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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Aired September 24, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, my world exclusive with one of the most controversial leaders in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: If Israel does launch a strike against your country, what will your response be?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at times combative --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN(Through Translator): Somewhat the behaviors of the United States in our region encourages extremism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Surprising.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: How would you feel if one of your children dated a Jew?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And heated. Especially when I asked him about basic human rights for gays.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Do you really believe that someone is born homosexual?

MORGAN: Yes, I absolutely believe that. Yes.

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): I'm sorry. Let me ask you this. Do you believe that anyone has given birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: An extraordinary hour. PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT starts now.

Good evening. And welcome to a special edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT. Looking live at New York City, home of the United Nations. World leaders from 193 countries are gathering for the annual meeting of the General Assembly.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the meeting on Wednesday. He had some blistering words at Israel today. We'll have more on that in a moment.

He took aim at the Security Council on the subject of Iran's nuclear program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): We have business that some members of the Security Council with little rights have chosen silence with regard to the nuclear warheads of the fake regime while at the same time they impede scientific progress of other nations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama is in New York tonight ahead of his speech on Tuesday, a speech that will condemn violent protests in the Middle East and underscore his commitment to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, with just 43 days to go until this country's election, Mitt Romney has campaigned in Colorado. The latest national CNN Poll of Polls has President Obama with a four-point lead over Governor Romney.

Against the backdrop of the political battle in this country and the turmoil in the Middle East, it seemed the perfect time to sit down with President Ahmadinejad at his hotel here in New York for a world exclusive on everything from the political to the personal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Mr. President, welcome to New York. Many Americans see you as public enemy number one. How do you feel about that?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): The Creator, the Almighty, and most gracious and the most merciful, good morning to you.

I wish to greet all of the wonderful people of the United States and all of the people who will see your program.

At the end of the day, if you do have personal animosity towards me, don't transfer that on to the rest of the people of the United States. We love the people of the United States and they also wish in return peace and stability for all of the world.

MORGAN: You've come here to make a speech to the United Nations. Many are saying it's the most important speech of your life. Do you feel that? AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): No. This is not the most important speech of my life, but I do believe that every moment of a human being's life are the most important for that human being, because they will not come back. If you lose today, today's gone for good. One day of your life has gone. Therefore, every moment counts, every moment is important.

I have been coming to the United Nations General Assembly for eight years now, seeking progress and friendly relations with all nations, and the objective is still the same.

MORGAN: The reason that people think it's so important is that they believe that in your tenure as president, Iran has never been closer to a form of military conflict with Israel or possibly America. They also feel the Middle East is in great turmoil at the moment, and that for those reasons, what you now have to say this week will be extremely important.

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Of course what is talked about in the U.N. General Assembly is very important. Officials, the leaders of nations appear there to speak of the most important topics, what they perceive to be the most important topics. We have done the same throughout the years but the people of Iran, throughout their rich history, have seen many events, have witnessed many events.

We have eight years of the holy defense in which Saddam Hussein backed by many Western powers was against our nation, and then witnessed many other events. About 10 years ago, perhaps, Iran was under direct threat. Those who have occupied Iraq and Afghanistan were threatening Iran on a daily basis.

I do not believe that we are under any special conditions now from those sources, but the fact that the world -- historic period in the world is coming to an end, an era during which power has set the first and last word. Those holding the keys to power have set the fate of many populations. That era is coming to an end.

MORGAN: The big catalyst for protests at the moment in the Middle East was the video that was released which mocked the Prophet Muhammad. As a result, there was an attack, as you know, on the American embassy in Benghazi in Libya. The Ambassador Christopher Stevens was murdered.

Do you condemn the attack which caused his murder?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Fundamentally, first of all, any action that is provocative offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn. Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly, offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly.

This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of -- and the abuse of freedom and in many places, it is a crime. It shouldn't take place and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy or sanctities, but we also believe that this must also be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment, and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason anywhere in the world.

