Sunday, October 03, 2004

Interview with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Iran’s nuclear program

Description of Selected News: "Iran wants to be self-sufficient in producing nuclear fuel: Kharrazi

NEW YORK (Newsweek)— Last week the Newsweek magazine conducted an interview with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Iran’s nuclear program, the Iraqi crisis and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The text of the interview comes as follows: Q: Is Iran seeking a uranium-enrichment capability solely to fuel nuclear power reactors or also to give your country a nuclear-weapons option?

A: It is solely for producing fuel needed in our power plants. It is not for producing nuclear weapons.

Q: The IAEA does not seem to be persuaded that you are living up to the agreement that you made with the Europeans in the fall of 2003—to stop enriching uranium.

A: We have suspended the enrichment process, but they are asking us to suspend related activities, by which they mean the production of spare parts. For some time, in an agreement with the Europeans, we stopped manufacturing spare parts. But the Europeans were supposed to work actively to close Iran's file at the IAEA. Since they failed to meet their commitments, we did not find ourselves committed to the agreement. Q: What are you doing with uranium hexofluoride gas?

A: That is not part of the agreement. The IAEA claims that we should suspend all activities related to enrichment, and we have not agreed to that. Q: Once Iran has the uranium- enrichment capability, won't that give you the ability to pursue a nuclear-weapons program?

A: We are capable to enrich uranium, and we are capable to manufacture all machinery that is needed (in this process). But this does not mean that we are capable of producing (nuclear) weapons. It is a complicated process we don't intend to undertake. Q: Are you worried that Israel may strike your nuclear facilities?

A: It is a threat, and when there is a threat, you have to take it into consideration and be prepared to react. We are prepared. Q: With the Shahab missile?

A: There are capabilities that we will use. Shahab missiles are well developed and made in Iran, and we are proud of having them. Q: Reportedly, Iran's intelligence services are providing support to Iraqi insurgents who are attacking Coalition forces?

A: That is quite wrong. On the contrary, we have been quite helpful in diffusing the crisis in Iraq — especially in Najaf. Q: What is your assessment of the security situation in Iraq?

A: It is a very dangerous place. Coalition forces are unable to secure Iraq and the government is facing many problems. The people of Iraq are delighted Saddam Hussein is gone, but they are not happy with the presence of foreign troops. That was America's mistake. They thought that if people opposed Saddam Hussein, they would welcome the presence of Americans. So, the ground has to be prepared for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

Q: You seem to agree with the Americans that Iraqi elections should take place in January.

A: That's right. It is a very important first step for a solution to the crisis. We need to get a representative government in place. Q: Is Iran ready to join many other countries in advocating a two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians?

A: If the Palestinians decide to have two states, we don't mind, but we are for a one-state solution. Q: Is there any prospect for an Iranian-U.S. dialogue? A: No, I don't see any prospects at this time because the policies of the United States in the Middle East have been so wrong. They have left no room for any rapprochement, especially in the case of Iran. They

[U.S. officials] have interfered in our internal affairs and have talked about a change in regime. Q: Some people here say "anybody but Bush." Do you agree?

A: We are not happy with President Bush. His policies have resulted in hatred of the U.S. in Muslim countries.


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