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Iranian president takes on U.S., Israel at U.N.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- With the U.N. Security Council meeting this week to consider whether to impose sanctions on Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took aim at the body Tuesday, saying the United States' permanent inclusion on the council undermines its effectiveness and credibility.

"As long as the council is unable to act on behalf of the entire international community in a transparent, just and democratic manner, it will neither be legitimate nor effective," the president said.

Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly, Ahmadinejad had particularly harsh words for what he called the council's inaction in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. (Watch Ahmadinejad complain about the U.S. and the UK -- 3:27)

"It does not matter if people are murdered in Palestine," he said of the conflicts in which Israel has been engaged in Gaza and the West Bank. "That apparently does not violate human rights."

He also criticized the "blanketed and unwarranted support" for Israel during conflicts in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.

"For 33 long days, the Lebanese lived under the barrage of fire and bombs, and close to 1.5 million of them were displaced," Ahmadinejad said. "Meanwhile, some members of the Security Council practically chose a path that provided ample opportunity for the aggressor to achieve its objectives militarily."

The Security Council "was practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for a cease-fire," he said.

Referring to Israel, Ahmadinejad said, "That regime has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries."

On Iraq, Ahmadinejad said the United States -- whom he called "the occupiers" -- is "incapable of establishing security," and scores die daily as a result.

"Where can the people of Iraq seek refuge, and from whom can the people of Iraq seek justice?" he asked. How can the Security Council act "when the occupiers themselves are permanent members of the council?"

He added, "Apparently, the Security Council can only be trusted to secure the rights and security of certain big powers."

He called on the General Assembly "to rescue the Security Council from its current state" by including envoys from Africa, the Middle East and the Non-Aligned Movement.

The nuclear issue

Regularly invoking Allah, Ahmadinejad spoke amid an ongoing dispute with the U.S. and other Western nations over the Islamic republic's uranium-enrichment program.

Addressing allegations that Iran wants nuclear weaponry, Ahmadinejad said his country's program was conducted "under the watchful eye of [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors."

"Which governments object to these rights? Governments that themselves benefit from nuclear energy and the fuel cycle," Ahmadinejad said.

He continued, "Some of them have abused nuclear technology for non-peaceful ends, including the production of nuclear bombs, and some even have a bleak record of using them against humanity" -- a reference to the United States, the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon in wartime.

"What do they need these weapons for?" he asked. "How long should the people of the world live with the nightmare of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?"

The United States suspects Iran's nuclear program is bent on developing weapons, but Tehran has repeatedly insisted that its program is solely for energy purposes. (Watch why a U.S. ambassador believes Iran will keep enriching uranium -- 8:09)

Diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, along with Germany, are scheduled to meet during this week's General Assembly session to discuss possible sanctions.

The Security Council demanded that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment by August 31 or face the possibility of economic sanctions. Iran missed the deadline but said it would consider temporarily suspending its program as a condition for talks with the U.S.

The U.S., which has not ruled out military action against Iran, said last week it was doubtful Tehran's offer was serious.

The Security Council is now divided over the possibility of sanctions, and French President Jacques Chirac said in a Monday interview that he believes "there is a lot more potential to dialogue and I would like us to go to the end of that particular road before we decide to go any further in any other direction."

Chirac, however, expressed concern over the Iranian president's denial that the Holocaust happened and his assertion that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

After meeting with Chirac on Tuesday morning, Bush said "time is of the essence" for Iran to dodge sanctions by suspending its enrichment activities.

Asked by Time magazine if he would suspend enrichment "as a confidence-building measure," the Iranian president scoffed. (Read the Time articleexternal link)

"Whose confidence should be built?" Ahmadinejad asked. "The world? Who is the world? The United States? The U.S. administration is not the entire world."

Speaking to the U.N. on Tuesday, Bush directed a portion of his remarks to the Iranian people, saying, "Despite what the regime tells you, we have no objection to Iran's pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program."

"The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons," he said.

Ahmadinejad skipped the public scolding, and despite speculation that the two leaders would cross paths, a top U.N. official said that wasn't likely. Bush was at a U.N. reception and did not watch Ahmadinejad's speech, several White House officials said. Israeli delegates also were absent.

No White House response to Ahmadinejad's address was expected Tuesday night.

Ahmadinejad has challenged Bush to participate in a televised debate, an offer the White House has declined to accept. On Friday, Bush said of the invitation, "I have made it clear to the Iranian regime that we will sit down with the Iranians once they verifiably suspend their enrichment program, and I meant what I said."


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council is ineffective.

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