The U.S. delegation to the United Nations boycotted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's last address to the world body on Wednesday, leaving the floor before the Iranian delivered a tirade against America and Israel.
Ahmadinejad delivered a lengthy recitation of the world's woes going back to the creation, and called on the U.N. member nations to create a new world order.
“Fortunately right now we are at a historic juncture: On the one hand, Marxism is no longer around … and on the other, capitalism is bogged down in a self-made quagmire,” he said. “I would like to invite all countries of the world to play a more active role in making it possible for everybody to contribute to the global decision-making processes in the world.”
He also took a swipe at Israel, which has threatened military action against Iran if it pursues nuclear weapons.
“Intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction by the hegemonic powers have become prevalent,” he said. “Continued threats by the uncivilized Zionist to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality.”
"Over the past couple of days,” U.S. mission spokeswoman Erin Pelton said in a statement, “we've seen Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the U.N. not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel.”
Ahmadinejad is serving the last year of his second term, so Wednesday's address will likely be his last at the U.N. In his call for a new order, he said the world powers have “entrusted themselves to the devil” and pitted the world’s religions against each other.
“I do not believe that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others have any problems among themselves or are hostile against each other. They get along together comfortably and live together in an atmosphere of peace and amity,” he said. “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 centers of power who have entrusted themselves to the devil.”
The U.S. delegation stayed seated Monday when Ahmadinejad addressed a U.N. meeting on the rule of law. The Israeli ambassador to the UN walked out before Ahmadinejad addressed that meeting, as is Israel's habit when he speaks.
Anticipating fiery rhetoric, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon personally asked that members refrain from attacking one another in speeches this year.
"The secretary-general drew attention to the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric, counter-rhetoric and threats from various countries in the Middle East," Ban's press office said in a statement.
President Obama, however, did not hold back in his speech Tuesday, warning Iran about the potential consequences if it moves forward with a nuclear weapons program.
“Let me be clear: America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited,” Obama said.
“Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
For all his fiery rhetoric, former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian told the New York-based Jewish Daily Forward that Ahmadinejad's biggest legacy might be his outreach to the United States.
“The most important legacy left during the Ahmadinejad presidency was that the taboo of negotiating with the United States was broken. Since he had a freer hand, he wrote letters to both President [George W.] Bush and President Obama,” Mousavian said. “Even though his letters went unanswered, it was unprecedented for any Iranian president since the  revolution to make such overtures to the United States.”