Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Iran a "powerful country" that the US cannot harm and held a view that recent US missile strikes on ally Syria were not a message for his country.
The controversial former president made the remarks to The Associated Press on Saturday in his office in northern Tehran, three days after he stunned Iranians by registering to run for president again.
His surprise candidacy must still be approved by authorities but has already upended a race that was widely expected to be won by incumbent moderate Hassan Rouhani.
Ahmadinejad dismissed suggestions that the US strike on Syria might also be a warning for his country.
"I do not think it has a message for Iran. Iran is a powerful country and people like Mr. Trump or the United States administration cannot hurt Iran", he said.
Ahmadinejad struck a mostly conciliatory tone during the interview, taking care to not stir up controversy that could alienate voters or clerical authorities.
He avoided repeating inflammatory statements that made him infamous in the West, such as those predicting Israel's demise or questioning the scale of the Holocaust. He dodged questions about issues such as Iran's missile program and the possible reaction by the US and Israel to another Ahmadinejad presidency.
Like all candidates, the 60-year-old must be vetted and approved by a powerful constitutional watchdog known as the Guardian Council before he can ultimately run. It will announce its list of approved candidates by April 27.
The council, which is made up of clerics and Islamic jurists, normally disqualifies dissidents, women, and many reformists.
US President Donald Trump's administration earlier this year announced it was putting Iran "on notice" in part over its ballistic missile tests, and last week pounded a Syrian air base with cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack.
Iran is the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is involved militarily on the ground in that country's civil war.
Ahmadinejad said the strike on Syria could have happened even if Hillary Clinton had won the US election. He added that the decision to attack Syria was made by people behind the scenes in the US, strongly implying that the US presidency is decided behind closed doors.
"Those who are the directors must give the role (of president) to a person who can pull it off best. A woman cannot put up a good war face", he said. "A man can do that better. They need to come up with a figure and say he is very dangerous."
Ahmadinejad also dismissed the Trump administration's aggressive talk toward Tehran as political posturing,suggesting that a businessman with such varied international interests would rather avoid war.