ه‍.ش. ۱۳۹۱ آذر ۲۸, سه‌شنبه

Exclusive VOA Interview with Former Iran Nuclear Negotiator Hossein Mousavian

VOA: Dr. Hossein Mousavian is a Research Scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security in Princeton University. He is a former diplomat who served as Iran’s Ambassador to Germany from 1990 to 1997, head of the Foreign Relations Committee of Iran’s National Security Council from 1997 to 2005, and spokesman for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the European Union from 2003 to 2005. He joins me now from Princeton University. Dr. Mousavian, how hopeful are you that the current visit of the IAEA inspectors to Tehran could break the deadlock? 
Hossein Mousavian: I’m not very much hopeful because the IAEA’s mandate is on technical issues. While the Iranian nuclear issue is not a technical issue, it is completely a political issue. The IAEA has no power, no authority to discuss, negotiate and agree on the political issues. The IAEA demands from Iran that they first implement additional protocol. They want more access. Currently Iran is a member of the safeguard agreement and is in full compliance with the IAEA in the framework of the safeguard agreement. But the IAEA it’s about 5, 6, 7 years reiterating on implementation of additional protocols, first. From November 2011 the IAEA has some possibly military dimension issues. The second requirement the IAEA has is Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to address the possible military dimension issues. To address these possible military dimension issues requires Iran to give access to the IAEA beyond additional protocols, practically unlimited access. In case Iran is prepared to go for it the IAEA has no power, no authority on the reciprocity measures. That’s why I believe this has been a mistake to first have IAEA in Tehran, second to have Iran at the P 5+1 meeting. I believe it would have been much more wise to first have Iran and the P 5+1 meeting to agree on a comprehensive package for a step by step plan to agree on the political side of the issues and then give the mandate to the IAEA to go to Tehran to agree with Iran on the technical issues.

VOA: Dr. Mousavian you know that people are saying that the IAEA has its own issues that the P 5+1 other matters to deal with, should Iran let inspectors visit Parchin complex.
HM: To visit Parchin it requires Iran to practically implement additional protocols. For Iran to implement additional protocols definitely Tehran would ask for reciprocity. They cannot implement additional protocol for nothing. I believe the P 5+1 understands very well that any deal with Iran requires two major issues from the P 5+1. First, to recognize the right’s of Iran in enrichment-
04:09 S: But you know that before Iran gave permission to the IAEA to visit the same facility, why not do it again?
HM: because this all should come in one package, Iran cannot go unilaterally implement additional protocols because the maximum expectation of the IAEA and P5+1 is the implementation of additional protocols and definitely the IAEA in Tehran they would ask Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to address the possible military dimension issues. Which would require Iran to give access beyond the additional protocols. That’s why I reiterate, need a political package for Iran to accept to implement additional protocol. For Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to address all possible military dimension issues, to remove all ambiguities, technical ambiguities on the Iranian nuclear program and for the P5+1 to recognize the legitimate rights of Iran under NPT and to lift the sanctions, even gradually.

VOA: Are they sanitizing the site?
HM: I don’t believe during our time the IAEA had the same claims and they came to Iran and they visited two times the Parchin site and finally they understood all speculation, rumors-

VOA: But they didn’t visit the building that’s under suspicion.
HM: Always when they want to visit they bring some issues. They say this building or that building. During our time also they named some buildings and they said we are very much suspicious, we have reports here that there are illegal activities. We gave them access to Parchin two times, it was the time we were implementing additional protocols. I should remind you of one very important issue, based on legislation passed by Iranian parliament, Majles, the government of Iran can implement additional protocols if and when the world powers recognize the rights of Iran for enrichment. Therefore Iran has no problem to implement additional protocols. Based on the legislation of Iranian parliament-

VOA: But you know that Majles rejected that legislation then, it’s not been ratified.
HM: No, Majles has ratified this legislation that Iran can implement additional protocol if the P5+1 the world powers, the international community can recognize the rights of Iran for enrichment. This is coming in one package. That’s why I believe this is not the authority and the power of the IAEA to agree with Iran. They have no authority. The P5+1 should in 1 package accept the rights of Iran for enrichment. In return, in reciprocation, Iran will also accept to implement additional protocol. And then we have possible military dimension issues which requires Iran to give access beyond additional protocols, these I believe Iran would be ready to go for it. Based on my understanding Iran has no problem to cooperate with IAEA to address possible military dimension issues. But in reciprocation the P5+1 should be ready simultaneously in parallel, to take steps for gradual removal of sanctions. They cannot expect Iran to unilaterally to accept everything with no reciprocation. 

