Cablegate: President Ahmadinejad Attempts to Tone Down Tensions But

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1.(SBU) Summary. "The nuclear file is closed, and we have
cleared up all questions," said President Ahmadinejad in his
second public press conference this year. Ahmadinejad made it
clear that Iran will continue to discuss Iraq security with the
US at an ambassadorial level, stating that a secure Iraq is in
Iran's best interest. Taking questions from the international
press, Ahmadinejad asserted that along with Saudi Arabia, Iran
is ready to fill a power vacuum that is developing in the
region. He said that Iran also enjoys good relations with its
neighbors in the Gulf and is ready to reinstate relations with
Egypt. Ahmadinejad dismissed allegations of a US military
attack on Iran and a US decision to designate the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as unlikely. He said he
personally believes that Woodrow Wilson Center scholar Haleh
Esfandiari can return to the US, but in the end this is a matter
for the judiciary to decide. The tone of his speech was calm,
and--though firm--less aggressive than in the past. End Summary.

2.(SBU) In his second public address this year, President
Ahmadinejad spoke for roughly 45 minutes and took questions from
the national and international press August 28. He began with
an inclusive statement about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,
saying each believes that a savior will come to bring justice to
the world. He stressed Muslims' belief in the Imam Mahdi, whose
birthday is to be celebrated August 29. Calling mismanagement
and "bad governance" the basis of wrongdoing in the world, his
address covered Iran's nuclear program and Iraq. Following his
speech he took roughly 45 minutes of questions on regional
security and stability, the economic situation in Iran, and the
status of jailed Iranian-American Haleh Esfandiari.


3. (U) Ahmadinejad reiterated previous statements that Iran is
working within the framework of the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),
and that according to this framework; all nations have the right
to nuclear technology. Furthermore, he added, nuclear-capable
states are obliged to help non-nuclear states attain nuclear
energy. Iran is a member of the nuclear club now because it has
mastered the fuel cycle and has industrial-level production, he
said. Iran is willing to help other nations attain nuclear
energy capacity, in accordance with its obligations, Ahmadinejad
stated. He accused "some powers" of not obeying the rules they
have set up and using political and economic pressure against

4.(U) President Ahmadinejad said that attempts to pressure Iran
and threats against it have not and will not be effective. He
called the decision to send Iran's nuclear file to the UN
Security Council "illegal," and said that Iran followed the
first UN resolution against it by re-opening the Natanz
facility, and the second resolution by announcing
industrial-scale enrichment. Ahmadinejad asserted that Iran's
cooperation with the IAEA has been exemplary, announcing clearly
that "the nuclear file is closed, and we have cleared up all
questions." He asserted that all reports of the IAEA say that
Iran is operating within the regulations, and stated that is now
clear that Iran's activities are peace-seeking.

5. (U) Iran's president warned the "power" against repeating its
mistakes with other IAEA members, and excoriated it for
"discrediting the UN." Ahmadinejad said the behavior of the
"power" has made nations distrust it. "You have a nuclear
arsenal, but no peace of mind," he said, "Why don't you get rid
of it?" He warned "statesmen who talk with the language of 60
years ago" against arrogance and bullying. "You've done things
that won't be corrected for years," he said, "but, in time, you
might be forgiven."

6.(U) Responding to reporters' questions about the nuclear
issue, Ahmadinejad suggested that Iran does not intend to end
its cooperation with the IAEA, even in the face of another UNSC
resolution. He said news reports suggesting Iran had scaled
back its enrichment activity at Natanz were false and that the
speed of progress of Iran's nuclear program depends solely on
technical matters. There was no political decision to slow the
program, he said. Asserting that Iran is cooperating fully with
the IAEA and working within the framework of the NPT, he said
however that the IAEA Safeguards Additional Protocol was an
entirely different matter, inferring that Iran does not intend

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to adhere to the Additional Protocol. Ahmadinejad called the
IAEA a "legal entity" and cautioned it against political
decisions which would take it outside its mandate.


7.(U) Returning to the theme of mismanagement, Ahmadinejad
criticized the "powers" for initially supporting and arming
Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980s', hoping to "break
Iran's national will." These same people later opposed Saddam,
he said, by coming up with "false claims of weapons." After
deposing Saddam, the "occupiers" became the sole cause of the
problems in Iraq, Ahmadinejad said. They have created problems
that they cannot solve, and the longer they stay, the worse the
situation will be. When asked, Ahmadinejad denied allegations
that Iran is behind the current instability in Iraq, accusing
the US of trying to shift the blame for the failure of its
policies, instead of analyzing its mistakes. He said the
"occupiers of Iraq" are creating instability and sectarian
tensions in order to justify their presence there, adding that
they want to "divide and rule, conquer the oil wealth, and
create a central power base." Ahmadinejad accused the "powers"
of seeking to undermine the Iraqi government, replace the Prime
Minister, and change the constitution. Iran, he said favors a
stable Iraq as the two countries share a long border, cultural
connections and history.

