(JTA) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the U.N. General Assembly that his country is under military threat from "uncivilized Zionists."
Ahmadinejad spoke to the assembly Wednesday at the United Nations in New York. The delegations from Israel, the United States and Canada were not in the hall for the address, which coincided with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, The Jerusalem Post reported.
In his eighth and final address as president of the Islamic Republic, Ahmadinejad decried the "arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction by the hegemonic powers."
"Continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality," he said. "A state of mistrust has cast its shadow on the international relations, while there is no trusted or just authority to help resolve world conflicts."
Ahmadinejad is in the final year of his second term as president of Iran and is barred by term limits from seeking another stint.
His speech came a day after President Obama told the assembly that "containment" of a nuclear Iran is not an option and it would pose an existential threat to Israel.
"Make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained," Obama said in his address to the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. "It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday night as he left for New York to address the assembly in a statement addressed to the citizens of Israel that he is working to ensure that Iran does not achieve nuclear weapons.
"On the day when we pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life, a platform was given to a dictatorial regime that strives, at every opportunity, to sentence us to death. On the eve of Yom Kippur, which is sacred to the Jewish People, the Iranian tyrant — before the whole world — chose to publicly call for our disappearance," Netanyahu said in his statement.
"In my remarks to the U.N. General Assembly, they will hear my response. As the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish People, I am working in every way so that Iran will not have nuclear weapons. History has proven that those who have wanted to wipe us off the map have failed, as the Jewish People have overcome all obstacles."