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Date: 4 February 2012

Intervied by: Sylvain Cypel

Mousavian: "Nuclear power has become the keystone of Iranian nationalism"

Voice of Freedom :The Iranian Seyyed Hossein Mousavian, 54, was the No.2 Iranian negotiators on nuclear issues from 2003 to 2005, when Iran, headed by Mohammad Khatami , has accepted a temporary suspension of uranium enrichment and allowed the right to inspect the most comprehensive sites in Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Considered close opponents Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, he was counselor of diplomatic Larijani, secretary of Supreme National Security Council, when he was accused in 2007 of spying for the European powers and imprisoned before, if rare, to be cleared a year later. Mousavian is an associate professor at Princeton University.

What is your view on the diplomacy of Barack Obama towards Iran? When he came to power , the Iranians have had a lot of hope. Its Iran policy seemed so different from the "axis of evil" by George Bush. Admittedly, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, was circumspect. But he told us he will judge pieces. The conclusion is that Mr. Obama began by promising to negotiate without preconditions to put an end to three decades of mutual hostility and he introduced the system of international sanctions the toughest imposed on Iran since in 1979. He never mentioned the words "regime change", but that the United States show today indicates that this is their ambition in Iran.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei bear no responsibility in this development? You believe in the West that all problems started with (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad. This is false. It represents a significant domestic political change, his rhetoric has a very negative impact on Iranian foreign policy, but its advent does not change anything to the fact that the ultimate decision maker is the Guide. Under Khatami, we proposed a temporary suspension of uranium enrichment. Khamenei's directive was clear: full transparency provided that the EU3 (London, Paris, Berlin, with whom Tehran discussed) does not require an indefinite suspension of enrichment.

After a moment, it was concluded that it would fail without the Americans. When, after two years, Europeans have told us: what is required is an "indefinite suspension" , it was feared that the guide from the beginning. It has reinforced his pessimism. A similar phenomenon happened with Obama.

On nuclear power, Iran wants? All our interlocutors know from day one. In March 2005, I participated in the delegation came to Paris and Berlin. We explicitly told President Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder : "Our right to enrich uranium will remain our red line. Set the transparency measures required under the safeguards and we will respect them. " We were willing to have the IAEA defines these standards. This offer had the approval of the Guide.

I told my colleagues: "If you refuse, Iran will resume enrichment." Berlin and Paris seemed convinced, London thought I was bluffing. Washington did everything derail , his position was: zero centrifuges to Iran. Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani or a reformer, the nuclear strategy would have been different, but not the assertion of legitimate right of Iran to enrich uranium.

The threat of closing the Strait of Hormuz if Tehran by increased embargo on its oil exports is she serious? The ministers of defense and foreign affairs, Ahmad Vahidi and Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran stated that n had never announced this intention. This could only happen if the country was under attack. Because since the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988) , the Iranians feel that an assault would be endangering their existence. Armed confrontation would be a global catastrophe.

The assassinations of Iranian scientists are they an effective deterrent? These assassinations have the effect of accelerating Iran's nuclear work. They are completely against-productive ... unless you aim precisely to make up the voltage. For the man in the street in Iran, these scientists are a national pride, and sense benefits the power up. However, it believes that these killings are the result of an alliance of the U.S. Secret Service, British and Israeli.

Voices advocating the U.S. to install a "communication channel emergency" between MM. Obama and Khamenei to prevent slippage ... Direct contact between Tehran and Washington, there has always been. Install a "hotline" between Washington and Tehran seems a good idea. Moreover, as Turkey are important intermediaries Oman. But that's not the point. The correct solution would be to negotiate on two parallel levels. Nuclear power on one side, the other topics of common interest: Afghanistan, stability in Iraq after U.S. withdrawal, etc..

But Westerners are a prerequisite for nuclear. We must take as an adversary. Therefore, each party should recognize the "red line" on the other. For Americans and Westerners: that Iran does not hold the bomb. For Iranians that their status as an equal member of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) , including enrichment, is recognized. If we want the upcoming talks in Istanbul are a success, we must get out of the past. If, at the opening, the "5 +1" we said "yes enrichment, non-bomb" , Tehran will be very flexible on transparency requirements. If, after nine years of failure, Westerners say "no enrichment" , talk is useless.

If you were a divided regime, which fears destabilization, hold the A-bomb is not he the best deterrent? No. The Iranians are convinced that the United States are declining in the region and internationally, and this will continue . What Westerners call "Arab Spring" is named in Iran "Islamic awakening". Iran does not need a bomb to extend its influence.

Our leaders are convinced that Islam is the win , Bangladesh in Morocco, and the military superiority of the Americans and Israelis can do nothing. Sooner or later the consequences of the "Arab Spring" change Israel's status in the region. And who can believe that Iran would use a bomb against Israel would kill as many Palestinians as Israelis!

If nothing changes, an armed confrontation is inevitable? It is my great fear, if Westerners do not move in the right direction. Nuclear power has now become the cornerstone of Iranian nationalism. Although the economy suffered badly, this would not affect the position of power . If Westerners reached their goal, they would be faster with another to make manifest exactly the same ambition.

Comment by VOF :This interview has been publish by Lemonde in French, VOF used Google Chrome to obtain English version which indeed is not accurate as it should be.

Source : lemonde

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