Transcript: Ahmadinejad Interview, Part 2

AHMADINEJAD: I think that instead of going astray here and misleading the public, we should try to help with the uncovering of the truth. You are a member of the media. You are not a government official. You should be concerned with the truth. We should all be concerned with the truth. We don’t need such weapons. Those who don’t have anything to say to other nations and deal with them, they resort to atomic weapons. We are a cultured people and we have good relations with all nations. And the status of a country has nothing to do with atomic weapons, rather its culture and its civilization. And whenever we make a decision, we are courageous enough to come out and say that we have made such a decision. Whatever we want to do, we have nothing to hide. We clearly will announce that. Well, I said sometime ago that if you sanction us, we are going to take the production to an industrial scale, and we did that. And we said that we will continue to push ahead undaunted. We did that. We have no problems. When it comes to that, we are very transparent and we have a frank tone of voice. Let me be frank and very straightforward here. I oppose the unilateral policies and bullying policies of the American administration. I believe that these lead to war, leads to greater poverty and killing. I believe that you can manage the war better through friendship, mutual respect, and by respecting laws and also fair play. Again, I’m being very frank here. I oppose the very idea of the bomb. I have nothing to hide. Also, I oppose the policies of the American administration.

PELLEY: If the United Nations Security Council or the European Union votes in favor of additional sanctions against your country, what will you do?

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, they are just trapping themselves. They can become trapped themselves. Because any person or party who insists on a wrong decision, that will be problematic for him, no other person. For 28 years now we have been under political pressure and economic sanctions. What happened? Nothing. And the Iranian people have managed to push ahead with technology. Our economy is growing each day. And, of course, having said that, I think that that course of action is highly unlikely. There are wise people in different countries which will not go ahead with this. Iran is a member of the agency. We’re under the supervision of the agency. The agency’s reports are very transparent. We have provided the fullest amount of cooperation to the agency. If a party wants to go beyond the law, they will just, this will be to their own detriment. I have said time and again you can do nothing to this country. This is a great country. We have extensive God-given riches and resources. From a political point of view, we are strong and powerful. And under any conditions, we will manage to push ahead. But they need to appreciate that if having said that, I don’t think that such a thing is possible. Again, a number of American officials want this to happen. But you shouldn’t worry about that. Just say that this is not going to happen.

PELLEY: If sanctions do occur, if another round of sanctions occur, you will continue to enrich uranium behind closed doors, I take it.

AHMADEINEJAD: This is not going to happen. I have talked extensively about this. Nobody is able to impose an unlawful course of action on the Iranian people. The Iranian people will not abide by that, accept that. And it will not serve their interests to do that. Both the American government and other countries, it helps them if they are friends with Iran. As a friend, I need to tell you to take this route. Again, you’re free to take any route you want. And you would have to, you will have to go with the repercussions. So these past few years, what has it gotten you? And the conditions will not change to benefit them; I assure you of that.

PELLEY: Would an attack on your nuclear sites, in your opinion, give you leave to attack U.S. forces in the region or the U.S. mainland?

AHMADEINEJAD: Who is going to attack this country?

PELLEY: President Bush has pledged that you will not be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon and will use military force if necessary.

AHMADEINEJAD: I think Mr. Bush, if he wants his party to win the next election, there are cheaper ways and ways to go about this. I can very well give him a few ideas so that the people vote for him. He should respect the American people. They should not bug the telephone conversations of their citizens. They should not kill the sons and daughters of the American nation. They should not squander the taxpayers’ money and give them to weapons companies. And also help the people, the victims of Katrina. People will vote for them if they do these things. But if they insist on what they are saying right now, this will not help them. Again, nobody can hurt the Iranian people. And history tells us that the people who have been less than kind to the Iranian people, they have lost out. What I’m saying, I am being very sincere here. I’m a Muslim. I cannot tell a lie. I am supposed to tell the truth. What I’m saying is that President Bush’s conduct in Iraq is wrong. And his wrong conduct is behind his party losing the previous elections. This is very clear. The American people are very much dismayed with the behavior and the conduct of the present administration. They are not dismayed with Iran. In fact, the two nations are very close to one another. An example of that would be the letter sent to me by an American scholar a few days ago.

