CHARLIE ROSE: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is in New York, and he spoke at the United Nations at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD (via translator): By enjoying special privileges in the highest global decision-making bodies in the IEAE certain nuclear weapons states widely exploit the platforms against non-nuclear weapons states contrary to the spirit of the NPT.
This unjust practice repeated over and over has turned into a pattern. So far none of the non-nuclear weapon states have ever been able to exercise their inalienable and legal right to develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy without facing the pressure and threat at some level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE ROSE: Also addressing the United States conference today, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This morning Iran’s president offered the same tired, false, and sometimes wild accusations against the United States and other parties that the conference.
But that’s not surprising. As you all heard this morning, Iran will do whatever it can to divert attention from its own record and to attempt to evade accountability.
Ultimately, however, we will all be judged not for our words but for our actions, and we will all be measured not by how assertively we claim our rights but by how faithfully we uphold our responsibilities. And as the secretary general said in this regard, the onus is on Iran, and so far it has failed to meet its burden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE ROSE: Late this afternoon I sat down with the president of Iran with a conversation not only with the nuclear issue but also about the relationship between President Obama and President Ahmadinejad and how he sees the future of that relationship. Here is the conversation.
CHARLIE ROSE: What is the status today of the agreement that Iran will send uranium out of the country to Turkey?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD (via translator): Let me give you a short history of an issue on my mind here that also involves our discussion. According to the rules of IAEA, all member states must give other member states, those who possess the fuel and the technology for fuel production. This has to be done without any preconditions.
Now, we haven’t had a reactor in Tehran that develops medical isotopes that basically meets the needs of 800,000 patients in Iran. It meets to the grade level of 20 percent, a fission grade level of 20 percent.
Now our fuel is almost ending. And so we requested the IAEA to provide us with some more fuel. According to the regulations of the IAEA they have to provide that fuel to us and get paid by us. The IAEA instead of sending out requests to purchase the fuel to all countries decided to only send the request to two member states, the United States and Russia.
And acting against the spirit of the IAEA, they said that they will give the 20 percent fuel, but in return demand that Iran give a lower enriched grade fuel to countries abroad as an exchange. And we said very well.
And then negotiations happened and they were moving forward. But then some demands were set in place that were not right. We are the ones that want to buy the fuel. We have to have conditions, not those who want to sell it, because those who want to sell it have to provide the fuel basically within the framework of the NPT regulations without any preconditions.
And they came and said they want an exchange and fuel, and we said sure enough we can do that. But then later on they came and said we want Iran’s enriched uranium to be bought outside so that Iran moves farther from the ability to build a nuclear bomb.
Once that statement was made the people in Iran felt there was insincerity involved and there is something not quite fair about the process. And they reacted and prevented the process from moving forward.
Now today we wish to continue with talks but the agreement that is arrived at has to be mutual, based on mutual exchange. We are agreeing to have an exchange, and we had agreed to it beforehand as well, but, again, it has to be a mutual agreement in order to carry out an exchange, not for one group to say it’s my way or the --
CHARLIE ROSE: So what my understanding was that a representative of your government signed the agreement, your negotiator, for 1,200 kilograms to leave Iran by January 15th to go to Russia. What happened?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Every paper signed by a representative of Iran is acceptable by the Iranian government wherever in the world it was signed. But there was no agreement that was signed.
CHARLIE ROSE: So you want to today present a counterproposal to Russia and the United States and the IAEA. What’s that counterproposal?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We believe we can find a middle ground.
CHARLIE ROSE: What is the middle ground?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We have certain proposals that we have given to some parties involved. Now we have to talk about it and decide on the details. I mean after all, when I speak of an agreement we’re speaking of two parties, and both parties have to agree.
Now, some people want to unilaterally impose an agreement on the other. That can’t happen. That’s where problems arise.
CHARLIE ROSE: They want to have a negotiation, they want to have a conversation, they want to move the thing forward. And people in Iran tell me that you want to move it forward. You have opposition in your country, but that you would like to see this idea move forward. Is that correct?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Yes, and I agree that this should be done.
CHARLIE ROSE: So how would you do it? Tell us what you would do.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: You see, we agree to send 3.5 percent enriched feel to receive 20 percent and pay for it, for the 20 percent. But there are some technical details that require the technicians and those who are experts in the field to sit down and talk about and resolve.
