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President Ahmadinejad's News Conference

CQ Transcripts Wire
Thursday, September 21, 2006 1:27 PM

SEPTEMBER 21, 2006

SPEAKER: MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN

[*]

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I thank God, the almighty God, for giving me an opportunity to meet with my friends once again, and to speak about the important world affairs we face today.

At the outset, I'd like to seize the opportunity to thank the people of New York, the New York police and the security forces here for all their efforts.

I know it is not easy when world leaders arrive in New York. The regular life of New York City is disrupted. The movement with cars around the streets, and with the convoys, these people to stand behind traffic, and at times they even have to wait before being able to cross the green light on the street. So on my part, I'd like to apologize to the people of New York and thank them for accepting us.

I was hoping that on this trip I would have an opportunity to meet with people here in New York, to talk with them face to face, to speak with them and meet with them on the streets closely, to see them all and for them to see me and hear what we have to say.

But regretfully, though, pressure of our work program, and the current conditions that we face when we travel here, has not allowed me to do that. But I do hope in the future there will be an opportunity.

People in the United States, like all people around the world, are highly respected by us. They are good-willing people who seek justice. They care and understand the fate of humanity is important. And there are many people here who care. Many people in the United States believe in God and believe in justice.

At the U.N. General Assembly, I raised a new point. After covering problems facing mankind today, and just, sort of, reviewing them, talking about some conflicts and wars and the problems we face and the atmosphere of threats we face, I tried to touch of some of the root causes of our problems.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Some root causes of today's problems facing humanity has to do with the international system, a system that has remained with us since World War II, emanating from the concept of a group of victors emerging from a world war and ruling the world.

That is an old system, because it leads some to believe that they have more rights to rule the affairs of the world than others, to run world affairs. And as a result, justice is hurt as long as this system prevails in the world.

It is not possible for all humanity to taste freedom in the full sense of the word, as well as justice in the full sense of the word.

When we look at the Security Council, we see that some members of the council are, in fact, one party to many conflicts of the world. They are involved, in fact, in many conflicts around the world. They are a direct party to many conflicts and have created them. Nonetheless, they sit in judgment of world affairs at the Security Council when they're a party to the conflict themselves.

We think and feel that this system must change. We believe that all nations should enjoy equal rights for all human beings should be respected, all nations must be respected. All have the right to a dignified life and to enjoy justice and, more importantly perhaps, enjoy peace and tranquility.

International organizations must, therefore, pave the way and lead the way so that all nations can, without any pressure or imposition of political or economic nature, defend their rights and feel that they're able to do so.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The world system must be able to absorb the confidence and the trust of all nations around the globe in order to implement and enforce justice in the best manner.

Regretfully, there is a great mistrust among nations and people today because they feel they are unable to find and achieve their rights through international fora. We must find a solution for 60 years of past failed experience.

It's perhaps enough the world conditions have changed. Many governments and groups that had no role in World War II, regretfully, are impacted by the consequences of World War II. To this day they were dominated by other groups, their rights were ignored and repressed.

We, therefore, must strive to achieve a world filled with peace and freedom and brotherhood and humanity and justice. And for that, again, I emphasize that we do need justice, for justice creates love, and justice guarantees viable security, and justice paves the way for permanent stability.

This is what I like to say to you. And I hope that all those involved will be able to respect justice, to submit to justice, and to make every effort to help realize justice, because it will benefit all. Those who seek justice have more followers, are loved more and, therefore, can guarantee their long-term interests more.

Therefore, it's clear that all humanity seeks justice throughout the world, from the most southern corners of the world, whether in South America, to the eastern corners of the world, in the Pacific, to the west and north. Everyone wants justice. In Africa, over 52 countries are in search of justice, as well as in Asia and in Europe, in northern America too.

It is, therefore, incumbent upon world leaders to move hand in hand to help lead nations toward justice -- a true and complete justice.

And I believe the media have a very important role to play in this respect, for media upholds the rights of the people, for media supports peace and security, as well as stability.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): And therefore media must call for peace and justice. For justice will benefit everyone.

