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US, West Envoys Walk Out Of UN Assembly As Ahmadinejad Blasts US

New York, Sept 24:  The US delegation, followed by envoys from Sweden, UK and other western countries,  walked out of the UN speech of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York on Thursday after he
PTI September 24, 2010 13:54 IST
New York, Sept 24:  The US delegation, followed by envoys from Sweden, UK and other western countries,  walked out of the UN speech of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York on Thursday after he said some had speculated that Americans were behind the September 11 terror attacks, staged in an attempt to assure Israel's survival.  

He did not explain the logic of the statement, which he made as he attacked the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ahmadinejad said there were three theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks: that a "powerful and complex terrorist group" penetrated US intelligence and defences; "that some segments within the US 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. The majority of the American people, as well as other nations and politicians, agree with this view."

The Americans stood and walked out without listening to the third theory that the attack was the work of "a terrorist group, but the American government supported and took advantage of the situation."

Mark Kornblau, spokesman of the US Mission to the world body, issued a statement within moments of Ahmadinejad's attack.  "Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people," he said, "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.  

The Iranian leader spoke of threats to burn the Quran by a small American church in Florida to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Although that church backed down, several copycat burnings were posted on the Internet and broadcast in the Muslim world.  "Very recently the world witnessed the ugly and inhumane act of burning the holy Quran," Ahmadinejad said.

He briefly touched on the four sets of sanctions imposed on his country by the United Nations over Tehran's refusal to stop enriching uranium, and to prove Iran was not trying to build an atomic bomb.  Some members of the Security Council have "equated nuclear energy with nuclear bombs," Ahmadinejad said.

He accused the United States of building up its nuclear arsenal instead of dismantling it and reiterated his call for a nuclear-free world.  "The nuclear bomb is the worst inhumane weapon which must be totally eliminated. The NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty) prohibits its development and stockpiling and calls for nuclear disarmament," the Iranian president said.  

Outside, a couple of thousand people protested against Ahmadinejad's UN appearance across the street from the UN complex in New York on Thursday.  

Several other organisations were holding separate protests there as well.  Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told cheering Iranian-Americans that they have the support of "all democratic people."  

"This is not something we can discuss. Under no circumstances will Ahmadinejad be allowed to have nuclear weapons. No, no, no," Giuliani told a lively crowd.  

The protest was organised by the National Council of Resistance of Iran.  The France-based umbrella group includes the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, which was removed from the European Union's list of banned terrorist groups last year.  

It remains on the U.S. List, though the group is trying to persuade the American government to stop classifying it as a terrorist organisation.  A couple thousand demonstrators turned out, though organisers claimed the number was much higher.

The protesters held purple balloons; red, white and green Iranian flags; and red, white and green umbrellas to ward off the hot autumn sun.  Some had confetti.  

Guiliani told the crowd he shared their goals in promoting democracy, freedom of religion and freedom of the press.  The protesters voiced support for Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and some carried posters with her picture.  

The protest featured a kind of play with three women in prisoner uniforms being hanged and man being beaten by a man in a military uniform, all under the eye of an actor wearing an Ahmadinejad mask.

The play acted out in the plaza was also being shown on a large video screen.  "Ahmadinejad does not represent Iranian people, instead of addressing the podium of the United Nations, he and his regime should face an international tribunal for the crimes they have committed against humanity and against the people of Iran," one protester said.  The protest was peaceful, and 40 to 50 police officers watched nearby.  AP