Iran President Blasts US
The New York Times:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday blasted U.S. unilateralism, militarism and privilege and called for the United Nations to promote spirituality.
Skip to next paragraph In his first major international speech since taking office last month, the conservative Muslim leader advanced unusual broad concepts, including recommendations that the United Nations ``institutionalize justice at the international level'' and ensure all members have ``equal rights.''
``The greatest challenge of our age is the gradual spiritual depravation of human beings brought about by the distancing of the prevailing order from morality and unity of monotheism,'' he told a U.N. summit.
``The United Nations should lead in the promotion of spirituality and compassion for humanity,'' he added.
Ahmadinejad did not hesitate to take on the United States, which hosts the world body's New York headquarters and has accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons in contravention of international commitments.
``Greater power or wealth should not accord expanded rights to any (U.N.) member ... The host country should not enjoy any right or privilege over the rest of the memberships,'' he said.
He also criticized ``unilateralism, production and use of WMD (weapons of mass destruction), intimidation, resort to the threat or use of force and imposition of destructive wars on peoples for the sake of security and prosperity of a few powers.''
The United States is the world's leading nuclear power and the only state to have dropped an atomic bomb. It invaded Iraq in 2003 and remains embroiled in the fighting there.
U.S. ABSENCE, BUT NOT WALKOUT
No senior American diplomats were in the room when Ahmadinejad spoke but a U.S. official denied a walkout.
``We know how to stage a walkout and if we had intended to do so we would have done so in a more high-profile coordinated way,'' he said, noting two U.S. ``note-takers'' were present.
Still this was a contrast from the first U.N. visit of Ahmadinejad's reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami in 1998.
Then, U.S. President Bill Clinton took the usual step of sitting in on Khatami's speech amid optimism that diplomatic ties broken by Washington in 1980 could be repaired.
Ahmadinejad will attempt to avert referral of Tehran's nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions during this week's tough baptism on the world stage.
The new president, elected in June on a hard-line platform which rejected the need for renewed dialogue with arch-foe Washington, has promised to deliver a new proposal to break the stalemate in Iran's atomic standoff with the West.
There were no such proposals in Wednesday's speech, but Ahmadinejad plans to meet journalists for breakfast on Thursday and is to address the United Nations again on Saturday.
He is to meet on Thursday with officials of the three major European Union powers trying to negotiate a solution to the nuclear dispute -- Britain, France and Germany.
Ahmadinejad's appearance drew thousands of protesters, who oppose Iran's hard-line conservative regime, to a plaza outside the heavily secured U.N. headquarters. READ MORE
The Bush administration has often been accused of unilateralism, an approach Ahmadinejad called a ``vicious malady'' that negates the U.N. purpose.
He also faulted unspecified ``pre-emptive measures which are essentially based on gauging intentions rather than objective facts and are in fact a modern manifestation of interventionist and warmongering tendencies of the past.''
The United States and the EU trio accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under the guise of nuclear power development but Iran insists its only goal is civilian energy.
Iran is a rising Mideast power whose oil is helping it build bridges to China and other key countries. Ahmadinejad expressed ``deep dismay'' that Islamic and African countries do not even have one permanent seat on the Security Council.