Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stressed during his address to the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly that Iran is ready for talks with the US, but “on equal footing and with mutual respect”, yet he said he is not hearing a single voice from Washington.
What follows is a summary of President Rouhani’s address to the UN General Assembly meeting (according to the transcripts released by agencies and the Guardian).
The Iranian president said the world today is made up of fears and hopes, fear of war… fear of deadly confrontation, of religious, ethnic and national identities… fear of poverty.. of disregard for human dignity and rights, and fear of neglect of morality.
Alongside these fears, however, there are new hopes… Of ‘yes to peace’ and ‘no to war.’ and the preference for dialogue over conflict, and moderation over extremism. The recent election in Iran represents… hope of the people of Iran… The people transfer of executive power manifested that Iran is an anchor of stability in an ocean of regional instability, he said.
The President praised “reliance on the ballot box as the basis of power.”
Rouhani criticized the “cold war mentality” and “bipolar mentality” that separates the world into “superior us and inferior others.”
Any miscalculation of one’s position and of course of others will bear historic damages. A mistake by one actor will have a negative impact on all others… at this sensitive juncture… the age of zero-sum gain is over, although a few actors continue to rely on archaic ways… to retain their domination, he added.
Rouhani said military means to subjugate others are failed examples of the perpetuation of old ways in the new circumstances.
He also deplored “coercive economic policies” that negate peace, and further described a perilous global balance threatened by brinksmanship and “strategic violence” meant to upset regional actors.
“Efforts to redraw political borders and frontiers is extremely dangerous and provocative,” he said, without naming names.
“The center of world powers is hegemonic. Relegating the south to the periphery has led to the establishment of a monologue at the level of international relations,” he says.
Rouhani blasted certain world states which played a role in “arming of the Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons” and establishing al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Iran, on the other hand, is irreproachable, he said, and added “Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world or the regions… in fact my country has been a harbinger of just peace and security.”
Rouhani listed infractions in North Africa and west Asia (Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait); the “brutal oppression of the Palestinian people” and “terrorist bombings in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.”
He said “structural violence” is being carried out on “the people of Palestine.”
Rouhani blamed “extremist terrorist groups” in Syria for chemical attacks there, calling it a regional danger. He said the “use of force” – meaning US military strikes – “will only lead to a further exacerbation of violence.”
The access by extremist terrorist groups to [chemical weapons] is the gravest danger to the region… the actual use of force will only lead to a further exacerbation of violence, he said.
President Rouhani condemned drone attacks, the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, and “structural violence” against Palestinians.
“For what crimes have they been assassinated? … Have the perpetrators been condemned by the UN Security Council,” he asked.
Violence and extremism nowadays have now gone beyond the physical real… and infected [spiritual] life.
The Iranian President blasted international sanctions against Iran, comparing them to the widely criticized punitive measures against Iraq while the late Saddam Hussein was in power.
“These sanctions are violent, pure and simple,” he said, adding that normal people, not political elites, ended up suffering because of them.
“The negative impact is not nearly limited to the intended victims of sanctions.”
He blasted intolerance among the world states, saying, “Intolerance is the predicament of our time. We need to promote and reinforce tolerance….”
“We should not just tolerate others. We should rise above mere tolerance and work together. People around the world are tired of war. This is a unique opportunity. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that all challenges can be met successfully.”
Rouhani said Iran will “act responsibly” to cooperate with “other responsible actors.”
He said Iran believes in “peace based on democracy” and “believes there are no violent solutions to world crisis.”
On the nuclear issue, President Rouhani said, “Iran seeks to resolve problems, not to create them.”
“There is no issue… that cannot be resolved by mutual respect… Iran’s nuclear dossier is a case in point.”
“Acceptance of the inalienable right of Iran constitutes the best and the easiest way of resolving this issue….”
“Put otherwise,” he said, “Iran and other actors should pursue two common objectives… for the nuclear dossier”:
“Iran’s nuclear program… must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes. … I declare here … this has been and will always be the objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nuclear weapons… have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine…”
He underlined Iran’s “right to the enrichment Iran and other related nuclear rights” should be recognized.
President Rouhani said Iran is already an established nuclear state and its nuclear program is too far along to deny.
Then the Iranian president said he had listened to Obama’s words very well.
“I followed carefully to the statement made by President Obama today at the General Assembly. .. [I’m] hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interests of warmongering pressure groups we can arrive at a framework to managing our differences,” President Rouhani said.
He said talks can happen, but equal footing and mutual respect should govern the talks.
“Of course, we expect to hear a consistent voice from Washington,” he said. “The dominant voice in recent years has been for a military option.”
Then President Rouhani offered the world to work together in pursuit of sustainable peace and security and collective campaign against violence and extremism.
“I propose as a starting step… I invite all states… to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction… we should start thinking about a coalition for peace all across the globe instead of the ineffective coalitions for war.”
He said Iran invites the globe to join this wave.
“A good and bright future awaits the world,” Rouhani said.