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, has anyone responded to your counterproposal? Where does it stand?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Some have said very to sit down and reengage in talks. There’s no other way but to talk, of course.
I’d like to bring your attention to the fact that we are able to produce 20 percent grade fuel. We don’t exactly need it in that sense, but we agree to accept the exchange idea to engage in cooperation as introduction for longer cooperation.
It’s quite interesting -- some have told us that either have you to engage in an agreement in trade with us or we’ll sanction you. Accept the exchange or we’ll sanction you. Is this the new world order that’s in place?
We happen to have 20 percent enriched fuel and we’re producing it within the legal framework of international law. And it’s only based on the spirit of cooperation that we agreed to the provision to have an exchange. Now, of course, after we lost hope, we started the production of the 20 percent.
CHARLIE ROSE: Here’s what Secretary Clinton said, "Iran is the only country represented in the hall that had been found by the IAEA board of governors to be currently in noncompliance with its nuclear safeguard obligations, the only one. It has defied the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA and placed the future of the nonproliferation regime in jeopardy. And that is why it is facing increasing isolation and pressure from the international community. But Iran will not succeed in its efforts to divert and divide.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Again, who said this?
CHARLIE ROSE: Secretary Clinton.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Oh, Mrs. Clinton. Well, Mrs. Clinton says a lot of things. Do I have to have a comment on every statement she makes?
Let it be just said that Iran has been the country that has cooperated the most with the IAEA. She cannot provide some documents and evidence that we have not carried our obligations within the framework of the agency.
We have continued to cooperate with the agency within the legal framework and we have responded to every set of questions they have put to us, and we have actually received a response back from the IAEA.
CHARLIE ROSE: They said you have not complied and not allowed them access to see scientists. You have not answered the questions.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: This is not the case. The agency makes the claim which is unlawful. Based on its own regulations, no member state can present an allegation against another member state.
The agency sends a series of six official, formal written questions to Iran. Iran responded to all six questions and then received sort of a receipt from the IAEA that they respond to.
Now the IAEA is in fact asking us to respond to the undocumented allegations presented by the U.S. administration, by the U.S. government. That is far beyond the framework of the IAEA. We have never committed to the agency that any member state that brings an allegation forward has to be responded to. And therefore, hence, there’s no violation.
It is the U.S. government, by the way, mind you, that has had the largest numbers of violations of IAEA rules. The U.S. government has violated this law by alleging that Iran has some activities that are illegal. But the director general himself cannot speak unlawfully within the framework of the IAEA.
CHARLIE ROSE: It was the IAEA, not the United States, that suggested you were not in compliance with their request. So what I want to do in this conversation is understand what the president of Iran would do and what he would like to see done to facilitate nonproliferation and facilitate Iran sending uranium outside of the country to be enriched.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: If we did that, do you think all the problems would be resolved? In other words, if Iran sends uranium abroad for enrichment and then it returns, do you think all the problems will be resolved including the world problems around us?
CHARLIE ROSE: Certainly not.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: It’s clear Clinton is an enemy of Iran. Mrs. Clinton is an enemy of Iran, it’s clear from the position she takes. She has always threatened Iran, and the agency does not have any evidence suggesting Iran has deviated from the legal framework of the IAEA, no documentation.
This is a simple political move under political pressure. I have said that over and over again.
Mr. Charlie Rose, if we want to resolve this problem we need to find the root cause of it. We can make a lot of political noise, we cannot really pose these kinds of political pressures. We must follow justice and law.
We want to prevent proliferation. We have to ask ourselves, who are those who proliferate? The very states that possess nuclear weapons, and you have to have those weapons to proliferate it. If we want to stop proliferations, the answer is quite simple. Those who possess the bomb have to eradicate it so that proliferation stops. Where else are the bombs being exported around the world from?
CHARLIE ROSE: The world worries about Iran having the bomb because they think it will set off a proliferation in the region, and that’s against everybody’s interest. The world would like to convince you that Iran should not want to have the bomb because it’s not in the interest of proliferation.
The president would like to say to you that they made an agreement with Russia to reduce the number of bombs, you know, and that the president is trying to set in motion nonproliferation and is asking you to engage in that.
