ElBaradei Should not Blame Iran for Nuclear Impasse

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Press TV Interview with Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh

The following is an exclusive Press TV interview with Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh, after the release of the latest UN nuclear watchdog report on Iran's nuclear activities:

Q: The latest IAEA report says Iran has not assisted the agency in the way it could have. Why is Iran not pulling its weight?

A: First of all, you have to bear in mind that this report has a very crystal clear message that has been repeated in the past six years. In spite of the most robust inspections (of Iran's nuclear sites), the agency has not found, as the report clearly says, any evidence of diversion of nuclear material and activities. It says that all nuclear materials are accounted for.

This is the important thing. Iran's full commitment should not be overshadowed by other minor issues. This report clearly shows that Iran has maintained its regular cooperation with the IAEA.

There is no new information in this report. All sensitive activities, including enrichment and uranium conversion, are under the complete surveillance of the IAEA. The Director General has repeated (in the report) that everything is under the control and surveillance of the IAEA.

Q: Before we get to the 'alleged studies', the report says that the agency requested Iran to provide access to additional locations, to the manufacturing of centrifuges, research and development on uranium enrichment. However, Iran has not yet agreed to the agency's request. Why not?

A: I want to remind you that under the comprehensive safeguards agreement of the (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) NPT, neither Iran nor any other (NPT member) country has the obligation to take the inspectors to their manufacturing workshops or uranium mines. These kinds of activities are only allowed under the Additional Protocol. Therefore, we are not obliged to do so.

We were doing a favor for the agency for two and a half years, since 2003, we voluntarily were implementing the Additional Protocol then. During those days, I myself accompanied inspectors sometimes. We visited uranium mines and even the workshops of manufacturing components - which, of course, did not contain nuclear material.

But we were showing them and cooperating voluntarily. After the United Nations Security Council was involved, (and) because of the historical mistakes of the United States and a couple of Europeans (in imposing sanctions against Tehran); the Iranian parliament approved the law that the government is not allowed to continue those voluntarily measures, including the Additional Protocol.

Therefore, those who have got the Security Council involved should be blamed for (the cessation of Iran's extensive cooperation with the agency), and the Director General should blame them not Iran.

Q: Considering the UN Security Council's third round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran based on the alleged studies and the agency saying that it hasn't detected the use of any nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies, have you now asked for those documents again that the United States or one of its allies have provided? And does it look like that those documents are basically dead and considered forgery as some people are saying in the international media now?

A: This is really disappointing if they overlook what has happened so far. It was clear in the previous report and I have clearly mentioned in the Board of Governors [meeting] that in accordance to the modality and the work plan, which was agreed upon in August 2007 with the IAEA, we were supposed to deal with these six outstanding issues, which we did; and the IAEA Director General in two reports informed the whole world that all outstanding issues are resolved and, according to the findings of the IAEA, Iran's past assertions were correct.

And regarding the alleged studies, according to the work plan, the agency is obliged to deliver the documents of the so-called laptop. However, the Americans have not permitted the agency, which means they have interfered in the verification process of the IAEA.

However, Iran compromised on the issue and in seven meetings in Tehran we agreed that we only work on the Powerpoint presentation instead of having the documents that the agency was obliged to deliver. We gave our response in 170 pages and therefore the remaining issues including the alleged studies are resolved and the inspection should be pursued in a routine manner now.

Q: We have heard in recent weeks that unnamed sources have said that people at the IAEA are distancing themselves from this laptop. We also heard of an unnamed German diplomat saying that they don't believe in this laptop. Are you seeing any possibility that the third round of sanctions passed against Iran would be lifted as the basis of sanctions was in some way this laptop?

A: Well in fact I am hoping that through the resolution of all outstanding issues, this issue will be resolved. In Vienna, many have come to the conclusion that the allegations brought about by the laptop, which supposedly holds the most top secret information on the Iranian nuclear program, have shown to be fabricated because the laptop has no seal of confidentiality.

And I'm sure that from now on you will hear more and more about suspicion about the authenticity of the documents. And also the Board of Governors has announced officially that the authenticity of these documents has not been proved. Therefore, I am sure that soon all countries including Russia and China, which have always been supportive of Iran's cooperation with the IAEA, would understand that the UN Security Council's approach toward Iran has been counterproductive.

Q: Do you think that the last gasp of the Bush administration and this laptop business are a bit like Valerie Plame and Niger Gate?

A: I am sure that those past dark experiences of the US administration about WMDs and the so-called Niger file have prompted the international community to avoid considering these documents as genuine information. The international community is tired of their hypocrisy and their military mentality. And the time will come that we will witness change and tranquility in the world and in international organizations.


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