HITTING HARD: Trump fires off tough new sanctions against Iran as tensions mount

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order targeting Iran’s supreme leader with financial sanctions as tensions increase with the United States.

The sanctions, which follow follow Iran’s downing of a more than $100 million U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz, are meant to deter Tehran from supporting militant groups and from developing nuclear weapons.

“These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he signed the executive order. “We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement and support for terrorism, fueling of foreign conflicts and belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies.”

The sanctions are a direct hit to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and prevent him from accessing money and other methods of financial support.

Tensions have been steadily increasing between the U.S. and Iran since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from a global nuclear deal with Iran signed by former president Barack Obama Iran re-imposed economic sanctions against the rogue state.

Iranian officials have declared the sanctions put forth by President Trump, which essentially bar Iran from selling oil internationally, as “economic terrorism.”

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REPORT: Iran ups uranium production as US tensions mount

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, an official said Monday, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord a year after the U.S. withdrawal lit the fuse for the heightened tensions now between Tehran and Washington.

The announcement by Iran’s nuclear agency marked yet another deadline set by Tehran. President Hassan Rouhani already has warned Europe that a new deal needs to be in place by July 7 or the Islamic Republic would increase its enrichment of uranium.

Atomic energy spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi suggested that Iran’s enrichment could reach up to 20%, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

It appears as if Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign on the world after facing one from President Donald Trump’s administration that deeply cut into its sale of crude oil abroad and sent its economy into freefall. Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the U.S. sanctions.

The development follows apparent attacks last week in the Strait of Hormuz on oil tankers, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it laid mines in the 1980s targeting oil tankers around the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes.

“If this condition continues, there will be no deal” anymore, Kamalvandi said. He accused the Europeans of “killing time” as the clock runs down.

Rouhani, greeting France’s new ambassador to Tehran on Monday, similarly warned that time was running out on the deal.

“The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the (deal) still have a very limited opportunity to play their historic role for saving the deal,” Rouhani said, according to his website.

The announcement appeared timed to strike just as European foreign ministers met in Luxembourg. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, declined to specifically address the Iranian announcement.

“At the moment, as of today, Iran is still technically compliant and we strongly hope, encourage and expect that Iran continues to comply,” Mogherini told journalists. She insisted she would await the next report on the issue from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Under terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. Kamalvandi said that given Iran’s recent decision to quadruple its production of low-enriched uranium, it would pass the 300-kilogram limit on Thursday, June 27.

The Vienna-based IAEA said last month that Iran remained within its stockpile limits and declined to comment on Iran’s announcement. Kamalvandi said Iran would continue to allow the U.N. to inspect its nuclear facilities for the time being.

He also raised the specter of increasing its enrichment levels, saying Iran needs 5% enriched uranium for its nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr and 20% enriched fuel for its Tehran research reactor.

The nuclear deal limits Iran to enriching uranium only to 3.67%, enough for power plants and other peaceful purposes.

But after America pulled out of the nuclear accord and escalated sanctions, Rouhani set a July 7 deadline for Europe to come up with better terms for the deal or Tehran would boost enrichment further. So far, a European mechanism called INSTEX to protect trade with Iran has yet to take off.

The danger, nuclear nonproliferation experts warn, is that at 20% enrichment, only a fraction of atoms need to be removed to enrich up to weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the 2015 deal grew out of Western concerns about the program.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Since Trump took office, the U.S. has steadily stripped away at the accord, and he pulled America out of the deal in May 2018.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the international community should reinstate sanctions if Iran follows through on its threats, adding: “In any case, Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.”

Tensions have risen in the region since last month. The U.S. rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the Middle East in response to what it said were threats from Iran.

Meanwhile, a series of mysterious attacks have targeted oil tankers, and the U.S. blames Iranian-laid limpet mines. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen also have launched a series of drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which the U.S. suspects in the attacks, answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and operates outside of the traditional military’s control.

Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of the general staff of Iran’s armed forces, denied Tehran was involved in the tanker attacks, saying Monday the country only would respond in “an open, strong and severe way” if needed.

But he also reiterated Iran’s traditional stance on the Strait of Hormuz.

