Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, has accused the West of nuclear “intimidation” in speech to the UN general assembly which was boycotted by the US and Israel.
“Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen Mr Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the UN not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories“
– Erin Pelton,
But the Iranian president steered clear of toxic remarks about Israel in his final appearance at the UN summit before he stands down next year at the end of his second term as president.
“Arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction by the hegemonic powers have become prevalent,” Ahmadinejad said in Wednesday’s speech.
“Continued threat by the uncivilised Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality,” he added.
Iran faces mounting international pressure over its nuclear ambition, which western powers say hides a bid to develop a nuclear bomb.
Iran denies the charge but there has been mounting speculation that Israel could launch a military strike against Iran’s bunkered nuclear facilities.
Barack Obama, the US president, told the UN assembly on Tuesday that the US will “do what we must” to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Ahead of Ahmadinejad’s speech, the US criticised “repulsive slurs” against Israel made by Iran’s president, and said it had decided to boycott his address.
Ahmadinejad was one of the most high-profile speakers at the UN summit on Wednesday. He has made a series of comments attacking Israel and the West while in New York.
Issues in the Middle East have dominated the proceedings in the US city thus far.
“Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen Mr Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the UN not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel,” said Erin Pelton, spokesperson of the US mission to the UN.
|Egypt’s President Morsi told UN delegates he opposes foreign military intervention in Syria [Reuters]|
“It’s particularly unfortunate that Mr Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the UN general assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend,” Pelton added.
Hooman Majd, an Iranian journalist, told Al Jazeera Ahmadinejad’s speech was “typical in many ways”.
“Except that he didn’t use very inflammatory language – he was less inflammatory about Israel than he has been in the past … even this week in his interviews with the media,” he said.
The US, Israel and other western nations have regularly staged protest walkouts during Ahmadinejad’s previous speeches at the UN.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi had taken to the podium following Ahmadinejad’s speech.
During his address, Morsi told UN delegates that Egypt opposes foreign military intervention to stop the civil war in Syria and prefers an inclusive, negotiated settlement.
“Egypt is committed to pursue the sincere efforts it has been exerting to put an end to the catastrophe in Syria, within
an Arab, regional and international framework,” Morsi said in his first speech at the UN general assembly on Wednesday.
“One that preserves the unity of this brotherly state, involves all factions of the Syrian people without racial, religious or sectarian discrimination and spares Syria the dangers of foreign military intervention that we oppose.”
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said Morsi “was within the international consensus that there needs to be diplomatic pressure on the Syrian regime, and that a political solution is the way forward.”