MORGAN: There were protesters all over the Middle East now threatening the staff of American embassies, threatening to kill them, to behead them. Do you think they should stop?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): You see, I cannot determine what people or nations should do, but I do think that extremism gives birth to following and subsequent extremism. Perhaps if the politicians take a better position in the West vis-a-vis offensive words or thoughts or pictures towards what we hold -- what we hold holy, I think conditions will improve. But most nations do not pursue tensions and conflict.

MORGAN: What was your view, your opinion, of the Arab Spring last year and what is your opinion of what is happening now in the countries where there were uprisings and we saw the end of Gadhafi and Mubarak and so on?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): I do believe that all of the world needs reform. The reform must take place everywhere. Everywhere. Even in the very same place that you and I are sitting, because still, humans have not -- have not reached a degree of completeness. There have been a lot of strides made, but hopes and aspirations have not been realized.

In some places, reforms have taken place and some sparks, as you said, we have witnessed, but the desire point is still far away.

MORGAN: You have often said that democracy, freedom, whatever you want to call it, is best born out of the people of the country, not from other countries interfering. We saw that happening in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Libya.

Have you encouraged that? Do you encourage the people of those countries to rise up and to protest?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): You see, for the people to rise up or to start a movement, it's their own prerogative. We do not meddle or interfere in that. We believe that everywhere, justice respect freedom and friendship must prevail.

MORGAN: Do you believe fundamentally in a man or woman's right to protest?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Yes. It depends on the laws of any nation. All nation's laws are not equal, they differ. In most countries, in one way or another, this is allowed under the laws. But fundamentally, I do agree certainly people must be allowed to express their own opinions freely. Freedom is part of the essential rights of all nations.

MORGAN: If that is the case --

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): No one has the right to take that away.

MORGAN: If that is the case, why has the daughter of the former president of Iran, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, her name is Faezeh Hashemi. Why has she been imprisoned for protesting against your regime?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): In Iran there is only one regime so perhaps they are protesting against that and in Iran, the judicial branch is not under the power of the government, of the administration. They have their own laws and that's what they follow. And we have no interference in that.

And the government has paved the way for the highest form of freedom for all people, and you see that comfortably people criticize, people sometimes trespass the border lines of proper protest and they insult one another.

As a president, I'm in the middle of the people of Iran without drawing any borders, without drawing any red lines, and we converse.

MORGAN: Right. But I mean this isn't -- this isn't just any protester. I mean this could be your daughter in the future. It is the daughter of your predecessor, the president. It's a fairly significant moment that she has been imprisoned. Do you feel uncomfortable that this lady is in jail?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): You see, let's separate the two arguments, the two topics. The fact that whether I'm happy at anyone going to prison, no, never. Never. No one should go to prison. But also keep in mind that in any country, everyone must be treated equally under the laws. No one must have special -- must receive special treatment because of having been a part of the power structure, regardless of whether the action taken that resulted in imprisonment was right or wrong. I'm not a judge of that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: When we come back, I'll ask President Ahmadinejad what he thinks it will take to stop the bloodshed in Syria. And you'll hear his controversial views on 9/11.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Let's turn to Syria. Syria is a huge flashpoint at the moment in the Middle East. There is a belief that a lot of the Assad military are using weapons they've got from Iran. Is that true? And how long will you continue to support Assad given the appalling conditions, the humanitarian catastrophe that we are all watching? At what point do you, the president of Iran, say enough of this violence?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): I do believe that we must all say enough of this violence right now. Six months ago, I said enough of this violence. Our opinion vis-a-vis the issue of Syria and other nations is completely clear. We do believe that freedom, the right to choose, the right to vote, respect and justice is the fundamental right of all people. All people must obtain these rights.

No one has the right to restrict a people and nation, but we believe as a friend of nations, we must help the nations around the world to obtain these rights through peaceful paths, through peaceful actions, and we have worked hard.

