IRAN: Every Iranian a Revolutionary Guard, Ahmadinejad asserts
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday dismissed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's assertion that Iran was becoming a military dictatorship run by the Revolutionary Guard.
"Iran is a country of 75 million," he told reporters during a live televised news conference. "The world should know that 75 million Revolutionary Guard are living in Iran. They safeguard the Islamic revolution, their independence and their cultural values."
He also said Iran didn't take Clinton's views seriously because it's not sure whom she represents.
"We see contradictions in remarks from different officials from the Obama administration," he said. "We don't know yet if Mrs. Clinton is reflecting the U.S. government's view or just the standpoint of some factions there."
During the news conference, he also addressed other subjects, including Tehran's nuclear program and the state of civil liberties in his country.
"The press enjoy a high level of freedom in Iran," he insisted. "We have issued the most press licenses while our revocation of licenses has been at its lowest. However, the government may not tolerate any view printed in the press. You should not expect us to trust anyone and tolerate anything they write."
On the proposed deal to exchange some of Iran's enriched uranium for fuel plates for a Tehran medical reactor:
"The fuel exchange deal still stands. We have announced that we are ready for fuel exchange within a just framework. Although the International Atomic Energy Agency regulations oblige its members to supply fuel for humanitarian and medical needs, unfortunately, some self-declared supporters of human rights and peaceful nuclear programs have shirked from their legal duty.
We welcome an exchange of fuel and talks are under way to that effect. We are ready for fuel swap with any country, even the United States.
Any exchange should take place simultaneously. If they give us the necessary fuel, the conditions will change. Otherwise, we produce it ourselves and we can't wait for them.
But the problem is that these countries are picking a quarrel with us. We're ready even for that. We've tested the new generation of our centrifuges whose capacity is five times that of the current centrifuges. We'll run them in the near future in order to supply fuel to our power plants and reactors. We keep our 20% production until our needs are met. The IAEA inspectors are well aware of our work.
Initially we had no plan to enrich uranium to 20% purity and we need fuel for our power plants. We imagined that others would supply the fuel to us and the issue of exchange was brought about. However, they laid out unjust conditions and we saw an ill intention in their action. The time was running out and we decided to produce our own fuel.Our nuclear position has been clear. We have moved within the framework of our legal rights. But three to four governments are seeking to dominate the region and they see Iran as an obstacle. They seek pretexts. They are not opposed to the atomic bomb.
We are hearing the most laughable historical jokes. The U.S. is armed with 10,000 nuclear warheads and plenty of long-range ballistic missiles, but it claims, 'We guess Iran will be able to develop in 2015 a single atomic bomb which will be dangerous for the world!'
It's a political puppet show. All masks have fallen and the curtains have been drawn aside. These three or four Western governments have to correct themselves if they want to reserve a future for themselves in the region. We welcome [mediation] efforts in view of resolving our nuclear issue.
Six months ago, we announced our need for fuel to power our medical reactor. What happened? They pose preconditions. 'Give us the fuel!' They have shown that they are not even cooperating with us in humanitarian cases.
If they are worried about our enrichment at higher levels, they should have given us the fuel unconditionally. Now, they don't. No problem. We'll produce it ourselves."
On the possibility of sanctions imposed on Iran:
"We hear talks of sanctions against our country, but we don't care at all. The literature of sanctions is outdated and we don't care what would happen if we are sanctioned. Sanctions will cause no pain for us. However, if they decide to go the wrong way, our response will no longer be advice and enlightenment. We'll retaliate in a way to make them remorseful of their act. We have learned to live under difficult conditions for 31 years."
On relations with the U.S.:
"The U.S. is the only government that has always resorted to military invasion to change governments in its former friendly countries. Now, more than 300,000 heavily equipped U.S. troops have been deployed in our region.
I sent a message to Mr. Obama. Where is his response? We see no 'olive branch' from Mr. Obama. The Western governments know well that their resolutions are not worth even a penny. We have nothing to worry about.We were willing to help Mr. Obama. But one year has passed since he took office and he has so far failed to close the Guantanamo prison. Mr. Obama has added to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Biden is deciding for Iraq, and Mrs. Clinton is threatening us on her regional tours.
We don’t want him to become another Bush."
On the battle of the superpowers:"We have evidence and documents proving the Americans are eying [domination of] India and China. The Western countries are targeting new economic powers because their own economies are about to die. They have circumvented the Russians who wrongly imagined that the Americans are bogged down in Afghanistan. The Russians will understand in the future that they have to react.
We maintain very good, deep-seated and broaden ties with China. Iran and China have common enemies. Several arrogant powers don't want China to be an influential power in the world. We stand by China in the face of threats and pressures. But these arrogant powers will fail in their attempts against China."
On security in the Persian Gulf:
"Iran and other countries in the region favor security in the Strait of Hormuz. Some governments whose policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the region have failed are trying to cause tension in the region, but they will achieve nothing. Iran, in cooperation with other countries in the region, will defend the Strait of Hormuz which should serve the interests of the regional nations."
On Ahmadinejad's controversial aide, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, said by critics to be a sort of Rasputin-like character within the president's inner circle:
"Mr Rahim-Mashai is very loyal and sympathetic to this revolution and he has been a well-known servant. His attitudes and thoughts are pure. He has been one of my best colleagues in the government and he has devoted himself to the government round the clock... But he is under fire by certain groups seeking to undermine the government. Those who are critical of Mr Mashai are tight-lipped against those who are dipping into the national wealth."