Der Spiegel Interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

January 19, 2009

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Iran is not trying to build a nuclear bomb, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Monday in an exclusive interview with the weekly Der Spiegel news magazine.

"I don't believe that Iran is seeking to develop the bomb. Syria is fundamentally opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We want a nuclear-free Middle East, Israel included," the Syrian leader said.

Asked about the perceived threat of Iran by a small number of Arab states, the 43-year-old Assad replied, "The Americans are stoking these fears with their information policy. Washington is interested in the embargo, with which it hopes to weaken Iran."

The Syrian president warned of dramatic long-term consequences for the Middle East, if Israel decides to attack Iranian nuclear installations.

"That would be the biggest mistake that anyone could make. The consequences
would be catastrophic and would destabilize the region for the long term," Assad said.

The Syrian chief executive hinted also at his readiness to help promote a gradual rapprochement between Tehran and Washington.

"We are willing to engage in any form of cooperation that is also helpful when it comes to America's relations with other countries."

Assad stressed also his country's "contribution to stabilizing the region."