Faced with a growing power-struggle and political isolation in Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck an unusually moderate tone in an exclusive interview with euronews, answering questions on internal and foreign controversies generated by his leadership. In an extract from the interview he talks about the trial of Egypt’s deposed former president Hosni Mubarak.
“We should express our sadness that some leaders have such a bad relationship with their people that they end up at this point. I voice my disappointment over the global management which separates some governments from their people to the point that the people, for the sake of reaching a degree of freedom, have to ask for the trial of their leaders.”
euronews: “You say that all people have the right to challenge their government and we saw it here in Iran two years ago in 2009. Do you think that what we’ve seen elsewhere in the Middle East might happen in Iran too, or are you confident that everything is stable here?”
“What happened in Iran is not the same as what’s going on in certain other countries. A totally free election was held in Iran……but attacking buildings and cars is forbidden in any country and of course that is what the police as well as the judiciary are concerned with preventing.”
euronews: “Is there freedom for Mirhossein Mousavi who is under house arrest? Is there freedom for Mehdi Karroubi who is also under house arrest? Do they have the freedom to express their opposition by which it’s evident they are opposed to you, but do they have the freedom to do that from their prison cell or from their guarded house?”
“There are prisons in every country. Don’t they have prisons in England?”
euronews: “I appreciate that Mr President, but I’m talking about prisons and jails in this country, where Mr Karroubi and Mousavi are staying.
“There are prisons everywhere. They have problems with the judiciary. The judiciary in Iran acts independently and I don’t have the right to interfere in the judicial affairs. There are rules under which people can interact with the judiciary.”
Ahmadinejad also said in the interview that Iran has no intention of making an atomic bomb and its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes: “When we say we don’t want to build an atomic bomb it means we really do not want to build an atomic bomb. If somebody is looking for an atomic bomb nowadays he’s mad.”
He said that production of 20 percent enriched uranium was intended primarily for medical use: “Production of 20 percent enrichment production is for totally peaceful use. It’s for a reactor that produces active medicines and produces only medicines. It’s just for medical and agricultural use.”
The United States and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop atom bombs under cover of its nuclear programme. Iran denies the allegation, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity to meet its domestic demand.
The UN Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions on Tehran since 2006 for refusing to freeze its enrichment programme, which can have both civilian and military purposes.
Foreign governments have offered Iran trade and other economic and political incentives if it halts its atomic activities.