March 11, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 678

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rohani: The World Must Accept Iran's Membership in the World Nuclear Club

March 11, 2004
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 678

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Hassan Rohani, who heads the Iranian delegation for talks with Europe on nuclear matters, presented a report at the meeting of Iran's Assembly of Experts [1] on the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Rohani called on the international community to accept Iran as a member of the world nuclear club, and urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to immediately close its dossier on Iran's violations. [2]

In presenting his report, Rohani claimed that the negative attitude toward Iran had forced it to act "independently" to obtain nuclear knowledge. At the same time, Rohani acknowledged that heavy international pressure from the industrialized states that maintain trade relations with Iran had forced Iran to agree to stricter oversight of its nuclear facilities. He stressed further that Iran's commitment to stop uranium-enriching activity was only temporary, and that Iran was determined to engage in nuclear fuel-cycle activity. Rohani's statements indicate that he sees cooperation with Europe as a means of countering the U.S. threat on Iran. The following is a collection of Rohani's statements, and recent news regarding Iran's nuclear program:

Iranian Violations Investigated by the IAEA

Following heavy American and European pressure on Iran during 2003, Iran agreed to sign the Additional Protocol to the NPT that would permit closer IAEA inspection of its nuclear facilities, including inspections without prior warning and intrusive verification. At the same time, for the past year Iran has been under investigation by the IAEA for a number of NPT violations, such as enriching uranium and establishing a centrifuge plant without reporting it to the IAEA.

Iran Versus the International Community

Rohani was recently quoted as stating that "the U.S. and former U.S.S.R. originated the NPT, the very core of which is that countries possessing nuclear weapons do not have the right to make [these weapons] available to other countries, and that those countries that do not possess this technology do not have the right to pursue it either." [3]

He complained about the international community's stance that "Iran should not gain access to nuclear know-how," adding, "When we encountered the negative attitude of all the Western and Eastern countries, we decided to act independently." [4]

Rohani also stressed that "the world must accept that Iran has [nuclear] fuel cycle [capabilities], and has enriched uranium within Iran's [territory]." [5] He pointed out that the nuclear fuel cycle was completely peaceful and legal, and reiterated the official Iranian position that according to the NPT, countries can legally pursue peaceful nuclear activities, and that the industrialized countries are obligated to assist developing countries in such activities.

'We Abided By American and European Pressure to Sign the Additional Protocol'

In presenting his report, Rohani, who is also a member of the Expediency Council, [6] related the events that motivated Iran to sign the Additional Protocol: "Last April and May, Iran was pressured to sign the additional NPT protocol. When a country signs this protocol, it [can no longer] pursue non-peaceful nuclear activities and hence the pressure is on all countries [not to pursue such activities]. America was the first to pressure us, and then Europe followed suit. [During this time] France and Germany were the first countries to launch a propaganda [campaign] against us. In every single international meeting in which Iranian delegations were present, we were pressured to sign the additional protocol. Gradually we reached the conclusion that each and every industrial country that had trade ties with Iran wanted us to sign the additional protocol. The clear case in point is Japan, which declared [that] the continuation of its cooperation in developing [the] Azadegan oilfield depends upon Iran signing the Additional Protocol. Even some presidents of other countries expressed concerns in telephone conversations with President Khatami."

Rohani also referred to the IAEA report, published in September 2003, which criticized the Iranian violations: "In this report, five cases were outlined as Iranian violations. For example, one violation was that Iran had not reported to the agency on the purchase of certain items from China. Eventually, IAEA experts examined the Natanz nuclear site and [to our surprise] reached the conclusion that … 80% of Iran's pollution was due to uranium enrichment activities. This was really strange for us, because we had not engaged in uranium enrichment activities at a very high scale. A new wave of propaganda warfare was launched against Iran, implying that it is involved in covert nuclear operations.

"Ultimately, in September the agency [i.e. the IAEA] issued an unprecedented anti-Iran declaration. Based on this declaration, Iran [had] to immediately sign and implement the Additional Protocol. One item of the declaration [stipulated] that the case of Iran's nuclear activities could be referred to the UN Security Council… We were obliged to adopt a resolute decision.

