Das Bild Interview with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

August 31, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Iran

Question: The UN's ultimatum to Iran expires today, but Tehran is still refusing to halt its nuclear programme. Is a serious new crisis now brewing in the Middle East?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier: I certainly hope not! Our offer to Iran still applies. If it stops enriching uranium, we are prepared to enter into negotiations with the country on comprehensive cooperation and technical support. Our hand is still outstretched. We want to see a diplomatic solution.

Question: … but the Mullahs have categorically rejected the offer …

Frank-Walter Steinmeier: That unfortunately seems to be the case. So it looks as if the Security Council will soon intervene, as it said it would, and discuss how best to proceed. One thing is clear - Iran is entitled to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but it has no right to manufacture nuclear weapons! What's more, at the moment Tehran isn't in a position to do anything at all with enriched uranium, unless it is planning to construct a bomb. And we have to stop Iran building a nuclear bomb!

Question: Will the UN impose sanctions on Tehran?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier: The International Atomic Energy Agency will first submit a report to the UN Security Council. If it concludes that the UN's conditions have not been met, Iran must reckon with restrictions on its freedom to act at international level. The exact form these will take is for the Security Council to decide, if Tehran hasn't reconsidered by then.

Question: Is it at all possible to negotiate rationally with an anti-Semite and warmonger like President Ahmadinejad?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier: Of course, talks have been much more difficult since Ahmadinejad came to power than they were with his predecessor. The current President is trying to set himself up as the leader of the Islamic world, as he demonstrated once again with his bizarre proposal for a televised debate with US President Bush. Yet his Arab neighbours, also Muslims, share our concerns and our rejection of a regime in Tehran with nuclear weapons.

Question: Might all this eventually even lead to a military conflict with the well-armed Mullahs?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier: I can't see that happening. Nobody can or should want that kind of confrontation in this very sensitive region. And Iran must realize that accepting the international community's proposal rather than isolating itself even further on the global stage can only be to its advantage.