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UN Chief Slams Anti-Israel Remarks

  • RFE/RL

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking on his first visit to Tehran, has criticized what he described as "outrageous" comments denying the Holocaust and Israel's right to exist.

In a speech to the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) summit in the Iranian capital on August 30, Ban said he would condemn a United Nations member threatening to destroy another.

"I strongly reject threats by any member states to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust," he said.

Ban also said denying a UN member state's existential rights, or describing it in racist terms is unacceptable.

"Claiming that another UN member state, Israel, does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only utterly wrong, but undermines the very principles we have all pledged to uphold."

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly expressed doubt about the Holocaust massacre of some 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War II. He has also been quoted as saying that Israel should be "wiped off the map." Recently he also reportedly described the Jewish-led state as a "cancerous tumor" in the Middle East.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

In a speech following Ban, Ahmadinejad criticized the United Nations and called for a "new world order."

The president was quoted as saying there "are wars and killings, with all justified by the UN Security Council." He added, "The world rulers today are the slave drivers of yesterday and launch wars, humiliate and weaken nations, and kill innocent people."

Khamenei Defends Nuclear Program

In his other remarks, the Ban urged Iran to comply with UN resolutions demanding that the Islamic republic curb its nuclear enrichment activities, warning that international tensions over the issue risks degenerating into war.

In an address opening the NAM summit, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that Iran will never give up its right to develop nuclear energy. But, he said, the Islamic republic has never sought to make nuclear arms.

"Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none," he said "We stand by both of these [points]. And we know that breaking the biased views that some foreign countries hold about the production of nuclear energy and the underlying fundamentals is to the benefit of all nations.''

Iran has been hit with four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions, as well as separate sanctions from the United States and European Union, over its refusal to curb uranium-enrichment activities that could be directed toward the development of a nuclear weapon.

Around 30 heads of state or government are reported to be attending the NAM summit, including Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The 120 NAM member states do not consider themselves to be part of a major power bloc.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa

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