French President Jacques Chirac's Interview with USA Today on a Compromise Solution to Iranian Nuclear Issue (Excerpts)

September 19, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Iran

QUESTION - What are the prospects for a solution to the Iranian problems? Do you think a compromise solution is possible?

LE PRESIDENT - First of all there's one fact. Iran has for a number of years pursued a questionable program regarding nuclear technology. Iran says it's a civilian program. We continue to have doubts about the end use of this program.

Europe, that is, Britain, France and Germany, entered into discussions with Iran. Then there was the adoption of resolution 1696 in the Security Council. The problem is whether a solution is to be imposed or, on the contrary, whether a solution is to be found through dialogue. It has to be understood that for the Europeans, stopping enrichment is a key element. These negotiations expanded, first with the arrival of the Russians and Chinese and then the Americans. There are now six countries talking with Iran in a spirit that has to be one of dialogue.

How are we to move forward? I think it would be opportune to begin a negotiation that could start first with an agreement among the Six and Iran on the agenda and the length of the negotiation. The negotiation could start on the basis of two principles. On the side of the Six there would be an agreement to suspend referral to the Security Council pending the duration of the negotiation. On the Iranian side there would be an agreement to stop continued uranium enrichment pending the duration of the negotiation. At the end of the negotiation we would see if an agreement was reached. At that moment each side would assume its responsibilities. In the event there were confirmation, definitive confirmation of an agreement that would include the suspension, the cessation of uranium enrichment by Iran, this would end the action of the Six in the Security Council.

This is currently being examined by the two officials who are talking together, Mr. Solana for the Six and Mr. Larijani for Iran. This discussion is continuing. I hope that it will lead to a positive conclusion. I think that dialogue is in any case preferable to confrontation.

QUESTION - The Iranians didn't want to suspend enrichment before the negotiations out of pride. Is it possible for the Europeans and European foreign ministers to meet with Mr. Larijani? The Iranians would then announce a suspension and the Americans would enter into the negotiations. I've heard it's an idea that's been floated······

LE PRESIDENT - It's a possibility that could well be studied.

QUESTION - Would France be in favor of such a possibility?

LE PRESIDENT - If it takes us to a definitive decision with as its goal suspending uranium enrichment, why not?

QUESTION - And if the diplomatic approach doesn't succeed? If the Iranians continue to refuse to suspend their enrichment activities, will France support possible sanctions in the Security Council?

LE PRESIDENT - I am in principle opposed to sanctions. Experience has shown that sanctions never lead to anything positive, especially with a great and proud people that have an ancient civilization like Iran. I don't believe that sanctions are the way to obtain something. I'm not ruling out however the possibility of sanctions. But they should be examined by the Six and initially they should be provisional and proportionate. But it's not the scenario I'm taking as my basis. We should be able to arrive at a solution, I hope, which excludes on one hand sanctions and on the other enrichment. In any case that is the goal we're pursuing.

QUESTION - So you're optimistic, Mr. President?

LE PRESIDENT - Yes, that's my nature.

. . .