Walkouts and fury: A look at Ahmadinejad's U.N. speeches
Delegations of several nations left during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's U.N. speech Thursday.
September 22nd, 2011
10:27 PM ET

Walkouts and fury: A look at Ahmadinejad's U.N. speeches

Whether he is predicting the demise of the U.S. "empire," questioning U.S. accounts of the 9/11 attacks or accusing Europe of using the Holocaust as an excuse for supporting Israel, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knows how to push the West's buttons at the U.N. General Assembly.

For the third straight year, U.S. diplomats on Thursday joined envoys from several other nations in walking out during the Iranian president's address at the annual United Nations gathering in New York. That doesn't even count instances before that, when American diplomats conspicuously skipped his speech altogether.

This year, Ahmadinejad said European countries "still use the Holocaust after six decades as the excuse to pay (a) fine or ransom to the Zionists," and that the United States killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden instead of investigating "hidden elements involved in September 11."

Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wasn't impressed.

"We find what Ahmadinejad does and says when he comes to the United Nations absolutely odious, hateful, anti-Semitic, unacceptable, which is why the United States for three consecutive years - including today - have led a walkout of his speech," Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. "Inevitably he says something outrageous, dishonest and offensive, and that leads to a walkout."

Here is a look back at Ahmadinejad's other U.N. speeches, and reactions to them:

2010

Representatives from the United States, Britain, Spain and other nations walked out while Ahmadinejad asserted that the U.S. government either participated in the 9/11 attacks or let them happen as an excuse to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said most Americans and "most nations around the world" believe that "some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack," adding that these people believe the attacks were aimed at reversing "the declining American economy and its scripts on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime."

He also said capitalism and the current world order had reached their demise after 100 years of domination, saying that they were "unable to provide appropriate solutions to the problems that society faces."

2009

In September 2009, Ahmadinejad was critical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said "thousands of innocent people have been killed, injured or displaced, infrastructures have been destroyed and regional security has been seriously jeopardized."

He ripped capitalism, saying it brought about the conditions leading to the world's economic crisis. He also called for a "return to monotheism and justice," calling it "the greatest hope and opportunity in all ages and generations."

He blasted Israel, accusing it of "crimes ... against defenseless women and children and destruction of their homes, farms, hospitals and schools."

The next day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Iranian leader at the General Assembly. The delegations that stayed for Ahmadinejad's address gave "legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of 6 million Jews," Netanyahu said, referring to the Holocaust.

Ahmadinejad at the General Assembly in 2008

2008

Ahmadinejad told the General Assembly in 2008 that the "American empire" was nearing its end, and that Israel "is on a definite slope to collapse."

While he stopped short of calling for Israel to be politically wiped off the map as he had previously, he called for "a free referendum in Palestine for determining and establishing the type of state in the entire Palestinian lands."

The U.N. Security Council, he said, "cannot do anything, and sometimes under pressure from a few bullying powers, even paves the way for supporting these Zionist murders."

He blamed a few world powers for the world's problems, and defended his country's nuclear activities as peaceful. The U.S. and other Western nations had long suspected that Iran had been pursuing nuclear weapons, but Iran said it seeks only a civilian nuclear energy program.

He accused the United States of oppressing Iraqis with six years of occupation, saying Americans were "still seeking to solidify their position in the political geography of the region and to dominate oil resources."

The only person at the United States' table was a note-taker; no U.S. diplomat was present.

U.S. seats were empty during the 2007 speech.

2007

In a 2007 speech that blasted "selfish and incompetent" governments that have "obedience to Satan," Ahmadinejad said the U.N. Security Council "ranks first" among ineffective international bodies because it is influenced by "monopolistic powers."

Ahmadinejad invited "all independent, justice-seeking and peace-loving nations" to join Iran in a "coalition for peace." He also criticized unnamed "powers" that he said 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?" he said.

He criticized the United States without naming it, offering blunt assessments of the Iraq war and Washington's war on terrorism.

"Setting up secret prisons, abducting (people), 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."

