Bluntly raising the spectre of a fresh war in the Middle East before world leaders at the United Nations yesterday, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, lamented in terms equally robust and rambling that his country was under the threat of a military strike by "uncivilized Zionists" – a clear reference to Israel.
In his eighth appearance at the General Assembly and the last before he finishes his last term as president of Iran next year, Mr Ahmadinejad cast the threat against Iran in the wider context of a world order in which, he said, power is concentrated in the hands of a few who bully and intimidate the majority.
He argued that the "continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality." While he did not mention it by name in his address, Mr Ahmadinejad said earlier this week in New York that Israel would one day be "eliminated" – a statement that provoked outraged reaction from the US and Israel. The American seats in the hall were left empty as Mr Ahmadinejad spoke.
"The current abysmal situation of the world and the bitter incidents of history are due mainly to the wrong management of the world and the self-proclaimed centres of power who have entrusted themselves to the devil," he said in a 30-minute speech. "There is no doubt that the world is in need of a new order and a fresh way of thinking," Mr Ahmadinejad, in his familiar jacket and open-neck white shirt, said, adding that this should be "a just and fair order in which everybody is equal before the law and in which there is no double standard."
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due to address the Assembly today, has warned that his country will not stand by and allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Mr Netanyahu comes to New York, however, after failing to persuade President Barack Obama to draw a red line that Iran should not cross if it wants to avoid a military response. For its part, Iran insists that its nuclear activities are for civilian and energy purposes only.
In Brussels, meanwhile, a new phase of trade and economic sanctions against Iran to try to pressure it to stop the enrichment of uranium was under way.
A letter from the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and his German and French counterparts urged that all EU foreign ministers agree on the new steps by the middle of next month.
IN HIS OWN WORDS. AHMADINEJAD ON...
...a new world order
Does anyone think that continuation of the current order is capable of bringing happiness to human society? Today everyone is discontent and disappointed with the current international order. The fact is this. The current abysmal situation of the world and the bitter incidents of history are due mainly to the mismanagement of the world and self-proclaimed centres of power that have entrusted themselves to the devil. The order that is rooted in the anti-human thoughts of slavery and the old and new colonialism are responsible for poverty, corruption, ignorance oppression and discrimination in every corner of the world.
...the West's wrongs
Had the wars of the crusades and the ensuing period of slavery not happened… imagine how beautiful and pleasant our lives and how lovely the history of mankind would have been.
...the United Nations
The UN lacks the efficiency to bring about the required changes. If this inefficiency persists, nations will lose hope in the global structures to defend their rights. If the UN is not restructured, international interactions and the spirit of collective global cooperation will be tarnished.
... the US elections
Are we to believe that those who spend hundreds of millions of dollars on election campaigns have the interests of the people of world at heart?
capitalism is bogged down in a self-made quagmire. It has indeed reached a deadlock and does not seem to be able to come up with any noteworthy solution to the various economic, political, security and cultural problems of the world.