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. MH

    Most of he said made sense! Why boucott Rice? You are another freaking Condi Rice. Don't go if you donot take teh heat!

    September 23, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Me

    There is no good or bad, saint or evil, friend or foe: There is only national interest and self preservation. The US does it, Iran does it and Israel does it. Everything else are strategies and temporary aliances or interests in a constantly changing world.

    Sometimes these interests and powers are enforced by wars, sometimes by revolutions, sometimes by economic pressures. No sentimentalism.

    Anti-semitism, extremism, religion and fear are all strategies used to achieve political power (self preservation). So please don't fantasize, just pick your side of the fight and take things into perspective. Don;t blindly believe in anything.

    In Ahmadinejah case there is also a high level of psychotic narcisism going on. He is trying to self preserve, hang on to power. He will say and do whatever it takes to solidify his power base. That is as simple as that. Unfortunately there are honest and smart people in Iran too and he is isolating and hurting them too. I agree some people, this guy included, cannot be allowed to control absolute power or have a nuke. When this happens 10 million people, mostly innocents, get killed.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. nathaniel

    Don't question anything. The government is always doing what's best for you. Enjoy your freedom, just don't do what the people did who are in U.S. jails. Question nothing. Consume. Buy. Pay taxes. Be quiet. Send your kids to war. Question nothing. -

    September 23, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • NonZionist

      It has been this way for a long time!

      +( Theirs not to reason why // Theirs but to do and die, )+ - Tennyson, "Charge of the Light Brigade"

      +( There are none so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. )+ - Goethe

      The War industry tries to sell us Death and Destruction. But nobody wants to buy their product. So they repackage it as "Freedom and Democracy". Now, everybody wants it!

      Many people want to die for freedom and become martyrs, but few are brave enough to live for it and work for it, day by day.

      War is the worst tyranny there could ever possibly be. But we Americans have been conned into equating it with freedom. No wonder we are in a tailspin!

      September 23, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Chiz Dippler

      What the hell are you talking about and how many message boards have posted this crap on?

      September 23, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. vernon

    Is it me, or is he just one UGLY dude!

    September 23, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. Richard

    It's bad when even a nut case can point out how wrong we are.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. WOT

    Some people get up and walk out of church when the Truth of God's word high lights their Sins! Everyone should have stayed To hear him out,that would have been the American (USA) thing to Do. There goes our freedom of speech we love so much! Let us live what we tell the world we are about! Hitler and Slavery was part of history! And we still talk about both ! As above stated " people in area where he is from feels as he does, but they like our dollar, Not Us (USA)!

    September 23, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nothing But The Truth

    To Mr. David Cuellar
    Nothing compares to the Holocaust ?!?!?!?
    Let me tell you something, SLAVERY over rides the the holocaust any day of the week..... Why, b/c it was not something that just went on for 10 – 15 years, slavery took place over 100's of years. We always hear how over a million died, but we can't even place a number to ours or how many line the bottom of the Atlantic!
    Right now I can say, MY people were not involved in the holocaust. However, can you say the same for your people?

    Don't worry, that question doesn't have to be answered b/c your history books speak for them selfs.
    Hypocrites.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Clt

      Both horrific events, it's a trap people set. Who had it worse, Jews, or American blacks. Each group should be against people pitting them against each other or their own purposes.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Pliving

      What's all this talk about "my people" and "your people"? That sounds a bit racists to me. Are you suggesting that all white people are responsible for the Holocaust. Keep in mind that there were a lot of white people who died to put an end to both the Holocaust AND slavery. Both the Holocaust and slavery in the US were horrible historical events that never should have happened. Saying that one was worse than the other is utter nonsense. How do you "rate" the level of horribleness of either of these?

      September 23, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Bigred

      Comparing slavery with the holocaust is nothing short of ridiculous. The holocaust occurred in the 1930's and 1940's. Slavery ended in the U.S. in 1865. There was no organized killing of millions of blacks in concentration camps. They were commodities too valuable to destroy. But you will still pull out the poor little abused black person race card that we are sick to death of hearing. If you act like a pathetic victim you will be treated like one.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • cheeseroll

      You are a complete dimwit. Slavery was an international phenomenon, involving different parties, from US plantation owners, to African warlords and traders, to Barbary pirates, to English, French and Dutch merchantmen. It was an INTERNATIONAL phenomenon. How many slaves lie at the bottom of the Atlantic? I'll tell you. Less than 10,000. For every ship carrying slaves that goes down, its crew goes down too, and you have to be a complete doofus to assume that ships sank on a very regular basis, since ship builders and owners, surely not as moronic as you, invested a lot to ensure the durability of these vessels and their cargo.

      The Holocaust was organized murder by ONE nation. Six million deaths in 3 years.

      Incidentally, you probably didn't know (a moron like you probably took "theater studies" and thought that it was actually education) that the GREATEST exporters of slaves were the MUSLIM Barbary pirates and trades.