VOA: But this is a technical issue, it seems that if any suspicious activity did take place that is no longer the case, so why not come clean? After all, it is the priority of the IAEA. It’s purely technical issue, I know you’re trying to say it has something to do with the political matters but why not come clean, it’s about the past?
HM: First of all, to cooperate with the IAEA requirements as I said it would have to accept to implement additional protocols, tens of countries, even today they have not accepted additional protocols, they do not implement additional protocals. No one can force a nation to implement a treaty. Therefore this is a voluntary decision by Iran, this is a goodwill by Iranian to decide to implement additional protocol. Iran is a member of safeguard agreement and they are in full compliance within the safeguard agreement. But additional protocols are an international arrangement, which many countries, 50, 60, 70 countries, they have not been ready to ratify or even sign additional protocols. Therefore this is not a simple issue as you say that this is a technical issue and they should go for it.

VOA: I understand that you say that Iran would accept a deal where there is a removal of sanctions. From my understanding there the West has no issue with enrichment in Iran, it’s the matter of to what level is Iran going to enrich uranium. But the question I have is what impact does President Obama’s re-election have on how Iran approaches negotiations?
HM: As far as I understand the civil service at the State Department and in the White House they have concluded since 2010 any solution ultimately should include the rights of Iran for enrichment and also lifting of the sanctions. But the administration has been struggling with this solution to go to compromise in a package based on these two elements because there is no consensus in Washington. Washington is completely disputed. Congress is resisting the recognition of the rights of Iran, first. And at the same time, Congress is continuously raising sanctions and pressures. There I believe Obama’s power is limited because it is challenged very strongly by congress. 

VOA: Even in his second term?
HM: I believe so because just after his election, we had two, three weeks ago, new legislation increasing the sanctions on Iran. Although the White House still has not gone forward with the implementation of this legislation. But Congress demonstrated its position to Obama after the elections, we want only sanctions and pressures. We need first of all a consensus in Washington this is the first issue.

VOA: Is there consensus in Tehran?
HM: Definitely there is no consensus in Tehran but there is one ultimate decision maker in Tehran. Even if the administration and parliament have disputes when the Supreme Leader decides everybody will follow. The advantage Tehran has despite all the disputes within the system between parliament and the administration there is an ultimate decision maker which is the Supreme Leader. But here we don’t have such a consensus, we don’t have such an ultimate decision maker in Washington. This is one problem. The second problem is that the P5+1 is disputed. But I know based on what I hear from reliable sources, Washington and Europeans, they have tried to modify the step by step package, the plan presented to Tehran in the Baghdad meetings some months ago. But Russia is resisting the new modified plan because it has been very, very, very little  modified. It has no major stake for Iran. The reason is that Obama’s administration has no power to lift the sanctions, this is the power and authority of congress. And Congress is not going to do it.

VOA: But the White House, you know they have the authority to not implement those sanctions and it’s been mentioned in the legislation on Iran sanctions given the authority to the president to not implement those sanctions. I know that you are against the sanctions. Have sanctions impeded Iran’s nuclear program, or slowed down the program?
HM: As you’ve said I have always been against the sanctions and rhetoric on war. I believe threatening Iran with war and increasing sanctions until now has been completely counterproductive for a peaceful solution. Just because of sanctions Iran has increased capability and enrichment. Look, in 2006 Iran had a very little stock pile of enriched uranium. Today, after 4, 5 years, after 4, 5 resolutions, sanctions resolutions, Iran has 7,000 kilograms of enriched uranium. In 2005, 2006 Iran had about 1,000 centrifuges. After all these sanctions today Iran has 10,000 centrifuges. Even the level of enrichment, at that time Iran was enriching at a level of 3, 4, 5 percent. After sanctions Iran is enriching at the level of 20%. Therefore I can say, the reason that I am against the sanctions first, sanctions are harming the people, the innocent people, the ordinary people. Second, I am 100% convinced that the world powers will not be able to convince Iran to comply with their demands through sanctions.