Nobody, except people who are selfish, will benefit from injustice. The vast number of human beings in the world by nature seek justice.

I hope that in the very near future we will bear witness to the establishment of a true sense of justice in the international system, along with what will be followed by peace, love and permanent peace in the world.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

As is common practice in this house, the first question goes to the president of the U.N. Correspondents Association.

QUESTION: Mr. President, allow me to welcome you on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association.

And my question to you will be in the form that you are one of the highest-profile leaders over here in the United States now, at this point in time. And there are concerns, as you know, about Iran's nuclear power program. And Western powers believe that you are at the threshold of creating a bomb, which you have denied time and again.

And in the fact that you are talking about justice and fairness to everybody, what is it that you can do, at one point in time, to assure the international community, completely and totally, that this will not be the case, that you will not make a nuclear bomb, and that you will reach (ph) Iran, the country which is -- where justice and everything --will not seek to destroy any country, including Israel?

That is what is the perception, which has to be corrected. And I think it's very important that you tell the world community that this is what it is.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you very much.

In addition to speaking on behalf of the press here in the United Nations, I'm sure that you've raised the question on the minds of many here.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The authorities in the United States, I believe, are aware that Iran's nuclear issue is a political one with no legal background.

For 27 years, United States government officials have been hostile with the Iranian government and, by default, against the development of our country.

For 27 years, spare parts or even airplane -- passenger airplanes -- have been denied to us. These will have no military usage but, nonetheless, we've been denied even such technology.

So it seems to us that the question is political.

Let us remember that for eight years, the United States supported an aggressor to attack Iran. We had just freed ourselves from a dictator who depended on the United States, who was violent toward his own people, who put down regular demonstrations and used guns to silence people.

We did not have any elections in his time. Our officials and authorities were chosen in other corners beside popular corners. And people rose to establish a republic to introduce freedom and democracy.

We expected that the United States government would support the initiative taken by the Iranian people, but from day one, hostilities arose.

There were, of course, acts of terror. There were confrontations in our country. And we had been under siege, including economic sanctions, from the first day of our revolution almost.

Almost from 1979, even before our government institutions were able to shape, we were in the initial stages of drafting a constitution, having parliamentary elections, we were placed under sanctions.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): And not only that, this has continued for 27 years under various pretexts. Today the pretext happens to be the nuclear issue.

We have been, for many years, a member of the IAEA. We have been a signatory. We are a signatory to the NPT. And we've demonstrated the largest volume of cooperation with the IAEA. Iran has provided the IAEA the largest number of documents that any country has ever given.

Even in the past several years, all the works that we have done we have also seen that the IAEA has published many reports, numerous reports saying that they do not see any violation of the treaty requirements of NPT by the Iranian government.

So when we talk about concerns about Iran's nuclear issue, I want to say that it's not the nuclear bomb that the American government is afraid of, for there are countries in our region who are armed with a nuclear bomb and are supported by chance by the United States government. Now, how is this?

In Iran, we sees there are two skies over one ceiling, or two kinds of wind running over the same ceiling. It doesn't seem plausible.

They're not concerned about the bomb, but it seems to us they like to prevent the development of our country, as they have in the past.

We were ready for a dialogue. However, some countries believe that they can speak for the entire world community.

Let us recall that in a declaration that was very transparent, 180 member states of the non-coalition movement recognized Iran's right to nuclear technology.

I am at a loss in understanding what else we need to do to provide guarantees.

I have said to the dear gentleman here that there is no provision in the NPT that says that we do not have the right -- that perhaps it says that we need the vote or the confidence of the U.S. government to have peaceful nuclear technology.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): There's no such provision, especially coming from a country that not only has an immense nuclear arsenal, but is developing new nuclear bombs -- the second, third generation -- that are even more frightening than previous nuclear bombs, and that is even today supporting countries that produce nuclear bombs. Now, this, it seems to us, seems that it should be of more concern.