You have said, you have said "We don’t want the bomb." Correct? Categorically you have said Iran does not want the bomb. Correct?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Mr. Rose, if we want to understand the truth, we have to look at it fairly. All our nuclear activities are being watched by cameras installed by the IAEA, all our nuclear facilities.
Now, show me one nuclear facility in the United States that comes under the watch of the IAEA cameras. The IAEA has no inspection over these facilities in the United States.
The United States and Russia have had discussions. Who’s going to supervise it and make sure that’s carried out? What independent, verifiable regime is out there to watch it happen? They themselves are agreeing to do a certain number of things. Perhaps there should be an independent boy that can verify what they do.
We at the end of the day welcome world nonproliferation and we welcome halting proliferation and we have announced we are post-proliferation. We have carried out our legal duties. What else do we need to do?
We are prepared to show the path towards disarmament and we are prepared to sit down and give political assistance, proposals as to how the United States and other nuclear countries who possess the nuclear bomb can disarm. Once they disarm, the solution is there, it’s finished.
How convenient that those who possess a bomb are not considered a threat, but those who don’t have a bomb but may possibly have a bomb in the future are considered a major threat. This is a paradox in and of itself. No one can accept this kind of logic. The international community cannot.
And the international community is not summarized by being just the United States and the allies. There are over 100 NPT or G8 member states who have supported Iran’s position. Are they not members of the international community?
You see, we oppose the spirit of the word that come American politicians thinking that they represent the world, that whatever they say is what the world thinks. This is not the case.
You heard my speech today. Some people got up and left. Those who speak of themselves as representatives of the international community, they were a minority, an absolute minority. And they like to think of themselves as the international community.
If we want to fix the world, we have to act fairly. And to be fair and just those who have bombs have to put them aside. That’s the end of the story.
CHARLIE ROSE: So you are saying the test --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: By alleging Iran has some problems, America’s problems aren’t resolved. Just alleging that Iran has problem is not going to resolve Mrs. Clinton’s problems for her.
CHARLIE ROSE: With respect to my question, you categorically say that Iran does not want either nuclear weapons or the capacity to make weapons, categorically, under no circumstance. You’ve also said it’s against the --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Yes, exactly so. I have said it categorically.
CHARLIE ROSE: And it’s against your religion, yes?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Yes. Yes. And it also against our culture and against our beliefs. And we just simply cannot accept to have nuclear bombs.
CHARLIE ROSE: Then why is it so hard to cooperate with the IAEA if that is the principle that you act on.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: In our eyes we’re cooperating. Who said we’re not?
CHARLIE ROSE: Not in their eyes. The IAEA --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: The IAEA comes under pressures. What you’re saying is because the IAEA comes under the pressure of the United States. They say that themselves. It’s quite obvious if you read what comes out of it. How come they don’t produce anything against the United States arsenal? It’s clear --
CHARLIE ROSE: You doubt the integrity of Mr. Baradei.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: No, not at all.
CHARLIE ROSE: He was a director of the IAEA.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: It doesn’t matter who the position or what the position is. It doesn’t mean just because you’re the director general of the IAEA that you can’t make mistakes. It’s quite clear you can make mistakes.
The question posed is quite clear. The United States has 10,000 nuclear warheads. Is the United States a threat, or is Iran? Which one is actually the threat? They say Iran may in the future produce bombs, hence it is a threat therefore sanctions are in order. But a country that possesses thousands of nuclear warheads and has used nuclear weapons in the past and is threatening to use them again now today is not considered a threat?
This is a political position. It’s not a fair, legal, reasonable position. It’s quite clear it’s all politics.
And just weaving this into a thick story is not going help the IAEA. It’s quite clear where the threat comes from. It comes from the country that possesses nuclear bomb. The country that possesses it is a threat. It’s quite obvious.
CHARLIE ROSE: What’s quite obvious is there’s not a level trust between your government and President Obama’s government. There is not a level of trust.
So I ask you this question, what can be done to create a level of trust? Because Iran is a great nation. The United States is a great nation. Iran has considerable influence in the world. The United States has considerable influence. Where is the trust and how do you get the trust?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I agree with you. There is no level of trust. Now this goes back to the history of relations between the two countries. I don’t want to however ponder over history.
CHARLIE ROSE: We’ve discussed it before.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Our people remember the coup in 1953, for example, or the support of the Shah and the dictatorship that went on before the revolution.