I am now hard at work to organize a contact group in order to bring the two sides into a point of national agreement.

MORGAN: Mr. President, do you condemn the level of violence that President Assad has brought against his people? Because he has been slaughtering tens of thousands of Syrians. If, as you say, you are a man of peace and you believe in a fundamentally someone's right to protest, this violence has to stop. Have you told President Assad it has to stop?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): I am stating my opinion quite clearly. I cannot interfere in the internal matters of Syria, but I can announce my opinions. And we are seeking an understanding. Some have been working hard to supply weapons to the opposition. The government is also equipped to enter this conflict and based on the foundation that some pursue to resolve issues through military intervention, we completely oppose that doctrine and thought and way of doing things.

We do believe that things must be resolved through dialogue without any outsiders' interference. Many encourage these clashes. Many and even I as a nation or myself as a president, I said to many countries directly that you are encouraging these clashes. That government is an independent government and it will defend itself. They did not accept this. Some furnished weapons and when clashes start, no one displays any mercy. They kill, the other side kills in return and it never stops.

MORGAN: Is Iran selling weapons to the Syrian government and if it's not selling weapons, are you aware of Iranian weapons being given to the Syrian government?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): I believe that there are many ahead of in line in supplying weapons to sides and it would never reach our turn. It's quite clear who those individuals are, who those countries are.

MORGAN: Were you pleased that Osama bin Laden was killed by American Navy SEALs on the instructions of President Obama?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): I would have been happier to see a transparent trial, a formal trial, and find out the root causes of all of the events of the last few years.

MORGAN: You have been reported as saying that you believe it is possible that the American government were partly responsible for the events of 9/11. That caused a huge outrage. Do you stand by that position?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Of course the polls taken inside the United States show that over 75 percent of the United States population are still somewhat nebulous about the real reasons of that event, of those events. What I said were a number of questions. An event has occurred. Due to that, two countries have been occupied and the conflict still continues.

Every day, hundreds of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are killed. Would it not have been better to have a more precise analysis and find out the true in-depth reason of the events of September 11th, make that -- make those findings transparent to the populations in the nations across the world, and then have a response in unison.

Of course, the expense would have been much less. Do you know how much has been spent during the Afghan and Iraq war?

MORGAN: A considerable amount of money but let me ask you this, Mr. President. If nearly 3,000 Iranians had been murdered in the way that Americans were on 9/11, in Tehran, how would you have reacted to the country that you believed had done that?

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): So you are saying that the country of Afghanistan was at fault? Was responsible? So you're seeing the responsible party as a whole nation?

MORGAN: I think it is inarguable that al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden's men who worked for him were training in Afghanistan so Afghanistan was certainly knowingly harboring terrorists who were training to commit atrocities.

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): I believe that you can under no circumstances justify the condemnation and the attack upon a country in order to reach a single terrorist group, and I do believe that no matter how long you and I or other people speak, this is unexplainable.

Allow me to ask you. Do you believe that the various administrations of the United States were successful in eradicating terrorism? They haven't been. Has the problem been resolved or has it gotten worse?

MORGAN: Well, it's hard to say. I think my --

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): The approach was wrong.

MORGAN: My answer --

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): The formula --

MORGAN: -- would be clearly it has been partially successful in the sense that al Qaeda has been unable to commit another attack of that magnitude since, and again, I come back to if you were the president of Iran and that attack have happened in Tehran, it wouldn't have been acceptable to your people for you to do nothing.

AHMADINEJAD (Through Translator): Not at all. Surely we would have pursued the perpetrators, not to seek an entire nation. But I ask you this. During the last 10 years, during the last decade, how many American forces were lost and killed in Afghanistan and Iraq? Even today, even right now, they're still losing their lives.