“If we decide to block the Strait of Hormuz, we will to do it in a way that even a drop of oil won’t pass the strait,” Bagheri added.

Kamalvandi spoke to Iranian journalists at the country’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor. Such reactors produce plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Iran, under the nuclear deal, had reconfigured the facility to address Western concerns on that issue.

However, Kamalvandi said the country could rebuild the facility to make it produce plutonium. He made a point to give an interview to Iranian state television, standing next to the open pit where the reactor would be in the facility.

As the camera panned down to what would be the reactor’s core, Kamalvandi stressed that piping could be replaced and the reactor could be built to make plutonium. Hard-liners opposed to the nuclear deal had constantly accused the agency of filling the entire pit with concrete.

“They had previously photoshoped a picture of this place having been filled up with concrete,” Kamalvandi said.

He added: “The message that we tried to get across to Europeans today was that not much time is left for them.”

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi, Raf Casert and Frank Jordans contributed to the contents of this report.

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‘MAXIMUM PRESSURE’: Trump reinstates sanctions against Iran lifted as part of controversial Obama nuke deal

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday announced the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions against Iran that had been lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal.

The sanctions, which will be fully reinstated, are scheduled to take effect on Monday and will cover Iran’s financial, shipping and energy sectors. The effort is just the latest of multiple penalties imposed upon the rogue nation since President Trump withdrew from the contentious deal in May.

The first, on August 7, targeted Iran’s ability to purchase or acquire US dollar banknotes, trade in gold and precious metals, and make transactions relating to the Iranian rial, the nation’s currency.

In a statement released by the White House Friday afternoon, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are “aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Maximum pressure means maximum pressure,” Pompeo said.

The Trump administration has released a list of 12 demands that Iran must agree to if it wants the sanctions removed, including ending support for terrorism, ending military engagement in Syria and agreeing to a complete halt of its nuclear and ballistic missile development.

The sanctions will also penalize countries that continue to import Iranian oil and foreign companies that do business with blacklisted Iranian interests, including Iran’s central bank and state-run port and shipping sectors.

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said further details would be made available once the sanctions are put into place on Monday.

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IRAN THREATENS US: ‘Our missiles can hit ANY ship’; Tensions mount in wake of increased US sanctions

WASHINGTON — The Iranian government issued a chilling barrage of threats toward the United States Tuesday, warning that their land-to-sea ballistic missile could “hit any ship”.

The warnings came in the wake of increased tensions between Iran and the U.S. in recent weeks as a result of new sanctions issued upon Iran by U.S. president Donald Trump.

“We have managed to make land-to-sea ballistic, not cruise, missiles that can hit any vessel or ship from 700 kilometres,” Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division, said in a statement, in which he went on to threaten to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.

Trump ordered the sanctions placed upon the rogue country in response to reports that Iran has continued development of nuclear weapons – allegations Iranian government officials continue to deny.

Iranian Oil Minister, Bijan Zanganeh, responded angrily to the sanctions, accusing Trump of “bullying” other nations, and claimed the global market is suffering as a result.

“The oil market is suffering from short supply and this cannot be resolved by words,” said Zanganeh. “Trump thinks he can bring the oil prices down by bullying. Everyone is worried and Trump has failed to reassure them. That’s why the market is in turmoil.”

Trump has declared that any country that continues doing business with Iran is subject to harsh U.S. penalties.

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IRAN OFFICIAL: Obama administration granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians during nuclear deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Fox News) — The Obama administration granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians, including family members of government officials, while negotiating the Iran nuclear deal, a senior cleric and member of parliament has claimed.

Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour, who is chairman of Iran’s parliamentary nuclear committee and a member of its national security and foreign affairs committee, made the allegations during an interview with the country’s Etemad newspaper, cited by the country’s Fars News agency.

He claimed it was done as a favor to senior Iranian officials linked to President Hassan Rouhani, and he alleged the move sparked a competition among Iranian officials over whose children would benefit from the scheme.

He claimed that the deal was made during negotiations for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was reached in July 2015. President Trump announced in May that the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement.

“When Obama, during the negotiations about the JCPOA, decided to do a favor to these men, he granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians and some officials started a competition over whose children could be part of these 2,500 Iranians,” he claimed.

