Interview Excerpts: Iran Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh

From Staff Reports
Thursday, September 17, 2009; 3:58 PM

Excerpts from an interview with Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency:

On Iran's proposal for talks:

"We have given a package now as a basis of negotiation, and it is very clear. We said this package has a wide scope, including all global, regional elements that could be discussed. When you sit down at a negotiating table without preconditions, with mutual respect, the rules of the game are that everyone has a right to raise anything. No one can restrict the other to express themselves."

"The main aim of this package is so, at the end of the day, this group of countries would promote cooperation for solving problems and challenges of the world. . . . If they have the political will, and goodwill, if they will go beyond simply reading the text and read between the lines, they can understand that the whole thing is being done with good intentions. This is the best course of action, and this is a real, new window of opportunity that is being opened by the Iranian nation. And they should immediately and promptly seize this opportunity."

On Iran's right to nuclear power:

"We have not seen any justification for suspension, legally or politically. This is contrary to our inalienable rights. . . . We cannot accept that, because of political motivations, they [Western powers] go to New York and want to dictate to us. We will pay any price, but we will not accept being dictated [to]. We had a revolution to remove a dictator."

"We of course are not going to negotiate away our right to nuclear energy -- no one should negotiate away these principles, which are enshrined in the statutes, the IAEA and the Nonproliferation Treaty. . . . Any issues of nuclear matters -- verification, nonproliferation, security, disarmament, in the whole world, can be discussed in the negotiations. And if there are particular questions as to verification mechanisms, to verify, to clarify, the agency [IAEA] is responsible and it will be passed to the agency to do its job."

On previous U.S. and Western "miscalculations" about Iran:

"We expect the Western countries to study more carefully and more in-depth our Iranian culture. If you know more about Iranian culture you would be able to deal with us in a more pragmatic, logical and realistic way, and you would not make so many miscalculations. The problem with the West is, they look at countries from their own angle. They have to come down. They have to see other countries and respect their viewpoint and learn more about what are the sensitivities of these people.

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