"Well, it was obvious that the Americans were [determined to hand] our dossier [over] to the UN Security Council. We decided to hold talks with Britain, Germany, and France, the countries that had played a major role in finalizing the anti-Iran declaration. Senior officials from these countries were invited to Tehran. We told these officials that we did not want to sign the additional protocol, but that we were willing to [talk about] international laws and regulations. However, they insisted that we sign it unconditionally. We also maintained that we should accept the additional protocol only [according to] our own interpretations." [7]

'By Cooperating with Europe, We Can Turn the American Threat Into an Opportunity'

Rohani was recently quoted as saying that the Iranian dossier must be examined in the framework of the IAEA, not by other institutions, and added that Iran must be given the right to continue its peaceful nuclear activity: "We voluntarily agreed to temporarily cease fuel enrichment activities and we had no permanent obligations [i.e. made no permanent commitment] in this respect. After all, we reached an agreement with these European countries, [an agreement] which [later] became the Tehran Declaration." [8]

Rohani noted that Iran agreed to sign the Additional Protocol in compliance with the principle of "give and take," and said that he saw Europe as a force that Iran could call on in the face of the American threat. "Europe stood alongside Iran when the U.S. insisted on handing the Iranian dossier over to the Security Council… So far, we have overcome another American plot against us. We do not think that the U.S. can hand our dossier over to the Security Council after all." [9]

He stressed that Iran should be permitted to "engage in fuel cycle activities," saying, "We need a national will in order to meet this objective. This issue has not yet been politicized [i.e. there is a national consensus on this issue], and we should be watchful that we do not politicize it. America wanted to threaten us by raising this debate. But I believe that by cooperating with Europe, we can turn this [American] threat into an opportunity." [10]

The IAEA Investigation Must Be Closed

Rohani has also recently demanded that the IAEA stop its 13-month investigation of Iran's nuclear violations, saying, "We must arrive at a situation in which the IAEA's board of governors completely closes the dossier of Iran's nuclear activity for peaceful purposes, and removes the matter from its agenda." [11]

The reformist Iranian daily Aftab-e Yazd quoted a top diplomatic source in the Iranian delegation to the IAEA who said that if the Iranian dossier is not closed, Iran will renew its uranium enrichment activities and will even consider halting its cooperation with the IAEA. [12]

On March 9, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council's Foreign Policy Committee, Hossein Moussavi, warned that Iran would "adopt a new policy" if the IAEA delayed the closing of its dossier by the IAEA board of governors.

He said that "by agreeing to sign and implement the additional protocol to the NPT, Iran has dispelled any complaints by its opponents." [13]

The reformist Iran Daily recently explained, "Iran has allowed IAEA inspectors to visit Iran at will and [this] has created the wrong idea among members of the [IAEA] board of governors – that Tehran is ready to perform on the basis of their wishes… If the IAEA does not … meet Iran's nuclear needs, it should not expect Tehran to continue [its] one-sided cooperation with the Agency and not resume its uranium enrichment activities." [14]

[1] An 86-member group of ayatollahs who nominate Iran's Supreme Leader.

[2] Jaam-e Jam (Iran), March 8, 2004.

[3] Iran Daily, March 8, 2004.

[4] Iran Daily, March 8, 2004.

[5] Jumhour-e Eslami (Iran), March 8, 2004.

[6] The Expediency Council, headed by former Iranian president Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is a powerful conservative body that arbitrates between the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) and the conservative Guardian Council.

[7] Iran Daily, March 8, 2004.

[8] Iran Daily, March 8, 2004.

[9] Kayhan (Iran), March 8, 2004.

[10] Jumhour-e Eslami (Iran), March 8, 2004.

[11] Jumhour-e Eslami (Iran), March 8, 2004.

[12] Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 7, 2004.

[13], March 9, 2004.

[14] Iran Daily, March 9, 2004.

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