Barack Obama

Gaddafi blasts big powers in first ever U.N. speech

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in his first ever address to the United Nations, on Wednesday accused the veto-wielding powers of the Security Council of betraying the principles of the U.N. charter.

“The preamble (of the charter) says all nations are equal whether they are small or big,” Gaddafi said through an interpreter. He received a smattering of applause.

Reading from a copy of the U.N. charter, Gaddafi said: “The veto is against the charter, we do not accept it and we do not acknowledge it.”

Clad in a copper-colored robe with an emblem of Africa pinned over his chest, the Libyan leader dropped his paperback copy of the charter on the podium several times before tossing it over his shoulder.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China are permanent veto wielding members of the Security Council, the most powerful body within the United Nations. Libya has a temporary council seat and will be on the 15-nation panel until the end of 2010.

“Veto power should be annulled,” Gaddafi said.

“The Security Council did not provide us with security but with terror and sanctions,” he told leaders gathered for the opening day of the 192-nation General Assembly .

Gaddafi, who spoke just after U.S. President Barack Obama, said the fact that “65 wars” have broken out since the U.N. was established more than 60 years ago proved its founding principles had been betrayed.

Gaddafi currently chairs the African Union.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Alan Elsner