Trump Slams Iran at UN: 'Can't Allow World's Leading Terror Sponsor to Possess World's Most Dangerous Weapons'

Trump tells UN General Assembly: Israeli-Palestinian peace has advanced, ICC has no authority, U.S. won't return to Human Rights Council

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
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Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018.
Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. Credit: \ CARLOS BARRIA/ REUTERS
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

U.S. President Donald Trump sharply attacked Iran during his remarks at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, the first day of the high-profile international gathering in New York.

>>FULL TEXT: Donald Trump's address at the 2018 UN General Assembly

Trump lauded that a "new approach in the Middle East is causing historic change" during his remarks. "Following my trip to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and are taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism in their own region," Trump said, complimenting three countries in particular - Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar - for their work on the subject.

Commenting on the "heartbreaking" situation in Syria, Trump called for a "political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. We urge the UN peace process to be reinvigorated. The United States will respond if chemical weapons are used by the Assad regime."

"I commend Jordan and other countries for hosting refugees from this brutal war. The most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their home as possible, to ease their return home to be part of the rebuilding process," Trump added.

"Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must include a strategy to address the corrupt dictatorship in Iran. Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction in Syria," Trump said, adding that "they do not respect their neighbors and borders. Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond."

FULL SPEECH: Trump addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly

"The dictatorship used the funds released by the deal to finance terrorism and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen," Trump said.

"We will deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. We reimposed hard hitting sanctions that were lifted. More sanctions will follow. We are working with countries that import Iranian oil to cut their purchase substantially," he said, adding that "we cannot allow a regime that chants death to America and that threatens Israel, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city in the world."

Trump forced to pause amid laughter at the 2018 UN General Assembly address

"The United States is committed to a future of peace in the Middle East, including between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim has been advanced, not harmed," Trump said. "America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years time and time again."

"We will not return to the Human Rights Council until real reform is enacted. We will also not provide any support to the International Criminal Court," Trump said, adding that "the ICC has no authority. It violates all principles of justice and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty. We reject the ideology of globalism. America is governed by Americans." Trump added the U.S. will cut its share of UN peacekeeping budget to under 25 percent.

Trump later attacked the Gulf states without naming them, saying we “defend them for nothing” and receive high oil prices in return. “We won’t tolerate it,” he said. “I don’t like it at all. Not good.” Trump added that Germany will soon become completely reliant on Russian energy unless it too changes course.

"One year ago I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and presented a vision for a brighter future. Today I stand here to share the extraordinary progress we’ve made. We have accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," Trump said to laughter. "I didn’t expect that reaction but that’s OK."

Trump complimented four countries towards the end of his speech: India, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Poland.

Trump noted that the U.S. military "will soon be more powerful than it's ever been before," adding that "the U.S. will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination."

Upon arriving at the UN, Trump told reporters that Iran "has to change its tune before I meet with them. They want to meet, it will happen. I believe they have no choice. We look forward to having a great relationship but it won't happen now."

Trump was scheduled to speak second at Tuesday's session, after Brazilian President Michel Temer.

Instead, Temer's speech was followed by an awkward pause, as UN officials prepared the podium to accommodate the No. 3 speaker, Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno, who is in a wheelchair.

Trump's motorcade arrived during Moreno's speech at the UN headquarters in New York.

The White House did not immediately explain why Trump was running late. Trump's America-first policies and criticism of allies has clashed with the multilateral spirit of the UN General Assembly.

The U.S. president arrived to New York over the weekend and began holding meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the UN gathering on Monday.

He met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt, as well as with the president of South Korea. He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this week.

Tuesday morning, three hours before his speech, Trump tweeted that he does not intend to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who is also in New York this week. “Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rohani. Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man,” Trump wrote.

The Trump administration has recently increased its economic pressure on Iran. Last week, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said the administration is aiming to bring down the Iranian regime and replace it with another form of government. Administration officials such as UN Ambassador Nikki Haley refuted the comments and said this was not the true intention of Trump’s Iran policy.

During last year’s UN General Assembly, Trump sat down with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It was the last time the two leaders met. Three months later, Trump announced he will move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that has torpedoed the American-Palestinian relationship. Abbas is in New York this week and will speak before the General Assembly, but there are no plans for a meeting between him and Trump at the moment.

AP contributed to this report.

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