NEW YORK – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who arrived in New York on
Sunday for the UN General Assembly meetings this week, described international
sanctions against his country as meaningless and ineffective, as consternation
about Iran’s nuclear future grows.
The UN’s annual summit will focus on
the Millennium Development Goals and will run from Monday through Wednesday. The
Security Council is to meet on Thursday, and the General Assembly will convene
from Thursday through September 30.
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Ahmadinejad will participate in the
UN’s high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament later in the week, according to
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Ahmadinejad has used past UN meetings to
attack the United States, Israel and their European allies for allegedly
preventing developing countries from having access to nuclear technology on the
pretext of preventing arms proliferation.
Ahmadinejad held a meeting with
Ban on Sunday, discussing developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle
According to a spokesman in Ban’s office, the secretarygeneral
commended Iran for its constructive role in counter- narcotics enforcement
activities, thanked Iran for continuing to host a large number of Afghan and
Iraqi refugees and encouraged Iran to continue supporting their
Ban expressed the hope that Iran will engage constructively in
negotiations with the P 5+1 countries (the five permanent UN Security Council
members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany) “in
allowing a mutually acceptable agreement in conformity with relevant Security
Council resolutions,” the spokesman said.
Ahmadinejad also did an
interview with Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week, saying he would have a
meeting this week with the United States on nuclear issues.
been ready to discuss issues as long as they’re within the legal frame-of
justice and respect,” Ahmadinejad said in the interview.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, earlier on the same program, that she
has no meetings planned with Iranian officials, she has said that she will be
discussing the rise of military power in Iran when world leaders gather in New
York for the General Assembly.
In his interview with Amanpour,
Ahmadinejad called sanctions against Iran “meaningless.”
“We do take
sanctions seriously, but taking it seriously is different from believing that
they are effective,” he said, calling the sanctions “a serious violation of
international law” and saying that Iran is fully complying with UN International
Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
“It was illegal. It was wrong,”
Ahmadinejad said of the sanctions. “They wronged the people of Iran and
insulting them [sic] and these sanctions will definitively mark a new level of
progress in our economy. We have turned sanctions around and created
opportunities out of it.
“Now, this doesn’t mean certainly that we
[don’t] take it seriously, but it does not mean that it has a negative influence
on our economy, because it does not.”
When asked about Fidel Castro’s
recent comments, in which the Cuban leader told Ahmadinejad to stop attacking
the Jews, denying the Holocaust and being anti- Semitic, Ahmadinejad said he is
not an anti-Semite.
“We’ve never been anti- Semitic – when was I anti-
Semitic?” he said. “The Jews live in Iran, like every other person who lives in
Ahmadinejad’s recent comments on the Israeli-Palestinian
peace talks have also stirred tumult. He said on Saturday that Middle Eastern
countries will “disrupt” American and Israeli plans to change the political
geography of the region, The Associated Press reported.
leader made the comments during a brief stop in Syria, a key ally in Teheran’s
confrontation with the West, on his way to New York.
“Those who want to
change the political geography of the region must know that they will have no
place in the future of the region,” he was quoted as saying by Iran’s state-run
news agency IRNA.
Ahmadinejad’s arrival in New York is being greeted with
protests by various groups.
One group, StandWithUs, is encouraging people
to send letters to urge the Hilton not to host Ahmadinejad while he is
York, while another group, United Against Nuclear Iran, is organizing a
worldwide boycott of Hilton Hotels as a result of Ahmadinejad’s
It is said, though not confirmed, that Ahmadinejad and the
Iranian delegation will be staying at the Hilton Manhattan East during
time in New York. Other New York hotels, such as the Helmsley Hotel and
Jumeirah Essex House, refused to accommodate Ahmadinejad.