President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran was in Nigeria last week for the D-8 countries meeting. In this interview, the university professor-turned-president, explained why Iran wouldn’t stop its peaceful nuclear programme, even if all the papers in the world were converted into resolutions and sanctions imposed on the country and why Nigeria needs to rigorously pursue a nuclear energy programme, among other issues. Excerpts:
Do you think the United Nations resolutions against Iran can actually stop or affect the Iranian nuclear programme?
We want to assure that even if they turn all the papers in this world into their resolutions against us, there will never be a change in our nuclear programme. First of all, these resolutions are only on papers. What will shape our future is the determination of all of us together.
Sometimes last year, we watched on the cable television how the Iranian forces were able to put down a mass protest against the elections of June 12. Now, do you think that movement without force applied on them have the capacity and capability of overthrowing the Islamic revolution?
I will like to assure you that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the most established and strongest government in the world and it will remain forever. What you saw last year on the cable stations and other campaigns in the international media was just a fake propaganda against our country. There is nothing against the legal protest or demonstration in the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have the most democratic election in our country. And we have registered the highest level of voters in our country. We have the greatest election turnout in our country, with over 85 percent participation in the election.
Suddenly, it was anger for those claiming to be at the forefront of democracy in the world. In all countries, those that went to damage the public properties face the wrath of the law. There were people who burnt other people’s cars, destroyed many properties and left many people injured. And they are supported by western governments. The nation of Iran is a great nation. We don’t have a partisan nation because people cast their votes to different people during elections. I will like to assure you that the majority of our nationals are against the policies and imperialism of the United States and are ready to stand against the pressures and policies of America. Let me assure that our nation will remain committed and dedicated to the aspirations of the revolution.
Adolf Hitler tried to wipe out the Jews and he failed. And then Saddam Hussein backed by Americans tried to wipe out the nation of Iran and failed. And Israel is trying to wipe out Palestinians and is failing. Do you think wiping out the state of Israel is the solution to the raging Palestinian – Israeli problem?
The solution we have offered for the Palestinian issue is a humanitarian and democratic one. Our proposal is on the basis of the United Nations Charter. We say let the Palestinians decide by themselves and they should enjoy the right to determination. Our proposal is that there should be a referendum and, in this referendum, the Palestinians will decide the future of the Palestinian nation. We say justice is the only solution and it means allowing the Palestinian nation to enjoy the right to self determination. Whatever decisions they take, everybody should follow it. We did not call and we are not going to eliminate or call for the elimination of anything or any country. We are against the killing of human beings. We say that justice must be effective and all problems will be resolved. If this is done, everybody will enjoy.
There are people who came to Palestine from thousands of kilometres away into the Palestinian land and they drove away Palestinians from their homes and took their places. This is pure oppression and it is against justice. Now, the solution is humanitarian and democratic. And we feel the offenders will finally be forced to accept the humanitarian solution. We did not think war is going to be the solution. We think justice is the solution.
We have read in so many history books that Hitler exterminated six million Jews. And we also listen to you in the various fora across the world purportedly disputing the claim. Do you have convincing reasons to make us dispute what we have read in our history books that six million Jews were killed by Hitler?
I want to raise two points in responding to this question. The first point is this: there is no serious difference over the issue of holocaust today in Europe. You know the question of holocaust was raised a few years after the World War II. This is because nothing was said about the question of holocaust during the war though every little other issues were reflected upon. There are many scholars in Europe who are very much against the issue of holocaust. There are many books that established the fact that it never happened. Now, our concern is not this matter or this question.
The second point is very important. I asked only two questions about the holocaust. My question was that, if such a thing happened in history, why doesn’t the West allow independent groups to take independent research into the question of holocaust and allow people to ask questions about it. You allow people to talk about God, the prophets, freedom and everything like that but they never allowed people to talk about single historical event they claimed had happened. They only made the claim and said that everybody has to accept it. Anybody who is against that is sent to prison. We are not saying it is right or wrong. What we are saying is that they should allow people to investigate the issue of holocaust as we do about other things.
Also, they are insisting this thing had happened. Where did it happen? It happened in Europe. Why should the Palestinian people pay the price? If the Jews were killed in Europe why are they punishing the Palestinian people? If Europe committed the crime they should make for it and pay the price. They should give the people land in Canada or in United States or in anywhere in Europe. What we said is that since they insisted that the crime was committed, they should allow people to investigate it. No crime has happened and only those who made the conviction should be punished.