PELLEY: You mentioned telling the truth as a Muslim, and as you know so much better than I do, Verse 42 of the second sura: “The truth shall not be obscured by falsehood, and those who know the truth must tell it.” But when I ask you a question as direct as “Will you pledge not to test a nuclear weapon?” you you dance all around the question. You never say “yes.” You never say “no.”

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, thank you for that. You are like a CIA investigator. And you are . . .

PELLEY: I am just a reporter. I am a simple, average American reporter.

AHMADEINEJAD: This is not a Baghdad prison. Please, this is not a secret prison in Europe. This is not Abu Ghraib. This is Iran. I’m the president of this country. Well, I think that I’ve gone beyond what you’ve asked me, above and beyond. And I think that if you speak to your job as a reporter, what I have said so far, again, goes above and beyond what you ask me.

AHMADEINEJAD: You haven’t read the latest news, I have to say. It’s wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking towards war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? What reasons are there for the two countries to go to war? We have a logic which we have announced for some time now. We very much oppose the behavior of the U.S. administration. We think it’s wrong. And we are saying what we feel, and you are free to say what you feel. And people have a right to choose. Why should we go to war over that? If having said that is a part of a psychological warfare plot. The American people are well familiar with these plots. You shouldn’t make the American people afraid needlessly. There’s no war in the offing. And also I think that certain American officials do not want friendly relations between the two countries and the citizens of the two countries to visit each other. Last year we requested for a direct flight between the two countries because we want to promote trade, promote cultural activities, and also people-to-people contact. But the American government opposed that. There is no war in the offing. Again, this is psychological warfare. If you have differences of opinions, you can use logic to resolve your differences.

PELLEY: You can show the world today that you are not pursuing a bomb. All you have to do is give the order. Open your nuclear facilities. Let the United Nations inspectors in there today and prove that there is no bomb program. Why not take that course?

AHMADEINEJAD: I think that you are a little bit behind the day’s news. You might have been away on an assignment. I don’t know.

PELLEY: I’m familiar with the day’s news.

AHMADEINEJAD: The reports say that we have been complying. And they are inspecting all of our sites every day. What more am I supposed to do? So, I try to be as frank as possible, but . . . .

PELLEY: You’re opening the sites slowly over time, sir. People say that you’re just trying to gather as much highly-enriched uranium as you possibly can.

AHMADEINEJAD: No. No. No. Well, should you say this, make these accusations or agency inspectors? Inspectors have said, that we are saying that Iran has not diverted; there’s no diversion here, in other words. Again, let me repeat. We have not diverted from a peaceful path. This is what the agencies think. There is a solution here, however, a very simple solution. The countries that have atomic bombs should destroy their stockpiles. And that would make everyone happy. You shouldn’t accuse others needlessly, and you shouldn’t lose your temper and make life miserable for others as well. They have made mistakes and have diverted themselves. They think that others will do the same. There are many countries which have the technology. Five or six have diverted from the peaceful path, road, rather. So those five or six should return to the correct path. If certain parties think that they have rights which go beyond the normal rights that any nation should have, that will be problematic. I think that the American government should appreciate that it is like any other member of the international community, respect the views of the agency. It’s very regrettable to see that certain U.S. officials have insulted the very clear positions taken by the agency, and they have lost their temper. And also they have made threats. They have attacked the director general of the agency. That is shameful. If you think that the agency is a reputable one, you should allow it to go ahead with its business. Why should you, or the agency, for that matter, repeat the words of the secretary of state? Rather, what they need to do is report the facts, the truth. So the problems of the American politicians is because they are interested in their own interests. And they want the rest of the world just to say “yes, sir” and go along with whatever they say. That is finished. It’s in the past.

