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Ahmadinejad: U.S. Used 'Mysterious Sept. 11 Incident' As Pretext For War

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N. today.
Timothy A. Clary
AFP/Getty Images
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N. today.

American diplomats just walked out of the United Nations General Assembly after hearing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ask what to him is a rhetorical question: who used "the mysterious Sept. 11 incident as a pretext to attack Afghanistan and Iraq?"

Speaking now ( webcast here), Ahmadinejad has also run through a long list of what he sees as the crimes against the rest of the world committed by the U.S. and other Western nations — and has again, as in previous years, railed about the "Zionists" who he says have brought "over 60 years of war ... to the Palestinian people."

As he continues, more and more diplomats are leaving the assembly. NPR's Michele Kelemen says most delegations from Europe, as well as those from Canada and Australia, are among those who have departed.

Ahmadinejad has not mentioned his own nation's crackdown on protesters or any other violations documented in Iran by human rights groups in recent years.

Update at 1:23 p.m. ET: Ahmadinejad's address is "anti-Semitic, despicable, expected," says Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. delegation at the U.N., .

And in a statement, Kornblau adds that:

"Mr. Ahmadinejad had a chance to address his own people's aspirations for freedom and dignity, but instead he again turned to abhorrent anti-Semitic slurs and despicable conspiracy theories."

Update at 1:28 p.m. ET: Ahmadinejad has finished speaking.

(Note: Our reporting is based on the English translation provided by the U.N.)

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.