Ahmadinejad speaks at the UN 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted Tuesday that Teheran's nuclear program is peaceful and demanded that the UN's atomic inspection agency send monitoring teams into the US, Israel and other nuclear powers.
"A few bullying powers have sought to put hurdles in the path of Iran's peaceful development of nuclear power," Ahmadinejad said, speaking in Farsi to the UN's annual General Assembly meeting. "These are the same countries that possess stockpiles of nuclear arms that no one is monitoring."
He further accused "Zionists" of dominating the US in a "deceitful, complex and furtive" manner.
European nations are being coerced into opposing the Islamic Republic's nuclear program by a shadowy Zionist minority because of its financial clout and proximity to power, he said.
"These nations are spending their dignities and resources on the occupations, crimes and threats of the Zionist network," Ahmadinejad said.
Israel and America were on their way to ruin, he said.
"Today, the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse," he said.
As for the US, he said: "Its next rulers must limit their interference to within their own borders."
He asked for restitution for US past behavior and offered his assistance to help America recover from that "past behavior" and return to peace. He asked for a referendum to be held in "Palestine" to determine the future of a state for the Palestinian people.
Ahmadinejad made a brief reference to the American occupation of Iraq, telling the gallery that the US was imposing a colonial occupation on the country in order to "dominate oil reserves."
Ahmadinejad addressed a half-full General Assembly gallery on Tuesday afternoon, several hours after US President George W. Bush asked the same gathering to increase sanctions on Iran to block its nuclear ambitions and limit its support for terrorism.
Earlier Tuesday, before Ahmadinejad's address, President Shimon Peres responded to Ahmadinejad's previous claims that one day Israel would be "wiped off the map."
Ahmadinejad "calls the world to return to the age of darkness, hatred, threats, impatience, arrogance - doesn't respect human life," Peres said. "He thinks he's the supreme judge of the world."
He also told reporters that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were unlikely to reach a peace deal in 2008.
"We have hoped it will be by the end of year," said Peres, who arrived in New York early in the morning. "Apparently, we shall not conclude it by the end of the year but we do believe we made a little progress, and there is a very fair chance to conclude it during the next year."
Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni, meeting in Jerusalem with the chief Palestinian Authority negotiator, Ahmed Qurei, signaled she would keep negotiations going despite the country's political uncertainty.
Sponsors of the plan agreed last year at Annapolis, Maryland - known as the Quartet of Middle East mediators, made up of the US, the European Union, Russia and the UN - are scheduled to meet on Friday on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting.
Peres also said that early steps for a beefed-up Palestinian security presence in the West Bank "have been successful."
Palestinian leaders have complained that IDF operations in the West Bank, where the Abbas-led government is in control, are hampering effort to improve security there.
"We have dismantled some of the [IDF] checkpoints already, and I think there today is by far much better," Peres said.
In an interview on Monday with the Los Angeles Times, Ahmadinejad said Israel was doomed like "an airplane that has lost its engine" and reiterated his refusal to accept the Holocaust as historical truth, while asserting that the Palestinians should not be made to "pay for" events that may have "occurred during World War II."
"Who are these people? Where did they come from?" he asked in an interview published in Tuesday's editions of the paper, referring to the Jewish refugees from Europe who helped found the State of Israel in 1948.
"If we agree and accept that certain events had occurred during World War II, well, where did they indeed happen? In Germany, in Poland... Now what exactly does this have to do with Palestine? Why is it that the Palestinian people should pay for it?" Ahmadinejad asked
The Iranian leader repeated his espousal of a single-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
He rejected out of hand Israeli efforts to disrupt his country's alliance with Damascus via indirect talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, expressing skepticism as to Israel's willingness to part with the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with its neighbor to the north.
"We believe that the freedom of the Golan Heights is exactly what the Zionist regime does not want," he said. "We think it is very unlikely it will happen as a result of the negotiations."
The Iranian president also reiterated his claim that recent allegations made by the International Atomic Energy Agency on the possibility that Teheran was pursuing atomic weapons were the outcome of US pressure on the UN watchdog.
"All the documentation was forged," he scoffed. "In fact, it was so funny and superficial and not in depth that a school kid could laugh at it."