Has the situation improved? Clearly not. How can you say that it has improved? Now the activities of the terrorists have trespassed into the borders of Pakistan. In Iraq and Afghanistan, over a million people have been killed or injured. We are incredibly saddened that over 3,000 people were killed in the United States. The Iranian government immediately condemned those brutal attacks and I told you, we are against even the killing of one individual.

Why should human lives be taken, innocent humans, anywhere in the world? But in order to avenge the blood of 3,000 people, a million people shouldn't give their lives. Some of the behaviors of the United States in our region encourages extremism. Perhaps because they don't know the people. So they do need to reform their behavior. There was no need for 5,000 or 6,000 U.S. young men and women to lose their lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Coming up, President Ahmadinejad's provocative opinions on Israel. He tells us what he really meant when he called for the country to be wiped off the map. More of our exclusive interview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: In what may have been a preview of his speech to the General Assembly on Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad criticized Israel today, speaking to reporters he said the nation has, quote, "no roots in the Middle East." He's also contentious with me when we discussed Israeli/Palestinian relations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Let me turn, Mr. President, if I may, to Israel. You have been condemned very vociferously in America for a comment you are said to have made that you wanted Israel to be wiped off the map. Wiped off the face of the earth. There have been many different interpretations of what you said.

You have disputed the meaning that was then translated from the original Farsi. Let me give you this opportunity to say exactly what you did say, and to say exactly what you did mean.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): We have been condemned in the United States for many things, for having deposed a dictator with a revolution, for having sought freedom and free elections, for not allowing our oil and national treasure to leave our country freely, for having stood up to very dangerous terrorists in the region, for having stood up against Saddam Hussein, who enjoyed the backing of many. We stood up against him and did not allow the occupation of our territory.

We have been condemned for a great many things. Because we said justice for all, the rule of law for all, the right of peaceful nuclear energy for all.

MORGAN: Do you want, Mr. President -- do you want --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Allow me, sir. Allow me, please.

MORGAN: The question wasn't any of that. The question was do you believe that Israel should --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): But I will get to that answer. Don't be in such a hurry.

MORGAN: Should Israel be wiped off the face of the map? Is that your desire?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): If a group comes and occupies the United States of America, destroys homes while women and children are in those homes, incarcerate the youth of America, impose five different wars on many neighbors, and always threaten others, what would you do? What would you say?

Would you help it? Would you help that entity? Or would you help the people of the United States?

So when we say "to be wiped," we say for occupation to be wiped off from this world, for war-seeking to wiped off and eradicated, the killing of women and children to be eradicated. And we propose the way. We propose the path.

The path is to recognize the right of the Palestinians to self- governance. Allow the people of Palestine to make decisions regarding their own future. Imagine one day in Palestine there is no longer occupation, occupation no longer exists in Palestine.

MORGAN: Do you believe in a --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): What else would there remain?

MORGAN: Do you believe in a two-state solution?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): About the decision of the people of Palestine, I cannot express an opinion. That is their prerogative. But the people of Palestine must be allowed by everyone and helped by everyone to allow them to give them the right to choose -- for themselves to choose their own future --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: If they agreed -- Mr. President, if the Palestinians agreed to a deal --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): What we said --

MORGAN: -- with the Israelis, which recognized a two-state solution, would you then recognize the state of Israel? If the state of Palestine was accepted by the international community, would you accept a two-state solution?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): But before that, allow me -- allow me to say something. I believe in what is our common responsibility, all of humanity, we must help to end and eradicate occupation. Bullying, eradicate bullying. No longer impose or meddle in the internal affairs of anyone.

There are about 10 million -- there is a 10 million-strong Palestinian population. We cannot impose a will on them. Allow them to choose for themselves. Whatever their choice is, we cannot express or impose our opinion on them.

But it is important for occupation to come to an end -- for allowing occupation to come to an end --

MORGAN: Right, I understand that, but this --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): -- so that the people of Palestine can have the right to self-determination.

