WASHINGTON – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blames the U.S. for growing violence in the Mideast, saying fighting has continued in Lebanon because the United Nations only serves U.S. interests.
In an interview airing Sunday on "60 Minutes," Ahmadinejad said it was Hezbollah that had a right to defend itself in its war with Israel. Even so, he said Iran joined others in calling for an immediate cease-fire only to have it thwarted by U.S. support for Israel.
"We are not at all happy with war," he said. "People, innocent people are being killed."
Saying the U.N. has failed to provide security in the region, Ahmadinejad said: "We see that it is not responding to atrocities. If we search for the root causes, we see the hand of the British and the Americans."
CBS newsman Mike Wallace conducted the long sought-after interview that was aired Sunday with Iran's president in Tehran. It comes 27 years after Wallace's chilling sit-down with Ayatollah Khomeini.
During the interview, Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran had no plans to develop a nuclear bomb and that it simply wanted nuclear technology to develop energy resources.
The Bush administration is adamantly opposed, he said, because the U.S. is "opposed to Iranian progress."
"Mr. Bush's team and the parties that support him want to monopolize energy resources in the world," Ahmadinejad said. "Because once they have that they can impose their opinions, points of view, policies on other nations and, of course, line their pockets."
"Basically we are not looking for — working for the bomb," he added. "The time of the bomb is in the past. It's behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges."
Ahmadinejad also said he doubted that Iran and the U.S. will have normalized relations anytime soon, saying that the U.S. will "have to change their behavior" before that can happen.
"Look at the makeup of the American administration, the behavior of the American administration. See how they talk down to my nation," Ahmadinejad said. "They want to build an empire. And they don't want to live side by side in peace with other nations."