Ahmadinejad: Iran 'not afraid' of Israeli strike

If "Zionist regime" backs off, "there is no problem," Iranian president says, rejects ceasing 20% enriched uranium.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was “not afraid” of an Israeli strike on his country’s nuclear program, in an interview with the France 24 television channel on Wednesday.
He said that only Israel wanted to attack Iran, but that the West did not, and if the “Zionist regime” did not attack his country, “there is no problem.”
Israeli officials have hinted at the possibility of an air strike against Iran’s nuclear program if ongoing negotiations between Tehran and Western powers do not lead to a deal that includes the Islamic Republic ceasing all uranium enrichment.
Ahmadinejad hit back at demands that Iran stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, claiming that 20% enriched uranium was no more threatening than 3.5% enriched uranium.
He questioned the West on why it was pressuring Tehran about 20% enriched uranium when Western nations already had the atom bomb.
“Who is more dangerous,” he asked, Iran or the West? He noted that the West had started most of history’s wars and that Iran should be complaining about the West’s insults.
He also pointed out that Iran had a right under international law to enrich uranium to that degree, which benefits the country separately from the issue of weapons. If any party wishes Iran “not to have the benefit” of 20% enriched uranium, the president said, “they must explain why.”
He also stated that Iran could always “inspire fear in its enemies” and knew how to deal with any threat.
Western powers have recently suggested that they may be willing to relax UN-sponsored sanctions if Iran stops enriching uranium to 20% and hands over any uranium already enriched to that level.
The Iranian president refused to answer the question of whether his country would recognize Israel if the Palestinians and other Arab countries in the region did.
He merely responded that the issue should be decided by the Palestinian people.
Regarding Syria, he said that Western governments should not interpret the events there.
“We know that [those governments] have their own interests and are against Syrian President Bashar Assad. We cannot trust them because their goal is to push him out of power,” he said.
He denied sending any weapons to Syria in violation of sanctions.
Ahmadinejad also denied that he had suffered any political defeat in the recent Iranian elections, claiming that there were no political candidates specifically linked to him, despite media reports that his political allies had been handily defeated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s allies.