Ahmadinejad: critics of Iran nuclear program 'illegitimate'
In a rambling press conference during the UN conference on nuclear nonproliferation, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that most countries support Iran's nuclear program.
United Nations, NY
Thatâs just the result of pressure from the UN headquartersâ powerful host country, he said. And he claimed that most countries support Iran in its nuclear developments â unlike the worldâs âillegitimate power structureâ represented by the UN Security Council.
In a rambling, nearly two-hour-long press conference at a hotel across from the UN complex, the Iranian leader lamented the condition of women in the West and declared the US is free to seize any weapons it believes are being shipped from North Korea to Tehran.
âWeapons from North Korea to Iran?â he said in response to a question about US allegations of detected arms shipments. âI donât understand, we donât need arms from there.â
Nuclear haves vs. have-nots
But Mr. Ahmadinejadâs focus was on the worldâs prevailing nuclear nonproliferation regime â under review this month at the UNâs Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference â and his view that the current structure perpetuates the power of the worldâs nuclear haves while relegating the have-nots to second-class status.
Declaring that the 40-year-old NPT has failed in its three goals of disarmament, non-proliferation, and an equitable development of peaceful nuclear energy, he said, âWe need a new framework and a new set of guidelines that should be based on justice and rights of nations and human beings.â
Ahmadinejad challenged the view that much of the world opposes Iranâs nuclear ambitions, claiming that more than 100 countries from the Non-Aligned Movement and the worldâs majority Muslim countries support Iran.
Despite this, Iran remains open to the idea of a nuclear fuel âswapâ to power its Tehran research reactor, he said. But he cited the bad taste of historical precedent â France holding onto 50 tons of Iranian uranium, and other Western countries violating nuclear fuel accords with Iran after the Islamic revolution â to justify Iranâs wariness about the âconditionsâ fuel-supplying countries would put on any fuel delivery.
In any case, he said, Iran is now producing its own 20-percent-grade uranium required by the reactor, and he seemed to dismiss the continuing need for a swap of fuel in exchange for a substantial portion of Iranâs uranium stockpile.
Uranium swap involving Russia and France
The idea of the swap, first proposed by the UNâs nuclear International Atomic Energy Agency last year to involve Russian and French uranium, was born as international leaders sought a way to buy time for addressing the standoff between Iran and the international community.
âBuy time, buy time!â Ahmadinejad said, adding that in the meantime what he estimated to be 800,000 patients reliant on the medical isotopes provided by the research reactor are seeing their time slip away. âHow are we supposed to work with that kind of logic?â he asked.
Known universally for advocating Israelâs destruction, Ahmadinejad instead said that Israel â which he called a militaristic state imposed on the Middle East by the West as a means of preserving its interests in the region â would self-destruct if it launched any new wars.
As for the US disclosure of the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal Monday, Ahmadinejad called it a âsmall step forward.â But with a faint smile he said the US was asking the world to accept its declaration as a fact, when no international inspection has been conducted to verify it.
âThe US government should give the same respect to other governments,â he said, âit should trust others when they declare something.â
Maintaining his posture that any new international sanctions would not bend the Iranian "culture and civilization" into compliance with a "failed international order," Ahmadinejad offered a new perspective: that passing sanctions would actually affect President Obama more than Iran.
Saying Mr. Obama's agenda for "change" is under relentless attack from hawkish forces, the Iranian leader said a successful US push for sanctions would signal the victory of traditional US powers.