Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a U.S. television interview that his nation will defend itself if attacked by Israel.
“The response of Iran is quite clear, I don’t even need to explain that,” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan scheduled to be broadcast tonight, according to a transcript. “Any nation has the right and will indeed defend herself.”
Tensions between the nations are high as Iran pursues a nuclear program that it says is for peaceful purposes, while the U.S. and its allies say Iran may be hiding development of a nuclear weapon. If Iran is attacked, it will respond both against Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf region, said General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps aerospace force, according to the state-run Fars news agency.
“We cannot imagine the Zionist regime initiating a war without the U.S. backup,” he said yesterday on state-run Al-Alam television, according to Fars. He warned such a conflict could draw in other nations and become a “third world war.” The top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said Sept. 22 that Israel would be “destroyed” if a war occurs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the U.S. should establish a “red line” for Iran’s nuclear activities that would result in a military attack if crossed. President Barack Obama’s administration has backed economic sanctions to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“The Zionists are very much, very adventuresome, very much seeking to fabricate things,” Ahmadinejad said, according to CNN. “I think they see themselves at the end of the line, and I do firmly believe that they seek to create new opportunities for themselves and their adventurous behaviors.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad yesterday and warned about “the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric, counter-rhetoric and threats from various countries in the Middle East,” according to a UN statement. Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic declarations from the podium at the annual General Assembly regularly prompt Western delegates to walk out of the hall in protest.
The Iranian leader said in an interview with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that Iran wants to continue negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program and does “not take very seriously” Israel’s threats. He also said he doubts Americans want war with Iran.
“I don’t believe so,” he said. “I believe the people of the U.S. are peace-loving people.”
Ahmadinejad didn’t indicate the prospect of new Iranian concessions to meet the demands of world powers, such as curtailing uranium enrichment. He said the U.S. campaign season is not the time to expect results.
“I do believe that some conversations and key issues must be talked about again once we come out of the other end of the political election atmosphere in the United States,” he said according to a transcript.
CNN’s interview with the Iranian president covered issues including the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed American Ambassador Christopher Stevens. An online video ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad has been cited as fueling the attack.
“Any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn,” Ahmadinejad said on CNN. “Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly.”
Ahmadinejad said he hopes “the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy.” He said “this must also be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason anywhere in the world.”
Morgan also pressed the Iranian president to explain his views on homosexuality.
“Do you really believe that someone is born homosexual?” Ahmadinejad asked the news anchor in response. “Let me ask you this. Do you believe that anyone is giving birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation.”