      Slavery is bad, the holocaust is bad. But if you believe that the number of slaves who died actually comes anywhere close to the number of Holocaust deaths, you're more than a moron. You're retarded.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • clearfog

      Let's have a debate. Who was worse, Hitler or Stalin? Or how about bubonic plague versus small pox?

      September 23, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Humansareseeded

      You should be ashamed of yourself. The Jews were slaves to egypt for much longer than "your people", the Romans tried to enslave them and exterminated Jews that rebelled. Every surrounding country tries to deny the Jews of their right to exist and have for 1000's of years. Read before you speak so ignorantly but considering your heritage ignorance is more than expected. On top of the Jews being enslaved and forced to build pyramids they were then attempted to be exterminated by hitler. Read before opening your jabbingnjaws

      September 23, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Humansareseeded

      You should be ashamed of yourself. The Jews were slaves to egypt for much longer than "your people", the Romans tried to enslave them and exterminated Jews that rebelled. Every surrounding country tries to deny the Jews of their right to exist and have for 1000's of years. Read before you speak so ignorantly but considering your heritage ignorance is more than expected. On top of the Jews being enslaved and forced to build pyramids they were then attempted to be exterminated by hitler. Read before opening your jabbingnjaws

      September 23, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Christella

      Anyone causing injury of one form or another to anyone else is wrong. Slavery, murder, etc. It is still theft. It is all wrong.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. Clt

    I would think it would be more appropriate for the U.S. to listen to all of the speeches. Walking out hasn't solved anything. I think after the uprisings this spring the U.S. would do well to have more "friends in the Middle East" than just Israel. If your so called friend costs bilions a year in money and weapons, and provokes everyone around them, maybe we should make other friends.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lucille

    The people of Iran were promised to be a superpower. The allotayah promised them that. But it did not happen. So the people have lost hope in Islam and turned to Christ. Wonderful, wonderful. "... the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us."

    September 23, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Paul Willson

    Doesn't such speechs really point to the fact that the UN has outlived its usefulness ? Ifits goling to exist let it do it some other place than USA or any democracy for that matter. Abandon iot like the old Leaque of Nations it is as useless and toothless , unless it gets Canadian, British , US troiops to act as its military arm and in many cases that is not in our nations self interest. Say good bye to UN> End diplomatic status for ANY UN personage ..

    September 23, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Henk in Colorado

    Was he making more idiotic statements like "an other $450 billion will create millions of jobs"? No wonder anyone with a little bit of brains walked out.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bigred

    I'd rather a more dignified show of disdain. Whatever happened to popping gum, uncontrollable flatulence, and deep burping? How aboutmobile phones on high ring and calling other delegates during the speech. How about putting feet on desks with the soles facing the man. So many great ways to show we hate the guy.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Prince

    He is my hero. A true leader of any country speaks there mind no matter how outrageous there statements may be. America is the BUlly in the world trying to place its influence werever it can and Ahmadinejad is trying to stand up for his coutry.. he is one of the very few.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • clearfog

      He was STANDING?

      September 23, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. NonZionist

    +( Iran is ready to help creation of dialogue atmosphere between governments and nation )+ - Ahmadinejad

    +( The era of military force is over, today is the era of nations, logic and worshippers of God. )+ - Ahmadinejad

    Iran hasn't attacked anyone in 300 years. To those who profit from war and live by "Might Makes Right", the behavior of Iran's government must indeed seem "Insane". To people addicted to war, ignorance and hatred, Ahmadinejad's calls for peace and dialogue must seem "Mad" and "Monstrous".

    We are unable to imagine a country that is not Just Like Us.

    We love nukes, so Iran must love nukes too. Iran's call for a nuclear-FREE zone in the region makes no sense to us.

    We want war, so Iran wants war too. We want to play God and wipe whole countries off the face of the map, so Iran must want the same. For us, nothing else is Thinkable.

    We seem to be at war with our own demons. Unfortunately, other countries keep getting in the cross-fire - between us and us.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace

      You should see a recent film called "The Green Zone" to get a sense for the loving ways of Iran. I'm not sure where you live but it certainly isn't within reality.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. NewsAnalyzer

    My fellow CNNers,

    1. What I like about Ahmadinejad is that he MAKES the UN Western leaders pack their books, papers, pencils, crap, etc...and get the hell out.

    2. In a way, he seems to enjoy making them mad and seeing them leave like a herd of wildebeests in the African savannah!

    3. Well, I am pretty sure that the Arabs and probably the 130 countries supporting The State of Palestine, listened to Obama's speech, and thought that Obama is full of BS and hypocrisy. I don't think they left the building.

    4. So, as usual, Ahmadinejad is giving the West the middle finger (I am sure his main target to make fun of is Israel + USA).

    5. My advice to Ahmadinejad: Next year, before you start your speech, ask those UN members who wish to leave, to do that in an orderly fashion and that they have 60 seconds to pack their crap and leave the room. Then, start your speech.

    Peace, Love, and Freedom to ALL!

    September 23, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Bigred

      Actually the delegates love it when he comes to the U.N. It means a nice long early lunch, or a long afternoon nap.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
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