Foreign Minister Ivanov Answers Questions on Russian Nonproliferation Policy and Iran

October 15, 2003

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • North Korea
  • Iraq

Unofficial translation from Russian

Foreign Minister Ivanov: IAEA Director General ElBaradei and I thoroughly examined the nuclear problems of Iran and North Korea, and exchanged views on the problem of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

With regards to Iran, we welcome the continuation of dialogue between the IAEA and Iran on nuclear problems. The IAEA Director General is leaving for Iran tomorrow, and we hope that this trip will produce tangible results on the questions which are now being examined. First and foremost, Iran should provide exhaustive information on all its previous programs and answer the related IAEA questions. We also favor Iran joining the Additional IAEA Safeguards Protocol pursuant to the NPT. This, undoubtedly, corresponds to the interests of Iran, as it would increase trust in the nuclear programs being implemented in that country; and Iran suspending uranium enrichment would also be important. All these steps certainly meet the interests of Iran, as they would make these programs more transparent and would relieve the international community's concerns. We hope that as a result of the efforts being exerted both in multilateral formats and at the bilateral level, we shall manage to advance on all these issues.

With regards to North Korea, we advocate its resuming cooperation with the IAEA and rejoining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. At the same time it is necessary to take into account the lawful security interests of the DPRK as well. We hold that this entire range of questions can and should be settled within the framework of the six-way format of negotiations, the first round of which took place in Beijing. We hope that these talks will be continued very soon.

With regards to Iraq, regrettably the matter of weapons of mass destruction in that country is not closed, since by the UN Security Council resolutions UNMOVIC and the IAEA alone have the final say here. All the searches for weapons of mass destruction, unquestionably, have a great significance, but, I repeat it, the last word in accordance with the UN resolutions is still with UNMOVIC and the IAEA. We consider it fundamentally important that this work should be continued by international inspectors, because considering the unstable situation in Iraq, if there are weapons of mass destruction or some elements related to these weapons there, a real threat exists that they might get into terrorist hands. It is our common task, and it is therefore important that UNMOVIC and the IAEA should continue to fulfill the mission which was laid upon them by the UN Security Council.

Question: Does the possibility remain that the situation with Iran will not develop according to the Iraqi scenario?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: This is what our efforts are directed to, and the IAEA Director General and I today talked about this at great length. I think no one is interested and should not be interested in seeking events in Iran develop according to the Iraqi scenario. We still do not know what is to be done in Iraq. We see how complicated the situation is there, and with each passing day it is becoming even more complicated. A discussion of the UN Security Council draft resolution is currently going on. We hope that, taking into account the amendments Russia has introduced, there opens the possibility of a new resolution being adopted on Iraq in order to assist the search for a political settlement. It's already such a mess in Iraq for Iran too to follow this scenario.

Question: A meeting of the delegations of Pristina and Belgrade on Kosovo took place. What is the role of Russia in solving the Kosovo problem?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: This direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade began with the active cooperation of the Contact Group, of which Russia is a member. The representative of Russia had participated in the work of the Contact Group. We support practical questions being tackled in the course of this dialogue, such as a safe return of refugees and a number of economic and other matters. With regards to the status of Kosovo, this question at this stage is not being considered but has been postponed to a later period. It had taken a lot of effort to get that dialogue started, and we hope that it will help to relieve tension in this region and solve the questions which are currently acute. In the first place, this is the safe return of refugees.

Question: Regarding compensations to the former prisoners of war and persons forcibly driven to Austria. In conversation with Wolfgang Schussel you touched upon this question?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: We discussed this question thoroughly with Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel. I would like to take this opportunity and address all the persons who may be entitled to take advantage of the compensations to submit before this year's end the appropriate documents so that they can be examined. I wish to recall that 12,000 such applications were already filed and of them more than 9,000 were granted, and that an amount of more than 18 million euros was paid out. Therefore the agreements regarding compensations to the Russian citizens forcibly taken to Austria in the years of the Second World War are generally being implemented successfully and I repeat that it is very important that in the time left before the year's end all those entitled to such compensations should urgently submit all the necessary documents.

Question: How is our cooperation with Iran going to be affected by Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment if this process does not go beyond the bounds of peaceful programs?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: It is indeed the right of Iran to conduct uranium enrichment. Yet today, considering the complicated and tense situation around the nuclear problem of Iraq, it is necessary to take steps which would strengthen trust. This, of course, should be a goodwill move on the part of Iran in order to convince the international community that no work really is being conducted and there are no plans of a military character. So that it would be a step towards the strengthening of trust in the programs being carried out in Iran. Today, in the opinion of our specialists, there is no acute need for conducting uranium enrichment. And the suspension which we are talking about should not adversely affect the peaceful nuclear programs that are being implemented in Iran and can be implemented in accordance with all international norms.

Question: How may this directly tell on our cooperation with Iran?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: It won't tell directly. You know that ours is but one condition - that an agreement should be signed for the return of spent fuel which may and will be supplied to the nuclear plant in Bushehr. Talks on this agreement are being conducted, but it has not yet been signed. Without this agreement, we can't continue the implementation of this project.