Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in New York Saturday ahead of a UN General Assembly meeting and wasted no time in speaking to American media outlets about Israel and the possibility of an Israeli strike on his country’s nuclear facilities.
In an interview scheduled to air Monday night on CNN, Ahmadinejad said Iran would defend itself if attacked by Israel.
“The response of Iran is quite clear, I don’t even need to explain that,” Ahmadinejad said according to a transcript of the interview. “Any nation has the right and will indeed defend herself.”
His comments came as rhetoric from the Islamic Republic turned increasingly belligerent in recent days, with a top-ranking Iranian general saying Sunday that Israeli preparations to attack Iran could trigger a pre-emptive attack and “World War III.”
“The Zionists are very much, very adventuresome, very much seeking to fabricate things,” Ahmadinejad said, according to CNN. “I think they see themselves at the end of the line and I do firmly believe that they seek to create new opportunities for themselves and their adventurous behaviors.”
In an interview with the Washington Post on Sunday, the Iranian president dismissed the notion that Israel poses an imminent threat to his country.
“We generally speaking do not take very seriously the issue of the Zionists and the possible dangers emanating from them,” he said.
“Of course they would love to find a way for their own salvation by making a lot of noise and to raise stakes in order to save themselves,” Ahmadinejad added, “but I do not believe they will succeed. Iran is also a very well recognized country and her defensive powers are very clear.”
In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes scheduled to air this week, US President Barack Obama pushed back on the notion that he feels pressure from Netanyahu on the Iran issue, dismissing as noise the Israeli leader’s calls for the US to set out “red lines” that Iran’s nuclear program mustn’t cross to avoid American military intervention.
“When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people,” Obama said. “And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.”
On Saturday, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said war with “cancerous tumor Israel” would eventually happen, and that his country would “destroy the Jewish state.”
The Iranian president is scheduled to speak to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, which is Yom Kippur.