CHARLIE ROSE: And the Americans remember the hostage taking.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I don’t want to go back to history.
Under the Bush administration we tried to talk as well as under Mr. Obama’s administration. And we do believe trust is built through talks and not by clashing and by fighting.
CHARLIE ROSE: So take a step forward, how you would --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Allow me. Just allow me. I’m going take a step forward and say what you have in mind.
When Mr. Obama was elected I sent him a congratulatory note. That was a very big step. It was an opportunity that could have responded to in order to pave the way for talks. He didn’t respond to the note.
When the elections happened in Iran, Mr. Obama supported the people who were setting cars on fire in the streets. Now that wasn’t a good position.
Last year when I was visiting New York I said that I was ready to talk with Mr. Obama. But he didn’t respond.
It seems to me that the problem comes from inside America. If you can resolve the problem coming from inside America, the problem between Iran and the United States will be resolved quickly.
CHARLIE ROSE: Say that again. I’m sorry, say that again.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I think there’s a problem within the -- inside the U.S. government, the politicians, the statesmen, that somehow prevents the relations between Iran and the United States to improve. Once that problem is resolved within the United States the problems between the two countries will be removed.
There are a group of radicals in the United States who see their interest in conflicts.
Now allow me -- allow me, if you may, please. I think that with Mr. Obama in office the United States has a great opportunity in its hands, perhaps a historical opportunity, perhaps even the last historical opportunity so that the United States starts improving its relationship with the world.
CHARLIE ROSE: There is some indication the United States is improving the relations with the world.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: The United States has to address its problems in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan as well as in Iran.
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, but you have to be a positive contributing factor too, a positive contributing factor.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We have given Mr. Obama plenty of opportunities. But it seems to me that there’s a group that wants Mr. Obama to reach a point where instead of cooperating with Iran he starts entering resolutions condemning Iran.
Mr. Rose, I’m telling you as a friend, just a friendly conference here we’re having. I’m familiar with the world affairs and so are you. Mr. Obama is the biggest and the only and the last opportunity America has for itself.
Mr. Obama came with the idea of change, with the motto to change, to build and create change. Where can he built the change, where? What corners of the world? In Iraq, in Afghanistan --
CHARLIE ROSE: Mr. Obama went to Cairo and made a message about the world, and he reached out to the Islamic world.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Allow me, please. Mr. Charlie Rose, please.
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, go ahead.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Mr. Charlie Rose, things are not resolved with one speech. A speech has to lead to action -- action.
Mr. Obama said that "I want to create change." And this change must present itself, must show itself in Iraq. It must show and happen in Afghanistan. It must show and happen in Palestine. It must show with regards to Iran.
Now, please pay attention. I’m trying to help here. I’m trying to help you. I’m trying to help America here. Those who are behind the scenes or within the U.S. administration, in the Obama administration, are moving things in a direction which will make Mr. Obama to take radical positions especially with respect to Iran.
Some of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are also doing the same thing, leading Mr. Obama to a position that is irreversible, vis-a-vis Iran.
As soon as Mr. Obama enters into a series of behaviors that resemble Mr. Bush’s behaviors, two things will happen. First, Mr. Obama’s time is over. In other words, when Mr. Obama becomes radical in his behavior, what that means is there’s no change and therefore he’s been defeated. He’s failed. And his presidential term will be not useful.
Secondly, America’s most important historical opportunity will be lost and America will no longer be able to improve itself in the world. I’m saying as a person who sympathizes, who is just expressing what he sees. They’re constantly instigating. Over and over again I said I’m ready to speak with Mr. Obama. Well, what happened? He’s never responded.
CHARLIE ROSE: Can you clarify one historical point to me. Did President Obama send a letter to the supreme leader of Iran?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: You should ask that from Mr. Obama.
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, what do you know?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: You and I should speak about our own affairs.
CHARLIE ROSE: I asked you an honest and sincere question, how do you build trust? And your answer had to do with accusing the United States of things and saying this was the last chance for the United States as a nation. It’s not. The United States is the longest democracy in history. It’s not the last chance. President Obama is part of the continuum of democratically elected presidents which will continue after him.
But you’re important, and this is a time for trust to be done, and it has to have a give and take. I’m asking you what you want the president to do and what you’re prepared to do in response. It’s that simple.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Can you tell me what have they given us so far for us to give something back? What have they given us so far?
