TEHRAN — Iran’s new president slammed U.S. sanctions imposed on his nation as a mechanism of war, using his first UN address since his swearing-in to forcefully call out Washington’s policies in the region and the growing political schism within America.
President Ebrahim Raisi, who was sworn in last month after an election, on Tuesday delivered a far more critical and blunt take on American foreign policy than his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, had done in previous speeches to the UN General Assembly.
His speech espoused Iran’s Islamic political identity and where the Muslim nation sees its place in the world, despite the most draconian U.S. sanctions that have hurt its economy and ordinary Iranians.
“Sanctions are the U.S.’ new way of war with the nations of the world,” Raisi said, adding that such economic punishment during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic amounts to “crimes against humanity.”
U.S. sanctions have made international purchases of medicine and equipment much more difficult. Iran has endured multiple waves of the coronavirus, with nearly 118,000 deaths recorded.
In taking aim at the United States, Raisi also referenced the shocking Jan. 6th raid on Capitol Hill by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, and the horrific scenes at Kabul airport last month as desperate Afghans plunged to their deaths after clinging to a U.S. aircraft evacuating people.
“From the Capitol to Kabul, one clear message was sent to the world: the U.S.’ hegemonic system has no credibility, whether inside or outside the country,” Raisi said.
“What is seen in our region today proves that not only the hegemonist and the idea of hegemony, but also the project of imposing Westernized identity, have failed miserably.”
The Iranian president said “the project of imposing Westernized identity” has failed, and added that “today, the U.S. does not get to exit Iraq and Afghanistan but is expelled.”
Iran shares long borders with Afghanistan to its east and Iraq to its west.
The perseverance of nations, he said, is stronger than the power of superpowers. In a dig at the political slogans used by Trump and his successor President Joe Biden, Raisi said: “Today, the world doesn’t care about “America First” or “America is Back.”
Speaking remotely via video from Tehran, Raisi praised Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 as the fulfillment of “religious democracy” and linked the growth of “indigenous terrorism in the West” to a decline in spirituality.
Referring to the nuclear talks in Vienna to bring back the U.S. to compliance, Raisi said Iran considers
talks useful if their ultimate outcome is the removal of all sanctions. Still, he stated: “We don’t trust the promises made by the U.S. government.”
“The Islamic Republic considers the useful talks whose ultimate outcome is the lifting of all oppressive (U.S.) sanctions,” Raisi said in his address.
“We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules. All parties must stay true to the nuclear deal and the UN Resolution in practice,” he added.
The president repeated Iran’s stance that nuclear weapons are religiously prohibited. Nuclear weapons “have no place in our defense doctrine and deterrence policy,” Raisi said.
Tensions peaked last year between the U.S. and Iran after the Trump administration’s assassination of anti-terror field commander, General Qassim Soleimani, and a top Iraqi commander by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. Raisi mentioned the men in his speech, saying they helped fight terrorists of the Daesh group from “becoming neighbors of Europe”.