Editor’s Note: Part of the CNN Republican debate fact-checking series
An Israeli strike on Iran was raised as a possibility at Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate in Washington. Candidates were asked if they, as president, would join or support Israel.
Michele Bachmann said the issue of Israeli aggression came up only because of Iran’s possible nuclear capability.
The statement: “…why is it that we’re talking about Israel having to make a strike against Iran? It’s because Iran has announced they plan to strike Israel.
“They’ve stated, as recently as August just before President Ahmadinejad came to – to the U.N. General Assembly. He said that he wanted to eradicate Israel from the face of the Earth.
“He has said that if he has a nuclear weapon he will use it to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. He will use it against the United States of America.”
In 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during a meeting with protesting students at Iran’s Interior Ministry, quoted a remark from Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution, that Israel “must be wiped out from the map of the world.”
Ahmadinejad then said: “And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism,” according to a quote published by Iran’s state news outlet, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
This year, Ahmadinejad spoke to the U.N. General Assembly in September. He criticized Zionism and the United States, but did not threaten a military attack on either country.
Ahmadinejad has maintained Iran seeks only nuclear energy capability, not nuclear weapons. On November 9, he denied once again that his country is pursuing nukes.
“The Americans have fabricated a stack of papers and he keeps speaking about them,” he said on state-run Press TV. “Why don’t you do a report on the U.S. nuclear program and its allies? Present a report on the thousands of U.S. military bases where Washington has nuclear arms that threaten global security.”
The verdict: False. While Ahmadinejad is no fan of Israel or the United States, he did not state in August that he wants to eradicate Israel. Because he does not acknowledge pursuit of nuclear weapons, he could not have threatened to use them against Israel or the United States.
CNN’s Amy Roberts contributed to this report.