Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani invokes U.S. downing of Iran Air Flight 655 in response to Trump

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Iranian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded Monday on Twitter to President Trump's weekend warning that the U.S. military would target 52 Iranian sites — a reference to the number of American hostages taken during the Iran hostage crisis — if the country retaliates for the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

"Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290. #IR655 Never threaten the Iranian nation."

The context: A U.S. Navy cruiser shot down Iran Air Flight 655, a civilian airliner, over the Persian Gulf in 1988, killing all 290 passengers and crew members on board.

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Rouhani's UN address reflects Iran's growing intransigence

Hassan Rouhani speaking to the United Nations General Assembly from a lectern
Rouhani addressing the 2019 UN General Assembly. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at world leaders in a strident address from the floor of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday, underscoring the Islamic Republic's increasing isolation on the international stage.

The big picture: Since May 2019, the world has seen Iran violate nuclear commitments and attack oil installations and commercial shipping critical to the international economy. France, Germany, and the U.K. have joined Washington in pointing a finger at Iran after the recent strikes on Saudi oil facilities, a sign that the trans-Atlantic community may be uniting against Tehran.