Anti-Ahmadinejad rallies outside the UN today turned into anti-Obama rallies critical of the senator's support of talks with Iran. Meanwhile, NPR opened a dialogue of its own with the Iranian president. Here are some highlights from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's interview with the station, during which he says Iran seeks no confrontation.
- On Iran's stated plans to enrich uranium for energy, not for a bomb:
The people of the world, the majority actually, support our stand. One hundred eighteen member states of NAM have declared their commitment to our program and supported it. The Non-Aligned Movement. And 57 member states of the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, too have supported our position. . . . You are speaking of only three or four countries, led by the United States and with a couple of their European friends, and we don't care about them, because they don't represent the whole world.
- On whether international confrontation is in Iran's interest:
We do not have any confrontation with anyone. We seek relations based on respect and justice. . . . Why is it that the US administration and two or three groups that follow it allow themselves to speak for the world?
- On the American elections:
I ask you, can anyone in fact become a president without the support of either of the two parties here in the United States? . . . Are 300 million people here in America members of either of the two parties? No, not necessarily. People have no other choices here. You only have two choices. In Iran, at least, we have eight. Who is more free? Who has more confidence in its people?
To find out how Iran's president addresses his statements toward Israel, freedoms in Iran, and how he thinks the US and Iran can move forward,
- On whether rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map plays into the hands of Bush:
You are aware that 55 years ago, the US government overthrew the national government of Iran. . . . For over 25 years under the dictatorship, hundreds of thousands of our people went to prison . . . whilst our oil was being looted by American companies. Our people were demeaned. Our independence was harmed. Until the Iranian people rose [in] a popular and democratic event to create the Islamic revolution. . . . While America was there, we had no elections in our country. . . . The eight years of war between Saddam [Hussein] and our country were actually supported directly by the United States. From day one, our people were — sanctions were imposed on our people. So who exactly is the provocateur? Who is the one who seeks war?
On whether the US and Iran can move forward:
Well, yes. Of course, we've never entered the US and caused problems for the people here, but the American government has done that to us. So our first proposal is that they have to stop doing that.
- On what Iran could do:
I sent a letter to Mr. Bush. That was a very good opening. I even said that I am prepared to talk at the United Nations with them. We responded positively to the request made by US government to extend a hand of cooperation in a joint security commission involved in upholding a security force for Iraq.
- On freedoms in Iran:
There's a lot of freedom in Iran. The example is our interview with you. Can you ask your own president these questions? Can you really so freely meet with him so easily? Never.
After reading Ahmadinejad's interview, would you like US leaders sit down with him?