Iranian President Says He's Ready to Cooperate on Nukes, Calls Holocaust an 'Excuse'

ByABC News via logo

Feb. 13, 2007 — -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discussed topics that have made him one of the world's most controversial figures: his desire for nuclear capabilities, his skepticism of the Holocaust, and his distrust of Israel.

Iran has refused to halt its uranium enrichment program, despite repeated calls from the U.N. and much of the world to do so.

On Monday, the European Union agreed to sanctions against Iran.

Sawyer also talked about the death of Saddam Hussein with Ahmadinejad.

Watch Diane Sawyer's Full Interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on ABC News Now at 3:35 p.m. ET and 10:00 p.m. ET.

Sawyer: What did you think when you saw the hanging of Hussein? He was your enemy?

Ahmadinejad: Yes, but who equipped this enemy? Who made him fight with us for eight years? Who supported him? The U.S. administration. The U.S. administration could support us.

Sawyer: Did you feel sympathy?

Ahmadinejad: What about you? Did you have any kind of sympathy?

Sawyer: I'm a journalist, I get to ask you.

Ahmadinejad: But you've come here in the disguise of politician, I guess.

Sawyer: No, I am a journalist, solely a journalist.

Ahmadinejad: Well, naturally when a criminal is eliminated, all the people will be happy, but we think that if the U.S. administration had not supported Saddam he would never have attacked Iran or Kuwait.

Sawyer: If you could have a nuclear weapon today, tomorrow, would you want one?

Ahmadinejad: Well, our position is clear: We are opposed to any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. We believe that the time is now over for nuke weapons. It is a time for logic, for rationality and for civilization. Instead of thinking of finding new weapons, we are trying to find new ways to love people. And if talking about the "Death to America" slogans, I think you know it yourself, it is not related in any way to American public. Our people have no problem with American public, and we have a very friendly relationship.

Sawyer: Quick question about the nuclear issue if I may. … A negotiator seems to be saying there will be settlement, that Iran is ready to settle the outstanding issues before or at least soon. Is Iran ready to settle issues?

Ahmadinejad: When it comes to … within framework of regulations, we're always ready to cooperate. We've always cooperated, and we'll continue to cooperate. We want to have dialogue, but within the framework of regulations and … on a fair basis. If regulations are used as a tool of inquisition though.

Sawyer: So this should be solved within 10 days before sanctions imposed? Additional sanctions?

Ahmadinejad: I think my answer was clear. We are always ready to talk in the framework of regulation. … As long as rights of human nationals are safeguarded. You see tens of millions took to the streets yesterday and insisted to have … what belongs to them. We are a member of the agency, and we intend to have what we are entitled to. … Within this framework we are ready to negotiate.

Sawyer: Are you still heading toward the 3,000 centrifuges? Is that what you will announce April 9?

Ahmadinejad: The ninth of April? Am I supposed to give any piece of news?

Sawyer: Yesterday you said.

Ahmadinejad: Did you listen to what I said?

Sawyer: I don't speak Farsi but

Ahmadinejad: Well, we will say it clear when the time comes, we are the only country whose activities are completely transparent and we will just inform the world if we do something.

Sawyer: I talked to IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency ] yesterday, and they say something different, that there are gaps, but I'd like to move on if I can … because the president has said we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Do you think America is preparing to take military action against Iran?

Ahmadinejad: Well, of course the current president doesn't feel obliged to speak within the framework of law. He thinks to be above the law. We work within the framework of the agency, and we work based on laws and regulations and we want to have what we are entitled to, not war. I think it's quite clear. And President Bush cannot pass the buck to others and and solve the problems of Iraq by pointing fingers.

Sawyer: Let's turn to Israel for a moment. I do not want to debate again the whole question of the Holocaust -- whether the Holocaust is a myth, which you have said. Would you be willing to go to Auschwitz and see their documentation? You're a scientist. Would you be willing to look at the room with documentation?

Ahmadinejad: Do you think it would solve any problem?

Sawyer: It would be information for you if you genuinely believe it's a myth.

Ahmadinejad: Well, one of the methods used for concealing the truth is diverting a topic. Question is if Holocaust is true. … To the Palestinian issue, why for the excuse of the Holocaust we have an illegitimate government in Palestine? Why in the name of Holocaust we allow people to occupy the land and make refugees and kill children? There are the questions that must be answered by American politicians, not to divert the attention.

If something has happened in the past of historical nature, then why are people sensitive to it now, and if it's not related to the Palestinian issue … they should tell us where it is relevant. If it is unimportant and if it is true, then open the way to research. … These are serious questions. I have nothing to do with these questions of course.

I'm asking why, for the excuse of Holocaust, we have an imposed regime here in the region with 60 years of invasion, making people refugees. We say that Palestinian children and women they are people … and love their homeland and if someone comes to the U.S. and with some pretense and some phony excuse, establishes a government and kills children, it's a serious question. You cannot let this question to go unanswered. This is a very serious question. The relationship, Holocaust and the … massacre of Palestinians. This is the question.

Sawyer: You have said Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth. You have said that anyone who recognizes Israel will burn in fire of Islam's fury. Do you still say those things? Do you still want to say those things today? And … if the Palestinian issue, from those talks, if they agree there should be two states, would you accept Israel into the United Nations?

Ahmadinejad: It seems that you are to broadcast everything. Is that true?

Sawyer: Yes.

Ahmadinejad: You know some people cut the interview. They do not broadcast in full. And what we have said about Palestine, it's quite clear, based on the charter of the U.N., based on international regulations, we say let Palestinians decide. … Please allow the Palestinians to decide. Please respect their decision. But please give them the opportunity for decision making.

If what happened to the former Soviet Union, it disappeared, it disappeared from the face of the Earth, was it because of war? No, it was through the decision of the people and what we say is quite clear.

Sawyer: But burn in the fire?

Ahmadinejad: I will tell you, just wait a little. Just be patient and listen. We believe that in Palestine, there should be a referendum and Palestinians, Muslims, Jews, any Palestinians, and this is based on international regulations and I think it's their right to determine their future. Any decision made by Palestinians must be respected, and I think this is a very clear proposition.

Why are people opposed, what we say is clear. If you continue massacring innocent people, if you continue to make them refugees, and if you continue attacking neighboring countries, then the countries and the people of those countries, regions … get angry, because the Zionist regime was imposed upon them.

You know many families, they don't function … where their members are either incarcerated or killed. … Many mothers are now mourning the death of their children.

Even the Palestinian government, which was elected by democratic vote, is attacked by the Zionist regime. Members of the Parliament are arrested. The ministers are arrested. Israel is not following regulations. … Some American politicians support oppression. There is no other solution.

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