Iran General NewsIran leader, at U.N., skirts issue of Hezbollah’s disarmament

Iran leader, at U.N., skirts issue of Hezbollah’s disarmament

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New York Times: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, refused to say Thursday whether he would comply with a Security Council demand for the disarmament and disbanding of Hezbollah, the Tehran-backed guerrilla group that fought a 34-day war with Israel. The New York Times

By WARREN HOGE
Published: September 22, 2006

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, refused to say Thursday whether he would comply with a Security Council demand for the disarmament and disbanding of Hezbollah, the Tehran-backed guerrilla group that fought a 34-day war with Israel.

“I’d like to say that Lebanon’s affairs are its own affairs, and we don’t want to interfere,” he said, when asked about the resolution that ended the combat in Lebanon last month.

He was also evasive about whether Iran would comply with the resolution’s call for an arms embargo to keep Hezbollah from rearming.

He said that the United Nations Charter gave people the right to defend themselves and that “we give spiritual support to all those who want to uphold their rights.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke at a wide-ranging news conference in a packed United Nations conference hall in which he also reiterated Iran’s denial that it was pursuing a nuclear weapon and chastised Western countries for trying to curb Iran’s right to pursue nuclear energy. “Iran considers the nuclear issue a political one,” he said. “They’re not concerned about the bomb, they want to stop the development of our country.”

Asked about his threat to wipe Israel off the map, he argued that his criticism of Israel had been misinterpreted as a rejection of Jews. “These Zionists are not Jews,” he said. “This is the biggest deception we have faced. They are a power group, a power party. We oppose any group that seeks raw power.”

He said Iran “loves everyone around the world, Jews, Christians, Muslims.” But, returning to Israel, he said, “We announce and declare loudly that you will be condemned by the rest of the world if you displace people from their homes.”

His attitude was less belligerent than it had been in his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday evening. He was dressed in what has become his signature light gray jacket over open-necked pink shirt. He smiled frequently, alluding to universal desires for love, justice, peace and happiness, and even apologizing to New Yorkers whom he had seen out his car window having to wait for his motorcade to pass before they could cross the street.

As in his General Assembly address, he depicted Iran as a growing country impatient with the current United Nations order that, he said, gave undeserved authority to the nations that won World War II and limited respect to the countries like Iran that had arisen since.

“When you look at the Security Council, we see that some members of the Council are in fact party to many conflicts around the world,” he said. Even though these countries created the problems, he said, under current arrangements “they nevertheless sit in judgment of world affairs.”

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