The American delegation's chairs were unoccupied, except for one woman taking notes.

Earlier, he had asked to lay a wreath at the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers, but New York City officials denied the request, citing safety concerns at what was then a construction site.

Ahmadinejad speaks in 2006.

2006

Ahmadinejad said in 2006 that the United States' permanent inclusion on the U.N. Security Council undermines its effectiveness and credibility.

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

On Iraq, Ahmadinejad said the United States, whom he called "the occupiers," is "incapable of establishing security," and scores were dying 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?"

The Iranian president speaks to the General Assembly in September 2005.

2005

Ahmadinejad in 2005 told the General Assembly that Iran had a right to operate a nuclear energy program. He said it was unfair that some nations were allowed to make nuclear fuel while others are condemned for it.

"Today, the most serious challenges is that the culprits are assuming the role of prosecutor," he said, accusing the United States of "bullying the others while through huge media resources portraying themselves as defenders of freedom."

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soundoff (670 Responses)
  1. pauline

    Even though I think he is one of the most painfully unattractive men I've ever laid eyes on AND even though I think he is a hypocrite and a bit crazed, He DOES speak quite a bit of truth. There is NO EXCUSE for any delegation to walk out on him...especially since they already knew what he was likely to say. What does walking out do or say? It reflects negatively on the delegations rather than on Ahmadinejad. Is our nation so weak, so lacking in strength of character, to sit and listen to points of view that are wildly divergent from our own?

    September 23, 2011 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. conspiracy of god's

    Maybe the god of Israel really does believe in the son of the god of America and the god of Arabia is really best friends with the god of America who arms both the god of Irael and the god of Arabia who only pretend to be fighting so the god of America will have an excuse to invade the god of Arabia except for the house of Saud? But then you would have to believe in godz.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. eclectic

    He doesn't look at his problems & wrongs but then who does. Does America, Isreal or any other country or leader?

    September 23, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    I would have stayed through the speech. After he was done, I would have shook his hand, and had lunch with him and the Iranian delegation.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. I AM CANADIAN

    These so called "diplomats" are useless. Although they don't agree with what he's saying (mind you they didn't hear his full statement), they should atleast listen. Part of the job is communication, they walk out of the room like ignorant little children having a tantrum. LISTEN people, you can't cut off communication if it's not what you want to hear. This angers me, these "diplomats" get paid to keep communication lines open with other countries and they just storm off. Well, on behalf of the west: I'm Ashamed. You let us down, maybe your paycheque should be massively minimized- you obviously don't deserve it. What a sham our governments are.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. conspiracy of god's

    Maybe if we could bribe the god of Arabia into leaving the god of Israel alone long enough to believe in the son of the god of America we would have peace?

    September 23, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tommy

    I gotta give him this much: The guy has more charisma than any American politician in recent memory.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Christella

      his exuberance reminds me of some persistent short men who always ask me out on a date and I sometimes listen to and consider for a minute. if they have sense, ok. else, sorry.

      lol. charisma yes, looks not so much. persistence, pleeeeze ease off a while!

      September 23, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jon

    Atleast he has the courage to speak the truth!

    These ignorant toddlers can't handle the truth.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Soupy

    I still pray we can have and see world peace. What is the hold up? Any country that wants peace needs to step up and speak out. Get a backbone. Don"t rely on me, here in my good old US of A, to spend one more dime on protecting country's that have just made us a laughing stalk. Obama was never meant to be our President. The left voted him in to make a point...Now they are very sorry.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
    • nkrempa

      I think you meant to say "laughing stock," not "stalk."

      And I sincerely doubt that the people who voted for Obama did it just to "make a point," unless the point we wanted to make was that 8 years of "trickle down economics" left us all feeling peed on. I'm not sorry Obama is our President and I won't be sorry when he's re-elected, given the choices on the Republican side of things... talk about a bunch of nutjobs!!

      September 23, 2011 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Bush started the wars, obama inherited it and he's trying to end it. Why is it obama's fault?

