US sanctions on Iran violate UN Charter: Malaysian PM
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday called for cooperation among Muslim countries to withstand pressure from global powers.
“Cooperation among Muslim countries is essential to resist the pressure of big powers,” Rouhani told Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur.
Rouhani is in the Malaysian capital to attend a summit of Muslim leaders to discuss issues gripping Islamic countries.
The Iranian president said many issues Muslims are grappling with, stem from “America’s interference”.
He pointed to “unilateral cruel sanctions” imposed by the US on Iran as an example of Washington’s meddling and said America has been “unsuccessful” in its campaign of “maximum pressure” on the Islamic Republic due to “people’s resistance”.
US President Donald Trump reinstated tough sanctions on Iran after he pulled out of a 2015 international deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Mahathir denounced “illegal” US sanctions, saying Malaysia supports Iran and is determined to boost trade with the Islamic Republic.
“We condemn the illegal sanctions on Iran, which are in violation of UN Charter,” he said.
Both leaders said the Kuala Lumpur summit was an opportunity to increase cooperation among Islamic nations.
Leaders and senior representatives from some 20 Muslim nations flocked to the Malaysian capital on Wednesday to discuss issues at the summit.
The summit is expected to address, amongst others, the age-old disputes in Kashmir and the Middle East, the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, and China’s camps for Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, as well as how to counter the spread of Islamophobia in the world.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan made a belated decision to skip the meeting while Saudi Arabia also decided to shun it.
Some Pakistani officials, unnamed as they were not authorized to speak to media, said PM Khan pulled out under pressure from close ally Saudi Arabia, though other media reports say his officials deny that was the reason why the world’s second largest Muslim nation would not be represented.
Clarifying its decision to stay away, Saudi Arabia said the Malaysian summit was the wrong forum for matters of importance to the world’s 1.75 billion Muslims, though some analysts suspected the kingdom feared being diplomatically isolated by regional rivals Iran, Qatar and Turkey.
The Saudi state news agency, SPA, reported that in a call with Mahathir on Tuesday, Saudi King Salman reaffirmed that such issues should be discussed through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani are also attending.
Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, would be represented by Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin, a cleric overseeing the country’s fight against radicalization and terrorism.
Defending the summit, Mahathir’s office issued a statement saying there was no intention to create a “new bloc as alluded to by some of its critics”.
“In addition, the summit is not a platform to discuss religion or religious affairs but specifically to address the state of affairs of the Muslim Ummah,” it said, using the Arabic term for community.
‘US will have to change course’
Earlier in the day, Rouhani met with Iranian residents in Malaysia.
He said the United States will ultimately be forced to change course and stop waging a hostile pressure campaign against Iran in the face of the Iranian nation’s resistance.
“The Americans have no choice but to change the path they have been treading. We will compel them to do so too through [our] resistance and perseverance,” Rouhani said.
The US departure from the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), flew in the face of the accord’s multilateral nature. Both the withdrawal and the returning of the sanctions flouted international law as the deal has been ratified in the form of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Rouhani further described the US use of sanctions as a “lose-lose approach,” saying, “In my opinion, these sanctions cannot last and constitute illegal measures.”
“Today, everyone knows that the US withdrawal from the JCPOA has benefited no side, not even the US itself and its friends,” he stated.
The president, however, said the bans could be turned into opportunities for Iran through resistance.
By exerting economic pressure on Iran, the US and Israel are attempting to “force us into isolation and pit the Iranian people against [the country’s Islamic] establishment by making them lose their patience,” he noted.
However, the nation has been withstanding the unjust sanctions that have affected their livelihood by targeting foodstuffs and medical supplies, among other things, the president said.
The president said the sanctions have not spared Iranians residing overseas either, putting many in tough circumstances. Nevertheless, they should also endeavor to turn this pressure into an opportunity, he noted.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani reasserted the Iranian nation’s opposition to radicalism and terrorism.
He advised all Iranians living abroad to relay the nation’s message of peace and friendship to the world and communicate the country’s tendency to establish closer scientific ties with all members of the international community, especially Muslim countries.
Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.