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Iran's Ahmadinejad jabs Israel, U.S. in speech

UNITED NATIONS -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took jabs at Israel, the United States, the United Nations and western powers Wednesday in what will be his last speech before the UN General Assembly.

He said the escalating rhetoric over whether Israel will attack Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions is an example of a "new era of hegemony" of coercion backed by threats to use advanced weapons.

"The continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to threats against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality," he said in his eighth speech at the General Assembly. He has served two terms as president and is not allowed to serve a third.

In recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked President Barack Obama at what point he would act militarily against Iran for its nuclear program. Obama has declined to state such a specific threshold.

Neither Israel nor the United States was present in the chamber during Ahmadinejad's speech, both boycotting the event.

His words of support for an independent and unoccupied Palestine were repeated by newly elected Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

"Over the past couple of days, we've seen Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the UN not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel," said Erin Pelton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

"It's particularly unfortunate that Mr. Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the U.N. General Assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend," she added.

Ahmadinejad's 35-minute address was less strident than his previous appearances, but similar in style, in which he provides a sweeping generalization about problems in the world, such as poverty, war or occupied Palestine while pointing fingers at the forces he thinks are responsible for them.

"Maybe it's a reflection that he doesn't want to be seen as playing into the worst characterization that's been made of him," said David Kearn, a professor of government at St. Johns University. "It was a sweeping view of the world but a lot less specific and harsh than he's been in the past."

During his speech, the Iranian leader asked, "Are we to believe those who spend hundreds of millions of dollars have the people of the world in their heart?" He added later that, "The current world order is discriminatory and based on injustice."

Ahmadinejad also criticized the structure of the United Nations and its 15-nation Security Council as unfair because five veto-bearing countries hold the bulk of power.

He mentioned the circumstances surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden and said it would have been better to have conducted an investigation or trial to reveal the truth behind the Sept. 11 attacks instead of "throwing the culprit into the sea."

Egypt's Morsi also called for reforming the Security Council and the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

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