UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meets with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meets with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in New York for the 67th session of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters, Sept. 23, 2012. Photo by AP
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Portraits of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the exhibition Faces of Power, by Greek photo artist Platon Antoniou, Germany, Sept. 19, 2012. Photo by AP
AP
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the 67th session of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters, Sept. 23, 2012. Photo by AP

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that Iran did not take seriously Israeli threats of an attack on its nuclear facilities. Speaking to the Washington Post in an interview ahead of his visit to the United Nations in New York, the Iranian president also stated that he believes the Americans are "peace-loving people."

“We, generally speaking, do not take very seriously the issue of the Zionists and the possible dangers emanating from them,” he told columnist David Ignatius early in the interview. “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. But I do not believe they will succeed. Iran is also a very well-recognized country and her defensive powers are very clear.”

The Iranian president added that Israel is seeking opportunities for its own salvation and to safeguard its own interests. "That is why they are raising the stakes and making so much noise,” he said.

The Washington Post asked Ahmadinejad if he thought Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was bluffing in his threats to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, to which the Iranian president answered that he agreed with that view and asserted that this analysis was a “common consensus.”

During the interview, Washington Post reporter David Ignatius also asked the Iranian president about negotiations with the international group P5+1, Ahmadinejad said Iran was willing to make a deal to limit its stockpile of enriched uranium. "But he implied that the Obama administration wants to slow the negotiations down until after the November election, to avoid bargaining concessions that might embarrass the president," wrote Ignatius in an op-ed on the interview.

“We have always been ready and we are ready” to make a deal that will address the P5+1’s concerns," he told Ignatius. “But experience has shown that important and key decisions are not made in the U.S. leading up to national elections.”

When asked whether he thinks Iranian officials would be interested in discussing a "new architecture for security" in the region, Ahmadinejad said "We have always been ready," but noted, "We believe that the security of any region must be supported and implemented by the nation and peoples of those regions," adding that if the U.S. focused on providing security for "its own region," it would avoid the "backbreaking expense" of maintaining thousands of military bases.

“Will the people of the U.S. accept meddling and intervention in the affairs of others?” he asked at one point, before answering his own question. “I don’t believe so. I believe the people of the U.S. are peace-loving people.”