Thursday, September 26, 2019

Iran's Rouhani: Middle East One Blunder Away From 'Big Fire'

Rouhani: Middle East one blunder away from war

US-Iranian tensions ratcheted up on Wednesday as Tehran warned that the Middle East was one blunder away from war, just hours after the Trump administration announced it had imposed a new round of sanctions against the Islamic republic.

“Our region is on the edge of collapse, as a single blunder can fuel a big fire,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly. “We do not tolerate the interference of outsiders. We shall respond decisively to any transgression or violation of our security and territorial integrity.”

As Rouhani began his speech, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon slowly got up out of his seat, straightened his suit jacket and walked out of the room.

“Israel will not respect the world’s number one exporter of terrorism,” Danon later said. “Rouhani takes advantage of the UN stage to distract and blind the international community from his regime’s aggression. World leaders need to issue a clear ultimatum to Rouhani: dismantle the nuclear program or we will bring more sanctions to bring the collapse of the regime.” 

Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US Treasury announced new Iran-related sanctions on five Chinese individuals and six entities it accuses of knowingly transferring oil from Iran in violation of Washington’s curbs on Tehran. The entities include two Cosco Shipping subsidiaries, but not the parent company itself.

The move came as it appeared that efforts to hold a meeting between Rouhani and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UNGA had failed.

There is no chance that the American and Iranian presidents will meet during the United Nations General Assembly this week, an Iranian official told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Zero,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

At the UNGA, Rouhani also made it clear that no such meeting would take place unless the US lifted all sanctions against it.

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