(JTA) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he is not concerned about the potential of an Israeli military strike against his country’s nuclear program.
In an interview Wednesday on ABC’s "Good Morning America," Ahmadinejad told host George Stephanopoulos that Iran "definitely" will continue its nuclear path.
Asked if he feared an Israeli military strike, Ahmadinejad said, "They’re not a factor. In our defense doctrine, we don’t even count them."
Questioned further, the Iranian president said, "They’re finished, the Zionist regime is finished." Later he said "The Zionist regime can’t manage Gaza, do they want to get into a conflict with Iran?"
Ahmadinejad, who was in New York this week to attend the United Nations nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference, decried the fact that countries that possess nuclear weapons are telling other countries that they cannot have them, referring specifically to the United States.
"Those who have stockpiled their bombs and impose their will on others and act unlawfully are the ones who are playing with fire," he said.
"Have we stockpiled bombs? Do we have atomic bombs? Who has used the nuclear bomb? Who has? Is it us stockpiling nuclear bombs? Do we possess a nuclear bomb? Who has the nuclear bomb? Who threatened other with nuclear bomb? We or the government of the United States?"
Also Wednesday, Ahmadinejad held a meeting in New York with rabbis from the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect, Iranian media reported. Among those at the meeting was Neturei Karta international spokesman Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, the government-owned television network PressTV reported.
Another semi-official Iranian news agency, Fars, said that Ahmadinejad used the meeting to assert the existence of full civil rights enjoyed by Jews and other religious minorities within Iran. It quoted Weiss as saying that "the Islamic Republic of Iran have always been a defender of the right and despite the false propaganda launched by the western media, the government of Iran is a friend of the world nations."
Despite Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric against Israel and the Jewish people, he and anti-Zionist groups such as Neturei Karta have enjoyed warm ties in recent years. Several members of Neturei Karta visited Iran in 2006 and met with Iranian leaders. They praised Ahmadinejad for calling for the State of Israel to be "wiped from the pages of history."