MORGAN: I understand that. But if the Palestinians were to reach a peace deal --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Allow me, sir.

MORGAN: But I'm assuming that there is a deal, if they agree to a peace settlement, would you, as president of Iran, recognize the state of Israel? Because that would be a very significant contribution to peace settlement if you did.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I think there are many choices in question here. You seem to prefer only one choice, only one avenue, and want to ask me my opinion on that. I do believe that as a human being and as a political figure, prior to speaking about this construct of government, I must speak of the fundamental rights of the people.

I say we must give the free right of choice and self- determination to the people of Palestine. This is a much higher value -- of much higher value than what you are intent in hearing. We recognize that as legitimate of all nations --

MORGAN: Well, we both want peace.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Allow occupation to come to an end. Allow the Palestinians to be released from incarceration. Allow the people of Palestine to sit down at the table of collaboration and make their own decisions. And you should respect that decision, and we should do that as well, any decision they make for their lands, for their own country, not for others.

MORGAN: Would you prefer --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I don't want to sit here and make a decision for them. Whatever decision they make, we respect.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Coming up, things get pretty heated when I push President Ahmadinejad to explain his views on the Holocaust. More of my exclusive interview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my exclusive interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When it comes to asking him questions, there's no such thing as an easy answer, especially when it comes to the Holocaust.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Do you believe that the Holocaust happened? Because many Jews believe that you do not think it happened. And they have a view of you because of that.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): The historic events that you spoke of, I have two questions. I had two questions for quite some time, never received an answer to either one. Everywhere they allow a certain amount of research, of looking into historical events. Whenever there are obstacles placed on this path, then a question mark or two will arise. Why such obstacles?

MORGAN: What are the questions that you have about the Holocaust?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Why in Europe has it been forbidden for anyone to conduct any research about this event? Why are researchers in prison?

MORGAN: There has been extensive research into the Holocaust. It is indisputable that over six million Jews were annihilated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The question is do you dispute that six million Jews were killed?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Do you believe in the freedom of thought and ideas, or no?

MORGAN: I believe in facts.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): And the freedom of research, do you believe in that and allow that, or no?

MORGAN: I believe in all that, but I also-

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Two times two equals-

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: I'm asking whether you believe -- you're a scholar. You're a very intelligent man. Do you believe that six million Jews were annihilated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis? Do you believe that as a fact? AHMADINEJAD (through translator): You answer -- you pose a question and are willing to only hear what you want me to say.

MORGAN: It's a simple answer, isn't it?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Do you want my answer or the answer that you want me to give?

MORGAN: I want you give me --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: You either believe it or you don't.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Your answers and your thoughts seem to be quite clear on this.

MORGAN: I haven't --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Why do you wish to impose your opinion on me?

MORGAN: I believe it is an inarguable fact that six million Jews were killed in the war by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. I'm merely asking you, as the president of Iran, and as a scholar, do you believe that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, or do you think that it's not true?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): So in other words, I must accept the premise of your question in order to give you the answer? That's a dictatorship.

MORGAN: No, you either believe six million Jews were killed or you don't.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): You asked me a question.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: -- yes or no. Yes, I believe it or no, I don't.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Impose your ideas-

MORGAN: No, I don't. I'm not imposing any ideas.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Allow me, sir. Allow me, sir.

MORGAN: I'm not imposing any ideas.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): So, you see, what you're doing is you're seeking a response based on my thoughts. Why do you even care the origin, what the origin of my thoughts are? The results of the events of the second world war --

MORGAN: The reason I care it's important --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): -- led to the occupation of the territories.

MORGAN: The reason I care -- it's important to clarify. The reason I care is because part of your reputation in America and damage to your reputation amongst Americans is because they believe that you questioned the validity of the Holocaust. So I'm simply asking you to state very clearly and simply whether you believe over six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in the war, or not. And the answer is either yes or no. It's not a difficult question.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I thank you for caring so much about me. And I do believe that it is commonplace for someone, for an interviewer to pose a question and wait for the proper response to be completed. If you keep wanting to interrupt me, it's not an issue, it's your show, here you are and there's the camera.

