INTERVIEW | Gholamali Khoshroo Iran's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations

INTERVIEW | Gholamali Khoshroo Iran's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations

By Seda Persian Weekly
(Translated into English by IranReview.org)

INTERVIEW | Gholamali Khoshroo Iran's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations

After the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) went into effect, all nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union, the United Nations Security Council and the United States were lifted and Iran in return has put some limitations on its nuclear activities.

Seda Persian Weekly has interviewed Gholamali Khoshroo, Iran's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations, about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action's implementation and the two sides' commitments to one another and other issues such as, development of Iran’s nuclear industry after implementation of the country’s nuclear deal, removal of sanctions, legal dimensions of JCPOA, JCPOA regional and international outcomes, future outlook for Iran’s relations with the United States and opening of the new channels of negotiations between the two countries, JCPOA as a role model for the resolution of regional problems, and….

The following is the full transcript of the interview which has been translated into English by Iran Review:

Q: An important question now is what will happen to Iran’s nuclear industry after the implementation of the country’s nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of countries, known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), has started, and will the world accept the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities from now on and without any question?

A: Just in the same way that it has been frequently specified in more than past two years, the important and historic [nuclear] agreement, which was achieved through support of the Supreme Leader, insight of [Iran’s President] Mr. [Hassan] Rouhani and the [diplomatic] finesse of [Iran’s Foreign Minister] Mr. [Mohammad Javad] Zarif and his colleagues, has been based on a win-win game. On this basis, Western countries have accepted that Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, including enrichment of uranium, should continue and this important goal was achieved in spite of the insistence of the former US administration on stopping enrichment in Iran and the emphasis put by various resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council on the need to suspend enrichment work in the Islamic Republic. In return, Iran has accepted to impose restrictions on its nuclear program in order to build confidence and do away with concerns expressed by some countries. The important point is that in return for the restrictions accepted by Iran, extensive secondary sanctions that had been imposed on the country by the United States, as well as multilateral sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and the European Union have been removed. In other words, the concession that Iran has given is to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, with the emphasis that in return, Iran’s nuclear program, including uranium enrichment has been recognized and will continue on a smaller scale over a period of 10-15 years. In the meantime, it must be noted that the technical and specialized know-how and related technology, which has been produced and accumulated in the country over the past 10 or 20 years, can be maintained and developed despite future restrictions. The most important concession that the opposite side claims it has taken from Iran is that the country’s path to producing atomic bomb has been blocked. Naturally, since Iran was never seeking to build an atomic bomb, this “achievement” [for the opposite side] is, in fact, achieving a goal that had been already realized and Iran has suffered no loss as a result.

Q: An important issue here is legal dimensions of JCPOA and that what resolutions have been rendered null and void under present conditions and what will become of the Security Council Resolution 2231?

A: According to Paragraph 7(a) of the Security Council Resolution 2231, the provisions of resolutions 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, 1929, and 1124, which had been adopted [by the Security Council] between 2006 and 2015 and were taken as basis for imposition of international sanctions against Iran, have been rendered null and void. According to paragraphs 5 and 7 of Resolution 2231, it was decided that after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) submits its report to the Board of Governors of IAEA and the Security Council confirms that Iran has abided by its commitments as specified in paragraphs 15.1-15.11 of Annex V of the JCPOA, the aforesaid resolutions would be automatically revoked. This happened on Sunday, January 16. It was then that IAEA confirmed that Iran has abided by its commitments as a result of which and through a statement read out by Dr. Zarif and [EU foreign policy chief] Ms. [Federica] Mogherini, all sanctions imposed by the European Union as well as the United States’ secondary sanctions were halted, and due to revocation of previous resolutions adopted by the Security Council, multilateral sanctions against Iran were also lifted. At present, Resolution 2231 is the sole Security Council resolution, which pertains to Iran’s nuclear program and also oversees good implementation of JCPOA. In a statement, which was negotiated and drawn up and added to this resolution by the P5+1 group (Annex B), limitations have been considered over periods of 5 years and 8 years for selling and purchasing nuclear, missile, and military articles for Iran. Therefore, if agreed upon by member states of the UN Security Council, necessary exemptions for such articles can be also issued. Even a paragraph (Paragraph 3 in Annex B), which has been inserted in this statement in relation to Iran’s missile activities, has been greatly toned down and is, in fact, just a recommendation, while Paragraph 9 in Resolution 1929, which has been revoked, was binding and used the strongest possible tone on Iran. Another important point in Resolution 2231 is that according to its Paragraph 8, this resolution will be totally nullified in full and without any conditions 10 years after the “day of its adoption” in October 2015, and this issue will be taken out of the Security Council’s agenda. By the way, it must be noted that although the Iranian negotiating team was informed of the process of drawing up of the resolution and did its best to tone down its text, it maintained its positions and viewpoints about it.

