Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 'Israel Can't Attack Us'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jerry Guo

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing mounting problems at home, from disgruntled hardliners and senior clerics to continued criticism from the Green Movement opposition. Perhaps more dire, the Iranian president may need to cut $100 billion in government subsidies, partly as a result of this summer's new sanctions, aimed at forcing Iran to come clean on its nuclear programs. But in New York last week for the U.N. General Assembly, he remained defiant. He sat down with NEWSWEEK's Jerry Guo in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

Are you ready to return to negotiating a nuclear-fuel swap? We have always been prepared to talk. In order to talk the other party must define what its positions are, whether it's to further friendship and understanding or to further hostilities. Also they must announce their position that the Zionist regime holds nuclear bombs and whether they oppose or favor it. The response they give will determine the types of talks that will be carried out. We are in favor of talks. But it's clear that the way these talks are handled will be different whether we perceive if we are talking to friends or foes.

Israel is increasingly concerned. If it were to bomb any of your alleged nuclear weapons sites, how would your government respond? It could be a concern, but does that mean they could attack us? Do they even have the ability to? I invite you to come to Iran. You will see for yourself that it is a very large and vast country, far more vast than the ability of the Zionists to even imagine or perceive. So it is impossible for that scenario to unfold. So we do not even count on calculating it in our decisions.

What have been the impacts of the latest round of economic sanctions against Iran? Sanctions do not impact Iran's economy. In fact they don't have a negative impact. …