MORGAN: Forgive me for my impertinence. I will allow you to answer in any way you see fit.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): You must not insist on receiving the proper -- what you seek as the proper answer or behavior from me. I pass no judgment about historic events. I say researchers and scholars must be free to conduct research and analysis about any historical events, and have contrary opinion, pro and con. This should not have led to setting up of new confines and borderlines throughout the world and classify someone as good, someone as bad.

Why should a researcher be put in jail, one question? Question number two. Let's assume your parameter is right, your question is right. Your assumption is that this event took place. Where did it take place? Who were the individuals responsible for this event? What does this have to do with the occupation of Palestine?

What role did the people of Palestine play in this event? These are very clear and transparent questions, sir.

The third question I have. If a historic event, if a historical event has indeed taken place, why so much sensitivity surrounding it by politicians? But this has already come and gone --

MORGAN: If I may, let me move on, because time is short. Let me move on. Time is short.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Everyone knows the answer to these questions.

MORGAN: Prime Minister Netanyahu has been making it very clear that he believes Iran is developing uranium now with the specific purpose not to help people with cancer, as you would say, but to have a nuclear weapon. And he's also indicating that Israel may take some pre-emptive strike against Iran. If Israel does launch a strike against your country, what will your response be?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): The response of Iran is quite clear. I don't even need to explain that. Any question and any nation has the right and will indeed defend herself. But my question is this, why should the world be managed in such a way that an individual can allow himself to threaten a rich and deeply rooted, historical ancient country such as Iran, a great country such as Iran based on an excuse of his own fabrication?

So anyone can do this. Another country can say I am guessing that country B is doing activity X, therefore, I will I attack that country. Can this be --

(CROSS TALK)

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): -- formula for the management of the world?

MORGAN: Do you fear that war is imminent? Do you fear that there will be military conflict, perhaps even before the end of this year, between your country and Israel?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Of course, the Zionists are very much -- very adventuresome, very much seeking to fabricate things. And I think they see themselves at the end of the line. And I do firmly believe that they seek to create the opportunities for themselves and their adventurous behaviors.

MORGAN: Let me ask you this, there is an American election coming in November. Who do you prefer to win that election. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? And the reason I ask you is that Mitt Romney has been much more aggressive in the language he has used against your country than Barack Obama has.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I do respect the right to free elections for the people of the United States. This is the right of the people of the United States.

MORGAN: Were you happy with what Mitt Romney said about Iran?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I said that I really don't want to express an opinion. But I do believe that unilateral behaviors and unilateral ways and bullying ways throughout the world are coming to an end. Everyone in the world must embark upon a path of friendship, must seek humanity, human values and logic. And this is something that will govern the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: President Ahmadinejad has famously claimed there are no homosexuals in Iran. When we come back, we'll hear what he told me when I asked if he believes that people are born gay.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: When people talk of freedom -- and I've heard you talk of freedom -- they look at Iran and they say that there are still laws banning homosexuality. You have a law that bans single women from going skiing on their own. And they say what kind of freedom is that if people can't be gay, because they were born that way, or they can't go skiing as a single woman. What do you say to the critics?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Now you have managed to mix a number of things here. For a single lady to go on a trip to go skiing, is that forbidden in Iran? Who has told you that?

MORGAN: It's not forbidden?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm hearing it from you.

MORGAN: It is has been widely reported that you brought in a rule that said single women couldn't go skiing. Are you now telling me they can?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm hearing it from you, sir, for the very first time.

MORGAN: So to clarify, Mr. President, if a single woman from Iran is watching this interview, she can go skiing on her own?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Of course they see this program, because it's broadcast in Iran.

