The USG Open Source Center translated an interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad published in El Pais of Madrid on March 4, 2008.
Iranian President Ahmadinezhad Says 'Age of Nuclear Weapons Is Over'
Interview with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad by Angeles Espinosa and Javier Moreno in Tehran on 1 March: "'People of Iran Ready To Fight Enemy in any Situation'"
El Pais (Internet Version-WWW)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Document Type: OSC Translated Excerpt
. . . (passage omitted: background information on Ahmadinezhad)
(Angeles Espinosa) Your country is at the center of the international stage due to its nuclear program, its role in Iraq, and its regional ambitions. We have the impression that your relations with the United States, or rather the lack of them, have a lot to do with this situation. What prevents you from normalizing relations?
(Mahmud Ahmadinezhad) We do not accept the world's dominant and hegemonic regime. That is why the relations with the United States require certain conditions. They broke ties with us. They thought that they were thus punishing us but, in fact, it has benefited us because, thanks to that decision, Iran has been able to grow strong. We are interested in having relations with all of the countries in the world, apart from the usurping Zionist country.
(Espinosa) Do you think that there will be more possibilities to achieve this with the change of occupant in the White House?
(Ahmadinezhad) It will depend on the attitude and the behavior of the new president. If he changes his mind about the region and the people of Iran, then, perhaps.
(Espinosa) There are currently three candidates who might win the final race (McCain, Obama, and Clinton). Whom would you prefer to see in the White House?
(Ahmadinezhad) I think it is impossible for Obama to become president because of the United States' hidden powers. For us, it makes no difference who wins. The most important thing is that the one who does understands the international situation well and the problems its politics are causing.
(Espinosa) In any case, Obama has made an extraordinary statement for US politics by expressing publicly his will to meet you personally. Would you be willing to take an equally extraordinary decision and meet him, if he were elected president?
(Ahmadinezhad) Two and a half years ago, I expressed in New York my will to talk with Bush, but before the media. We do not have any problems talking, although it seems impossible to me that they will let Obama win. You know the US balance of power. It is based on aggression in foreign politics. The people's vote is a mere front.
(Espinosa) The misunderstandings between Iran and the United States began almost 30 years ago with the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran. What did you experience, as a young student, at that moment?
(Ahmadinezhad) When that incident happened, we accepted it gladly. It made us happy because the 25-year US hegemony over our country had not benefited Iranians. On the contrary, those years affected our culture, our independence, and our progress. That is why the break in diplomatic relations was considered to be an opportunity. If we had continued to walk that path, Iran would not have been where it is today.
(Espinosa) When you were elected president, some of the former hostages recognized you as one of their captors. Were you in any way related to the seizure of the embassy?
(Ahmadinezhad) They even published a photography of somebody and said it was me, but the person in the photo was 40 years old and I was 22 back then, besides, I did not wear a long beard as did the man in the image... I was really surprised that its secret services made such a crude mistake.
(Espinosa) In your letter to US President Bush, you made a very serious accusation: that the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 had required the involvement or infiltration of a secret service. Who were you thinking of?
(Ahmadinezhad) I made two accusations. There are many questions about that event that need to be answered. Books and reports have been written in the United States itself. We think that it is impossible that it happened without the involvement of part of the US security services. It is impossible that the planes were able to take off, fly over its territory, and crash into the towers without any contact with any secret service. And even more doubts have been aroused when the United States used the attacks on 11 September as an excuse to attack the Middle East and they continue to do so.
(Espinosa) Excuse me for insisting, Mr President, just to make sure that we have not misunderstood you. Are you therefore convinced that some kind of cooperation, even if passive, by the US secret services was necessary to commit the attacks on 11 September?
(Ahmadinezhad) Yes, at least by part of them. Some 4,000 people were killed. We regretted it and we condemned it. I even (in September 2007) wanted to pay tribute to the victims. But subsequently, thousands of people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq using that as an excuse. That is why we think it is important to carry out an international investigation to ascertain the roots of the event. Nobody has been hitherto convicted for it.
