AFP: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday Israel was “doomed” and singled out US President Barack Obama for scorn after the UN agreed a fresh round of nuclear sanctions against his country.
By D’Arcy Doran
SHANGHAI (AFP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday Israel was “doomed” and singled out US President Barack Obama for scorn after the UN agreed a fresh round of nuclear sanctions against his country.
Speaking during a visit to the World Expo in Shanghai, Ahmadinejad denounced the UN Security Council’s sanctions resolution adopted Wednesday with Chinese and Russian backing as “worthless paper”.
The firebrand leader accused global nuclear powers of “monopolising” atomic technology and said the new sanctions would “have no effect”.
Ahmadinejad chose a visit to his country’s national pavilion during “Iran Day” at the Shanghai Expo in preference to an appearance at a regional security summit in Uzbekistan attended by the Chinese and Russian leaders.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev are in Tashkent for the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The SCO is set Friday to snub Iran’s membership bid, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated, leaving Tehran increasingly isolated over its refusal to renounce uranium enrichment.
Ahmadinejad’s visit to the Expo comes at a delicate time in Tehran’s relations with its ally China, one of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council.
His government had earlier reacted furiously to China’s decision to fall into line with the United States and other powers that accuse Iran of covertly trying to build nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad shied away from criticising China, which has emerged as Iran’s closest trading partner.
“The main problem is the US administration, and we have no problem with others,” he told reporters, accusing the United States of seeking to “swallow” the Middle East.
Swatting aside the US leader’s offers of dialogue and rapprochement if Iran relents on its nuclear ambitions, Ahmadinejad said: “I think President Obama has made a big mistake… he knows the resolution will have no effect.
“Very soon he will come to understand he has not made the right choice and he has blocked the way to having friendly ties with the Iranian people.”
The UN resolution expands an arms embargo and bars Iran from sensitive activities such as uranium mining.
It also authorises states to conduct high-seas inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items for Iran and adds 40 entities to a list of people and groups subject to travel restrictions and financial sanctions.
Not for the first time, Ahmadinejad reserved his harshest rhetoric for Israel.
“It is clear the United States is not against nuclear bombs because they have a Zionist regime with nuclear bombs in the region,” he said.
“They are trying to save the Zionist regime, but the Zionist regime will not survive. It is doomed.”
Israel, which has the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, regards Iran as its principal threat after repeated predictions by Ahmadinejad of the Jewish state’s demise.
Israeli leaders have refused to rule out a resort to military action to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Ahmadinejad said the entire architecture of global power was built to keep out smaller states.
“We have always said the Security Council is a tool in the hands of the United States. It is not democratic, it is a tool of dictatorship,” he said.
“Five powers have the veto right and the nuclear bombs and the monopoly and they want to monopolise nuclear energy for themselves,” he added.
Russia appears to be taking a tougher line with Iran. Officials said Friday that Moscow would comply strictly with the new UN sanctions, and signalled that a deal to supply Iran with air-defence missiles was now off.
China has kept up a more emollient line on Iran. Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that China “highly values relations with Iran and feels they are conducive to regional peace, stability and development.”