CHARLIE ROSE: They’ve made offers to --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: What offers? What offers? Can you tell me? Specify? You’re saying we should get something to give something. What have they given us so far?
CHARLIE ROSE: What have you given them?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Are our eastern borders any safer today? No. U.S. forces have increased in number in Afghanistan.
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you fear --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Are our western borders any safer today? The Americans are in Iraq still.
Is the Persian Gulf now free of American troops? Exactly what is it they have given us? You’re a member of the media. You must know. What have they given us and what in return are they expecting? They haven’t given us anything?
CHARLIE ROSE: They have reached out. The president has said to you he was holding his hand and would you like to unclench -- he said "I’m holding my hand out. Would you like to unclench your fist and shake hands?" That’s what he asked. And so --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: These are just words, Mr. Rose, just posture. Instead of that I sent a message, I sent a written letter, saying I’m truly extending my hand to him. And I sent a message saying we’re prepared to cooperate in the following fields that I expressed in the letter.
So we’ve been a step ahead. We’re in fact a step ahead. Nothing has been given to Iran accept the hand has been extended. So? We extended it earlier. We extended it many times before.
CHARLIE ROSE: You are concerned about sanctions. It’s not just the United States that’s talking about sanctions. It’s Europe. It’s Russia. Many people are talking about sanctions.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: With respect, we’re not concerned about the sanctions. Sanctions cannot be implemented. In the world of free trade, what does sanctions mean?
CHARLIE ROSE: You’re not worried about sanctions?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: No, we’re not. Sanctions are unimportant to us. We’re saying that clash is bad, conflict is bad. We’re not even speaking of sanctions. We’re speaking of a world filled with friendship and saying this goes against what we want, otherwise there have been three other sanction resolutions passed already. But we’re still alive and going on living and going on with our life, and I’m still sitting there despite three sanctions. And it can be a problem.
CHARLIE ROSE: And you solidified your support in some cases. Speaking of that, how is your economy today?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: It’s good.
CHARLIE ROSE: Good?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Yes. It’s better than the economy here in the United States because in the past three years of economic crisis we’ve had a positive economic growth.
The volume of our trade is not anywhere close to the volume of trade the United States has. The volume of your trade is much larger. But in world crisis, in a global crisis when you’re economy was going down, our economy was still showing a positive trend, because our economy is based indigenous and based on Iran’s own internal resources primarily. It’s not based on global resources.
So we don’t really have a major problem. We don’t worry about sanctions either. We’re worried that the opportunity for creating a better world and world peace are getting lost.
CHARLIE ROSE: But why are you attacking the United States all the time, then?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We’re defending.
CHARLIE ROSE: No.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We’re constantly defending ourselves. Mr. Bush, how many threats, and we kept defending ourselves. When exactly have attacked --
CHARLIE ROSE: Mr. Bush is no longer president.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Allow me, Mr. Charlie Rose. Are there Iranian forces around U.S. borders or are there American troops around Iran borders?
CHARLIE ROSE: There are American troops --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Are we the ones who are attacking?
CHARLIE ROSE: Not attacking Iran.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Where have we attacked?
CHARLIE ROSE: Are Americans troops attacking Iran? Are American troops attacking Iran?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Allow me. Mr. Bush four times officially threatened Iran with a military attack, four times. And the policy was regime change in Iran. He said it officially many times.
CHARLIE ROSE: But Mr. Bush is no longer president. You need so stop suggesting that there’s no difference between President Obama and President Bush. You say that all the time.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I’m saying in fact there’s a difference between them. I’m saying there is a difference. Since Mr. Obama assumed office we have welcomed him and said we’re ready to help him.
If Mr. Obama wants to create change, we’re ready to help. We said in Iraq if you want to change we’re ready to help. We said in Afghanistan, if you want change, we’re ready to help. We said in Palestine we’ll help.
Mr. Obama did not make any changes in Iraq policy. He probably doesn’t need our help in Iraq, I suppose.
CHARLIE ROSE: No, no. He does.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I mean, if somebody doesn’t need your help, you insist on giving it to them? You can’t insist on it.
CHARLIE ROSE: The possibilities of cooperation between Iran and the United States would make the world a better place. A better place --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I accept that. I agree.