I*f we consider and accept that there is a logic behind what we are saying too, then we have to also ask the right questions. Should Iran shut down every technological development in the biological field and the medical field and the chemical field? Because in any of these fields, there's a possibility of dual usage, possibly a chemical bomb.

So when we speak of justice, we mean that everyone is equal when we act within the framework of international law and we follow the provisions of NPT.

Now, if the U.S. government submits a report, as a member of an NPT, I'd like to ask, what have they done to destroy their nuclear weapons? To what extent? Where are these weapons? And who inspects their weapons program? They, too, need to submit a report.

And it's also important for the IAEA to also publicize the extent of what they've done in Iran, for example, versus what they've done elsewhere, let's say the United States.

We've acted in a very transparent manner. I've even invited journalists and members of the press to visit our nuclear facilities with me. I opened the doors and let them see what we do.

So it's very important to make these nuclear facilities program a transparent one, for it is a technology for development and growth that should be used for agricultural growth, as well as growth in other industries.

There's no need to hide such development. Those who seek to violate the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty or nonproliferation international program are those who hide it.

But we've actually given information to the IAEA. We've invited international world community to visit our facilities.

Now, we are told by some that you have to gain our trust and confidence, but we don't have any criteria developed for confidence- building as such. It may take a hundred years or more for you to gain confidence in what we do.

What are we supposed to do, given the context that in the past 27 years you've demonstrated so much hostility towards our nation? And let us not forget, you're just a few countries talking like that with us.

Our logic is quite clear and simple. I think everybody understands what we're saying.

We say that nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes, granted if it's a good thing, should be good for everyone. And if it's a bad act, it should be bad for everyone. It should be banned for everyone.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Throughout our history, our country has not taken away the rights of any other country, has not initiated war against any other country, has not been an aggressor, has had no territorial claims over other countries. We love all nations and countries.

Last year, let us recall, when Katrina happened, my administration announced readiness to dispatch relief aid to the victims of Katrina. We suffered from the pain that the victims of Katrina suffered. When we saw bodies floating on waters, when we saw homeless people, we felt that we needed to help.

This comes, might I say, from our religion but also from our culture, from our beliefs. We believe in peace everywhere.

And so when we speak of Palestine, it's because we don't want to see war there. We don't want the continuation of displacement and death and destruction, the destruction of homes, the death of young people on their way to school, from school to home. We want people to feel safe and secure, not fear imprisonment.

So our proposals on Palestine are quite clear. We have proposed a referendum. We've had enough of an experience, over 60 years, all failed, tens and tens of solutions, simply because they did not give justice to all sides.

Justice means allowing, as well, the Palestinian people to decide over its own fate. It is a right they must enjoy. It is the right of all human beings. Why should some people not recognize such rights for the Palestinian people directly?

It seems to me that it's the Palestinian nation that it would be convenient if it is wiped off the map of the world. Why should a nation be destroyed as such?

They are human beings. They have children, women, daughters, men. They care for each other. They're human beings who have been living in that homeland for many years. They have been displaced, though.

On the other hand, there has been an effort to bring others from all over the world to place in that territory. Now, this is unprecedented in world history.

Where in the U.N. Charter is this allowable and permissible? Is there a law that endorses -- not so much permissible, but it might endorse the displacement of a whole nation and its replacement by another group and the establishment of a state by the second group to rule the fate of the first group?

Now, even if Ahmadinejad, even if I as a person would keep my silence, do you think that such injustice will go unnoticed, such aggression will go unnoticed?

This is a wrong assumption to make because nations are awake and they move forward. Nations will reawaken. And they have already, might I say.

So it's wrong to think that this is a problem with me, with Ahmadinejad as a humble person. No, it is a question for humanity.

You're facing public voices in Venezuela, in Argentina, in Brazil, in Sudan, in South Africa, in China, Indonesia, Japan and China. All across the world, people are upset by the aggression committed there.

Let us recall what happened recently in Lebanon. No matter what religion or belief people belong to, they condemned what happened in Lebanon because people are more aware.

