Maziar Bahari: Iran's Rulers Possibly 'Genocidal, Not Suicidal'

Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari gave a carefully nuanced view of Iran's nuclear ambitions last night at the Asia Society New York.

Referring to Iran's current rulers as "cynically pragmatic," Bahari said that while "I don't think they are going to bomb Israel the next day," the intent behind Iran's nuclear enrichment program "is not peaceful."

Instead, in Bahari's view, the regime views nuclear capability as a bargaining chip in its quest to consolidate regional power, much as North Korea successfully uses its nuclear weapons as leverage against the United States. 

"The Iranian government might be genocidal," Bahari said half-jokingly, "but it's not really suicidal."

Bahari was speaking at the launch of his new memoir Then They Came for Me, an account of the days leading up to Iran's fiercely contested 2009 election and the government crackdown that followed. Detained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard during the unrest, Bahari spent 118 days in a six-by-twelve feet cell in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. 

Video: Maziar Bahari on the Iranian nuclear program (2 min., 31 sec.)