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Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad: US 'cannot hurt Iran'

Former Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran will not be intimidated by recent US missile strikes in Syria. Ahmadinejad is running for a third term as president.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the recent US missile strike on Syria did not faze him in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

"I do not think it has a message for Iran. Iran is a powerful country and people like Mr. (Donald) Trump or the United States administration cannot hurt Iran," said Ahmadinejad in his northern Tehran office on Saturday.

Iran is an ally to the Syrian government in the ongoing conflict and its military is in Syria alongside Syrian government forces. The US supports rebel groups while also fighting the so called Islamic State (IS).

Ahmadinejad, who announced a few days ago he was running for a third presidential term, added the US air strike would have occurred even if Hillary Clinton won the US presidential election in November. He also considered the Trump administration was posturing in its tough talk against Iran, suggesting Trump would rather avoid war with his international interests.

"If he were dangerous, he would not have $70 billion (66 billion euros) of assets. However he has no choice but to play such a role," said Ahmadinejad. It is uncertain how Ahmadinejad arrived at that figure, as Forbes considers the US President to have a net worth of $3.5 billion as of February 2017.

New face in the race

Ahmadinejad appeared far more civil in the interview, avoiding repeating controversial statements he made in the past, including predicting Israel's demise and questioning if the Holocaust occurred. Ahmadinejad did not directly answer questions about the country's missile program or potential reactions from the US or Israel if Ahmadinejad becomes president again.

Ahmadinejad previously served two four-year terms as president of Iran between 2005 and 2013. He said in September he was not planning to run for president after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he should not as it would create a "polarized situation" that would be "harmful for the country." But Ahmadinejad changed his tune just a few days ago, saying the supreme leader's comments were "just advice."

Ahmadinejad's announcement to run for president caused a rift in the race, which was expected to be won by incumbent moderate Hassan Rouhani. Ahmadinejad's candidacy must be approved by the Guardian Council before he can truly run for president again. The council will announce the list of approved presidential candidates on April 27. The election is scheduled for May 19.

Watch video 01:21

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants a third term as Iran's president

kbd/bw (AP)

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