Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday disregarded a UN warning to avoid incendiary rhetoric and declared ahead of the annual General Assembly session that Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be “eliminated.”
Ahmadinejad also said he did not take seriously the threat that Israel could launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, denied sending arms to Syria, and alluded to Iran’s threats to the life of British author Salman Rushdie.
The United States quickly dismissed the Iranian president’s comments as “disgusting, offensive and outrageous.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted Israel could strike Iran’s nuclear sites and criticised US President Barack Obama’s position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.
“Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists,” Ahmadinejad, in New York for this week’s UN General Assembly, told reporters. “We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves.”
On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad and warned him of the dangers of incendiary rhetoric in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad, who has used previous UN sessions to question the Holocaust and the US account of the 9/11 attacks, did not heed the warning and instead alluded to his previous rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
“Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They (the Israelis) have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history,” he said, referring to the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948.
“We do believe that they have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end. Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs,” Ahmadinejad said, speaking through an interpreter at his Manhattan hotel.
“We don’t even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they (the Israelis) represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated,” he added.
In 2005, Ahmadinejad called Israel a “tumor” and echoed the words of the former Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, by saying that Israel should be wiped off the map.
In Washington, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor reaffirmed the US commitment to Israel’s security.
“President Ahmadinejad’s comments are characteristically disgusting, offensive and outrageous. They underscore again why America’s commitment to the security of Israel must be unshakeable, and why the world must hold Iran accountable for its utter failure to meet its obligations,” Vietor said.
Read more:Defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be eliminated.