Interview with de Villepin on his Visit to Iran (Excerpts)

October 21, 2003

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Q. - What's the purpose of your visit to Iran?

THE MINISTER - We discussed with the Iranian authorities how we could guarantee that they will honour their obligations and what prospects there could be for Iran's [civil] nuclear programme. So it's an important visit because, as you know, proliferation issues are at the heart of our concerns and we want to find the most appropriate way of resolving them peacefully.

You'll remember that at the beginning of August, along with our European colleagues, we sent a letter to Mr Kharrazi, the Foreign Minister (...). We're now at a new stage in our discussions since the International Atomic Energy Agency's work has made headway. A resolution, setting a deadline for the end of October which must be respected, was passed by the Agency's Governing Board. So it's in this spirit that I've come to Tehran.

Q. - What did you get from the Iranians on the proliferation problem?

THE MINISTER - (...) We are wholly aware of the international community's concerns about proliferation in Iran. We share them and are pleased to have the opportunity offered to us today. We have been in contact for several months. We have written to each other, had meetings and discussions. It is important to establish wholehearted confidence. We are here to create the conditions for confidence between Iran and the international community. We would very much like to achieve total transparency and obtain all the necessary information and commitments which the international community expects from Iran. (...)

Q. - So the agreement today is a very important one?

THE MINISTER - It's an important agreement because it signals the Iranians' commitment to move forward in the fight against proliferation and today, during the meetings which we were able to have at the highest level in Tehran, they made a triple commitment.

Firstly, on transparency, opening up, cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency to supply all the necessary information. Second point: the pledge to sign very soon the International Atomic Energy Agency's Additional Protocol. And third point: the suspension of the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium. So these are three essential points which clearly mark Iran's will to commit herself vis-à-vis the international community to honour her obligations.


Q. - In your view why did Iran made compromises today?

THE MINISTER - I believe that the situation of the international community, the tensions existing on the international stage, the importance this community attaches to proliferation issues clearly show - and I believe the Iranians are today well aware of this - that it's time to move. So Iran has given her agreement, a few days before the deadline given by the International Atomic Energy Agency and at a time when Dr ElBaradei, who is Director General of that agency, is continuing his work on all the Iranian sites. It is, I believe, an important decision. So this is in all probability the reason why the Iranians are today agreeing to commit themselves actively and voluntarily, I would remind you, to this process.

Q. - Do you think that Iran has satisfied the demands contained in the IAEA resolution?

THE MINISTER - I think that the three points clearly signal Iran's commitment and that this is totally in conformity with what the resolution required, what Dr ElBaradei was asking for. It is obviously now up to him to give his own opinion. I can tell you that all this has been done in close consultation. I personally had a meeting with Dr ElBaradei in Vienna a few days ago and we have been in permanent contact with all our European partners. Over the past few days I've also been in touch both with Colin Powell and Igor Ivanov. I think that the work which has been done and Iran's acceptance today clearly signal an important step forward regarding her genuine commitment to the fight against proliferation.

Q. - Do you think the Americans are going to be convinced by this agreement?

THE MINISTER - We have been in close contact with them, just as our British and German friends have. I believe that today this agreement has a solid basis.