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Source: The Guardian

Sep 20, 2023

Iran accuses US of stoking Ukraine war in UN speech, sparking Israel walkout

President Ebrahim Raisi tells the UN general assembly the project to ‘Americanise’ the world had failed

By Patrick Wintour

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi, in a lengthy set-piece speech to the UN general assembly, accused America of fanning the flames of violence in Ukraine, prompting protests from Israel’s representative to the UN.

Raisi claimed any Iranian-made drones hitting Ukrainian cities had been sold before the war started and said he was in favour of peace in Ukraine, on the same day that Tehran hosted a Russian defence delegation led by its defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.

Raisi’s triumphalist speech claiming he had overcome US intelligence efforts to topple his regime, asserted the future belonged to countries in his sphere and the days of the west were over.

“The world is transitioning into a novel international order and the project to Americanise the world has failed,” he said, adding that the west was “facing a crisis of identity and functionality and sees the world as a forest and itself as a beautiful garden.”

He also accused America of stoking the war in Ukraine to weaken Europe.

The speech prompted the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, to walk out, accusing the UN of rolling out the red carpet for “the butcher of Tehran”. He held up a picture of Mahsa Amini, the Kurdish woman who died in police custody for not wearing the hijab correctly.

Outside the UN headquarters a demonstration condemned the UN for giving Iran a platform. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian opposition figure who leads the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), said Raisi’s hands were tainted with the blood of thousands of MEK members killed in 1988.

On the day of Raisi’s speech the US imposed new sanctions on individuals and entities from Iran, China, Russia and Turkey, after Russian troops launched a new massive drone attack on Ukrainian cities.

The fresh restrictions from the US treasury department targeted seven individuals and four entities linked with Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and military aircraft development. According to the Ukrainian air force, Russian troops launched 30 Shahed-136/131 drones and one Iskander-M missile toward Ukrainian cities on the night of 19 September. Three drones hit industrial warehouses in Lviv, killing one person.

Raisi said: “If they have a document that Iran gave weapons or drones to the Russians after the war, then they should produce it.

“We are against the war and we are ready to mediate in order to end it, but the taxes of the American people are spent on war-making and filling the pockets of arms factories from the place of arms sales in this field”.

On the sidelines of the UN general assembly, Iran’s political director Bagheri Khani met with political directors of France, Germany and the UK, the so-called E3, who are demanding Tehran drop its plans to throw out a third of the most experienced UN weapons inspectors from, a move that will severely damage the UN’s ability to inspect and monitor Iran’s civilian nuclear program effectively.

The Iranian side said the meeting had discussed sanctions lifting and the hopes that the recent prisoner exchange between the US and Iran completed on Monday could usher in better diplomatic relations, something that seems increasingly unlikely.

In a joint statement the E3 with the US warned that “Iran continues to expand its nuclear activities. It is now also deliberately hampering the normal planning and conduct of Agency verification and monitoring activities in Iran required under Iran’s Nuclear Proliferation Safeguards Agreement.

This is at a time when the International Atomic Energy Agency has serious, longstanding, and unresolved questions related to undeclared nuclear materials and activities in Iran that Iran has failed to address for more than four years”.

Controversial plans for Raisi to speak at the prestigious thinktank the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Tuesday were postponed for a day after a request from the Iranian delegation possibly concerned at protests by Iranian diaspora groups.

The CFR event only became public over the weekend, when senior fellow and Iranian dissident Roya Hakakian declined the invitation via a message on X, formerly known as Twitter. Nazanian Boniadi, the human rights activist, accused the CFR of giving a platform to a human rights abuser.

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