Q: One of the important issues is the possible achievements for Iran’s foreign policy through implementation of JCPOA and that what would be Iran’s standing within the international system?

A: What was gained through JCPOA was removal of huge obstacles that had been erected on the way of development of Iran’s economic and political relations with many influential countries. Removal of these obstacles can naturally provide grounds for Iran to turn all its abilities and capabilities from a potential to an active state. During the past 10-12 years, Iran’s situation has been similar to the situation of a runner to whose feet two heavy weights were tied. Naturally, when the weights are untied, the runner would have much higher mobility and stand equal to other runners from this viewpoint. During the aforesaid period, entering into interaction with a number of effective countries was practically not possible and relations with many others were mostly limited to their effort to sell consumer goods to us, which at times was in return for the oil that they had purchased from us and blocked its money in their banks. Regardless of direct benefits resulting from finalization of JCPOA and the process that led to this important development, it is also necessary to pay attention to its indirect benefits as well, which are as important as its direct benefits.

Q: How do you see the future outlook for Iran’s relations with the United States?

A: During the past two years, negotiations have taken place with the American side within framework of the P5+1 group, and within the same framework, Iran and the United States have also conducted direct bilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear program. As we know, recent negotiations with the United States led to freedom of seven Iranian prisoners in the United States and a halt was put on the prosecution of 14 more Iranian prisoners. Naturally, pardon and release of three American prisoners in Iran, which was made possible in this process, can put an end to negative propaganda that has been going on against Iran during the past years. Further negotiations led to resolution of problems surrounding a large part of Iran’s frozen assets in the US as a result of which the principal and profit of those assets were returned to Iran. Removing sanctions against Iran’s Sepah Bank and its international department could not be possible in the absence of such interactions. At any rate and in the real world, we, as a major regional power, and the United States, as a big global power, which is ectopically present in our region and in our periphery, including in the Persian Gulf will inevitably come face to face in certain cases. For example, such incidents as trespassing of two US Marines’ boats on Iran’s coastal waters and the likes of that can always take place and we must be ready and make necessary plans to prevent escalation of the situation and do not let such incidents get out of hand. Iran’s participation in negotiations held to resolve the crisis in Syria constitutes another remarkable example in this regard. In this way, although during the nuclear talks our main focus was on getting sanctions removed, such negotiations can always create a new atmosphere. In addition, in view of the complexities inherent in the implementation of JCPOA, contacts between Iran and member states of the P5+1 group, including the United States, will necessarily continue for a long time through the joint commission, which has been set up to supervise the implementation of JCPOA. However, whether this trend will have achievements beyond the framework that I have mentioned, would depend on the policies adopted by the Iranian government in next stages of this process. Naturally, the United States’ commitment to obligations it has undertaken according to JCPOA, combined with a show of goodwill, especially through complete removal of sanctions [imposed by Washington] and its avoidance of creating new problems and issues in other fields will certainly reduce the deep-rooted distrust that exists between the two countries.

Q: Will dual behavior by the Americans before and after the implementation of JCPOA – such as imposing new sanctions over Iran's missile program and so forth – cause any problem for the implementation of JCPOA? What channel will be there for Iran-US relations in the future?

A: Our negotiating team in nuclear talks emphasized and clearly said from the outset that Iran's missile program is part of the defense capability of the Islamic Republic. [They added that] this program will never be made subject to any negotiation, nor will it change according to the viewpoints of foreign sides. It is by no means acceptable that a country, which sells billions of dollars per year of assault weapons to countries in the Middle East region would be concerned about Iran's conventional missile program. In addition, from our viewpoint, even the Security Council Resolution 1929, which was revoked on January 17, and the relevant paragraph in Annex B of resolution 2231, have nothing to do with Iran's current missile program, because both documents have asked Iran to avoid producing missiles that could be used for delivering nuclear weapons and Iran has never produced a missile to deliver nuclear weapons, nor will it do this in the future. However, it must be noted that both sides have shown in practice that they are willing to keep JCPOA and its implementation away from other issues, which are bone of contention in Iran's relations with the United States.

Q: What viewpoint prevails in the United States with regard to JCPOA?

