Iran's President Rouhani tells US to leave region

Iran's President Rouhani tells US to leave region

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the US has no business and is not welcome in the region and must leave it, stressing that the security of the Persian Gulf can be ensured only by neighbors not outsiders.

“The security of the region will be provided through the pullout of American military forces and not by their weapons and intervention. The ultimate way to [achieving] peace and security in the Middle East is ‘democracy inside, diplomacy outside’,” Rouhani said in an address to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

“Security cannot be bought or provided by foreign governments. Peace, security and independence of our neighbors are that of our own. The US is not our neighbor. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran that is your neighbor … we are neighbors to each other not with the US,” he added.   

He lashed out at the US for interfering in the region, which has only fueled insecurity without bringing about peace for regional countries. 

“The United States is neither the advocate nor the guardian of any state. No state delegates power of attorney to other states and does not give custodianship to others,” the Iranian president said, adding, “The issues of the region are too big ... for the United States to deal with. A country that has failed to resolve the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and has been the spearhead of extremism, Talibanism and Daeshism will never be able to resolve more sophisticated issues.”

The Iranian president also warned that the Persian Gulf region is "on the edge of collapse, as a single blunder can fuel a big fire."

"We do not tolerate provocative intervention of foreigners and shall firmly respond to any sort of act of aggression against our security and territorial integrity," Rouhani said.

He said that Iran’s security doctrine is that of safeguarding peace and stability in the Persian Gulf and providing security for navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, adding that the safety of this vital energy route can be guaranteed provided that security becomes a common interest of all regional states.

As a steward of maritime security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, Iran invites all countries that are affected by developments in the strategic region to join its initiative, dubbed Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), Rouhani said.    

He said that the “coalition of hope” aims to promote peace, stability, progress and prosperity of littoral states and help achieve mutual understanding and establish peaceful and friendly relations among them.

“This initiative entails different sectors such as cooperation in providing collective energy security, freedom of navigation and free flow of oil and other [energy] resources from and to the countries off the Strait of Hormuz and beyond that,” Rouhani said.

He said Iran’s proposed coalition of hope is based on commitment to the UN principles and objectives, mutual respect, mutual interests, dialog and understanding, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful resolution of conflicts and above all the two fundamental principles of “non-aggression” and “non-interference in the domestic affairs of each other.”

Before leaving for New York on Monday, Rouhani told reporters at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport that the peace initiative is aimed at establishing long-term peace in the Persian Gulf, which he said is simply not achievable as long as outsiders are present.

According to Rouhani, the initiative will envision the provision of security for the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, and the Strait of Hormuz with cooperation among Iran and other regional countries.

Rouhani's initiative comes in response to US efforts to build up military presence in the Persian Gulf. The United States began trying to persuade its allies into a maritime coalition purportedly seeking to boost security in the Persian Gulf, after it blamed Tehran for two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to back up the allegation, which Iran has categorically rejected.

Iran has repeatedly warned that it would react to any attempt to undermine the security of the region or to make it difficult for the country to export its oil.

Last month, Rouhani said measures taken by some extra-regional countries, especially the United States, in the Persian Gulf region only serve to render the region’s problems more complicated and make it appear less secure in the eyes of the world.

Iran refuses any negotiations under sanctions

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani hit out at the US for inviting Iran to talks while imposing harsh sanctions against the country.

“We cannot believe [the sincerity of] an invitation to negotiation by those who [claim to] have applied the harshest sanctions of history against the dignity and livelihood of our nation,: Rouhani said, adding that astonishingly "[committing] crimes and [imposing] pressure on the lives of 83 million Iranians, especially women and children, are welcomed by and have become a source of pride for American government officials … The Iranian nation will never ever forget and forgive these crimes and criminals."

He said that Iran will not accept to sit at the negotiating table with the US while it was under sanctions.

“On behalf of my nation and country, I would like to announce that our response to any negotiation under sanctions is ‘no’. The government and people of Iran have remained steadfast in the face of the harshest sanctions in the past one and a half years, and will never negotiate with an enemy that seeks to force Iran to surrender through using the weapons of poverty, pressure and sanction,” Rouhani said.

He echoed remarks by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, saying the only way for talks to begin is for the US to return to its commitments, stressing, “Stop the sanctions so that a way opens for [the start of] negotiations.”

The Iranian chief executive also criticized the European signatories to the 2015 Iran deal for just playing lip service to the implementation of the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and failing to carry out effective measures.   

“It has now become clear to all that the United States turns its back on its commitments and Europe is incapable of fulfilling its commitments,” he said.

In response to the US move to leave the JCPOA and its reimposition of sanctions, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as European signatories to the accord finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Iran says that if it does not receive economic benefits from the JCPOA by November it will further reduce its commitments.

Tensions have been running high between Iran and the United States since May 2018, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the nuclear deal, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Trump is a stern critic of the deal, which was clinched in 2015 by Iran and six world powers, including the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany. Under the agreement, nuclear-related sanctions put in place against Iran were lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.


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