Iranian president Rouhani condemns ‘ignorant, absurd, hateful’ Trump speech

Rouhani said Trump’s speech was beneath the dignity of the UN. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has said his country would respond “decisively and resolutely” if the US walks away from the nuclear deal agreed with other nations in 2015.

Rouhani was speaking at the UN general assembly a day after a speech by the Donald Trump, in which the US president repeated his denunciations of the deal signed by Barack Obama as the “worst ever”, and encouraged Iranians to overthrow their government.

The Iranian president described Trump’s speech – in which he also threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea – as “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric” that was beneath the dignity of the UN general assembly.

“It would be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics,” Rouhani said.

“The world will have lost a great opportunity,” he declared.

Rouhani said that the 2015 deal, signed by Iran and six world powers in Vienna, could become “a new model for international relations”. As a result of the agreement, Rouhani said Iran had “opened our doors to engagement and cooperation”, and he insisted that Tehran would abide strictly to its terms.

“Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement,” Rouhani said. “But it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.”

He added: “We never threaten anyone but we do not tolerate threats from anyone.”

On Wednesday, Trump told journalists he had made a decision on whether to withdraw certification of the 2015 nuclear deal by a congressional deadline of October 15.

The US president – a former TV reality show host who clearly enjoys building anticipation for his announcements – said “I have decided” and repeated it three times, but did not say what he had decided, telling reporters: “I’ll let you know.”

If he does not certify the agreement, under which Iran radically reduced its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief, Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose US sanctions. If the legislature makes no decision, the onus passes back to the president.

The other signatories of the agreement – the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China – have confirmed Iran is sticking to its obligations, and have urged Washington not to walk away from the deal that the Obama administration signed.

On Tuesday, the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson told the Guardian: “We are continually urging the Americans not to tear it up.”

He added: “I have to tell you the odds are perhaps 50-50.”

Speaking after Trump on Tuesday, the French president Emmanuel Macron also defended the deal, saying that its collapse would set the scene for a nuclear standoff as serious as the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Macron said: “Renouncing it would be a grave error, not respecting it would be irresponsible, because it is a good accord that is essential to peace at a time where the risk of an infernal conflagration cannot be excluded.”

It is unclear whether the agreement would survive if the US violated the deal by imposing new sanctions. Before Rouhani’s speech Tehran had said it is willing to remain committed if the other five national signatories do the same.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Macron said he wanted to add new “pillars” to the international community’s relations with Iran, to agree restrictions on its development of ballistic missile, develop a follow-on deal that would apply after major elements of the existing agreement expire in 2025, and to have an “open discussion with Iran about current situation in the region”.

Germany’s chancellor was also frank in her criticism of Trump’s UN speech: “I am against threats of this kind,” Angela Merkel told broadcaster Deutsche Welle, adding that her government considered any type of military solution “absolutely inappropriate”.

“In my opinion, sanctions and enforcing these sanctions are the right answer. But anything else with regard to North Korea I think is wrong. And that is why we clearly disagree with the US president.”

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