AP News

Some memorable props used by speakers at the UN


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's use of a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb to convey a message over Iran's disputed nuclear program follows in a long and storied tradition of leaders and diplomats using props to make their points at the United Nations. Here are a few memorable examples:

US shows embassy bug to expose Soviets

In May 1960, U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge accused the Soviets of espionage, producing before the Security Council a wooden Great Seal of the United States which had been presented by a group of Russian citizens at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Lodge then extracted a tiny microphone out of the eagle's beak with a pair of tweezers, and said dozens of listening devices had been found in U.S. embassies in communist bloc countries. "From what plays were these props taken and when will it open?" the Soviet delegate responded. Earlier that month, the Soviet Union had shot down an American U-2 spy plane over Russia.

Nikita Khrushchev bangs his shoe

In October 1960, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe as he interrupted a Philippine delegate making accusations of Soviet imperialism in Eastern Europe. Khrushchev's granddaughter later recalled the Soviet leader had new tight shoes on, which he had taken off when he took his seat. He had started by banging his fists to protest what the Filipino was saying, until his watch fell off. As he went to pick it up, Khrushchev caught sight of his shoes and decided to bang one of them instead. Amid shouting and jeering from Eastern bloc delegates, the assembly president adjourned the meeting, banging his gavel so hard it broke.

Cuban missile crisis photos

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson made something of a TV-age breakthrough when he presented to the Security Council photo evidence of a Soviet missile buildup. Stevenson demanded Soviet representative Valerian Zorin answer whether missiles were being installed, memorably adding he was prepared to wait "until hell freezes over" for the response. Zorin, unprepared for so direct a question, could only reply: "I am not in an American courtroom, sir. ... You will have your answer in due course." Stevenson then unveiled blowups of black-and-white aerial photos of Soviet missile installations in Cuba, large enough to make an impression on the TV audience.

Yasser Arafat brings his gun to the U.N.

When Yasser Arafat spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in 1974, Israel was incensed. But for the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader it represented recognition for their struggle for a Palestinian state. To emphasize his revolutionary credentials, Arafat appeared wearing his gun belt and holster, reluctantly removing his pistol before mounting the rostrum. He told the world body, "Today, I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand."

On Iraq war path, Powell shows vial of 'anthrax'

In a speech he would regret, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Feb. 5, 2003, unleashed an 80-minute avalanche of allegations that built the case for war against Iraq. Before a hushed Security Council chamber, Powell played intercepted conversations, showed reconnaissance photos of Iraqi sites, and brought out a replica vial of "anthrax." He accused Iraq of hiding chemical and biological weapons and reviving their nuclear bomb project. He said it posed a grave threat to the world. After the invasion of Iraq, it emerged that reports of Saddam Hussein's WMD program were false.

Bolivia's Morales chews a coca leaf

Bolivian President Evo Morales produced a coca leaf during a March 2009 meeting of the U.N. Committee on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna and proceeded to chew it. "This is a coca leaf. This is not cocaine," said Morales, a former coca farmer, as he argued for its legalization. He told delegates he'd chewed coca intensely for 10 years when he was a farmer and it hadn't diminished his health or abilities. "If I was incapable, I would not be president," he said.


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