(Espinosa) You must acknowledge that it seems that the United States is doing the dirty work for Iran. It has freed you from the Taliban regime and Saddam Husayn (with whom Iran fought a tough eight-year war). Is it not contradictory that, despite having very similar interests in the region, you are incapable of overcoming your differences?
(Ahmadinezhad) The consequences of their actions are not completely negative. But the damage is 100 times greater than the accomplishments. Did they finish off the Taliban in Afghanistan? Did they finish off the terrorists? Are they weaker than five years ago? No, they are stronger. The United States has not been able to achieve its goals. Saddam left. Then, why do they continue to occupy Iraq? Because its main goal was not to get rid of Saddam Husayn. The people of Iran are very powerful. It has transformed these events into an opportunity, just as it turned the break in relations into an opportunity. This does not mean that the occupants intended to help Iran.
(Espinosa) You are about to start a historic trip to Iraq. What is the aim of this visit?
(Ahmadinezhad) Iran and Iraq are two friends and neighboring countries. We have a historical relationship. Only for a short period, instigated by Western countries, were the relations between us broken off. But there has always been profound ties between us. Many Iranians were born in Iraq and the other way around. We have a good relationship and must strengthen it even more. My visit intends to convey a message of respect to the Iraqis, to their election, to their national sovereignty, and to their independence.
(Espinosa) Why have you requested an audience with the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani?
(Ahmadinezhad) No, it is not planned. I am only going to Baghdad.
(Espinosa) Are you offering military aid to the Iraqi Government to replace the US troops?
(Ahmadinezhad) We do not have a military relationship with the Iraqis. Our relations are limited to politics, economics, and culture.
(Espinosa) The United States has accused the Revolutionary Guard, and especially the Al-Quds force (a special unit, which is under the direct command of the Supreme Leader of Iran, to export the Islamic revolution abroad), of meddling in Iraq's domestic affairs and providing weapons to certain militias. Could such a thing happen without your knowledge?
(Ahmadinezhad) The Unites States talks a lot, especially about the countries in which it has failed. It is normal that the people fight those who occupy their country. The Americans are occupiers and they know it. And the Iraqis do not like the occupiers. The United States' problem is that it does not understand the culture of the region. It thinks that every problem can be resolved with gunshots. The human beings must be taken into consideration.
(Espinosa) Excuse us for insisting. Could an Iranian military force opperate in Iraq without the knowledge of the Iranian president?
(Ahmadinezhad) If Iran wanted to confront the United States, the situation would change immediately. Iran is a very powerful country. We think that the United States has failed in the region and is currently looking for a justification before its public. It has 160,000 troops deployed in Iraq and only a few people make it feel defenseless? It is like the photograph linking me to the hostages.
(Espinosa) What kind of government would you like to see in Iraq?
(Ahmadinezhad) An independent government elected by the Iraqis. Their votes would be beneficial for the region.
(Espinosa) Even if they elect a government allied to the United States?
(Ahmadinezhad) We would respect the decision of the people. Hence, we will respect whatever the Iraqis decide. But you know that, in any place in the world, if the people are free they will not give their votes to a pro-US government. In freedom, people vote against the United States, something we must thank Mr Bush for.
(Espinosa) Do you think that the Iraqis have elected their government freely?
(Ahmadinezhad) Yes, the current Iraqi Government has been elected by its people. That is why the occupants are still there. If the government had been imposed by the United States, this country would have already left Iraq.
(Espinosa) But the Iraqi Government is a friend of Iraq and of the United States at the same time. Is this a contradiction or does it open a communication channel with Washington?
(Ahmadinezhad) We have relations with many countries that are also friends of the United States. This is not a problem.
(Espinosa) Now, during your trip to Iraq, your security will depend on the US army, as the Iraqi forces do not control their country yet. This puts you in the hands of the United States...
(Ahmadinezhad) It is the occupant country's responsibility in accordance with international law.
(Espinosa) The UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed two resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran and is preparing a third one. However, you keep on saying that Iran will not renounce uranium enrichment. Is there any way out?
