Sept. 23, 2008 -- In his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad resumed his perennial criticism of American foreign policy. He criticized the United States for its invasion of Iraq, blamed it and NATO for recent violence in Georgia, and slammed U.S. influence in the Middle East, Latin America and around the globe.
Ahmadinejad left the door open to talks about Iran's nuclear program but reiterated that Tehran will not abandon its nuclear ambitions despite repeated demands from the United Nations Security Council. He again insisted that the program is for peaceful purposes only, brushing aside accusations from Washington and others that the country is pursuing a nuclear weapon.
Ahmadinejad asserted that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s watchdog that monitors nuclear programs, has corroborated his claims that Iran's nuclear program has been transparent, that Tehran has been cooperative, and that the program is for peaceful purposes only.
That statement is at odds with the IAEA's most recent report on Iran's nuclear program. The report, issued last week, says that Iran has not allowed monitors necessary access and raises concerns about research for possible military applications of Iran's acquired nuclear know-how.
Ahmadinejad also bashed the presidential candidates for courting the Jewish vote ahead of the November election.
"It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premier nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and a commitment to their interests, in order to attain financial or media support," Ahmadinejad said.
"This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes, and occupations, and the threats of the Zionist network against their will," he added.
While he avoided past threats to attack Israel, Ahmadinejad said that the "Zionist network's" days are numbered.
President Bush, in a speech to the U.N. earlier in the day, called on the world to enforce sanctions against Iran and North Korea. "We must not relent until our people are safe from this threat to civilization," he said.