Even yesterday, in New York, we saw that after a few days of heavy propaganda in the media there were even ads as long as a whole page -- 100 people, maybe, more or less, gathered (inaudible) support perhaps with the Zionist agenda. And the buses were all the same. It seems they had rented buses to all come here together, or maybe these buses were -- I mean, I don't even know, you know -- were these people paid?

But what I do want to say is that there are hundreds of millions of other people around the world who spend their own money to gather, demonstrate, publish and raise awareness about the aggression that happens in Palestine and condemn those acts.

Now, some people think, if they accuse me as being a terrorist, as a murderer, as being anti-Jew, that they can solve the problem that is in Palestine.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No, I'm not anti-Jew. Jews are respected by everyone like all human beings. And I respect them very much.

Let us remember that in Palestine there are Muslims, Christians and Jews who live together. We speak of the Palestinian nation, of a people all in all embracing everyone. I never have said the Muslims in Palestine alone should decide about their fate.

They used to live freely together. But ever since the arrival of the British, with the imperialistic goals they had, and then the arrival of the Zionist system of thinking into that land, the problems were created.

So why not let the people there decide for themselves, and then let's see what happens? Let's give that a chance.

QUESTION: For 18 years, your country hid its nuclear program until it was revealed by a dissident. The IAEA says there are still many questions left with your nuclear program.

Mr. President, why should anyone trust what you say?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, I believe we need to put this in context.

For over 27 years, we feel under attack. And the U.S. government calls us a terrorist.

Now, let us recall that a large number of our government officials were assassinated by a group who are recognized as a terrorist here but nonetheless get to walk in the U.S. Congress and lobby against the Iranian government.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Many of my own friends lost their lives walking on the streets in Tehran with their wives and children. They were assassinated by these same terrorists that you're referring to. And they, let us recall, were then later supported by the U.S. government.

We have not hidden anything. We are working transparently. We are working within the framework of the NPT. And according to NPT provisions, every country has the right to enjoy the fuel cycle.

Six months before giving UF6 to centrifuge machines, we have to inform the agency. We've even taken that step, to inform them when uranium enrichment occurs, when the activities happen, six months in advance, according to provisions.

It's interesting that American officials should say that we're hiding things. Now, let us see. Will the American government allow the press to come and visit their nuclear facilities, their nuclear weapons arsenals? We've opened everything for everyone to see.

If you come to Iran, you can go and see for yourself. It's actually an open area. Students go and visit it. Teachers do. University professors go and see it. Even people who work in the farms (ph) or even people who graze their sheep there, I'm talking about villagers, people go and visit there. They know where everything is.

The bottom line is, we do not need a bomb, unlike what others think.

Regretfully, some believe that the nuclear bomb can be effective in international relations. They're wrong, because the time for nuclear bombs has ended. We know that. These nuclear arsenals will not benefit anyone.

They have to spend so much money destroying them. If the nuclear bomb could have saved anyone, it would have prevented the collapse of the Soviet Union. If the nuclear bomb could have created security, it would have prevented, perhaps, September 11th. If the nuclear bomb could have done anything, it could have, perhaps, stopped the Palestinian intifada.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Today is a time of thought and ideas. We know that and we felt that across the world.

And let me say that at the same time, we are Muslims. And based on a decree given by the leader of the Islamic republic, moving toward having a nuclear bomb is banned and forbidden. Therefore, no one has the right to move in this direction. In our country, it is not permissible.

Now, let me say again, I believe this all is a political issue. At least the politicians know it is. And, of course, they have an outlet to speak their views.

QUESTION: Mr. President, we all know how important your role is in Lebanon, in Syria and in the Middle East. Will you be ready to press the Hezbollah to disarm in order to get peace in Lebanon?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Iran is a large and powerful country. Its spiritual influence in the world is very effective. Naturally, given the long civilization of the country, we have an impact on the region.

I like to stress that Lebanon's internal affairs is its own affairs. We don't interfere in its affairs. We don't want to, because we believe that people in Lebanon, various groups in Lebanon are strong enough to discuss issues among themselves and resolve problems with each other.

We speak at an international level. We like to fix problems that are on an international level and do not involve ourselves, and would not like to, in internal affairs.