(Ahmadinezhad) We are not at a dead end. The other parties to the conflict are. They made a mistake by adopting resolutions based on incorrect information. Now, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) report has ratified our position. What will they do? In my view, they have three options. The first one, the most rational one, is to admit their mistake. This would suit everybody well. The second option is to keep silent, which is almost the same. And the third option is to attempt to cover up their mistakes by making new errors. This would harm us and them, too. They are free to choose. That is why we think that they have reached a dead end. But we are working within legality. Every new resolution is a shot into the UN's body. It diminishes its credibility. Hence, those who take the decisions should do so properly to prevent discredit. For our part, regarding this resolution, we will act the same way as we did with regard to the other two prior resolutions.
(Espinosa) Are you not surprised by the fact that the resolution was unanimously endorsed, even by Russia and China, which are Iran's allies and friends?
(Ahmadinezhad) How were the first two resolutions issued? We are on good terms with China and Russia, but we defend our rights (regarding the nuclear program).
(Espinosa) Have you not presented a very optimistic interpretation of the IAEA report? Experts and European diplomats have insisted that you have to explain your prior nuclear activities. What did they base their opinions on?
(Ahmadinezhad) This debate has a legal and a political aspect. The legal aspect has come to an end with this report. Now, it is the IAEA's duty to declare it closed. The report has clearly stated that the problem with Iran is over, that Iran has not diverted nuclear material for military purposes. Despite the US accusations, they have not found any evidence. The political aspect is linked to the enmity harboured by certain Western countries toward Iran. They have been against us for 30 years. They already supported Saddam Husayn against us. Their attitude is not new. Those countries are not satisfied with the fact that the IAEA has closed the Iranian dossier. When they talked about building trust, they were lying. They do not care about the nuclear program. They are only looking for arguments against Iran. We have learned to live without them. That is the advantage of this experience. They cannot treat Iranians this way. Iranians will not be expelled from the international stage because of those problems. Iran will continue to make progress and, in the future, they will have to cooperate with Iran, but the situation will be very different. Two and a half years ago, I proposed the creation of consortium to help us with the nuclear program. They did not accept it and now we have made that program on our own. We do not need that consortium any longer. If they do not accept our terms now, it will be more difficult for them to do so in the future. They can choose. We are giving them the freedom to do so.
(Espinosa) Do you not fear that this attitude might lead to a pre-emptive intervention by the United States or Israel?
(Ahmadinezhad) Who can do so?
(Espinosa) Perhaps, Israel...
(Ahmadinezhad) The Zionists cannot do anything, not even stand up by themselves. There is no power in the world that can even think of attacking Iran. We are 70 million united Iranians. Who would dare? But they are looking forward to doing it. Their desires are not a problem, but they cannot fulfil them. The people of Iran are ready to fight the enemy in any situation. The Iranians knows very well how to stand up for their rights, so do the Spaniards.
(Espinosa) Some of the missiles Iran has tested are only intended to carry nuclear warheads. This, without doubt, has fuelled the international preoccupation...
(Ahmadinezhad) Throughout its history, Iran has always been a peaceful country. We have not attacked anybody. Everything we are doing is aimed at defending the country. We think that the age of nuclear weapons is over. If they were useful, the United States would not have the troubles it currently has and the Soviet Union would not have disappeared. The Zionists have atomic bombs, but they are failing against HAMAS. We not only think that the age of nuclear weapons is over, but we are also not interested in building them, because we consider that they are against human rights and dignity. Our security doctrine is a defensive doctrine. This missile that we have launched is an investigation missile, which is intended to carry a satellite. It is our right and we need to have a presence in space for communications. We announced it before launching it. We are working transparently, unlike other countries that work clandestinely and, even so, condemn us.
(Espinosa) You became president by promising that you would bring oil profits to the Iranians. However, in the taxis and in the bread queue, people complain about inflation, unemployment, and the difficulties to make ends meet. What has happened to prevent you from keeping your promise?
(Ahmadinezhad) What did you think? That we would carry an oil barrel to every house? Now, the government is distributing the shares of the companies that are being privatized. We are also working to reduce the income inequalities between the poorest, the middle class, and the rich people. Iranians are vivacious people, attentive to every issue. They are free to express their opinions and to criticize if something goes wrong. This helps us to correct problems. We do not consider this to be bad.
(Description of Source: Madrid El Pais (Internet Version-WWW) in Spanish -- center-left national daily)