“If today these Iranians get deported from America, it will become clear who is complicit and sells the national interest like he is selling candies to America.”

The conservative Zolnour, who is in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s inner circle, added: “It should be stated exactly which children of which authorities live in the United States and have received citizenship or residency.”

He estimated that between 30 and 60 were studying in the U.S. while the rest of them were working in the country “against our national interests.”

Though Zolnour did not mention anyone by name during the interview, several children of current and former Iranian officials live in the United States, including Ali Fereydoun, whose father Hossein Fereydoun is the brother of and special aide to Rouhani; and Fatemeh Ardeshir Larijani, whose father Ali Larijani is speaker of parliament.

There is no suggestion either of these people received citizenship in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal. It’s also unclear if Zolnour meant citizenship or a green card.

In 2015, 13,114 people born in Iran were issued green cards, while 13,298 were issued one in 2016, according to figures from the Department for Homeland Security. In 2015, 10,344 Iranians became naturalized, with a further 9,507 in 2016.

Asked about the cleric’s claim, a State Department spokesperson said: “We’re not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official.”

Fox News analyst and former Obama State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was dubious of the Iranian official’s allegation. “This sounds like totally made up BS,” she said.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment. A representative for Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also could not be reached for comment.

The cleric’s claim could, in the U.S., fuel Republican complaints about the concessions made by the Obama administration during that period — including not just sanctions relief, but the $1.7 billion payment supposedly tied to a legal settlement that coincided with the 2016 release of American prisoners.

And in Iran, they could fuel resentment toward Tehran’s elite.

“Many ordinary Iranians are surprised and feel betrayed that children of the regime officials live and work in the U.S.,” Saeed Ghasseminejad, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based research institute, told Fox News. “The regime officials chant death to America but send their children to the U.S., away from the hell they have created in Iran over the past four decades.”

Ghasseminejad said some Iranians have called for their deportation from America: “Iranians don’t understand why the U.S. government allows the offspring of the regime officials to live in the U.S., while the U.S. has introduced a travel ban for ordinary Iranian citizens and many Americans are imprisoned in Iran. That is why many Iranians on social media have been urging the U.S. government to deport the children of the regime officials.”

Iran is one of seven countries included in Trump’s travel ban, upheld last week by the Supreme Court.

The country has been beset by a series of economic protests in recent days as the country’s currency, the rial, crashes.

Since the U.S. withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal on May 8, the value of the rial has plunged to 90,000 against the dollar – double the government rate of 42,000 rials to the dollar.

The protests have hit Iranian commercial areas, including the historic Grand Bazaar in Tehran, the home of conservative merchants who backed the 1979 Islamic Revolution and overthrow of the Shah.

Rouhani has warned the country that it faces an “economic war” with the U.S., but analysts have warned that hard-liners are likely behind the protests seeking to challenge the more moderate president.

Rouhani is under pressure since the nuclear deal agreed with the Obama administration was torn up by Trump. As a result, international firms and oil companies have backed away from billion-dollar deals with the Islamic republic.

Fox News Senior News Editor Chris Irvine contributed to this report.

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TRUMP: Secretary of State Pompeo is en route to North Korea

Washington, D.C. — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is en route to Pyongyang to continue preparations for the President’s upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, President Trump announced Tuesday.

“The location is picked, the time and date, everything is picked and we look forward to having a great success,” the president said of the historic upcoming summit.

Pompeo told reporters traveling with him to North Korea Tuesday that his first matter of business will be to discuss with North Korean leaders the plight of three American citizens being detained by the rogue regime. Although Pompeo said he could not guarantee that North Korea would be willing to cooperate he said he hopes officials would be willing to “do the right thing”.

“We’ve been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months,” Pompeo said. “We’ll talk about it again. It’d be a great gesture if they’d agree to do so.”

Asked by reporters Tuesday if North Korean officials had indicated they would be open to negotiating a release, Trump replied” “We’ll all soon be finding out. It would be a great thing if they are.”

Pompeo, who has already traveled to North Korea to meet with Jong-un said he is cautiously optimistic but will remain firm in protecting America’s interests.

