Political Background Discussion with H.E. Ali Asghar Soltanieh

Berlin, January 19, 2010

H.E. Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met with members of the German Bundestag as well as with representatives of federal ministries, government agencies and selected think tanks to discuss the challenges and opportunities with regard to the conflict over the Iranian nuclear program. Particular emphasis was placed on the need of confidence-building measures in order to establish mutual trust between Iran and the West

Soltanieh emphasized that the Iranian nuclear programme was exclusively for civilian purposes. The attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction in general and nuclear weapons in particular had been condemned by various religious personalities in the Islamic Republic, and did not play a role in Iran’s national defence doctrine. However, Iran had a legitimate right to obtain nuclear technology and to use it for peaceful purposes, Soltanieh said. Against the background of an increasing demand for energy, the use of nuclear power was absolutely essential as far as the Islamic Republic was concerned. With regard to possible ways of resolving the dispute surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme, Soltanieh said that negotiations constituted the only constructive and promising approach capable of preventing further escalation. Furthermore, Soltanieh emphasized the necessity of a level-playing-field dialogue. This included respectful conduct and the adoption of an appropriate tone by the negotiating partners.
In the ensuing discussion some of the participants criticized the fact that Iran had not as yet managed to dispose of doubts pertaining to the civilian character of its nuclear programmes. Yet progress in the nuclear conflict could only be achieved if Iran also made a contribution to mutual confidence-building.

The Political Background Discussion with H.E. Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh continues Körber Foundation’s tradition of dialogue with Iranian representatives. This series includes the Background Discussion with Amir Mohebbian, Member of the Board and Political Editor of Resalat Daily Newspaper, Gholam Hossein Nozari, Minister of Petroleum of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Ali Ahani, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Körber Foundation regularly invites a small circle of high-ranking actors within Berlin’s foreign policy community to its Political Background Discussions. As in the Bergedorf Round Tables, the discussions take place shielded from the public, so as to enable a confidential, frank, and constructive exchange.