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Iranian president: No 'nuclear apartheid'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told CNN his country has a right to make nuclear fuel.


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
United Nations

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told delegates Saturday at the United Nations General Assembly that his country had a right to pursue nuclear power.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour spoke to Ahmadinejad a few hours before that speech.

Amanpour: You're here in New York ,and you've come to speak to the United Nations and to the world. What proposals are you going to make that will defuse the current crisis over Iran's nuclear activities?

Ahmadinejad: In the name of God. In my opinion we cannot, we shouldn't, use the word "crisis." There are issues between different countries such as ours and they continue. And in the future they'll probably continue in some other forms. The first point is stressing the right of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pursue and have the nuclear cycle.

Number two, the acceptance of all the points and agreements of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Number three, reserving such rights for all countries.

Number four, the creation of a special committee that controls the proliferation of nuclear weaponry in the countries who have the means to carry such weaponry. And then the continuation of such talks in the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency with other countries.

These are the points that we've considered, on the basis of which we will put forth a proposal. We're against "nuclear apartheid," which means some have the right to possess it, use the fuel, and then sell it to another country for 10 times its value. We're against that. We say clean energy is the right of all countries. But also it is the duty and the responsibility of all countries, including ours, to set up frameworks to stop the proliferation of it.

Amanpour: You do have the right under international law. Is it enough for Iran to have a small laboratory able to do research and, yet, have an outside party deliver your fuel in order to defuse people's suspicions?

Ahmadinejad: Why do others insist on having the fuel and selling it to us? I tell you, we will commit ourselves to -- right now, I give them commitment that we will sell it to them at 30 percent less than the prices that they're proposing. Is that fine?

Amanpour: You are determined? You are determined to proceed?

Ahmadinejad: We are determined. Certainly we are determined. Why should other people have it and sell it to us? We will make it and sell it to them.

Amanpour: So are you saying you're determined to pursue enrichment?

Ahmadinejad: This is the right of a country.

Amanpour: But we're talking about the words now. Are you determined to pursue enrichment? And you said it's your right. I want to know if that's your policy?

Ahmadinejad: This is a nuclear cycle for civilian peaceful purposes, it's a right of a country, and our country will pursue it.

Amanpour: Do you accept at all that the United States, Europe, they're deeply suspicious about your intentions. They just think that you want to build a bomb. Do you understand that? And why do you want to have this crisis?

Ahmadinejad: Yes, you see, we understand, we know that their intentions are bad intentions, their intentions towards us are bad. When have they ever shown or have had clean, clear, pure intentions towards us?

We don't have expectation for anything else coming from them.

What rights do they have when they want to talk about such issues to us, they need to proceed according to international laws. They cannot say that we don't like the intentions -- what we think are the intentions -- of your country, therefore, we want to prevent you.

All of our activities have been transparent to the agency, and we've announced many times that because of our religious views, our cultural views, we're against the creation and or use of nuclear weaponry.

We're a country that rules according to our religious laws. And our religious scholars have issued religious decrees that the creation, the research towards the creation and use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction is not allowed. Therefore, our country cannot allocate any specific budgets or resources to such activities.

Amanpour: If you were referring to the Security Council and if sanctions were imposed on Iran, will you take counter measures? Already, some of your officials have threatened to provoke a rise in oil prices, have potentially threatened to pull out of the NPT [Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty]. What will you do if sanctions are imposed?

Ahmadinejad: I think any intelligent, healthy, smart human being should use every resource in order to maintain his or her freedom and independence.

Amanpour: So you could see interfering with oil prices?

Ahmadinejad: I doubt that the leaders of the United States and Europe are that far removed from reality. I think they're smarter than denying us this legal right.

It is natural, of course. They will use whatever they have in their hand, which is the U.N. Security Council. And our nation has the means to defend and obtain its own rights. Do not doubt that our people will not lose.

Amanpour: It sounds very aggressive, what you're saying. It sounds like we're heading toward real confrontation.

Ahmadinejad: No it isn't. No, we have no such intentions. All we're saying is that we will go according to all of the provisions. There are cameras set up here, you are the ones who are saying do not proceed. According to what law is this being imposed on us? You'll have come, and you are putting, you are interfering in our internal affairs against international laws. Who is at fault? Who is being aggressive?

