Iranian President: 'Some Signs That the Holocaust Happened, They Need to Be Investigated'

In a rare interview with '60 Minutes,' Ebrahim Raisi also spoke about the nuclear negotiations, saying Iran would agree to a 'good and fair deal'. Yad Vashem chairman calls statement 'far-fetched, delusional, dangerous and reprehensible'

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, last month.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, last month.Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in an interview with "60 Minutes" that "there are some signs that the Holocaust happened," but added that it needs to be "investigated and researched."

Raisi spoke with American journalist Lesley Stahl of CBS news in an interview that was filmed last week in Tehran, but only aired early Monday morning.

The ultra-conservative Iranian president was also asked about the ongoing negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, saying his country "would be serious about reaching an agreement if it's a good deal and a fair deal."

"There needs to be guarantees. If there were a guarantee, then the Americans could not withdraw from the deal. [They] broke their promises. They did it unilaterally. They said that, 'I am out of the deal.' Now making promises is becoming meaningless," Raisi added.

When confronted with questions about Tehran's ambition to manufacture nuclear weapons, Raisi said: "We have responded to these claims several times. They are baseless. The Islamic Republic of Iran has said many times that possessing nuclear weapons has no place in our doctrine."

When asked about Israel's right to exist, Raisi immediately spoke about the Palestinians, saying "[they] are the reality. This is the right of the people of Palestine who were forced to leave their houses and motherland. The Americans are supporting this false regime there to take root and to be established there."

Stahl asked Raisi about the Abraham Accords, asking if the Iranian president would like to comment on the fact that Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have recognized Israel.

"If a state shakes hands with the Zionist regime, then they are also an accomplice to their crimes. And they are stabbing the very idea of Palestine in the back."

Raisi's interview aired days before the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, where the Iranian President is due to speak.

In response to the "60 minutes" interview, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "to deny that denier a world stage to spread antisemitism and hatred. The UN will reach a new low if they give the Butcher of Tehran a platform."

"Iranian President Raisi’s call for ‘research' to determine whether the Holocaust happened is ludicrous and dangerous. His statement is a form of Holocaust denial and a form of antisemitism,” said U.S. antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt, who is also an internationally renowned Holocaust scholar.

Dani Dayan, Chairman of Yad Vashem, also reacted to Raisi's interview. "What the Iranian President said is far-fetched, delusional, dangerous and reprehensible. Antisemitic slogans like this should not be said, and if they are said they need to be met with a wall of facts and testimony by moral people everywhere, in order to not allow the denial or distortion of history."

Prime Minister Yair Lapid responded by publishing pictures from the Holocaust, adding the caption "Some signs."

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also responded, sharing a photograph of a Holocaust survivor's prisoner number tattoo.

The IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, attended on Monday a ceremony at the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. Among other things, Kochavi seemed to reply to Raisi's comments.

"You don't need to be a historian or a researcher to understand the horrors of the Holocaust, you only need to be a human being ... Whoever lies and denies this solid and painful historical fact, whoever easily lies about it today, will naturally lie about it in the future. It's another reminder that we cannot allow these people to have any sort of ability of manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction."

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