Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ahmadinejad: Why So Sensitive About Israel?

CNN News:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he he is surprised American politicians "are so sensitive and biased with regards to Israel," and he again expresses doubt that the Holocaust is a historically established fact.

Though Israel bombed Lebanon, "it doesn't seem to have created concern among American politicians. But when somebody questions or criticizes the Zionist regime, there is so much reaction," Ahmadinejad said in an interview Wednesday with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"Given the massacres committed by Israel ... should they not be subject to criticism? Should nobody complain?" (Watch Ahmadinejad discuss Israel, Holocaust, Bush -- 14:28.)

Asked if he believes Israel has no right to exist -- something Ahmadinejad has said in the past -- the Iranian leader responded, "I say that it is an occupying regime." READ MORE

The Palestinian "nation" as a whole -- including Jews, Christians and Muslims living there and 5 million displaced refugees -- should be able to vote to decide "what its fate should be."

Pressed on his previous assertions that the Holocaust did not happen, Ahmadinejad declined to address the issue, saying, "Since I've talked a lot about this subject, I don't want to repeat myself."

But he did address whether the Holocaust should be used as a "pretext for occupying Palestinian land" when the Palestinians had nothing to do with the genocide in Europe.

"If this event happened, where did it happen?" he asked. "The 'where' is the main question, and it was not in Palestine."

A staunch critic of U.S. policy and President Bush, Ahmadinejad also took issue with comments Bush made to the Iranian people during his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday. (Watch a comparison of Bush and Ahmadinejad's U.N. speeches -- 2:24.)

Bush told Iranians their rulers "have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons."

Ahmadinejad responded by saying he didn't know what the president "is actually thinking when he makes remarks like that."

"This is not the kind of language you speak talking with a great nation. It is an insult to a great nation," Ahmadinejad said.

He also insisted that Iran's nuclear program was peaceful and that his government had complied with its international obligations, despite reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency questioning whether Iran has been forthcoming about its nuclear activities.

"They have to tell us exactly what provisions of the (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) they are speaking of, which they believe we have not abided by," Ahmadinejad said. "They are interested in getting more information, and we are ready to cooperate with them."

Bush on Wednesday defended his decision not to meet with Ahmadinejad at the United Nations this week, telling CNN that Ahmadinejad "knows the options before him."

Bush said the United States has agreed to talks with Iranian officials "only if they verifiably suspended" uranium enrichment efforts, which the Bush administration says are aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

"He knows the options before him. I've made that very clear," Bush said of Ahmadinejad. "In order for there to be effective diplomacy you can't keep changing your word."

Ahmadinejad has said in the past that Israel should be wiped off the map. Bush said he takes that statement seriously.

"My judgment is you've got to take everybody's word seriously in this world," Bush said.

"You've got to assume that the leader, when he says that he would like to destroy Israel, means what he says. If you say, 'Well, gosh, maybe he doesn't mean it,' and you turn out to be wrong, you have not done your duty as a world leader." (Watch Bush explain his views on Iran's threat -- :27.)