TEHRAN — Here is the full transcript of Ann Curry’s Sept. 13 interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
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Ann Curry: Mr. President, we saw with our own eyes the exhausting schedule you keep every day. What goal, more than any other, drives you as President of Iran?
President Ahmadinejad: Well, let me say hello first of all to you, your colleagues and to all those who are now watching this program. I wish good luck for all nations and for all human beings in the world. I don't think that I'm working a lot. But I think if humanity wants to have prosperity and enjoy well-being, must continue their efforts. Iran is a great country. And we have tremendous potentials and talents here. And we have a long history of civilization and scientific knowledge.
But unfortunately for a period of 100 years the British Empire influenced the process, the trend of progress in our country. Both during the First World War and the Second World War, we have had a lot of losses and casualties. In the Second World War, Iran was named as the Bridge of Victory. But that war only brought for us poverty and losses. The veto right and the wealth were given to other countries.Video: Watch Ann's full interview with the Iranian leader (on this page)
And when the nation and when our people rose up against the ruling government to nationalize its oil, then we faced a military coup, a military coup that was supported by the then government of the United States. And they imposed, for another 25 years, a tough dictatorship on us. And following the victory of the Islamic revolution and our freedom, another— an eight-year war was imposed on us.
And then we had to suffer and tolerate sanctions, economic sanctions, and different political pressures. What should we do? We have to work. We have to intensify our efforts for ourselves, for the nation and for our children, and for the entire humanity. I think the most beautiful life is the life when we do things for the prosperity and well being of others. This life is— becomes very much sweet and we will, we do not feel, any— we will never retired.
Ann Curry: In a matter of days, you will be speaking again on the world stage at the United Nations General Assembly. What will be your message to the world when you take that stage?
President Ahmadinejad: I will bring, again, the message of peace and justice, and a message for reforming the current world governance and leadership. I will offer some proposals to improve the current international situation, and for an efforts to solve really the problems of the entire humanity and international community, and for strengthening peace and love in our world.
Ann Curry: When you speak of the current international situation, what are you speaking of?
President Ahmadinejad: Naturally, I am referring to the present problems. I am going to talk about the roots of the problems. And I would also offer the solutions.
Ann Curry: When you're saying the current problems, are you speaking about war? Are you speaking about the economy? I'm so sorry, because there are so many problems I don't know which ones you're speaking about.
President Ahmadinejad: Certainly, you do not expect me to make a speech now.
Ann Curry: No, of course not. But it would be helpful to have some indication.
President Ahmadinejad: So you can now see the present international economic recession, political problems, security problems, and social problems as well. There are a lot of problems in the world. And almost all nations are dissatisfied with the present situation.
The people in the United States aren't— are they happy? Aren't they under pressures? How about the people in Europe? In Asia and Africa, everywhere. Latin America. They are not happy with the present situation. We must know and understand why. We cannot impose our will on nations. We must see where the problems lie. And if we can, we should fundamentally bring a solution to these problems.
Ann Curry: Right. Well, I'm going to move on because of— I clearly can understand that you don't want to give this speech now. So let me ask you then next about some news that has developed.
President Ahmadinejad: You have already asked everything.
Ann Curry: Just on Monday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency announced plans to publish new information that he says shows that Iran may be working on a nuclear warhead. He said he is, quote, "deeply concerned." Is Iran working on a nuclear warhead?
President Ahmadinejad: I think this is an old and repeated story. These are the same claims made by the go— by the U.S. administration many times. They have been repeating these claims for many years. This is not a new thing for, to us. In principle, we are against nuclear weapons because it is against our beliefs and ideology.
But we do not consider nuclear weapons as a useful weapon. The period or era of nuclear weapons is over, as the period of slavery. Can nuclear weapons offer solution to the current international problems? Can they bring superiority for the nuclear states? Certainly, the answer is no. Those nuclear weapons could not help the Soviet Union from being— from collapse. And these nuclear weapons did not help the United States to gain victory in Afghanistan or in Iraq. These nuclear weapons did not help the Zionist regime either in the war against the people in Gaza, as well as in Lebanon.Story: Iranian nuclear plant steps up operations
We think those who try to build or make nuclear weapons, they are doing something absurd and useless. They only jeopardize their own situation. And they waste the wealth of their own nations if they do it. Today, we have entered into an era of culture, thinking, and the era of humanity. This is not a period of nuclear bombs or bombs. These nuclear warheads that are now stockpiled in the United States and in the arsenals jeopardize people's life.