      September 23, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Rhonda

      Yes, most of the people who voted for Obama realize that he is not the answer. The Republicans don't have the answer either, although anything the Republicans can bring to the table will be better than Osama Obama.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      mankind has brain to read ,to see,and to think. that way you will know who are behaind all the bad things around the world.pray for peace and bring our troops home now not later. then world will be in peace.blaming others is wrong100%.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. I AM CANADIAN

    These so called "diplomats" are useless. Although they don't agree with what he's saying (mind you they didn't hear his full statement), they should atleast listen. Part of the job is communication, they walk out of the room like ignorant little children having a tantrum. LISTEN people, you can't cut off communication if it's not what you want to hear. This angers me, these "diplomats" get paid to keep communication lines open with other countries and they just storm off.

    Well, on behalf of the west: I'm Ashamed. You let us down, maybe your paycheque should be massively minimized- you obviously don't deserve it. What a sham our governments are.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Of course, a canadian is talking. His country is not threatened by rockets, a crazy president who wants to kill him, because in canada everyone listens to each other and accept the other, right?
      They're just freaking out when their hocky team is losing the game. I would like to know what will happen if someone from outside causes them any physical damage!

      September 23, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. holy ones

    Maybe if the holy one of Israel had protected his little helpers from the holy one of Germany who is also the holy one of America none of this would be happening to the holy one of Arabia? Whole lotta holy goin' on.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. OTAP

    Does President Ahmadinejad say some things that are a bit out there? Sure. But let's keep in mind that he is PRESIDENT Ahmadinejad and not mail-room-clerk Ahmadinejad. He is actually the head of state of a sovereign nation. And while, technically, the U.N. building and the land that it sits up is not United States territory, it is otherwise surrounded by a country that prides itself upon Amendment One. Let the other "western" countries walk-out in a symbolic gesture, but for the the U.S. representatives to do so is only hypocritical.

    Why is that when someone criticizes Israel they're "anti-semitic", but when people say similar or worse things about Pakistan, they are not "anti-muslim"? Not that I know of anyone being particularly critical of Nepal, but if they were, would they be accused of being "anti-hindu"?

    As for comments regarding the structure of the U.N. Security council with its 'permanent members'...American readers, just ask yourselves what the United States would be like if it were run the way the U.N. is. There are 50 states, but if any of the original 13 could veto anything at any time, how much would ever get done?

    And lastly, when it comes to the President of Iran mentioning "Setting up secret prisons, abducting (people), 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." – why is this cause for concern or outrage? Since 2001 has the term "extraordinary rendition" not entered the global lexicon? Did the National Security Agency lay off all its employees and shut its doors? Did GITMO turn into Club Med?

    September 23, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Terra

      It doesn't matter to me whether he is President or mail-room clerk. Sometimes it seems like so-called heads of state are so out of touch with reality that they are literally "Heads". Walking out on him appears to be something he expected. I wonder what would have happened if everyone in that audience had put on their big boy and big girl undies and just sat there quietly...

      September 23, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. yaad

    he is brave and say right specially about israel...

    September 23, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • roi

      Exactly because of these comments, the Israelis need to protect themselves. Your comment and the other comments here are scary, because they are in favour of a person who says that Israel should be exterminated because its a jewish state, this is the guy who violates gay rights (well, he just kills them) and this is the man who punished any citizen who dares to break his rules. Still, you don't care about that.....you care about hating Israel. If you want to criticize the occupation, go head! No one says you're wrong, but don't link it to your hate like it's a natural thing
      And just you to know, those evil comments just make us stronger!

      September 23, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sid

    You are right Ahmedinajad the holocaust is still used in an overly political manner 60 years later But you are in no position to complain since you mention Palestinan refuges in an overly political manner also 60 years later. the difference is the palestinans are still alive.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. huh?

    Jet fuel goes Poof! and then it's gone. But thermite keeps burning and burning and burning even the case-hardened inner floor-truss bolts of an high Tower.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
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