“The second piece is, we also want to make sure what our expectations are not,” said Pompeo, aboard a C-32A. “We are not going to head down the path we headed down before.”

“We will not relieve sanctions until such time as we have achieved our objectives,” he added. “We’re not going to do this in small increments, where the world is coerced into relieving economic pressures.”

It remains unclear whether Pompeo will meet directly with Jong-un on this trip or other high ranking North Korean officials, but Pompeo says the topics at hand, not the person in charge is his priority at this point.

“We’re prepared to meet anyone who can speak on behalf of the North Korean government and give us solid answers so we’re prepared,” he said.

The president broke the news on Pompeo’s second round of negotiations while announcing his plans to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement.

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PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT; FULL VIDEO: Trump speech on withdrawal from Iran nuke deal

Washington, D.C. May 8, 2018, 2:00 pm EST

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

“My fellow Americans,

Today, I want to update the world on our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian regime is the leading state sponsor of terror. It exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American Embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American service members, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens.

The Iranian regime has funded its long reign of chaos and terror by plundering the wealth of its own people.

No action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons — and the means of delivering them.

In 2015, the previous administration joined with other nations in a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. This agreement was known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A.

In theory, the so-called “Iran deal” was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime.

In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and — over time — reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.

The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for very weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity — and no limits at all on its other malign behavior, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world.

In other words, at the point when the United States had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States.

A constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time, but it wasn’t.

At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction: that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents — long concealed by Iran — conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.

The fact is, this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.

In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget has grown by almost 40 percent — while its economy is doing very badly. After the sanctions were lifted, the dictatorship used its new funds to build its nuclear-capable missiles, support terrorism, and cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable.

If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.

Making matters worse, the deal’s inspection provisions lack adequate mechanisms to prevent, detect, and punish cheating and don’t even have the unqualified right to inspect many important locations, including military facilities. Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.

Finally, the deal does nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities, including its support for terrorism.

Since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen. In light of these glaring flaws, I announced last October that the Iran deal must either be renegotiated or terminated.

Three months later, on January 12th, I repeated these conditions. I made clear that if the deal could not be fixed, the United States would no longer be a party to the agreement.

Over the past few months, we have engaged extensively with our allies and partners around the world, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We have also consulted with our friends from across the Middle East. We are unified in our understanding of the threat and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.

After these consultations, it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.

Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.

America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. And we will not allow a regime that chants “Death to America” to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth.

Today’s action sends a critical message. The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them. In fact, at this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. Plans are being made, relationships are building. Hopefully, a deal will happen, and with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.

As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program, to stop its terrorist activities worldwide, and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East.”

Watch speech in its entirety here.

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COTTON TO TILLERSON, MATTIS; Get on board with Trump or get out

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R)- AR had some strong words for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Monday: Get on board the Trump Train or get out.

In an interview with Politico (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/09/tom-cotton-senate-trump-whisperer-215692) Cotton said if Tillerson and Mattis can’t align themselves with the president’s stance on removing the United States from the Iran nuclear accord they’d be better off finding themselves a new job.

“They understand they’re not the president. Donald Trump is the president. Their job is to advise. His job is to decide,” Cotton told Politico.

“When you think the president is wrong, you have a duty to try to present to him the best facts and the best thinking to help him see it in a different light. Maybe you can, but if he doesn’t, and he says, ‘No, I want to do it my way,’ then your job is to move out and execute. And if you feel strongly enough, then you have to resign,” he continued.

Cotton also called out Mattis’ public comments that staying in the Iran nuke deal was “in the national interest.”

“On that specific point, I simply disagree with him,” Cotton said of Mattis’ assertion. “At root, though, we don’t have secretaries of state and secretaries of defense to make these decisions. We elect a president, who’s democratically accountable to the American people. And they say, in baseball, that the longest 18 inches is the difference between the assistant coach’s seat on the bench and the manager’s seat. That it’s the difference between advising and deciding. Same thing is true at the National Security Council table.”

Iran “is on the president’s mind right now, probably more than anything,” Cotton added.

Cotton’s comments come on the heels of last week’s controversy after published reports suggested that Tillerson had considered resigning out of frustration with Trump, allegations that Tillerson vehemently denied.

