Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will give a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that will likely determine whether Tehran will re-engage with the United States to ease the heightened tension between the longtime enemies.
According to Reuters, the confrontation between Tehran and Washington has ratcheted up since last year, when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled that country’s economy.
Rouhani, the nuclear pact’s architect, has left the door open to diplomacy, saying that if sanctions were lifted, Washington could join nuclear talks between Tehran and other powers.
But, in spite of French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to bring about talks between the two countries, Trump on Tuesday said he would intensify sanctions on Iran as part of Washington’s “maximum-pressure” policy to force Tehran to negotiate a broader deal.
In reaction to tightened U.S. sanctions on its vital oil exports since exiting the deal, Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the agreement and has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, through which an estimated one-fifth of the world’s oil passes.
At the General Assembly, Rouhani is expected to call for a “coalition for hope” in the Persian Gulf that “will secure freedom of navigation, flow of energy and the regional stability in the Persian Gulf,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.