Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s eighth address to the UN General Assembly was defined mostly by its absences: The Syrian conflict and an infamous anti-Muslim film weren’t mentioned, and the US delegation wasn’t present in the chamber.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for world leaders to serve their people, not rule over them during his speech before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
In a surprise turn, Ahmadinejad’s speech took on an almost poetic bent evoking “the spring of humanity and the greenery of all ages.”
During his address, the word “peace” was used 12 times, “justice” 15 and “love” 13.
Peace and love were not the only items on the agenda, as Ahmadinejad enumerated a litany of injustices that had occurred throughout history despite the striving of “righteous people and justice seekers.”
Several barbs were specifically directed towards the West.
Ahmadinejad decried the “current abysmal situation of the world,” saying it resulted from “the self-proclaimed centers of power who have entrusted themselves to the Devil.”
He further lambasted the“arms race” and “nuclear intimidation" being perpetuated by “hegemonic powers," as well as “the continued threat by uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action.”
The Iranian leader's comments came as the seats for the US diplomatic mission remained conspicuously empty.
The US had called for a boycott of Ahmadinejad's address on Wednesday, accusing the Iranian President of spouting "paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel."
"It’s particularly unfortunate that Mr. Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the UN General Assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend," a statement posted by Erin Pelton, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, read.
Before delivering his last address the the UN assembly before his term expires next year, the president of the Islamic Republic had made several comments in the run-up to Wednesday's address which incited the ire of Western powers.
On Tuesday, Ahmadinejiad talked at length with the AP on the sidelines of the UN summit in which he unfavorably characterized Western policy regarding Iran.
Speaking through a translator, the Iranian president claimed that Western outrage over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program was a pretext for dominating Iran, as “even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying.”
While speaking before the UN General assembly on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said that the window of opportunity to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Though Obama charged that the US would not allow Tehran to acquire of nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejiad reiterated his country’s longstanding claim that their uranium enrichment program was strictly for energy production.
“Everyone is aware the nuclear issue is the imposition of the will of the United States,” Ahmadinejiad said. “I see the nuclear issue as a non-issue. It has become a form of one-upmanship.”
One problem central to the current tensions is that the US never accepted the legitimacy of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejiad said, calling for the creation of a new, less polarized world order.
"I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it," he said.
His comments echoed the contentious statements he made before the UN Generally Assembly last year, when he referred to current international powers as “the same slave masters” who “imposed colonialism for over four centuries upon this world.”
He incited further walkouts with his insinuations that the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks, proclaiming that “instead of assigning a fact-finding team, they killed the main perpetrator [Osama bin Laden] and threw his body into the sea.”
The Iranian president also stirred controversy on Monday when he referred to modern-day Israel as a mere blip in world history.
“Iran has been around for the last seven, ten thousand years. They [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,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they [Israelis] represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated.”
Ahmadinejiad also dismissed threats of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities: "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."
Despite Western condemnation of his remarks, the Iranian president refused to back down during Wednesday interviews.
“When have we threatened to attack the Zionists? We have never threatened them,” Ahmadinejiad said in an interview broadcast on CBS’s ‘Early Morning.’ He argued that Israel’s “occupation,” “war-like behavior” and “terrorism” need to end, repeating his long-running claim that Palestinians should be allowed to achieve democratic self-determination on their own historical lands.
He also called on the United States to patient, as he routinely was forced to exercise patience as he listened to the US president berate Iran before the General Assembly.
Having served two terms as Iran’s president, Ahmadinejiad will step down once his term ends next year.