Transcript of Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech; U.S. media reactions

No wonder the U.S. delegation left before he started speaking.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6107339

Transcript of Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech

NPR.org, September 19, 2006 · The following is a transcript of remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Madam President, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Heads of Delegation, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I praise the Merciful, All-Knowing and Almighty God for blessing me with another opportunity to address this Assembly on behalf of the great nation of Iran and to bring a number of issues to the attention of the international community.

I also praise the Almighty for the increasing vigilance of peoples across the globe, their courageous presence in different international settings, and the brave expression of their views and aspirations regarding global issues.

Today, humanity passionately craves commitment to the Truth, devotion to God, quest for Justice and respect for the dignity of human beings. Rejection of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed, and longing for peace constitute the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world, particularly the new generations and the spirited youth, who aspire a world free from decadence, aggression and injustice, and replete with love and compassion. The youth have a right to seek justice and the Truth; and they have a right to build their own future on the foundations of love, compassion and tranquility. And, I praise the Almighty for this immense blessing.

Madame President, Excellencies,

What afflicts humanity today is certainly not compatible with human dignity; the Almighty has not created human beings so that they could transgress against others and oppress them.

By causing war and conflict, some are fast expanding their domination, accumulating greater wealth and usurping all the resources, while others endure the resulting poverty, suffering and misery.

Some seek to rule the world relying on weapons and threats, while others live in perpetual insecurity and danger.

Some occupy the homeland of others, thousands of kilometers away from their borders, interfere in their affairs and control their oil and other resources and strategic routes, while others are bombarded daily in their own homes; their children murdered in the streets and alleys of their own country and their homes reduced to rubble.

Such behavior is not worthy of human beings and runs counter to the Truth, to justice and to human dignity. The fundamental question is that under such conditions, where should the oppressed seek justice? Who, or what organization defends the rights of the oppressed, and suppresses acts of aggression and oppression? Where is the seat of global justice?

A brief glance at a few examples of the most pressing global issues can further illustrate the problem.

A. The unbridled expansion of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons

Some powers proudly announce their production of second and third generations of nuclear weapons. What do they need these weapons for? Is the development and stockpiling of these deadly weapons designed to promote peace and democracy? Or, are these weapons, in fact, instruments of coercion and threat against other peoples and governments? How long should the people of the world live with the nightmare of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? What bounds the powers producing and possessing these weapons? How can they be held accountable before the international community? And, are the inhabitants of these countries content with the waste of their wealth and resources for the production of such destructive arsenals? Is it not possible to rely on justice, ethics and wisdom instead of these instruments of death? Aren’t wisdom and justice more compatible with peace and tranquility than nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? If wisdom, ethics and justice prevail, then oppression and aggression will be uprooted, threats will wither away and no reason will remain for conflict. This is a solid proposition because most global conflicts emanate from injustice, and from the powerful, not being contented with their own rights, striving to devour the rights of others.

People across the globe embrace justice and are willing to sacrifice for its sake.

Would it not be easier for global powers to ensure their longevity and win hearts and minds through the championing of real promotion of justice, compassion and peace, than through continuing the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons and the threat of their use?

The experience of the threat and the use of nuclear weapons is before us. Has it achieved anything for the perpetrators other than exacerbation of tension, hatred and animosity among nations?

B. Occupation of countries and exacerbation of hostilities

Occupation of countries, including Iraq, has continued for the last three years. Not a day goes by without hundreds of people getting killed in cold blood. The occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq. Despite the establishment of the lawful Government and National Assembly of Iraq, there are covert and overt efforts to heighten insecurity, magnify and aggravate differences within Iraqi society, and instigate civil strife.

There is no indication that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability. Numerous terrorists were apprehended by the Government of Iraq, only to be let loose under various pretexts by the occupiers.

It seems that intensification of hostilities and terrorism serves as a pretext for the continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

Where can the people of Iraq seek refuge, and from whom should the Government of Iraq seek justice?

Who can ensure Iraq’s security? Insecurity in Iraq affects the entire region. Can the Security Council play a role in restoring peace and security in Iraq, while the occupiers are themselves permanent members of the Council? Can the Security Council adopt a fair decision in this regard?

