UNGA: U.S.’s Trump and Iran’s Rouhani Slam Each Other and Exchange Threats
U.S. President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani exchanged taunts at the United Nations General Assembly (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Iran has always called Israel its number one enemy but under Donald Trump, the U.S. could soon replace its ally as Tehran’s enemy number one. The reason and tension was on display at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani clashed sharply at the UNGA as both spoke on the same day and targeted barbs at each other. Trump called on the global community to isolate Iran while Rouhani called U.S. sanctions as ‘economic terrorism.’

Trump dedicated a considerable part of his annual speech to hitting out at Iran, saying, “Iran is the world's ‘leading sponsor of terrorism.’" "Iran's neighbours have paid a heavy toll for the regime's agenda of aggression and expansion," Trump said, accusing Iranian leaders of having "embezzled billions of dollars" from the country's treasury to wage proxy wars.

"The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen," he said. "We ask all nations to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues."

President Rouhani who spoke a couple of hours later targeted Trump personally for his decision to pull out of the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal. “Confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength. Rather it is a symptom of the weakness of intellect – it betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world,” Rouhani said. He added, “The government of the U.S. - at least the current administration - seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual."

The Iranian leader said he was pleased the international community did not follow the Trump administration's "unilateral and illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA".

The Trump Administration has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran and will impose another round of sanctions on those trading with Iran from November 4. The five remaining parties to the nuclear deal also referred to as the JCPOA  - France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia - agreed during a meeting in New York late on Monday to set up a payment system to preserve business ties with Iran despite U.S. sanctions.