Rouhani Hits Back at Trump: ‘Ignorant, Absurd and Hateful Rhetoric’

By Patrick Goodenough | September 21, 2017 | 4:36 AM EDT

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani arrives at the podium to address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. (Photo: Iranian Presidency)

( – Iranian President Hasan Rouhani on Wednesday hit back at President Trump’s strong criticism of Iran’s policies and conduct, using the same term – “rogue” – to describe the U.S. administration as Trump had used a day earlier when referring to the regime in Tehran.

Rouhani used his address at the U.N. General Assembly to accuse the U.S. of bringing nothing but war and misery to the Middle East, to lash out at Iran’s most reviled foe Israel, and to portray Iran’s regional activities as benign and “humanitarian.”

When Trump spoke at the same podium on Tuesday, he described Iran as a “rogue state” that fuels terrorism and strife across the region, and belittled its claims to be a democracy.

“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” he declared. “It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.”

Trump also called the Iran nuclear deal “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” and “an embarrassment to the United States.” He has hinted that he may not certify Iranian compliance with its commitments, when required under U.S. law to do so by the middle of October.

In his speech, Rouhani retorted that the nuclear accord “belongs to the international community in its entirety, and not to only one or two countries.”

“It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics,” he said in a clear swipe at Trump.

“By violating its international commitments,” Rouhani continued,. “the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it, or accepting its word or promise.”

He then responded directly to Trump’s earlier criticism.

“The ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric, filled with ridiculously baseless allegations, that was uttered before this august body yesterday, was not only unfit to be heard at the United Nations – which was established to promote peace and respect between nations – but indeed contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror,” he said.

Elsewhere in the speech, Rouhani characterized Iran as a moderate nation, “on the frontlines of fighting terror and religious extremism in the Middle East – not for sectarian or ethnic reasons but for an ethical, humanitarian and strategic one.”

“Iran does not seek to restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others, or export its revolution through the force of arms,” he said.

“We are so confident in the depth of our culture, the truth of our faith and tenacity and longevity of our revolution, that we will never seek to export any of them in the way neo-colonialists do, with the heavy boots of soldiers.”

He contrasted that vision of Iran with America’s involvement in the Middle East.

“The United States government should explain to its own people why, after spending billions of dollars of the assets of the people of America and of our region, instead of contributing to peace and stability, it has only brought war, misery, poverty and the rise of terrorism and extremism to the region,” he said.

In his comments directed at Israel – which he did not refer to by its name – Rouhani again opted to use the term “rogue.”

“It is not possible that a rogue and racist regime trample upon the most basic rights of the Palestinians, and the usurpers of this land enjoy security,” he said.

“It is reprehensible that the rogue Zionist regime that threatens regional and global security with its nuclear arsenal, and is not committed to any international instrument or safeguard, has the audacity to preach [to] peaceful nations.”

In his speech at the U.N. a day earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted that the Iranian regime “vows to destroy my country – every day, including by its chief of staff the other day.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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