Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 'Nuclear Issue of Iran Is Now Closed'(video)
(Todayszaman) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Tuesday that "the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed," and indicated that Tehran will disregard U.N. Security Council resolutions imposed by "arrogant powers" and demanding suspension of its uranium enrichment.
Instead, he said, Iran has decided to pursue the monitoring of its nuclear program "through its appropriate legal path," the International Atomic Energy Agency which is the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
The U.S. delegation was absent during the speech except for a note taker.
The Iranian leader spoke hours after French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned the assembly that allowing Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons would be an "unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world."
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened tougher sanctions against Iran if the country remains intractable on the dispute over its nuclear program.
Thousands of people protested Ahmadinejad's visit Monday and more were expected to rally in the streets Tuesday when the Iranian leader attends the meeting for the third time in three years.
Asked about his country's nuclear intentions during the appearance at Columbia on Monday, Ahmadinejad insisted the program is peaceful, legal and entirely within Iran's rights, despite attempts by "monopolistic," "selfish" powers to derail it. "How come is it that you have that right, and we can't have it?" he added.
Ahmadinejad portrayed himself as an intellectual and argued that his administration respected reason and science. But the former engineering professor, appearing shaken and irate over he called "insults" from his host, soon found himself drawn into the type of rhetoric that has alienated American audiences in the past.
Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, set the combative tone in his introduction of Ahmadinejad: "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."
Ahmadinejad retorted that Bollinger's opening was "an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here."
"There were insults and claims that were incorrect, regretfully," Ahmadinejad said, accusing Bollinger of falling under the influence of the hostile U.S. press and politicians.
Ahmadinejad drew audience applause at times, such as when he bemoaned the plight of the Palestinians. But he often declined to offer the simple answers the audience sought, responding instead with his own questions or long statements about history and justice.