Interview: Iran's Nuclear Negotiator
Frances Harrison, BBC News:
As Iran attempts to restart talks with the UK, France and Germany on its nuclear programme, BBC Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison interviewed Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. The following is the full text of the interview, the first he has given to the Western media since his appointment in August. READ MORE
Ali Larijani: We have moved one more step towards negotiations with the Europeans.
In the same way that Iran is negotiating with China, Russia and the non-aligned countries, it can have fruitful negotiations with the Europeans as well. These talks will be our last word to the Europeans.
I don't think that what [US Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice has already said is a good stance for international peace. She has said Iran has the right to enjoy nuclear technology because it is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but the US won't let Iran actually use nuclear technology itself.
This is not a good stance for the future of mankind. And I think that if a country has the right to use something, others should allow it to use that right.
Frances Harrison: Speaking specifically, in this offer of talks you have made to the Europeans are you willing to suspend conversion of uranium or not?
I told you that I don't want to reveal the contents of this letter to the media because it must go through a diplomatic channel. For sure there are certain points included that can open the way for talks. But the most important point that must be taken into consideration is that Iran's most high ranking nuclear decision makers have made this offer of talks.
It shows Iran is serious in its willingness to resume negotiations.
But you know as well as I do that in order to negotiate with the Europeans they have set a precondition - if you like - that you have to suspend work at Isfahan. So if you are really serious about negotiations, are you going to suspend work at Isfahan?
There are many important points between Iran and the Europeans that are beneficial for both sides to resolve through negotiations. We believe in a win-win kind of negotiations with the Europeans. So, insisting on these sorts of minor issues can endanger other important issues.
The security of the region is a very important issue that can be resolved through negotiations with Iran. Iran is a big power in the region, and all the regional countries know that Iran is influential.
So involving themselves in certain minor issues will prevent the Europeans from achieving bigger things. I advise them to take a general look at all the regional issues and interests when considering these talks.
There have been reports that Iran plans to introduce a new batch of raw uranium - yellow cake - into Isfahan possibly as early as this week. Is this true?
How important these things seem to you. When the uranium conversion site at Isfahan is working, naturally yellow cake should be fed into it so that the UF6 gas is produced.
I want to mention this point - that the uranium conversion programme at Isfahan has been blown out of proportion. Those people who are familiar with the nuclear activities know full well that conversion in Isfahan is not the same as enrichment.
So if it is not important, why are you going to do it?
You can be absolutely sure that the uranium conversion site at Isfahan is operational so certain materials should be fed into it so that it can function.
You understand why it is important - we had the US state department spokesman saying if it was true that you were going to introduce more yellow cake into Isfahan then it was a step in the wrong direction according to them.
I don't care what American officials say in this regard, the important point is that all Iran's nuclear activities are being carried out under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA's cameras and representatives are present there. If this is not enough then the Americans should tell us why it is not enough?
If it is Iran's right to have peaceful nuclear technology why don't you take the next step and go for enrichment at Natanz - why hold back from that?
Absolutely it is part of our programme. We are not stopping short of enrichment. We are waiting to see if the negotiations start so that we can deal with these issues as well. One of the main points of any future negotiations is this issue.
In the past you have been quite critical of the previous negotiating team - you have said that they've made too many concessions to Europe. You said they gave a pearl and received a lollipop in return. How would you say that your approach is different from that of your predecessor?
Our strategy is that we have to achieve nuclear technology, and the resumption of activities at the uranium conversion site in Isfahan is a sign that Iran is determined to master nuclear technology.
Through the language of force and threats you cannot persuade Iran to give up this right.