Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied that his country had broken international rules on nuclear weapons and warned that an attack on his country’s nuclear facilities could spark a war with “no limits”.
Mr Ahmadinejad also raised new questions about the Holocaust on his visit to New York for the annual UN General Assembly meeting.
“The United States has never entered a real war, not in Vietnam, nor in Afghanistan, nor even World War II,” the Iranian leader told American editors and reporters when asked about how Iran would react to any US supported strike by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“War is just not bombing someplace. When it starts it has no limits,” the New York Times reported.
“Do you think anyone will attack Iran to begin with?” he said, according to Atlantic magazine’s website. “I really don’t think so. The Zionist regime is a very small entity on the map, even to the point that it doesn’t really factor into our equation.”
The UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. The US and its allies have called for stringent application of the measures and Washington-Tehran relations have become increasingly fraught.
The Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Mr Ahmadinejad denies the charge.
The Iranian leader said he was ready for nuclear talks with US President Barack Obama’s administration, but said “the whole outlook has to shift,” ABC News reported.
The UN sanctions had damaged the chances for an improvement in US-Iranian relations, he added.
Mr Ahmadinejad blamed international politics for the growing tensions over the nuclear programme.
He also rejected allegations that his regime had committed human rights abuses, turning the spotlight instead on the US. He accused Washington of hypocrisy, citing the case of the woman who is due to be executed in Virginia on Thursday. He criticised the US for condemning Iran over the sentencing of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death by stoning when it was preparing to kill Teresa Lewis.
Mr Ahmadinejad was again questioned about the killing of millions of Jews in Nazi death camps during the Second World War.
He described it as “a historical event used to create a pretext for war.”
“The question is, why don’t we allow this subject to be examined further…. It is incorrect to force only one view on the rest of the world,” he was quoted as saying.
“We need to ask, where did this event occur, and why should the Palestinian people continue to suffer for it? I am not an anti-Semite. I am anti-Zionism,” he said.