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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at the 74th United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2019 in New York City.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at the 74th United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In UN Address, Rouhani Says Iran "Will Never, Ever Forget" Crimes of Trump Sanctions

Iranian president said U.S. has attempted a "silent killing of a great nation."

Eoin Higgins

If U.S. troops pull out of the Persian Gulf and stops meddling in the region's affairs, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, then there is a chance for peace in the Middle East. 

"The security of our region shall be provided when American troops pull out," said Rouhani. "Security shall not be supplied with American weapons and intervention."

The Iranian leader added that the U.S would also have to drop the sanctions put on Iran in violation of the Obama-era nuclear deal in order to return to the negotiating table. Rouhani said the sanctions were an attempt at a "silent killing of a great nation ... particularly women and children "

"The Iranian nation will never, ever forget and forgive these crimes and these criminals," Rouhani said.

In a statement, National Iranian American Council senior research analyst Sina Toossi said that the Iranian president's speech should be seen as an opening.

"While Trump seeks a photo-op with Rouhani, confidence and trust must first be built to restore lost U.S. credibility with the parties to the nuclear deal," said Toossi. "Rouhani gave Trump a face-saving way to abide by the accord's framework, without formally returning to the deal."

Al Jazeera reported that Rouhani and the Iranian elegation are in a stronger position this year than in previous years, evidenced in part by photos of Rouhani laughing with other world leaders.

The Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University in Qatar's Merkan Kamrava told Al Jazeera that Rouhani is sending a signal to the international community that Iran wants to get back into the nuclear deal.

Kamrava said Rouhani made an important point about how the landmark accord could be used as a platform for the US and Iran to talk about other larger issues—a point he noted was probably "too subtle for Donald Trump to pick up."

"It's fairly obvious, and in fact the Iranians have been saying this, that the nuclear issue could be the basis for dialogue and negotiations over bigger issues the West is concerned with—for example Iran's support for Hezbollah, the developments in Syria, Iran's tough rhetoric against Israel."

Rouhani delivered the remarks to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump appeared before the body and unleashed a fiery nationalist rant that attacked Iran, Venezuela, and China and took digs at efforts to reach international consensus on global issues. Trump's speech was quickly overshadowed by the initiation of an impeachment inquiry against the president on Tuesday evening. 

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Rouhani had made clear his belief that the U.S. remains the major force for instability and conflict in the Middle East.

"Today, America, unfortunately, is the supporter of terrorism in our region," Rouhani said, "and wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in the wake."

Also on Wednesday, peace activists protested a summit aimed at fomenting war with Iran and called for an end to sanctions and U.S., Saudi, and Israeli aggression. 

"Sanctions as economic warfare are having a devastating effect on the Iranian people," said CodePink's Jodie Evans, "preventing access to humanitarian supplies, including medicine."

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