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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Speech at the United Nations

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Speech at the United Nations

On September 26th, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the United Nations General Assembly.  Ahmadinejad is considered by many to be the dictator of a rogue state, due in part because of Iran's quest for nuclear arms.  He is demonized by the western media in much the same way as Saddam Hussein was.  The United States delegation got up and left when he arrived, leaving only a note-taker to listen. 

Ahmadinejad made no bones about Iran's nuclear program.  He said that they will continue pursuing nuclear power, and that it is a closed issue.  Furthermore, he called the United Nations arrogant, and said that he would ignore any UN resolution that tried to stop him.  Instead, he swore to go about Iran's nuclear program the legal way, with the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Throughout the speech, he insisted that Iran's nuclear program was designed only to supply energy to the country, and not to develop weapons of mass destruction.

His speech was particularly harsh towards the United States and Israel.  He indirectly accused both of human rights violations.  While not mentioning them directly, he said that there were certain nations in the world who were "transgressing human dignity," starting wars and international conflicts, using up the world's resources, and oppressing the world's poor.  He also asked the Assembly how certain nations can be allowed to stockpile massive nuclear weapons when the only purpose of those weapons is to intimidate or destroy others.  His most pointed comment was that many countries, including Iraq, have been occupied by hostile forces that are slaughtering the inhabitants wholesale.  Another example he uses is the occupation of Palestine.  He asked the Assembly how human dignity can possibly prevail in a world where these things are allowed to go on.

Ahmadinejad is allowing inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to have a look at Iran's nuclear facilities.  He stressed during his speech that these inspectors would be allowed to see whatever they were legally entitled to see.  Recently, however, Tehran has been more restrictive about what it allows inspectors to see.  In the past, inspectors have often been allowed to see suspicious facilities on short notice, but this practice has been stopped. 

On his way to speak at the United Nations, Ahmadinejad made a few stops in the United States to speak, including Columbia University where he was universally hated by everyone.  Protesters lined the streets, and he was raked over the coals by faculty members about his support of terrorism and insistence that the holocaust never happened.  When he made a stop in San Francisco, he was confronted by the wife of an Israeli soldier who is being held captive by Hezbollah.  He refused to talk with her, saying that he had no relation to the incident.  He was flatly refused a visit to Ground Zero, the site of the 9-11 tragedy, by the New York Police Department because of "security concerns."

The reaction to his speech at the United Nations was not so great either.  It is expected that talks among France, the United States, Germany, China and others regarding how to handle Iran will continue.  There has also been some indication that Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments during the speech were not so well-received at home.  There is some disagreement in Tehran among officials who feel that his words were too extreme. 

Regardless of the negative reactions, Ahmadinejad later told one of Iran's lead clerics that a white light surrounded him during his speech.  He claims that he could feel it, and a witness later confirmed it.  According to Ahmadinejad, during his speech this white light held the attention of all the world leaders, who watched and listened to his speech "unblinkingly."  He is absolutely sure of this, although even most leading Iranian religious figures doubt it.

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