Iran's president on Tuesday told a United Nations assembly his country has a right to nuclear technology and declared the controversy surrounding the program officially closed.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures during a news conference at the UN on Tuesday. ((Frank Franklin II/Associated Press))

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran will allow the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to handle matters concerning his country's nuclear program.

"All our nuclear activities have been completely peaceful and transparent," he said.

Ahmadinejad accused "arrogant powers" of abusing the authority of the UN Security Council, which passed resolutions demanding Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program.

"Previously, they illegally insisted on politicizing the Iranian nation's nuclear case, but today, because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter," Ahmadinejad said.

Iran maintains it needs a nuclear program to produce energy, while Western countries believe Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons.

Families, women under siege

Ahmadinejad blasted the United States throughout his roughly 40-minute speech as a bullying and arrogant power that disobeys the international rule of law.

"Unfortunately, human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates," he said.

"Setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process, extensive tapping of phone conversations, intercepting private mail and frequent summons to police and security centre have become commonplace and prevalent."

He also criticized Israel,which he called the "illegal Zionist regime," for its policies toward Palestinians.

Ahmadinejadsaid the world is facing "organized attempts to destroy families" by "breaking the boundaries of chastity and decency," and powerful media owners who exploit the "precious existence of women."

"In some societies, this beloved human has been reduced to a mere instrument of publicity," he said.

WW II, lack of morals to blame: Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad said the root of the world's problems can be traced back to the "road map for global domination" set up by the victors of the Second World War, disregard for "morals, divine values… and the rule of the incompetent."

He announced Iran was forming a "coalition for peace" and invited "justice and peace-seeking nations" to join.

When Ahmadinejad was ushered to the podium of the UN General Assembly to speak, the U.S. delegation walked out, leaving only a low-ranking note-taker to listen to his speech.

Ahmadinejad was called "a petty and cruel dictator" during a controversial appearance Monday at Columbia University in New York, in which he said he was advocating academic discussion of the Holocaust as a historical event.

During his speech and handling of students' pointed questions, the hardline Iranian leader also asserted his country's nuclear program was for peaceful purposes and dismissed criticism over Iran's treatment of women, political dissidents and homosexuals.

With files from the Associated Press