Iran offers friendship to US at UN General Assembly

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

UN Assembly Kerry Obama
US Secretary of State John F. Kerry listens as US President Barack Obama speaks to the UN General Assembly.

At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the only branch of the UN where all nations have equal representation, the world’s global powers come together to decide on important international issues. Big decisions, like those on peace and security, require a two-thirds majority vote to pass. Others can be achieved with just a simple majority of over 50%. This balance is very different from the UN Security Council‘s “power of veto” that lets any of its five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – block decisions.

During the 68th session of the UN General Assembly this past week, nations have gathered from across the globe at the UN headquarters in New York to work together on solving problems. One of the biggest issues that offers hope is the new tone of cooperation between Iran and the US.

For years, the US has been concerned that Iran’s nuclear power program is being used to develop nuclear weapons. It didn’t help that the previous Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, used very aggressive language against the US and its allies, especially Israel. As a result, the US led international efforts to damage Iran’s economy and strength with sanctions (restrictions). This has crippled Iran’s ability to trade, earn money, make scientific advancements, and build their military.

Fortunately, the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is making much friendlier remarks towards the US, both at the UN General Assembly and in his first English-language TV interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans,” he said. Although some question whether he has any power to make decisions in Iran, where the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds the real strings, Rouhani assures the world that he does. “I think that the president of Iran has the authority whenever the national interest of the country is involved,” explained Rouhani to Amanpour. “The supreme leader of Iran has said that should negotiations be necessary for the national interest of the country, he is in fact not opposed to it.”

Rouhani made sure to emphasize that Iran posed “absolutely no threat to the world or region” and pointed out that nuclear weapons “have no place in Iran’s security and defense.” Obama welcomes the words, but still believes they must be “matched by actions” and that the Iranian government must “meet its responsibilities.” Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is far more doubtful of Iran, expressing that his country “will not be fooled by half-measures that merely provide a smokescreen for Iran’s continual pursuit of nuclear weapons” and that “Iran thinks that soothing words… will enable it to continue on its path to the bomb.”

Featured image courtesy of Sarah Fretwell on UN Photo. Image of John F. Kerry courtesy of Eskinder Debebe on UN Photo. Video courtesy of The White House on YouTube.