President Donald Trump took center stage at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to deliver a strong defense of nationalism while exhorting the world to act against Iran’s “bloodlust” and rising aggression.
The president called on the global leaders seated before him to join the U.S. in further isolating Tehran, pushing them to use economic sanctions to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program and stop attacks that are rattling the Middle East.
“Not only is Iran the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, but Iran’s leaders are fueling the tragic wars in both Syria and Yemen,” Trump said. “All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s bloodlust.”
Focusing on the United States’ self-interests, Trump said the nation’s security was jeopardized by the threat posed by Iran and warned Tehran to stop its aggression toward Washington’s allies in the Middle East.
“One of the greatest threats facing peace-loving nations today is the repressive regime in Iran. The regime’s record of death and destruction is well-known to us all,” said Trump. “As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened.”
“The United States does not seek conflict with any other nation,” Trump added. “We desire peace, cooperation, and mutual gain with all. But I will never fail to defend America’s interests.”
As speculation mounted that Trump could meet in New York with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the president raised the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough, saying “the United States has never believed in permanent enemies. We want partners, not adversaries.”
But while Trump commanded the global stage, his speech was shadowed by momentum building in Washington among Democrats considering impeaching him.
Such a move appeared to gather stream after it was revealed that Trump ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine a few days before a phone call in which he pressured the Eastern European nation’s leader to investigate the family of political rival Joe Biden.
It was a split-screen moment for Trump, who used the global spotlight to push his “America First,” go-it-alone foreign policy approach even as Democrats debated his political future in Washington. The president implored the world’s leaders to prioritize their own nations, stressing the benefits of strong borders and one-on-one trade deals while rejecting sweeping transnational organizations and alliances.
“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to strong, independent nations,” Trump told a murmuring crowd at the General Assembly. “Globalism exerted a religious pull over past leaders causing them to ignore their own national interests. Those days are over.”
Trump’s speech was greeted with tepid applause from the world leaders. A sharp contrast to his fiery rally speeches, Trump on Tuesday adopted a more somber demeanor. He grasped the podium throughout his address, his voice at times so soft it would have been hard to hear without microphones. For an extended stretch, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sat in the audience with his eyes closed, appearing asleep.
Though denouncing Iran’s aggression, Trump did not explicitly blame Tehran for recent strikes against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Iran has denied orchestrating the attack, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has deemed “an act of war.”
Story by The Associated Press with additional information from CGTN.