QUESTION: On Lebanon, I'm not sure I understood precisely your answer. Are you going to respect the resolution and not ship any weapons to Hezbollah, which you support?

And on Iran, could you give us any details on your meeting with Italian leader Prodi and whether you've come to any kind of agreement with the E.U.-3 on timing?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I responded to the first part of your question.

We give spiritual support to all those who want to uphold their rights, because even according to the U.N. Charter we believe that all countries have the right to legitimately defend themselves. When we support nations, it's a spiritual and cultural support. That is our position, and it is a clear position.

As far as the meeting with the Italian leader is concerned, it was a very good meeting. We both spoke about our viewpoints. Our relations with Italy are a very long and historical one that are also expanding and growing.

We are interested, I'd like to say, to have relations with all countries based on the framework of international law, including mutual respect, friendship ties. And Italy is a country that we are interested in having such relations with.

We know that in one session alone you cannot arrive at all forms of agreement, but the Italian and Iranian authorities are meeting on all levels, and we are interested in expanding relations on regional issues, as well as on international issues.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I understand the importance of the spiritual support that you have just spoken about toward Hezbollah and others, but there is a resolution called 1701, and there is a demand of countries to respect an arms embargo to anyone in Lebanon other than the legitimate government.

You have twice evaded saying clearly whether you plan to respect that resolution and implement it, so can you kindly be forward and say will you stop giving Hezbollah arms and will you implement that resolution?

And do you support, by the way, like you did last year, the tribunal of an international character for the assassinations in Lebanon, including the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, which the president of France called crimes against humanity?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you very much.

Are you a representative of the U.N., it seems? I mean, you are definitely very powerful in making sure that the resolutions here are enforced.

QUESTION: Yes, I am a journalist at the U.N.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Or are you against Hezbollah?

QUESTION: No, sir, I am asking whether you plan to respect a resolution that clearly demands of all countries to stop armament to any party in Lebanon other than the legitimate government.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you very much.

Yes, we support, actually, peace and permanent stability in Lebanon, and we will fall short of no measure in promoting this goal. Whether it's in the cultural or spiritual support that we can render or whether it is the role that we can play in the international arena, we will do our best. And this is the fundamental principle of our foreign policy, and it does not preclude Lebanon.

QUESTION: The French president, Jacques Chirac, when he was here, offered for the E.U.-3 to resume negotiations with Iran, provided there are two good-will gestures from each side, would stop for the E.U.-3 requesting sanctions and for Iran, which would be a suspension of uranium enrichment.

What's your answer to that proposal?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): As far as the nuclear issue is concerned, we have carefully examined the package given to us by the E.U.-3, by the European group. Some expected us to actually turn it down right away, but given the recommendation by the U.N. Security Council, we were determined to read it carefully, to give an appropriate answer.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): And throughout the period that we were examining it, regretfully, a resolution was passed.

We didn't understand and couldn't understand why a resolution was passed in the midst of an examination of a package. We think it was probably under pressure by some powers who constantly want to place pressure on countries.

The secretary general told me to disregard what has happened for the time being, resort to diplomacy. And he's right to respond to the package.

In our response, we delineated a clear framework for the continuation of the negotiations, based on a legal framework as well as on the principle of justice. We maintain that that is a very good foundation for working together.

Mr. Chirac also proposed that we will talk until we arrive at a negotiation (inaudible) level.

Yes, we are talking. And we accept that. And negotiations, let us remember, needs a framework. And we need to know who the parties to the negotiation are and what the prerogatives and the responsibilities of each are and what guarantees there are on enforcement measures.

You see, we have some bitter experience from the past. We've talked on numerous occasions. We've been given promises on numerous occasions, but those promises fell short of happening.

We even had and have had nuclear agreements with the United States that were unilaterally abrogated and (inaudible). We have had similar agreements with Canada, with Europe, other places, that were unilaterally abrogated.

And so therefore we've decided to propose a framework within our legal responsibilities under international law so we know what that framework for negotiations is, so that it is clear who will support the decisions taken as a result.