In our words, we have integrity and we are sincere in our words. Because we are not afraid of any power. And we do not need to conceal our intentions. If we want to build a nuclear weapon, we have the courage to announce it openly. We are not afraid of others. When we say we do not want to make it or build it, we are not doing that.
It is regrettable that the behaviors and policies of the International Atomic Energy Organization has left no credibility any longer for this organization. The agency was created in order to help eliminate nuclear weapons, but now it has turned into a big obstacle for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The agency has also turned into a tool for the great powers that own nuclear weapons.
Ann Curry: Then simply put, is your answer no?
President Ahmadinejad: No, we do not need nuclear weapons. And we do not accept that. We are against that.
Ann Curry: So, but to the question, “Is Iran building nuclear warheads?” is the answer “Yes,” or is it “No,” with all due respect?
President Ahmadinejad: We do not need it. What is our need to do it?
Ann Curry: But so the ans—
President Ahmadinejad: What is the reason? What is the reason? We do not want it.
Ann Curry: So you're saying the answer is no?
President Ahmadinejad: Right. That's right. Certainly. That's right. Certainly.
Ann Curry: With all due respect, there are other bits of this that I would need to ask you about. There is a report that is now, just this past weekend, The New York Times is reporting, that Iran is now moving its most critical nuclear fuel production underground. Is this true or is this not true?
President Ahmadinejad: Natanz has always been an underground complex. It includes a building which has been built underground. And the cameras of the IAEA have already been fixed there. Fordow facilities are also underground. They're also being monitored by the IAEA. And last month, inspectors from the IAEA visited these facilities. Nuclear facilities are built underground because of security matters. That is the situation everywhere.
Ann Curry: Is Iran, however, increasingly concerned about an attack on its nuclear production and its nuclear plans? And if so, by whom?
President Ahmadinejad: No, we are not concerned about it. Who's going to attack us? On what basis or grounds? Of course, maybe some countries wish to attack Iran, but we are not concerned about it. We are not worried about it.
Ann Curry: In recent days, Iran's official news agency quoted the head of the atomic energy agency— your atomic energy agency, Mr. Abbasi, as saying that Iran would now produce much more nuclear fuel than it needs. Why would Iran produce much more nuclear fuel than it needs?
President Ahmadinejad: Did Minister Abbasi say that it's more than our needs?
Ann Curry: Yes.
President Ahmadinejad: I think it's not correct. We have not yet reached the level of our needs. We have long way to meet our domestic requirements. Why should we produce, why, why should we have over-production? It is available in the world market so we do not need to increase production beyond our needs. But the basic step is to produce based on our needs.
Ann Curry: Who do you believe is behind the attempted assassinations and murders of the nuclear scientists here in Iran?
President Ahmadinejad: Our security officials have now provided some evidence that the Zionist regime is behind all of these assassinations. And it is deplorable that the IAEA, against all laws and international regulations, announced the names of our scientists. We consider them responsible and accountable.
Ann Curry: Have you expressed this to Israel? What will you do about this evidence that you say you found?
President Ahmadinejad: Yes. It has been publicly declared. We have publicly announced that. We should not declare it to them. And we have also protested to the IAEA.
Ann Curry: I'm going to ask you just one more question about this topic. And you have been very descriptive and you have been very gracious in answering these questions. But because these are questions that the world is asking, and I know you have an interest in being better understood by the world, I would like to ask you this one more question about this.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says it needs more cooperation from Iran. It's asking for more cooperation, because so far it says it's been unable, quote, "To conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities." Will Iran become completely transparent so that the world can be assured that Iran has no ambitions to create a nuclear weapon?
President Ahmadinejad: I believe I should raise here three important points. First, the world is not questioning us. These are the questions raised by a number of politicians in the West. Other nations have no problem with us. There are about 118 countries in the non-aligned movement that supported us, and a few other international groups. So the world is not asking us questions about our programs. Leaders in a number of Western countries that are, that have kept their hostility against us for more than 30 years. Okay, I'll respond to that.
Does IAEA consider Iran an exceptional country? Are we an exception? Iran is a member state to the IAEA like others. So they should not treat us differently. We have laws and regulations inter— internationally. And we went beyond those international rules in cooperating with the agency.Video: A day in the life of Iran’s president
And we cooperated with them beyond our international commitments. What should we do more about it? Everything must be done within the framework of the law. Lawlessness is not good. Does IAEA provide a report about the nuclear activities of Japan? Iran is the only country that— whose details of activities have been given to the media.
