An Interview with Iran's Foreign Minister
The following are excerpts from an interview with Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, that was conducted Tuesday at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations by Neil MacFarquhar. Mr. Mottaki spoke in Persian, and his remarks were translated by an official interpreter.
Q. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, told a news conference on Tuesday that the new uranium enrichment plant that Iran revealed last week was illegal because Security Council resolutions say that Iran is supposed to report any nuclear facility when construction starts. What is your reaction to that?
A. The secretary general is in a position where he should talk in accordance with the laws and regulations.... According to international law, which has also been approved by our country, all member states have the commitment to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency six months before the injection of uranium into the centrifuges.
But we have informed the I.A.E.A. before the installation of the centrifuges or before the injection of the fuel. We did it 18 months before.
Q. But the secretary general was saying that the Security Council resolutions trump the I.A.E.A. guidelines, so Iran is supposed to follow the resolutions, which say Iran is supposed to announce any nuclear project right away.
A. In relation to that principle we have also violated nothing, because nothing has been done with regard to nuclear energy in that facility. We had a plan for the site; we had a plot of land where the plant was being built and a building that was constructed on the site. We have already informed the agency....
Q. I want to go back to the timing of the nuclear announcement. There is some curiosity about why Iran chose last week to announce the plant.
A. It is always the same, some people will ask why you have announced so late, and some others will ask why you have announced so early.... Q. American officials say that Iran discovered that the United States was about to unveil the enrichment plant, so the Islamic republic wanted to pre-empt the announcement, they wanted to take away the surprise.
A. That is not going to cover the mistake committed a few days ago in Pittsburgh. We think President Obama was misled in that episode. It is not good for a person like the president of the United States to say something about which he has no information. It was a trap for President Obama through misleading information. Some terrorist organizations provided the source of this wrong information.
The wrong analysis has also been provided as usual, as it happened during the Bush administration, by the United Kingdom. At least they could have asked the I.A.E.A. about this matter. When we informed the I.A.E.A., the agency gave an official response to Iran, expressing its appreciation for our move in informing them. Now they are making the arrangements for the agency inspection.
In our opinion we think that the statement in Pittsburgh was a scandal. Of course we don't have many expectations of President [Nicolas] Sarkozy [of France] because he defended up to the last moment the policies of the radicals in the White House. After their failure or defeat in the United States, he has been constantly confused. Some of his actions emanate from this confusion.
Q. The general sense is that every year Iran says "We have told you everything, this is it," and then another piece of the nuclear program emerges. So over all the politicians in the West, like the secretary general, are saying that there is a lack of credibility. They hope when Iran goes to the talks on Thursday it will be more transparent. How do you react to the demands that Iran be more transparent, more credible?
A. The secretary general of the United Nations should not talk with complicated philosophical language. He must speak based on solid evidence and in compliance with the laws and regulations. I think our positions have already been accepted and supported by many countries of the world. Many countries that are seeking to gain access to peaceful nuclear energy say to us that your resistance has also encouraged us to seek our legitimate rights. We think a new world is going to be born. In this new world nothing can be monopolized and you cannot impose your will on other nations.
There was a time when some world powers or countries did whatever they wanted. But they must know that the world has changed. The people in the United States must know that the former U.S. administration in the past eight years has jeopardized their reputation in the entire world. They created heavy failures and defeats for the United States in various parts of the world. We think the secretary general of the United Nations should not repeat the rhetoric of the leaders of an old defeated system.
Q. The five permanent members of the Security Council-Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States-plus Germany, who will participate in the talks on Thursday, are saying that they want Iran to be transparent and to convince them that it is credible. How does Iran approach the talks on Thursday with those demands?
A. The upcoming talks on Thursday will be considered a two-way street. By offering a new package to the five plus one, we have already shown our determination and seriousness for constructive cooperation. We think that this proposed package from our side could be regarded as a suitable framework for our upcoming talks. Iran's policies are completely transparent.... I think we should also witness from the other side a strong political will for serious dialogue and constructive cooperation....
On paper they claim to recognize Iran's right for a peaceful nuclear program. That is not enough to say that on paper. That must be realized. So I think we should talk and negotiate in those things and issues we have raised in the proposed package with seriousness and earnestness. It covers different parts-political and security matters, international issues, economic issues too, social and cultural matters.
Q. What do you expect from the talks?
A. The important thing is that during the meeting the two sides should reach a common decision for having a dialogue on the proposed topics. If they reach such a conclusion, then they will have a long agenda for our talks.... There are various dimensions in the proposed package dealing with the nuclear issue including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the I.A.E.A., the inspection system, disarmament, strengthening the position of the I.A.E.A.... Q. Speaking about the I.A.E.A., the question comes up repeatedly as to why Iran does not accept the additional protocol in the I.A.E.A. safeguards agreement that allows for more intrusive inspections for nuclear sites. If Iran does not want to develop a nuclear weapon, why doesn't it just accept the additional protocol and that will provide the transparency and credibility that the United States and some other countries are demanding?
A. Do you think that acceptance of the additional protocol is mandatory? We followed and we implemented the additional protocol for over two years at a time when the parliament had not approved the protocol. But it did not create any confidence. We have indicated our good will.
Q. But given the lack of confidence and the revelations about new facilities, scientists and others are saying Iran should accept the additional protocol now because it would create confidence.
A. That is called the two-way street, as I told you. You cannot ask for everything from one side. The parliament has voted that the government is not allowed to implement the additional protocol. With regard to the fact that the Security Council has intervened in the work of the agency, and transferred the issue from the I.A.E.A. to the Security Council, after that the parliament made the decision that the government stop implementing the additional protocol.