I don't even know if I've asked the question correctly because I can't even parse the sentence properly.
I know the sentence is long and a little bit difficult so it would be enough for me if you explained what the meaning and function of not so say is here. I'm sure it's connected to some other component but I fail to find out which one.
Here is the sentence:
Private to him as this phenomenon was —it appears to have been felt by him alone— he took it as a further sign of the imminent return of the Twelfth Imam, not so say a further endorsement of his ambition to see the Islamic Republic of Iran, sunk as it was in beggary and repression and stagnation and corruption, as nonetheless a nuclear power.
(Source: God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens, p.279)
He is talking about Ahmadinejad's experience of a green light during the speech he was giving at the United Nations General Assembly meeting, and about his interpretation of this green light.
I've searched the web, yet again I couldn't find anything worth considering. I've found a Facebook group named "It is so hard not so say 'I love you'. I don't get the meaning of even this one.
I thought it might be connected to the component at the very end, i.e. "as nonetheless a nuclear power" but failed again to build any intelligible association.
Long story short, I need a native speaker at this point to help me out.
Thank you very much.