But they should not do it at the expense of other people’s right. They themselves should pay the price. The people of Palestine played no role during the World War II. They never committed any act of aggression against others. They did not kill anybody at that time. Why should they punish those people? Why should they occupy the land of the Palestinian people? This is our clear position. But the arrogant powers, instead of answering my questions, they use cries and propaganda campaigns against me. We are against the killing of people and massacre of people. We condemned any crime that happened during the World War II. It doesn’t make any difference to whoever being Muslim, Christian, Jew and anybody else. Crime must be condemned. They killed more than one million people and they are all human beings. Instead of them to answer my questions, they start saying that Ahmadinejad is going to kill human beings and he supports the killings of human beings. No, I love all human beings: Muslims, Christians and Jews. I love them all. The one that corrupts the world is not the Jew, it is the Zionist. Zionism is a political party. Their intention by raising the question of holocaust was to create the Zionist regime and they are very much afraid when people start asking such questions.
You said earlier that if all the papers in this world will be converted to resolutions and sanctions against your country, they won’t affect the nuclear programme of Iran. Your chief nuclear negotiator recently admitted that the sanctions may hurt. You were equally reported to have said that Iran will make the West sit down like a polite child on the table to talk to Iran. What leverage does Iran have that will make the West to discuss this issue?
Iran is a great country. It has tremendous and huge resources. Those who have regulated and designed the resolutions and sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran are only selfish and mischievous. At a point, the world is moving towards free trade and communication among the people of the world, sanctions and imposition of sanctions are defeated instruments. By using our culture and civilisation, we will resist that pressure and coercion. Iran owns the biggest civilisation and culture in the world. Our culture and civilisation belong to all humanity. Iran believes in peace and justice. We have established a united front against injustice and coercion. Their sanctions will not create any problem for us. They have nuclear bombs and killing machines. Their logic is the logic of coercion and force. Our logic is a peaceful and humanitarian logic. We are therefore not concerned about them. Those concerned about them are those who lack humanitarian logic.
Do you ever envisage an amicable resolution of the recurring problems between your country and some of the major super powers of the world?
We always support dialogue and our logic is based on dialogue. Instead of intimidation and threats, we should have dialogue. But they think that by using the weapons of intimidation and force, they can achieve their goals. These resolutions were issued at a time when we were discussing the issue. They think they can impose their views on us with their weapons of intimidation and power. But this is a defeated experience as shown in many instances. We always seek to promote dialogue. But they talk about dialogue when we accept their views. They are making mistakes. Dialogue is a neutral and independent discussion with a view to reveal the truth, justice and reality. But deceptions and lies are not acceptable. Only the truth and justice can resolve the issue. We always support and follow the truth. Even when our enemies say the truth, we follow them. Dialogue is the best solution to this issue.
You are one of the most popular presidents in the world today. Are you not afraid that your continued defiance to western imperialism, aggression and intimidation may cost you your life, particularly as you constantly move around the world?
First of all, struggle for peace is a historical battle. It was the mission of all the prophets sent by the Almighty. We are only following the same direction. They went through hardships in order to achieve their goals. However, it is important that we face such risks in order to achieve our aspirations. This is because the enemies of peace, justice and friendship are the real killers in history. But those who are struggling to maintain peace and justice in the world are not afraid of anything except the Almighty. Ahmadinejad is an individual. He is a mere drop in the huge ocean of human beings.
If you think that Ahmadinejad is becoming popular today, it is because of the fact that people are seeking for justice and peace. It is also because the urge for peace and justice is becoming more prominent and stronger. It is because resistance has become more popular. It is because resistance of the western powers has become a value for many nations across the world. And those who are propagating divine values are never afraid of mortals. This is a verse in the Holy Qur’an. We are not afraid of anybody. Enmity and threats only strengthen our positions and only serve as a source of pride for us. Who is afraid of whom? Are we afraid of them or they are afraid of us? Only the traitors are scared. Only those who are trying to put their hands on the rights of others are scared.
The economies of the developing nations are suffering under the brunt of policies designed by the developed world. Are the D-8 countries doing anything to create a strong economic block that will compete with the developed economies?
The western powers are plundering the huge resources of the developing world. They spread lies about the culture of the Africans because they want to continue the philandering of the African resources. They are only plundering the resources of the developing nations. We have to develop a proper cooperation among the developing nations in order to wriggle ourselves from the domination of the western powers. And this effort is going on among the independent developing nations today. We have to establish a collective effort with a view to create a new international independent economic system that should be on the basis of justice.
