When diplomacy serves the cause of development (PART THREE)

Mohammad Javad Zarif

FM Zarif has said that we can continue – not extend – the talks until we reach results, adding if no deal is clinched by July 1, it could happen on July second or third, or even later.

Iran’s foreign minister says nuclear talks are very much likely to continue past the end-of-June deadline. Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comment in an interview with Donyay-e Eghtesad’s Ehsan Abtahi and Hadi Khosro-Shahin on June 18.

In the interview the top diplomat said an ideals-based foreign policy does not run counter to a foreign policy of which national interests are the cornerstone. He added what makes a country successful on the international stage is its ability to render its ideals into international norms.

“Diplomacy is the art of advancing a country’s interests at the lowest cost. Foreign policy should serve the cause of development, rather than being a burden on a country’s development drive,” he said. The following is PART THREE of the translation of the interview:

 

Does the enhanced access, which has been included in the Lausanne statement, go beyond the Additional Protocol?

Iran is a signatory to the Safeguards Agreement. If a deal is to be clinched, we are expected to opt for the Additional Protocol which is an optimal international mechanism. What they [the Western nations] say does not matter, what will be done will be within the framework of international rules.

 

Does it mean that Iran’s nuclear case will be dealt with as a normal case within the framework of the Safeguards Agreement after the conclusion of a deal? Or will Iran be treated as a special case when it comes to inspection and verification [of its conformity with internationally recognized principles]?

I do not want to talk about the details of the events that unfolded in the past. In September 2003, the IAEA described Iran’s case as a special one. In November 2004, the agency announced that the special case is moving toward settlement. Once again in November 2011, the agency and its Board of Governors identified Iran’s case as a special one. These are the changes. I hope the measure [a reference to nuclear talks] Iran has taken can see the country’s dossier treated as a normal case.

 

Earlier you said in an interview that after the conclusion of a deal, a new resolution should be issued within the framework of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Given that resolutions cover many issues, among them nuclear questions and missile capabilities, what is expected to be included in the new resolution? Will Iran’s missile program be included in the new resolution?

I believe that the question of missile [capabilities] has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear case. We have always said that the question of Iran’s defense is separate from the talks. The question has yet to be settled and we are still negotiating. It is good to know that Resolution 1696, which was the first resolution issued against Iran, came under Article 40 of Chapter VII [of the Charter of the United Nations]. Resolutions 1737 to 1929 – namely Resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835 and 1929 – have all been issued under Article 41 of Chapter VII.

Article 41 authorized the UN Security Council to apply economic pressures [The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations].

For about eight years, Iran’s case has been under review within such a framework. Removal of the sanctions against Iran should come within the framework of the same Article [41 of Chapter VII]. Under Article 41, there is no other option but to have a new resolution issued so that unjust sanctions against Iran can be removed and unjust resolutions issued against Iran can be nullified. Talks are still ongoing on how to make such a decision and what can be included in such a resolution.

 

Think tanks such as The Washington Institute [for Near East Policy (WINEP)] have released articles some of which read Mr. Obama will have at least one year after the conclusion of a comprehensive deal to show to the US Congress and those in Iran opposed to a nuclear deal whether or not Iran is committed to the verification process. These think tanks say that Obama needs between six months and a year to convince opponents of a deal that Iran’s sanctions will be lifted gradually. How long have you considered for sanctions to be removed?

This is a misinterpretation, I think. Unfortunately some interpretations are far from correct. What has really happened during the talks is being reversed, but what matters here is that Mr. Obama will remain the US president no more than one year after the nuclear deal is implemented. During this period, he can show that things are progressing smoothly – just like the proper implementation by Iran of the Geneva agreement, for instance – and thus build more trust in the ranks of opponents.

During his presidency, Mr. Obama can make sure that Iran is implementing the agreement and sell it to the opposing party. This does not mean that a long time is needed for sanctions to be lifted. Sanctions should be lifted immediately after the implementation of the agreement.

