Ahmadinejad exclusive to RT: way the world is run must change
RT: Thank you very much for sitting down with RT again. It’s your sixth time addressing the UN General Assembly. During your tenure, the Security Council has passed four rounds of sanctions against your country over its nuclear program, and thus far, Iran has not stopped enriching uranium, which it says will only be used for peaceful purposes. When you address the international community on Thursday, what will be different about your message? What is there left to say that hasn’t been said?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: In the name of God the compassionate and merciful, I'd like to say hello to you and your audience and all your colleagues. Thank you.
My talks at the General Assembly address the events that shape our world today or, perhaps more importantly, the root causes of the challenges that we confront and the world confronts, given the conditions surrounding us.
It is not that we are seeking to address problems that Iran may have, because we seek a larger goal, and that is to address the challenges of the world, for the problems that confront Iran are a small segment of larger impositions on the human community at large. So if the sources of the problem are identified, all nations and all people benefit, and I'll definitely speak of the changes that need to occur on the international scene.
RT: In one of your recent interviews you said Iran is ready to talk to the United States on fair and respectful conditions. What are “fair and respectful conditions”?
MA: Well, the minimal requirement of fair conditions is that both sides view each other as equals. If one side chooses to speak from a position of power, and use conditions available to it that are not ordinarily around, and chooses to replace logic with coercion, then we cannot have equal conditions.
When some groups think of mutual talks, it seems that what they have in mind is that the other party must accept their position. In other words, they have defined what they want the results of the talks to be, predefined, whereas these results have to come as the result of the negotiations. And at times some purely political purposes lie behind the talks, whereas talks should try to shed light on the truth and to build mutual trust and mutual understanding.
We have been told that the resolutions for sanctions have been passed to pressure Iran further, so that when the negotiations come they would feel they have the upper hand. What is this supposed to really mean? This all renders the conditions of the negotiations unfair. Both sides must accept that they certainly do possess equal rights, without the need to coerce the other party, but rather sit down respectfully and talk. Under those conditions, we’ve always spoken of our readiness to talk. We are prepared now too, under those conditions.
RT: In August, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said during a national interview here in the States that the plan of attack against Iran is in place and the option to act is ultimately up to the US President, the current President Barack Obama. I'm sure you heard those comments by Michael Mullen. How seriously did you consider those comments when you heard them being said?
MA: In your opinion, how seriously should we be taking it anyway?
RT: You turned the question around last time! I'm not a president, I wouldn’t know.
MA: I have to say that these are the polemics adopted by the United States, and it speaks of replacing logic with coercion, because there is no reason to want to attack Iran. What is the reason for it? The conditions are not laid for it either. Do the conditions in the Middle East allow for another war? It does not have that capacity.
I haven’t said that, but it's also clear that the United States does not possess the capacity to enter another war either. So in your opinion, should we really be taking it seriously?
I haven’t said that, but we are prepared for the unlikely scenario of war, and we are ready to defend ourselves. But at the same time we believe that no special case of this type will happen.
RT: You brought up the Middle East and I'm going to ask you about the Middle East peace talks that have resumed. These are talks that have been going on and off, on and off. Do you think that they are serious talks or just theatrics?
MA: Your own question gives the response. When a journalist believes that it could all be theatrics, it speaks of the larger reality behind it. It's very meaningful.
A lot of talks have happened so far on the Middle East, and various plans have been offered as well, but they've all failed. Why? When you plan to propose a new plan, you have to identify the reasons for the failure of the previous ones and to ask sincerely what the cause of the failure was.
I believe there are two causes that are clear. Why is negligence given towards the displacement of Palestinians? Over five million Palestinians are now displaced because their land is occupied by others and their rights are ignored while these negotiations are underway.
The second cause is the negligence given to the right of national sovereignty by Palestinians. The Palestinians own a territory with its history, with its culture, with its own life, and with a whole background that went with it.
So who are the negotiating parties at that table? Where is the Palestinian nation at the table? Who represents them? And what do they discuss? Are they speaking about the right to national sovereignty of the Palestinians, the return of the refugees that were displaced, the end to the occupation and usurpation of the land?
It seems to us that the plans put on the table so far, rather than addressing the root causes, seem to want to consolidate the Zionist regime's position. And that's precisely why they always fail. In the recent talks, we do not see any changes compared to the two of the past, and therefore we cannot expect success.
What we'd like to see is a Middle East filled with peace and security. But without addressing the root causes of insecurity, security will not prevail. And pointing fingers at others is useless as well. If I were to provide an analogy, it's as though an ailment related to the stomach would be treated like an ailment related to the ear. That's why I'm going to address the stomach problem.
RT: So Mr. President, what I want to ask you…you might have already answered this question, but do you in any way support a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine?
MA: We do not intervene in the affairs of the Palestinian nation. It is the right of the Palestinian people to decide about their land. It seems strange to us that others seem to be sitting and deciding their fate. It is the Palestinian people that need to decide for themselves. I believe that the Palestinian nation should be given the right to decide about its fate, its self-determination, and future. They can do that well enough.
RT: I'm going to ask you about something I read in some reports. There were quotes attributed to you. It said, Mr. President, that you said that any Israeli attack against Iran would see the destruction of the Jewish state. Do you really think Israel would ever attack your country?
