American diplomats led a walkout at the U.N. General Assembly Thursday as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fiercely attacked the United States and major West European nations as "arrogant powers" ruled by greed and eager for military adventurism.
The two U.S. diplomats, who specialize in the Middle East, were followed out of the chamber by diplomats from 34 countries. They included the 27 European Union members, Australia, New Zealand, Somalia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Macedonia, a U.N. diplomat said. Israel boycotted the speech.
Ahmadinejad's fiery anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli rhetoric has been a staple of the General Assembly's annual ministerial meetings.
Last year, Ahmadinejad provoked a walkout by the United States, EU and others when he said a majority of people in the United States and around the world believe that the American government staged the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in an attempt to assure Israel's survival.
During that speech, he also blamed the United States as the power behind U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used as fuel to generate electricity or to build nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad's speech Thursday pitted the poverty and unhappiness of most countries against the riches and power of the United States and unnamed European nations that he accused of perpetuating wars, causing the current global economic crisis and infringing on "the rights and sovereignty of nations."
He attacked the United States and European colonial powers for abducting tens of millions of Africans and making them slaves, for their readiness "to drop thousands of bombs on other countries" and for dominating the Security Council.
He singled out the United States for using a nuclear bomb against Japan in World War II, and imposing and supporting military dictatorships and totalitarian regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
"It is as lucid as daylight that the same slave masters and colonial powers that once instigated the two world wars have caused widespread misery and disorder with far-reaching effects across the globe since then," Ahmadinejad said. "Do these arrogant powers really have the competence and ability to run or govern the world?"
Ahmadinejad made no mention of his disputed re-election in June 2009 when security forces systematically crushed opposition protests, the current internal political turmoil that has sharply diminished his power, or Iran's nuclear program, which the United States and its allies believe is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.
"While President Ahmadinejad is lecturing the world from the U.N. podium," Human Rights Watch's U.N. Director Philippe Bolopion said, "dissent is still being crushed ruthlessly in Iran and basic rights demanded by millions in the Arab world are brutally denied to Iranians who are demanding the same."