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Iran's Ahmadinejad touts 'new world order' not led by 'arrogant' powers

President Ahmadinejad of Iran, speaking at the United Nations, criticized the existing model as unfair, militaristic, and the reason 'uncivilized Zionists' are threatening his country. He did not address the reason for those tensions – Iran's nuclear program.

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Those words did nothing to sway international human rights activists, who have used the occasion of Ahmadinejad's New York visit to register alarm over human rights in Iran.

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“President Ahmadinejad's mix of attacks against 'Zionists' and 'hegemonic' powers for their rights abuses fails to distract from Iran’s own appalling rights record," says Philippe Bolopion, UN director for Human Rights Watch in New York. Singling out recent setbacks for women in Iran, Mr. Bolopion calls Ahmadinejad's "celebration" of the “spring of all the justice-seekers” in Arab countries particularly "perplexing ... in light of his government's support for the Syrian government’s bloody crackdown.”

Ahmadinejad did not address Iran’s nuclear program, nor international concerns – expressed by the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, as well as the Security Council and Western powers – that the program has Iran on a path to building a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes only.

In interviews on the margins of his UN visit, Ahmadinejad has said Iran remains open to dialogue, but he has dismissed both the threat of military action to stop the program and the impact of international sanctions designed to compel Iran to negotiate with world powers.

That dismissiveness appears to ignore a more somber mood just below the surface at the UN. Syria’s civil war, the trajectory of the Arab Spring countries, and instability in Africa’s Sahel region may top the list of priority concerns, but worries that a military confrontation of unforeseeable consequences may be on the global horizon are not far behind.

President Obama put the General Assembly on notice Tuesday that a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable. Other leaders have seized on that statement to warn that the current trajectory – Iran's continued progress in a fuel-enrichment program as dialogue remains stalled – means a more devastating confrontation could become inevitable.

“Everyone knows that an Iranian [nuclear] weapon will not be accepted – so to do nothing and allow the program to advance is to risk war,” French President François Hollande said at a press conference Tuesday. The only way to turn the world from its current course, he said, is tougher sanctions on Iran and a return to dialogue.

But Ahmadinejad ignored the gathering clouds, at least in his speech. He did, however, manage to find a place to reiterate his conception of womanhood and how a materialistic world has soiled it.

“Woman’s sublime role as heavenly being has been abused,” he said, by the “moneyed powers” that now rule the world, but that would be overcome under his new world order.

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