Iran's new president criticized U.S. sanctions against his country as a war tactic, speaking at the United Nations for the first time since his inauguration to forcefully criticize Washington's policy in the region and the country's developing political divide.
President Ebrahim Raisi gave a significantly more scathing and forthright assessment of American foreign policy on Tuesday than his moderate predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, had done in prior U.N. General Assembly statements.
Raisi, a hardline cleric and former judiciary leader close to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was sworn in last month after an election.
Despite crippling U.S. sanctions that have damaged Iran's economy and ordinary Iranians, his speech proclaimed Iran's Islamic political identity and where the Shiite-led nation views its role in the world.
"Sanctions are the U.S.' new way of war with the nations of the world," Raisi stated, adding that such economic sanctions during the COVID-19 pandemic are "crimes against humanity."
Sanctions imposed by the United States have made international purchases of medicine and equipment far more difficult while allowing humanitarian supplies. Iran has been hit by repeated waves of the coronavirus, with roughly 118,000 deaths - the region's highest.
Raisi also mentioned the horrible Jan. 6th insurgency on Capitol Hill by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, as well as the horrific images last month at Kabul airport, where desperate Afghans dropped to their deaths after clinging to a U.S. helicopter evacuating passengers.
From the White House to Kabul, one message was given to the world: "The U.S.' hegemonic system has no credibility, whether inside or outside the country," Raisi stated.
"the project of imposing Westernized identity" had failed, who also stated incorrectly that "today, the U.S. does not get to exit Iraq and Afghanistan but is expelled."
Nations' perseverance, he claimed, is more significant than superpowers' power. "Today, the world doesn't care about "America First" or "America is Back," Raisi added, referring to Trump and his successor, Joe Biden's political slogans.
Despite the criticism directed at the US, Raisi did not appear to rule out a return to the nuclear negotiating table, stating that Iran considers talks worthwhile if the result is the easing of all sanctions. "We don't trust the promises made by the U.S. government." he said.
Washington had taken note of Raisi's address but was looking to Iran for action rather than words.
ACCORDING TO THE OFFICIAL, the U.S. also cited an Iranian foreign ministry statement earlier Tuesday that suggested Iran is willing to return to the indirect nuclear discussions in Vienna in the coming weeks.
"We continue to believe that we need to re-engage in the Vienna context as soon as possible," said the person, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the topic.
Biden has stated that he wants to save the Iran nuclear deal that Trump pulled out of, but indirect discussions between Washington and Tehran in Vienna have stopped while tensions in the Persian Gulf remain high.
Iran's missile program and assistance for regional militias are significant concerns for the Biden administration and allies like Israel and the Gulf Arab states.
"The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon," Biden said in his own U.N. speech, which he gave earlier Tuesday in person.
Nuclear weapons, according to Raisi, have no place in Iran's military philosophy or deterrent policy.