document was unanimously approved by Security Council resolution 2231 and codified into an international obligation. According to this resolution, all countries and international and regional organizations were called upon to  support the implementation of the JCPOA, and to refrain from any actions that undermine implementation of commitments under the JCPOA.

Based on 12 consecutive reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency – the IAEA – Iran has thus far complied with all of its commitments. However, the United States, from the very beginning, never remained faithful to its obligations. Later, the current administration, resorting to flimsy excuses and in open violation of its commitments, finally withdrew from the accord. The United Nations should not allow its decisions to fall victim to the domestic election and propaganda games of some of its members, and should not allow any Member State to dodge the execution of its international commitments.  

Additionally, the United States also pressures other countries to violate the nuclear accord. And more dangerously, the United States is threatening all countries and international organizations with punishment if they comply with Security Council resolution 2231. It is the first time in the history of the United Nations that such ‘a general invitation to violation of law’ is coupled with ‘threatening law-abiders with punishment.’ This is not just peculiar to the JCPOA, but a pattern that even applies to the US approach to the International Criminal Court. 

Praise for European Union, Russia, China, for supporting JCPOA 

We appreciate the efforts of the international community, the European Union, Russia, and China in supporting the implementation of the JCPOA and consider the full realization of the commitments stipulated in it a precondition for the survival of this significant accomplishment of diplomacy. 

The Iranian president added: "Unlawful unilateral sanctions in themselves constitute a form of economic terrorism and a breach of the ‘Right to Development.’ The economic war that the United States has initiated under the rubric of new sanctions not only targets the Iranian people but also entails harmful repercussions for the people of other countries, and that war has caused a disruption in the state of global trade. 

United States policy vis-à-vis Iran wrong from the beginning 

The Iranian people have demonstrated their unwavering resilience during the past forty years despite the difficulties and constraints caused by sanctions, and  have shown that they can overcome this difficult phase as well. The multi-millennial history of our country demonstrates that Iran and Iranians have never broken in the face of a storm of events—not even been bowed. I state here, in clear, unambiguous terms, that the United States policy vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran has been wrong from the beginning, and its approach of resisting the wishes of the Iranian people as manifested in numerous elections is bound to fail. Iran, with its historical and civilizational longevity, rich cultural heritage, and foremost geopolitical position, is an undeniable reality.

Engagement and cooperation with Iran benefits everyone

The Iranian president added: "Policy of engagement and cooperation with Iran has produced positive outcomes for other nations, as best reflected in Iran’s cooperation with friendly countries in the fight against terrorism." 

The United States’ understanding of international relations is authoritarian. In its estimation, might makes right. Its understanding of power, not of legal and legitimate authority, is reflected in bullying and imposition. No state and nation can be brought to the negotiating table by force, and if so, what follows is the accumulation in the ‘grapes of wrath’ of those nations, to be reaped later by the oppressors.

We concur that, at the end of the day, there is no better way but dialogue. However, dialogue is two-way: it should be based on equality, justice, and human integrity and honor, and conducted in accordance with the rules and norms of international law. UN Security Council resolution 2231 is not a ‘piece of paper’. We invite you to return to that Council resolution. We invite you to come back to the negotiating table you left. If you dislike the JCPOA because it is the legacy of your domestic political rivals, then 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. 

At the end of his speech to world leaders, president Rouhani said: "What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfillment of obligations. We support peace and democracy in the entire Middle East. We consider nuclear knowledge an imperative and nuclear weapons prohibited."     

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