WRITE for ATol ADVERTISE MEDIA KIT GET ATol BY EMAIL ABOUT ATol CONTACT US
Asia Time Online - Daily News
             
Asia Times Chinese
AT Chinese



    Middle East
     Jun 9, 2012


INTERVIEW
Iran prepares for Moscow

Two days of talks between the world powers and Iran in Baghdad late last month produced few tangible results, save an agreement to continue for another round set in Moscow, due to start on June 17. On Monday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said his organization would meet with Iran on June 8. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), spoke with Kaveh L Afrasiabi in an exclusive interview for Asia Times Online.

Kaveh Afrasiabi: Your Excellency, the Governing Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) just concluded a two-day meeting. Regarding Iran, what happened at this meeting?

Ali Asghar Soltanieh: This was one of the routine meetings of the IAEA's Board of Governors that dealt with a number of issues including membership, nuclear supply, implementation of

 

agreements, agenda of future meetings, etc. With respect to Iran, once again, the representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement consisting of more than 100 countries supported Iran and Iran's nuclear rights in a statement that was read by the Egyptian ambassador. I presented a statement that tried to focus on the status quo, identifying the shortcomings, the worrying trends, and recommending constructive improvements.

Specifically, I warned that a couple of Western governments want to manipulate and divert the IAEA from its mandate. They are trying to turn the Agency's "nuclear material driven safeguards" into an "intelligence driven safeguards". But the IAEA is an international technical organization, not an intelligence service. As a result, the IAEA inspectors are forced by a couple of member states to be involved in intelligence activities, receiving fabricated information from the intelligence services of certain countries, or allegations of activities not involving nuclear activities. This is not acceptable at all and ultimately damages the trustful relation expected between the Secretariat and Member States.

With respect to Iran, following the recent Tehran visit of the Director-General, we are trying to open a new chapter in our relations with the agency, which is why another meeting with the IAEA officials has been scheduled for June 8 to discuss a modality that would provide a structured approach to cover all the issues of concern in the annex section of the November 2011 IAEA report on Iran.

KA: What is your reaction to the recent reports in the Western media alleging that Iran has "cleansed" and then destroyed a suspected building at Parchin military complex and removed the soil?

AAS: Unfortunately we have seen many examples of such baseless noise based on lousy intelligence during the past 10 years or so. To give an example, in 2004 I accompanied the IAEA inspectors to a site that had been cited in the intelligence reports based on satellite images and there were a lot of noise at the time about secret uranium mine, enrichment and so forth. And yet, the inspectors clearly confirmed that those allegations were false and the site was a normal factory with nothing suspicious.

KA: So, is the IAEA's request to visit the Parchin military complex on the agenda of the new framework for cooperation?

AAS: As I said, all the issues raised in the annex of November 2011 report will be covered by this modality.

KA: Since the IAEA's requests go beyond the present safeguard agreement with Iran, isn't the new modality tantamount to a de facto implementation of the intrusive Additional Protocol by Iran and, if so, what are the chances that Iran will formally adopt the Additional Protocol in the future?

AAS: Well, Iran was implementing the Additional Protocol for two-and-a-half years until Iran was unjustly referred to the UN Security Council. Parliament then directed the government to limit its cooperation with the IAEA, to limit it to within the framework of the safeguard agreement. Therefore any possibility for re-adopting the Additional Protocol depends on the resolution of the issues with respect to the UN Security Council.

KA: Will the implementation of the new modality lead to the possibility of "routine" treatment of Iran's nuclear file?

AAS: We are determined to engage intensively with the Secretariat, especially the Director-General, with the expectation of prompt closure of the issue. As I have repeatedly said, unfortunately Iran's file has been politicized and manipulated by raising a lot of old and irrelevant issues.

We had another agreement, a workplan, with the IAEA a few years ago that called for routine treatment of Iran's file after all the outstanding issues were resolved, which were in fact resolved entirely in Iran's favor, and yet unfortunately that did not happen solely as a result of IAEA's manipulation by certain governments.

Iran has provided one the most robust inspections in IAEA's history, in light of more than 4,000 man-days of inspections as well as over 100 unannounced inspections in Iran. These inspections have confirmed that not even one gram of nuclear material has been diverted to military purposes, and the various reports of the current Director-General and his predecessor confirm this.

Frankly, the only reason the Iran file is still open is due to the politically-motivated allegations by a couple of western countries influencing the IAEA. But, we remain hopeful that the IAEA will conduct itself toward Iran in a more balanced and professional way far from political and media noise.

KA: What is your reaction to the recent US media news that the US President Barack Obama had authorized the Stuxnet cyber attack on Iran?

AAS: Our position is very simple: Neither the Stuxnet nor Flame [the latest cyber attack] nor other acts of sabotage or attacks on our scientists, etc, will have any effect on our determination to pursue our nuclear rights within the framework of NPT [the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]. In fact, such illegal actions against Iran increase our determination to continue the path of Iran's peaceful nuclear program.

KA: In the past you have criticized the IAEA leadership's bias with respect to Iran. Are you hopeful that the agency will now conduct itself in a more balanced way toward Iran?

AAS: We certainly hope so. The Director-General's recent visit to Iran was a positive step forward and we are determined to cooperate with the IAEA and to make sure that it will have less problematic reports on Iran, such as avoiding hasty conclusions without the completion of technical studies, as was the case with the report on the 27% enrichment. But, in light of the steady progress on the issue of modality, we are expecting a better and friendlier approach toward Iran.

KA: What is the connection between the Iran-IAEA talks and the parallel multilateral talk between Iran and the "P5 +1" nations [the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany] which is scheduled to continue in Moscow later this month?

AAS: The issue is very simple. The other side in the negotiations between Iran and the "P5 +1" have been insisting for several years to talk about the nuclear issue and for the first time in Istanbul [host to a P5+1 meeting with Iran in April], Iran made a compromise and let the issue to be discussed. Therefore, it is only natural to expect that the matter of Iran's comprehensive cooperation with the IAEA will be spotlighted at those meetings.

KA: Are you optimistic about the prospects for the upcoming meeting in Moscow?

AAS: As I mentioned in my statement today, on the eve of the Moscow meeting I advise the parties to refrain from making any statements and initiatives that can create a negative environment. For the Moscow talks to be constructive, it has to have the right atmosphere that is not polluted by the negative input of false allegations and propaganda. We must build on the confidence-building that has been generated as a result of the talks. At the moment, attempts are underway to prepare the provisional agenda of the Moscow meeting and to make other preparatory agreements in order to facilitate an effective meeting in Moscow.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11(BookSurge Publishing, 2008). His latest book is UN Management Reform: Selected Articles and Interviews on United Nations CreateSpace (November 12, 2011).

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)





Iranophobia and Obama the cyber-warrior (Jun 05, '12)

All eyes now on Moscow talks (May 26, '12)


1.
Russia's quiet rapprochement with Pakistan

2. Iran attack 'wrong move': Obama allies

3. China and Russia flex muscle at the West

4. China as a vital force for Africa

5. Back to the brink in Thailand

6. How to leave your (euro) lover

7. Open letter to Chancellor Merkel: Sacrifice Spain

8. Cold counter to warming US-Vietnam ties

9. Praying at the Church of St Drone

10. Tahrir Square, round two

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Jun 7, 2012)

 
 



All material on this website is copyright and may not be republished in any form without written permission.
Copyright 1999 - 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings), Ltd.
Head Office: Unit B, 16/F, Li Dong Building, No. 9 Li Yuen Street East, Central, Hong Kong
Thailand Bureau: 11/13 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand 77110