During his in-person debut at the U.N. General assembly, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared that U.S. power and influence were waning. The United States “keeps equivocating militarism with security and has pursued its interests in the world at the expense of other countries.” Washington “cannot accept the fact that certain countries have the right to stand on their own two feet,” he said on September 21. The hardline cleric welcomed the start of a “new world order.”
Raisi also questioned the U.S. commitment to restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. “Can we truly trust without guarantees and assurance that they will this time live up to their commitment?” he said. Iran could get along without the sanctions relief that a revived deal could bring, he implied. Iran “found our path independent of any agreement, and we will continue on that path.” As he spoke, nuclear talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal had stalemated after 17 months of off-and-on talks in Vienna and Doha.
In his address less than two hours later, President Joe Biden said that the United States was prepared for a mutual return to compliance “if Iran steps up to its obligations.” He pledged to never allow to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Raisi blasted the United States for assassinating General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force. The 2020 U.S. drone strike was a “savage, illegal, immoral crime,” Raisi said while holding up a picture of Soleimani. Trump should be tried – in “fair court”—for approving the strike.
Raisi took the podium amid unrest at home over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the morality police for an “improper” hijab. After she died in custody on September 16, protests erupted in more than a dozen cities, including Tehran. At least seven people had been killed in clashes with security forces as of September 21.
President Biden, in his U.N. address, said that the United States stands with “the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.”
Raisi did not mention the demonstrations in his speech, but he rejected “the double standards of some governments regarding human rights.” He singled out Canada for its poor treatment of indigenous children.
Raisi’s own human rights record has been widely condemned by human rights groups and foreign governments. He is best known for his role in the so-called “death commission” that ordered the extrajudicial executions of between 4,000 and 5,000 political prisoners in 1988, according to Amnesty International.
While Raisi was speaking in New York, several Iranian government websites — including the website of the presidency—and state media websites were temporarily shut down by hackers. The “Anonymous” group said that it was carrying out cyber operations to show solidarity with Iranian protestors.
Raisi took office in August 2021, but he did not attend the September 2021 U.N. General Assembly due to COVID-19 restrictions. His address was pre-recorded. The following are excerpts from Raisi’s remarks in 2022 organized by issue.
On the United States and the West:
“Today, hegemony and the spirit of the Cold War are scourging the world and a new era of unrest is threatening our world. The desire of the nations of the world to realize justice has become more intense, and their will for progress, independence and security has become more serious. The fruitfulness of the doctrine of resistance is a clear manifestation of the determination of nations to realize justice.
“But on the other hand, unilateralism seeks to hold countries back from their independent development path. America cannot accept that countries stand on their own feet and is naïve to think that militarism is a source of security.
“America's friends are not better off. What is happening in Europe today is a mirror of what happened in the past decades in West Asia. The nature of the deployment of troops to West Asia and the expansion of NATO to Eastern Europe are not different from each other, because in both, the fate of the countries is defined by the America who pursues its own interests at the expense of others.”
On the 2020 U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani:
“The commander and hero of this war against terrorism and the destroyer of ISIS was none other than Lieutenant General Haj Qassem Soleimani. The one who was martyred in the path of the freedom of the nations of the region and the former president of the United States printed his name on the case of this crime.
“The fair trial of the crime to which the former American president has confessed is a service to humanity; So that the hearts of those who have been hurt by this oppression can somehow find relief from this oppression that has been done to the nations of the region. The fair treatment of the crime that the former president of the United States has confessed to is a service to humanity, so that from now on, cruelty will be silenced, and justice will prevail. We will follow the implementation of justice and the trial of the commander and supervisor of the martyrdom of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani through a fair court until a definitive result is reached.”
On a new world order:
“Now we have come together in a situation where we are facing an important reality, that is, ‘turning and changing the world’ and entering a ‘new era and order.’ The old world, the world of ‘unilateralism,’ ‘domination-seeking,’ ‘dominance of capital over morality, justice and virtue,’ ‘developer of poverty, discrimination and inequality,’ ‘use of violence, sanctions and violation of the rights of nations’ and ‘use of international organizations and institutions as a tool of pressure on independent countries’ and in a word, the world is unfair in every way. This unfair order has lost its legitimacy in the public opinion of the world and serious wills have been formed to change it. The decline of this old order is undeniable. Our region, that is West Asia, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and proud Iran, is the great museum of the decline of this old order.”