Consider the situation in Palestine:

The roots of the Palestinian problem go back to the Second World War. Under the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of that War, the land of Palestine was occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants; it was placed under the control of some of the War survivors, bringing even larger population groups from elsewhere in the world, who had not been even affected by the Second World War; and a government was established in the territory of others with a population collected from across the world at the expense of driving millions of the rightful inhabitants of the land into a diaspora and homelessness. This is a great tragedy with hardly a precedent in history. Refugees continue to live in temporary refugee camps, and many have died still hoping to one day return to their land. Can any logic, law or legal reasoning justify this tragedy? Can any member of the United Nations accept such a tragedy occurring in their own homeland?

The pretexts for the creation of the regime occupying Al-Qods Al-Sharif are so weak that its proponents want to silence any voice trying to merely speak about them, as they are concerned that shedding light on the facts would undermine the raison d’être of this regime, as it has. The tragedy does not end with the establishment of a regime in the territory of others. Regrettably, from its inception, that regime has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries, and has also been used by some powers as an instrument of division, coercion, and pressure on the people of the region. Reference to these historical realities may cause some disquiet among supporters of this regime. But these are sheer facts and not myth. History has unfolded before our eyes.

Worst yet, is the blanket and unwarranted support provided to this regime.

Just watch what is happening in the Palestinian land. People are being bombarded in their own homes and their children murdered in their own streets and alleys. But no authority, not even the Security Council, can afford them any support or protection. Why?

At the same time, a Government is formed democratically and through the free choice of the electorate in a part of the Palestinian territory. But instead of receiving the support of the so-called champions of democracy, its Ministers and Members of Parliament are illegally abducted and incarcerated in full view of the international community.

Which council or international organization stands up to protect this brutally besieged Government? And why can’t the Security Council take any steps?

Let me here address Lebanon:

For thirty-three long days, the Lebanese lived under the barrage of fire and bombs and close to 1.5 million of them were displaced; meanwhile some members of the Security Council practically chose a path that provided ample opportunity for the aggressor to achieve its objectives militarily. We witnessed that the Security Council of the United Nations was practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for a ceasefire. The Security Council sat idly by for so many days, witnessing the cruel scenes of atrocities against the Lebanese while tragedies such as Qana were persistently repeated. Why?

In all these cases, the answer is self-evident. When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this Council fulfill its responsibilities?

C. Lack of respect for the rights of members of the international community

Excellencies,

I now wish to refer to some of the grievances of the Iranian people and speak to the injustices against them.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a member of the IAEA and is committed to the NPT. All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors. Why then are there objections to our legally recognized rights? Which governments object to these rights? Governments that themselves benefit from nuclear energy and the fuel cycle. Some of them have abused nuclear technology for non-peaceful ends including the production of nuclear bombs, and some even have a bleak record of using them against humanity.

Which organization or Council should address these injustices? Is the Security Council in a position to address them? Can it stop violations of the inalienable rights of countries? Can it prevent certain powers from impeding scientific progress of other countries?

The abuse of the Security Council, as an instrument of threat and coercion, is indeed a source of grave concern.

Some permanent members of the Security Council, even when they are themselves parties to international disputes, conveniently threaten others with the Security Council and declare, even before any decision by the Council, the condemnation of their opponents by the Council. The question is: what can justify such exploitation of the Security Council, and doesn’t it erode the credibility and effectiveness of the Council? Can such behavior contribute to the ability of the Council to maintain security?

Excellencies,

A review of the preceding historical realities would lead to the conclusion that regrettably, justice has become a victim of force and aggression. Many global arrangements have become unjust, discriminatory and irresponsible as a result of undue pressure from some of the powerful; Threats with nuclear weapons and other instruments of war by some powers have taken the place of respect for the rights of nations and the maintenance and promotion of peace and tranquility;

For some powers, claims of promotion of human rights and democracy can only last as long as they can be used as instruments of pressure and intimidation against other nations. But when it comes to the interests of the claimants, concepts such as democracy, the right of self-determination of nations, respect for the rights and intelligence of peoples, international law and justice have no place or value. This is blatantly manifested in the way the elected Government of the Palestinian people is treated as well as in the support extended to the Zionist regime. It does not matter if people are murdered in Palestine, turned into refugees, captured, imprisoned or besieged; that must not violate human rights.