“There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave,” Tillerson said of the controversy speaking from a podium in the Treaty Room of the State Department.

“I serve at the appointment of the president and I am here for as long as the president feels I can be useful to achieving his objectives.”

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TRUMP ADDRESSES THE UN: If provoked, we will ‘totally destroy’ North Korea

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Addressing the U.N. General Assembly for the first time since his election, President Donald Trump stepped up his threats against North Korea and vowed to “totally destroy” the communist country should leader Kim Jung-Un continue to provoke the United States.

“If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Trump told the 193-member panel as he detailed the acts of the “depraved” North Korean regime.

“Rocket man is on a suicide mission,” he said of Kim Jung-Un, citing North Korea’s most recent missile launch. “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

While citing the United States’ military capabilities to take North Korea “out”, Trump called upon the UN panel to aid him in finding a more diplomatic solution to the problem.

“We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril,” Trump said.”As president of the United States, I will always put America first.” Calling North Korea a threat to democracies around the world, President Trump called on other world leaders to do the same.

“It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior. We face this decision not only in North Korea; it is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

“Put your countries first,” he said.

In addition to addressing the ongoing issue with North Korea, Trump also took advantage of the opportunity before the world council to condemn his predecessor’s deal with Iran.

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. Believe me,” said Trump.

“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. Above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors. The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters, and imprison political reformers,” he continued.

“Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the people will face a choice,” the president challenged. “Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous once again? The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its finance, and in Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamic extremism that inspires them.”

A spokesperson for North Korea’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. President Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York

US TENSIONS MOUNT WITH IRAN; IRANIAN PRESIDENT: ‘WE NEED MISSILES TO CONFRONT TRUMP’

TEHRAN, IRAN — Recently re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made it clear that he is no fan of U.S. president Donald Trump and took aim this week at Congress’s announcement of new sanctions.

Just days after Trump criticized the Islamic Republic for its ballistic missile program and support of terrorism in the Middle East, Rouhani countered that Iran would will never halt its clandestine missile program and said his nation will use military force if necessary to stop the United States and it’s allies.

“We need missiles and the enemy should know that we make everything we need and we don’t pay an iota of attention to your words,” Rouhani said on Wednesday during a meeting with Iranian cabinet members. “The remarks by the enemies of the Iranian nation against Iran’s missile power are out of ignorance.”

Rouhini’s remarks came as the rogue nation announced the construction of a third underground ballistic missile production factory, helmed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

Iranian General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said the factory is necessary to to boosts Tehran’s “missile power” and intimidate the United States and the “Zionist regime,” of Israel.

“We will increase our missile power. Our enemies, the United States, and the Zionist regime (Israel) are naturally upset and get angry at our missile production, tests and underground missile facilities because they want Iran to be in a weak position,” vowed Hajizadeh on Thursday.

Iran’s repititious firing of ballistic missiles and launching of space missiles—which are believed to be cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile program—have angered both Democrats and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

In a bi-partisan decision, Congress announced on Thursday it’s plan to increase economic sanctions on Iran as a direct result of its missile program and support of Islamic terrorism and illegal weapons trade.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), a chief sponsor of the legislation, said the sanctions are necessary to ensure that “Iran’s leaders understand they do not enjoy blanket impunity as the United States” and that Iran “continues to live up to its commitments under the nuclear agreement”.

“Independent of the nuclear portfolio, and as President Rouhani starts his second presidential term, our broader policy towards Iran must be one that holds Tehran accountable for their destabilizing efforts in the region, illegal and dangerous missile technology development, and nefarious activities as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism,” Menendez said. “As the administration continues to review its Iran policy, Congress must set out clear markers that impose real consequences to Iran’s illicit behavior that runs counter to our national security and that of our allies in the region.”

The new legislation will impose mandatory sanctions on all individuals associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program, and any nation who carries out transactions with them.

In a controversial deal worked out with the Obama administration in 2015, Iran agreed to redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities and accept the Additional Protocol (with provisional application) in exchange for the lifting of all nuclear-related economical sanctions, freeing up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets.

President Trump, calling the Iran nuclear deal “the worst deal ever made” vowed to overturn the agreement.

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