Iranian president Rouhani condemns ‘ignorant, absurd, hateful’ Trump speech

  • Rouhani says Iran would respond ‘resolutely’ if US reneged on nuclear deal
  • President insists deal must be upheld and says Iran does not tolerate threats

Hassan Rouhani said Donald Trump’s speech was beneath the dignity of the UN. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has said his country would respond “decisively and resolutely” if the US walks away from the nuclear deal agreed with other countries in 2015.

Rouhani said Iran would feel it had a “free hand” if the US broke the agreement by re-imposing sanctions. He said one of the options would be an expansion of work on uranium enrichment, strictly limited under the agreement, but he insisted Iran would never seek to build nuclear warheads.

The Iranian president said his country’s response would be heavily influenced by the manner in which European countries reacted to any US abrogation of the accord.

Rouhani was speaking at the UN general assembly a day after a speech by Donald Trump, in which the US president repeated his denunciations of the deal signed by Barack Obama as the “worst ever”, and encouraged Iranians to overthrow their government.

The Iranian president described Trump’s speech – in which he also threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea – as “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric” that was “unfit to be heard at the United Nations”.

He said Iran was waiting for Trump to apologize for the speech and what he described as an insult to the Iranian people.

“It would be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics,” Rouhani said.

“The world will have lost a great opportunity.”

Rouhani said that the 2015 deal, signed by Iran and six world powers in Vienna, could become “a new model for international relations”. As a result of the agreement, Rouhani said Iran had “opened our doors to engagement and cooperation”, and he insisted Tehran would abide strictly to its terms.

“Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement,” Rouhani said. “But it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.”

“We never threaten anyone but we do not tolerate threats from anyone,” he added. “If the US breaks its commitments under the [nuclear agreement], then no other country be willing to enter into negotiations with the US.”

He said Iranian officials had spent a lot of time thinking how to respond to the US walking out of the agreement, and…

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