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Full transcript: Ahmadinejad interview

By Jon Snow

Updated on 13 September 2007

We've dissected the Ahmadinejad interview live on Channel 4 News last night and have produced a comprehensive verbatim translation and the original video in Farsi.

Q: Mr President, thank you very much for agreeing to talk to us tonight. Let me start with Iraq. Both the UK and the US have accused Iran of fighting a proxy war inside Iraq. Is that true?

In the name of God, merciful and compassionate, first I would like to express my greetings to all your good audience and a good evening to all the people of Britain. What you are saying is an allegation; we also accuse the British and the US of occupying and aggression against Iraq. I think the US and Britain should improve their own views and behaviour; if they want to blame others for their defeat then they can be sure that their defeats will be repeated. Obviously we do distinguish differences between England and the US in Iraq.

We think that the British government has more quickly and more successfully realised the situation in Iraq, and withdrawing from Basra was the right thing to do and we hope they will continue this. We are the country that has sustained the most damage from the lack of security in Iraq because the nations of Iraq and Iran are closely intertwined - our nations have been friends for thousands of years.

Every year millions of Iraqis and Iranians travel to each others' countries and the security of Iraq has a direct impact on our security and vice versa. We want security in Iraq. And let me tell you one thing - you know the people of Iraq are a great nation with culture and civilisation, they have always been against occupiers and they still are....

Q: It is true that there are factions that you support in southern Iraq you support. Therefore, do you regard it as a victory for Iran that the British left Basra?

Do you think that you have or the British government thinks they have been defeated by the people of Iran or the people of Iraq?

Q: Well, by Iran. By formal forces - Revolutionary Guard - all sorts of people who are supporting the factions in southern Iraq.

Well you are wrong, you are definitely wrong and this would cause the subsequent decision being taken wrongly. We think that both England and the US should understand the conditions of Iraq; the nation of Iraq is a brave nation, a unified nation that is against occupations and will not tolerate occupation. The Iraqi people do no need the Iranians in order to defend themselves they are able to defend themselves.

Q: It's very difficult for us to find the division between the influence in southern Iraq, where you have a lot because of they are your Shia brothers and sisters, and actual military involvement. The British say they have troops killed by bombs made in Iran.

Well look, we have influence all over Iraq because we have good relations with them. We have historical good relations with the Kurds in Northern Iraq and the president of Iraq is Kurdish and friendly and sincere with us - we talk about private issues together. We also have a sincere relationship with the Sunni sect in Iraq, the head of the Iraqi Parliament is Sunni and he has a very good relationship with us and also the prime minister of Iraq is Shia and has a good relationship with us. Your problem, the problem of British and the US is that you do not have good relations with any of them. The problem is that you are uninvited guests.

Q: Can you use your influence to help free the five British hostages who are held there? Four security men and a computer technician who have now been hostage for over a hundred days. Would you use your influence?

We can help to sort out the problems in Iraq regarding the re-establishment of security and peace. we can help the occupiers to leave Iraq and we have announced this repeatedly. If the US and the British governments change their behaviour in the right direction and follow the right path in Iraq they won't have any problems and there won't be any need for these problems.

We think that they should officially recognise the nation of Iraq and the rights of its people. The problem is that they have gone there for the oil and to dominate the region and the people of Iraq have stood up before them and until they recognise the rights of the Iraqi people this will be the stage and it has nothing to do with Iran. We will be prepared if the Iraqi govt asks us, to help the with the solving of the problems in Iraq

Q: Can we move onto the nuclear issues then. Today Dr Larijani has repeated there will be no freeze on the enrichment of uranium. And immediately America is calling for UN sanctions - that's the UN, not just America. What will happen if there are sanctions against you?

Well look, the nuclear issue is very clear. We are a member of the agency and we work within its framework and we have observed all our obligations but unfortunately we have not used all our rights in the way that they are envisaged by the agency's regulations and the main reason is the American's hostility towards the Iranian nation.

The Iranian nuclear issue is a political one which the US is pursuing and the main reason is American enmity to Iran. They have always been our enemies and it is not that important to us. From the beginning we have said that things should be done through the agency and the agency is fulfilling its obligations. What the Americans say is not important to us.

Q: Your secrecy indicates you do want a bomb. Many people would say you feel threatened by Israel, by Pakistan. You do want a bomb don't you?

We don't need a bomb, we are in principle opposed to the bomb for various reasons. The main reason is we are ideologically against bombs and politically it has no application.

Q: If that's true, will you take me to (the nuclear research facility at) Natanza? That place no-one has been further than their front door. Would you take me there?

Would the British government allow us in to see their nuclear installations? Or the American government allow us to see their nuclear installations? We are under the observation of the agency, and the agency comes to visit.

Which country has done what we have done? Isn't this asking too much?

Q: Let me ask, hand on heart - you do not want a bomb?

What do we want a bomb for? The British and Americans that have it - what purpose has that served?

Q: You have said that you want Israel off the map. You really cannot accept the existence of Israel?

No we don't need it and we have a solution for the Israeli and the Zionist Regime. We told them that they should let the Palestinians express their views in a referendum so that the people can chose - we think that this is a humanitarian solution. We are fundamentally opposed to war.