– Nations are not equal in exercising their rights recognized by international law. Enjoying these rights is dependent on the whim of certain major powers.

– Apparently the Security Council can only be used to ensure the security and the rights of some big powers. But when the oppressed are decimated under bombardment, the Security Council must remain aloof and not even call for a ceasefire. Is this not a tragedy of historic proportions for the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining the security of countries?

– The prevailing order of contemporary global interactions is such that certain powers equate themselves with the international community, and consider their decisions superseding that of over 180 countries. They consider themselves the masters and rulers of the entire world and other nations as only second class in the world order.

Excellencies,

The question needs to be asked: if the Governments of the United States or the United Kingdom who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the UN can take them to account? Can a Council in which they are privileged members address their violations? Has this ever happened? In fact, we have repeatedly seen the reverse. If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council and as claimants, arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner. Is this a just order? Can there be a more vivid case of discrimination and more clear evidence of injustice?

Regrettably, the persistence of some hegemonic powers in imposing their exclusionist policies on international decision making mechanisms, including the Security Council, has resulted in a growing mistrust in global public opinion, undermining the credibility and effectiveness of this most universal system of collective security.

Excellencies,

How long can such a situation last in the world? It is evident that the behavior of some powers constitutes the greatest challenge before the Security Council, the entire organization and its affiliated agencies.

The present structure and working methods of the Security Council, which are legacies of the Second World War, are not responsive to the expectations of the current generation and the contemporary needs of humanity.

Today, it is undeniable that the Security Council, most critically and urgently, needs legitimacy and effectiveness. It must be acknowledged that as long as the Council is unable to act on behalf of the entire international community in a transparent, just and democratic manner, it will neither be legitimate nor effective. Furthermore, the direct relation between the abuse of veto and the erosion of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Council has now been clearly and undeniably established. We cannot, and should not, expect the eradication, or even containment, of injustice, imposition and oppression without reforming the structure and working methods of the Council.

Is it appropriate to expect this generation to submit to the decisions and arrangements established over half a century ago? Doesn’t this generation or future generations have the right to decide themselves about the world in which they want to live?

Today, serious reform in the structure and working methods of the Security Council is, more than ever before, necessary. Justice and democracy dictate that the role of the General Assembly, as the highest organ of the United Nations, must be respected. The General Assembly can then, through appropriate mechanisms, take on the task of reforming the Organization and particularly rescue the Security Council from its current state. In the interim, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African continent should each have a representative as a permanent member of the Security Council, with veto privilege. The resulting balance would hopefully prevent further trampling of the rights of nations.

Madame President,

Excellencies,

It is essential that spirituality and ethics find their rightful place in international relations. Without ethics and spirituality, attained in light of the teachings of Divine prophets, justice, freedom and human rights cannot be guaranteed.

Resolution of contemporary human crises lies in observing ethics and spirituality and the governance of righteous people of high competence and piety.

Should respect for the rights of human beings become the predominant objective, then injustice, ill-temperament, aggression and war will fade away.

Human beings are all God’s creatures and are all endowed with dignity and respect.

No one has superiority over others. No individual or states can arrogate to themselves special privileges, nor can they disregard the rights of others and, through influence and pressure, position themselves as the “international community”.

Citizens of Asia, Africa, Europe and America are all equal. Over 6 billion inhabitants of the earth are all equal and worthy of respect. Justice and protection of human dignity are the two pillars in maintaining sustainable peace, security and tranquility in the world.

It is for this reason that we state:

Sustainable peace and tranquility in the world can only be attained through justice, spirituality, ethics, compassion and respect for human dignity.

All nations and states are entitled to peace, progress and security.

We are all members of the international community and we are all entitled to insist on the creation of a climate of compassion, love and justice.

All members of the United Nations are affected by both the bitter and the sweet events and developments in today’s world.

We can adopt firm and logical decisions, thereby improving the prospects of a better life for current and future generations.

Together, we can eradicate the roots of bitter maladies and afflictions, and instead, through the promotion of universal and lasting values such as ethics, spirituality and justice, allow our nations to taste the sweetness of a better future.