CHARLIE ROSE: And the United States is saying please, Mr. President, don’t engage in developing the capacity to have nuclear weapons, or --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Are you saying that or is the United States saying that?
CHARLIE ROSE: Am I saying what?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Are you saying Iran should not increase its ability to develop nuclear weapons or is the U.S. government saying that?
CHARLIE ROSE: I think that’s the U.S. government --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Why would we want nuclear weapons.
CHARLIE ROSE: I know, but you need to convince the world. You need to convince the Russians, the international energy agency, the Turks, you need to convince the Europeans, and you need to convince the Chinese.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Mr. Charlie Rose, do you see the world as the summary of these few countries? That’s wrong. Just for five countries to call themselves the owners of the world is wrong in the first place. We don’t even believe in that. This is a major difference we have with that and they have to accept that.
They have so sit and talk with us about it. We can’t believe that the world is summed up by five states. The rest of the world has issued declarations in our favor. If we go on like this, nothing’s resolved.
Where do America’s problems lie? Let me just set your mind -- I want to give your mind some rest here. We are opposed to the bomb, the nuclear bomb, and we will not build it.
If we want to build it, we have the guts to say it. We’re courageous enough to say it, because we’re not afraid of anyone. If we want to have the bomb, we’ll come and tell everyone he want to build it. We’re not afraid of anyone if we want to make it. Who’s there to be afraid of?
So when we say we don’t want it, we don’t want it. They want to engage in political games, and the agency, this, that. They’re not going to resolve anything. No, let’s settle this. This is not going resolve anything.
Mrs. Clinton might make 2,000 more speeches. That’s not going to resolve anything.
CHARLIE ROSE: But your speech --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Iran is not going to be harmed by those statements. It’s America will waste the opportunity. Exactly how, what harm will that bring to Iran?
CHARLIE ROSE: Before you leave --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: It’s only made us stronger.
CHARLIE ROSE: Before you leave New York, present a program to the United Nations and the IAEA and the United States and others of, one, your commitment not have a nuclear weapon, and then present a program to the United States as to how you would like to create trust and credibility, how you would like to see the United States develop same kind of relationship with Iran that it developed with China.
You could do that by reaching out. The initiative is there. How do you take steps to create an engagement? You take the initiative.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We’ve given the U.S. government many opportunities it didn’t want. The political issues are there. We know that. It’s called politics. They’ve been our enemy 30 years. That’s nothing new. We don’t care.
We think that if they want to get into a level of cooperation with us they have to be sincere. Those who want to carry -- if they want to carry double standards, we want to hold the stick over Iran’s head and then give the carrot out, it’s not an issue, not a policy posture that can resolve anything. It’s not a humane policy to begin with.
What is humane is based on justice. Whatever it is, put it on the table to discuss. Sincerely, let’s put everything on the table and respect each other for a change. Stop the double standards, because they failed in the past. It’s just a failed way of moving forward.
Now, that stick, whether it’s going on the IAEA or the U.N. Security Council, it doesn’t matter. A stick is a stick. The name of the stick, it doesn’t get purified the stick.
The U.S. influence in the U.N. Security Council can be used for sanctions. That’s not going to legitimize anybody. It can use its pressure on to the IAEA for somebody to say something. That’s not going to resolve the problem.
The problem’s not going to be resolved. You’re asking me to say it. It’s not going to be resolve and it’s only going exacerbate the problem. If the U.S. administration truly seeks to resolve the problem it has to bring a change of method, because the current methods have not given any answers. They’re defeated methods.
I say that the root cause of the problem has to be sought behind the scenes of American policymakers.
CHARLIE ROSE: You had an election. There will be an anniversary on June 12th. The impression is you have strongly cracked down on the opposition in your country, that you have threatened, put some in -- arrested. How do you respond to that?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Mr. Charlie Rose, when you say that this perception this has been shaped, you mean among the Iranian people?
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes. Yes.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Let me tell you a few things about the Iranian people, because I got 25 million votes from them, and I’m the only official representative of the Iranian people elected by them.
All the main people who were opposed to us are free and walking around. The leaders of the opposition are free in Iran. They’re all free. They actually have official positions in Iran and they’re still holding their posts.
