Vremya Novostei Interview with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on Negotiating with Iran, Russian Nuclear Fuel Shipment (Excerpts)

December 26, 2007

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Iran

. . .

Question: The most difficult negotiations in 2007 were Iran and Kosovo?

Foreign Minister Lavrov:

. . .

Iran is a different situation. Unlike Kosovo, the ultimate aim here coincides: to ensure the preservation of the nonproliferation regime (for weapons of mass destruction - Ed.) and nevertheless reach an agreement which will recognize the right of Iran to the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy. The differences are only tactics, they are serious but, I think, surmountable.

. . .

Question: The MD aim declared by the Americans is to destroy missiles that theoretically in the future might be launched from Iran. But if the aim is not this, then what is it?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: We have most serious assessments that the aim is not the creation of a system directed at neutralizing hypothetical threats from Iran, but at containing Russia. We are ready to share the aims declared by the US. But for their achievement the US uses methods that make us think that after all the aim is entirely different.

Question: Maybe there is one more aim - a change of the Iranian regime?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I think this is an associated aim. We in the Six (Russia, the US, China, Britain, France and Germany are active mediators in resolving the situation around Iran - Ed.) have clearly stated that our aim is to make certain that the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful and has no military component. A change of regime is not part of our task. We did not sign in to this. If, in advancing towards the declared aims, our American partners will pursue the aim of a change of regime, then this will be a tactless partnership. That will be a substitution of notions and we will oppose it.

They are assuring us that there are no hidden aims whatsoever. But we want to make certain of this in practice. In particular, it is necessary to attest to the positive shift in Iran's cooperation with the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency - Ed.). And it is necessary to return to the initial agreement that a freeze on the program of uranium enrichment in Iran is by no means an aim in itself, but a means to make certain of the peaceful orientation of the Iranian nuclear program.

Question: But the Iranians, Sergey Viktorovich, were also quite rascally. Russia this month even delivered to them the first shipment of enriched nuclear fuel for the nuclear power plant at Bushehr, which the Russians are building. It would seem that after this the Iranians do not need to enrich uranium themselves any more. They've got the Russian fuel, why want more? But Teheran did not heed the advice of Moscow to suspend uranium enrichment activities…

Foreign Minister Lavrov: We consider that there is no economic need for Iran to continue the uranium enrichment program. We are trying to convince the Iranians that freezing this program will benefit Iran itself, since it will immediately lead to talks with the entire Six, including the US. These talks will be called upon once and for all to remove all the suspicions that the Iranian nuclear program has some components other than peaceful. Iran's agreement to this proposal would meet everybody's interests.

We honor our contractual obligations for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. There arose questions between us and the Iranians this year with regard to this project. They were settled. After this we began fulfilling our fuel delivery obligations. The project at Bushehr is being implemented under the full control of the IAEA and against the 100 percent guarantees of this agency. Our Iranian partners know that in the case of the slightest departure from the principle of 100 percent control by the IAEA we will freeze cooperation. But nothing of the kind occurs at present. All the parties fulfill their obligations and the project is going to be realized.

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