The Iranian president has slammed Western powers for misusing their UN veto power with regard to Israel. His attack follows a rapid series of comments by Iranian officials threating aggression toward the Jewish state.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attending a high-level meeting on the Rule of Law at the UN General Assembly, on Monday attacked Western powers for misusing their UN veto power.
"Some members of the Security Council with veto rights have chosen silence with regard to the nuclear warheads of a fake regime while at the same time they impede scientific progress of other nations," he said.
This was an implicit reference to Israel, which has an undeclared nuclear weapons program of its own.
Speaking in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly, Ahmedinejad also told reporters that Iran was prepared to defend itself if Israel went through with threats of attack.
"While we are fully ready to defend ourselves, we do not take such threats seriously," he said.
Ahmedinejad is to speak before the General Assembly for the last time on Wednesday, as his term of office ends next year.
Over the weekend, the Iranian government had warned of a "Third World War" in the case of an Israeli attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu has hinted that Israel could strike Iran's nuclear sites.
Foreign diplomats propose more sanctions
Following aggressive rhetoric from Iran, a spokesman for German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Westerwelle and his British and French counterparts were looking at new European Union sanctions aimed at undermining Iran's controversial nuclear drive.
This comes as Westerwelle told the German daily "Rheinische Post" on Monday that "the progress in negotiations up to now was not satisfactory."
"That is why it is necessary for us to tighten sanctions," he said.
An EU diplomat said that Westerwelle, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Minister William Hague had written to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week calling for a discussion on further sanctions.
In the joint letter, seen by AFP news agency, the ministers said they believed previous EU sanctions had "had an enormous effect" in helping bring Iran back to the negotiating table.
"But further encouragement to Iran to engage substantively with the E3+3 is needed urgently," it said, referring to talks between Tehran and six world powers - the EU three plus the United States, Russia and China.
The ministers identified energy, finance, trade and transport as areas of importance to the Iranian nuclear program and called on EU states to submit relevant sanction proposals to be discussed at ministerial talks on October 15.
Western countries fear that Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran claims is entirely for civilian purposes, could be a cover-up for a drive to develop nuclear weapons.
In other developments, Iran's state news agency IRNA says authorities have detained the son of ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani two days after arresting the politician's daughter.
Mehdi Hashemi was arrested after returning from Britain, where he had taken refuge after Iranian authorities accused him of fomenting unrest after Iran's 2009 presidential election.
His sister, Faezeh, was taken into custody on Saturday to serve a six-month sentence on charges of making propaganda against the ruling system.
Rafsanjani's family has been under pressure from hardliners since he supported a reformist challenger in the 2009 election.
tj/kms (AP, Reuters, AFP)