From Israel, to U.S. to gays, there was outrage to spread around.
UNITED NATIONS - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stoked the anger of Israel, the United States, Syrian insurgents and gay-rights advocates Monday, using the first full day of his final visit to the United Nations as Iran's leader to assert that he has no fear of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, regards the Israelis as fleeting aberrations in Mideast history, is neutral in the Syria conflict and considers homosexuality an ugly crime.
In a series of public appearances that included a breakfast meeting with selected members of the press, a speech on the rule of law at a U.N. conference and a CNN interview broadcast Monday evening, Ahmadinejad sought to portray Iran as a principled and upstanding member of the global community.
But the Iranian leader, known for his denials of the Holocaust and other inflammatory language, ignored a warning by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon against making provocative statements. Instead, he offended a wide range of targets and prompted the Israeli delegation to walk out of the U.N. conference in protest.
Ahmadinejad, 55, is in the final nine months of his last term as president of Iran, and his annual visits to the United Nations for its General Assembly meetings have become something of a media event. He will deliver his General Assembly address Wednesday.
In what may have been his most incendiary remarks Monday, Ahmadinejad belittled what he characterized as the insignificant history of Israel, compared with the long history of Iran. He told reporters and editors at the breakfast meeting that the Israelis had been around the region for only 60 or 70 years, in contrast to the Iranians, whose civilization has existed for thousands of years.
"They have no roots there in history," Ahmadinejad said of the Israelis.
He rejected any suggestion that Iran fears an Israeli military assault on its uranium-enrichment facilities, which the Israeli government has called part of a clandestine effort to develop nuclear weapons despite Iran's repeated assertions that its atomic energy program is peaceful.
"We believe the Zionists see themselves at a dead end, and they want to find an adventure to get out of this dead end," he said. "We are fully ready to defend ourselves."
Later at his speech on the rule of law, without mentioning any country by name, he denounced the United States for ignoring Israel's nuclear arsenal while trying to shut down Iran's nuclear program.
Israel's ambassador, Ron Prosor, left the conference, saying in a statement that "Ahmadinejad showed again that he not only threatens the future of the Jewish people, he seeks to erase our past. Three thousand years of Jewish history illustrate the clear danger of ignoring fanatics like Iran's president, especially as he inches closer to acquiring nuclear weapons."
In Israel, Dan Meridor, the deputy prime minister, said recent inflammatory assertions from Iran, including threats of a possible pre-emptive strike on Israel, may be a sign that economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure are having an effect. "Maybe we need to continue the pressure," he said.
The Obama administration, which has vowed that Iran will not become a nuclear-weapons state but has urged Israel to give diplomacy and sanctions more time, denounced Ahmadinejad. The White House called his comments "characteristically disgusting, offensive, and outrageous."
Regarding Syria, Iran's most important Mideast ally, Ahmadinejad denied accusations from Syrian rebels and others that his country is helping the military of President Bashar Assad.
In his CNN interview , Ahmadinejad rejected the suggestion that some people are born gay, and he said that the West's permissive attitude toward gay rights was insensitive to other cultures.