NEW YORK – Stating that Iran would never recognize the “Zionist regime,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke his mind freely on Monday and Tuesday while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings, commenting on capitalism, the Holocaust and a potential war that “knows no limits” to various audiences.

Ahmadinejad is to address the General Assembly on Thursday, but spoke to other audiences in the days leading up to his speech.

Ahmadinejad: Sanctions against Iran 'meaningless'

Peres: Ahmadinejad ‘a living declaration against the UN'

Speaking before a group of Muslim figures in New York on Monday night, Ahmadinejad said “the Iranian nation will never recognize the Zionist regime,” Iran’s Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday.

“Palestinians can cut the hands of the aggressor and put an end to the Zionist regime’s presence in the region,” he reportedly said.

Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran’s support for the Palestinians, as well as the Lebanese, in his remarks. The Iranian president’s remarks were reportedly met by applause from his audience.

Ahmadinejad criticizes Western media's double standard

In the same talk, the Iranian leader criticized Western media as having a double standard in reporting on the case of an American woman facing the death penalty, according to Iranian state-run reporting service IRNA.

Ahmadinejad accused the West of launching a “heavy propaganda” campaign against the case of an Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery, but of failing to react with outrage over the imminent execution of Teresa Lewis in Virginia, IRNA reported.

Ahmadinejad noted that “millions of Internet pages” have been devoted to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose stoning sentence was suspended in July, with her case put under review.

“Meanwhile, nobody objects to the case of an American woman who is going to be executed,” he was quoted as saying.

“Today Western media are propaganda agents who continuously speak about democracy and human rights, though their slogans are sheer lies,” he added.

Iran says it has put the stoning on hold for now, but also has indicated Ashtiani could be hanged for her conviction of playing a role in her husband’s 2005 murder.

At the UN on Tuesday, in a speech on the second day of the UN anti-poverty summit, Ahmadinejad said capitalism is facing defeat and called for an overhaul of the “undemocratic and unjust” global decisionmaking bodies.

The Iranian leader called on world leaders, thinkers and global reformers “to spare no effort” to make practical plans for a new world order. To spotlight this effort, Ahmadinejad proposed Tuesday that the United Nations name the current decade the Decade for Joint Global Governance.

On Tuesday morning Ahmadinejad candidly downplayed the Holocaust at a breakfast meeting for journalists attended by David Bradley, the proprietor of the magazine The Atlantic, and James Bennet, its editor.

According to a blog recounting by Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg, James asked Ahmadinejad to respond to Fidel Castro’s recent request “to lay off the Holocaust denial, and to respect the history of Jewish suffering.”

According to the blog, Ahmadinejad evaded the question, saying “Mr. Fidel Castro is a recognized figure; he can have his views, we do not fight over views.”

“Ahmadinejad also said that an unnamed Cuban official informed Iran that ‘Mr. Castro said nothing in the recent interview except to support Iran.’ This is not true, of course,” Goldberg noted.

Ahmadinejad then reportedly went on to question the historical truth of the Holocaust.

“‘The question is, why don’t we allow this subject to be examined further... It is incorrect to force only one view on the rest of the world,’” Goldberg recounts the Iranian president as saying, adding that Ahmadinejad then asked, “How come, when it comes to the subject of the Holocaust, there is so much sensitivity?”

Ahmadinejad reiterated his point made in a Sunday interview with Christiane Amanpour, saying that he is not an anti-Semite, but merely opposed to Zionism, which is “based on racist thoughts and ideas.”

According to Bennett, Goldberg recounted, when journalist Joe Scarborough asked Ahmadinejad if he would consider it an act of war if the US were to allow Israeli warplanes to overfly Iraq on their way to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, Ahmadinejad responded, “Do you think anyone will attack Iran to begin with? I really don’t think so. The Zionist regime is a very small entity on the map, even to the point that it doesn’t really factor into our equation.”

Ahmadinejad then said, according to Goldberg, “The United States has never entered a serious war, and has never been victorious.”

“And, in what [Bennett] reports was his most ominous statement, Ahmadinejad said, ‘The United States doesn’t understand what war looks like. When a war starts, it knows no limits,’” Goldberg’s blog entry concluded.

Barak says Iran could reach nuclear capabilities within a year-and-half

In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that “Iran could reach nuclear capabilities within a year-and-half or two years if they decide to break all the rules, but it might take a little longer.”

Barak, interviewed by Fox following his meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, underscored that the Iranian threat is “the highest priority at the moment, not just for Israel, but even for this [Obama] administration. It will be part of the way that history will judge this administration.”

The US has been concerned about the nuclear program in Iran. Teheran is currently under four sets of Security Council sanctions for continuing its uranium enrichment and ignoring other UN demands meant to ease global concerns that Iran is seeking to make atomic weapons.

When asked about the usefulness of sanctions, Barak responded, “I don’t believe that sanctions alone could work... We believe that no option should be removed from the table.”

Turkish President Abdullah Gul will meet with Ahmadinejad in New York sometime this week. Gul plans to call for a Middle East totally free of nuclear weapons when he addresses the General Assembly later this week, he told The Associated Press in an interview on Monday.

Turkey, a member of the NATO alliance, has opposed sanctions against Iran. Since 2002, Turkey has been governed by an Islamic-rooted party that has tried to improve relations with Iran.

Gul said “of course, we cannot accuse Iran” of pursuing nuclear weapons without evidence.

“We want Iran to be transparent” with International Atomic Energy Agency officials, Gul told The Associated Press. “We in Turkey would like to see a peaceful, a diplomatic solution to this problem.”