US President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced Iran’s “blood lust” and called on other nations to join the United States to pressure Iran after attacks on Saudi oil facilities, but said there is a path to peace.
“America knows that while anyone can make war, only the most courageous can choose peace,” Trump said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly annual gathering of world leaders.
In his third annual UN appearance, Trump offered a more subdued tone compared to the bombast of his previous speeches to the UN in 2017 and 2018, looking to convey a more reassuring presence as he asks Americans for a second term next year.
"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."
Focusing on the United States' self-interest, Trump said that 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.
The September 14 attacks in Saudi Arabia, widely blamed on Iran, have rattled the Middle East and raised concerns about a broader war. Iran denies involvement.
Trump has shown restraint in the crisis, holding back from military retaliation despite pressure from conservative hawks, at least for now.
But he promised to keep trying to squeeze Iran’s economy with sanctions until Tehran agrees to give up what Washington says is a pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran has said its nuclear program has always been for peaceful purposes only.
“All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s blood lust. As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened,” Trump said.
"The United States does not seek conflict with any other nation. We desire peace, cooperation, and mutual gain with all. But I will never fail to defend America's interests."
Trump was tough on Iran and its leadership, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York for UN activities amid speculation about whether they might meet to discuss their differences.
With an Iranian diplomat seated in Iran’s second-row seat for Trump’s speech, Rouhani was at his New York hotel, not in the UN chamber.
In remarks to media on Tuesday Rouhani said he was open to discuss small changes, additions or amendments to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers if the United States lifted sanctions imposed on Tehran.
French President Emmanuel Macron, trying to create conditions for talks between the United States and Iran, said he hoped there could be progress on Iran on Tuesday after he held talks with Rouhani on Monday.
“We have to get back around the table to have a frank and demanding discussion,” Macron told reporters.
Over the past week, Trump has tightened economic sanctions on Iran and ordered more US troops to the Gulf.
“America is ready to embrace friendship to all who genuinely seek peace and respect,” Trump said. “The United States has never believed in permanent enemies. We want partners, not adversaries.”