 

Lifted or suspended?

Lifted. What the US laws says is not our concern. The US administration should stop implementing the sanctions. This is the term used in the agreement: it needs to stop the implementation of sanctions. We do not want to get involved in political bickering inside the US. We hold the US government responsible and do not care what happens in Congress or what the president does. The US president is constitutionally authorized to stop the implementation of these sanctions.

If a deal is clinched, the domestic responsibility of the US president will be seen as the president’s international responsibility. Thanks to the ongoing talks and the comments which have been made [by those involved] we can make sure that such a measure [to stop the implementation of sanctions] by Obama will be the commitment of the US administration, the result of which would be: no sanctions will be slapped on anybody [or any nation].

You said if a deal is clinched, does it mean that a deal could be unachievable? Is it likely for the agreement to elude us?

An agreement could be unattainable as long as it is not announced.

 

Mr. Rouhani has recently said that an agreement is within reach.

For sure it is within reach. You know a deal is accessible providing that the other side comes to terms with realities and does not make acquisitive demands. Talks would have been unnecessary if I had been able to say that an agreement would definitely be clinched.

Does the other side still make acquisitive demands?

Iran does not make such demands, but the other side does. It has always made acquisitive demands and is now asking for excessive things, but we prove that Iran will stand up to acquisitiveness. From day one we showed our opposition and we will continue to do so. The frameworks we set on day one are the frameworks we are offering today.

 

Mr. Obama has recently said in an interview that he has a “personal interest” in making sure world powers and Iran could reach a deal. It means he has personal reasons for this [a deal]. The US administration seems very interested in inking such a deal, but many are concerned that the deal could be fragile citing that the Obama administration will be replaced possibly by a Republican government. They are not hopeful about the future and are very concerned about the fragility of a deal. Where do you stand on that?   

I’m sure if a deal is clinched, no governments in the US can violate that, and if they violate the deal, nobody around the world cares. We should not forget the fact that when the US government was much powerful than today – in the 1990s – it imposed extensive unilateral sanctions against Iran, but even its closest allies failed to implement those sanctions [back then].

Unfortunately today the US administration has managed to include the unjust sanctions in the UN Security Council resolutions. When there is a deal, no sanctions can be included in the UN Security Council resolutions; if so, the US government would be violating the Security Council resolution. I’m sure this will not happen, and if it does it will not affect economic players. I predict with absolute certainty that if we can reach a deal, the next US government cannot violate it, and in case Washington violates such a deal, it will have no bite.

 

How likely do you think it is for the talks to be extended? Another question on the discrepancy between a foreign policy based on idealism and one based on national interests: You’ve written in your book that all countries have ideals in their foreign policy, but the fact of the matter is that they need to create [and adopt] norms; in other words, they need to turn their ideals into norms on the world stage. How successful have we been in turning our ideals into norms globally? 

When it comes to extension [of the talks], I believe that a good agreement should be struck. We feel no strain because of time constraints. The Americans have limited time based on the congressional bill, but Iran does not. If we reach an acceptable agreement, everything will be ok, if not we can continue [the talks]. I do not think an extension is our option, but we may need more time to reach an agreement.

 

How likely is it for the talks to drag on?

Maybe we may need a few days more than the July 1 [deadline]. I did not agree to the extension of talks even in November and said we needed to continue the talks. When we extend the talks, everybody waits for the final weeks to focus on the topic of the talks. In Lausanne, efforts were stepped up three weeks to go before the deadline.

Once again one month and a half was wasted; of course, we are not to blame for that. It was like cramming on the eve of an exam. We want to continue [the talks] until we reach results. I think it is a better way than extending the talks. Extension has not been a good option in any round of the talks. We have time and we need to seize this opportunity. If no deal is clinched by July 1, it could happen on July second or third, anytime we can reach a reasonable agreement.

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