Exclusive Interview with Iranian Adviser

Rohani: As you know, we were against the Taliban, but we condemned American attacks on Afghanistan, even though we were hostile to the Taliban. We might have difficulties with Saddam Hussein's regime, but we don't accept any country that uses military might against another based on accusations. However, we always wish that Iraq acts according to U.N. Resolutions.

Wallace: Would Iran feel threatened by an Iraqi attack? Would you feel that the U.S. was surrounding Iran?

Rohani: We are concerned with two issues. One, a country attacking another without permission. We don't accept it; we condemn it. Iraq is an Islamic nation and it is our neighbor. A military attack hurts innocent people immensely. And also, it threatens our central provinces.

Friendly Relations With the United States

Wallace: What would you like the American people to understand about Iran?

Rohani: We are interested in friendly relations between the American people and the Iranian people. We believe that America is completely aware of our country's reality. We support any kind of relations between the two nations. We support tourism between the two nations. We support scientific relations and athletic and cultural relations. We are not interested in increasing tensions between the two nations. We are not interested in threatening American interests in the region or in the world. At the same time, we will not allow America to threaten our interests in the region or in the world. Also, we will not allow America to disrespect our people's vote and wishes and interfere in our internal affairs. We thought after Sept. 11 there would be a better situation between Iran and the United States, but unfortunately that opportunity has been destroyed by Mr. Bush's speech and by other U.S. officials.

Wallace: You've said a couple of things I have to follow up on. First of all, you have said that contact with Iran would be helpful. Why has the supreme leader banned any talks between U.S. and Iranian officials, including a meeting between members of parliament and members of the United States Senate?

Rohani: For any changes in the decision making of the officials of Iran, we need an appropriate situation. When America threatens us and opposes our very foundation, and even the congress invests money in political propaganda against us, and America even supports terrorists who oppose us, all these things cannot create a condition for our countries to have a dialogue. What Mr. Bush and his administration have done has a reverse result. We do not believe having a dialogue with the United States under the current threatening conditions would be fruitful. America must accept that it will never deal with the kind of Iran that existed before the revolution. It will never deal with Iran of the Shah's era. America must recognize the legitimacy of our government, of our revolution, of our institutions, of our people's will, with words and with actions.

Democracy or Oppression?

Wallace: We hear about the Islamic republic. We hear about democracy. We hear about the constitutional protection of rights. And yet we hear about newspapers being shut down, dissidents who are put into jail. How free is Iran?

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