ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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UN security briefly holds Erdan outside chamber after protest

Addressing UN, Iran president calls on US to show ‘goodwill’ and revive nuclear deal

Raisi also accuses Washington of worsening Ukraine war; Israeli envoy stages walkout for second straight year, holding sign reading, ‘Iranian women deserve freedom now’

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi holds up a Quran as he addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, September 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi holds up a Quran as he addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, September 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a Tuesday speech before the United Nations General Assembly called on the United States to demonstrate “goodwill” in order to revive the nuclear agreement abandoned by Washington in 2018.

“By exiting the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], the United States violated the agreement and the principle of good faith. America should demonstrate its goodwill and determination,” Raisi said. “America must build trust to demonstrate its good intentions and genuine willingness to fulfill its commitments and conclude the path.”

Former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA that his predecessor Barack Obama signed in 2015, arguing that it was too soft on Tehran, and instead pursued a “maximum pressure” sanctions policy. Iran has since accelerated its enrichment of uranium significantly in violation of the JCPOA.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden vowed to revive the deal but his administration maintains that Iran has hardened its stance while also selling drones to Russia, which Moscow is using against Ukraine — a development that has led Washington to conclude that a return to the JCPOA is not currently feasible.

Also during his Tuesday speech, Raisi accused the US of worsening the Ukraine war but insisted that Tehran would back a peace settlement.

“The United States of America has fanned the flames of violence in Ukraine in order to weaken the European countries. This is a long-term plan, unfortunately,” he told the UN General Assembly.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi arrives to address the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Earlier Tuesday, the US imposed sanctions on seven people and four companies in China, Russia and Turkey who officials allege are connected with the development of Iran’s drone program.

Raisi denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine.

He insisted in his UNGA speech on the neutrality of Iran, which has largely abstained from resolutions on the Ukraine war.

“We support any initiative for a cessation of hostilities and the war,” Raisi said.

Israeli envoy stages walkout

Shortly after Raisi began his speech, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan got up from his seat in the chamber and raised a sign that read, “Iranian women deserve freedom now” and included a picture of Mahsa Amini, who died in Iranian police custody after her arrest for an alleged breach of the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.

Holding the photo above his head, Erdan walked toward the lectern from which Raisi was speaking before making his way out of the chamber. Before he reached the exit, UN security guards ran him down and escorted him out of the auditorium.

He was detained for several minutes by the security team outside the chamber before being released.

“It should not be possible for a vile murderer who calls for the destruction of Israel to be given a platform here at the UN. The UN has, once again, reached a new moral low,” Erdan said in a statement.

“While the butcher of Tehran is speaking at the UN and is being respected by the international community, hundreds of Iranians are protesting outside, shouting and calling on the international community to wake up and help them. It is a disgrace that member states stay to listen to a mass murderer,” he said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan holds up a sign as Iran President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Erdan has staged roughly half a dozen protest walkouts during the speeches of Iranian, Palestinian and Turkish leaders during his tenure as ambassador, with his office filming and posting each demonstration. He conducted a similar protest walkout during Raisi’s speech last year.

Hundreds of people attended a protest outside UN Headquarters earlier Tuesday against Raisi, calling for his removal over his human rights record and that of his regime.

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