A White House source tells ABC News that President Obama found Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments about the 9/11 attacks today at the UN General Assembly “deeply offensive and inappropriate, and especially inappropriate to have been made so close” to the site where the World Trade Center once stood.
The official anticipates that the president will address the remarks when he gives an interview to BBC Persia, which airs in Iran.
President Obama had underlined in his speech to the UN that he wants to end the conflict with Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program through peaceful means.
“The United States and the international community seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it,” Obama said.
But just a few hours later, speaking from the same podium, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seemed to slam that door shut.
“The majority of the American people, as well as other nations and politicians, believe…some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime,” Ahmadinejad said of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, prompting the U.S. delegation to the U.N. and others to walk out on the speech.
“Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people, Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable,” Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., said in a statement.
Ahmadinejad also referred to “the ugly and inhumane act of burning the Holy Koran,” presumably making reference to the Florida pastor who had planned a Burn the Quran day earlier this month.
Ahmadinejad held up a Koran and a bible saying he pays respect to both of them.
“I don’t think any of us were holding out great hope that Ahmadinejad would say reasonable and thoughtful things today, breaking his several-year tradition,” one administration official said.
Still, the diplomatic slap by the Iranian president cast a pall over the international effort to pressure Iran to come clean about its nuclear program and end its suspected nuclear weapons program.
“I think what you’ve seen in Iran is a recognition that these sanctions have been perhaps more – have had more bite than they anticipated,” said White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes.
“You’ve seen an increased internal dialogue about the course that they’re on, and increased discussions around the potential for diplomacy.”
The new U.S. sanctions against Iran are scheduled to go into effect by Sept. 29. Tomorrow, President Obama will give an interview to BBC Persia to speak directly to the Iranian people.