Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi
Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi smiles during a meeting with his Tunisian counterpart Rafik Abdessalem in Tunis April 23, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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Israel would have attacked Iran long ago if it could and wished to do so, said Iran's foreign minister in an interview Monday.

“If the Israelis had wanted to attack us, and if they could have done so, they would have done so long ago,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday to the German news weekly Der Spiegel.

During an interview conducted in Frankfurt, the Salehi commented on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent presentation at the United Nations’ General Assembly, calling Netanyahu’s caricature of a bomb “childish,” and “bizarre,” according to the Der Spiegel report.

After denying that his nation’s nuclear program is military in nature, Salehi responded to Der Spiegel’s questions over the effectiveness of international sanctions on the Islamic Republic, calling them “not a big deal.”

“The sanctions create inconveniences. For over 30 years now, we have been living with boycott measures that ultimately make us independent and strong,” Salehi told Der Spiegel.

Recent reports have documented the sharp decline of the Iranian rial against the United States dollar and protests in Tehran, to which Salehi responded, “Iranian society is used to living with hardships... We can count on the patience of our people.”

Der Spiegel also questioned Salehi on the situation in Syria. Salehi stated that Syrian President Bashar Assad “poses no threat to the region, or to world peace, for that matter,” and placed the blame for some 30,000 casualties in Syria on rebel forces, as well as Assad’s regime.