Ahmadinejad Slams U.S. in UN Address

The Iranian president called for a new world order, saying the current one was "discriminatory and based on injustice"

By Sam Schulz, Edith M. Lederer and Wendy Benjaminson
|  Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012  |  Updated 12:48 PM EDT
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Ahmadinejad Slams U.S. in UN Address

AFP/Getty Images

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

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Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday he has a vision of a new world order that would be absent of the "hegemony of arrogance."

Ahmadinejad, known for past fiery denunciations of the United States and Israel, addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday with typically fierce rhetoric, in his final speech at the gathering as head of state.

"The current world order is discriminatory and based on injustice," he said. "There is no doubt that the world is in need of a new order and a fresh way of thinking, an order in which man is recognized as God's supreme creation."

He said the "continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality."

Ahmadinejad slammed the United States as well as Israel on its foreign policy, though its intended target was absent: A spokesman for the U.S. mission to the U.N. said the U.S. was boycotting the speech, as it usually does, because of Ahmadinejad's comments in recent days and because the speech was taking place on the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur.

"We've seen Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the U.N. not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel. It's particularly unfortunate that Mr. Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the U.N. General Assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend," a spokesman said in a statement.

In his speech Wednesday, Ahmadinejad did not reference Iran's nuclear program. The United States, Israel and Western nations claim Tehran is using what it insists is a peaceful nuclear program as cover for building a weapon. Israel has threatened a military strike against Iranian nuclear installation, while President Barack Obama insists time remains to solve the dispute through diplomacy.

A day earlier, Ahmadinejad had said in an interview with The Associated Press that a new world order needs to emerge, away from years of what he called American bullying and domination.

He also discussed solutions for the Syrian civil war, dismissed the question of Iran's nuclear ambition and claimed that despite Western sanctions his country is better off than it was when he took office in 2005.

"I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it," Ahmadinejad said to the AP, speaking through a translator. He accused the U.S. of maintaining "an international policy of bullying."

President Barack Obama warned Iran earlier Tuesday that time is running out to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program. In a speech to the General Assembly, Obama said the United States could not tolerate an Iran with atomic weapons.

Ahmadinejad would not respond directly to the president's remarks in his AP interview, saying he did not want to influence the U.S. presidential election in November.

But he argued that the international outcry over Iran's nuclear enrichment program was just an excuse by the West to dominate his country. He claimed that the United States has never accepted Iran's choice of government after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"Everyone is aware the nuclear issue is the imposition of the will of the United States," he said. "I see the nuclear issue as a non-issue. It has become a form of one-upmanship."

Ahmadinejad said he favored more dialogue, even though negotiations with world powers remain stalled after three rounds of high-level meetings since April.

He said some world leaders have suggested to him that Iran would be better off holding nuclear talks only with the United States.

"Of course I am not dismissing such talks," he said, asked if he were open to discussions with the winner of the American presidential election.

Israeli leaders, however, are still openly contemplating military action again Iranian nuclear facilities, dismissing diplomacy as a dead end. Israel and many in the West suspect that Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, and cite its failure to cooperate fully with nuclear inspectors. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Ahmadinejad will leave office next June after serving two four-year terms. He threw out numbers and statistics during the interview to show that Iran's economy and the lives of average Iranians have improved under his watch. Since his 2005 election, he claimed, Iran went from being the world's 22nd-largest economy to the 17th-largest; non-petroleum related exports increased sevenfold; and the basic production of goods has doubled. Median income increased by $4,000, he said.

"Today's conditions in Iran are completely different to where they were seven years ago in the economy, in technical achievement, in scientific know-how," Ahmadinejad said. "All of these achievements, though, have been reached under conditions in which we were brought under heavy sanctions."

Iran has called for the U.S. and its European allies to ease the sanctions that have hit its critical oil exports and left it blackballed from key international banking networks.

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