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Iran's Ahmadinejad says that Israel will be 'eliminated' (+video)

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the state of Israel as a temporary phenomenon in the Middle East 

By Louis CharbonneauReuters / September 24, 2012

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters Monday.

Richard Drew/AP

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New York

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday disregarded a U.N. warning to avoid incendiary rhetoric and declared ahead of the annual General Assembly session that Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated."

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks with Piers Morgan about Israel, and a potential strike on Iran.

In remarks to reporters in New York, he also said he does not take seriously the threat that Israel could launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, denied sending arms into Syria, and called economic conditions in his sanctions-hit country "not as bad as they are portrayed."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted Israel could strike Iran's nuclear sites and has criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful, aimed at generating electricity.

"Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists. ... We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves," Ahmadinejad said.

He is in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly. His speech is scheduled for Wednesday.

On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad and warned him of the dangers of incendiary rhetoric in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad did not heed the warning.

Ahmadinejad alluded to his previous rejection of Israel's right to exist. "Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They (the Israelis) have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history," he said, speaking to reporters through an interpreter.

The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948.

"We do believe that they have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end. Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs," Ahmadinejad said, referring to Israel.

"We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated," Ahmadinejad added.

In 2005, Ahmadinejad called Israel a "tumor" and echoed the words of the former Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, by saying that Israel should be wiped off the map.

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