There was a hushed silence as the Iranian leader arrived to give a long-awaited speech to the UN on his country’s nuclear policy. And Mahmoud Ahmedinejad set a defiant tone.
He told the General Assembly that he believes Iran has an “inalienable right” to produce nuclear fuel that would be used to generate energy.
The hardline leader faced up to the West head-on, accusing the US of violating nuclear treaties and offering other countries a partnership in Iran’s uranium enrichment programme.
British’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw later branded the speech as “disappointing and unhelpful”.
The US said the it was time for the UN to get tough with Tehran.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Iran “should not be allowed to develop fissile material until it can prove that it is strictly for peaceful purposes.”
A crucial meeting on whether Iran should be referred to the UN Security Council takes place on Monday.