Peoples, driven by their divine nature, intrinsically seek Good, Virtue, Perfection and Beauty. Relying on our peoples, we can take giant steps towards reform and pave the road for human perfection. Whether we like it or not, justice, peace and virtue will sooner or later prevail in the world with the will of Almighty God. It is imperative, and also desirable, that we too contribute to the promotion of justice and virtue.

The Almighty and Merciful God, who is the Creator of the Universe, is also its Lord and Ruler. Justice is His command. He commands His creatures to support one another in Good, virtue and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.

He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion. Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship?

I emphatically declare that today’s world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.

0, Almighty God, all men and women are Your creatures and You have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.

******

September 26, 2007

Iran’s President Vows to Ignore U.N. Measures

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25 — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, said Tuesday that he considered the dispute over his country’s nuclear program “closed” and that Iran would disregard the resolutions of the Security Council, which he said was dominated by “arrogant powers.”

In a rambling and defiant 40-minute speech to the opening session of the General Assembly, he said Iran would from now on consider the nuclear issue not a “political” one for the Security Council, but a “technical” one to be decided by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s assertion that the matter belonged with the nuclear agency indicated his preference to work with Mohamed ElBaradei, its director.

Dr. ElBaradei has been at odds with Washington, and some European powers, who have accused him of meddling in the diplomacy by seeking separate accords with Iran, and in their eyes undercutting the Security Council resolutions.

“Today because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. A senior Bush administration official said after the address that the only person who thought that the issue was closed was Mr. Ahmadinejad.

As the Iranian president moved to speak, the United States delegation left, leaving only a note-taker to listen to the speech, which occurred just hours after President Bush had spoken from the same podium about the need for nations to live up to the rights guaranteed by the United Nations.

In a barely disguised barb, Mr. Ahmadinejad asserted, “Unfortunately human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s declaration that the nuclear issue was closed comes just as the Bush administration is seeking to turn up the pressure on the country, both through the United Nations Security Council and in concert with European powers.

“In the last two years,” the Iranian president said, “abusing the Security Council, the arrogant powers have repeatedly accused Iran and even made military threats and imposed illegal sanctions against it.”

In recent weeks, American and French officials have described an emerging strategy of broadening the number of banks, mostly in Europe, that have refused to lend new capital to Iran, making it difficult for the country to invest in new oil facilities or other infrastructure.

“We want more banks, and now suppliers, to assess the risk” of dealing with Iran, Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, said in a meeting on Tuesday with editors and reporters of The New York Times.

The issue now, he said, is “at what point the regime, or elements of the regime, say ‘this policy is taking us into a ditch.’”

Administration officials insist that despite Mr. Ahmadinejad’s high profile in New York this week, he is being marginalized at home. If true, it makes it hard to assess whether he was speaking for the rest of the Iranian leadership with his declaration.

Only last month, Iran’s leaders reached an agreement with Dr. ElBaradei to answer questions that nuclear inspectors have been raising for years about possible connections between Iran’s nuclear program and military projects. Inspectors are in Iran this week, seeking further answers to questions that Iran has refused to discuss.

But even if Iran answers all the outstanding questions, it could still be in violation of the Security Council resolutions. Those resolutions call on the country to cease enriching uranium.

The enrichment has continued, though not yet on a scale large enough to produce a bomb’s worth of material in the near future. Mr. Hadley refused to speculate on how much time the United States and its allies had to stop the program before Iran had enough material to manufacture a weapon.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, as he has in the past, argued that Iran’s nuclear program was solely for civilian purposes and fell within the legal requirements of the atomic energy agency.

The Security Council powers believe that Iran’s real purpose is to build nuclear weapons, and it has backed up that conviction with two resolutions and economic sanctions against the Tehran government.

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, the permanent members of the Security Council, have been holding meetings in various capitals this fall to see if sterner measures are needed to gain compliance.

France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, told the General Assembly in a speech earlier Tuesday that allowing Iran to build a bomb would be an “unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world.”

He said the Security Council should not relax its guard while it continued to negotiate with Tehran. “Firmness and dialogue go hand in hand,” he said. “And I weigh my words carefully.”

To that, Mr. Ahmadinejad had his own reply. “The decisions by the United States and France are not important,” he said during his address. “What is important is that our nuclear program is within the rules of the I.A.E.A. and our program as such will continue.”