8.(U) The political power of the "occupiers" is waning and a
power gap is developing, Ahmadinejad said. Iran is ready --
with the help of friends like Saudi Arabia and others -- to fill
that power gap. Responding to reporters' questions, Ahmadinejad
called US accusations of Iranian interference in Iraq false.
Asked if an apparent lack of US support for the Maliki
government would affect US-Iran discussions on Iraq, Ahmadinejad
said that "as long as there has been no change in request," Iran
is ready to help in Iraq and continue negotiations at an
ambassadorial level. He said Iran is "ready to help you come
out of this bog you have created," but that Iran would not
"force you out." Nonetheless, Ahmadinejad pressed for a US
withdrawal, saying, "Let Iraqis run Iraq and go back to your
country. You are gate crashers. No one sent you an invitation.
No one rolled out the red carpet."

9.(U) Ahmadinejad warned against a "new plan to pressure the
Iraqi government," saying it would fail. Referring indirectly
to the US, he said those advising them in the "old colonial
ways" are working against them, and advised them to sit down and
review what they have done. "Two months ago they gave arms to
people," he said, "and now they've come out of the frying pan
and into the fire." There have been 600,000 deaths, Ahmadinejad
charged. "What have you achieved? Who is to blame? Who will be
tried?" The problems in Iraq can be solved without further
casualties, Ahmadinejad claimed, but said the [presumably US]
government does not listen to the advice of wise men and women.
"Don't you have brains in your head," he asked.

Regional security and other questions
--------------------------------------------- ----

10. (U) Asked by reporters about Iran-US negotiations,
Ahmadinejad said Iran is already working with the international
community on Iraq security, but is ready for to talk to anyone
except "the occupiers of Palestine" about broader issues if it
is met on equal terms. Equality is condition for such
discussions, he said. Ahmadinejad dismissed rumors of a US
military attack against Iran, saying that the Iranian people are
not worried. Ahmadinejad said the problems in Afghanistan and
Iraq would need to be solved first. Asked to clarify French
President Sarkozy's comments about a possible military attack
against Iran if it continues uranium enrichment, Ahmadinejad
said Sarkozy is a new president who wants to make his mark.
Sarkozy's comment "has no political value," he said.
Ahmadinejad focused instead on Sarkozy's call for dialogue,
praising these efforts.

11.(U) Asked whether Iran would block the Straits of Hormuz, he
said it was not on the agenda, and that those who have suggested
this have done it only to increase tensions and oil prices.
Ahmadinejad also said he doubted that the US would designate the
IRGC a terrorist organization, saying it would be "absurd" for

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the US to take such an "extreme, illegal measure." He said it
was more a reflection of political infighting in the US between
a group that is "worried" about arms sales and is trying to
create tensions, and more "logical" actors.

12. (U) Asked about the possibility for renewal of ties between
Egypt and Iran, Ahmadinejad said Iran was willing to send an
ambassador, and that the two countries' vice foreign ministers
are discussing the promotion of ties. Asked why Iran has not
pursued closer relations with the Gulf, Ahmadinejad defended
Iran's diplomacy, saying it maintains friendly relations with
Gulf countries. He added that Iran's annual trade with the UAE
is $11 billion.

13.(U) Asked his response to criticism of his economic policy,
Ahmadinejad said people in Iran are free to express their
opinions. The economic policy was approved by the legislature,
and the government is proceeding on that basis. Investments in
Iran have grown two-fold, he said, claiming that "Iran is the
most secure country in the world." Some infrastructure in the
energy and transportations sectors is lacking, he admitted,
saying that the government has increased investment in those
sectors. Asked whether there would be further changes in his
cabinet, Ahmadinejad responded with an analogy, likening the
cabinet to a football team, of which the president was the
coach. "No player can expect to stay in the game the whole
time," Ahmadinejad said, stressing however, that it was still a
team effort in the end.

14.(U) Asked whether jailed Iranian-American scholar Haleh
Esfandiari would be allowed to return to the US, Ahmadinejad
responded that personally he thinks she is free to return, but
the final decision on the case lies with the judiciary.

15.(SBU) Comment. The tone of President Ahmadinejad's second
press conference this year was relatively calm and -- though
firm -- less aggressive than in the past. Ahmadinejad appeared
more relaxed than in previous international press conferences,
joking with reporters. He began his speech by pointing to
common beliefs among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and
refrained from any strident anti-Israel comments. He reiterated
several times Iran's willingness to engage in discussions with
the US, and to help in Iraq.

© Scoop Media

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