The Foreign Affairs Committee held a meeting with Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on 23 January. MEPs aired their concerns about various topics and Chairman Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (EPP-ED, PL) expressed the committee's view that "many of the Members' questions about Iran's nuclear programme, human rights, and democracy were not addressed."
Secretary General of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili expressed his wish for "a dialogue that can create the groundwork for co-operation" between the EU and Iran. Mr Saryusz-Wolski agreed that such a dialogue was needed, while emphasising that Mr Jalili's answers "did not address Members' concerns on key issues, such as human rights, democracy and Iran's nuclear programme."
Nuclear non-proliferation questions still open
In Iran's defence doctrine, "nuclear weapons have no place," said Mr Jalili. He claimed that Iran's membership of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency gave it "some rights that stem from our obligations." While Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck (ALDE, BE) and Charles Tannock (EPP-ED, UK) asked why the country would need to enrich uranium if it did not have plans for a civilian nuclear energy programme, Helmut Kuhne (PES, DE) asked "what safeguards can you give that five minutes after you get enough uranium, you do not walk away from the NPT and build a bomb?". JosÃ© Salafranca (EPP-ED, ES) asked about Iran's recent purchases of rockets from North Korea and torpedoes from Russia, questioning whether it would buy such weapons if it was truly interested in peace in the region. Ana Gomes (PES, ES) said Iran's behaviour was "giving incentives to others in the region to arm themselves with nuclear weapons."
Human rights and democracy questions remain unanswered
Several Members had questions about human rights in Iran. Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne (ALDE, UK) asked about the practice of stoning, Jana Hybaskova (EPP-ED, CZ) wanted clarification on reports of hangings from cranes, Vittorio Agnoletto (EUL/NGL, IT) expressed concern about the treatment of trade unions, and the Chair of the EP's Delegation for Relations with Iran, Angelika Beer (Greens/EFA, DE) noted the jailing of women's rights activists, students, and journalists in the country.