New York Times: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, said Tuesday that he considered the dispute over his countrys nuclear program closed and that Iran would disregard the resolutions of the Security Council, which he said was dominated by arrogant powers. The New York Times
By WARREN HOGE
Published: September 26, 2007
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, said Tuesday that he considered the dispute over his countrys nuclear program closed and that Iran would disregard the resolutions of the Security Council, which he said was dominated by arrogant powers.
In a rambling and defiant 40-minute speech to the opening session of the General Assembly, he said Iran would from now on consider the nuclear issue not a political one for the Security Council, but a technical one to be decided by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
Mr. Ahmadinejads assertion that the matter belonged with the nuclear agency indicated his preference to work with Mohamed ElBaradei, its director.
Dr. ElBaradei has been at odds with Washington, and some European powers, who have accused him of meddling in the diplomacy by seeking separate accords with Iran, and in their eyes undercutting the Security Council resolutions.
Today because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter, Mr. Ahmadinejad said. A senior Bush administration official said after the address that the only person who thought that the issue was closed was Mr. Ahmadinejad.
As the Iranian president moved to speak, the United States delegation left, leaving only a note-taker to listen to the speech, which occurred just hours after President Bush had spoken from the same podium about the need for nations to live up to the rights guaranteed by the United Nations.
In a barely disguised barb, Mr. Ahmadinejad asserted, Unfortunately human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates.
Mr. Ahmadinejads declaration that the nuclear issue was closed comes just as the Bush administration is seeking to turn up the pressure on the country, both through the United Nations Security Council and in concert with European powers.
In the last two years, the Iranian president said, abusing the Security Council, the arrogant powers have repeatedly accused Iran and even made military threats and imposed illegal sanctions against it.
In recent weeks, American and French officials have described an emerging strategy of broadening the number of banks, mostly in Europe, that have refused to lend new capital to Iran, making it difficult for the country to invest in new oil facilities or other infrastructure.
We want more banks, and now suppliers, to assess the risk of dealing with Iran, Stephen J. Hadley, President Bushs national security adviser, said in a meeting on Tuesday with editors and reporters of The New York Times.
The issue now, he said, is at what point the regime, or elements of the regime, say this policy is taking us into a ditch.
Administration officials insist that despite Mr. Ahmadinejads high profile in New York this week, he is being marginalized at home. If true, it makes it hard to assess whether he was speaking for the rest of the Iranian leadership with his declaration.
Only last month, Irans leaders reached an agreement with Dr. ElBaradei to answer questions that nuclear inspectors have been raising for years about possible connections between Irans nuclear program and military projects. Inspectors are in Iran this week, seeking further answers to questions that Iran has refused to discuss.
But even if Iran answers all the outstanding questions, it could still be in violation of the Security Council resolutions. Those resolutions call on the country to cease enriching uranium.
The enrichment has continued, though not yet on a scale large enough to produce a bombs worth of material in the near future. Mr. Hadley refused to speculate on how much time the United States and its allies had to stop the program before Iran had enough material to manufacture a weapon.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, as he has in the past, argued that Irans nuclear program was solely for civilian purposes and fell within the legal requirements of the atomic energy agency.
The Security Council powers believe that Irans real purpose is to build nuclear weapons, and it has backed up that conviction with two resolutions and economic sanctions against the Tehran government.
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, the permanent members of the Security Council, have been holding meetings in various capitals this fall to see if sterner measures are needed to gain compliance.
Frances president, Nicolas Sarkozy, told the General Assembly in a speech earlier Tuesday that allowing Iran to build a bomb would be an unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world.
He said the Security Council should not relax its guard while it continued to negotiate with Tehran. Firmness and dialogue go hand in hand, he said. And I weigh my words carefully.
To that, Mr. Ahmadinejad had his own reply. The decisions by the United States and France are not important, he said during his address. What is important is that our nuclear program is within the rules of the I.A.E.A. and our program as such will continue.
Without mentioning the United States by name, Mr. Ahmadinejad used his speech to carry out a full-scale assault on the country as power-mad and godless. He said its leaders openly abandon morality and act with lewdness, selfishness, enmity and imposition in place of justice, love, affection and honesty.
Certain powers, he said in a thinly veiled reference to Washington, were setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process, extensive tapping of telephone conversations, intercepting private mail.
In answer to questions at a news conference about having proposed the extinction of Israel, he said he was instead proposing a referendum of all people living in the Palestinian territories and Israel, which he referred to as the illegal Zionist regime to see what their choice of country would be.
He said countries had been eliminated peaceably before, and he cited the case of the Soviet Union.
What befell the Soviet Union? he said. It disappeared, but was it done through war? No. It was through the voice of the people.
Asked by an Israeli journalist about the possibility that Iran was helping Syria acquire nuclear knowledge, he said, Next question.
Mr. Ahmadinejad was not alone in attacking the United States. So did Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua. Saying that Washingtons actions against Iran were like those of God telling people what is good and bad, he proposed that the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America join him in a march against the forces of global capitalist imperialism.
Late Tuesday, Hugo Chávez, the outspoken Venezuelan president who called Mr. Bush a devil last year from the General Assembly podium, announced in Caracas that he was no longer planning to come to New York to deliver his countrys speech on Wednesday.
He said instead that he planned to travel shortly to Saudi Arabia to defend the price of oil. To $100, said Mr. Chávez. That is where were headed.
David Sanger contributed reporting.