VOA: So they don’t make any concessions with all of those tightening sanctions?
HM: Exactly this would be vice versa. Iranian political behavior is completely different under threats and pressures. If they want Iran to be more flexible and cooperative they should understand that Iran cannot show flexibility and cooperation under threats and sanctions. This is what the world powers, especially the Western powers, they do not understand all the realities inside Iran. They believe if they increases sanctions and pressures they would get Iran to change its nuclear policy it’s not going to happen.

VOA: Ambassador Mousavian some people believe that the quantity of enrichment you described that Iran is conducting is beyond its needs and demands. What need does Iran have for enrichment on this scale and are the costs of it justified?
HM: First of all I don’t believe even the Iranian administration is convinced about the costs of enrichment because of all the sanctions and pressures. But we should realistic. There has never been a realistic package proposed to Iran by the P5+1. To now, all the packages that have been proposed to Iran not including lifting sanctions and the recognition of the right to enrichment. Up to now, the P5+1 has never proposed such a package. That’s first. Second, for one civilian nuclear power plant, let’s say Bushehr, we need 27,000 pounds of enriched uranium 3.5%. Today Iran has 7,000 pounds. Therefore Iran has to do a lot more in order to have enough stock pile for one civilian nuclear power plant.

VOA: Mr. Mousavian, Russia has agreed to deliver the nuclear fuel for Bushehr reactor.
HM: I agree with you completely but Iran has decided to have more nuclear power plants, practically if you remember during the 1960s, 1970s, it was the 1970s it was the US proposed Iran to have 23 nuclear power plants within the year 2000. It was the US proposal. Iran now has decided to go for 10-20 power plants. Therefore even the Russians have accepted the agreement to provide the fuel for Bushehr. But Iran has more power plants in their agenda.

VOA: But Bushehr hasn’t been activated yet Dr. Mousavian-
HM: Of course, of course. See, my point is here if there is a political agreement, if the IAEA normalized the Iranian file and if the world powers normalize the Iranian file with the UNSC then these calculations would be different, Iranian political and security calculation would be completely different. But you should also have in mind that Iran is not going to rely on one country for fuel forever. Iran has decided to have its own independence to produce and provide fuel, even partially. This is exactly because right after the revolution when Iran had no decision to have enrichment. Shah decided to have enrichment, Shah decided to have recycling, reprocessing, Shah decided to have 23 power plants, and everyone knows that Shah decided to have nuclear bomb. But right after the revolution they decided to shrink the ambitious nuclear projects of the Shah, they decided to not have enrichment, they decided to not have processing, they decided to not have a nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, Americans and Europeans decided to withdraw from the contracts with Iran unilaterally against NPT and against all international law. US stopped to provide Tehran research reactors with fuel rods and France stopped enrichment agreement with Iran, Iran paid 1.2 billion dollars to France. But France unilaterally cancelled the contract. If the US had provided Tehran with fuel rod research reactors, if Germans had completed Bushehr power plant, if France had continued its consortium on Iran with enrichment, because it was supposed to produce inside France, not inside Iran. And this consortium in France was supposed to provide the fuel for bushehr power plant. If they had remained committed, if they had been committed the contractual agreements at the beginning at the early days of the revolution, definitely Iran would not have gone for enrichment.

VOA: There are so many “ifs” to this. I’m sure you know this as far as I understand Ayatollah Khomeini was at least the leadership in Iran after the revolution who stopped the nuclear program, they didn’t want that program to be continued but after the war between Iran and Iraq they restarted the program. But the issue is the matter of trust. Given the history of mistrust and lack of confidence on both sides how can Iran ensure the US that its intentions are peaceful, especially since Iran’s activities started covertly with individuals such as Abdul Qadir Khan in Pakistan?
HM: Look, exactly the problem is the logic you mentioned just now. You believe Iran should convince the US, the Europeans and the West that they are not after the nuclear bomb. I agree with you that mistrust is a major issue. You should understand that the mistrust is mutual. Iran is a member of NPT. Based on even the national intelligence estimates of the US, which all other countries in the world they agree, except Israel, Iran does not have a nuclear bomb, they have not decided to build a nuclear bomb.

VOA: But they had a program.
HM: Of course, why not?