The IAEA raised six basic questions. We have provided answers to all those questions, earlier than the timetable they set. And they endorsed our replies. What has to be done more? Maybe they are going to inspect my office and my bedroom too. Even two years— two and a half years ago, we signed and implemented the additional protocol. And for two and a half years we suspended all activities voluntarily.
And we allowed access beyond the law to the IAEA. And we have also provided documents and evidence for the IAEA beyond our commitments. But the agency failed to meet its own commitments. Rather, they increased their pressures on us. The third point is about the methods of their work and cooperation with Iran and the way they treat us.
The agency claims that Iran is diverting from its nuclear program in its nuclear program. "We say, “Okay. Please present the evidence you have." They say, "We have no evidence. Iran should provide the evidence that it's not diverting to a weaponry program."
It is like the case in a court. If somebody is charged and if you want the accused to provide an evidence that he has not committed the offense. This is a wrong logic. They say the burden of proof lies upon you, lies upon the accused. This is a political attitude, and this is not a legal approach.
And this is continuation of the hostile policies on the part of the United States and the United Kingdom. Those who have, in their own countries, arsenals of nuclear weapons. And they also use these weapons against other nations. They also threaten Iran for using such weapons against us. This is the situation now we have with the IAEA.
Ann Curry: In our interview two years ago, you said about President Obama, "I very much hope that the gentleman will move towards fundamental change, and we are waiting for such changes to come about." What is your message to President Obama today?
President Ahmadinejad: When President Obama was in the presidential elections and he had some slogans, many people were happy about it. But in a short period of time, many people were disappointed. I ask you, and the people of the United States, to what extent they hope about real reforms by him? To what extent they hope about it. And how about the hopes in our world about these reforms?
What has changed in the United States? What policies? Did they change policies in Afghanistan? In Iraq? Or their hostility against Iran. What has changed really? Earlier I sent a message to President Obama. I was keen really that President Obama could— provide or offer some real reforms and change. Changes that could be reflected in the life of the Americans and in the international politics. But we have not seen considerable change or reforms.
Maybe President Obama— will be reelected for another four years. But— what we can remember about people would be their good works. Securing the interests of the capitalists who don't care about people. It is not going— to be a source of pride or honor for anybody.
Ann Curry: As you well know, Iran has endured more than 30 years of sanctions, the toughest under President Obama. What would be your reaction if these sanctions go deeper because of these concerns about nuclear ambitions? If— for example, if Iran's central bank is sanctioned?
President Ahmadinejad: Iran is a great nation. And we have these rules in history. And we have gone the— we have got through very difficult— days and— periods. We are the people of thinking and action. Our history is replete— from— the works of great scientists and scholars. We have had great inventors too. We have la— learned to stand on our own feet and to run our own country ourselves.
What has happened in Iran in the past three years? Did we make a progress or not? We made good progress and we are developing very fast. Faster than the friends of the Americans who follow the American policies. We have no problem. But if they went more pressures from them, the more well, the more damage will be faced by them.
Last year they said we are going to paralyze Iran by additional sanctions. Who is now facing economic decision? Is that us? Or the countries that imposed sanctions on Iran? Any pressure from their side will be echoed in their own countries 10 times stronger.
There is a difference between our government in Iran and the governments in the Western countries. When we face a problem we try to distribute all go— good things among the people. We live with the people. But in a capitalist system the first goal is to solve the problems of the wealth owners, not solving the problem of the public. So they are going to suffer more. Hopefully they do not make such a wrong decision. Such a policy is not going to work against Iran. Iran is a great nation and these policies do not work to make Iran surrender. It will be in their best interests to be friends with us.
Ann Curry: To be friends, one thing it would be important — this is a very important question — is to create understanding. That many Americans want to know how it could be that Iran could sentence the two young hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, to eight years in prison for spying. What is the evidence against them? The American people have not heard and so don't understand how these two young men could be sentenced. What can you tell us?
President Ahmadinejad: They illegally crossed our borders. And they were arrested by the border guards. And all countries have laws for illegal border crossing. They have very tough laws. We have the same laws here in the country. But we tried last year to free one of the three persons. And we are also trying to make arrangements for the freedom for the freedom of the other two. I think these two persons will be freed in couple of days.
Ann Curry: In a couple of days?
President Ahmadinejad: In, yes, in a couple of days. Inshallah, they will be freed. But let me ask a question. Are they really the problem? You know how many Iranians are in the American jails? Very cruelly. And do you know how many Americans are in your jails? About 3.5 million people. Are you sympathizing with them?Video: When will Iran release jailed US hikers? (on this page)
Do you know how many people are in the American secret prisons in Europe? And I heard about some secret prisons on a ship on ship wards. They are human beings. It's not about only two people in Iran. There are a lot of human beings in the world who are under oppression.
