Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that his country's delegation would vote for the United Nations headquarters to be moved out of New York if given the chance, in the latest sign of escalating tensions with the United States on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
“If we’re ever asked, we will, of course, vote for it, for the United Nations headquarters to be transferred to a more secure and better country that does not have the narrow viewpoints that we have been witnessing,” he said in response to a question at a press conference. There appears to be no significant movement to move the U.N.
He mentioned a number of instances of Iranians being barred from entering the U.S. The Trump administration this week restricted senior Iranian government officials and their family members from entering the U.S.
"For years, Iranian officials and their family members have quietly taken advantage of America’s freedom and prosperity, including excellent educational, employment, entertainment, and cultural opportunities in the United States," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Thursday.
"Under this proclamation, designated senior regime officials and their families will no longer be allowed entry into the United States. No longer will elites reap the benefits of a free society while the Iranian people suffer under the regime’s corruption and mismanagement."
Rouhani accused the U.S. of capitalizing on its position as host nation for the U.N.
"This is the house of peace and house of communications with one another and America must not take advantage of its position as a host and only grant visas to whom America likes," he said.
Rouhani spoke at a lengthy press conference in which he blamed the U.S. for the collapse of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and called on the U.S. to remove sanctions before talks can occur between the two countries. President Trump had opened the door to talks with the Iranian regime, but has also kept up his "maximum pressure" campaign of sanctions against Tehran.
"If these preconditions are taken off the table and then of course the possibility exists to talk with America," Rouhani said.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have been escalating for more than a year since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, after which the U.S. re-imposed economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Tehran has itself violated parts of the deal, including limits on enriched uranium. It has also angered the international community with its regional aggression and support for terror.
Trump on Tuesday, in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, said that “no responsible government should subsidize Iran's bloodlust.”
He accused Iran's leaders of "fueling the tragic wars in both Syria and Yemen," and of "squandering their nation's wealth in a fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them."
"We must never allow this to happen," he said.
The U.K., France and Germany joined the U.S. in blaming Iran for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, a win for Trump as he seeks to rally other nations to endorse its “maximum pressure” campaign.
Rouhani pointed the finger instead at Yemen rebels, saying that forces on the ground have longer-range missiles and have previously attacked parts of Saudi Arabia. He also urged the countries to provide proof for the allegations that Tehran is responsible.
“Those who make the allegations must provide the needed proof to back up such allegations,” he said.
Fox News' Rich Edson contributed to this report.