Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's top 5 quotes to the UN, 2005-2009

4. 2008: 'American empire' and 'Zionist regime' nearing collapse

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's relatively short, 3,100-word speech in 2008 referred to Israel as a “cesspool” and the United States as a “bullying power." But he offered an upbeat note for his supporters: Both nations, he said, were nearing collapse.

As the Monitor noted at the time, Ahmadinejad also renewed his call for the quick return of the Shiite messiah, which he and his aides had increasingly credited with governing their administration.

Such beliefs guide Ahmadinejad in both domestic and international affairs and help explain his stance on Iran's nuclear program, his unwillingness to succumb to US demands to curb enrichment, and why his government continues to back anti-Israeli and anti-American militants in the region.

At the time, Iran was under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, and with Washington pressing for more. But Ahmadinejad insisted his country's nuclear ambitions were peaceful.

Read a full text of his 2008 speech to the General Assembly.

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