PELLEY: What trait do you admire in President Bush?

AHMADINEJAD: Again, I have a very frank tone. I think that President Bush needs to correct his ways.

PELLEY: What do you admire about him?

AHMADEINEJAD: He should respect the American people.

PELLEY: Is there anything? Any trait?

AHMADINEJAD: As an American citizen, tell me what trait do you admire?

PELLEY: Well, Mr. Bush is, without question, a very religious man, for example, as you are. I wonder if there’s anything that you’ve seen in President Bush that you admire.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, is Mr. Bush a religious man?

PELLEY: Very much so. As you are.

AHMADEINEJAD: What religion, please tell me, tells you as a follower of that religion to occupy another country and kill its people? Please tell me. Does Christianity tell its followers to do that? Judaism, for that matter? Islam, for that matter? What prophet tells you to send 160,000 troops to another country, kill men, women, and children? You just can’t wear your religion on your sleeve or just go to church. You should be truthfully religious. Religion tells us all that you should respect the property, the life of different people. Respect human rights. Love your fellow man. And once you hear that a person has been killed, you should be saddened. You shouldn’t sit in a room, a dark room, and hatch plots. And because of your plots, many thousands of people are killed. Having said that, we respect the American people. And because of our respect for the American people, we respectfully talk with President Bush. We have a respectful tone. But having said that, I don’t think that that is a good definition of religion. Religion is love for your fellow man, brotherhood, telling the truth.

PELLEY: I take it you can’t think of anything you like about President Bush.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, I’m not familiar with the gentleman’s private life. Maybe in his private life he is very kind or a determined man. I’m not aware of that. I base my judgment on what I see in his public life. Having said that, I think that President Bush can behave much better. There were golden opportunities for President Bush. He should have used them better.

PELLEY: I asked President Bush what he would say to you if he were sitting in this chair. And he told me, quote, speaking to you, that you’ve made terrible choices for your people. You’ve isolated your nation. You’ve taken a nation of proud and honorable people and made your country the pariah of the world. These are President Bush’s words to you. What’s your reply to the president?

AHMADINEJAD: Well, President Bush is free to think as he pleases and to say what he pleases. I don’t oppose the freedom of speech. I believe in freedom of speech. President Bush is free to say what he pleases. But these would not change the truth. So that President Bush knows the Iranian people are dearly loved today. We can very well put this to the test to find out who has become isolated. Again, maybe one of my friends could go to another country and a friend of President Bush could go to the same country, find out which one of us is isolated. You’re free to choose any country you like. I don’t think that President Bush has said these things. Rather, I prefer to think that this is your impression of what the president has said.

PELLEY: I’m quoting the president directly for the record.

AHMADEINEJAD: This is a direct quote? So, well, this tells me that there’s a great divide between us.

PELLEY: Why does your government confiscate your people’s satellite dishes? What is it that you don’t want your people to see?

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, it’s not prohibited like that. After everything is said and done, this is a law passed by the Iranian parliament. And the members of the parliament have been chosen by the people. Having said that, the Iranian people are, by and large, using satellite television. You can go out on the streets and see this for yourself.

PELLEY: But as you well know, they are confiscated from time to time in sweeps in the country. And I wonder what it is that you don’t want your people to see.

AHMADINEJAD: Well, again, this is the law. Our people are free and express their opinion about all matters internationally. They are well aware of international news. Having said that, I like to think that the Iranian people is one of the most well-informed nations. You can go to the street and ask the people yourself. Reporters from other countries go to different Iranian cities, they’re free to move about and ask questions. But Iranian reporters cannot do the same in the U.S. You can very easily come and see me and just ask me questions, but our reporters cannot ask questions from American officials. Our interview today is going to be aired from the Iranian TV. I very much hope that Iranian reporters will be given a possibility to ask questions from American officials. Then the truth will be uncovered.

