Trump, Iran's Rouhani exchange threats, insults on U.N.'s world stage

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 25 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani exchanged taunts at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday with Trump vowing more sanctions against Tehran and Rouhani suggesting his American counterpart suffers from a "weakness of intellect."

Trump used his annual address to the United Nations to attack Iran's "corrupt dictatorship," praise last year's bogeyman North Korea and lay down a defiant message that he will reject globalism and protect American interests.

But much of his 35-minute address was aimed squarely at Iran, which the United States accuses of harboring nuclear ambitions and fomenting instability in the Middle East through its support for militant groups in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

"Iran's leaders sow chaos, death and destruction," Trump told the gathering in the green-marbled hall. "They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations."

Rouhani, addressing the assembled world leaders later, sharply criticized Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. He said he had "no need for a photo opportunity" with Trump and suggested the U.S. president's pull back from global institutions was a character defect.

"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," he said.

8 PHOTOS
Trump pulls US from Iran nuclear deal
See Gallery
Trump pulls US from Iran nuclear deal
US President Donald Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran after announcing the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement during a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran after announcing the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement during a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to a question from the media after announcing his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement during a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his intent to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum that re-instates sanctions on Iran after he announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After two and a half years of negotiations, Iran agreed in 2015 to end its nuclear program in exchange for Western countries, including the United States, lifting decades of economic sanctions. Since then international inspectors have not found any violations of the terms by Iran. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump announces his decision on the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Trump's address was met largely by silence from world leaders still not comfortable with go-it-alone views that have strained U.S. relationships with traditional allies worldwide.

His speech, while delivered in a low-key fashion, was nonetheless a thunderous recitation of his "America First" policies. He has disrupted the world order by withdrawing the United States from the nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, and threatened to punish NATO nations for not paying more for their common defense.

"We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy," Trump said, in language popular with his political base. "America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."

Besides calling out Iran, Trump also criticized China for its trade practices but made no mention of Russia's interference in Syria's war or its suspected meddling in U.S. elections.

Rouhani was defiant in his speech to the world body.

"What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfillment of obligations," Rouhani said.

 

MACRON'S ALTERNATIVE VIEW

Offering an alternative view when it was his turn at the podium, French President Emmanuel Macron told the delegates that the law of the survival of the fittest, protectionism and isolationism would only lead to heightened tensions.

Defending multilateralism and collective action, he said nationalism would lead to failure and if countries stopped defending basic principles, global wars would return.

"I do not accept the erosion of multilateralism and don't accept our history unraveling," Macron told the assembly, at times raising his voice. "Our children are watching."

Macron, citing the example of Iran, said that this unilateralism push would lead directly to conflicts.

Trump, who begins his political rallies with boasts about his economic record in less than two years in office, used the same rhetoric before the crowd of world leaders and diplomats, telling them he had accomplished more than almost any previous U.S. president.

The remark led to some murmuring and laughter in the crowd, taking the president slightly aback.

"I didn’t expect that reaction, but that's OK," he said.

Trump attempted to drive a wedge between Iran's leadership and its people, days after an attack in southwestern Iran on a military parade killed 25 people and unsettled the country.

In remarks to reporters on his way to his speech, Trump said he would not meet the Iranians until they "change their tune." Though he held out the possibility of a better relationship in the future, he made clear economic pressure on Iran would not abate.

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, addressing a group called United Against a Nuclear Iran, called the 2015 accord "the worst diplomatic debacle in American history" and had a warning for "the mullahs in Tehran."

"If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be HELL to PAY," he said.

 

In May, Republican Trump withdrew the United States from the deal to put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions. France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union were part of the accord with Iran.

Foes for decades, Washington and Tehran have been increasingly at odds since May. The accord with OPEC member Iran was negotiated under Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama.

"Additional sanctions will resume November 5th and more will follow and we are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially," Trump said.

He said the United States would help create a regional strategic alliance between Gulf nations and Jordan and Egypt, a move the United States sees as a bulwark against Iran.

Trump compared U.S. relations with Iran to what he called improved ties with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who Trump had met in Singapore in June as part of a still-unfulfilled drive to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

In his address last year to the U.N., Trump insulted Kim as a "rocket man" bent on nuclear destruction. On Tuesday, Trump praised Kim for halting nuclear and missile tests, releasing Americans held prisoner and returning some remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950s Korean War.

20 PHOTOS
Portraits of North Korea's ever-present Kims
See Gallery
Portraits of North Korea's ever-present Kims
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen on the facade of a government building in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen on the facade of a government building in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen early morning at a memorial park in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Senior military officials watch a parade as portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen in the background at the main Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A state media cameraman films the portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at the main Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A soldier wears a badge with portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as he attends a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Traffic moves past the portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at the main Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen on the facade of a building at Kim Chaek University of Technology pre-dawn in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A student stands under the portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during a lecture at a teachers' training college during a government organised visit for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen at a cosmetics factory during a government organised trip for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A photograph of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen at a cosmetic factory during a government organised trip for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen on a train as it leaves a subway station in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A bridegroom wears a badge with portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Residents pass by a painting of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen in a gymnasium at a teachers' training college during a government organised visit for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Guides walk past an image of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung at a teachers' training college during a government organised visit for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A guide walks past an image of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at a teachers' training college during a government organised visit for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A woman guide wears a badge with portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Overseas North Korean citizens pay their respect in front of paintings of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at a silk factory in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A cameraman films a painting of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a government organised trip for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "DYNASTY SIDDIQUI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The two leaders are trying to arrange a second summit. Trump has said sanctions on North Korea would remain for now.

Delivering a harsh message to OPEC members, Trump called on them to stop raising oil prices and to pay for their own military protection. He threatened to limit U.S. aid only to countries that are friendly to the United States.

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said oil prices were driven only by markets, by supply and demand. "These are not things that can be manipulated by a decision here or there," said Gargash, whose country is an OPEC member.

Crude oil prices shot to a four-year high on Tuesday, catapulted by imminent U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude exports and the apparent reluctance of OPEC and Russia to raise output to offset the potential hit to global supply.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Parisa Hafezi; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols, Jeff Mason, Arshad Mohammed, Yara Bayoumy, John Irish; editing by Yara Bayoumy and Grant McCool)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.