Iranian Leader: Tehran Has No Need for Nuclear Bomb

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahead of his appearance this week at the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview broadcast last night that Tehran has no need for a nuclear weapon and challenged claims that his country is arming Iraqi militants targeting U.S. troops.

Ahmadinejad also said that tensions between the United States and Iran, which have steadily heightened over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and support for extremists, are not headed toward a military confrontation.

"It's wrong to think Iran and the U.S. are walking towards war," he said on CBS's "60 Minutes." " . . . This is psychological warfare. If you have differences of opinion, you can use logic to resolve your differences."

That echoed sentiments expressed yesterday by the commander of U.S. Central Command. Adm. William J. Fallon, who is on a seven-nation tour of the Persian Gulf region, said in an interview with al-Jazeera that the recent "drumbeat of conflict . . . is not helpful and not useful." Fallon added that he does not expect war between the United States and Iran "and that is what we should be working for."

Ahmadinejad arrived in New York yesterday. He is scheduled to give a speech at Columbia University today, then address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

The hard-line leader said Iran does not need a nuclear bomb because such weapons have not guaranteed security even for superpowers. "In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use. If it was useful, it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union. If it was useful, it would have resolved the problem the Americans have in Iraq," he said.

Although Iran had a secret uranium enrichment program for almost two decades, Ahmadinejad said that Iran now has "nothing to hide."

The Iranian leader scoffed at U.S. allegations that his country has provided deadly roadside bombs known as explosively formed projectiles to Iraqi extremists. "It's laughable for someone to turn a blind eye to the truth and accuse others," he said in the interview, taped in Tehran. "It doesn't help. And the reason that I'm smiling again is because the picture is so clear. But American officials refuse to see it."

Ahmadinejad said that instability in Iraq is "detrimental" to Tehran's regional interests.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company