WASHINGTON - The September 11 attacks in the United States were planned by the American government in order to boost the US economy and salvage Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the UN General Assembly Thursday.
Representatives of the US and other Western countries walked out during the speech to express their protest over the Iranian leader's conspiracy theories.
Walking out in protest (Photo: AFP)
Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the US mission to the United Nations, reacted before Ahmadinejad finished speaking.
"Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people, Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable," he said.
The first to walk out following the American representative were German, France, and British delegates, followed by all members of the European Union. However, low-level Norwegian and Swiss officials chose to remain in their seats and listen to Ahmadinejad's entire speech.
"Some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime."Ahmadinejad said. "The majority of the American people as well as most nations and politicians around the world agree with this view."
The Iranian president later said that even if Muslims were behind the attacks, the US exploited them to further its own aims.
"To this day, it hasn't been proven that the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers," he said, adding that "many questions have remained open and calling for a "thorough inquiry" into the attacks.
Ahmadinejad later announced that he intends to hold a conference on terrorism and invited all world states to take part in the event.
Ahmadinejd speaking to half-empty room (Reuters)
The Iranian leader began his speech with messages resembling a religious sermon, proceeding to present the audience with a history lesson, mentioning Israel in the same breath as slavery and colonialism, while slamming what he referred to as a Western takeover of the world.
He later charged that "the Zionists forced five wars upon their neighbors and the Palestinians," accusing Israel of committing "horrible crimes" in the Lebanon and Gaza wars.
Ahmadinejad also criticized the international support granted to Israel, saying that the Jewish state "enjoys the absolute support of various states."
"Those who object to Zionism are called anti-Semites; all these freedom of expression values, which the Europeans and Americans hold in such high esteem, have been scarified for the sake of Zionism," he said, expressing his unequivocal support for "returning the Palestinian refugees to their homeland."