March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that atomic weapons are immoral and “belong to the last century,” while pledging in an interview with German television that his country would respond to an attack.
Iran is against pursuing a nuclear bomb as a matter of “principle,” Ahmadinejad told German public broadcaster ZDF in a 40-minute interview. He called atomic weaponry an anachronism whose time ended with World War II. Asked whether Iran would retaliate if it were attacked, the president equated his country’s response in such a scenario to that of the U.S.
“What does a country do if it’s attacked? What would the Americans do?” Ahmadinejad said, according to translated comments posted late yesterday on ZDF’s website. “They would defend themselves, clearly. That’s what we would do.”
The U.S. and its European allies accuse Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapon, with the Israeli government warning it may mount a military strike to forestall any further development. International sanctions on Iran have tightened as the country refuses to heed demands by the United Nations to suspend uranium enrichment and allow wider access to inspectors.
Iran says that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Ahmadinejad said that even if the country were to seek a nuclear capability, it wouldn’t hesitate to declare it.
“We would never build an atomic bomb -- but if we did build one, we wouldn’t be afraid to,” the president told ZDF. “If Ahmadinejad were to build a bomb, he would announce it -- and he would not be afraid of anybody.”
The president said Iran was “cooperating at maximum” with the International Atomic Energy Agency, though he blamed the UN watchdog for succumbing to pressure from the “great powers” to cajole his country into going beyond IAEA rules.
Nuclear powers said this month that Iran must provide nuclear inspectors access to a secret military installation in Parchin southwest of Tehran, where Iranian officials have so far blocked entry. IAEA inspectors have said they have “credible” evidence of nuclear-military work there.
“The IAEA tells us that we must prove that we’re clean, that we’re correct,” Ahmadinejad said. “How can you prove that? How can you prove that you’re not sick?”
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the U.S, U.K., France, Russia and China -- as well as Germany said this month that Iran must enter negotiations “without preconditions.” The group committed to resume talks over Iran’s nuclear work after the last round fell through in January 2011.
“We’ve always been in favor of reducing or removing tensions,” Ahmadinejad said in the interview. “Iran’s nuclear question will not be solved through pressure.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called today for increased domestic economic production to combat the effects of the international sanctions. Ahmadinejad also denounced the sanctions, saying that such measures “set the wrong tone.”
“It’s not the right way to handle a great nation, a nation that uses logic and cooperation,” the president told ZDF.
Ahmadinejad also said Israel uses the Holocaust as a means to suppress Palestinians.
Israeli statehood “was a colonialist plan that resulted from a lie,” Ahmadinejad said. “They never were rulers of this land. They made a story named Holocaust and the Palestinians have to pay the price for it.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Czuczka in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com