New York: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off threats of a military strike on his country's nuclear facilities, showing defiance ahead of his final appearance at the UN General Assembly this week.
In previous years, the Iranian leader has regularly sparked United Nations walkouts over his comments on Israel, and Israel's UN ambassador again marched out when Mr Ahmadinejad appeared at a meeting on the rule of law on Sunday.
Mr Ahmadinejad criticized Western powers for their sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme and for allowing filmmakers and cartoonists to lampoon the Prophet Mohammed in what he branded a "sacrilege" of Islam.
Before arriving at UN headquarters in New York, the Iranian leader dismissed the threats he said had been made by "the Zionists" against his country, which is at the center of an international showdown over its nuclear program.
"Uncultured Zionists that threaten the Iranian nation today are never counted and are never paid any attention in the equations of the Iranian nation," Mr Ahmadinejad told Iranian expatriates in New York.
"The Iranian nation has never hesitated to defend itself against enemy threats and aggressions," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on his personal website.
"No bullying power has ever been successful in overcoming the Iranian nation."
At a meeting later with American media editors, Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran reiterated that it does not take speculation of an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities seriously.
The United States and its European allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear bomb and the UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran.
Mr Ahmadinejad's government insists it is seeking peaceful applications of nuclear power in energy generation and medical research.
"We believe the Zionists see themselves at a dead end and they want to find an adventure to get out of this dead end. While we are fully ready to defend ourselves, we do not take these threats seriously," the Iranian leader said.
Mr Ahmadinejad will make his eighth and final appearance before the General Assembly on Tuesday. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned him about "the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric" in a meeting on Sunday.
The Iranian leader has in the past described Israel as a "tumor" to be removed surgically and said it should be "wiped off the map".
Story first published:
September 25, 2012 09:35 IST