Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran would not launch an attack on Israel or any other country, and he does not believe the US is preparing for war against Iran. “Iran will not attack any country,” Ahmadinejad told The Associated Press, when asked if his country would ever strike first against Israel.
Iran has always maintained a defensive policy, not an offensive one, he said, and has “never sought to expand its territory.”
He said he did not believe the US was preparing for war.
“I believe that some of the talk in this regard arises first of all from anger. Secondly, it serves the electoral purposes domestically in this country. Third, it serves as a cover for policy failures over Iraq.”
Ahmadinejad dismissed statements by US military officers and intelligence reports that Iran secretly provides weapons to insurgents fighting against US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Why would we want to do that?” Ahmadinejad declared. “This would really be inappropriate for us. We are friends with both Iraq and Afghanistan. Insecurity in Iraq and Afghanistan undermines our own national security; it basically goes against what we believe.”
Instead, he described himself as “extremely unhappy with the situation prevailing in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It saddens us that people lose their lives in Iraq. We also regret that American troops are losing their lives there,” he added.
In the 30-minute interview at his hotel near the United Nations, Ahmadinejad said Iranian foreign policy was based on humanitarian concerns and seeking justice, and that it is not in its interest to stir up problems for itself or its neighbors.
He however reiterated his call for a debate at the United Nations with President Bush, suggesting throughout the interview that many of the tensions and the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan stem from American miscalculations, rather than Iranian provocations.
Referring to fears of a military campaign against Iran, he said, “We don’t think you can compensate for one mistake by committing more mistakes.”
Ahmadinejad said that he was happy to be in New York as an opportunity “to be with many friends.”
Iran wants tensions to decline, he said.
“We oppose war because we believe that through negotiations and talks, all the problems can be resolved, provided that the parties to the talks believe in justice and uphold justice.”
Ahmadinejad said Iran has already made proposals to US politicians over Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine that are all based on seeking peace in the region.
“But we believe that for these to succeed we need two conditions in place: first, seriousness, and second, honesty and sincerity. If the two go hand-in-hand then the results can be effective,” he said.
Does he believe there is seriousness and honesty from the US?
“We have to wait, we hope,” he answered.
In what is believed to be his first comments on a reported attack Sept. 6 by Israeli bombers inside Syria, Ahmadinejad questioned why Israel would attack Syria at all. He accused Israel of “expansionist policies” and said the reported attack was “an aimless policy in a way, just a show of power, and has nothing to do with Iran.”
The president denied that Iran has closed its border with Iraq over the arrest of an Iranian citizen in northern Iraq by US forces.
“On an annual basis, mlns of Iranians visit Iraq and Iraq’s holy sites for pilgrimage purposes,” he said.
“Recently, as a result of some clashes and the explosion of some bombs, a number of Iranian civilian casualties arose. So the government has asked Iranian citizens to avoid traveling for pilgrimage purposes until security is restored. The commercial goods and freight transactions continue, and the travel across the border for those purposes continues,” he said.