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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticises US for withdrawing from nuclear deal in speech at the UN

UN General Assembly 2018: Mr Rouhani responds to Donald Trump's speech

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. AP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. AP

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The current US administration "seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the General Assembly, criticising the US for backing out on the nuclear deal.

Mr Rouhani promised to respond to the US tit-for-tat but claimed they did not want war.

"Our proposal is clear: commitment for commitment; violation for violation; threat for threat; and step for step, instead of talk for talk ... What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfilment of obligations," he said.

In a rebuke to US President Donald Trump, who spoke just hours before, Mr Rouhani said Iran was pleased other countries did not "acquiesce" to the US demands to break the deal.

Unilateral sanctions "constitute a form of economic terrorism and a breach of the right for development," Mr Rouhani said.

Mr Rouhani invited the United States to return to the negotiating table and said a dialogue does not have to mean a photo opportunity.

"I am starting the dialogue right here," Mr Rouhani said.

US national security adviser John Bolton, however, is due to warn Iranian leaders that they do not trust the regime and there will be consequences for aggression.

"If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens ... there will indeed be hell to pay," Mr Bolton will tell an anti-Iran conference in New York, according to prepared remarks.

"The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behaviour. Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you," he will say.

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The speech comes at a particularly tense time for Iran's relations with the rest of the world. Accusations of regional aggression, sponsoring terrorist groups, and waging a war of disinformation has led to criticism from many sides for the Iranian regime.

In May, Mr Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal - officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which reduced sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing their nuclear program - because he said they had continued nuclear proliferation and considered it a bad deal.

The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran, which has led to significant tension between the two nations, and putting remaining signatories - China, Russia, and the EU - under pressure to withdraw from the deal as well.