Without mentioning the United States by name, Mr. Ahmadinejad used his speech to carry out a full-scale assault on the country as power-mad and godless. He said its leaders “openly abandon morality” and act with “lewdness, selfishness, enmity and imposition in place of justice, love, affection and honesty.”

“Certain powers,” he said in a thinly veiled reference to Washington, were “setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process, extensive tapping of telephone conversations, intercepting private mail.”

In answer to questions at a news conference about having proposed the extinction of Israel, he said he was instead proposing a referendum of all people living in the Palestinian territories and Israel, which he referred to as the “illegal Zionist regime” to see what their choice of country would be.

He said countries had been eliminated peaceably before, and he cited the case of the Soviet Union.

“What befell the Soviet Union?” he said. “It disappeared, but was it done through war? No. It was through the voice of the people.”

Asked by an Israeli journalist about the possibility that Iran was helping Syria acquire nuclear knowledge, he said, “Next question.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad was not alone in attacking the United States. So did Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua. Saying that Washington’s actions against Iran were like those of “God telling people what is good and bad,” he proposed that the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America join him in a march against the forces of “global capitalist imperialism.”

Late Tuesday, Hugo Chávez, the outspoken Venezuelan president who called Mr. Bush a devil last year from the General Assembly podium, announced in Caracas that he was no longer planning to come to New York to deliver his country’s speech on Wednesday.

He said instead that he planned to travel shortly to Saudi Arabia to defend the price of oil. “To $100,” said Mr. Chávez. “That is where we’re headed.”

David Sanger contributed reporting.

********

At U.N., Iranian Leader Is Defiant on Nuclear Efforts

By Peter Baker and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 26, 2007; A01

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25 — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Tuesday not to give in to pressure by “arrogant powers” trying to force him to abandon his nation’s uranium-enrichment program and unilaterally declared that as far as he is concerned, “the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.”

In a fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Ahmadinejad denounced what he called the “master-servant relationship of the Medieval Age” imposed by the United States and other leading nations through the Security Council. He expressed confidence that God would not allow the Bush administration to launch a military attack against his country and said Iran has “spared no effort to build confidence” that it wants only civilian energy, not nuclear weapons.

His address punctuated a shadow debate with President Bush, who spoke to the assembly earlier in the day and called on world leaders to join him in a global “mission of liberation” against repressive governments such as that in Iran. Although the two men never crossed paths, their competing visions presented here framed the opening of the assembly’s annual session and underscored the diplomatic confrontation between the two nations.

Bush did not mention the nuclear dispute with Iran in his speech, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other advisers used their time here to build support for a new Security Council resolution that would impose more meaningful punishment on Tehran for ignoring a U.N. mandate to suspend its enrichment program. For his public remarks, the president focused instead on tyranny, citing Iran as a prime example.

“Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under a dictatorship,” Bush said in his address. “In Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration” of Human Rights.

The president used the occasion to announce new sanctions against the military government in Burma, where tens of thousands of demonstrators are in the streets protesting what he called “a 19-year reign of fear.” Bush also pointed to Cuba, where he said “the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end”; Zimbabwe, for launching “an assault on its people”; and Sudan, for “repression” and “genocide.”

Ahmadinejad sat 14 rows back as Bush spoke, idly touching his lower lip, whispering to a seatmate and once checking his watch. While the Cuban foreign minister stormed out in protest, Ahmadinejad fired back in his own speech hours later, lacing his remarks with religious references and anti-American rhetoric. Bush skipped the speech, attending another meeting.

While not mentioning the United States explicitly, the Iranian leader denounced nations that establish secret prisons, abduct people, tap private telephone calls and ignore the law. “Some powers do not value any nation or human beings,” he said. In Iraq, “no day passes without people being killed, wounded or displaced,” Ahmadinejad said, adding that the “occupiers,” as he referred to U.S. forces, “do not even have the courage to declare their defeat and exit Iraq.”

