Iran is under threat of military action from "uncivilized Zionists," a clear reference to Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday, saying that such threats from big powers are designed to force nations into submission.
"Continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality," Ahmadinejad said in a 33-minute speech before the U.N. General Assembly.
Israel and the United States have refused to rule out the possibility of an armed strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which the West suspects are intended to produce nuclear weapons bombs but which Tehran says are for solely peaceful purposes.
Taking place on the Jewish day of atonement Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar, it was the Iranian president's eighth appearance before the 193-nation assembly and his last before his second and final term ends next year.
His speech touched on issues he has raised in previous U.N. appearances, such as suggesting there should be an "independent fact-finding team" established to discover the "truth" behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and complaining about the "hegemonic policies and actions of world Zionism."
Earlier this week, Ahmadinejad said that Israel would eventually be "eliminated." That statement, which he did not repeat on Wednesday, outraged Israel and the United States.
The U.S. mission to the United Nations said its delegation did not attend the Iranian president's speech. Ahmadinejad was speaking a day after U.S. President Barack Obama told the General Assembly that Washington will do what it takes to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear arms.
Ahmadinejad also criticized the "present oppressive world order" in which "poverty is imposed on nations, and powers' ambitions and goals are pursued either through deceits or resort to force."
"The current abysmal situation of the world and the bitter incidents of history are due mainly to the wrong management of the world and the self-proclaimed centers of power who have entrusted themselves to the devil," he said.
In what appeared to be a call for a new world order based on justice and not domination by big powers, he said the world was founded on materialism and lacking in moral values.
"There is no doubt that the world is in need of a new order and a fresh way of thinking," Ahmadinejad said, adding that this should be "a just and fair order in which everybody is equal before the law and in which there is no double standard."
He said authority should be used as a sacred gift "not a chance to amass power and wealth."