PELLEY: You know, I’m curious. Looking back over the years, do you believe today that taking the American hostages in 1979 was a mistake?

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, you have to deal with different things in their own time. If you go back in time, things will go wrong. If you go back 500 years, what happened in Europe and the U.S. for that matter. You shouldn’t look back at what happened in the past. Have your sights towards the future. This wouldn’t help with anything. Because if you are to do that, we have to go over the dossier of the activities of various American administrations in this country from 1337 Iranian calendar onwards. That wouldn’t be a pretty picture. I don’t want to talk about and think about the dark passages of our history. Let’s have our sights towards the future.

PELLEY: Mr. President, I just have a few questions. We have appreciated your answers very much, and I know we’re pressing on time here. We would be very grateful if you wouldn’t mind taking just a few more. Will you, in this interview tonight, rule out the possibility of a nuclear test of an Iranian weapon during your presidency?

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, we don’t have any plans.

PELLEY: But rule it out. Say that “we will not test a nuclear device as long as I am president.” Can you say that?

AHMADINEJAD: Please, please, let me finish my thought. Actually, I very much oppose this behavior. Picture it. If an Iranian reporter kept repeatedly asking the same questions from a U.S. official, how would you feel? Would you feel good about that?

PELLEY: I would.

AHMADINEJAD: I think that instead of going astray here and misleading the public, we should try to help with the uncovering of the truth. You are a member of the media. You are not a government official. You should be concerned with the truth. We should all be concerned with the truth. We don’t need such weapons. Those who don’t have anything to say to other nations and deal with them, they resort to atomic weapons. We are a cultured people and we have good relations with all nations. And the status of a country has nothing to do with atomic weapons, rather its culture and its civilization. And whenever we make a decision, we are courageous enough to come out and say that we have made such a decision. Whatever we want to do, we have nothing to hide. We clearly will announce that. Well, I said sometime ago that if you sanction us, we are going to take the production to an industrial scale, and we did that. And we said that we will continue to push ahead undaunted. We did that. We have no problems. When it comes to that, we are very transparent and we have a frank tone of voice. Let me be frank and very straightforward here. I oppose the unilateral policies and bullying policies of the American administration. I believe that these lead to war, leads to greater poverty and killing. I believe that you can manage the war better through friendship, mutual respect, and by respecting laws and also fair play. Again, I’m being very frank here. I oppose the very idea of the bomb. I have nothing to hide. Also, I oppose the policies of the American administration.

PELLEY: If the United Nations Security Council or the European Union votes in favor of additional sanctions against your country, what will you do?

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, they are just trapping themselves. They can become trapped themselves. Because any person or party who insists on a wrong decision, that will be problematic for him, no other person. For 28 years now we have been under political pressure and economic sanctions. What happened? Nothing. And the Iranian people have managed to push ahead with technology. Our economy is growing each day. And, of course, having said that, I think that that course of action is highly unlikely. There are wise people in different countries which will not go ahead with this. Iran is a member of the agency. We’re under the supervision of the agency. The agency’s reports are very transparent. We have provided the fullest amount of cooperation to the agency. If a party wants to go beyond the law, they will just, this will be to their own detriment. I have said time and again you can do nothing to this country. This is a great country. We have extensive God-given riches and resources. From a political point of view, we are strong and powerful. And under any conditions, we will manage to push ahead. But they need to appreciate that if having said that, I don’t think that such a thing is possible. Again, a number of American officials want this to happen. But you shouldn’t worry about that. Just say that this is not going to happen.

PELLEY: If sanctions do occur, if another round of sanctions occur, you will continue to enrich uranium behind closed doors, I take it.

