Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad addressing the UN assembly on Saturday
UNITED NATIONS - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday
a UN committee should investigate how Israel acquired nuclear weapons.
In an unyielding speech to the General Assembly, Ahmadinejad said his country
had the inalienable right to produce nuclear energy and accused the United States
of violating a treaty banning the spread of atomic weapons.
Seeking to turn the tables of Western powers that suspect Tehran of developing
nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad offered to allow other countries and private companies
to participate in his country's uranium enrichment program to prove that Tehran
is not producing nuclear weapons.
Calling the charge that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons "a pure
propaganda ploy," Ahmadinejad said Iran has a right to a nuclear fuel program,
but stressed that the country's "religious principles" prevent it from
seeking atomic weapons.
The Iranian president also tried to focus international attention on
Israel's nuclear activities.
He called for the establishment of a UN committee to formulate solutions
for nuclear weapons disarmament and said the committee should "investigate
how materials, technology and equipment related to atomic weapons made their
way to the Zionist regime, in breach of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation
of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)."
Ahmadinejad told the UN that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared
to engage in a serious partnership with private and public sectors of other
countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment program in Iran."
He said this was "as far as Iran would go" in its cooperation with
foreign bodies. Ahmadinejad said his country would keep cooperating with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and maintain its negotiations with
Britain, France and Germany.
He said the Iranian delegates to the negotiations have been instructed to obtain
international guarantees from the Europeans that would ensure that Iran receive
A senior diplomatic source in the Israeli delegation in New York said Ahmedenijad's
speech was "Iran's way of getting an international stamp of approval for
its uranium enrichment program, and an attempt to acquire assistance from foreign
countries in solving the technical difficulties it has encountered."
"This attempt follows a breach on Iran's part of the Paris agreement to
cease from activity related to uranium enrichment," the source added.
Sanctions 'remain on the agenda'
American and French foreign ministers reiterated their view that UN Security
Council sanctions are still a feasible response to Iran's reluctance to permit
international supervision on its nuclear program.
France's foreign minister said Saturday that referring Iran to the UN Security
Council "remains on the agenda" following Ahmadinejad's speech.
Philippe Douste-Blazy told reporters he would consult with EU colleagues Germany
and Britain but "what I heard today makes me predict that the option of
(the International Atomic Energy Agency board of directors) reporting Iran to
the Security Council remains on the agenda."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the United Nations on Saturday
to be tough with Iran over its nuclear ambitions and said the Security Council
must act when diplomacy was exhausted.
While asking the UN to be firm, Rice said there was still time for diplomacy
and Tehran must resume nuclear talks that broke down last month with the Europeans.
"When diplomacy has been exhausted, the Security Council must become involved,"
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency is set to consider on Monday
whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, a move
the United States has been pushing.
Iran will defend its rights
In an interview with CNN International, excerpts of which were aired before
he was to address the United Nations General Assembly, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
insisted his country must retain the right to pursue nuclear fuel enrichment.
Iran "has the means to defend and obtain its rights" and charged
that the United States had "bad intentions" toward his country, he
Asked whether Tehran might trigger a rise in world oil prices in retaliation
if Western nations referred suspicions about Iran's nuclear program to the UN
Security Council, he said: "Any intelligent, healthy smart human being
should use every resource in order to maintain his or her freedom and independence."