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Rivlin to the world: Boycott Ahmadinejad UN speech

US denies entry to 20 Iranian diplomats; Revolutionary Guards commander: Israel will eventually start a war with us.

September 23, 2012 01:01
4 minute read.
Rivlin with Jean-Claude Mignon in Strasbourg

Rivlin with European 370. (photo credit: Council of Europe / Conseil de l'Europe )

The international community should boycott Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address at the UN General Assembly this week, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told EU parliamentarians this weekend.

On Saturday, Iran’s Fars news agency reported that the US had denied visas to 20 Iranian government officials, out of the 160 visas requested by the Iranian delegation two months ago, so they could attend this week’s UN General Assembly, Fars said. It gave no reason for the rejection, but many Iranian officials are subject to travel bans under sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.

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Fars named two of those banned from going to New York as members of Ahmadinejad’s staff: Mohammad Shaikhan, in charge of communications and information, and Mohammad Jafar Behdad, in charge of political affairs. The US State Department had no immediate comment on the matter.

But Ahmadinejad, a regular at the assembly since he took office in 2005, is scheduled to give his final speech at the GA Wednesday and will address a meeting on the “rule of law” on Monday.

The Iranian president, whose second and final term in office ends next year, has used previous UN speeches to defend a nuclear program he insists is peaceful and to make verbal attacks on Israel, the US and Europe. He has also questioned the historical truth of the Holocaust and cast doubt on whether Islamist hijackers were really responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Most Western envoys walk out of the UN chamber during his speeches, in protest.

Rivlin reiterated the call for a boycott when he spoke Friday to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg, France. Addressing dozens of parliament speakers, Rivlin referred to a military parade in Tehran on Friday.

“The time has come to turn declarations into actions,” the Knesset speaker said.

“Every day, the world is exposed to Iranian lies and nuclear infrastructure, which it is presenting for all to see.”

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As Iran’s capabilities become more apparent, Europe must understand that it is threatened, as well, and it must act, Rivlin stated.

However, he added, Europe continues to hesitate.

“The world must act to isolate Iran, because time is running out,” Rivlin said.

Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler sent letters to both UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking them to bar Ahmadinejad from entering the US and the UN.

Allowing Ahmadinejad to address the UN General Assembly is a “cruel parody of law and justice that will put us on the wrong side of history,” Cotler said. He noted that there are principles and precedents in international law and US conduct that would exclude “war criminals, such as President Ahmadinejad,” from entering the US, let alone addressing the UN.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will focus on the danger of a nuclear Iran when he addresses the UN General Assembly.

On Saturday, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned that Israel would eventually go beyond threats and would attack. As speculation mounts that Israel could launch air strikes on Iran before US elections in November, Muhammad Ali Jafari told a news conference that the Jewish state would be destroyed if it took such a step.

“Their threats only prove that their enmity with Islam and the revolution is serious, and eventually this enmity will lead to physical conflict,” Jafari said when asked about Israeli threats to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Iranian Student News Agency reported.

“We are making all efforts to increase our defensive capabilities so that if there is an attack... we could defend ourselves and other countries that need our help with high defensive capabilities.”

Jafari’s comments, made at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps military exhibition, come as Israeli leaders have increased their rhetoric against Iran.

“A war will occur, but it is not clear where or when it will be,” Jafari was quoted as saying on Saturday. “Israel seeks war with us, but it is not clear when the war will occur.”

“Right now they see war as the only method of confrontation,” he said.

Israel, which bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and launched a similar strike against Syria in 2007, has threatened to do the same in Iran if diplomatic efforts fail to stop the nuclear work it believes is aimed at getting weapons capability.

Iran, which says its nuclear work is for peaceful means, has said it could strike US military bases in the region as well as Israel if attacked.

“If [Israel] starts something, they will be destroyed and it will be the end of the story for them,” Jafari said, according to ISNA.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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