MA: No. Even that entity aside, no other country can attack Iran. Who would want to attack Iran? Who can possibly attack Iran? The Zionist regime represents a very small entity. It does not even factor in our equations. It's far too weak to have the ability to attack Iran, because it understands that if it were to do so, it wouldn’t lead to Iran’s destruction.
RT: What is the most pressing international problem right now that you feel is the most important security concern for your country?
MA: We are not concerned about security challenges that may be posed to us. We do not have any security problems.
RT: But when you look at the entire globe, there have to be certain issues and conflicts you have to keep your eye on, to protect you own country. You have a few wars around you. There has to be some sort of concern.
MA: There have been wars for a decade now. But look at those who started the wars – where are they now? It's not that we are concerned about Iran's security. We are truly concerned about the current situation in the world altogether.
The main problem besetting the world today is its management, the way it's run. Look at the world around us; there are about two billion people who live in hunger. Look at the global economy; there's almost total insecurity in the global economy. Look at the political conditions in the world.
Rather than consolidating friendships and points of convergence, the world is diverging. Terrorism, fundamentalism, and radicalism, as well as illicit trade and drug trafficking are on the rise. People's lives are jeopardized on a daily basis. So the way the world is currently run in its management, it is unable to address these problems, and the prospects for the future are quite dim.
So we believe that the main problem of the world is its current management. Unilateralism has brought the world to the brink of danger altogether. It has increased the arms race and filled nuclear arsenals. And it allows for the furtherance of military contracts that increase the sale of airplanes, tanks, missiles. And what is all that for? Is it to serve peace? That alone can ignite a war.
So I'd like to stress that the current problem of the world is its management, which we believe should be improved and reformed. And reformed it shall be. That's at least the agenda on our table.
RT: To change the management of the world?
RT: And the current manager you're referring to is the United States?
MA: You've said it yourself!
RT: And you're now working to change that?
MA: Part of it is the US, the other is the culture that it brings about. And the third is the relationship among nations and countries. We're not the only ones who seek to alter it. Most governments and nations are unhappy with the current status quo, so everybody seeks change.
If you look at the speeches given at the last General Assembly meeting, you'll recognize that most managers and leaders around the world do want a fundamental change to the current status quo. Even with the Millennium event that's happening now, I was present at its opening this morning and I realized that almost everyone is unhappy with the status quo. Everyone was speaking of the problems and increase in the challenges around us. Nobody was offering a message of hope, so it’s clear that everyone's unhappy.
RT: There's some unhappiness, that's been rising in America, that I believe you are familiar with, and that is the debate over the proposed development of an Islamic cultural centre and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. I read that the speaker of Iran's parliament was quoted as saying that the Koran burnings that were spearheaded by a pastor opposing the project here in the US were an unprecedented crime. Do you believe that the Koran burnings that were spearheaded by a pastor here in the US were an unprecedented crime?
MA: Throughout history many books have been burned and many prophets have also been killed. And attempts to kill the messages of the prophets have also happened.
There've been many people who've wanted to keep others in the dark, but insulting the Koran is a new thing. Why would people be unhappy with the Koran? The Koran is a divine book; in the Koran all the divine prophets and books are endorsed. The Koran invites people to brotherhood, to piety and sincerity and to compassion and kindness, to the prevention of oppression and violence. It invites people to transcend the sublime path of spirituality, intellect, thought, so why would people want to burn the Koran?
Are they trying to burn these truths? These truths will remain alive, by burning a paper that does not get destroyed. I believe that this incident probably shows the depth of the grudge of only a very few, a minority. They are angry, angry at God, angry at the Koran, angry at the prophets Moses and Jesus, angry at humanity. They're angry.
RT: Iran recently released the American hiker, Sarah Shroud, on humanitarian grounds from what you said, and the news has also come to light that there are eight Iranians that are languishing in US jails and you would like to see their release. Can you tell me more?
MA: These Iranians were arrested under false accusations. Some had traveled with visas to third countries, say, to Georgia. US forces arrested them in Georgia for example and then brought them to the US and put them in prison, or perhaps in Thailand. This is kidnapping and is incompatible with law and international norms, because they have entered another country with official visas.
So we believe that it’s essential to respect international law, otherwise no-one is immune and safe. So we believe that the US has to review its position on this and allow these individuals to return to their homes and to pledge not to violate international regulations.
RT: Does the release of the two American hikers that are still in Iran depend upon the release of the eight Iranians that are still in the US?
MA: No, not at all. Because the two in Iran have their cases under judicial review and that has to go through its own process. I just want to announce that there are innocent Iranians in prisons in the US. If US authorities truly seek to promote human rights – here is the opportunity to prove that.
I don’t even have to go into the number of American people who are in prison. You know this country has the largest number of prisoners per capita compared to its population. And the largest number of homeless people. The greatest levels of discrimination are within society here. And there’s much more to say on these fronts.
So we think it’s essential for American authorities to pay more attention to their own people's needs too. There are 49 million people who are poor in this country. That's equivalent to the population of ten countries. Rather than going to a third country to kidnap the citizens of another country and bring them and place them in jails, it’s much better to give attention to their own people. Unemployment in the US has become a crisis now.
They say they have to take that money for Afghanistan for the war and for Iraq too. But they might as well have spent this money on their own people, who are in the US.
RT: Thank you for sitting down with us.
MA: I wish you success.