Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 'Nuclear Issue of Iran Is Now Closed'
Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Tuesday that Iran's disputed nuclear program is closed as a political issue and said Tehran will ignore a U.N. Security Council demand imposed by "arrogant powers" to curb its nuclear program.
Instead, he told world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly that 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. nuclear watchdog agency.
When Ahmadinejad was ushered to the podium, the U.S. delegation walked out, leaving only a low-ranking note-taker to listen to his speech, which indirectly accused the United States and Israel of major human rights violations. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the U.S. wanted "to send him a powerful message."
The Iranian president 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." In her talk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened tougher sanctions against Iran.
Iran insists the program is purely peaceful, aimed solely at using nuclear reactors to generate electricity. But the United States and key European nations believe the program is a cover for an Iranian attempt to produce nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad has defied two Security Council resolutions demanding Iran suspend enrichment and imposing escalating sanctions on key figures and organizations involved in the nuclear program. He made clear in his speech that Iran did not intend to comply with them now.