After an hour of fielding questions about Syria, sanctions and nuclear weapons, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had enough. Now, he said, it was his turn to choose the topic — his "new order" which will inevitably replace the current era of what he called U.S. bullying.
Continuing his hectic pace of media appearances and diplomatic meetings, Ahmadinejad presented an air of boredom when it came to the hot topic on everyone's mind — Iran's nuclear program and the possibility of impending war. Whether it was feigned or sincere, he said he would much rather be talking about his vision of what the next world order might be.
Conveniently, it would be an order in which the U.S. and the traditional powers play a smaller role and every country has equal standing (though the state of Israel, he often predicts, will soon become a historical footnote).
He said the world was losing patience with the current state of affairs. "Now even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying," he said. "I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it."
The interview was held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly — Ahmadinejad's last as president of Iran. He was to address the assembly Wednesday morning.
He also discussed solutions for the Syrian civil war, dismissed the question of Iran's nuclear ambition and claimed that despite Western sanctions his country is better off than it was when he took office in 2005.
Earlier Tuesday, President Barack Obama warned Iran that time is running out to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program. In a speech to the General Assembly, Obama said the United States could not tolerate an Iran with atomic weapons.
Ahmadinejad would not respond directly to the president's remarks, saying he did not want to influence the U.S. presidential election in November.
But he argued that the international outcry over Iran's nuclear enrichment program was just an excuse by the West to dominate his country. He claimed that the United States has never accepted Iran's choice of government after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"Everyone is aware the nuclear issue is the imposition of the will of the United States," he said. "I see the nuclear issue as a non-issue. It has become a form of one-upmanship."
Ahmadinejad said he favored more dialogue, even though negotiations with world powers remain stalled after three rounds of high-level meetings since April.
He said some world leaders have suggested to him that Iran would be better off holding nuclear talks only with the United States. "Of course I am not dismissing such talks," he said, asked if he were open to discussions with the winner of the American presidential election.