AHMADEINEJAD: This is not going to happen. I have talked extensively about this. Nobody is able to impose an unlawful course of action on the Iranian people. The Iranian people will not abide by that, accept that. And it will not serve their interests to do that. Both the American government and other countries, it helps them if they are friends with Iran. As a friend, I need to tell you to take this route. Again, you’re free to take any route you want. And you would have to, you will have to go with the repercussions. So these past few years, what has it gotten you? And the conditions will not change to benefit them; I assure you of that.

PELLEY: Would an attack on your nuclear sites, in your opinion, give you leave to attack U.S. forces in the region or the U.S. mainland?

AHMADEINEJAD: Who is going to attack this country?

PELLEY: President Bush has pledged that you will not be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon and will use military force if necessary.

AHMADEINEJAD: I think Mr. Bush, if he wants his party to win the next election, there are cheaper ways and ways to go about this. I can very well give him a few ideas so that the people vote for him. He should respect the American people. They should not bug the telephone conversations of their citizens. They should not kill the sons and daughters of the American nation. They should not squander the taxpayers’ money and give them to weapons companies. And also help the people, the victims of Katrina. People will vote for them if they do these things. But if they insist on what they are saying right now, this will not help them. Again, nobody can hurt the Iranian people. And history tells us that the people who have been less than kind to the Iranian people, they have lost out. What I’m saying, I am being very sincere here. I’m a Muslim. I cannot tell a lie. I am supposed to tell the truth. What I’m saying is that President Bush’s conduct in Iraq is wrong. And his wrong conduct is behind his party losing the previous elections. This is very clear. The American people are very much dismayed with the behavior and the conduct of the present administration. They are not dismayed with Iran. In fact, the two nations are very close to one another. An example of that would be the letter sent to me by an American scholar a few days ago.

PELLEY: You mentioned telling the truth as a Muslim, and as you know so much better than I do, Verse 42 of the second sura: “The truth shall not be obscured by falsehood, and those who know the truth must tell it.” But when I ask you a question as direct as “Will you pledge not to test a nuclear weapon?” you you dance all around the question. You never say “yes.” You never say “no.”

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, thank you for that. You are like a CIA investigator. And you are . . .

PELLEY: I am just a reporter. I am a simple, average American reporter.

AHMADEINEJAD: This is not a Baghdad prison. Please, this is not a secret prison in Europe. This is not Abu Ghraib. This is Iran. I’m the president of this country. Well, I think that I’ve gone beyond what you’ve asked me, above and beyond. And I think that if you speak to your job as a reporter, what I have said so far, again, goes above and beyond what you ask me.

PELLEY: One last thing. So important for the American people to understand. When your airplane approaches Manhattan this week, you will look out the window and you will see that the World Trade Center is gone. Many Americans, Mr. President, to be frank, believe that you look out that window and you say to yourself, “Good. Somebody got ‘em.” They believe our countries are enemies.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, you shouldn’t speak on behalf of the American people. I can speak on behalf of the Iranian people, but you cannot speak on behalf of the American people. Why do you insist on doing that? Why do you not allow the American people to speak for themselves? Why? Let them speak for themselves. The people gathered around the White House a couple of days ago. They spoke whatever was in their hearts and minds. Are they not American citizens? Hundreds of thousands of people have rallied against the war. Are they not citizens? Our government at the time expressed its condemnation. We issued an official communiqué condemning that incident. How can you, in your mind, accuse and condemn others? Well, if an Iranian person for that matter had done the same thing, it would have been shameful, and it would not have been fair. So, again, this is not fair. Maybe this is your point of view or also perhaps your editor’s point of view. And you are saying that the American people are saying these things. The American people still don’t know who was behind the bombing of the Twin Towers. Many books in the U.S. have been written about the incident., and there are questions circling in your society. Once you go back, go to the streets, ask the local people who was behind this, what were the reason for that? And, again, I fail to see why you continually say “the American people.“ I have the latest surveys. Eighty percent of the American citizens say that the American government knew about the attack beforehand. They had information.

PELLEY: You don’t believe that, sir.

