Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to New York this week to address the UN’s month-long nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, which is held every five years and aims to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad’s decision to address the conference comes as the United States and other UN powers are negotiating a resolution calling for sanctions against Iran for failing to comply with UN obligations to cease enriching uranium. Those talks – involving the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – are expected to play out on the sidelines of the conference.
Ahmadinejad is the only head of state taking part in the conference, which is hosting delegations from 189 countries. On Monday, the Iranian President delivered a speech to the United Nations; delegates from the U.S., Britain and France walked out. According to the White House, the speech was full of “wild accusations” and predictable in failing to speak about the obligations Iran hasn’t lived up to in dealing with its nuclear program.
Of course, the Iranian President is notorious for his wild accusations. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Wednesday, Ahmadinejad told the news anchor that Osama bin Laden is currently living in Washington, DC, and that “he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush.” U.S. Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley made light of the situation, however, commenting in his Wednesday press briefing: “We’ve done an intensive search here at the Department of State – every nook and cranny, every rock – and we can safely report that Usama bin Ladin is not here.”
Members of New York’s congressional delegation have rightly called Ahmadinejad’s presence at the summit a “sham.” However, Representative Steve Israel went one step further, Tweeting “Ahmadinejad shouldn’t just be protested in NYC, he should be arrested and tried for incitement to commit genocide.” In a following statement, Israel suggested Ahmadinejad be prosecuted under Article 3 of the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which outlaws “incitement to commit genocide.” As he noted, “President Ahmadinejad…has called for the destruction of Israel and its people. Incitement to Genocide is a punishable act and instead of giving him another platform at the UN, he should be tried.”