Iranian President Says Has No Plans to Meet Trump in New York
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he had no plans to meet US President Donald Trump during his visit to New York, saying the United States had employed only threats and sanctions against his country.
"There is no such program for a meeting," Rouhani said in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Monday, saying conditions were not ripe for talks.
Rouhani, in New York for the annual UN General Assembly session, said the US has adopted a hostile stance toward Iran and turned its back on diplomacy after its unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
"Naturally, if someone is keen on having a meeting and holding dialogue and creating progress in relationships, that person would not use the tool of sanctions and threats (and bring) to bear all of its power against another government and nation," Rouhani said. "That means that the necessary willpower is absent in order to resolve outstanding issues."
After having met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an unprecedented summit in June, Trump and his deputies have held out the possibility of talks with the Iranian president.
Rouhani ruled out Washington's diplomacy with Pyongyang as a possible model for US-Iran relations, though he left the door open to other efforts to reduce tensions.
"The North Korean model cannot be a correct model, because we cannot draw such comparisons. But certainly there are different models out there that can be used."
As a precondition for any dialogue, Rouhani said the US would need to repair the damage done by exiting the 2015 nuclear deal. "That bridge must be rebuilt," he said.
Rouhani said his country could withstand US economic sanctions and called Washington's threats to choke off Iranian oil exports an "empty promise."
"The United States is not capable of bringing our oil exports to zero," Rouhani said.
"It's a threat that is empty of credibility. Perhaps on this path, we will sustain certain pressures but certainly the United States will not reach its objective."
Since Trump pulled the US out of the accord in May, the United States reimposed a first tranche of economic sanctions in August and is due to reintroduce sanctions on Iran's oil and gas industry on Nov. 4.
In the interview, Rouhani said Iran would remain in the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite Washington's withdrawal, as long as the other signatories held up their end of the deal to open the door to trade.
"Until such time that our interests are guaranteed with the five remaining countries, we will remain within the JCPOA," Rouhani said, adding that "a one-sided agreement would be meaningless."
Asked if Iran would fulfill threats to close off the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipments, Rouhani refused to rule out possible Iranian action to shut down the strategic waterway in response to US pressure.
"If the United States wishes to use force in order to sanction the petroleum industry of Iran, it will certainly see the appropriate response," he said.
The Iranian president added, "We do have the power to secure our own waterways and keep our waterways free."
Asked if he was warning Trump, Rouhani said, "This is not a warning. This is a reality. If the Persian Gulf waterway is to remain free and secure, it must remain so for everyone."
The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73) opened in New York on September 18 and will run until September 30.
During his four-day stay in New York, Rouhani is also scheduled to hold talks with the remaining parties to the JCPOA.
He will also sit down with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and media elites and experts.
María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President-elect of the UNGA 73, announced in July 2018 that the theme of the general debate will be, ‘Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.’