"The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its UN charter commitments," a Foreign Ministry statement read on Saturday. "It has never used force against a second country or threatened the use of force."

 

Ahmadinejad on Friday stood by his controversial stand that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

 

Ahmadinejad's remarks were condemned by the UN Security Council, and capitals across the world summoned Iranian ambassadors to explain the president's comment.

 

But the condemnation, endorsed by all 15 council members, was delivered in the form of a press statement - rather than at a formal council meeting, which would give it more weight.

 

Algeria, the only Arab council member, objected to the open meeting.

 

Refrain from threat

 

"The members of the Security Council condemn the remarks about Israel attributed to HE Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic republic of Iran," said Mihnea Motoc, Romania's ambassador and current council president.

 

"The members of the Security Council support the secretary-general's statement of October 17 noting that under the United Nations Charter, all members have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state," Motoc said.

 

The Security Council condemned
Ahmadinejad's comments

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had rebuked Iran and expressed "dismay".

 

Israel's UN ambassador, Dan Gillerman, who had requested a council reaction that Britain then furthered, said he was "very satisfied" to have heard "a very clear condemnation by the Security Council".

 

"We felt that time was of the essence even if it was at the cost of a certain word," he said.

 

China had negotiated a compromise with Algeria and the word "strongly" was deleted before the word "condemned", diplomats said.

 

Reconfirmation

 

Ahmadinejad told students in Tehran on Wednesday that Islamic nations "will not let its historic enemy live in its heartland," adding: "Israel must be wiped off the map."

 

"Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid. They are rude, falsely thinking that the whole world should be subordinate to them"

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
Iranian president

On Friday after protests from the 25-member European Union, Russia, the United States, Canada, the Vatican and others, Ahmadinejad reconfirmed his remarks.

 

"My words are the Iranian nation's words," he told the Iranian news agency, IRNA.

 

"Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid. They are rude, falsely thinking that the whole world should be subordinate to them," he added. 

 

During private consultations, diplomats said, US Ambassador John Bolton, weary of procedural discussions, grabbed a piece of white paper and drew a map of the Middle East without Israel, telling ambassadors that was the real issue.

 

The United States said Ahmadinejad's remarks underscored its fears that Tehran was pursuing nuclear arms. Tehran denies the charge.