Iran is in the new constantly. International observers watch every single move of Iran with utmost interest and care. But Iran is in the midst of a major foreign policy change. As part of Iran’s “Face to the East” strategy, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s whirlwind visit to South Asian countries Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India last month drew much attention. It comes at a time when this region is striving for stability and economic prosperity. Pakistan is undergoing transition from an authoritarian regime to democratic governance with a process that also marks the ascent of civilian supremacy. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are with a process that also marks the ascent of civilian supremacy. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are trying to build up their damaged economy. Iran is already helping Sri Lanka to modernize an oil refinery and a hydropower project, with a $1.6 billion line of credit. India direly needs energy to carry forwards its booming economy. The proposed $7 billion pipeline that would ferry natural gas from Iran across Pakistan to India was high on his agenda during the visit. India’s good relations with Iran are necessitated for many reasons. It is the second largest India’s good relations with Iran, after Saudi Arabia and a potential source of natural gas in the future, it wields influence in Afghanistan which India increasingly considers critical to regional stability. During Iranian President’s visit to India, STRATEGIC AFFAIRS magazine had a detailed interview to find out Iranian positions on several key issues.
DW : Why is the West suspecting your Uranium enrichment programme.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: Iran’s cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is going on smoothly and I do not think that there is any problem in this regard. Of course, the oppressive powers are exerting pressure on the international organization but they must know that Iran has crossed the stage and they can not stop Iranian’s progress. The big powers want everything for themselves and they are lying on their opposition to the nuclear weapons because the one obtaining nuclear weapons to kill the defenseless can not claim to be antinuclear weapons. The tyranny powers have misguided the world people on the nuclear energy issue. They equate the nuclear energy with the nuclear bomb and try to deny other nations of a clean and valuable energy. The oppressive powers want to have monopoly over the nuclear energy and, once the fissile energy finished, to sale the same to other nations for a huge amount and press upon them their wishes.
DW : Do you see any change of US foreign policy towards Iran after US elections.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: The US presidential elections have no impact on the world affairs and for us also it is not important who gets the votes. The US has reached to the end of the road in the region and the US elections can not change the atmosphere. The situation is a result of the wrong deeds and undesirable performance of the US managers. Of course, the condition all over the world has changed and the humanity has crossed a certain stage. The era of the ruling by force and cheating has come to an end and the weapons are no more deciding factors in the political relations between the nations. The era of culture, thinking and the humane relations has started. This is the area where the US managers have nothing to say and they, naturally, will be removed. These powers are oppressive and corrupt and are at the verge of collapse and we are getting ready for the era after the same and are consulting with our friends in this regard.
DW : How do you see stability in Afghanistan.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: The situation in the country is complicated and Iran suffers the most from the insecurity in Afghanistan. Iran favors establishment of democracy, security and stability in Afghanistan. Iran supports fully the political process in Afghanistan and we hope that the country would succeed in resolving its problems and would expedite its construction process.
DW : What are the prospects of early completion of Iran Pakistan & India (IPI) pipeline.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: The differences among the three countries have been narrowed and we hope that the deal would be finalized in near future. Several crucial details of the proposed project valued at more than $7 billion are to be resolved including the price of gas etc. We have offered a package which includes a comprehensive cooperation and constructive negotiations based on a sustainable friendship, justice and security to remove the challenges faced by the humanity. A comprehensive package on the important issues including management of the atomic energy in the world has been offered to eradicate the wars, threats, injustice and discrimination and also to ensuring a sustainable security.
DW : What is your response to US accusing Iran for interfering in Iraq.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: Iran wanted a stable Iraq that would benefit the region. A united Iraq, a sovereign Iraq and an advanced Iraq is to the benefit of all regional nations. Moral of the tyranny powers is this that they accuse others for their failure and blaming others for the situation in Iraq which is nothing new. Yet, interference in Iraq is a joke. Those who have occupied the country with 20,000 military personnel are accusing Iraq’s neighbors for interfering there. But we are interested in peace. During the last one century, over 80 million people have been killed in two world wars and these killings are still going on in Iraq where around one million people have lost their lives.
DW : How do you react to the threat of US attack on Iran.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: The people of Iran do not accept these claims because the enemies if Iran have neither the power nor the courage to launch a military attack on Iran. Of course, these are some people in America that wish very much to take some steps but they are unable to do so. They are at the end of the road and should leave the region as soon as possible. They can either leave the region on their own and with honor or can stay and get defeated and forced to leave the region. Our best friendship with them is to advise them to leave the region as soon as possible.
DW : How do you see the surge of terrorism in the light of post-9/11.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: It is said that some 3000 people were killed in the suspicious incident of the twin towers in New York but their names were never announced and the main elements behind the same were never introduced. In the pretext of this incident, attacks were launched and Afghanistan and Iraq were occupied in the pretext of fight against terrorism and millions of innocent people were killed and made homeless. This incident guides us towards another incident called Holocaust. Some people claimed that certain people killed during the World War-II but no sensitivity was shown toward other victims of this destructive war. In the pretext of this incident a territory are living under occupation, pressure and threat and over 5 million innocent people have been homeless.
DW : Is China going to join the proposed IPI gas pipeline project.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: A proposal in this regard was made during my visit to Pakistan. The different aspects of the same are under consideration. It is difficult to spell it out at this moment.
DW : What more should be done to enhance the bilateral ties between India and Iran.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran: The relations between Iran and India are very deep and historical and cultural commonalities between the two countries are unique. The relations between Iran and India have always been constructive and friendly and they today also are very good and warm. During my meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, different bilateral, regional and international issues came up and the negotiations on the IPI pipeline are going ahead well. The views have moved closer and I hope that the project would be finalized in near future.