Russia and Iran criticized a U.S. announcement that President Donald Trump will chair a UN Security Council meeting on Iran this month as part of efforts to step up pressure on Tehran for what Washington called its "violations of international law."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on September 5 said Washington was "mistaken" if it believes it can use the forum to win other council members over to its way of thinking after it pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions against the country.
While saying the September 26 session would be a good opportunity to discuss the situation, Ryabkov added that "the Americans won't have an easy walk at this meeting."
"They are mistaken if they think that they can use the UN rostrum as a forum for starting again to rally and, so to speak, organize everyone under their banners," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Trump was "violating" UN resolutions and "bullying others to do the same."
He charged that the U.S. president plans to "abuse" the Security Council presidency "to blame Iran for horrors US & clients have unleashed across" the Middle East.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley late on September 4 announced that Trump would chair the UN meeting as the United States assumed the rotating presidency of the Security Council.
Haley and Trump have repeatedly attacked Iran, accusing it of meddling in the wars in Syria and Yemen and violating the spirit of its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, which Trump abandoned in May.
Russia, China, and U.S. allies Britain, France, and Germany have vowed to remain part of the 2015 deal that provided Tehran with relief from some sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Haley told reporters at the UN that Trump decided to chair the council meeting during the annual gathering of world leaders in New York so he could "address Iran's violations of international law and the general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region."
"President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order," said Haley, who accused Iran of "supporting terrorism" around the world.
"If you continue to look at the ballistic-missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen -- these are all violations of Security Council resolutions," she said. "These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about."
Iran is subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions imposed by the council, and Washington has repeatedly alleged that it is violating the embargo by providing arms to its allies in Yemen.
Iran has denied supporting terrorism or supplying weapons to Yemen's Huthi rebels, and it has adamantly rejected U.S. demands that it stop making and testing ballistic missiles, which Tehran maintains are needed for its defense.
Rohani is expected to address the assembly one day ahead of the meeting, on September 25. Haley said the United States would not object to Rohani speaking at the meeting.
Haley denied the United States, by seeking to galvanize international pressure on Iran, was seeking "regime change." She claimed the U.S. effort was aimed at supporting the desires of the "Iranian people."
"We are going to stand with the Iranian people. They have every right to be heard in their government and they have every right to change it," she said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an appearance on Russia's Channel One TV early on September 5 lambasted the U.S. stance on Iran, calling it "unrealistic" in light of Iran's long history and large population, state-run news agency TASS reported.
"The U.S. has a defiant attitude to Iran, accusing it of all deadly sins and demanding that Iran leave any country, except for Iran itself, and stop even exerting political influence on its neighbors and other regional states. I think this is an unprofessional and unrealistic approach. It cannot prevail. How can a state with its traditions that go back centuries and 75 million people be locked in its borders?" Lavrov was reported as saying.
In February, Russia vetoed a U.S.-led effort in the council to reprimand Iran for failing to prevent its weapons from falling into the hands of Yemen's Huthi rebels, a charge which Tehran denies.
Meanwhile, Interfax reported on September 5 that Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks on September 7 with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rohani on Tehran’s nuclear program, the situation in Syria, and other issues.