UNITED NATIONS: Terming nuclear weapons "disgusting and shameful," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday urged the United Nations to punish countries like the United States that threaten to use them.
In keeping with past practice during annual UN General Assembly gatherings, the delegations of the United States, Britain, France, Germany and others walked out of the assembly chamber during the Iranian president's fiery speech.
"The possession of nuclear arms is not a source of pride," he said at the start of a month-long meeting of the 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). "It is rather disgusting and shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use, or to use such weapons."
Ahmadinejad called for "considering any threat to use nuclear weapons or attack against peaceful nuclear facilities as a breach of international peace and security." States making such threats should face "swift reaction" from the United Nations and be ostracized by NPT members.
The walkout came as Ahmadinejad charged that Israel threatened its neighbors with "terror and invasion," and enjoyed unconditional support from Washington and its allies. Israel, like nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, never signed the NPT. It is presumed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies its existence.
North Korea withdrew from it in 2003 and tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the US and other delegations left due to "a series of wild accusations." Among the punishments that should be meted out to countries that use, or threaten to use, atomic weapons against other nations is suspension from the board of governors of the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna, Ahmadinejad said.
Later, the Netherlands dismissed as "unfounded and unacceptable" statements by Iran's president in which he blasted Europe, Israel and the United States over nuclear weapons.
His speech was a litany of unfounded and unacceptable accusations against European countries, the United States and Israel," Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said through his spokesman.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday of offering the same "tired, false and sometimes wild accusations" against the United States and others.