Following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA, which aired on Press TV on December 2, 2009. The interview was conducted in English, and has been edited slightly for coherence.
Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh: It seems that the 5+1 group had preliminary discussions in Brussels, and the food was cooked there. In fact, they made an invasion in Vienna, and tried to destroy the so-called Vienna spirit. As I have already said, we had a conducive cooperative environment in Vienna. Recently, we had a technical discussion on the nuclear fuel, which was constructive, as confirmed by all parties concerned. Therefore, all of a sudden, bringing something from outside of Vienna – in fact, imposing on Vienna – that was what happened. And of course, Germany was leading this whole trend, by presenting the draft resolution. The draft resolution was officially tabled by Germany.
I want to remind your distinguished viewers of the fact that we do not have, in any of the well-known international documents, such as the statute of the IAEA or the NPT, which is the non-proliferation treaty text, and also in the safeguard agreement with the Agency, or in the most intrusive one, which is the additional protocol... You cannot find anywhere the phraseology of suspension of any nuclear activities. In fact, when, in 2003 onward, this phrase of suspension was brought to the Agency, the safeguard department inspectors were shocked what to do, because they were surprised by this phrase, which [had] never existed for the last five decades in the IAEA. They didn’t know how to verify suspension.
Therefore, this just created a new notion, which definitely jeopardized the whole environment, and is in full contradiction with the spirit and letter of their statute, because such a thing does not exist.
They had this discussion outside of Vienna, and they tried to just come over here, and in fact, impose and interfere into the issues of the IAEA, which has nothing to do with these political discussions. Bringing back again and referring to the UN Security Council in fact confirm my assertion that they do not have the political will to [unintelligible word] this conducive environment in Vienna.
Interviewer: All the news outlets are talking about Iranians rejecting a deal. So first, you’re telling us that there was no deal to begin with, and (b) – what’s perhaps even more important – that the Iranians are waiting for them to come to the negotiating table. Is that correct?
Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh: Exactly. That is why I informed the Board of Governors in my statement, because until then, we decided not to go in detail, until the director-general tries his best to pass this legitimate concern of Iran to them. Then I tried... In fact, in my statement to the Board of Governors, I revealed all these facts and showed them that they are not showing their political goodwill for such a humanitarian project.
Rather than us being blamed for delay tactics, in fact, that was the other side. The other parties were playing time tactics and delay tactics, because they knew that we need this fuel for this reactor as soon as possible.
First, I categorically reject this. I’m ready to challenge anybody in the world to prove that this resolution also does not have any legal basis. We have not, in fact, had any breach of our obligation. What we have done, in fact – we informed much sooner than we were obliged.
We did not have any obligation to inform about nuclear installations from the beginning. We really inform only six months before we put nuclear material in it, and that is our legal obligation.
I said immediately after this resolution that the answer to this resolution – because it doesn’t have any technical, legal basis – is: No. Because this is only jeopardizing the existing, conducive cooperation environment in Vienna. It is contrary to the letter and spirit of the statute, and by reference to those resolutions in New York, against, they are weakening the IAEA, because as I said on many occasions and proved to be correct, since this matter has been sent to New York, the situation has been more complicated.
I said immediately, in the Board of Governors, addressing the Germans and others, immediately after they issued this resolution... I asked a simple question: Do you have any indication, can you inform the whole world, that Iran will act upon the pressure – be it from the Security Council resolution or the Board of Governors’ resolutions? You cannot find any example, and inform us about it.
However, on the contrary, you can have a list of numerous cases that we have been able and we have accepted to take steps beyond our legal obligations, when we have been requested in a very friendly manner – such as a request by the director-general on many occasions, including the visits to Iran, when he requested our top officials. Then we took steps, beyond our legal obligation, to help the Agency and improve the spirit of cooperation.
Therefore, they should have learned lessons from the past six years – that resolutions and sanctions will complicate the situation, and it will definitely be counter-productive. I am very disappointed that they make the same mistake.
Now, the question is very simple. Either they were not aware that the reaction would not be positive, and it would be negative... If that is... Lack of awareness shows that they are naïve, or that they are not knowledgeable about the Iranians’ culture. As I said in the Board of Governors, the answer to “must” is “No” in a loud voice. Or [else] they knew it, and there was an intention to deteriorate the situation.
Therefore, in both cases, they should be condemned and harshly criticized, that they have jeopardized this excellent environment that had been built up in Vienna. They should not have entered into the IAEA-Iran cooperation, and therefore, they made a historic mistake. I hope that they will regret, and immediately, as soon as possible, they will compensate for this mistake.