UNITED NATIONS — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday his country doesn’t want a war with the United States and believes America will “sooner or later” support the Iran nuclear agreement again following the Trump administration’s withdrawal.
Rouhani told a wide-ranging news conference that the U.S. decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal in May was "a mistake" because there are no benefits for the people of the United States, Iran, Europe or any other country.
"The United States of America one day will come back, sooner or later," he said.
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He said the Trump administration made a "second mistake" in holding a meeting of the U.N. Security Council earlier Wednesday during which 14 countries either directly or indirectly backed the nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five other major powers.
Only U.S. President Donald Trump, who chaired the session, spoke against the deal known as the JCPOA and appeared isolated as a result, Rouhani said.
Addressing the council, Trump called the JCPOA a "horrible one-sided deal," declaring that Iran "must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon" and accusing its government of exporting "violence, terror and turmoil."
Rouhani said it was "quite strange, unprecedented and amazing" that while presiding over the Security Council as its president Trump also called on the 14 other council members to violate the legally binding resolution endorsing the JCPOA that the council adopted unanimously in 2015 — including a "yes" vote from the United States.
He added that Trump not only disagreed with that resolution but said whoever implements it "will be punished."
Responding to a question about whether the harsh language that Trump and his top official have used about Iran might lead to war, Rouhani said Iran since the 1979 revolution "has been subjected to that type of language many times." But he said Trump administration officials "speak with a different style, presumably because they're new to politics."
As for war, Rouhani said, "We do not wish to go to war with American forces anywhere in the region. We do not wish to attack them. We do not wish to increase tensions — none of the above."
"But we ask the United States of America to adhere to laws and respect national sovereignty of nations," he said.
Rouhani also said "America must think again about her presence in the region, in the Persian Gulf, in the Sea of Oman, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and other places."
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Trump has vowed to continue to isolate Iran through U.S. sanctions that are being re-instated following the U.S. pullout from the nuclear agreement in May. The next round of sanctions will take effect in early November.
But Rouhani told reporters that sanctions which "were supposed to be proactive in November became proactive in September, so there are no other sanctions that will start in November."
He complained that the United States "has spared no effort" to exert pressure on Iran's oil sales and banking relationships, and there is not much left for the Trump administration to do.
Rouhani said Iran will continue working with countries that support the nuclear deal.
He called Monday's decision by the five other signatories to the agreement who still support it — Russia, China, Britain France and Germany — to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iranian imports and exports "a very good step forward."
"We have lived up to the JCPOA," Rouhani said. "Up until such time when we keep reaping the benefits promised within that agreement for our nation and our people, we will remain in the agreement."
But he said without elaborating: “Should this situation change, we have other paths and other solutions which we will embark upon.”