Now, in this instance if the International Atomic Energy Agency gives us the lawful framework, of course we'll cooperate. The biggest degree of cooperation has been carried out by the International Atomic Agency by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Like I said, in the last 34 years there have not been inspections done, been conducted on any country like they have been with the Islamic Republic of Iran. So this is unprecedented in the history of the agency. So we think that the dictation of rules in the international arena by some powers is unacceptable to us. And this is what we refuse to surrender to.

Amanpour: You know, in your campaign when you ran for president, you talked about increasing economic opportunities for the poor, for the lower middle class in Iran. You talked about making the lives better. How can you do that if you're going to be as isolated? Surely that depends on Iran being integrated with the world.

Ahmadinejad: You see, what I said during the presidential election is what I said generally. Everything we talk about is in order to keep our national interest and what is at the heart of our national interest. We need to keep those at the forefront. One of the slogans during the presidential elections for my campaign was that we will have access to the nuclear supply process.

Amanpour: So is nuclear supply more important than having your country improve its economic situation and having people have a better life? I mean, are you really ready to have a real confrontation with the world over this?

Ahmadinejad: No, we don't want to be at war with the world. I explained, you see, they're trying to impose their will on our country. I'm confident we'll reach both. I have no worries about it. We will have peace, prosperity and the nuclear supply cycle.

Amanpour: Mr. President, on the eve of the elections in Tehran, I spoke to your challenger, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, who said that it was time to mend relations with the United States, to find a way to try to bridge these decades of confrontation. Do you believe it's time to do that?

Ahmadinejad: You see, during the elections, different topics, different issues were addressed, and people chose. I said no such thing.

Amanpour: As you know, there were a number of former American hostages, who were held hostage in Iran in the late '70s, who accused you as being one of the hostage-takers and interrogators during that time. Is that true?

Ahmadinejad: You see, I heard the same news after I was elected and, you know, quite frankly, I laughed at it. Either the memory had been erased and replaced anew. I don't know how they had reached such a conclusion. Back then I didn't have the beard I do now.

Amanpour: So you were not involved?

Ahmadinejad: No, it's not like that. I was not involved. But I have a question. What I would like to say today to the people of the United States and to the government of the United States is that we need to change our views. We need.... We cannot keep imposing our will.

It is not the foundation, the solid foundation for peace. I understand that the United States government, that they had announced this officially. They expected our people to make a different choice than they did.

Obviously the democracy and the people of this country get to decide. They decided. We have a great deal of turnout for this election, and they made their decision. Why is it that after they decided, after the people of Iran decided, why is it that after the decision was made public that such accusations started being leveled against us?

Now let's say I don't like you, for whatever reason there may be. Do I have the right to keep bringing accusations against you in order to discredit you? What kind of behavior is this? You see, we think a new school of thought on the worldwide stage should be applied nowadays. We need to address issues openly.

Ahmadinejad: Let me tell you something else. If we can accept the following: In the relation between countries that, let's say, a country at her own will can bring accusations towards another country. Instead of requesting proof from the accuser we are requesting proof from the accused. What way is this? What way of international norm does this reflect? This is the wrong way to go. This is a hostage taker, this is a terrorist. What kind of thought is this? What kind of words are these. I saw the picture that they tried to impose. It didn't even resemble me.

Amanpour: Let me ask you about terrorism. One if the big issues between Iran and the U.S. and many other countries is that they believe that Iran sponsors terrorism. A state sponsor of terrorism around the world. What can you do and say to stop that and to change that?

Ahmadinejad: We go back to the previous question. They like to accuse us. What are we to do?

And they also believe that they read our intentions before we actually state our intentions. So how can we provide proof for such people? How can we satisfy them? Seventy-two of our biggest leaders were killed by a terrorist group. Our president and one of our prime ministers in the past were killed by a terrorist group. We have been victims of terrorism.

Amanpour: Both governments outside of Iran and many people inside Iran are quite alarmed because your election, they think, symbolizes a step back, a step away from reform, away from democratic progress, away from women's rights.

Ahmadinejad: You see, the people who were not victorious in the election, they would say such things. So how can you say these elections were a step backward? How can elections, the results of them, be a step backward? Election is a result of democracy. When our people turn out in such high numbers and cast their votes, over 60 million votes are cast, how can you call that a step back?

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