Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has accused the US of “starting a war” against the Islamic system as he prepared to visit New York in a bid to rally the UN general assembly against the Trump administration’s sanctions on Tehran. Addressing an armed forces parade in Tehran on the weekend, Mr Rouhani said Washington was no longer orchestrating its plot through regional countries, as with Iraq in the 1980s, but instead was “now directly fighting with the Iranian nation”.
The US was “starting a war” with the intention of “hurting the Islamic system” rather than the nuclear accord , signed between Tehran and world powers but from which the Trump administration has withdrawn. The Islamic republic would not kneel down, he said. “Today, the eastern and western countries are with us and are condemning the US … We will surely defeat [US president Donald] Trump.”
Mr Rouhani’s weekend speech came just before a terrorist attack by an Arab separatist group on a military parade in southern Iran killed at least 25 soldiers and civilians. Iran blamed the US and Saudi Arabia: “They say we should give up our weapons … Iran will not only keep its weapons and missiles but will further strengthen its defence power day by day.”
Iranian officials summoned diplomats from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands at the weekend, accusing the European nations of allegedly harboring “members of the terrorist group” that launched the attack. The UAE’s envoy was summoned on Sunday over what Tehran called the “irresponsible and insulting statements” of an Emirati adviser, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
With US sanctions already hurting Iran, politicians close to Mr Rouhani see his trip to the UN, where he will address the general assembly on Tuesday, as a chance to ease economic pressure by fostering more co-operation with Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, who remain committed to the deal. Mr Trump is also due to address the general assembly a few hours earlier.