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Iran's leader slams 'arrogant' powers in U.N. address

  • Story Highlights
  • Iranian leader says agreement with IAEA has settled issue over nuclear program
  • Ahmadinejad criticizes unnamed "powers" responsible for world's moral decline
  • Controversial Iranian leader spoke before United Nations on Tuesday
  • Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University on Monday
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The nuclear issue in Iran is "now closed," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an address Tuesday loaded with broadsides against "selfish and incompetent" powers that have "obedience to Satan."

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks about nuclear power, Iraq and human rights at the U.N.

An agreement reached last month between his country and the International Atomic Energy Agency over its disputed nuclear program has, in the Iranian view, settled the matter, he said. The IAEA is the world's central nuclear technology governing body.

"Iran decided to pursue the issue through its appropriate, legal path, one that runs through the IAEA, and to disregard unlawful and political impositions by the arrogant powers," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

"I officially announce that in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter."

Ahmadinejad on CNN
CNN's Christiane Amanpour goes one-on-one with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on "AC 360."
Tonight, 10 ET; 0200 GMT Thursday

Under the deal brokered in August, the Iranian government agreed to a timetable for resolving outstanding issues with the IAEA over its nuclear program, which the Iranians have said is solely for peaceful power generation. The deal received a tepid reception from the United States and other Western countries that fear Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad said Tuesday the IAEA has taken the "correct approach," as opposed to the U.N. Security Council, which has been "influenced by some bullying powers and failed to uphold justice and protect the rights of the Iranian people." See some of Ahmadinejad's controversial remarks »

The Security Council has repeatedly demanded that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium and has imposed limited sanctions on Tehran for refusing to comply.

Ahmadinejad charged in his speech that the Security Council "ranks first" among ineffective international bodies because it is influenced by "monopolistic powers."

A senior State Department official in Washington, however, said it was "safe to say he is the only one who thinks the file on Iran's nuclear weapons program is closed."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Iran "knows what the international community is demanding regarding its enrichment and reprocessing programs, and we are going to work with our allies to ensure they do. We believe this can be solved diplomatically."

The outspoken Ahmadinejad also offered veiled but unmistakable criticism of the United States -- not mentioning Iran's long-time adversary by name, but offering blunt critiques of the Iraq war and Washington's larger war on terrorism.

"Human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers," he said in his U.N. address. "Setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process, extensive tappings of telephone conversations, intercepting private mail and frequent summons to police and security centers have become commonplace and prevalent." Video Watch what Iran's president had to say about human rights »

Ahmadinejad also said Iraq "was occupied under the pretext of overthrowing a dictator and the existence of weapons of mass destruction."

"The Iraqi dictator, who had been supported by the same occupiers, was disposed of, and no weapons of mass destruction were discovered," Ahmadinejad said. "But the occupation continues under different excuses."

Ahmadinejad repeatedly criticized unnamed "powers" that he charged were responsible for insecurity, division and moral decline across the world. "Is it not high time for these powers to return from the path of arrogance and obedience to Satan to the path of faith in God?" said Ahmadinejad, who also invited "all independent, justice-seeking and peace-loving nations" to join Iran in a "coalition for peace."

The Iranian leader did make one specific reference to the United States, saying "the rights and dignity of the American people are also being sacrificed for the selfish desires of those holding power."

U.S. diplomats, however, were not on hand to listen to Ahmadinejad's analysis. The chairs where the American delegation sits were unoccupied, except for one woman taking notes.

Ahmadinejad's visit to the United States has generated controversy and sparked demonstrations. Eighteen protesters were arrested Tuesday outside U.N. headquarters.

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One day earlier, the firebrand Iranian leader spoke at Columbia University and challenged the audience to look into "who was truly involved" in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hundreds gathered to protest Ahmadinejad's appearance, incensed that a leader who has publicly denied the Holocaust and called for the destruction of the state of Israel was given a prestigious forum to espouse his beliefs. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Zain Verjee and Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

All About International Atomic Energy AgencyMahmoud AhmadinejadIran

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