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Iran's president, criticizing US, likens sanctions to 'war'

Iran's President President Ebrahim Raisi remotely addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 at UN headquarters. (Eduardo Munoz/Pool Photo via AP)
Iran's President President Ebrahim Raisi remotely addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 at UN headquarters. (Eduardo Munoz/Pool Photo via AP)

DUBAI – Iran's new president slammed U.S. sanctions imposed on his nation as a mechanism of war Tuesday, packing a full slate of direct criticism of the United States into his first U.N. address as head of state.

“Sanctions are the U.S.’ new way of war with the nations of the world,” President Ebrahim Raisi said. Although some 100 heads of state and government are attending the U.N. General Assembly leaders' meeting in New York this week, Raisi delivered his remarks from Tehran remotely as some have also chosen to do.

Raisi, who was sworn in last month after an election, is a conservative cleric and former judiciary chief who is close to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He used his time before world leaders to slam the United States and espouse Iran's Islamic political identity.

“What is seen in our region today proves that not only the hegemonist and the idea of hegemony, but also the project of imposing Westernized identity have failed miserably,” Raisi said.

“Today, the U.S. does not get to exit Iraq and Afghanistan but is expelled,” he added. The U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan and has largely withdrawn from Iraq.

“Today, the world doesn’t care about “America First” or “America is Back”,” he said, referring to the slogans used by Republican U.S. President Donald Trump and his successor, Democratic President Joe Biden.

Raisi has promised to engage with the United States but has also has struck a hard-line stance, ruling out negotiations aimed at limiting Iranian missile development and support for regional militias — something the Biden administration wants to address.

Biden has made clear his desire to find a path to salvage the nuclear accord with Iran, that was negotiated by the Obama administration. Still, indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran have stalled and Washington continues to maintain crippling sanctions on the country.

"The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon," Biden said in his own U.N. speech, delivered in person earlier Tuesday.

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Dubai-based Associated Press journalist Aya Batrawy covers Saudi Arabia. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ayaelb