Iran cheers ‘new chapter’ with world

Iran cheers ‘new chapter’ with world
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Iran's president welcomed the beginning of “a new chapter” in his country’s relationship with the rest of the world at the United Nations on Monday, building on the global pact on its nuclear program.

In his speech before the gathering of world leaders — which was largely tame, despite some bellicose rhetoric — Hassan Rouhani indicated that the landmark diplomatic breakthrough this summer could serve as the beginning of a new era for Iran.

“I can now proudly announce that today a new chapter has started in Iran’s relations with the world,” Rouhani said from the floor of the General Assembly.   

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“This instrument sets a strong precedent where, for the first time, two sides, rather than negotiating peace after war, engaged in dialogue and understanding before the eruption of conflict.

“The nuclear deal, which is a brilliant example of victory over war, has managed to disperse the clouds of hostility and perhaps even the specter of another war, and extensive tensions from the Middle East,” he claimed. “It can serve as a basis for foundational change in the region.”

The deal, reached earlier this summer by Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers, sets limits on Tehran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb in exchange for the lifting of crippling global sanctions on its oil and financial sectors.

Like Tehran, the Obama administration has repeatedly hailed the agreement as a major breakthrough for diplomacy, and an example of the way that the U.N. should operate.

It's a testament to “the strength of the international system when it works the way it should,” President Obama said before the U.N. during his speech earlier in the day.

The agreement is set to be formally adopted later this year. Once Iran is certified to have taken a number of steps to shut down some of its nuclear programs — likely not until next spring — sanctions will be lifted.

“Today Iran, while safeguarding its historical and cultural heritage, is looking to the future — not only the distant future but also the near future — with a bright outlook for cooperation and coexistence,” Rouhani said. “I say to all nations and all governments that we will not forget the past, but we do not wish to live in the past.”

Still, Rouhani’s speech on Monday was not devoid of criticism of the U.S., Israel and its other geostrategic foes.

After a harsh broadside against Saudi Arabia, which Iran has blamed for the death of nearly 800 Muslim pilgrims last week — more than 130 of them Iranian — Rouhani hit Israel for its policies on Palestinians and blamed the U.S. for the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“If we did not have U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and the United States’ unwarranted support for the inhumane actions of the Zionist regime against the oppressed nation of Palestine, today the terrorists would not have an excuse for the justification of their crimes,” Rouhani said.

“It is urgent for the United States government, instead of explaining the truth of the region and throwing about baseless accusations and pursuing other dangerous policies in defense of its regional allies, who only cultivate the seeds of division and extremism — this must be brought to an end and its actions must be made compatible with the realities of the region.”