PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRESIDENT OF IRAN
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
23 September 2008
Iran was in favour of reason and dialogue, but it would not accept the language of force, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, said at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.
Speaking to the press following his address to the General Assembly, he said that today’s world was not characterized by power, hegemony, military strength, or economic empowerment alone. The world was on the brink of a new era, when human culture and thought would become the primary elements in establishing peace, friendship and security viable for all. He also stressed the role of the press in that regard, saying that it could play an important role in creating mutual understanding and linking ideas, thus assisting in promoting world peace and security.
Responding to numerous questions regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, President Ahmadinejad said that it was a politicized issue and not a legal one. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had said in 12 official reports that the activities of Iran were, indeed, peaceful. Last year, the Director General of that Agency had travelled to Iran. Iran had responded clearly to all the questions. But despite the fact that the Agency had verified that there were no documents indicating that Iran’s nuclear activities were not peaceful, the United States and the European Union were consistently alleging that Iran was continuing on a military path. The United States had presented a series of claims, putting enormous pressure on the Agency to investigate them. The Agency had decided to investigate those claims, although, according to IAEA rules, no State party had a right to raise claims against another party.
Also, despite the fact that some of the papers presented by the United States represented “a forgery so poor that any elementary school kid could figure that out”, Iran had extended enormous cooperation to the Agency, providing it with thousands of pages of documents, he said. Some 7,000 hours of investigations had been carried out. All Iran’s nuclear activities had been placed transparently before the Agency. Working within the legal framework, Iran would not deny its people its rights as a State party of the Agency.
Continuing, he suggested that IAEA should stop placing itself under political pressure and stop responding to allegations. As far as he was concerned, the issue of Iran’s nuclear activities had been resolved. There was propaganda -– “after all, they are a super-Power” -– but he did not think Iran’s nuclear issue was a primary threat to the world.
As for the threat of sanctions, he said that the country’s opponents should stop using the language of force, which had no effect on the Iranian people. Countries with a nuclear arsenal should change their behaviour towards other nations, because it belonged to the old era. Iran was a big nation, which could manage itself quite well.
He added that Iran was the most peaceful and peace-loving State in the Middle East, with a long history of non-aggression. However, in the past, an eight-year war had been launched against his country by Saddam Hussein -- inspired by the United States –- during which chemical weapons had been used against Iran.
Responding to a related question, he said that it was an established fact that some Western countries had supported the use of chemical weapons against Iran. Justice officials in Iran were doing what they had to do in that regard.
A correspondent asked if Iran was prepared to show more flexibility on the nuclear issue, provided that it was not resolved from the point of view of IAEA and the Security Council -- which represented the international community. The President asked for the “international community” to be defined. The Non-Aligned Movement had verified the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, as had the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China. Only a few countries controlled IAEA and the Security Council, but they could not speak for the international community at large.
To a question regarding reports about Israel’s threats to bomb nuclear facilities in Iran, he said that the threats of the Zionist regime were not new. It was making allegations and threats against Iran to cover up its failures and crimes, as well as sorrowful events in the occupied territories. The Zionist regime created terrorists, killed women and children, denied people medicine and food and besieged them. However, Zionists and their supporters were aware that they were too small and weak to harm Iran. Iran was a peace-loving nation, but if someone raised a hand against it, that hand would be cut off, “completely and definitely”.
As for whether the development of Teheran-Washington ties could be expected, he said that such ties would be welcome, if there were changes in the United States behaviour. Iran had always sought peaceful relations with all countries, but the United States had assumed that by cutting ties with Iran it would punish it and prevent the nation’s development. Now that the Iranian people had emerged stronger, as in the past, it sought relations with other countries, based on justice and mutual respect. A unilateral position in a relationship that brought with it a language of force was really not a relationship, but an imposition. Within the framework of international law and mutual respect, he would welcome dialogue with the United States.
Pressed further on that issue, he said that Iran would welcome any form of expansion of relations and dialogue; if the United States decided to alter its behaviour, Iran would welcome constructive and positive changes.
“Who has the power in Iran?” another correspondent asked. President Ahmadinejad replied that the main ruler in the country was the people, who elected the leaders and oversaw their activities. As President, he was always in touch with the people in rural and urban areas, in the streets and in the academic environment. With a clear system for proper supervision in place, the Parliament and the judiciary oversaw all the country’s activities.
Asked to comment on reports that human rights violations in Iran had increased since he came into to office, he said that the points made by United States-based human rights organizations had no legal value, because they spoke from a political standpoint. For instance, they did not say a word about such issues as Guantanamo or the fact that the United States Government eavesdropped and opened the mail of its citizens.
To a question regarding Iran’s support for Palestine, he said that his country had completely supported the Palestinian people’s resistance and had also offered humanitarian and democratic solutions. His offer for a solution to the Palestinian issue would soon be submitted to the Secretary-General. What made that plan different from all other initiatives was that it looked at the roots of the Palestinian problem. It also addressed the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people. There should be a free referendum under the supervision of international organizations, whereby Palestinians could decide in free elections what type of Government they wanted.
Asked if people could be arrested in Iran for criticizing the State, he said that each country had its own laws. For example, under the United States’ penal Code, insulting “the uniform” was subjected to punishment. Speaking against officials was not penalized in Iran. Of the country’s more than 50 newspapers and 6,000 publications, most were critical of the Government. In fact, most criticism was directed at the President, but no one had spent time in prison or had been subjected to prosecution as a result.
On the situation in the region, he said that Iran had friendly relations and historic ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan. The presence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was expanding in Afghanistan, but there was no guarantee that NATO troops would be able to leave that country with pride. The history of the region did not show that external forces could enter Afghanistan or Iraq and “leave with a proud head on their shoulders”. All the comers had left in defeat, including the British and the Soviet Union. People who thought that issues could be fixed with military might did not know the region. The solution to human problems required a human, not a military, approach. They said they wanted to fight terrorism, but since their arrival, extremism and terrorism had intensified.
To a question regarding the conflict in Georgia and South Ossetia, he said that the Georgian Government could have managed the situation better and prevented the crisis from turning into a total catastrophe. If external forces, including the Zionist regime and some members of NATO, had controlled their interventions, the countries of the region could have resolved their problems.
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For information media • not an official record
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