Sure, there are groups who went on the streets and put cars on fire and destroyed building, and the judiciary dealt with them. Otherwise the main opposition groups, my main competitors are all free. Who ever said anything to them? Has anyone ever confronted them? They’re all free.
In Iran, the judicial system carries out its decisions independently. If someone goes on the streets and hits people or creates conflict and induces conflict, the law will deal them.
Now, in America if a group of people go on around and break windows won’t you not deal with them? If they set cars on file won’t you not deal with them? I’m sure the police will confront them. It’s the same there in Iran.
The judicial system and the law, it’s all I independently done, carried out when somebody carries enough hands on the street, it’s dealt with. Otherwise all the leaders of the opposition were free before the elections and after. Which ones have been arrested?
CHARLIE ROSE: With respect, Mr. President, after the election that was contested, were the people tortured in prison, and did some people die in prison?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: See, these are claims that were made in the press. These claims have to be presented by -- before a court, before a judge. The judicial system receives complaints, and anyone, even if an officer of the law has a violation it has to be dealt with, because there is law in Iran and it applies to everyone, even the president. If I were to violate the law I’d have to be dealt with.
If somebody complained against the prison ward or a prison officer or even the judicial system, anything, there’s a judge, there are documents, there’s evidence that has to be produced, and then the decisions are made.
It’s not our effort to defend anyone or condemn anyone every day. Something happens. The police confronts them and confronts the situation. They have to go to court. The police may be condemned. Whatever has violated the law has to be held accountable.
But there are claims made that have not been proven yet. In other words, the judge has not accepted the claims that anyone’s been tortured. If the judge agrees, accepts that someone’s been tortured in prison, then the perpetrator will come before the law. It’s quite clear.
And our judicial system is very independent. It doesn’t come under -- the Iranian judicial system is not selected by the president, by the way, mind you. It’s independent of the president.
In fact, the managers of our judiciary and his friends were people who were not unlike him in my camp, actually, to tell you the truth. So they were not about to defend me. They were kind of independent. They’re still independent. They didn’t belong to any camp.
So I can’t really interfere in what they do. Our judicial system’s is quite different than you have here in the United States. In Iran it’s not the president that appoints the judge.
CHARLIE ROSE: I understand, and I also am aware of the National Security Council having to do with nuclear policy as well.
Do you -- is the reform movement that was identified in Iran, in your judgment, what’s happened to it?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: What do you mean by the reform movement? Do you mean a party?
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, I mean the people who voted for Mr. Mousavi, the people who voted who were in the streets protesting. At the time, I’m asking a question, at the time, there were lots of people in the streets, and people thought this was the decisive moment in Iranian history. It turned out that you clearly have prevailed at this time.
What’s happened to the reform movement? What did Mr. Mousavi represent?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: How many people do you think were in fact out on the streets?
CHARLIE ROSE: I don’t know.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Can you guess? Can you say how many?
CHARLIE ROSE: You tell me. You live in Tehran.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: You see in Tehran Mr. Mousavi got about two million votes.
CHARLIE ROSE: Two million. How many did you get?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: In Tehran, two million. In Tehran, I got about two million, too. So it was close.
So two million people come on the streets, how important is that? We already knew the two million didn’t vote for me. You see, Iran is in a very good position right now. The Iranian people don’t necessarily operate within party groups. They don’t really vote for any party.
Iran’s system is different from what you have here in the United States. In Iran parties don’t define what happens. People define what happens.
In the course of 30 years people have had opportunities to vote, and then move on with their lives and are friends. They don’t clash every day on the streets. They live like neighbors.
And those who didn’t vote for me are living their lives and are working and are in the bureaucracy and part of the government, they’re part of the organization. They work and live and have a life. It’s not the case that if they don’t vote for me they’re all going to stand in the opposition camp.
Iran’s situation is very different from a party system. People are people. They vote. If they don’t win, they go on with their lives. And they still recognize the government that’s there and they can cooperate with the government for sure.
Sure, there are those that are in opposition. Every government naturally has an opposition. They’re living their lives too. They send declarations out and say things. It doesn’t matter. Iran is a strong country. Rest assured, it’s a strong country. You should be worried about and concerned about America.
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you fear that war may come?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Who would attack Iran?
CHARLIE ROSE: No one, I assume.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I mean, you can’t just assume. Assumptions aren’t made in the heavens. They’re made on earth. Who’s going to -- on this earth, who’s going to attack Iran on this planet?
