Iran’s Ahmadinejad tells UN capitalism’s dying

September 22, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a U.N. General Assembly session on poverty this week that capitalism is on the verge of death and that it’s time for a new economic system.

“The discriminatory order of capitalism and the hegemonic approaches are facing defeat and are getting close to their end,” Ahmadinejad said at a summit meeting assessing progress on achieving U.N. goals to drastically reduce poverty by 2015.

“The undemocratic and unjust governance structures of the decision-making bodies in international economic and political fields are the reasons behind most of the plights today humanity is confronting,” he said, according to an English translation of his prepared remarks.

Ahmadinejad usually draws a large crowd for U.N. speeches but Tuesday’s address was delivered to a virtually empty hall.

It was unclear whether the unusually low attendance was due to waning interest in Ahmadinejad five years after he first addressed the assembly or if it was the fact that he was one of the first speakers in the morning session, which began at 9 a.m. EDT. (Many delegations are routinely tardy for U.N. meetings.)

Outside the United Nations, demonstrators have been gathering this week to protest Ahmadinejad’s stand on Israel and the alleged human rights abuses of the Iranian government. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly expressed doubt that the Holocaust took place and suggested that Israel should not exist as a state.

Ahmadinejad, whose country has been hit with four rounds of U.N. sanctions for refusing to halt sensitive nuclear activities, offered no clear alternative to capitalism in his speech but said, “The world is in need of an encompassing and, of course, just and humane order in the light of which the rights of all are preserved and peace and security are safeguarded.”

Tehran rejects Western allegations that its nuclear program is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Ahmadinejad was not the only speaker who attacked capitalism. Bolivian President Evo Morales railed against it in his speech, saying it was jeopardizing the future of “Mother Earth.” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez also rejected the “global economic order, which continues to be an extremely unjust and plundering order that benefits rich countries.” The Venezuelan and Nicaraguan speakers raised similar complaints.

The Iranian president struggled with technical problems during his speech. Initially there was no English interpretation. At one point he stopped and began looking around at the sparsely populated assembly hall. Eventually a voice came over the interpreters’ channel and urged him to “continue with your address, please.”

Ahmadinejad will speak to the 192-nation General Assembly again on Thursday during its annual General Debate, in which world leaders traditionally cover issues important to them. U.S. President Barack Obama will address the assembly the same day.

In the past, Ahmadinejad has used the General Debate as a forum to defend Iran’s nuclear program and assail its arch foes Israel and the United States, typically prompting walkouts by the United States and some European countries.

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