A: As you know, in the United States, like any other country, we are facing a broad political spectrum from extreme left to extreme right and naturally, we cannot talk about a single viewpoint in the United States, just in the same way that there is no such single viewpoint in Iran. Within the political establishment of the United States, President [Barak] Obama and his foreign minister, John Kerry, have been making an effort characterized by perseverance and diligence in order to help JCPOA achieve its goals and have even taken high political risks in this regard. Just remembering that the US Congress and both its chambers are under the control of Republicans would suffice to know what a high risk the White House has taken in this stage. Basically speaking, Obama’s policy with regard to JCPOA can be understood within framework of his public policy; a policy, which has been based on the American people’s tiredness of war and their lack of interest in getting involved in another war. As for the Republicans in both houses of parliament, they have been to various degrees opposing any kind of agreement with Iran over both its nuclear issue and other issues. Of course, it is not predictable at all what policy would be adopted by the American government if one of the Republican hopefuls becomes president during this year’s elections. Regardless of all political rhetoric during election campaigns, if JCPOA progresses and becomes operational, it would be very difficult for any prospective administration in the United States to make any changes to its structure.

Q: Many experts believe that JCPOA can be a role model for the resolution of regional problems. To what extent this issue can be effective and in what regional fields it can help?

A: The main characteristic of JCPOA is that it proved the possibility of resolving an extremely complicated and complex, and at the same time sensitive, issue which is related to security of a number of countries through diplomacy. One of the factors that made this success possible was that all involved parties distanced from a win-lose mentality or a zero-sum mentality. There is hope that this model with such coordinates would be taken as a basis for work in the Middle East region. Of course, issues related to this region have become heavily securitized and concerned parties have major security sensitivities as a result of which confrontation continues in the region while diplomacy and dialogue that are characterized by goodwill and pragmatism have been marginalized. However, despite this situation, the aforesaid model can, and should, be given more maneuvering room. Participation of all concerned parties in negotiations for the resolution of the crisis in Syria can be promising in this regard. Unfortunately, recent executions in Saudi Arabia and before them, the oversight and lack of accountability on the part of Saudi Arabia with regard to the Mina incident have somehow damaged this hope, though they have not totally obliterated it, and we still hope that new conditions would bring with them new possibilities.

Q: Will JCPOA boost Iran's influence in the region?

A: I think that the example that I previously brought about a runner with heavy weights tied to his feet applies here. At any rate, sanctions were a major obstacle on the way of Iran's interactions with the outside world. Naturally, other countries will count differently on an Iran, which is no longer under sanctions. The reality is that a number of countries have greatly exploited the existing sanctions against Iran to their own political and economic benefit. Some parties gained a lot of profits through the sanctions, about whose details I do not want to talk right now. Just in the same way, some countries outside the Middle East were greatly benefited by freezing of Iran's oil revenues in their banks and also by limitations that Iran faced, because the Islamic Republic had to do its foreign purchases through local currencies at a time that global oil prices were quite high. Evidently, an Iran under new conditions will be quite different from an Iran, which had to hobble as heavy weights were tied to its feet. Of course, all these changes are limited to removal of obstacles and the way we would choose to move on a road without obstacles would depend on our future plans, policies and abilities.

Q: Many analysts argue that the beginning of the implementation of JCPOA will be a defeat for pro-Israel and Saudi lobbies in Washington. Now, in view of many developments that have already taken place, how relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are supposed to fare?

A: The answer is quite clear. The Israeli regime and its lobby were seriously against any move in the direction of the resolution of Iran's nuclear issue and spared no effort to cause the nuclear negotiations to fail, including by mobilizing their forces in the United States in order to erect barricades on its way. These efforts went so far that even the Israeli prime minister was invited to the United States by the US Congress and in spite of the negative view of the US administration, and addressed the Congress against the policies of the US administration. Of course, although this was the biggest failure for the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States, it was not unprecedented. A few years ago, the same lobby had failed to prevent Chuck Hagel from becoming the US secretary of defense. Some analysts maintain that such instances are indicative of the weakening position of the Israeli regime and its lobby in Washington. Unfortunately, there is a host of new reports and other evidence, which show that lobbies managed by Saudi Arabia and some other regional countries, have been also trying to prevent the success of the nuclear talks. Information released by the American media show that various groups affiliated to these countries in the United States were also taking extensive steps to cause failure of nuclear negotiations.

Key Words: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Implementation, Iran, Nuclear Industry, Sanctions, Resolution 2231, Achievements, Legal Dimensions, US, UN, New Channels, Negotiations, Marines’ Boats, Role Model, Regional Problems, Khoshroo

This article has been originally published at IranReview.org  on February 06 2016. All rights are reserved by the Original Publisher. All rights reserved by the Original Publisher.

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