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Rouhani To US: No Talks Under Sanctions Pressure

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has told the UN General Assembly that Iran won’t negotiate on its nuclear program as long as it remains under sanctions, and accused the United States of "merciless economic terrorism."

"Our response to talks under pressure is 'No,'" Rohani told world leaders gathered at the UN headquarters in New York on September 25, adding that Iranian officials cannot negotiate with "people who claim to have applied the harshest sanctions in history."

He also said that Iran has been “defending its right to independence and scientific and technological progress," while the United States has "made a lot of efforts" to "deprive Iran from participating in the international economy," calling it "international piracy."

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since the United States last year withdrew from a 2015 international deal between Iran and world powers under which Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions.

The United States has since reimposed and expanded sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil exports and crippling its economy, and Tehran has begun reducing some of its commitments under the nuclear accord.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear accord, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, and agree curbs to its ballistic-missile program.

Iran has refused, insisting that its nuclear program was strictly for civilian energy purposes.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated further over a September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Western European countries have blamed on Iran.

Yemen's Iran-backed Shi’ite Huthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the drone and missile attack, and Tehran denies any involvement.

Rohani on September 25 said that the security of Saudi Arabia, which is leading a military coalition that has been battling the Huthis since 2015, "will be guaranteed with the termination of aggression in Yemen."

Addressing the General Assembly on September 24, Trump called on all nations to act against “the repressive regime in Iran" and not "subsidize Iran's bloodlust."

Denouncing "four decades of failure" since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Trump warned that U.S. sanctions will not be eased unless Tehran changes its behavior.

With reporting by AP, dpa, AFP, and Reuters