|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Foreign Minister of Iran
Iran was open to continuing international dialogue, even at the summit level, on a range of issues, including security and economic matters, Manouchehr Mottaki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said as he answered correspondents’ questions this morning.
“We are not going to lose any opportunity to address these issues and to try and find comprehensive solutions to them,” Mr. Mottaki said at a Headquarters press conference as day-long talks between his country and the so-called “5+1” countries -- the five permanent Security Council members (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States) plus Germany -- were about to conclude in Geneva.
Stressing that the atmosphere of the talks in Geneva, hosted by the European Union, had been “constructive”, he said Iran had long been determined to have dialogue with the other important countries, but its proposals had previously been prejudged. This year, the reaction was markedly different.
He said that no country had high expectations for the first round of talks. He hoped, however, that the other side would have the same political will and determination to continue. Iran would maintain a constructive approach to dialogue, suggesting that different committees could be formed to cover various topics to be put into the agenda of further talks. “ Iran is willing to enhance the level of such talks up to the level of a summit meeting,” he added.
Asked how the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme would be handled at the talks, he said: “The issues discussed in Geneva are not related to the compromise of Iran’s rights in its nuclear programme or uranium enrichment,” stressing that the discussions were about very important issues that had to be addressed. “After reaching some results, we can also move to other areas and can think about them,” he added.
He supported, however, comprehensive disarmament at the international level, including the elimination of all nuclear weapons. He added that the United States missile defence system had no relation to Iran, but had to do with the Russian Federation and the United States.
Pressed further on the nuclear issue, he maintained that his country’s nuclear programme was based on its right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy and was being pursued within the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He said that the recently disclosed nuclear facility at Qum had been announced to the Agency well before Iran had been required to do so, that was, before the injection of gas into the centrifuges.
Asked if there were any other nuclear facilities that had not been disclosed, Mr. Mottaki replied: “Whatever Iran has as a nuclear site has been announced to IAEA. And the only case that was under construction was Qum and we also announced that.”
He said that the letter Iran had received from IAEA in response to the information it had provided about the Qum facility had conveyed the Agency’s appreciation for Iran’s offer to arrange a visit to the facilities.
Asked if Iran was considering a freeze of its nuclear programme in exchange for a freeze on sanctions, he recommended waiting for the outcome of today’s talks. “If we wait another 24 hours, maybe the Geneva dialogue will tell us which way they are proceeding,” he said.
Turning to questions about reported human rights violations after the recent elections, he said the elections had been extremely successful when measured by the rate of participation, with a voter turnout of 85 per cent and high vote totals for both the winners and the losers. He pointed out that European parliamentary elections had only garnered 25 per cent turnout one week before the Iranian elections.
“The election in Iran last June was one of the most glorious presidential elections ever held in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said, admitting that some people had suspicions because of the way that the election counts had been released, and those people had the right to ask questions. He maintained that there was a system to adjudicate complaints.
“Election regulations were made so that no one could change the outcome of elections,” he said, maintaining that there was a comprehensive electoral monitoring system. However, he said, the fact that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected despite international propaganda had been a surprise to many, and there were a limited number of people who were looking for trouble and wanted to create unrest. “So it was very clear how they should be dealt with,” he stated.
“Rioters were arrested and the innocent were released,” he said, adding that due legal proceedings had been followed as in other parts of the world, and that such matters should be considered impartially. If there were time, he maintained, he could discuss the active democracy that was taking shape in his country, as evidenced by the wide range of non-governmental organizations that were operating there.
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