Newsweek Interview with Javad Zarif

April 17, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations said, "Iran's position is very clear: We don't intend to attack any country. We've never done that in the past, we'll never do it in the future."

Zarif made the remark in an interview to be published in the April 24 issue of the News Week, a short summary of which was posted on the website.

"Newsweek's Beith: What are your feelings about President Ahmadinejad's tough position? " Zarif: We made it very clear that there are two fundamental concepts. One is that Iran has inalienable rights under the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and respect for these rights both for Iran as well as any other country that is a member of the NPT is imperative for the authority and integrity of the treaty.

"The second aspect of our position has been that Iran wants to exercise its rights in an atmosphere of tranquillity where there is no concern about any proliferation suspicions, and for that we have been and are prepared to negotiate in order to allay any concerns.

"Meanwhile, uranium enrichment continues. Are you sending a contradictory message? " No, because we have said that Iran will not respond well to pressure.

"A suspension of the uranium-enrichment program was in place for over two years. That would have provided the necessary time to reach a politically acceptable negotiated solution. So we need to find out: " What is that missing link that prevented a negotiated solution?" I would submit that the missing link is the necessary political will, combined with a mentality that through pressure imposition and intimidation, political results can be achieved.

"Is Iran more amenable to working with Russia and China, rather than the United States, to come to an agreement? " We are open to working with everybody. If you have a more reasonable and realistic approach to the resolution of this problem then you have a better chance of success. Until now, the positions offered by Russia and China have been more conducive to a successful outcome.

"Iranian nuclear chief Gholamreza Aqazadeh recently said that Iran would be willing to give the West a share in enrichment facilities in order to ease concerns that it was being used for military purposes.

"Yes. One of the possibilities presented by Iran was to create a regional consortium so that various countries could have a share both in ownership and operation of the facility. It would be a consortium, jointly owned and operated. But every proposal that has been on the table has failed to receive any serious consideration.

"Is Iran willing to risk sanctions? " Iran does not want to invite sanctions. We're not seeking confrontation. But at the same time the prospect of Iran accepting an imposition because that carries with it some sticks is not a prospect that is appealing to the Iranian population.

"How would Iran respond to a military strike? " I don't think Iran should respond to it. I think what is being talked about in Washington is a threat to the international community as a whole and a threat to the rule of law. We live in the 21st century, we have a body of international law that prohibits the threat of wars? Not even the use of wars but the threat of wars? and the United States continues to live in the 19th century. Somebody must remind President Bush that it's an outdated statement to say that "all options are on the table." " Ahmadinejad has made threats to Israel? " No, the Iranian president has never made any threats against any other country. In fact, Iran has been on the receiving side of threats from Israel which go back long before President Ahmadinejad ran for office.

"He's said Israel should be "wiped off the map." " The rhetoric that is used by the U.S. administration as well as Israeli officials against Iran is by far more fiery and more provocative than any statement that has come out of Iran. Iran's position is very clear: We don't intend to attack any country. We've never done that in the past, we'll never do it in the future. I wonder whether Israel or the United States can make that statement.

"If Iran doesn't intend to make weapons, is it that important to be a nuclear power? " Iran doesn't want to have weapons. We believe that those who possess nuclear weapons lack the necessary logic to understand that being able to destroy this planet is simply ridiculous and inhuman.

"We believe Iran has the right to any technology. That is different from even attempting to possess a weapon that we consider to be illegal for everybody and illegitimate."