ZDF-MORGENMAGAZIN TELEVISION INTERVIEW
WITH FEDERAL FOREIGN MINISTER FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER
GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTRY
June 14, 2006
Question: What news did Mr Solana bring to yesterday's meeting?
Answer: First, the important news that in Tehran he and his delegation were able to discuss the offer of negotiations coordinated last Thursday night in Vienna by the six nations, i.e. the USA, Russia and China – the permanent Security Council members – and the EU3, in other words Germany, France and the UK, in a quiet and constructive atmosphere. I think that was a very important first step.
Question: That means, above all, that the atmosphere was positive in your opinion?
Answer: For several weeks, or even months, no talks at all took place. The Western and Iranian media traded allegations, preconditions for talks and accusations, to which there was a public reaction each time. Thank God we are now finally able to talk to each other confidentially. For me this is one of the conditions for success we need. We must now create a situation in which the trust which has clearly been lost over the past years can truly be built up again ...
Question: What does the Europeans' offer to Iran contain?
Answer: Yesterday Mr Solana, while talking to your colleagues, regretted that he had to remain succinct about the contents of the package. I think this is the right attitude. We must now, as far as the details are concerned, try to achieve a quiet atmosphere for talks with Iran. But what I can say is that this package contains a comprehensive offer of cooperation in the fields of economics, science, culture and politics. It is also no longer a secret that there are also elements holding out the prospect of nuclear cooperation.
Question: Tehran says it will examine this offer. That was positively received. Are there any farther-going signals about how Iran's reply will look, and when do you expect that reply?
Answer: There cannot of course be any signals yet since we were only able to present the package yesterday, and we do not expect a reply within the next few hours. Perhaps more talks by Mr Solana will be needed to explain subsequent questions. We, and of course Mr Solana himself, are available at any time for this purpose. But for good reason we are keen to see a reply ... quite soon, in other words, we should not lose time in months of considerations and continual arguments in preliminary talks, but rather conduct the preliminary talks in a way that enables negotiations to be reopened in the near future.
Question: The USA may possibly want to become directly involved in such negotiations ... Is this helpful?
Answer: I believe we must recognize that this is an unexpected step by the US Administration which really earns our respect. What is important for us is that it of course markedly increases the value of the European offer, a fact which will become clear when the details of this package are publicly announced. I feel it is one of the prerequisites for success, one of the reasons we have come so far, that we have managed to hold the international community close together throughout this six-month process. This applies both to the votes in the IAEA Board of Governors and to the initial discussions in the UN Security Council, right up to the presentation of this offer. The task now is to find a lasting balance between Iran's legitimate right to the civil use of nuclear energy on the one hand, and on the other hand the need to address the concerns that the international community certainly has, after clear evidence of eighteen years of research and development which were in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Question: . . . What will you do if the offer is rejected?
Answer: I understand the question, but let me emphasize that we are
pleased at the moment to be able to talk about an offer, and that the Iranian
unlike last week's reaction, has not signalled a brusque rejection but rather
for the first time has announced that it will examine this offer. I hope this
examination will result in a return to the negotiating table. Of course we
also talked in Vienna about the further joint steps we will take at international
level, also in the UN committees, if this approach is unsuccessful. This is
naturally not the alternative I would want.