Video: Ahmadinejad delivers mixed message

updated 7/29/2008 11:20:30 AM ET 2008-07-29T15:20:30

Iran's president on Tuesday blamed the United States and other "big powers" for global ills such as nuclear proliferation and AIDS, and accused them of exploiting the United Nations for their own gain and the developing world's loss.

But, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, time was on the poor countries' side.

"The big powers are going down," Ahmadinejad told foreign ministers of the Nonaligned Movement meeting in Tehran. "They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era."

The more than 100-member NAM is made up of such diverse members as communist Cuba, Jamaica and India and depicts itself as bloc-free. But most members share a critical view of the United States and the developed world in general.

And with Iran assuming the chairmanship of the conference Tuesday, Ahmadinejad's keynote speech was tailored to reflect the struggle that some NAM members see themselves in against the world's rich and powerful countries.

'Rich and powerful'
A draft of the final document that ministers will be asked to approve, made available to The Associated Press as the conference opened Tuesday, reflected that struggle.

"The rich and powerful countries continue to exercise an inordinate influence in determining the nature and direction of international relations, including economic and trade relations, as well as rules governing these relations, many of which are at the expense of developing countries," it said.

NAM countries oppose "unilaterally imposed measures by certain states ... the use and threat of use of force, and pressure and coercive measures as a means to achieving their national policy objectives," said the draft.

That appeared to be an indirect slap at the United States, which has refused to rule out force as a possible means of last resort against Iran unless it heeds U.N. Security Council demands to curb its nuclear activities.

The draft also condemns "the categorization of countries as good or evil based on unilateral and unjustified criteria" — oblique criticism of President Bush's labeling of Iran as part of an "axis of evil" along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea.

Tehran seeks support
Iran has in the past counted on NAM countries to blunt pressure from the United States and its allies for harsh U.N. sanctions and other penalties because of its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, which can produce both nuclear fuel or the fissile payload of warheads. Tehran has been slapped with three sets of U.N. sanctions because of its nuclear defiance and new penalties loom unless Tehran shows compromise.

Another draft statement also obtained by the AP before the meeting began seeks continued support. Submitted by Iran on behalf of the NAM, it asks the conference to agree that "sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear program are of a political nature and should be promptly removed."

The ministers "further affirm ... that there is no legal basis that (the) U.N. Security Council proceeds" in continuing to deal with the Iran nuclear file, said that draft.

Video: In Iran, a public wary of attack While only infrequently mentioning the United States by name Tuesday, Ahmadinejad made clear that he blamed Washington and its allies for trying to "impose their political will on nations and governments."

He accused the great powers of "fomenting discord .... to intensify the military and arms race" so they can feed their arms industries. AIDS, he said, also was the result of world conditions "imposed by big powers."

Accusing the U.N. Security Council of being a tool of the world's haves — which use them against the have-nots — he said it was useless to expect that body to be the solution to the world's ills.

"If the United Nations and the Security Council ... were supposed to deal with the problems of the world ... we would not have a problem called Palestine," he declared, in indirect criticism of the creation of the Jewish state 60 years ago.

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