Iran’s foreign minister on Monday urged action at the United Nations against US unilateralism as he denounced Washington over wars waged since 2001.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressed the General Assembly for a high-level session to mark the 75th anniversary of the world body, where the United States has been seeking to raise pressure on Iran.
“The eight violent wars that the United States initiated or joined since 2001, under the rubric of war on terror, have resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, countless broken societies and families … and unprecedented extremism,” Zarif said in a video address.
“It’s time to change that, saving American blood and treasure, and sparing the world from further misery,” he said. “Our United Nations, at 75, needs to recommit itself to stand up united against unilateralism and war.”
Iran quietly backed the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks in ousting the extremist Taliban regime from Afghanistan but relations quickly deteriorated.
Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif at 75th Session of the UN General Assembly
Our United Nations at 75 needs to recommit itself to stand up—united—against unilateralism and war.https://t.co/vQSrA5lkj0 pic.twitter.com/OuvpX1fSIZ
— Iran Foreign Ministry 🇮🇷 (@IRIMFA_EN) October 26, 2020
President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed sweeping unilateral sanctions on Iran, hoping to end the clerical regime’s backing of paramilitary groups in the region.
In recent months, however, the Trump administration failed to persuade the Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran and faced doubts even from close allies as it argued that Washington can trigger UN sanctions against Tehran.
The virtual summit for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations opened on September 21 but, with many nations defying guidelines to keep their addresses under three minutes, it was halted with the rest of the speeches taking place Monday.
Most of Monday’s addresses were previously recorded and not updated over the past month, according to UN sources.
US slaps sanction on Iran envoy
The US has added the Iranian ambassador to Iraq to its sanctions blacklist, claiming he works for an elite military unit it has deemed a terrorist cell, as well as three groups it accused of “sowing discord” in the 2020 race.
Sanctions were announced for Ambassador Iraj Masjedi last week, with the US Treasury Department deeming him a “long-running threat to Iraqi security” and citing his alleged role in training militia groups in Iraq with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – designated a terrorist organization by the US last year.
“In his decades of service with the group, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq,” the department said in a statement, adding that the envoy “has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit” of the IRGC and its external wing, the Quds Force.
Masjedi was appointed ambassador in 2017, after serving in the IRGC for some 35 years. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, he later worked as a close adviser to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US assassination strike in January. Following Soleimani’s death, Masjedi took on some of his former duties in overseeing Iraq’s Shia militia groups – known as the Popular Mobilization Forces – which have played a salient role in beating back the Islamic State.
Though President Donald Trump has unleashed a barrage of sanctions on the Islamic Republic since taking office, including on Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, penalties for diplomats are somewhat rare, more often targeting military officials.
Penalties on Iran for ‘influencing US elections’
In last week’s sanctions announcement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also accused Tehran of a “destabilizing foreign agenda,” including attempts to “influence US elections,” beating the drum on an increasingly common talking point from the Trump administration.
In the same spirit, on Thursday Washington also imposed penalties on five Iranian entities it said had tried to “influence elections in the United States,” though it produced no evidence to support the charge. One day prior, US intelligence officials also claimed Iran was behind a “spoof email” campaign designed to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” adding to a flurry of similar assertions of foreign influence operations by not only Iran, but Russia and China as well.
Tehran has rejected the allegations, lodging a formal complaint on Thursday with the Swiss ambassador in Iran – who has acted as a mediator for US-Iranian diplomacy – to protest charges it called “baseless.” A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, Alireza Miryousefi, has also dismissed the claims as “absurd” and “dangerous,” scorching Washington for “desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections.”
Assertions of foreign election-meddling have come to dominate the US political scene since the 2016 presidential race, originating with an elaborate conspiracy theory that then-candidate Trump worked with Moscow to tip the scales in his favor through a combination of hacking and social media trolls. Though the Trump-Russia narrative has been largely discredited after a sweeping special counsel probe failed to substantiate its central tenets, claims of election interference from abroad have only intensified since and continue to overshadow the 2020 race.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk