Ali Shamkhani says the best way for the West to resolve its nuclear dispute with Tehran goes through talks, not sanctions.
Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani says the other party to nuclear talks with Iran has been unable to be serious at the negotiating table thanks to issues at home and pressures by the Zionist [Israeli] lobby.
He made the remark in an interview with Lebanon’s Arabic-language Al Mayadeen news network. The following is a partial translation of Shamkhani’s comments as reported by Tasnim News Agency on November 18:
Our relations with other countries in the region are based on the interests of regional nations, without being influenced by major powers. We have been able to implement such a policy in dealing with countries such as Oman which agree with us over this policy framework.
Of course, this policy is not limited to Oman and can be extended to other countries. It is a pattern that has been tested in dealings with some countries such as Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Qatar. In case of Qatar, it has been a bit different, though. It can extend to Saudi Arabia, too. That has been and still is central to our foreign policy.
That was why we decided to choose an Islamic capital as the venue of talks so that it could be placed at the center of world news and global diplomacy. For this reason, Muscat was picked more than two and a half years ago. Of course, talks in Muscat date back to two and a half years ago. Initially, we decided not to let the media know about the talks. That was not because the talks were top-secret; rather, we wanted them to be as transparent as they could be.
I hope that the main negotiator [on the other side] pays attention to the fact that pressures and sanctions are not the reason why Iran is sitting at the negotiating table. These elements naturally cause intransigence and even defiance. So when they concluded that military action against Iran is not viable because of high costs and ineffectiveness, they decided to act more seriously.
Those pressures have done nothing to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Sanctions are not the way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program, talks are. Naturally, sanctions are putting pressure on Iranian people; they do nothing, though, to affect Iran’s peaceful nuclear industry.
We struck a deal [the interim agreement] with them. We have kept our end of the bargain, although there are some powerful people [inside the country] who are critical of this agreement.
Our goals are clear and we have openly stated them. We have acted in line with nuclear safeguards. We don’t want anything more than what we are entitled to, but won’t budge in the face of impositions.
We, by we I mean all political groupings inside the Islamic Republic, decided to sit at the negotiating table. But the other side is influenced by internal power play and regional pressures such as those exerted by the Zionist regime. Under such influence and pressure, they are unable to make serious decisions.
That Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear program is not complicated at all. Research and development are nothing complicated either. The survival of Iran’s nuclear industry hinges on research and development.
The lifting of sanctions and the level of enrichment are the core issues of the talks. Sanctions are unfair. Those imposed by the Security Council have no legal basis and should be lifted outright. Talks which do not lead to the removal of sanctions will be useless and won’t meet our demands.
At the start of the talks, which were not made public, Westerners sent us messages that suggested they would lift the sanctions. Failure to do so would constitute contradiction on their part and cast doubt on their honesty.
I am still not pessimistic [about the talks]. Our religious beliefs, namely compliance with a fatwa issued by the Supreme Leader banning the development and use of nuclear arms, our defense strategy, which leaves no room for unconventional weapons, and inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as illegitimate surveillance through drone flights by major powers show that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.
That means securing a deal is not difficult providing that American statesmen remain uninfluenced by their internal issues, Israeli pressures, or things that have nothing to do with the nuclear case.
Reports that Iran is willing to give up the production of nuclear fuel are not true. We insist on our right to produce fuel at home. We have the technology to turn uranium ore into nuclear fuel. Naturally we won’t pay to buy such fuel from abroad. […]