How about the people in Afghanistan? Aren't they human beings? What about the American soldiers in Afghanistan. Aren't they human beings? These two people are having the very good condition here in— in prison. It's like staying in a hotel. But how many soldiers, American soldiers, are killed in Afghanistan every day? How many Afghans are killed every day?
I think the problem is in our— in the approach of the American politicians and leaders. This is a discriminatory outlook towards the international issues. This is not going to solve any problem. That approach must change. For 33 years the American politicians and leaders, despite their obligations acted against Iran have acted against Iran.Timeline: Detained hikers (on this page)
The article one of the Algerian Treaty or accord obliges the government of the United States not to take part or participate in any action against the people of Iran. And this was after the incident in the former U.S. embassy that is called Nest of Espionage.
During the war that had been imposed by Saddam Hussein against Iran, the American adminis— administration supported the Saddam's regime. They imposed sanctions against Iran many times. And they are at the forefront of all actions against us. Why? What have we done? Have we sent our military to the American borders? No. Have we inflicted any blow on the American people? No.
Why they keep on their hostility against us? Have we attacked any nation? No. We are just trying to develop our own country. Why the American leaders are so hostile against us? Okay. These two persons will be released. Is it going to be over? We do it, for example, in a humanitarian gesture. Is it going to solve the problems? I hope so.Video: Ahmadinejad: Jailed hikers to be freed (on this page)
Ann Curry: But—
President Ahmadinejad: But I do not, I don't believe it.
Ann Curry: One of the things that causes the American people to be concerned about Iran are explosive comments that have been made by your government, your government— you have said, at the 2010 U.N. General Assembly, that 9/11 might have been orchestrated by some parts of U.S. government.
And you added that the majority of the American people agree with this view. I can tell you that the majority of people in America do not agree with this view. So why do you say explosive things without conclusive evidence, knowing that it will anger people. This angered President Obama. It angered many people in America. And frightened them.
President Ahmadinejad: Did you hear the news of the day before? About the Ground Zero what, what did the people say? They objected to the policies. They were against. They were telling that the incident was very suspicious. They said, "We do not accept the report of the U.S. administration” about the September 11th.
Or polls in America indicates that more than 80 percent of the population in the United States have not yet been convinced about the reports of the government. Now I ask you, was it was small incident? No. It was a very big incident. And it was very bad and tragic. 3,000 people were killed. Innocent people were killed.
Because of that, two countries were occupied. And more than one million people were killed in these countries. Shouldn't we go through it and investigate the truth? Shouldn't we find the truth? And you think everybody has to accept the reports provided by the government of the United States?
If the implications of that tragedy only stayed inside the territory of the United States, that could be acceptable somehow. But that became international. Two countries were occupied. And stability in the region was undermined too.
All governments have to accept, do you think all governments have to accept the reports of the U.S. government? If the reports, if the report is true, why don't they allow to be studied by an impartial group? What is the problem about that? What is their concern about it? If the report is true, the impartial group should also accept that and endorse the report. And this is going to be in the interests of the U.S. administration. And if it is wrong or a mistake, again, it will be in the interests of the United States. That may help improve or reform the U.S. policies.
Isn't the United States benefiting from its presence in Afghanistan or in Iraq? Or they are facing losses? Last week they said more than $1,000 billions of dollars were spent both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. To whom belong this money? That belongs to the people of the United States. That should be used and spent for the well being of your society.
If the government of United States acknowledges its mistakes, are they ready to correct their policies? I think it is in the best interests of your government. This is not controversial. And that is the wars of more than 100 million people in the world. And more than 100,000 shattered families in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And more than— and the desire of more than one million people who lost their lives.
Can the government of the United States tolerate any criticism against its policies in the international scene? I criticize openly the American international, the American foreign policy in the world. And our proposals will be in the interest of the Americans. We say the American young soldiers should not lose their lives. And they should not also kill us, kill our people.
We should say that this money should not be spent for killing people in other countries. Is that bad or controversial to say that? Is that going to make a hue and cry in the world? What was in the black box of September 11th tragedy? And why does the government of the United States not want to talk about it?
I think a fact-finding team is going to say a lot and that will be inter— interest of all parties. Especially that is going to serve the interests of the Obama administration. Because Obama said he is going to change the policies of the former administration. Well, September 11th, when did it happen? When did September 11th happen?