VOA: But they had a program to build a nuclear bomb but they stopped it at a certain point.
HM: No, no. No, no. No, no, no. This is 10 years the IAEA is supervising 24 hours with their cameras all Iranian nuclear activities, and each 3 months the IAEA during the last 10, 11 years has released its statement or resolution or the director general report illustrating there is no diversion of Iranian but-

VOA: No, I’m referring to the NIEA estimate that you mentioned that’s been said that Iran had a nuclear program but stopped it at a certain point.
HM: Okay, this is a matter of dispute. They say that Iran has stopped in 2003. But they agree that today Iran has neither a nuclear bomb nor has decided to make a nuclear bomb. And the IAEA has also repeatedly reiterated there is no evidence of diversion. But we were talking about the mistrust. This a major point. You should remember that right after the revolution Iraq invaded Iran, Saddam Hussein was after the disintegration of Iran and the US and the Europeans supported the aggressor. They supported the aggressor to bring regime change and disintegrate Iran. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons. Iranians are victims of weapons of mass destruction. And unfortunately technology and material for chemical weapons was provided by the Europeans and Americans. And then you believe Iran should convince the US and the Europeans that they should try to attract their trust. No. This is a mutual mistrust. And both parties should try to make appropriate measures to bring confidence in each side. This is the major point. First. Second, as long as we don’t have a comprehensive package on the nuclear we’re not to get to anywhere. The IAEA has no authority. The IAEA has been used as a political instrument. The day the P5+1 agrees with Iran the IAEA can finish the technical issues within a week. Believe me. I know the IAEA. I have worked with them. And even today if Iran gives them access in the framework of additional protocols and even beyond additional protocols the IAEA has no authority to announce that all the problems have been removed. Because they have to report to the board of governors and the world powers in the board of governors decide not Mr. Amano or the civil servant people at the IAEA, they are just employees. World powers they are sitting on the board of governors and they decide. Therefore IAEA is an employee, nothing more.

VOA: Dr. Mousavian you made it very clear, that you pointed out on sanctions and enrichment, but what is Iran going to offer?
HM: I believe what Iran can offer is the maximum level of transparency that internationally exists. Iran can be committed to the maximum level of transparency and cooperation with the IAEA, to remove all ambiguities, remaining ambiguities. First. Second, Iran can show more goodwill. Because transparency will not resolve anything. Let’s be very frank and realistic. Iranians would need to compromise on some limitations on the level and capacity of enrichment. The level of enrichment Iran should ultimately accept to limit the level of enrichment to below 5%. This is beyond transparency. I mean one measure, one sets of measures, relates to transparency, which I said Iran can offer to the IAEA we can go up to the end of transparency.

VOA: But are they going to close the Fordow facility?
HM: No, no. Transparency has nothing to do with closing Fordow. You see, you are mixing everything. Because transparency has nothing to do with suspension. Transparency means Iran should give access to IAEA for the inspections they require. If you want to have 10 enrichment sites, you are permitted under the NPT to have 10 enrichment sites. This is the legitimate rights of every member.

VOA: Under a mountain?
HM: Of course. When the Israelis everyday they threatening Iran to attack, when they push the US and Europeans to bring a military strike Iran. If you are responsible in Tehran of course you would go to make, to build a facility to preserve your assets. Of course. I mean, Iranians have been very wise.

VOA: It’s a very questionable facility, it’s a very limited facility, it’s not as large as Natanz as an industrial-
HM: Let me agree with you that this is questionable. But it is nothing illegal. First. Second, under the framework of NPT you can have 1 enrichment site, 10 enrichment, 100 under the sea, under the mountain, there is no limitation. But the ambiguity or the questions would be resolved only through transparency, only with full cooperation with Iran and the IAEA, when Fordow is 100% under IAEA surveillance. Even today that is the case. Fordow is under IAEA surveillance. But for the future also, if Iran is going to guarantee 100% transparency and cooperation therefore there should remain no more questions. But as I said transparency would not resolved all the issues.

