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Interview With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Q. I read about them in the Iranian press.

A. I don't read the press so I would not know.

Q. Let's just talk about Obama then.

A. We believe that the desire here in America for change is one that is on the right track. It is actually a world desire. Under the current status quo, nothing is viable around the world today. Consecutive U.S. administrations have had a substantial role in shaping many of the issues in the world today. It is only natural to expect the U.S. administration to begin change for itself. We believe that change is inevitable and necessary. At the same time, these changes should be real. Superficial changes will not be able to resolve any of the problems we face -- they would only complicate them and delay a final solution. We hope that Mr. Obama is seeking real change. We are of the belief that if he decides to he will be at least be able to change a segment of what he has his mind set on. We are willing to help bring about those changes. In the meeting in Geneva, we are ready to discuss some issues, including our willingness to purchase enriched uranium to the grade of 20% for our domestic needs. Iran in return will offer solutions to the changes that are required. If Mr. Bush's policies are to be continued with new language, we will not be able to achieve much because that approach is already outdated. Policies must change. If these policies do not change, no real change will happen.

Q. Can you elaborate on what you just said? You said that in Geneva you will agree to buy enriched nuclear fuel? Is that correct? From the United States?

A. We have a reactor in Tehran that produces nuclear medicine based on radioactive technologies. It requires enriched material to the grade of 19.75%. We are prepared to purchase this material. We are prepared for our nuclear experts to sit down and discuss areas of nuclear cooperation towards the purchase of material that we need with experts from the other side. To engage in nuclear cooperation as well as to discuss our need to purchase these materials. I think it is a very solid proposal which gives a good opportunity for a start.

Q. But you are enriching uranium in Iran as we speak. Is that correct? The IAEA says you have enough enriched uranium -- I believe it is 4.5% -- to build a crude device. By what you just said, are you suggesting that you are willing to suspend enriching uranium?

A. I want to correct you -- our level of enrichment is currently at 3.5 % - within a range of 3 to 5%. The materials go to nuclear power plants. They are useless for a bomb. A bomb needs enriched uranium to the grade of 99.7%. We believe that nuclear bombs are a wrong thing to have. Do you know how many atomic bombs the United States has?

Q. I do not. Would you be willing to commit to never building nuclear weapons?

A. We believe that the premise that countries should or should not have nuclear weapons is wrong to begin with. To that end, we have proposed to engage in disarmament discussions. According to reports that we have received, there are about 10,000 nuclear warheads here in the United States. Don't you think that it is hilarious to say that it is potentially dangerous for the whole world if Iran were to possess one nuclear warhead but the fact that the United States possesses thousands of them poses no threat whatsoever? Isn't it hilarious to imagine that you can basically withstand the force of 10,000 nuclear warheads with only one nuclear warhead? The atomic bomb belongs to the previous generation. The time has passed for the ability to use these weapons any longer. Honestly, if it was of any use, the Soviet Union would not have collapsed -- it would have used them somehow. They would have helped NATO win the war in Afghanistan [using nuclear weapons]. They would have helped the Zionist regime win in Gaza and in Lebanon. The nuclear bomb is the most anti-humanitarian device ever produced in the history of mankind. With respect to the nuclear issue, we have given two concrete proposals for the P5 +1 for negotiation -- the first is disarmament and the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Secondly, we need to pave the way for a collective access to peaceful nuclear technologies through cooperation by all parties. We also believe environmentally, too, that we need to have access to clean energy, secure energy that can be guaranteed. Our position is really clear. We work within the framework of the Agency and we have carried out our obligations so far.

Q. I don't understand how your proposal for purchasing enriched uranium fuel fits in with the overall picture of your nuclear program?

A. Again, these nuclear materials we are seeking to purchase are for medicinal purposes. The 20% material is to produce the drugs we need to cure things. It is a humanitarian issue. They are working on these drugs in Tehran right now. Our reactors are really busy trying to produce these drugs. They have already produced about 20 kinds of different nuclear medicines but we need to foresee our needs for the next 20 years and we do need further enriched material. We thought this would be a good start to begin the negotiations.

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