He could improve the situation. That was in the interest of all. And the American— for the American soldiers, can safely, could safely return back to their home. That is a constructive proposal. It is a reform, a reforming proposal. There is a logic behind that.
Ann Curry: You have said very clearly that you wish for peace and friendship and kindness and unity for every nation of the world. Do you want these for Israel? You know the United Nations is about to vote to— on whether or not to recognize Palestinian statehood. What is your view on this? And what will be your reaction if it is not recognized for statehood?
President Ahmadinejad: We support formation of the Palestinian state as the first step for the liberation of the entire Palestinian land. We are not against— the pep— the peoples of the world. We love all human beings. We have no problems with Jews or Christians. We have Christians and Jews in our country who are living here peacefully. They have their own representatives in our parliament, and with all equal authority and rights.
We are facing a complicated political and occupying force. And we are facing a pugnacious and terrorist force with a dreadful party. We are against that. Those who create war, those who commit acts of aggression, those who commit terrorist acts, they continue to threaten and coerce, and they occupy lands.
Now people in the occupied lands hold demonstrations. Who are they? They are Jews. Who, to whom are they protesting? They are protesting to the policies of the Zionists. Those, the ones, the same people, who are, who we, we are against them. If they abandon their policy of coercion, aggression and terrorism, we have nothing to do with them. If they recognize the rights of nations, there will be no more problem.
Ann Curry: You have not— Iran, however, has not recognized Israel. I don't need to point out—
President Ahmadinejad: We will never recognize that. It is an occupation force and an occup— an occupier country. Who, who, who is going to recognize such a country? We cannot recognize these occupiers. We cannot recognize these terrorists. We cannot recognize these warmongers.
Ann Curry: You recently made a bold statement about a key ally for Iran. You said about Syria in its crackdown against that opposition, you said, "We believe that freedom and justice and respect for others are the rights of all nations.” How is what Syria is doing, with all due respect, Mr. President, any different than what Iran did to the young people protesting your re-election? Did Iran respect the rights of its own citizens in the crackdowns following your re-election?
President Ahmadinejad: Did Iran repress that? Who has been repressed by us? Nobody was suppressed here. There were a limited number of people who torched public buildings and places, and they scuffled with the police force. The number of the police officers and ordinary people who supported the government were killed was greater than those rioters.
Altogether 33 people were killed. And two-thirds of them were police officers and the ordinary people who supported the government. Ordinary people. Do you call it a suppression or repression? Do you call it a crackdown? Do you know about the number of people who are getting killed, who get killed every day in the fight with the police in America? It's more than 30 every day. And during the year, more than 30,000 people are killed as a result of gunshots and gunfights.
I am an elected president. Those who voted for me and those who did not vote for me. This is the law in my country. I love all segments of the population, and we have friendly ties with the people. There are people who did not vote for me, and they are still working in the government as senior officials.
Iranian here are not partisan and they do not have partisan orientation. They are friends. They freely vote, but at the end of the day they are friends. It is their right to vote for anybody they wish. It's the principle of freedom. You know, I go among the public. I talk to them. Who are they?
Did all of them vote for me? No. Nobody asks them a question about it, who voted for whom. We are all friends. We are all friends. The young, the youth, the young adults and others. And I love all. And I work for all of them. But in any country, those who break the law, they should face with the police. That is everywhere. But I'm not happy that some people were killed. I wish nobody would have been killed. Neither in Iran nor than in any other parts of the world. Even in the United States. Why should they kill human beings?
But about Syria and other countries. We side with all nations and with the people. And we recognize basic rights of all peoples. The people in the United Kingdom and Italy, Greece, and Portugal, we sympathize with them. We are with the people. We think freedom and justice are the fundamental rights of all nations. And having respect to the dignity of human beings is the right of all nations.
But we believe democracy cannot be achieved by, through the help of the NATO. NATO cannot bring and can never bring democracy to other nations. NATO is made for killing people. It's a killing machine. It is intended to dominate other nations.
So governments and peoples should sit together and solve their problems under friendly atmosphere without allowing anybody getting killed, either from among the opponents or from among the security people. They are all human beings. Why should— should they get killed? They should solve their problems through humanitarian logic. No country should interfere from outside. No country has the right to interfere. This is a clear outlook and policy here in Iran. And we move in this direction.Video: Watch Ann's full interview with the Iranian leader (on this page)
Ann Curry: Thank you so much.
President Ahmadinejad: I wish you good luck and I wish good luck for all nations, for the people of the United States, people in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
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