2 July 2008
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE BY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF IRAN

 


Protagonists on both sides of the Iran nuclear-Power issue needed time to study the latest proposals aimed at defusing the situation, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said at a Headquarters press conference today.


“Allow the two sides time,” said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in response to correspondents’ questions.  Iran had agreed to examine the package proposed in a letter from Foreign Ministers of the 5 + 1 Group (the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) and the examination would enter the final stages soon.  The parties would then be informed of the country’s decision, as would the media.


Noting that his country had submitted its own proposals, he said the parties were engaging in a positive policy approach towards a comprehensive and multifaceted agreement.  Iran was part of a region that, due to its geopolitical and strategic position, was at the centre of global attention.  The Persian Gulf was the centre of the world’s energy supply and was also home to the largest number of tensions and crises.  For the last 30 years, Iran had been part of the solution to the region’s problems, not part of the problem.


In order to understand developments in the region, it was critically important to have a correct analysis based on correct information, he said.  Iran’s influence in Iraq, Afghanistan or Lebanon stemmed from what it had in common with those neighbouring countries in cultural, linguistic and religious terms.


He said that, from the very beginning, his country had announced its opposition to extremism in Afghanistan, for which it had paid a heavy price, as eight Iranian diplomats had been killed in that country.  The scenario for extremism had been designed many years ago through financial assistance to and training of certain groups.  Iran had also been the first country in the region to have supported developments leading to the establishment of a new Government in Iraq.  Instability in that country would not benefit Iran or the region.  Iran’s policy approach was “completely transparent, rational, fair and non-interfering”.


Iran had announced that it would support the stabilization of oil prices, he said, noting that oil-producing countries had announced that they would increase production.  It was interesting, however, to see that, despite an increase in production and a decrease in demand, oil prices were still rising, partly as a result of the diminishing value of the dollar, but also because of activities behind the scene, such as speculation.  Producers and consumers should cooperate in identifying speculators.  The world was also facing a food price crisis, not because of a lack of supplies, but because of unfair distribution.  The price of oil should fit into a larger formula that also took the food crisis into account.


Whether formally or unofficially, United States officials had expressed interest in opening an “interests section” in Iran, he said, noting that the interests of the large Iranian community in the United States were served by a section of the Embassy of Pakistan.  Iran was interested in United States academics, athletes, tourists and citizens from other sectors visiting the country.  It had issued 120 visas to members of the United States media, but the gesture had not, unfortunately, been reciprocated.  Last year, Iran had proposed direct flights to the United States.  That and the proposed establishment of a United States interests section in Iran could be examined by both countries.


As for threats against his country, he said that, over the past year, the news media had concentrated on an “imminent attack” on Iran at least four times.  Officials had even been given specifics of such attacks, which could be considered psychological warfare.  Following repeated defeats in the Middle East, the United States was not in a position to impose another war on its taxpayers.


“Until next January, we do not predict the possibility of another war in the Persian Gulf region,” he said, adding that Israel was still suffering from the aftershock of its “defeat” in the 2006 war against Lebanon.  Iran did not see any chance for that regime to undertake a new adventure.  All segments of Iran’s society would defend their country’s interests, security and Islamic revolution.


Over the past 30 years, Iran had been forced to confront interference, the Minister said.  Terrorist groups had targeted Iranian officials and civilians while being supported, and in some cases residing, in Western countries.  Terrorism could not be divided into good or bad.  A terrorist attempting a terrorist act took a path not accepted by God.  Members of the group moved freely in other countries, even though Iran had demanded their extradition.  Terrorism must be condemned without double standards.


He said interference had also been attempted in the case of the 30-year-long unilateral embargo, during which Iran had achieved economic self-sufficiency.  That self-sufficiency had been proven during Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, when more than 200 European and American companies had provided Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons and state-of-the-art weaponry.


Asked about prisoner exchanges, he said that was a humanitarian issue anywhere in the world.  More than 10,000 Palestinians and Lebanese -- and perhaps even some diplomats from Iran -– had been imprisoned in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by the Israeli regime.  It was the right of the Lebanese and Palestinian people to demand freedom for their prisoners.  Four Iranian diplomats had endured almost 28 years of incarceration.


He said he did not wish to comment on the United States presidential candidates in order not to place the candidates in a difficult position.  Iran did not look at individuals or parties, but at policies implemented by the United States Government.  Some nations, such as the British and especially in Africa, desired to interfere in the elections of other countries.  However, a people’s self-determination should be carried out by that people alone.  If that perspective were adopted, there would be a better world, based on respect, recognition and legality.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record