|The Israeli delegation's seats sit empty during an address by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's president [Reuters]
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, has accused the United States of using the September 11, 2001, attacks as a pretext to launch wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.
He also attacked the US for its history of slavery, causing two world wars, using a nuclear bomb against "defenceless people," and imposing and supporting military dictatorships and totalitarian regimes on Asian, African and Latin American nations.
Ahmadinejad, in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that prompted a walk-out by US and other western diplomats, also called the attacks on the World Trade Centre "mysterious" and said the United States and its allies "view Zionism as a sacred notion and ideology" but fail to respect the rights of other divine religions.
"By using their imperialistic media network which is under the influence of colonialism they threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust and the September 11 event with sanctions and military actions," he said.
After the Holocaust remarks, the US led a mass walkout. After a US diplomat who was in the assembly hall to monitor the speech left halfway through, the 27 European Union nations then followed in a coordinated protest move.
Without naming any country, the Iranian leader strongly attacked the role of the US and its allies in wars and the financial crisis and called on major powers to pay reparations for slavery.
"They officially support racism," Ahmadinejad said. "They weaken countries through military intervention and destroy their infrastructures, in order to plunder their resources by making them all the more dependent."
Critics of the Iranian president said he could have used his time before the assembly more appropriately.
"Mr Ahmadinejad had a chance to address his own people's aspirations for freedom and dignity, but instead he again turned to abhorrent anti-Semitic slurs and despicable conspiracy theories," said Mark Kornblau, a US spokesman.
The Iranian leader also criticised the US for killing Osama bin Laden.
Ahmadinejad said: "Would it not have been reasonable to bring to justice and openly bring to trial the main perpetrator of the incident in order to identify the elements behind the safe space provided for the invading aircraft to attack the twin World Trade Center towers?"
He continued: "Hypocrisy and deceit are allowed in order to secure their interests and imperialistic goal. Drug trafficking and killing of innocent human beings are also allowed in pursuit of such diabolic goals."
Philippe Bolopion, UN director for Human Rights Watch, said the remarks should be taken in perspective, mentioning that Iran publicly executed a young man on Wednesday.
"While President Ahmadinejad is lecturing the world from the UN podium dissent is still being crushed ruthlessly in Iran and basic rights demanded by millions in the Arab world are brutally denied to Iranians who are demanding the same," ,'' Bolopion said.