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Iran: Ahmadinejad defends record in TV interview | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is interviewed on Iranian TV on July 28, 2013 (Office of the President of Iran)

Outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is interviewed on Iranian TV on July 28, 2013 (Office of the President of Iran)

Outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is interviewed on Iranian TV on July 28, 2013 (Office of the President of Iran)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran’s outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his eight years in office in a live television interview on Sunday, saying that Iran had made major progress in its nuclear program during his administration.

Ahmadinejad’s second term as president ends on August 3, and his successor Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to be inaugurated the day after. During his eight years in office, Ahmadinejad has seen his popularity slide in the face of criticism of his economic policies and bellicose rhetoric, which Rouhani and his other opponents have branded as a contributing factor in Iran’s international isolation.

In the interview, broadcast on a national Iranian TV channel, Ahmadinejad claimed credit for the expansion of Iran’s uranium enrichment capability, and argued that he had played a major role in defending the country’s nuclear program in the face of international pressure from the US and elsewhere.

He said: “Our enrichment plan is going on. There are 12 thousand centrifuges working in the country and according to our plans, 5 thousand more will be added to our nuclear program circuit.”

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano wrote in his introductory statement to Board of Governors in June 3, 2013: “The number of centrifuges installed by Iran also continues to increase, as does the amount of enriched uranium it holds. These activities are in clear contravention of resolutions adopted by the Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council.”

Ahmadinejad also claimed that Iran had played an influential role in reforming the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) during the UN-sponsored review conference of the treaty in 2010. He said: “during the UN NPT review conference, we proposed 11 amendments and 10 of Tehran’s proposals were accepted and approved.”

“With the approved amendments that we proposes, not only did Iran continued its peaceful nuclear work, but also obliged the Zionist regime [Israel] to bring its nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision,” he added.

Iran has fiercely rejected US and Israeli claims that it is pursuing or has pursued a covert nuclear weapons program, and political leaders across the spectrum of its political factions maintain that the country has the right to the right to develop nuclear technology for non-military applications under the NPT.

Additionally, the outgoing president highlighted his visit to Lebanon in October 2011, and said, “I was the first president to go to the borders of Israel, 400 meters from the Zionists. 40 enemy aircraft had been flying around. I defended the rights of the Palestinian nation and send the message to the human community that the Zionists’ days are numbered.”

The president said his 115 international trips during his eight years in office which led to a more interactive dialog with other nations.

“The ninth and tenth governments initiated the public dialogue with the people around the globe. We spoke directly to people during our trips to countries and we talked about human dignity and dismissal of oppression,” he said.

As for his plans after he leaves the office, Ahmadinejad said he has long been considering establishing an international university.

He said that he has no plans to form a political party. He added: “it does not mean that I will not make any political comments. Political discussions are a part of my life.”

According to reports in the Iranian media, Iran’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution have given Ahmadinejad permission to open a university for postgraduate studies in Tehran.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, formerly one of Ahmadinejad’s closest aides, said that the institution would be named “Iranian University.”