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you believe Israel --
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Russia?
CHARLIE ROSE: No.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: China?
CHARLIE ROSE: No. The United States, no.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Then who?
CHARLIE ROSE: Would Israel attack Iran?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Israel isn’t even counted. It doesn’t even factor into our equation. It’s not even counted.
So who’s going to attack us? There’s no one there to attack us so there will be no war. We don’t think about war. We think about peace. We think about friendships. We think about cooperation, not about war.
CHARLIE ROSE: One step that you would like to see President Obama take to make the relationship better?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Let me just first say one sentence about the earlier issue that you raised. If we are not afraid of a threat, it does not mean that a threat is not an ugly posture. The country that threatens has done a very ugly thing.
Sure, we’re not afraid of it, but when an ugly thing happens, it’s ugly. We weren’t expecting the Obama administration to threaten us with a nuclear attack. That was a very bad thing to do. They did. They did.
CHARLIE ROSE: They didn’t.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: They did. If you’re saying they didn’t -- OK, some didn’t and some did. Let’s just say at least some didn’t and some did, to be fair. That’s what I’m saying, it’s a double standard.
We have said that Mr. Obama didn’t need to extend the sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions were of no use to begin with the ones that were extended. It just you know, dirtied the atmosphere, let’s say.
Mr. Obama when he came to office, we had a conversation with our people. We said let’s give Mr. Obama a chance. Now in Iran people don’t have much faith with Mr. Obama. There’s a lot of distrust and for us the task is harder to remove that distrust.
Mr. Obama we would say as a proposal should not give into pressures. That’s the one step I would. When you’re a president, you have to make a decision.
CHARLIE ROSE: May I make a suggestion?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We’re ready to take any action. We’re ready to take any proposal. We’ll cooperate with him in the region to help resolve international issues, but within the framework of respect, they have to respect us.
CHARLIE ROSE: They respect you.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: And treat us fairly.
CHARLIE ROSE: They treat you fairly. They respect you. Convince them -- convince them that you do not want nuclear weapons. Convince them.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Who convinces who?
CHARLIE ROSE: You convince them.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: They’re the ones -- they’re threatening us with a nuclear attack. How on earth can I convince them? They have a nuclear bomb --
CHARLIE ROSE: Convince them you don’t want nuclear weapons.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: -- they want to drop it on us, how on earth am I to convince them?
CHARLIE ROSE: Convince them.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We’ve given them a chance, in god’s name. They can move forward with reforms.
Mr. Obama’s policies in Afghanistan can change. We sympathize. When Afghans lose their lives, when NATO troops lose their lives, it doesn’t benefit us. We say every bloodshed in Afghanistan makes it harder there and more complicated there.
How else, in what language do we have to make this understandable in America? You tell me, maybe you can interpret this for the Americans. We’re saying every day that goes on things are getting worse in Afghanistan. You have to make a decision. Your policies have to change. Your ten-year-old policies there have failed.
This is the biggest chance we’re giving. This is the biggest opportunity. We’re even willing to show them the way, by the way. Anything more? Who’s ever offered America such a great proposal? Any other country in our position that has been so wronged by America would sit aside and just observe America’s fetters in Afghanistan and rejoice in it. We don’t. We don’t rejoice in it, because we say human beings should not lose their lives.
Why is it necessary to go down that way? Even to say American troops or Afghan people, they’re people. They are still different, by the way. The Afghan people are being killed in their homes while the American troops are losing their lives another place. But a death is a death.
CHARLIE ROSE: A death is a death, absolutely right.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Neither group decided to be there and both groups are losing their lives. So we’re giving a good proposal to America to show you the way out of Afghanistan.
CHARLIE ROSE: Can we continue the conversation in Tehran?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Definitely. We welcome you in Tehran any time.
CHARLIE ROSE: Then we’ll continue the conversation there.
Thank you, Mr. President. You have been generous of your time. We have talked many things, and, again, on behalf of the audience of this program, thank you once again for taking time to appreciate the opportunity and the conflict that exists. Thank you.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: The opportunities will always be available. If we’re sincere, god will help us.
CHARLIE ROSE: From New York City, a conversation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran.
Thank you for joining us. See you next time.