Is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran a subdued leader now? It appears so from his latest speech, a farewell one, at the United Nations where he preferred sticking to spiritual and moral themes.
His favourite topics — Israel, Middle East peace and nuclear programme — were missing when he took the stage at the UN General Assembly September 26.
Even in the picture, Ahmadinejad (third from right), can be seen flashing the peace sign from his seat on the floor of the General Assembly Hall, immediately before his statement at the general debate.
The Iranian president, whose remarks seemed almost conciliatory, said his nation was committed to peace and accused world powers of double standards in pursuing an arms race.
Given the Iranian leader’s history of controversial statements, it was expected that he would speak only the contentious but he told delegates that Iran has a “global vision and welcomes any effort intended to provide and promote peace, stability and tranquility” in the world.
However, he mildly added that an “arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction by the hegemonic powers have become prevalent”.
“Continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality,” he said in his eighth and final address to the assembly, with his final term in office coming to an end next year. “A state of mistrust has cast its shadow on the international relations, while there is no trusted or just authority to help resolve world conflicts.”
Interestingly, as Ahmadinejad spoke, the place set aside for the US delegation was empty, as always. The Canadian delegation also did not attend the speech, and Israel’s representatives were absent.
But didn’t European delegates get an unusual reprieve at the General Assembly when the Iranian president offered them no reason to get up and walk out — a move that has become a bit of tradition for the Western delegations.
Though Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, Western leaders believe Tehran wants to build a nuclear weapon.
UN inspectors have also expressed doubts about the programme’s aims.
The United States “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” US President Barack Obama said the previous day.
But must we be reminded that as Ahmadinejad began his UN speech, Iranian security forces jailed for six months his top media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr after convicting him of publicly insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.