Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad concluded his controversial visit to the U.S. on Tuesday by telling the United Nations that his nation would defy demands to halt its nuclear program. He said that—despite threats by “arrogant powers” to impose sanctions or take military action—“the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.”

“Mercy, mercy,” said Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News. Thank goodness, it’s over. “No more Iranian madman.” First Ahmadinejad “stained” the campus of Columbia University, and then he spouted the “same bile and nonsense” at the U.N., blasting what he called “certain powers” and the “Zionist regime” as the “focus of all evil” while professing “love for all mankind.” Let’s hope the disgust provoked by his visit “will be the start of a global awakening against this global menace.”

Watching Ahmadinejad “lecture the world” at the U.N., it’s tempting to dismiss him as “an irritating figure from a curious land” with “a strangely eerie smile,” said Frida Ghitis in The Miami Herald (free registration). But he is president of a “truly dangerous country.” Last year, he said that Israel was “a rotten dry tree that will be annihilated in one storm.” Behind every enemy of Israel is “Iranian cash, weapons, and training.”

That is why his whirlwind tour of New York City was a dangerous distraction, said The Boston Globe in an editorial (free registration). Ahmadinejad is despised at home, where he promised the “impoverished masses” a taste of Iran’s oil wealth but failed to deliver. The “crucial question” is not how to shut up Ahmadinejad, but “what to do about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons capability and its growing regional influence.”

"Tough sanctions" would help, said The Washington Post in an editorial (free registration), but Europe is dragging its feet. Iran will never "change its policy if it has nothing to fear from the West."