Exclusive Interview with Iranian Adviser

Rohani: Iran has always been the victim of terrorism. And also, as you know, since the revolution, terrorist groups inside Iran have been active against the government. And some of these terrorist groups have been supported by Western countries, and America in particular. But Iran has always been against terrorism, and has always fought against terrorism.

Wallace: U.S. officials say that with the Taliban now gone, that Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism.

Rohani: What is the reason for what they claim?

Wallace: Well, let me give you some examples, sir. Why did Iran try to smuggle a shipload full of arms to the Palestinians?

Rohani: We have been waiting for a reason for this accusation for the longest time. Do you have any proof to present to us? We have said clearly that this is a baseless accusation, and for this accusation, evidence must be given. Besides, Mr. Arafat's government is a legitimate government, and this legitimate government has the right to buy arms from any other government if it chooses to. This has nothing to do with terrorism.

Wallace: Did Iran try to smuggle a shipload of arms to the Palestinians?

Rohani: I have told you this is not true and we have repeatedly said that if everyone has any evidence of this, they should present it.

Wallace: But didn't this ship pick up these arms off the Iranian island of Kish?

Rohani: No. We have declared clearly that this is not true. And we have also declared that any country that has evidence should present it. This accusation comes from Israel and unfortunately it has also been repeated by some American officials.

Wallace: Before we came here, we talked to some American officials because we know that is the position of your government: Show us the evidence. So I will tell you some of the things they said: There were 50 tons of weapons that were seized on this ship, including Katyusha rockets, explosives, AK-47s, and many of these weapons are manufactured only in Iran.

Rohani: OK, if you have any proof that they are manufactured in Iran, please show it to us. And also as you know, Iranian weapons are in the hands of all kinds of terrorist groups, including anti-government terrorists who commit acts of terrorism inside Iran. These terrorist groups have looted these arms from the Iranian military. Therefore, it is not difficult to gain access to Iranian weapons. Besides, these weapons exist in neighboring countries, and we sell and have sold a lot of these weapons to our neighbors.

Wallace: You ask for evidence. I have some photos that were taken after the ship was seized by the Israelis. Do any of these weapons look familiar to you? (Hands him photos)

Rohani: This is not a reason. (Laughs.) You are showing me pictures of a weapon! What kind of proof is that, even to your eyes? This is only a picture of a weapon. We can also show you a picture of a weapon anywhere from the United States. A picture is not evidence of anything.

Wallace: But U.S. officials say that some of these weapons — the anti-tank mines, the rocket-propelled grenades — are made only in Iran, and that the markings had been scratched off.

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