You are quite aware that over 30 years ago we did have agreements to build the Bushehr reactor facility. However, the party to the agreement, which were the Europeans, unilaterally decided to disregard the agreement. And so the Bushehr reactor remains suspended. Its operations for completion have not gone through.

We have the right to criticize governments for falling short of rendering their side of their agreement. We want guarantees.

So we have, therefore, offered a framework and we are negotiating within that framework. And we believe that those negotiations are moving on the right track, unless, hopefully, others will not disrupt the work in small ways, perhaps. We think that it is a constructive path to take.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. President, since the president of the United States has not responded to your letter, what is your message to the American people?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Our response is clear. We believe that all nations have the right to live in a dignified manner. And we believe that the American nation is a great nation. We've never had problems with the American people.

The problem comes from the American government directed toward the people of Iran, really. Our people don't have any problems with the American people because our people too seek justice and peace, just as people in the United States do.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We ask for peace around the world.

But we also stand up when there is tyranny against us, when there is repression, when people like to force their will on us, or to say we won't submit to that, never. And we like people here to understand that.

QUESTION: Yesterday, I approached you and asked you a question. And after you found out that I'm an Israeli reporter, you ignored me.

I want you to know I'm an authentic Palestinian Jew. My family arrived to this area in 1882, when the Turks ruled this area. So I think I deserve an answer from you, even according to your definitions.

One thing: Can you clarify once and for all, do you seek the destruction of Israel, or don't you seek the destruction of Israel?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We love everyone around the world: Jews, Christians, Muslims, non-Muslims, non-Jews, non- Christians. We have no problem with people.

What we object to are acts that are inappropriate against us, or acts of occupation, of aggression, of violence, of displacement of nations. We have no problem with regular people.

We have no problem -- everyone we respect. Everyone should enjoy their legitimate rights.

But, again, I repeat that we oppose aggression and violence and murder. And we say that loudly.

QUESTION: You're talking about negotiations. First of all, at what point during the negotiations do you foresee suspending enrichment of uranium?

And you had talked about guarantees just before that. What kind of security guarantees are you looking for in the negotiations?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We are not talking of getting security measures. We are able to protect ourselves and our security. The experience of the eight-year war should have shown that to everyone in the world.

You know, the world powers were behind Saddam. Our country was fighting with empty -- with no real arms, but it was the power of our young people that upheld the territorial integrity of Iran.

What we speak of are guarantees of enforcement of the provisions agreed upon. Well, we, for example, as I gave the example, had agreements in the past to -- nuclear agreements for peaceful purposes, building reactors, et cetera. Not only were those neglected, but they also neglected agreements to provide, say, helicopters to us; to provide spare parts for civilian aircraft. So we want to make sure that whatever we agree on has a guarantee of enforcement.

But speaking about suspension, our position on suspension is very clear. In the package given to the Europeans, we've discussed that. We have said that under fair conditions and just conditions, we will negotiate about it -- under fair and just conditions, I repeat. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you and President Chavez did not really address the concerns of your own citizens in the speeches you gave at the General Assembly. Both of you primarily expressed your anger at the United States and American hegemony.

Since you just visited Venezuela, and both of your countries are large oil producers and members of OPEC, is this a new close relationship, an alliance between Iran and Venezuela?

As well, are the speeches you gave a type of alarm for the energy industry and a threat to the United States?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No. Not at all. We do not seek to represent a threat to any country. We have relations with all countries, you must note, and we like to have friendly relations with all, as you must note.

I'd like to point out here that, despite the support of the American government of a former dictatorial regime in our country, after the victory of the revolution, the late Ayatollah Khomeini said that (inaudible) two countries that we consider are illegitimate are the apartheid system of South Africa first, and the occupying regime of Jerusalem.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We like to have friendly relations with all countries. Our imam and our people were saddened, but yet forget the support of the United States gratefully of the former regime in Iran, because we have practically sought good relations with everyone, and we still do.

Venezuela, let us not forget, is a large country with sincere people, with great people, with an independent government, let us not forget. And we must have relations, just as have relations with India, with Pakistan, with Algeria, with 195 countries in the world. We have relations that are sincere and friendly and close.

While the United States, let us not forget, cut its ties with us unilaterally. They look at us with hostility in a very unilateral way. If they change toward us, there, too, we can solve our problems.

The expansion of our ties with the rest of the world is based on the interest of nations and people, and toward the promotion of peace and justice worldwide.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The question I have, you speak of (inaudible) you suspended the enrichment as a precondition. Is it really possible for Iran to consider spending enrichment once negotiations begin (inaudible)? And if you give a positive answer to this, will the leader support that or not?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You actually managed to get two questions in the form of one here.

You see, our position is very clear: We work within the framework of NPT. We seek to define our rights within that framework and nothing more.

I don't quite see why so many people are so sensitive about the "enrichment" word. It seems that this "enrichment" word has become the sort of lingua franca of our time and day.

But let's see, it looks to me that the problem is something else. It seems to me again that the United States government and some European countries should make some changes and alterations in the way they treat the Iranian government and speak with us.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You see, they can't look at our nation as they have in the past 27 years (inaudible) trying to impose their views on us because that's not possible.

But if they recognize that we too, as a nation, have rights that they too recognize international law, well then many things are possible, and the concerns too will be removed.

Again, we have given another suggestion, too. Since they have bombs themselves, they know what bombs are. They're actually more afraid of it, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

They should destroy their arsenal, and I think they'll be less fearful about it. And they'll be less suspicious of others.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: India has always maintained it has a civilizational relationship with Iran. But at the same time, it does not want to see another country in the region develop a nuclear weapon and it's urging Iran not to produce a nuclear weapon.

What do you think of this position, also given India's blossoming nuclear relationship with the United States, your archrival right now?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, their suggestion is a good one, because we are not seeking the nuclear bomb. I mean, that's quite clear.

QUESTION: Your Excellency, I'm not a speaker of Farsi, but there is a debate going on as to what exactly you said at the conference on the World Without Zionism.

Did you say that Israel as a state should be wiped off the map or did you say something else? Could you just please specify this, because there is this debate going on?

And if you said Israel should be wiped off the map, that's very scary. If you said something else perhaps less alarming; perhaps you could tell us.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): It's quite interesting. I mean, it seems to me that there's a strong Zionist lobby. And it seems to me that I face this question wherever I go. And I have always been ready to answer.

I am not saying that you are a Zionist lobbyist, sir. I'm just saying that wherever I go I face questions like this.

But I'd like to say that we are opposed to aggression. We are opposed to occupation. We are opposed to murder and violence, whoever commits them -- does not matter -- whoever is an aggressor, whoever who is the source for disgracement or is a murderer.

I mean, I'm talking about aggression and occupation as an abhorrent act wherever it occurs, whether in Palestine that is occupied, whether in Lebanon, in Vietnam, in Iraq.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We oppose killing on such scale. And, you know, we have tried to offer some proposals on Palestine: the referendum that I discussed earlier, with the participation of everyone.

Now, when you speak of referendum, you're thinking of a process, naturally. You're not speaking of anything else. It's within the framework of the United Nations Charter.

We do believe that the Zionist role in creating conflict around the world should be thoroughly examined by the media. It is a responsibility. Let us not forget that they represent a complex group, a complex organizational system, that has been the source of many problems.

Now, we cannot force our will on the vast part of the world because there is a small group that has a certain interest related to wealth and power.

Let's not forget that Zionism is a party that, in fact, it has no religious affiliations. They might say that, "Well, we're Jews," but that's really not true and that's not the fundamental foundation of Zionism.

And let's not forget that after all, the prophet Moses, was a supporter of peace, was a supporter of justice. He opposed aggression and occupation, and he opposed war and the displacement of people. He saved the children of Israel, banning Israel from pharaohs of the time, from occupiers from aggressors of the time.

So how can the followers of Moses possibly destroy the homes of people over their heads in their homeland to take, and to kill, actually, an infant that is feeding in the arms of a mother?