VOA: Dr. Mousavian you’re pointing to a very important issue. I would like to ask this questions because it would follow the discussion. In your writings you have mentioned that nuclear arms are forbidden according to Islamic laws and even Khamenei’s own words. Does a nuclear fatwa exist on paper? And what guarantees are there that Khamenei will not issue another fatwa reversing his previously stated positions if he feels the county is threatened?
HM: First of all, what does mean fatwa? Fatwa means a point of view of a religious scholar, a grand Ayatollah. This is a fatwa. Whether this is written, or orally, or even the office of a grand Ayatollah can inform the point of view or fatwa of a religious leader or grand ayatollah. First. But on this nuclear fatwa. First of all in an NPT conference, peaceful nuclear technology for everyone, nuclear bomb for no one in Tehran I think it was in 2010, 2011. The conference inauguration was through official statement of the Supreme Leader first. Second, some months ago the heads of about 120 countries, about 40,50 countries they participated in non-aligned movement conference in Tehran at the level of the heads of countries and the rest at the level of foreign ministers. The leader personally in front of the 2/3 of international community personally, officially stated his fatwa. And third, the Iranian nation has registered the leader’s fatwa officially by the UN. This is the first time ever in the history of the UN a religious fatwa has been registered. Therefore I really disagree with those who question the credibility of  the fatwa. And this fatwa is not something new. But you should have in mind, during the war, the invasion of Iraq, the time Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons 100,000 Iranians were either killed or injured. Iranian military officials asked Imam Khomeini to reciprocate with chemical weapons. He did not give permission to reciprocate. I believe when a country during war, exactly at the time when the enemy has used weapons of mass destruction, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and a religious leader put a ban for its military to reciprocate this is the most credible evidence about the authenticity and legitimacy of such a fatwa.

VOA: Dr. Mousavian you know that Ayatollah  Khamenei has said that if Iran gives in on the nuclear aspirations that the West will then target Iran on the human rights issue and so on. Is Supreme Leader genuinely worried that compromise will eventually lead to the end of the Islamic Republic-?      
HM: No, this is not something new. I have been in Iranian foreign ministry for a quarter century. In every period the US has brought up an issue. One day they have made terrorism an issue worldwide mobilizing the international community to put pressure. Another for example during president Rafsanjani mid 1990s, they brought the peace process as the one number issue to mobilize the international community, blaming Iran, that Iran is disturbing the peace process, that Iran is threat number one to peace and security to the Middle East because Iran is an obstacle to the peace process. Today everyone understands that it is not Iran that is an obstacle to the peace process. It has been PM Netanyahu who has been the main obstacle to a two state solution and to a peace process. It was not Iran and it is not Iran. Today we have the nuclear issue and if in case the nuclear issue is resolved I’m also personally convinced just due to my own experience the US would bring up another issue. That’s why during my time, my work at the FM and the three years that I’m here my lectures, my conferences, my op-eds, all the time I have reiterated on a two track policy. Not the two track policy Pres Obama is following. Sanctions, pressure and diplomacy. My two track policy is as follows. First a realistic package as I explained for the nuclear issue through the P5+1 talks with Iran. At the same time in parallel a comprehensive package through a direct negotiation and talks between Tehran and Washington. I believe the nuclear issue is a subsidiary issue of the hostilities between Tehran and Washington. As long as these hostilities are going on, as long as these hostilities are increasing I really cannot imagine we finding a solution to the Iranian nuclear dilemma. We have a very limited time.

VOA: We have a limited time. What has lead you to decide to return to Iran this summer? Is it to coincide with Ahmadinejad leaving the presidency?
HM: No, no, I was living in his presidency. You know I was arrested April 2007, the final court decision was in April 2008 and I stayed in Iran until 2009. But based on the court decision I was banned for 5 years ban on diplomatic posts and any activity on international relations within Iran, inside Iran. I should have just sit in my home for 5 years, that’s why I came here for my academic work and I would return after the verdict is over.

VOA: Last question I have. We don’t see a lot of debates inside Iran about their own nuclear program. Why is this debated so muted inside the country?
HM: Because today there has been a consensus inside the country that it is just a political issue. And the P5+1 is not in a position to launch a real deal to break this deadlock. Exactly for the reason I told you why. Because first Washington is disputed, second the P5+1 is disputed. And as long as we cannot bring consensus within Washington we think the P5+1 cannot present a face saving resolution which includes the legitimate rights of Iran of lifting the sanctions and they can require whatever they like, transparency, breakout capability. Iran would be able to ensure in such a package to the international community that Tehran would remain a non-nuclear weapon state forever. But are Washington and Europeans in a position to launch such a great deal? I doubt it.

VOA: Dr. Mousavian, thank you.                                            
                                                                                                                                                              


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