Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reiterated that should Israel attack his country, the Islamic Republic will retaliate.
Ahmadinejad made the comments in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan. The full interview will air on Monday, but excerpts were released on Sunday.
Asked by Morgan what his country’s response will be if it is attacked by Israel, the Iranian President replied, “The response of Iran is quite clear, I don't even need to explain that; any question in any nation has the right and will indeed defend herself. But my question is this, why should the world be managed in such a way that an individual can allow himself to threaten a rich and deeply-rooted historical, ancient country, such as Iran. A great country, such as Iran, based on an excuse of his own fabrication. So anyone can do this. Another country can say, I am guessing that country B is doing activity X, therefore I will attack that country. Can this be a successful formula for the management of the world?”
Morgan asked Ahmadinejad if he fears that war is imminent and whether he fears that there will be military conflict, perhaps before the end of this year, between Iran and Israel.
“Of course the Zionists are very much, very adventuresome, very much seeking to fabricate things and 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,” Ahmadinejad responded.
The interview also focused on the protests in the Middle East over the “Innocence of Muslims” film. Asked whether he condemned the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens was murdered, Ahmadinejad answered, “Fundamentally, first of all, any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn. Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism.
“Of course, what took place was ugly,” he added. “Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn’t take place and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy, or sanctity. But we also believe that 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.”
Asked whether he thinks the protests in the Middle East threatening the staff of American embassies should stop, the Iranian President replied, “You see, I cannot determine what people or nations should do, but I do think that extreme, extremism gives birth to following and subsequent extremists. Perhaps if the politicians take a better position in the West vis-a-vis offensive words or thoughts or pictures towards what we hold holy, I think conditions will improve.”
Ahmadinejad, together with a high-ranking delegation, arrived in New York Saturday evening to attend the 67th annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.
The Iranian President is scheduled to address the UN on Wednesday, September 26, which happens to also be Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Despite protests from Jewish and non-Jewish groups alike, Ahmadinejad is expected to stay at the posh Warwick New York Hotel on Sixth Avenue. The hotel has refrained from publicly commenting on the matter.
Meanwhile, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said on Sunday that Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike if Israel prepares to attack it,
Should Israel and Iran engage militarily, "nothing is predictable... and it will turn into World War III," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told Iran's Arabic-language television network.
Hajizadeh, who is in charge of Revolutionary Guards missile systems, said: "In circumstances in which they (the Israelis) have prepared everything for an attack, it is possible that we will make a pre-emptive attack. But we do not see this at the moment."
He added that Iran would deem any Israeli strike to be conducted with U.S. authorization, so "whether the Zionist regime attacks with or without U.S. knowledge, then we will definitely attack U.S. bases in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan."