Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not gloating over the Burgas bombing in a speech Thursday in which he spoke of Iran’s enemies getting hit back with greater harm than they cause, the BBC’s Persian Service correspondent in New York said Sunday.
Bahman Kalbasi, a native Persian speaker who follows Ahmadinejad’s speeches closely, said any Persian speaker would confirm that the Iranian president “was in no way referring” to the previous day’s attack in Bulgaria in which five Israelis and a Bulgarian was killed, and which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly blamed on Hezbollah and Iran just hours earlier.
Ahmadinejad’s speech was widely interpreted in Israel as asserting that the Burgas bombing was a revenge attack for the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has repeatedly blamed Israel. Channel 2 (Hebrew), Ynet (Hebrew) and The Times of Israel all reported the speech as a case of Ahmadinejad gloating publicly over the terror bombing in Bulgaria, and hinting that Iran was responsible.
But Kalbasi said such interpretations reflect a mistranslation, and that the speech contains no word or phrase that indicates Ahmadinejad was talking about the bombing. The relevant section of the speech relates to western sanctions on Iran and Iran’s response, he said, rather than to the Burgas bombing as on ostensible response to the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Kalbasi said the key sentence was in the future tense, rather than the past — “And if anytime they harm us, we will harm them back. And usually the harm we cause is greater than the harm they cause” — and that Ahmadinejad has said “things like this” many times before.
“He was talking about growing international and economic pressure on Iran, and assuring his constituency that their government will stand up for them and fight back,” said Kalbasi, noting that Thursday’s speech is carried on Ahmadinejad’s website.