Iranian president Ahmadinejad

Q: You have said that you want Israel off the map. You really cannot accept the existence of Israel?

We do not accept or officially recognise Israel. They are occupiers and illegitimate. But our approach is humanitarian. I ask you where is the Soviet Union now - has it been wiped out or not? It vanished without a war. Let the Palestinian people chose. It will happen

Q: But you speak with more determination. The collapse of Soviet Union was a surprise - you're saying you want Israel off the map now.

Because we analyse the problems of the region carefully and realistically, We do not deceive ourselves. We say a regime that does not have a proper philosophy of existence, which is an occupier which bullies people, and which is without culture and civilisation and which has all the powers of the region against it and only relies on its military power- this cannot survive.

Q: Do you regret denying the holocaust?

I had asked a couple of questions about the holocaust and I'm sorry that some European politicians and governments instead of responding to a couple of scientific questions by a university lecturer, they made it a political issue. I asked these two questions and I ask them of you now. First, if the holocaust is a historical fact then they should allow it to be investigated because we allow everything to be investigated

Q: But documentation is enormous...

Do we have more evidence about the holocaust or about freedom, mathematics and physics?

Q: There are people watching this programme, whose parents, sisters and aunts perished in the concentration camps.

Why are you accusing me? My question is clear - I say if a historical event has happened we should let the scientists investigate it - maybe new dimensions will be uncovered and new issues will be discovered - why don't they allow it? This is suspicious.

Then my second question is, if the holocaust did happen where did it take place? What role did the Palestinian people play? The Palestinians were innocent. Why should they be punished, why should their land be occupied, why should they be killed and why should they be turned in to wanderers? These are my two questions

Q: The issue will remain and I think the majority of people in world will not agree with you.

Well you are wrong. Carry out a referendum in Europe and the European people would agree with me. If the British government and the German government and all the European governments, if we go to international organis ations and carry out a free referendum in Europe you will see that the European people will agree with me. I just raised two questions, I did not pass a judgement

Interview - Farsi version

If you wish to watch the original video, with the President's replies in Farsi, click on the link below:
Watch the full interview in Farsi

Q: Let me take you back to the present problem of the nuclear. Are you saying you will never cease enrichment?

For what reason should we stop? Why don't the Brit and Americans stop? Why should we stop?

Q: will you fight to continue, will you fight to continue

Because we are peaceful. For what reason, who is going to fight us, tell me? Is Britain going to fight us?

Q: You don't fear an American or Israeli bomb?

No no for what reason? Some people in America do exist who would like to use military force when they have lost a logical argument however there are many wise people in the US too. We see that as a very small probability, however we are ready for anything.

But I ask why shouldn't the US be stopped if we who are just starting a nuclear programme are being stopped? Is our peaceful approach a danger and the US bombs not a danger? What sort of logic is that? I think one cannot run the world on such a logic. This is a defeated logic.

Q: When you were elected the poor believed you'd reduce their suffering - but with high unemployment - the poor are poorer - can you afford these conflicts with outside world?

I'm very happy that you speak as a representative of our nation, that's very interesting. Where have you heard that our people say such things? I have also mentioned this before the election and our people made their choice with full awareness and Iran has stood up firmly regarding the nuclear issue. You can see in all the cities and rural areas, our nation is shouting out for it - it belongs to them. The government belongs to the people and works for the people. In Iran there isn't a distance between the government and the people, we are one.

Q: Contact between the US and Iran has so far been between ambassadors - one in Iraq and one here but negotiations have to be at top.

We would welcome that, we are interested in dialogue with Mrs Merkel, Mr Sarkozy with the respected Prime Minister of Britain - we don't have any problems with communication. After the revolution they were all against us and then our nation succeeded and we actually announced that we would forget about the past.

We want to have friendly relations - if someone wants to impose on us then we won't accept it. In friendly conditions we would talk to everyone - in fact we prefer to work more with the Europeans because we think in a way that the European nations have also been innocent, the European people have suffered two wars and the European people carry the weight of conflict, they stand in the shadow of threats and we think we can work better with the Europeans.

Q: You started tonight by sending your good wishes to the people of the United Kingdom. Can you reassure British parents and say that no Iranians are involved in the killing of British solders?

I tell you and I also tell the good people of Britain; the people of Britain saw the good will of the Iranian people regarding the navy sailors. We are deeply sorry about the events in Iraq we are also sorry about the Iraqi people being killed as well as that your soldiers are being killed. We think that this war should not exist. There can be friendship and peace - why should there be an occupation in which killings take place? Our message is that of friendship for all - we like all nations we also like all human beings.

Whoever is killed we are distressed, we don't rejoice in it because your soldiers are also human beings, poor things, they do not know where they are. These fifteen British naval personnel they did not even know where they were - why should British youth come to Iraq and be killed - for what reason? The British people he should be in their country and serve their own people. We are not happy we would like to have peace and friendship for every one - we have mentioned that we are prepared to help end the war so that there is peace and brotherhood for all.

Q: President Ahmadinejad Thank you very much indeed for agreeing us to talk to us, I'm very grateful.

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