AHMADEINEJAD: I’m not making a judgment here, mind you. I’m not being judgmental. That’s not important for me. What is important for me is to find out why this happened. We can take a course of action which ensures this never happens. Why should we manage the world like this? It’s very possible for us all to be friends, for the world to be in peace, and for the family of man to love one another and to not hate one another. So who propagates these ideas, I ask you. We should all be friends. We should deal fairly with one another, respect one another. Nations do not have any problems when it comes to interacting with one another. Unethical politicians make war. Nations don’t make war. We’re saying that you should allow our nations to be friends with one another. We condemned that incident right there and then. Why should many innocent people be killed? For what reason? Well, behind this building there is another building, a building which in 1360 Iranian calendar, some 25 years ago, the Iranian president and the prime minister in the office, they were blown up by terrorists, a bomb planted by terrorists. And the president and the prime minister burned in that bomb, by that bomb. And, again, this is very regrettable that those terrorists, which were behind that bombing and other assassinations in this country, can freely have access to American officials are being protected by the American Army in Iraq. So this country is a victim of terrorism throughout its history. So you cannot produce even one document, a single document, about terrorist action on the part of the Iranian government or Iranian officials. We are very clear in our position. We say that we spiritually support the right of the Palestinian people and also independence for Iraq. We have nothing to hide. We are very much opposed to the Iraqi occupation. Again, we have nothing to hide. It’s very regrettable that many thousands of people were killed in the Twin Tower incident. We have announced time and again. And what we are asking is can we do something that ensures this never happens? And the answer is “yes.” We can do that, providing a number of parties do not establish terrorist organizations and set them off on nations. We know who is behind terrorist organizations. You know full well who is behind a number of terrorist organizations around my part of the world, that is. Who provided them with logistical support, political support? It’s a very well-known fact they have made and created these terrorist organizations themselves.

PELLEY: Who, sir?

AHMADINEJAD: It’s very clear. Very clear.

PELLEY: Make it clearer. Name the names.

AHMADEINEJAD: I don’t want to name names. I don’t want to name names. But the terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, who is behind them? And what intelligence organization belonging to what country is behind them? This is very clear.

PELLEY: Shall I say CIA and the United States? Will that . . .

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, maybe you know something that . . . The relations and the developments in this part of the world are somewhat clear. I don’t want to say something which would agitate and fan the flames of the situation. What I’m saying that this is shameful. My country is a great victim of terrorism. We very much oppose terrorism. As I said, we oppose terrorism. Why? Why should innocent people be killed? For what reason? We are saying that each and every person should be respected regardless of their color, creed, what country they come from, what language they speak. We’re all fellow human beings. We should be respected. Why some parties ask more than their fair share? Why do they insult nations? They shouldn’t do that. This is not right.

PELLEY: Would you reestablish . . .

AHMADEINEJAD: If I may. Who created secret prisons in Europe? You don’t know that? Did Iran establish those prisons? This one is very clear and the documents have been revealed. Why are they creating secret prisons? If the law provides the possibility to establish these prisons, go ahead. Why this skullduggery? So this is, again, very clear.

PELLEY: Would you reestablish diplomatic relations with the United States? Is that something you want? Something you would do right away?

AHMADINEJAD: Well, our foreign policy is a policy which says that we should have relations with all countries and nations. Before the revolution, this country was much damaged by American policy. Our late imam said that we will not have relations with two countries: one, the apartheid regime of South Africa; the other, the Zionist regime. We like to have relations with all countries. The American administration cut off relations themselves unilaterally. The Carter administration perhaps they were thinking that this would be to their benefit. But this didn’t happen. We would like to have relations with all countries based on mutual respect. This is the very basis of our foreign policy. I think that we are done.

PELLEY: You have been generous with your time, Mr. President. Thank you for your time very much.

AHMADEINEJAD: Good luck.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/21/60minutes/main3286706.shtml

Read part one of this two-part interview here.