MORGAN: Right. So it is perfectly OK, you are happy --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Allow me, sir. Allow me. Allow me. Homosexuality is a completely different topic. This kind of support of homosexuality is only ingrained in the thoughts of hard- core capitalists and those who support the growth of capital only, rather than human values. According to all prophets and all religions and all faiths, homosexuality is strictly forbidden. It is a very ugly behavior.

How can you -- in order for you to obtain four or five additional votes or to make a party more popular than the other, how can you give --

MORGAN: You believe -- I heard you say this --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): But when I say freedom, allow me, sir. Allow me --

MORGAN: Do you believe that homosexual people are -- are they born homosexual or do they become homosexual? What do you believe?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): They become -- at the end of the day, they do become that way. I am not seeking the root causes of it, though. You see, the problems that are facing humanity today are much deeper than whether a single lady goes skiing or not. There are many reforms yet to take place, many reforms as of yet to be realized.

In the United States, 50 million people live in poverty. Is America a poor country? They're human beings too. Each one of them is a complete human being with many hopes and aspirations and dreams. Throughout the world 1.2 billion people live in utter poverty. Dictatorships do exist, oppressions exist, denying human dignity exists, unfortunately. All of this must be reformed.

Humans must --

MORGAN: You see, when I hear you say this, Mr. President, I like you speaking like this, this is great. But shouldn't freedom and individuality and all those things also extend to people who just happen to be gay, who were born gay? They weren't made gay. Wouldn't it be great for the president of Iran to say, you know something, everyone is entitled to be whatever sexuality they are born to be? That would be a great symbol of freedom.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Do you really believe that someone is born homosexual?

MORGAN: Yes. I absolutely believe that. Yes, I do.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm sorry, let me ask you this, do you believe that anyone is given birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation. Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly and others do not accept your behavior, they're denying your freedom?

MORGAN: You are a father -- Mr. President, you are --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): -- perhaps in a country they wish to legitimize stealing --

MORGAN: You are a father of three children --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): -- a few percentage of the --

MORGAN: You have two sons and a daughter, what would you do if one of them was gay?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): These things have different ways -- the proper education must be given, proper -- the education must be revamped. The political system must be revamped. And these must be also reforms that are revamped along the way. But if you -- if a group recognizes an ugly behavior or ugly deed as legitimate, you must not expect other countries or other groups to give it the same recognition. This is an imposition of your will, sir.

MORGAN: How would you feel if one of your children dated a Jew?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I would have to see who that Jewish man or woman would be. I see love amongst people as completely acceptable. There are many Jews living in Iran with whom we are very close. There are some Muslims that marry into Jewish families or marry Christians.

We have no such problems.

MORGAN: People would be surprised -- people will be surprised you say that, Mr. President. They will like you for saying that.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Of course I think none of us should represent the whole population of the United States, but we believe that color, religion, native tongue, ethnic background shouldn't create differences or distances between people, nor should it be the sole reason to bring people closer together. It has always been like this

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: When we come back, a question I can promise you Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has never been asked before. Wait until you hear how he answers it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I ask every guest one question, and I am going to ask you, just because I'm amused by your response. How many times in your life, Mr. President, have you been properly in love?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: I ask every guest one question, and I am going to ask you, just because I'm amused by your response. How many times in your life, Mr. President, have you been properly in love?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm in love with all of humanity.

(LAUGHTER)

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I love all human beings.

MORGAN: That might be the best answer I've ever heard to that question.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): But in particular, I love members of my own family, of course, like any other human being.

MORGAN: That's probably the best answer I've had to that question. You can't beat the whole of humanity. Mr. President, thank you for your time.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): God bless you, I wish you success.

MORGAN: Thank you, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: That's all for us tonight. Tomorrow, another leader who's been around the world. I sit down with former President Bill Clinton to talk about his post-White House mission, and about the role he's taken on in President Obama's reelection campaign. That's President Clinton tomorrow night. "AC 360" starts now.