Ahmadinejad Blasts U.S., Says Iran Not Seeking Nuclear Weapons
Speaking at the United Nations today, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad called for the disarmament of the world's nuclear powers and rejected accusations that his country is developing nuclear weapons, citing "not a single credible proof."
The Iranian leader spoke before delegates of some 189 nations at the opening of the monthlong review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
In his remarks, Ahmadinejad -- the only head of state attending the conference -- called for a change in the structure of the UN Security Council.
"The current structure [of the Security Council] is extremely unjust and ineffective, and it is one of the main factors of support for those countries that have nuclear weapons," he said. "Reforming the structure of the UN Security Council and completing the NPT is necessary and inseparable."
Ahmadinejad's visit to the UN comes as Iran is facing a possible fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions for failing to halt uranium-enrichment activities that could be diverted toward a potential nuclear weapon.
Delegations from the United States, Britain, and France all walked out of the UN General Assembly while Ahmadinejad was speaking.
Ahmadinejad accused the United States and its allies of using fears about the proliferation of nuclear weapons as a pretext to deny developing nations access to nuclear technology for civilian purposes.
He described the United States as the “main suspect” in the stockpiling, spread, and threat of nuclear weapons and said that countries that threaten to use atomic weapons should be punished, an apparent reference to a new U.S. nuclear strategy released last month.
"Unfortunately, the United States has used nuclear weapons, and it has also threatened some countries, including my country, with them," he said.
Noting that the United States was the first country to use atomic weapons, against Japan in 1945, he said: "Those who used nuclear weapons for the first time in history are the most detested people in the world."
Ahmadinejad also accused Israel of threatening Middle East countries with nuclear weapons.
'Fire Against Humanity'
The Iranian president said there is no evidence his country is seeking to build nuclear weapons. He described nuclear weapons as a “fire against humanity” and added that because of the distancing of some governments from “the teaching of God’s prophets,” the threat of nuclear weapons has cast a shadow on the world.
"To have a nuclear bomb is not only a dishonor, it’s obscene and shameful," he said. "Threatening to use it and using it is even more shameful."
Earlier in the day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Iran to fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions and cooperate with the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He encouraged Iran to accept a nuclear fuel supply proposal put forward by the agency.
Ban also said Iran should clarify the "doubts and concerns" about its nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad reacted to Ban’s comments by saying that Iran has already accepted the nuclear fuel supply deal.
"The [UN] secretary-general said Iran should accept the nuclear swap deal and that the ball is in Iran's court. I would like to tell him and tell you that we had accepted the deal from the beginning," Ahmadinejad said. "I declare now that we have accepted the deal. Therefore, the ball is now in the court of those who have to accept the swap deal and cooperate."
Speaking to reporters shortly after Ahmadinejad's speech, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the remarks by the Iranian president "wild accusations."
"I think the speech that you heard today was predictable in that Iran failed to speak about the obligations that it won't live up to," Gibbs said. "And I think, rightly, our delegation and many others [walked out] as a series of wild accusations were made during the speech."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to address the meeting later today. Ahead of the meeting, Clinton suggested Ahmadinejad was coming to New York "to divert attention and confuse the issue."
"We're not going to permit Iran to try to change the story from their failure to comply" with the NPT, she was quoted as saying on NBC's "Meet the Press" on May 2.
written by Golnaz Esfandiari, with agency reports
Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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