Admitting that sanctions have hurt Iran, a member of its nuclear negotiating team and senior diplomat, Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, has said the more western countries prolong the quest for a negotiated solution, the “more Iran will advance” towards enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes.
Talking to The Hindu on the latest on the nuclear issue, Mr. Araghchi said Iran was waiting for the P 5+1 (Five U.N. Security Council permanent members plus Germany) to announce the next round of negotiations after their recent internal consultations in New York. “Maybe they are waiting for the U.S. presidential elections. It makes no difference to us. For us the path is very clear,” he said.
“We are waiting for an answer. It is up to them to carefully consider their offer and answer with goodwill,” he said while terming Iran’s proposals as guaranteeing the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme while removing sanctions.
Pointing out that the meeting with P 5+1 in Istanbul had agreed on a step-by-step, reciprocal process, he said the latest proposal was not acceptable because Iran can’t be expected to take a “very long step”.
The diplomat claimed Iran had achieved technological maturity, possessed adequate uranium and equipment. “The more they prolong a negotiated solution, the more Iran will advance. Iran won’t change its policies because of sanctions. It will find new ways and methods to sell oil and transfer the money,” he said a day after the European Union slapped a fresh set of sanctions on Iran.
Mr. Araghchi gave two reasons why Iran would not like to pursue the nuclear weapons option. One, the Iranian Supreme Leader had said production, stockpiling and use of any weapon of mass destruction including nuclear bombs was forbidden.
“So it is a very clear guideline for us. We want them to recognise our rights. If they say include enrichment in the framework of peaceful use of nuclear energy, the door will be open.”
The second reason was that nuclear weapons had no place in Iran’s security calculus.
“If we go for a nuclear weapon we will only encourage others in the region to do so and a nuclear arms race will not add to the security.
Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons. Can they use them against the Palestinians? Did they use them against the Hezbollah to whom they lost? And why should Iran attack Israel. It will be suicidal.”
On Syria, he pointed out the difference between giving political support [by Russia and Iran] and sending weapons and money [the West and some Arab countries].
Iran wanted reforms to take place in Syria but they should be gradual.
“With weapons and money flowing into the country for the rebels, Syria can’t solve the problem. Any government would act like Syria if they are faced by armed rebels. There cannot be a national dialogue if arms continue to flow. It is only the terrorists who will gain ground,” he cautioned.