NEW YORK — Iranian President Hassan Rohani said Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump's harsh criticism of Tehran at the UN General Assembly was "ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric."
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One day after Trump's speech, Rohani told the assembly that "we don't threaten anyone but we also will not be threatened," adding that "our discourse if one of dignity and respect."
Rohani noted that the Iranian nuclear deal was struck between multiple partners and served as a model for future engagement, adding that Iran has never cheated or deceived the international community. He said nuclear weapons had no place in Iran's security.
He assured the United Nations that Iran would not be the first country to violate the deal, but Iran would respond accordingly if others did not comply with the agreement. "It will be a great pity if this deal is destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics," he said, referring to Trump.
Rohani linked Iran's support for Palestinian rights to the fact that "we are the same people who rescued the Jews from Babylonian servitude," adding that "Palestinian rights are being trampled upon." He criticized the "rogue Zionist regime [for having] the audacity to preach to peaceful nations."
He assured the assembly that Iran did not seek to "restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others or export its revolution through force of arms."
Rohani added that "the Iranian people voted for hope and moderation" after he was reelected president earlier this year. He said moderation was the path chosen by the Iranian people.
Rohani added that Iran, which boasts the world's largest oil and gas reserves, was eager to expand long-term global economic and security cooperation. "I invite all those who seek peace, security and progress through partnership and cooperation among nations to visit Iran," he said.
According to Rohani, "Iran is resolutely determined to build a free and advanced state that participates in the devlopment of a secure and stable region."
Also Wednesday, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said the United States must experience "painful responses" to Trump's General Assembly speech in which he called Iran "a corrupt dictatorship" and accused it of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East. He also hinted he might not recertify the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran when it comes up for a mid-October deadline.
"Taking a definitive stand against Trump is only the beginning of the path," said General Mohammad Ali Jafari, according to Sepah News, the news site of the Revolutionary Guard.
"What is strategically important is that America witnesses more painful responses in the actions, behavior and decisions that Iran takes in the coming months."
Iran is prepared for all possible scenarios if Trump scraps the nuclear deal reached with six major powers, a senior Iranian official told Reuters on Wednesday.
"Iran is ready for any possible scenarios if Trump walks out of the deal. That includes immediately resuming its nuclear work that was curbed under the deal," said the official on condition of anonymity.
In recent months, tensions have ramped up between Iran and the United States in the Gulf, with both sides accusing each other of provocative maneuvres with military vessels.
Jafari urged Rohani to deliver a definitive response to Trump in his UN speech on Wednesday.
"With the successive and exhausting defeats that the Americans have faced in the region from Iran, it's natural that their nervous system and coherence of thought have fallen apart," Sepah News quoted Jafari as saying.
In Tuesday's speech, Trump called the nuclear deal, backed by his predecessor Barack Obama, "an embarrassment." Under the agreement, Iran agreed to curb its atomic program in return for easing economic sanctions.