He then held a news conference that was typical Ahmadinejad — outspoken, in command and impervious to diplomatic norms. He called any U.N. sanctions against Iran “illegal” and brushed off concern about U.S. military action if he does not comply. “They want to hurt us,” he said, “but with the will of God, they won’t be able to do it.” Asked whether he is concerned that Israel might strike Iran, as it did Syria recently, he snapped, “Next question.” He also ignored a plea shouted by the wife of an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hezbollah last year.

An Iranian reporter asked Ahmadinejad how he could say during an appearance at Columbia University on Monday that there are no homosexuals in Iran, noting that she knows a few herself.

“Seriously?” he replied. “I don’t know of any.” He asked for their addresses so the government could “be aware of what’s going on.”

The U.S.-Iran confrontation played out all day through surrogates and allies. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his maiden address to the assembly, warned that a nuclear Iran would be an “unacceptable risk” to international stability and said “there will not be peace in the world” if the international community falters in its bid to stop Tehran’s program. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega delivered a fist-pumping condemnation of the United States, saying it had no right to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program, because it was the only nation ever to use an atomic bomb.

Lawmakers in Washington weighed in on Ahmadinejad’s visit. The House voted 397 to 16 to block foreign investment in Iran, particularly the energy sector, and to bar Bush from waiving U.S. sanctions. The Senate debated a nonbinding resolution urging the State Department to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, but the vote was delayed amid haggling.

Iran was only part of a broad agenda for Bush during a three-day stay here. He met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to press for more political reconciliation, conducted a democracy roundtable with other heads of state and participated in a Security Council discussion of the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.

“Maybe some don’t think it’s genocide,” Bush said of the killing there as he pressed for a peacekeeping force. “But if you’ve been raped, your human rights have been violated, if you’re mercilessly killed by roaming bands, you know it’s genocide. And the fundamental question is: Are we, the free world, willing to do more?”

Several hundred people outside the U.N. building demonstrated against Bush’s policies on Iraq and terrorism. Some wore orange jumpsuits to demonstrate concern over prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. About a dozen were arrested for civil disobedience.

Another protester was Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe P¿rez Roque, who denounced Bush’s “mediocre statement,” calling him “a criminal” with “no moral authority or credibility to judge any other country.” Bush adviser Michael G. Kozak later retorted: “The Cubans know how to dish it out, but they don’t know how to take it.”

Staff writers Colum Lynch at the United Nations and Shailagh Murray in Washington contributed to this report.

****

The American and Israeli delegations were not in chamber to hear Ahmadinejad’s speech [AFP]
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He said: “Human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates.

 

“Setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process … have become commonplace.”

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‘Rights sacrificed’

 

“The rights and dignity of the American people are also being sacrificed for the selfish desires of those holding power,” he added.

 

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Ahmadinejad also used his speech to say the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme was “closed” and should be handled by the UN nuclear watchdog.

 

Without specifically naming them, he accused Washington and its allies of bullying Iran – which they say is trying to develop nuclear weapons – and putting pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for their own purposes.

 

Ahmadinejad said: “Fortunately, the IAEA has recently tried to regain its legal role as supporter of the rights of its members while supervising nuclear activities.

 

“Today, because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter,” he said, adding Iran was prepared to have “constructive talks with all parties”.

 

US silent

 

Addressing the General Assembly earlier in the session George Bush, the US president, made little reference to Iran.

 

Instead, both Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, sought to increase pressure on the Islamic republic, saying they would not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

 

Merkel, said: “if Iran were to acquire the nuclear bomb, the consequences would be disastrous.”

 

Sarkozy told the session: “Iran is entitled to nuclear power for civilian purposes, but to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapon is an unacceptable risk to the stability of the region and the stability of the world.”

 

Iraq invasion criticised

 

Ahmadinejad also used his speech to criticise the US-led invasion of Iraq, which he said was “occupied under the pretext of overthrowing the dictator and the existence of weapons of mass destruction”.

 

He criticised the UN Security Council for being an exclusive club answerable to no one, saying that those in power were in the “sunset of their times”.

 

He also voiced support for the Palestinians, saying: “The Palestinian people have been displaced or are under heavy military pressure, economic siege or are incarcerated under abhorrent conditions.

 

“The occupiers are protected and praised, while the innocent Palestinians are subjected to political, military and propaganda onslaughts.”

 

Neither the US nor the Israeli delegation stayed to listen to the Iranian leader’s speech.

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