These Zionists, I want to tell you, are not Jews. That's the biggest deception we've ever faced.

Zionists are Zionists, period. They are not Jews, they are not Christians, and they are not Muslims. They are a power group, a power party. And we oppose oppression and the aggression that any party that seeks pure power, raw power goes after.

AHMADINEJAD: And we announce and (inaudible) loudly that if you support that, you'll be condemned by the rest of the world.

If you usurp the rights of others, you'll be condemned by the rest of the world. If you displace people from their homeland, the rest of the world will condemn you.

And you too must condemn these acts. Everyone should. As a conscienced voice, we must.

Would you like to be displaced from your homeland and replaced by others and, when you raise objections, to be named a terrorist? I really doubt that anyone in the world would like that.

So this is an imposition on humanity.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In your remarks, you have mentioned that the leaders and presidents of the world should turn to justice and enforce justice.

You are the president of Iran and you have the opportunity to enforce justice. Reports coming from Iran seem to indicate that student movements are being repressed, that justice is not being served, as far as the followers of the Baha'i faith, as well as for women, who object to the Islamic laws that discriminate against them.

And this justice that you speak of in the political realm does not exist. So why are against justice?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In the meeting we had with the Foreign Press Council last night, it seemed to me that this was the main question on the mind of many people.

I want to give you two figures.

There are about 219 million people in the United States and in Iran we have about 68 million people.

Now, there are about 3 million prisoners in the U.S. There are about 130,000 -- there are exactly 130,000 prisoners in Iran, 90 percent of whom are illicit drug traffickers who have been arrested in direct armed conflict with our security forces, who were trying to prevent the transit of drugs from Iran into Europe and the United States.

Now, let's find out, and I think you should, what the composition of the backgrounds of prisoners in the United States is.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I asked this question yesterday, but nobody had an answer.

Now, let's see, a high percent of American people are in prison, whereas only 0.2 percent of the Iranian population is in prison. Let's just put these figures in proportion now.

You know, I like to speak of law as a framework. If you violate a traffic regulation, you will be governed (ph) by law. If not, there will be no rule of law.

Now, we do have law in our country. We have a judiciary system. And, in fact, our courts are quite independent because the president does not have the right by law to interfere in the judgments of the judiciary. It therefore represents an independent power, an independent branch of government. We have a judiciary, we have lawyers, we have judges, we have trials. There are violations under law.

Now, let me just clarify what the political situation in Iran is and for you to understand better.

There is a newspaper in Iran that is affiliated with the government and it's a voice, a podium for government position. Three months ago they had a violation under law and they were shut down. The president could not do anything.

Now, I mean, what happened there is really a concept of freedom, a dimension of freedom that we must examine, because if we are to allow insults to happen, if we allow violations of law to happen, then we are acting against justice, we're allowing those with power to tell others what to do.

The courts are set up to defend the rights of the people. A citizen might raise a complaint against me. The judge must consider and examine that and they might give a sentence against me and force me to leave office. This, to me, is a power given to our courts and is a dimension of freedom, it is a dimension of democracy that we've been attained.

Now, let us not forget that there is a possibility of failing to carry out law completely (ph) everywhere. It's in our country as well. Sometimes an enforcement official may not carry out his duties in the right way. But we are all involved, we are all responsible, we have to tell people not to do that, we have to make our efforts.

And everywhere in the world, when you look, such things do happen, and in Iran, too. But we believe that the freedom that we enjoy in Iran and the kind of justice we enjoy in Iran today is, sort of, self-grown, home-grown, and we made every effort to get to where we are, and we hope you respect that.

I thank you all. I know many of you had many questions. I am sorry that my time is limited. Our time is really tight. But if you coordinate with my friend Mr. Zaid (ph), inshallah, meet you in Tehran in the near future in a press conference.

Thank you for your time.

END

.ETX

Sep 21, 2006 13:21 ET .EOF

Source: CQ Transcriptions © 2006, Congressional Quarterly Inc., All Rights Reserved

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