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Defiant Rohani tells UN that US can impose ‘neither negotiations nor war’

Hassan Rohani (Official Internet Resources of the President of Russia/Released)
September 23, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s president, Hassan Rohani, told the UN General Assembly on September 22 that Tehran rejected U.S. efforts to make his country “a bargaining chip in U.S. elections and domestic policy.”

He said the United States could force “neither negotiations nor war” on Iran.

The United States on September 21 announced new sanctions against Iran’s Defense Ministry and other bodies involved in its nuclear and weapons program, continuing a policy it describes as “maximum pressure” in response to “malign behavior” by Tehran.

“The United States can impose neither negotiations nor war on us,” Rohani said. “Life is hard under sanctions. However, life is harder without independence.”

The United States this week imposed sanctions on more than two dozen people and entities involved in Iran’s atomic activities or its missile and conventional weapons programs as Washington unilaterally seeks to enforce a UN arms embargo against the Middle East nation.

Rohani said “any U.S. administration after the upcoming [U.S.] elections [in November] will have no choice but to surrender to the resilience of the Iranian nation.”

The punishments are part of a new sanctions offensive by the Trump administration that rests in part on a “snapback” clause from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers that the United States abandoned two years ago.

“The United States has now restored UN sanctions on Iran,” President Donald Trump said in a statement after he signed an executive order spelling out how Washington will enforce the “snapback.” “My actions today send a clear message to the Iranian regime and those in the international community who refuse to stand up to Iran.”

The U.S. effort has prompted objections from China and Russia and increased frictions between Washington and some European allies over the United States’ legal right to reinstate the embargo.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in his video address to the UN General Assembly on September 22 that Europe “will not compromise” with the United States over the sanctions mechanism.

“This would undermine the unity of the [UN] Security Council and the integrity of its decisions, and it would run the risk of further aggravating tensions in the region,” Macron said.

The Trump administration reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran two years ago, after withdrawing from the 2015 deal.

A week ago, Tehran warned Washington against making a “strategic mistake” after Trump said that any attack by Iran would be met with a far greater response in reaction to a news report that said that Iran planned to assassinate a U.S. diplomat to avenge the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in January.

Any “new strategic mistake” by the U.S. leadership would be met with a “decisive response from Iran,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a news conference on September 15.

Hours earlier, Trump had tweeted: “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a virtual address to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on September 21 that Iran is prepared for a full exchange of prisoners with the United States.

In response to a question about whether Tehran would free Iranian-American father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, Zarif said the only way for him to have influence on the courts is through a swap for Iranians he claimed the United States is holding unjustly.

Washington has long demanded that Iran release U.S. citizens including Baquer and Siamak Namazi, who were jailed in 2016 and 2015, respectively.