NEW YORK -- Problems plaguing the Middle East, from Cairo to Kabul and Aden to Aleppo, are ultimately the product of American policy and its support for an "inhumane" Israel, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations on Monday.
Praising the nuclear deal reached in July with world powers as a "new and constructive way to recreate the international order," Rouhani said Iran is determined not to forget the past. But the Iranian people will not live in the past, either, he told the 70th gathering of the General Assembly, touting that his country is now open for business.
"Economic interactions may bring about lasting security, and transform the region into a haven for peace and development," Rouhani said. "After the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], Iran will stand ready to show that the practical path to security and stability is through the development that comes with economic engagement."
He spoke on a cloudy Monday in the UN's New York headquarters, where Iran's flag flies just two poles down from the flag of Israel. He repeatedly condemned the existence of the "Zionist regime," and called for a nuclear-free Middle East that rid Israel of its well-known nuclear stockpile.
"Parallel to the implementation of the JCPOA, we also expect the nuclear-weapon states to take necessary steps to fulfill their commitment of full nuclear disarmament based on Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty," he said. "Furthermore, we expect them to play a positive role in the creation of a 'nuclear weapons-free Middle East' and not to allow the Zionist regime to remain the only impediment in the way of realizing this important initiative."
Rouhani praised Tehran's role in the stabilization of Baghdad, characterized its role in Yemen as humanitarian, and continued to express support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. But he did not mention Assad by name; Instead, he called for a global coalition against terrorist organizations like Islamic State, and proposed a "binding international document and no country be allowed to use terrorism for the purpose of intervention in the affairs of other countries."
"We must not forget that the roots of today's wars, destruction and terror, can be found in the occupation, invasion and military intervention of yesterday," Rouhani said. "If we did not have the US military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US's 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."