Following are excerpts from an interview with Mohsen Rezai, Secretary of the Iranian Expediency Council, which aired on Iranian Channel 1 on November 11, 2006.
Mohsen Rezai: The previous [Khatami] government exaggerated its estimates of the strength of America and the West. In my opinion, it should not have made all those concessions.
Interviewer: And what about now?
Mohsen Rezai: Now, the [Iranian] officials should be careful not to view America and the West as clumsy and incapable people.
America's arrival in the region presented Iran with an historic opportunity. The kind of service that the Americans, with all their hatred, have done us - no superpower has ever done anything similar.
America destroyed all our enemies in the region. It destroyed the Taliban. It destroyed Mr. Saddam Hussein. It imprisoned the hypocrites [Mojahedin-e Khalq] in France. It did all this in order to confront us face to face, and in order to place us under siege. But the American teeth got so stuck in the soil of Iraq and Afghanistan that if they manage to drag themselves back to Washington in one piece, they should thank God. Therefore, America presents us with an opportunity rather than a threat – not because it intended to, but because its estimates were wrong. It made many mistakes.
In addition, America has now despaired of toppling the Islamic Republic. Therefore, the threats we face are not about toppling the Islamic Republic, but about blocking Iran's influence in the region. There were times when America was confronting the very essence of the Islamic Republic, but today it is confronting Iran's influence in the region. The entire nuclear dispute revolves around this. The Americans know that we do not have the atom bomb, and that we don't want to pursue the atom bomb. But the Americans claim that a nuclear Iran – even a peaceful one – will make its neighboring countries dependent upon it, and will expand Iran's influence in the region.
The most important thing is that we have to make sure that we view our regional influence as a national interest, and continue to preserve it. For this, two things are necessary: One is that we must be steadfast, display courage, and not be afraid. The second is that we must refrain from anything unreasonable or adventurous.
Interviewer: Like what?
Mohsen Rezai: We must behave reasonably.
Interviewer: How do you view the victory of the Democrats?
Mohsen Rezai: It will not affect America's policies or goals in the Middle East. They will not change the policies or goals, but will change the methods. The goals of Mr. Bush... The ladies who entered Congress will continue the same path and will not give up one iota of these goals. But they will put aside Bush's warmongering methods.
Interviewer: Does the Republicans' defeat offer us an opportunity...
Mohsen Rezai: The Democrats have very close relations with Israel. In addition, they believe in containing Iran in the region. Even in the days of Clinton, they engaged in the Dual Containment of Iran and Iraq. They claimed that both Saddam and Iran should be contained. Now, the Democrats will pursue the containment of Iran in the region. Therefore, they will probably promote the sanctions, but to a lesser degree. But basically, with the arrival of the Democrats, we [and the U.S.] will stay clear of aggressive confrontations.