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
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Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted on Sunday as saying that Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel if it was sure the Jewish state was preparing to attack it.Skip to next paragraph
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Ahmadinejad said the nuclear issue was one ultimately between the United States and Iran, and must be resolved with negotiations.
He added, "The nuclear issue is not a problem. But the approach of the United States on Iran is important. We are ready for dialogue, for a fundamental resolution of the problems, but under conditions that are based on fairness and mutual respect."
"We are not expecting a 33-year-old problem between the United States and Iran to be resolved in a speedy fashion. But there is no other way besides dialogue," Ahmadinejad said.
U.S. President Barack Obama will underscore his commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and address Muslim unrest related to an anti-Islamic video in his speech to General Assembly on Tuesday, the White House said.
Ahmadinejad also addressed a high-level meeting on the rule of law at the United Nations on Monday, saying states should not yield to international law as imposed "by bullying countries."
In the past, Ahmadinejad has used his U.N. speeches to defend Iran's nuclear program and to attack Israel, the United States and Europe. He has questioned the Holocaust and cast doubt on whether 19 hijackers were really responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.
Western envoys typically walk out of Ahmadinejad's speeches in protest.
Ahmadinejad said on Monday that Iran - under U.N., U.S. and European Union sanctions over its nuclear program - is used to economic restrictions and is not severely affected by them.
"The conditions in Iran are not as bad as they are portrayed by some," Ahmadinejad said, adding that his country can survive without oil revenues.
Ahmadinejad added that Iran's economy is in much better shape that that of the EU, which he said was "on the verge of disintegration and collapse."
Iran has held several rounds of talks this year on the nuclear issue with six world powers: the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - as well as Germany. The six powers are represented by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said last Wednesday that he and Ashton had agreed to defer more nuclear talks until the latter had consulted the six powers on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly this week.
There will be high-level side meetings on Iran's nuclear program and the Syrian conflict during the General Assembly, but U.N. diplomats do not expect either issue to be resolved soon.