Ahmadinejad Defends Holocaust Denial at UN; Israel Walks Out, U.S. Sticks Around to Listen... Should we be worried???
When Iranian President Ahmadinejad ascended the podium to speak on the rule of law at the UN today, Israeli UN envoy Ron Prosor rose from his seat and walked out while the U.S. envoys remained, according to Fox News. Update: Raw video from the UN confirms that U.S. representatives attended the entire speech.
Ahmadinejad alluded to what he sees as Israel's illegitimate nuclear arsenal, and criticized members who haven't stopped Israel from acquiring it: "Some members of the Security Council with veto rights have chosen silence with regard to the nuclear warheads of a fake regime, while at the same time [impeding]...the scientific progress of other nations."
He also bore down on those who have revolted at Holocaust revisionism. He did this by calling attention to those who "infringe upon other's freedom and allow sacrilege to people's beliefs and sanctities, while they criticize posing questions or investigating into historical issues."
Throughout all of this, the U.S. envoy remained seated.
Outside the hall where Ahmadinejad was speaking, the Israeli envoy referred to Ahmadinejad as, "the leader of an outlaw country that is a serial violator of the fundamental principles of the rule of law." He added, "It is a shame and a disgrace to give someone like him the opportunity to speak on such an important topic."
Israelis walk out in disgust as Ahmadinejad taunts them by flashing a peace sign at UN in New York... and warns Iran will defend itself against 'threats of Zionists'
- President said he doesn't take seriously Israel's threat to strike Iran's nuclear sites as he attended UN General Assembly in New York
- Ahmadinejad said it was not too late for Iran and U.S. to resolve differences
- Israeli delegates walked out of conference as Iranian leader spoke
- Denied that Iran was providing arms to Assad's regime in Syria
The Israeli delegation to the annual UN General Assembly rose from their seats and walked out today as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his speech by saying that the country had 'no roots' in the Middle East and would be 'eliminated'.
Flashing the peace sign on several occasions, Ahmadinejad refused to speak of the state of Israel by name and instead referred only to the 'Zionists'.
He told the UN conference in New York that Iran is unconcerned by Israeli threats of attack but prepared to defend itself.
Ahmadinejad also said that it was not too late for dialogue with the United States to resolve differences.
Sign of the times? Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he attends the high level meeting on rule of law in the United Nations General Assembly
Defiance: Israeli delegates walk out of the United Nations General Assembly as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad approaches the podium to speak at the high level meeting
Meanwhile angry protests were taking place outside the Warwick Hotel at West 54th Street in Manhattan over its decision to allow Ahmadinejad to stay during his visit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted Israel could strike Iran's nuclear sites and has criticized U.S. President Obama's position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful, aimed at generating electricity.
'Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists. ... We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves,' Ahmadinejad told reporters.
'While we are fully ready to defend ourselves, we do not take such threats seriously,' he said, speaking through an interpreter.
Anger on the streets: Demonstrators participate in a rally against the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad near the Warwick New York Hotel where the controversial leader is staying at while in New York
Controversial guest: Posters denouncing the Warwick Hotel in Manhattan for hosting Iranian President Ahmadinejad
He also said that Iran is neutral in the Syrian civil war, and denied that Tehran is providing weapons or training to the government of President Bashar Assad.
Ahmadinejad said: 'We like and love both sides, and we see both sides as brothers.'
He referred to the conflict in Syria as 'tribal' fighting and said that international 'meddling from the outside has made the situation even harder'.
It was Ahmadinejad's eighth visit to the U.N. gathering held each September, which he cited as proof that he is open to understanding other countries' views.
In spite of his assertions on the importance of dialogue and respect for others, Ahmadinejad presented a hard line in many areas.
Outrage: Osborn Holmstrand, 73, of Sweden, protests outside the Warwick Hotel where the Iranian president is staying while at the UN
Protection: Police barricades surround the Warwick Hotel which has been the site of angry protests because of their decision to allow Ahmadinejad to stay
He refused to speak of the state of Israel by name and instead referred only to the 'Zionists', and when asked about author Salman Rushdie he made no attempt to distance himself from recent renewed threats on the author's life emanating from an Iranian semi-official religious foundation.
He said: 'If he is in the U.S., you should not broadcast it for his own safety.'
Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who has nothing to do with the video, was condemned to death in 1989 by Khomeini, Iran's late leader, over his novel The Satanic Verses, saying its depiction of the Prophet Mohammad was blasphemous.
Ahmadinejad said this would be his last trip to New York as president of Iran, because his term is ending and he is barred from seeking a third consecutive term.
But he did not rule out staying active in Iranian politics and said he might return as part of future Iranian delegations to New York.
