President Donald Trump called on the rest of the world to isolate Iran and said a US campaign of “economic pressure” would turn back the Islamic Republic’s aggression, in his second address to the United Nations General Assembly.
Trump declared in his speech that America, under his leadership, had achieved new economic and military heights. While he ran for office on a promise to “Make America Great Again,” he said that his accomplishments would benefit the world.
“We’re standing up for America and the American people, and we’re also standing up for the world,” he said.
Iran took the place of North Korea as the principle antagonist in Trump’s second address to the General Assembly. Trump said that while he had replaced “the specter of conflict” with North Korea “with a bold and new push for peace,” tensions with Iran have increased since the 2015 nuclear deal signed by former President Barack Obama.
“We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues,” Trump said. The country’s regime used proceeds from the accord to increase its military budget 40 percent and strengthen the repression of its people, Trump said, calling the deal “a windfall” for the country’s leaders.
“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Trump said. “Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem in the Middle East and far beyond.”
But after threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea in his UN speech last year, Trump was not as bellicose towards Tehran. “The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda,” he said.
Trump began by boasting of his administration’s accomplishments and the strength of the US economy since his election, echoing the campaign speeches he delivers at rallies across the country. The remarks prompted laughter from the audience.
“Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK,” Trump said.
Trump described a US foreign policy he called “principled realism” that would at times reject conventional thinking about international relations. He said US foreign aid would go only “to those who respect us and who are, frankly, are our friends.”
“We will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again,” he said.
He singled out China for “abuse” in its trade practices and said countries in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries “are as usual, ripping off the rest of the world. We defend many of these nations for nothing,” he complained.
“We are not going to put up with it, these horrible processes, much longer,” he said. The United States is the largest provider of foreign aid, “but few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at foreign assistance.”
Before his speech, Trump tamped down any speculation of a meeting with Iran’s leader. “Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!”
As he entered the UN, he told reporters: “We look forward to having a great relationship with Iran but it won’t happen now.”
“The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship,” Trump said. “We only ask that you honour our sovereignty in return.”