There are indications that some western powers are planning to resume talks with Iran before the end of the year. But what conditions are you putting in place; which will also convince you that the western powers are acting in good faith?
We are set to have dialogue. In the past years, we have been having dialogue. But it was the western powers that interrupted the dialogue. They are also interested in bringing intimidation and threats instead of justice and peace. The President of the United States (Barack Obama) had sent letters to the presidents of Brazil and Turkey informing them to make the arrangements for the nuclear swap. They came to Tehran and we had a very good understanding. The Tehran Declaration was a comprehensive one. It was based on good faith, justice and respect. It was in the course of the negotiation they decided to issue a resolution. They wanted to have an upper hand during the negotiation with us. They issued the resolution to overshadow the atrocities of the Zionist regime in the international waters. They wanted to weaken our position and naturally we are not going to accept that.
We have set our own conditions before resuming on any talks with them. The first condition is that the western powers must make public their position on the nuclear programme of the Zionist regime (Israel). If they agree with that one, the door of dialogue will open. The second condition is that their (Israel’s) position with regards to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). If they are not committed to the NPT, then the issue of negotiation will also be difficult. The third condition has to do with their resort to force. The other condition has to do with the presence of other countries in the negotiation. The dialogue will resume if the names of these countries are revealed. Another condition has to do with their goals and intentions for the talks. Are they going to be hostile to us or will they come with friendship? These are conditions that would guarantee conclusive results. We can only resume talks based on reality. They lie a lot, so it is very difficult to trust their words. We can only move ahead after receiving their response to the issues I raised.
In concrete terms, do we see Iran ever suspending its nuclear programme in September as demanded by the western powers?
Our nuclear programme is peaceful and civil. It is based on humanitarian rules and it is part of our economic development. Therefore, there is no stop to our nuclear activities. The west only creates problems for the independent nations with a view to thwart our development. They also launched opposition when we launched our satellites. We need a delivery system for our satellites. For many years, we have built our satellites and contracted other countries to launch them for us. Despite all the agreements we entered with them, they didn’t launch our satellites. But we have to launch them for humanitarian purposes. In this case, what are we going to do? We have no option than to build the launchers ourselves. When we manufactured the launchers in our country, the same countries started mounting opposition against us. It is clear that any development in your country will surely suffer their wrath and opposition.
Iran is a big nation and we want to have our own satellites but they don’t want to launch them for us. When we did it, they said those missiles (launchers) are dangerous. They are saying why do we possess the missiles? We need nuclear power. They entered agreements with us long time ago. But they have revoked our agreements and memorandum of understanding (MoU) unilaterally. They refused to give us back our money even though they didn’t honour those agreements. What are we going to do? We have to do it ourselves. After we decided to do it ourselves, they said it is dangerous. At the same time, they are building the nuclear bombs. They have built nuclear bombs for the Zionist regime. And now that we are trying to use nuclear energy for our development, according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations, they are still opposing us.
Let me give you an example. In Nigeria, you are now facing shortage of electricity. The generation of I000 megawatts of electricity using fossil fuels cost nothing less than $500 million per annum. But generation of the same amount of electricity using nuclear energy costs only $60 million per annum. You can now see the difference. It is clear that you need more power in Nigeria. In this case, what is your option? What is going to be for the interest of the nation? At the same time, you can see that fossil fuel is degrading the environment.
Do you ever think that the United States will attack Iran?
What do you think about it? You belong to the mass media and therefore familiar with the views of the general public. What do you think of the prevailing public opinion on the United States? Do Nigerians really like the United States? The answer is clear. This is the same prevailing view in other countries. Why is it so? This is because of the attitude and behaviour of the government of the United States. You know I travel a lot and I interact with the media. I have seen that most of the people in the five continents are against the United States. This is because of the US attitude. Today the government of the US is not able to do anything. The only solution is for them to respect the rights of other people and follow the law and justice. Not only the US, no other country in the world can do anything against Iran. The US, is facing a lot of challenges today.
May I ask you another question? If the US can’t even control the oil from a leaking rig how can they control the entire world? During my visit to New York, I wanted to visit the place where the twin towers collapsed. They didn’t allow me to do that. They said they couldn’t guarantee my security in the area. I ask them if you can’t guarantee security in New York, how can they do it in Afghanistan or any country of the world? That is the situation.