Why have the Nuclear Talks in Vienna been extended to end of June 2015 and why, nevertheless, the time has come to close the nuclear file? Hossein Mousavian, former Iran’s Ambassador to Germany and former Spokesman of the Iranian nuclear negotiation team, responded to these questions on the occasion of a Political Breakfast in Berlin. The Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University met with Members of the German Bundestag, representatives of government agencies and selected think tanks. During the confidential meeting Hossein Mousavian also talked about the possible cooperation between Western and regional powers in order to stabilize the Middle East, strategic changes in the region and the common fight against the Islamic State.
In the interview that he gave to the Körber Foundation, Hossein Mousavian explains his optimism vis-a-vis a final agreement on the nuclear file and his concerns about the Middle East as a “failed region” as well as the reason why Iran can’t trust the US administration’s promise.
Seyed Hossein Mousavian, why has the negotiation round between Iran and the 5+1 states been extended on November 24?
“The reason for the extension has nothing to do with transparency and technical issues related to ‘no breakout’. Iran and the world powers have reached a common understanding on seven big issues within one year. There are two issues remaining: The first is that Russia provides uranium-packed fuel rods for the nuclear power station Bushehr. The agreement runs out in 2021 and Iran wants to provide the needed fuel itself. Based on the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) signed in November 2013, Iran would be able to provide fuel for its practical domestic needs. The second issue is lifting the sanctions. The initial agreement in JPOA was that the sanctions will be ultimately lifted after a deal is signed. In Vienna the US delegation only had authority to offer a suspension.”
What makes you optimistic that a final deal can be reached?
“The time to close the nuclear file has come: That would make it possible to turn to the real threats in the region. If the nuclear deal is done, a regional dialogue between Iran and the US could be established, and Saudi Arabia would cooperate. The big strategic change is that Sunni extreme terrorism is a threat to all. Also, the US does not go to war for oil anymore and we have Sunni-Sunni fighting in parallel to Sunni-Shia fighting.”
What are those “real threats”?
“The region is on fire. We are not far from a failed region. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya are in crisis. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has failed due to Israeli objection to the two-state solution. These are the real threats and not the Iranian nuclear issue because Iran does not have a nuclear bomb and is ready for the maximum level of transparency on its nuclear program. Iran and the world powers share huge common interests like the war on terror, fighting extremism, establishing stability in Iraq and Afghanistan, assuring security of energy, and fighting drug trafficking.”
From an Iranian point of view, what is the future scenario?
“The best scenario would be to finish a nuclear deal already in January or at the latest by June 2015. If not, the second best would be to agree on a second interim deal in which Iran accepts some measures and the EU lifts some substantive sanctions. The most realistic possibility is that the EU and UN lift the sanctions and the US a bit later. A guarantee for lifting the sanctions is vital because we are concerned about what comes next after President Obama. The Republicans and Israel have no interest in a nuclear deal. That’s why Iran can’t trust the only current US administration's promise.”
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.
- The Middle East in Disarray (video), Panel Discussion at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, Berlin, 11 November 2014
- Interview with Alireeza Moayeri (video), Berlin, 11 November 2014
- Background Discussion with Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Brussels, 1 October 2014
- 156th Bergedorf Round Table, Tehran, 13-15 June 2014
- Background Discussion with Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Berlin, 16 December 2013
- Interview with Hossein Mousavian (video), Berlin, 15 April 2013