Iran President: Our Nukes Are Peaceful

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Iran's nuclear activities are "transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eye" of United Nations inspectors, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the U.N. General Assembly.

In a speech Tuesday, Ahmadinejad accused some permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — an apparent reference to the United States — of using the powerful U.N. body as a tool of "threat and coercion." He reiterated his nation's commitment to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

"All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes" of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Ahmadinejad said.

His speech was sharply critical of the United States and Britain, and focused in large part on what he said was their abuse of the Security Council, on which they are both permanent members with veto power.

"If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council and as claimants, arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roes of prosecutor, judge and executioner," Ahmadinejad said. "Is this a just order?"

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said in a press gaggle today that Bush did not watch Ahmadinejad's speech last night, and would not engage in point-by-point rebuttal of it.

The U.S. and Britain played central roles in helping craft a U.N. Security Council resolution passed in July that gave Iran until Aug. 31 to suspend uranium enrichment and asked the IAEA to report on Tehran's compliance, dangling the threat of sanctions if Iran refused. Tehran made clear even before the deadline expired that it had no intention of suspending uranium enrichment.

"Clearly, Ahmadinejad's speech was an attempt to rally the developing world, not mentioning Iran's role in terror and, on the contrary, scolding the U.S and the U.K, for oppression in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Iran itself," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk from the U.N. on Tuesday evening.

"Although Ahmadinejad's attacks on the world powers may ring true with the developing world and it may buy Iran some more time with negotiations, the Security Council is likely to continue to press for sanctions if Iran does not return to a suspension of its nuclear programs."

The speech comes a few hours after President Bush used his U.N. platform to try to quell anti-Americanism in the Middle East by assuring Muslims that he is not waging war against Islam, regardless of what "propaganda and conspiracy theories" they hear.

Mr. Bush also pressed Iran to return at once to international talks on its nuclear program and threatened consequences if the Iranians do not.