'We Don't Need Nuclear Arms'

Monday, September 19, 2005

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said little during a lengthy interview with Lally Weymouth of Newsweek and The Post to dispel the impression that he is a hard-liner who intends to take his country in a different direction. Excerpts:

Q: The Bush administration has actually called Iran part of the "axis of evil." . . . The U.S. would like to see some changes in Iran.

A: We would like to see some changes occur in America.

What changes?

For example, the approach and the kind of language that the American government use in their relations with other countries.

What direction do you want to take your country in? Do you want your people to have more freedom, or do you want to move in another direction?

The elections in our country are free. We had a very high number of candidates. It was the people who decided. [Former president Mohammad] Khatami did lots of good things, he serviced the country and of course those services will continue [but] some new things will be done as well.

Do you feel you have been portrayed incorrectly in the Western media?

It is clear that some countries wish that our people would have taken a different course of action in our elections. . . . Immediately after the elections, I started hearing threats against me, all sorts of condemnations and accusations. I was asked whether I was one of the hostage-takers [in 1979].

Were you?

Obviously no. Even the people who were responsible for that act say I was not there. If you want to understand this event, the right question to ask is not who did it but why did this occur. I think that the root causes are in the behavior of the American government since 1953 up to the day when our revolution became victorious.

How do you dispel the impression that is prevalent in the U.S. that Iran is making a nuclear weapon?

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