Global meeting: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses diplomats during the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the United Nations headquarters in New York
Security: Flanked by a guard, Ahmadinejad speaks to the UN where he said Iran's nuclear program was peaceful
Pleasantries: Ahmadinejad meets Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, who warned him against incendiary rhetoric over the Middle East
Ahmadinejad alluded to his previous rejection of Israel's right to exist. 'Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They (the Israelis) have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history,' he said.
The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948.
'We do believe that they have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end. Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs,' Ahmadinejad said, referring to Israel.
'We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated,' Ahmadinejad added.
In 2005, Ahmadinejad called Israel a 'tumor' and echoed the words of the former Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, by saying that Israel should be wiped off the map.
Bringing the glamor: Indian actress Aishwarya Rai speaks to the media after being named a Goodwill Ambassador at UN headquarters today
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted on Sunday as saying that Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel if it was sure the Jewish state was preparing to attack it.
Hajizadeh said any attack on Iranian soil could trigger 'World War III'.
Ahmadinejad said the nuclear issue was one ultimately between the United States and Iran, and must be resolved with negotiations.
UN ENVOY GIVES DIRE WARNING ON SYRIAN CRISIS
Syria grabbed the spotlight at the United Nations on Monday with a dire warning from international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi that the war is getting worse and threatening to spill across the Middle East.
However he also voiced a note of hope, saying he thinks there may be a way forward despite the deadlock in the UN Security Council.
Brahimi took over from Kofi Annan in September as the UN-Arab League special representative for Syria that he started to discuss with members 'the way forward'.
He said the situation is still stalemated and 'extremely difficult', with no prospect to move forward 'today or tomorrow'.
However he added: 'I refuse to believe that reasonable people do not see that you cannot go backward, that you cannot go back to the Syria of the past.'
The Security Council, the only U.N. body that can impose global sanctions and authorize military action, has been bitterly divided by Syria's crisis. Russia, Syria's key protector, and China have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad to halt the violence and open talks with his opponents aimed at a transition of power.
Activists claim nearly 30,000 people have already died in the uprising, including in attacks on Monday by Syrian warplanes in the northern city of Aleppo.
'The nuclear issue is not a problem. But the approach of the United States on Iran is important. We are ready for dialogue, for a fundamental resolution of the problems, but under conditions that are based on fairness and mutual respect,' he said.
'We are not expecting a 33-year-old problem between the United States and Iran to be resolved in a speedy fashion. But there is no other way besides dialogue.'
Iran has held several rounds of talks this year on its nuclear issue with six world powers. The six are the permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - as well as Germany. The six powers are represented by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said last Wednesday that he and Ashton had agreed to defer more nuclear talks until the latter had consulted the six powers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week.
On Sunday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Ahmadinejad and warned him of the dangers of incendiary rhetoric in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad is speaking at a high-level meeting on the rule of law at the United Nations on Monday and then will address the General Assembly on Wednesday.
In the past, Ahmadinejad has used his UN speeches to defend Iran's nuclear program and to attack Israel, the United States and Europe. He has questioned the Holocaust and cast doubt on whether 19 hijackers were really responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.
Western envoys typically walk out of Ahmadinejad's speeches in protest.
There will be high-level side meetings on Iran's nuclear program and the Syrian conflict during the General Assembly, but UN diplomats do not expect either issue to be resolved soon.
Protest: New York Council Speaker Christine Quinn speaks at the Iran180 press conference outside the UN Headquarters in New York to denounce the country's nuclear program
The United Nations and Western officials have accused Iran of supplying weapons to Syria's pro-government forces, while Syria's government has accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of arming rebels determined to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
Ahmadinejad rejected the charge that Iran was sending arms to Syria.
'The so-called news that you alluded to has been denied vehemently, officially,' Ahmadinejad said in a response to a question. 'We seek peace in Syria.'
A UN Security Council panel of independent experts that monitors sanctions against Iran has uncovered several examples of Iran transferring arms to Syria. The United States and Britain say they are providing non-lethal assistance to Syria's rebels such as communications equipment, but not arms.
Ring of steel: New York Police officers gather near United Nations headquarters today as more than 120 heads of state meet this week for the 61st session of the UN General Assembly
Ahmadinejad also addressed the issue of a California-made anti-Islam video, The Innocence of Muslims, that has sparked anti-American protests around the Muslim world.
He appeared to reject Washington's position that while it condemns the video's content, freedom of expression must be upheld.
'Freedoms must not interfere with the freedoms of others,' Ahmadinejad said. 'If someone insults, what would you do? ... Is insulting other people not a form of crime?'
Since the controversy over the video erupted this month, some Muslim leaders have reiterated calls for a UN measure outlawing insults to Islam and blasphemy in general.
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