U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday expressed support for the Iranian people protesting against their government, urging the international community to take action to back the nationwide demonstrations.
Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Haley followed up on President Donald Trump's earlier statements backing the protesters and highlighted their messages against the Iranian regime. She directly addressed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's contention that "enemies of Iran" had fomented the protests, arguing that his statement is "complete nonsense."
"Now the Iranian dictatorship is trying to do what it always does, which is to say that the protests were designed by Iran's enemies. We all know that's complete nonsense," Haley said. "The demonstrations are completely spontaneous. They are virtually in every city in Iran. This is the precise picture of a long-oppressed people rising up against their dictators."
The protests are the biggest challenge to the Iranian government's authority since mass demonstrations in 2009. They initially focused on rising costs and economic mismanagement by the regime, but quickly turned to political and social issues, including criticism of Iran's theocratic system of rule.
Haley condemned Iranian authorities for suppressing the nationwide protests and called on the United Nations to take action before the regime tightens its grip.
"The international community has a role to play on this. The freedoms that are enshrined in the United Nations charter are under attack in Iran," she said. "Dozens have already been killed. Hundreds have been arrested. If the Iranian dictatorship's history is any guide, we can expect more outrageous abuses in the days to come."
Haley said the U.S. will call for an emergency session of the U.N. in New York, as well as at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. She said they must seize the moment instead of letting the regime overcome popular opposition, as it has in the past.
"We must not be silent. The people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause," she said. "The international community made the mistake of failing to do that in 2009. We must not make that mistake again."
Haley also addressed the Trump administration's decision to withhold $255 million in aid from Pakistan for what it has described as harboring terrorists. She said Pakistan plays a "double game" by cooperating with the U.S. while harboring terror groups that operate in neighboring Afghanistan.
"We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism," she said. "The president is willing to go to great lengths to stop all funding from Pakistan as they continue to harbor and support terrorism."
Haley also emphasized that withholding aid is not connected to Pakistan's vote in the U.N. General Assembly stating its opposition to the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"The Pakistan aid issue is not connected to the vote with Jerusalem. It is entirely connected to Pakistan's harboring of terrorists," she said.
Haley added that the General Assembly's vote condemning the announced U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem made a serious impression.
"However, as I said in December, we won't forget the Jerusalem vote. To that end, tomorrow night we are having a reception for the countries who chose not to oppose the U.S. position," Haley said.
A reporter later asked Haley why the U.S. stood by moving the embassy to Jerusalem when so many other nations opposed it.
"What made you believe that you are on the right side of history?" the reporter asked.
"I stood proudly even if I was the only hand in the Security Council to fight for the will of the people of the United States," Haley replied. "They wanted to see the embassy moved to Jerusalem, and we followed through with that."
She added that the Trump administration wants to advance the peace process but the Palestinians have to "show the world that they want to come to the table."
Haley also spoke briefly about North Korea, calling U.N. resolutions "a great achievement" but emphasizing that work remains to ensure those resolutions are enforced.
She said the U.S. "must bring even more measures to bear on the North Korean regime" if it carries out another missile test.
"The civilized world must remain united and vigilant against the rogue state's development of a nuclear arsenal," Haley said. "We will never accept a nuclear North Korea."