By Eli Stokols and Tracy Wilkinson
UNITED NATIONS– President Donald Trump used his second address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to blast Iran’s leaders for sowing “havoc and slaughter” in Syria and Yemen, and called on world leaders to help isolate the regime.
“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Trump said. “They do not respect their neighbors, their borders or the sovereign rights of nations.”
Claiming that his bold, “America First” approach to foreign policy is paying off in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table, Trump urged other countries to act in their own interests and to collaborate where they can.
But instead of emphasizing shared values, the president stressed his aversion to international organizations, and his belief that multilateral trade agreements have hurt U.S. interests and that defense alliances are a financial burden, claiming that “few give anything to us.”
“We reject the doctrine of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” Trump said.
Compared to his fiery speech to the world body last year, Trump’s address Tuesday was somber and relatively restrained, with little of the inflammatory language that marked his debut.
He offered praise for the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China for their role in bringing North Korea to nuclear talks, hailed Jordan for taking in refugees, and celebrated India, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Israel for various reforms.
He made a series of dubious claims, not least a campaign-style boast that his administration had achieved more in its first two years than any administration in history. TV cameras showed German diplomats laughing after Trump claimed Germany was at risk of becoming totally dependent on Russian energy supplies.
His harshest barbs were aimed at Iran. He asserted, inaccurately, that “so many countries supported” his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in May, and he urged leaders to join an economic pressure campaign against Iran “to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda.”
“We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime,” he said.
Trump was scheduled to speak at 10:15 a.m. EDT but he started 24 minutes late after he stopped to respond to shouted questions from reporters. Because of Trump’s tardiness, the U.N. organizers shifted the schedule and moved up the remarks by Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno.
Reiterating a claim he had earlier tweeted, Trump said that the Iranians “want to meet” but vowed that he would not.
“I’m not meeting with them until they change,” he said. Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who is scheduled to speak later Tuesday, has said he has no interest in meeting with Trump given the current hostility.
“Neither last year nor this year” did Iran request a meeting with Trump, Rouhani told CNN in an interview that aired Tuesday. “Such a meeting must take place when it can be beneficial to both countries. ... But under current circumstances ... I don’t see it as beneficial or appropriate,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani said U.S. officials sought meetings with Tehran eight times in the last year.
National security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said Monday they were not pushing for regime change in Iran, a goal that contributed to the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq by the George W. Bush administration.
But the Trump administration wants to see “massive changes” in Iran’s behavior, Bolton said.
Trump hopes that a campaign of “maximum pressure,” including new sanctions and other measures, will force Iran to come to the bargaining table, just as global sanctions helped bring it into the 2015 nuclear deal that Trump abandoned.
Analysts say that’s not likely. The nuclear deal is still supported by Russia, China and much of Europe, and the Islamic Republic has shown no willingness to make significant concessions to Trump.
Despite Trump’s claims of “encouraging progress” with North Korea, the nuclear negotiations with that nation appear to have stalled, and U.N. nuclear monitors and U.S. intelligence agencies have found no evidence that North Korea has dismantled or given up its nuclear program or weapons arsenal.