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Exclusive: choose between co-operation and confrontation, Iran’s Foreign Minister warns

Produced by Reihaneh Mazaheri

17/04/15 14:46 CET

Exclusive: choose between co-operation and confrontation, Iran’s Foreign Minister warns
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"We can have the path of confrontation or we can have the path of co-operation, we cannot have a little bit of each."

Iran is ready to return to nuclear enrichment “without any limitations” unless the West pursues a path of “co-operation” in concluding a deal and removing all sanctions, the country’s foreign minister told Euronews.

Speaking in an interview in Lisbon, Mohammed Javad Zarif warned against a gradual or phased end to the economic embargoes place on Tehran by the European Union, United Nations and United States.

“We can have the path of confrontation or we can have the path of co-operation, we cannot have a little bit of each,” he said.

Below is the transcript of Zarif’s first full interview with a western media organisation since the talks:

Reihaneh Mazaheri, euronews:
“After months of negotiations, you have reached an initial agreement. Tell us more about that and what was going on behind the closed-door talks, especially in Lausanne?”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif:
“The negotiations were an attempt to address two objectives. One objective was to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will remain always peaceful and the second objective was to remove the sanctions and from our perspective both objectives were reasonable because Iran never intended to produce nuclear weapons anyway, and it was OK for us to move in that direction and sanctions had not helped anybody throughout this process.

It was important for us to be able to move forward with these two objectives and we tried. It was difficult at times because some of our western friends and negotiating partners had come to believe that sanctions were an asset, were something that they should not relinquish so easily. And that made it very difficult. There were also tough moments because of different interpretations on various aspects of the final settlement but we were able to focus on all the solutions for all the problems that existed.

Now we start the difficult part, the difficult path of negotiating and writing the final agreement. That will take a lot of time a lot of effort, but I think the political decisions have already been made. Now it’s up to us and our colleagues to get down to the more technical parts of the deal to be drafted.”

euronews:
“After eighteen months of negotiations the sanctions are still the main and the major problem. How do you think that you can solve this problem during the three months until the end of June?”

Zarif:
“We’re not talking about phased removal of sanctions. Unfortunately the United States started talking about and using the phrase ‘phased sanctions’ and if you go through the joint statement you will not even see the word ‘suspension’ and you will not see the word ‘phase’. It’s clear that all sanctions, all economic and financial sanctions will be terminated. On the day that we agree we will go to the Security Council and the Security Council will adopt a resolution which will terminate all the previous resolutions and will set the stage for termination of all sanctions. This is very clear, there won’t be phased, there won’t be suspensions, it is very clear in the agreement that we announced.”

euronews:
“But the Lausanne statement did not mention any timetable for lifting the sanctions…”

Zarif:
“Well, the time is very clear because we have had this agreement that we will take measures for, irreversible measures by Iran for irreversible measures by the United States,
the EU and the UN Security Council. You see the point is, last time we had no ‘factsheet’ when we had the agreement in November in Geneva, and what we produced on the Iranian side was the actual document.

The United States for their own domestic reasons, and that’s their right and prerogative, produced a factsheet. which was not exactly what we adopted. So the best way for all of us is to stop fighting over this, to negotiate and once the final agreement is reached, to make the final agreement available to the public.”

euronews:
“But now Iranian MPs have asked for the Iranian version of fact sheet to be published as well. Why didn’t you publish the details yet?”

Zarif:
“Well, we have actually. I had a two and a half hour interview on Iranian television and I explained the entire thing. My colleague Dr Salehi, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation also went on Iranian television and explained the entire process, so we have nothing to hide. We are not in the business of putting a spin on what we agreed. So I believe once the agreement is reached… because now we need to write, to draft, and to reach an agreement on the draft, actually.

We’ve said from the beginning that we need to choose the path, We can have the path of confrontation or we can have the path of co-operation, we cannot have a little bit of each. If we take the path of confrontation the US and the UN will continue with their sanctions, and Iran will continue with its enrichment programme. Without any limitations.”

euronews:
“I want to go back to my question, why don’t you want to publish the fact sheet? Is it your tactic to reduce pressure from hardliners inside Iran?

Zarif:
“We negotiate for the national interest, we don’t negotiate for political pressure groups, and I think the US would be well-advised to do the same. If we need to publish a factsheet we will publish a factsheet, but I think the Iranian public knows more about the facts now.”

euronews:
“I’d like to name some of the foreign ministers that have participated in the Iran negotiations and I’d like you describe them in one or two words: Mr. Steinmeier?”

Zarif:
“ A serious negotiator.”

euronews:
“Laurent Fabius?”

Zarif:
“Again, a serious negotiator.”

euronews:
“The Chinese Foreign Minister?”

Zarif:
“A good friend and a serious negotiator.”

euronews:
“The Russian Foreign Minister?”

Zarif:
“The same, a good friend and a serious negotiator.”

euronews:
“And John Kerry?”

Zarif:
“A person who’s spent a lot of time on this, and again, a serious negotiator.”

euronews:
“Let’s talk about regional issues and specially Yemen. The current situation in this country escalated the strategic differences between Iran and Saudi-Arabia. How it will effect the future of this region?

Zarif.
“Well, Yemen is not a theatre for confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Yemen has a problem that has to be resolved by the people of Yemen, by the various political groups in Yemen, and everyone who has influence in Yemen should help.”

euronews:
“What do you think then, when Mr. Lavrov says selling the S300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran is due to the Yemen situation?”

Zarif:
“Well, we had an agreement with Russia, a contract with Russia a long time ago, to provide the means for our air defence. These are not offensive weapons, they are defensive weapons that we had ordered a long time ago from Russia, and now they have decided to honour their contract and commitment and deliver.”

euronews:
“Before their delivery would have been a violation of the UN sanctions…”

Zarif:
“No, it was never against any UN sanctions. I think the Russian statement is very clear, they said that it never violated UN sanctions. For Iran we don’t recognise those sanctions, we consider them illegal, we consider all sanctions as illegal and unjustified. But Russia made its own decision and any questions must be addressed to Russia. We believe that the delay in providing these S300 air defence systems was uncalled for, but we welcome the decision of Russia to live up to their contract.”

euronews: “ Thank you for being with us.”

Zarif:
“Thank you, Happy to be here.”

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