Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a joint press conference on September 16, 2019 in Ankara, Turkey.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images
NEW YORK — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the United States the “supporter of terrorism” in the Middle East and downplayed Tehran’s role in the recent Saudi oil facility attacks in a Tuesday interview with Fox News.
“Today, unfortunately, America is the supporter of terrorism in our region and wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in that wake. Wherever we have gone, on the other side, we have defeated terrorism,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani gave a hypothetical response when asked about the Sept. 14 strikes on the world’s largest crude-processing plant and oil field.
“Let’s assume if it was from Iran, all of the monies received from the United States from these defensive systems, from these weapon systems, from these radar systems installed in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian peninsula, how come, they were not able to prevent that missile from hitting the target?” he asked, adding that the strikes were embarrassing for U.S.-made missile defense systems.
The drone attacks, which forced the kingdom to shut down half of its oil production operations, triggered the largest spike in crude prices in decades and renewed concerns of a budding conflict in the Middle East. While Tehran has been widely blamed for the attacks, it maintains that it was not involved.
Rouhani also downplayed meeting with Trump during the U.N. General Assembly in New York to discuss a nuclear weapon deal.
“Why would we bump into one another? If we seek to pursue higher goals to benefit both countries, both people, it must be planned,” explained Rouhani. “But prior to that, we must create mutual trust and the trust is something that Mr. Trump took away from this framework. We had an agreement and Mr. Trump exited without a valid justification and illegally from an international agreement,” he said of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
Trump and Rouhani have said they will not meet on the sidelines of the U.N. despite being in close proximity this week. Rouhani is slated to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.