TEHRAN – Tehran expects that its right to nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment, will be recognized in the nuclear talks with major powers in Moscow, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and Supreme National Security Council secretary says.
Saeed Jalili made the remarks during an exclusive interview with the RT network published on June 15.
Negotiators from Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) will resume talks in Moscow on Monday.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Expectations on the results of the new round of negotiations are pretty low. What should be done to make this new round of talks a success?
A: In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful. We have always said that in our actions we are guided by clear logic. We do welcome dialogue. We have always been open to cooperation and talks with different countries on a wide range of issues, including cooperation in nuclear energy. But there needs to be a certain strategy. If they stick to the same strategy, to the same approach, then the prospects for the talks are promising. We have reiterated this at the negotiations in Istanbul and Baghdad. We will look at this round of talks with optimism when the agreements reached in Istanbul and Baghdad will be respected. If we do see this kind of respect, we will then be able to view the negotiations in a positive light.
Q: How would you describe the main points of contention?
A: I believe that what should be discussed in detail is a number of proposals we put forward at the Baghdad talks. We identified five main areas. Four of them are related to nuclear energy, while the fifth one concerns other areas. Meanwhile, the other side came up with a proposal, too. To advance the talks we need consensus on two major issues. Firstly, we are strongly against weapons of mass destruction. Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran has the capacities to cooperate in disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, so these capacities should be used by the international community. Secondly, we expect that Iran’s right to nuclear technologies, including uranium enrichment, will be recognized and respected. This is something that is clearly defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I think that addressing these two issues will help to advance the negotiations.
Q: Iranian nuclear facilities have recently been targeted by yet another cyber attack. How serious is this threat and is the sophistication of such attacks growing?
A: You know that Iran’s nuclear activities are entirely under control of the IAEA. All the activities we are currently conducting are in full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. All the nuclear facilities are equipped with IAEA surveillance cameras. That’s in accordance with the IAEA rules. In fact, the international community is now concerned about quite a different thing: Why do some people take the liberty to speak out against activities that are peaceful, controlled by the IAEA and in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?
This opposition does not boil down to cyber attacks alone. The international community is now openly asking why some of our scientists working at peaceful nuclear facilities are targeted by terrorists. These people’s names are on the list of those the UN Security Council has introduced sanctions against. This makes the terrorists feel free to exterminate the blacklisted people. So the question is: what is the relation between the terrorists and the Security Council?
Another question: Why do some people commit subversive acts against a country involved in legitimate and peaceful activities? Shockingly enough, they openly admit that this is all their doing. This raises yet another question: why does the international community that claims to live under the rule of law accept a situation when all the rules are violated and countries seeking to exercise their legitimate rights are discriminated against. This kind of discrimination is not limited to one country only.
You must be aware that, luckily enough, neither terror attacks, nor cyber attacks, nor other acts of intimidation have done any harm or stopped the progress of the Iranian people. It is universally acknowledged that, in spite of all the conspiracies plotted against its nuclear activities, Iran has been able to continue its work in compliance with the NPT and IAEA requirements.
Q: Israeli officials are openly discussing a possibility of military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. If Israel ever decides to go ahead, does it need an approval from the U.S.?
A: Iran has been concerned over this issue for many years now. This has to do with the belligerent and illegitimate nature of the Zionist regime. I think these kinds of statements help to reveal their true nature. These kinds of statements shows that the regime is keen to achieve its goals by capturing, invading, brandishing its military might. Time and again, this regime thinks it has the right to make these statements and threaten the whole world. It is guided by aggressive, belligerent, militarist intentions.
However, this regime is as weak as ever and its authority has faltered. The only thing that is clear is that the world is aware of its militarist and hawkish nature and that any steps taken by the regime are illegitimate. Still, the regime continues to operate on the wrong and illegitimate basis. This is happening today – although Iran’s might and capabilities are well known. They rest on Iran’s powerful potential built up by domestic scholars. It includes the peaceful use of nuclear energy, an opportunity made possible by Iran’s younger generation, by its hard work and scientific research. This potential is not something that could be destroyed by some physical means or weapons. This is a peaceful activity which is taking place under the supervision of the IAEA and has been developed thanks to our own national capabilities.
Q: We’re aware that the Iranian leadership strongly supports (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad and his struggle against terrorist organizations in Syria. Given the bloody nature of this conflict, wouldn’t it make sense for the Syrian president to step down as a sacrifice to prevent more deaths?
A: Another issue that we brought up at the talks in Istanbul and Baghdad is that we are prepared to discuss regional issues, including the situation in Bahrain, Syria and other similar issues. We think there is a simple solution to them and it boils down to one thing – you need to respect the people, to respect democracy. If the international community demonstrates a genuine desire to debate these issues, then we could come up with a very viable solution. We have consistently called for this in regard to Syria.
There are two problems in Syria. First, its people demand reforms and they need to be introduced. We respect these aspirations and believe that it’s the Syrian people that should decide on the ultimate solution. Any outside interference will not help – it’s wrong to supply weapons or train terrorists. These actions will never be in line with the interests of the Syrian people. The Syrian people must be empowered to take their own decisions on the reforms. It would be unacceptable to supply arms or support terrorists and so on. It will only result in more casualties among civilians and bloodshed. This is the wrong path to success.
Q: Over the past decade we’ve seen several scenarios of regime change in the Arab world. Are you concerned that some of these scenarios can be applied to your own country?
A: Again, that’s something we have always been saying – democracy cannot be imposed through violence, military intervention or occupation. Those who have used these tactics have admitted later that they had other goals in mind. And there are plenty of stories to prove this point.
Those who occupied Afghanistan under various pretexts later confessed that they fostered and supported terrorist networks. Those who occupied Iraq saying it had weapons of mass destruction later confessed they had actually been the main patrons of Saddam Hussein. In particular, when Saddam Hussein waged an eight-year war against Iran, they conceded that they stood behind Iraq and helped it in every way possible. None of them were able to give a helping hand in building a democracy.
In cases when they occupied a country they were to blame for mass violations and crimes, and they shot themselves in the foot. Today, they can barely drag themselves out of the mire. You may remember that in the end they approached Iran and asked it to help them get out of it.
So today they are very weak and their case is pretty weak, too. Today, the world does not believe that someone can bring democracy against the people’s will, through occupation, military strike or any similar rationale. People don’t believe that they want to help because their help usually results in numerous casualties. Wherever they set their foot, they faced serious challenges.
In the meantime, Iran has proved to be a successful model of a democratic state ruled by the people. It’s a good example for the region and the whole world. It’s a genuine democracy where people have the right to shape their future. This model has been successful both for our resistance against outside pressure and for our development.