On the nuclear deal:
“One, the Islamic Republic accepted an agreement in 2015 in good faith and with a solid intention and fulfilled all its commitments in the first place, but the result was America breaking its promise and imposing sanctions which, according to their own admission, were the most unprecedented sanctions in history. Sanctions are a punishment for seeking justice and independence of the Iranian nation. Sanction is a weapon of mass murder, and accompanying or remaining silent towards it is aiding and abetting oppression.
“Two, it was America that left the agreement, not Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency stated 15 times in its reports that Iran has fully adhered to the provisions of the agreement.
“Three, at the same time, Iran has paid the cost of complying with its obligations, but due to the violation of the promise of the American side and the non-compliance of the European side, Iran has not enjoyed the benefits of this agreement.
“Based on the capacities seen in the agreement, we took legal measures so that the violating party returns to its obligations. By adhering to its obligations, Iran has been the main axis of the JCPOA's survival, and if it were not for the initiatives and flexibility of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the negotiations would have stopped in the first days.
“Iran's negotiation logic based on a fair analysis of developments is only one sentence: ‘adherence to commitments.’ Reassuring assurances are not just about preparing for a contingency. We are talking about an experience. We have before us the experience of America's withdrawal from the JCPOA and the delay of the current American government in returning to its commitments for more than a year and a half. Today, when the American government is talking about its intention to return to its obligations, another voice is heard from inside that country, which questions the commitment of the United States. With that experience and this perspective, can we act with tolerance in the important issue of ensuring the stability of the agreement?
“Of course, the Islamic Republic, with its vast facilities and wide connections with the world, has neutralized the effects of sanctions one after another and created new opportunities. According to the official admission of the U.S. government, the policy of maximum pressure against Iran has failed shamefully.
“We will find our way regardless of any agreement and continue with strength. Besides, in the serious negotiations we have had, we have shown that if the interests of the Iranian nation are guaranteed, we have a strong will to solve this issue fairly. We believe that the knot of the nuclear agreement should be untied from the place where it was tied.”
On nuclear weapons:
“Let me draw your attention to another manifestation of injustice, which is the West's double-standard position towards Iran's peaceful nuclear activities. While the basic pillar of global security is ‘global disarmament,’ some powers are trying to make the world forget the main issue of global disarmament by making Iran's peaceful activities a problem.
“As the representative of the great nation of Iran, I explicitly declare that the Islamic Republic of Iran is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons and such weapons have no place in our defense doctrine. This ruling was announced in the fatwa of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, and for the Iranian government and people, the religious fatwa of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution is more effective than any international supervision.
“This is despite the fact that the self-proclaimed governments have continued to produce and use nuclear weapons and have gifted these weapons to the Zionist Regime. Countries that have to be disarmed are rewarded, and countries that have adhered to their commitments are even deprived of the rights contained in the NPT. While Iran's peaceful nuclear program includes only two percent of the world's nuclear programs, 35 percent of inspections are of our facilities.”
On the Middle East and Iran’s neighbors:
“In the past year, Iran's economic ties have been strengthened, and its regional trade has grown significantly, and with the expansion of sustainable economic cooperation infrastructure, a new chapter of friendship and mutual trust has emerged. This neighborhood policy is a policy that creates security and stability. We have proved that we are friends of our neighbors during their hardships.
“In all the numerous conversations I have had with regional heads and leaders, one of the most important common points is that the security of the region must be provided ‘endogenously and without external interference’ and the way to achieve this is cooperation, not dividing the world into blocs. The upcoming era is the era of ‘stable cooperation, prosperity, stability and brotherhood,’ if the fate of the region is determined by the countries of the region. Occupiers and usurpers will be gone one day and neighbors stay for each other for good.”
On human rights:
“The Islamic Republic considers the double standards of some governments in the field of human rights as the most important factor in the institutionalization of human rights violations, which results in diverse and numerous positions towards an incident under investigation in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the deathly silence about the killing of dozens of helpless women in a short time in one of the Western countries. As long as this double standards persists, human rights will not be safe from repeated violations.
“Above human rights, the rights of nations are easily trampled by oppressive powers. The right of Canadian indigenous communities whose children were buried in mass graves in schoolyards instead of school classes; the right to self-determination of the Palestinian nation, the right to development of nations under sanctions, the right to life of nations under occupation or victims of terrorism, the right to life of homeless refugees who keep children in cages separate from their mothers and fathers; all of them show that the position of the claimant and the accused in the issue of human rights should not be changed and that the real violators of human rights do not have the necessary moral competence to comment on human rights. Iran's unique role in the destruction of ISIS, which only one of its crimes was enslaving Kurdish, Yazidi and Christian women, is enough to show that we are in the position of the claimant and defender of human rights, and the supporters of ISIS are in the position of the accused.”