Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the
U.N. General Assembly Tuesday that a few "bullying" world powers are trying to
thwart what he says is his country's peaceful nuclear program. He spoke only a
few hours after President Bush told the forum Iran's nuclear ambitions are a
threat to world civilization. VOA's David Gollust reports from our U.N. bureau.
The Iranian leader sounded a defiant tone at the
United Nations, where preliminary consultations have been held on a possible
fourth sanctions resolutions against Tehran in the Security Council because of
its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, in a policy address heavy with religious references, said Iran
like other countries has an "inalienable" right to peaceful nuclear energy but
said a few bullying world powers have tried to thwart Iran's program through
political and economic pressure.
The International Atomic Energy Agency recently released a report detailing
Iranian non-cooperation with its effort to determine if Tehran has a secret
nuclear weapons program. But the Iranian President, said his government has
fully cooperated with IAEA inspectors, who he said should redirect their
scrutiny to the world's declared nuclear powers:
"The Iranian nation is for dialogue. But it has not accepted and will not accept
illegal demands. The time has come for the IAEA to present a clear report to the
international community on its monitoring of the disarmament of the nuclear
powers and their nuclear activities, and for a disarmament committee to be
established by independent states to monitor the disarmament of these nuclear
powers," he said.
No senior U.S. diplomats were present in the General Assembly hall for Mr.
Ahmadinejad's speech though the Iranian president and other officials attended
President Bush's speech earlier in the day.
In it, Mr. Bush said Iran is among the few remaining countries that sponsor
terrorism and said its nuclear program, along with that of North Korea, demands
world attention. "We must remain vigilant against proliferation - by fully
implementing the terms of Security Council resolution 1540 and enforcing
sanctions against North Korea and Iran. We must not relent until our people are
safe from this threat to civilization," he said.
Iran has refused to accept a big-power offer of economic and diplomatic
incentives to halt a uranium enrichment program believed by the United States
and European allies to be weapons related.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been expected to meet foreign minister
colleagues from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and
Germany in New York on Thursday to discuss a possible new sanctions resolution
However, a State Department spokesman said late Tuesday the meeting would not be
held. He did not elaborate but the Russian foreign ministry said in Moscow it
saw no urgent need to schedule such a meeting amid the heavy volume of other
business of the new General Assembly session.
U.S.-Russian relations have been tense in recent weeks amid sharp American
criticism of Moscow's intervention in Georgia.
Bush administration officials have said there is a big power consensus for a new
sanctions resolution despite the Georgia disagreement, though Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev said last week new sanctions were "untimely."
Mr. Ahmadinejad's U.N. address, his fourth since taking office in 2005, again
included scathing references to Israel, which he referred to as the Zionist
regime, and which he said is on what he termed "a definite slope to collapse."
In a new theme, the Iranian President also asserted, what he termed, "the
American empire is reaching the end of its road." He said in earlier interviews
with U.S. media outlets that the current Wall Street financial crisis stems from
the economic burden of years of heavy U.S. military involvement around the