(NEW YORK) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kept to the same script in making his annual pilgrimage to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly session, expressing his government’s disdain for Israel in remarks to reporters on Monday.
The fiery and controversial leader maintained that Israel, which he refers only as “Zionists,” will eventually be “eliminated” because it has only been in existence for less than 70 years “with the support and force of the Westerners.”
That’s compared to 10,000 years for Iran, according to Ahmadinejad, the implication being that it will never go away.
The Iranian president blithely dismissed reports of Israel launching a preemptive strike against his country’s nuclear facilities, saying, “we do not take seriously the threats of the Israelis. We have at our disposal all the means to defend ourselves.”
And even as his government has suffered economically due to sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the West, Ahmadinejad indicated that the distress was only temporary.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has made a point of warning world leaders not to engage in volatile rhetoric during the week — an admonition that Ahmadinejad has once again ignored.
Still, he did raise a shred of hope that the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved, but only through “dialogue.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
KJ Kwon and Ben Westcott, CNN
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN
Laura Smith-Spark, CNN