CNN’s Fareed Zakaria just interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They talked about Moammar Gadhafi’s death, policy toward Syria, the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Iran’s nuclear ambitions and America’s global role. Some highlights are below. You can catch the full interview this Sunday at 10a.m. and 1p.m. EST on Fareed Zakaria GPS along with more from Fareed’s trip to Tehran.
Ahmadinejad reacts to the death of Moammar Gadhafi
“We think it is the will of the people that should work and prevail everywhere – justice, freedom and respect to people. This is the right of all nations. But, of course, we feel very sorry that people are being killed, everybody. I wish everybody would respect justice freedom and there was no need for any conflict or clash.”
“In the beginning, we recommended a dialogue between the two sides and all parties, but they did not pay attention to our recommendations. And, of course, NATO intervention was effective in exacerbating the conflict. We have not received any statistics about the losses from both sides and I think instead of intervention, NATO could help to promote a dialogue among all parties.”
Interference from the U.S. won’t help in Syria
“Justice dictates that nobody should kill the other. Nobody, nobody, nobody has the right to kill others, neither the government nor the opponents. Our recommendation is very clear and it is a recommendation for all, as the last to the United States, instead of capturing or arresting people, they should hear the voice. They should listen to the people and they have things to say. And they should pay attention to the demands and requirements.”
“We say that governments must be responsible for the requirements and desires of their own people, the security of the people and their rights. And this is general for Iran, for Libya, for Syria, for Europe, United States, Africa, everywhere. And this is a general rule for all. We have announced that many times.”
“And we are going to make greater efforts to encourage both the government of Syria and the other side, all parties, to reach an understanding. But I think and we believe that there should be no interference from outside. The positions of the United States are not going to help. They have never helped. They could do things better in Libya, for example.”
“From the very beginning, we’ve said there should be an international team to mediate in order to encourage all parties to reach an understanding. But NATO had ambitions in Libya. They wanted the oil resources in Libya. There was no need to kill so many people. This is the situation in Syria, too. Nobody should send arms. Nobody should interfere and we should all help to create understanding. I think this is the best way.”
On the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.
“The claims of the United States against our country has been continuing for more than 32 years and they create different problems. We should see what really United States helped and supported the regime of Saddam Hussein. Iran was the first country in the region that created a democracy and our leader, Imam Khomeini, said we want to be friends with all nations of the world with the exception of the Zionist regime. He also ignored the wrong policies of the United States during the regime of the Shah. He said, we want to be friends with all.”
“But the United States provoked the regime of Saddam Hussein. After the war, they continued political pressures against us. Then they accused us of violating human rights. And later, they created the nuclear issue and today they create and say such things.”
“Do we need really to kill the ambassador of a brotherly country? What is the reason and the interest behind that? We are a civilized nation. We have a strong logic and with this strong logic, we talk to all nations. We never have any intention to hurt Saudi Arabia. Do we really want to do it in the United States? And is that a way really?”
“We are going to create a new discourse, the discourse of justice; the discourse of humanity. And we are going to have this discourse and dialogue between ruling government in the United States. It is not a military confrontation. It is not either a political confrontation. We say, ‘President Obama, it is in your best interest to cooperate with the nations and with the countries of the world.’ And when I say, ‘Mr. President, pull out from Afghanistan,’ I’m sincere. Iran and Afghanistan are two brotherly countries. We can never be in conflict. We can never be at war.”
On nuclear ambitions
“We have already expressed our views about nuclear bombs. We said those who are seeking to build nuclear bombs or those who stockpile, they are politically and mentally retarded. We think they are stupid because the era of nuclear bombs is over.”
“Iran, for example, should continue its efforts and tolerate all international treasures only to build a nuclear bomb or a few nuclear bombs that are useless? They can never be used? And is not capable of confronting with the U.S. nuclear arsenals? The overall budget of our national atomic energy agency is $250 million, and the whole budget is aimed at peaceful activities.”
“But the government of the United States only allocated $80 million for rebuilding the nuclear bombs. I think Iranians are clever enough to see that with this limited amount of money, $250 million, we are not able to be at war with the other side.”
“I also believe that any military action against Iran is sheer stupidity.”
On the U.S. “provoking” regional tension
“I ask a question, ‘What are the American bases doing in our region?’ Even the current year, they made military contract amounting to $90 billion with the countries of the region.”
“If the United States is not going to provoke tension in our region, and if they do not make artificial threats, they would not be able to sell their arms.”
“What are arms being used – are they used for friendship? These polices are clear. They should divide, and then, they can prevail. But my recommendation is in the Middle East that they should not be influenced by the pressures of the United Sates.”
“And the United States is doing a very ugly thing. They are spending so much money for these military bases. They can spend this money for the American unemployed.”
“They have more than 1,000 billions of dollars for military budget. If they spend this money for the American economy, is it necessary for the people to go to Wall Street? Would there remain any difference or hostility? Whenever they resist hostility anywhere in the world, that could be attributed to the United States or to one of its allies.”
On the U.S. being “hated around the world”
“The United States has become weaker and weaker. And now, they are hated in the region. They are hated in the whole world. Anywhere in the world, if you go, you see that the U.S. government is hated.”
“They should review their policies. They should stop accusing other countries. They should see where the problem is. Maybe the problem is really in the United States itself. This is a friendly recommendation.”
“Otherwise, we must be very much happy if their policies fail everywhere in the world. And we should encourage them, ‘OK, go on, go on.’ And if we were not since, we should encourage the United States to remain in Iraq and in Afghanistan because they have already been mired in those two countries.”
“But we sympathize with all people of the world. We say, ‘Why Afghans should be killed? Why American soldiers should lose their lives? Why they should spend so much money for killing people instead of using the money for development?’ That is very simple. Maybe the U.S. administration does not accept that. But believe me, continuation of these policies are going to lead to the collapse of the U.S. empire. And it is against the interests of the people of the United States.”
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