JOHN HOCKENBERRY, for The Takeaway: Good morning,
ALI ASGHAR SOLTANIEH, Iranian ambassador to the IAEA: Good morning, pleasure to be with
HOCKENBERRY: So, Ambassador, it seems to be pretty
straightforward, the disclosure by the Iranian government of the second
uranium enrichment plant; I gather you're going to allow inspectors,
SOLTANIEH: Yes, I wrote a letter on the 21st of
September and delivered it to [the IAEA] Director General and announced
to him about this new, second enrichment plant, and then, of course, had
a meeting with the D-G and other officials, we are planning for
inspections, because we are going to put under the fullest safeguard of
the IAEA, for sure.
HOCKENBERRY: Okay, Mr. Ambassador, when can we expect
inspectors to be allowed into Iran to take a look at the second facility?
SOLTANIEH: This is just a matter of normal procedure by
the IAEA, because normally, when you announce about a facility, according
to our obligation, you know, that all members parties to NPT
[Non-Proliferation Treaty] that have safeguard agreement under the
document 153 have to report six months before they put nuclear materials
inside. In fact, we have informed them much sooner than we were obliged,
and so the agency will consider it and will plan whenever these
inspectors are appropriate for them, and then we will arrange both
HOCKENBERRY: Right, but let's just note, though, that
the plant was a secret for quite some time. I just want to be clear on
this: it's your belief and your contention that when Iran sits down on
October 1st with the U.S. and other foreign governments who have demanded
that international inspectors be allowed to look at this new facility,
that Iran is going to agree, to concede that inspectors will be allowed
in whenever they want.
SOLTANIEH: Look, we have to distinguish between these
two. We will not listen to anyone to dictate to us. We have obligations
as members of the IAEA, we have obligations because we are parties to
NPT, and we will do our responsibility. It is not a matter for anyone
from New York or somewhere else to dictate to us what to do. We are doing
it: We have been fully cooperating and all our nuclear installations are
under 24-hour cameras of the IAEA, and this installation also, that we
have announced, will be. It is a pity that they are talking about
'secret' plans or deception or concealment. This is very normal, all over
the world, when they make a nuclear facilities, there are a process of
civilian construction, but before they put nuclear materials, they are
informed to tell the IAEA where it is and what kind of locations they
are, and what kind of facilities they are.
HOCKENBERRY: [crosstalk] But let's be clear, when you
break ground on a factory, there's a ribbon-cutting ceremony. When you
break ground on a uranium reprocessing facility, you keep it secret,
isn't that true?
SOLTANIEH: Just a moment. I have already said in my
letter to Director General that starting with the concerns, security
concerns, yes, because we have been continuously under threat of attack
by the Israeli regime and also the Bush administration several times, and
we have documented all these threats in the United Nations and the IAEA.
Therefore we have to be very careful to have these sensitive activities
under the IAEA safeguard, but to be fully protected from any attack, yes,
you're right, that's why we [crosstalk] ... put in the right place.
HOCKENBERRY: Alright, let's talk about the suggestion
that Iran might be under attack from Israel and others. Does it make your
job harder or easier, as a nuclear ambassador ... an ambassador to the
IAEA, that your government is firing off long-range missiles this
morning, two days before these talks on nuclear policy?
SOLTANIEH: Well, let's distinguish the fact that, first
of all, if is there is any manuevering or any ... as it was said
officially, it's not the domain of my responsibility. This is, of course,
self-defensive as any country would do that. There is no international
convention banning that. That was another matter. Regarding the nuclear
activities, of course there is a concern, not only Iran's concern, an
international concern, last week in the general conference of the IAEA,
after 20 years, if Iran made an initiative for protection and prohibition
of any armed attack and threat of attack on its nuclear installations,
and it was unanimously adapted. It means that this is the concern of
international community, because [unclear] consequences of any attack. It
has been always a concern, yes, but at the same time, we have always said
that we are always committed to working with the the international
community. That is why we brought that concern to the IAEA, and it was
supported by all the members of the IAEA.
HOCKENBERRY: But Ambassador, can I get a little clarity
on this threat -- are you saying that Iran is threatened by attacks from
Israel, or that Iran's nuclear facility is threatened? Those are two
SOLTANIEH: Iran's nuclear activities have been
threatened by Israel several times, the statements are there, and even
during the Bush administration, and I have recorded these and reflected
them to the Director General of the IAEA and even recorded this one in
the United Nations, therefore this is a matter of concern -- [crosstalk]
however, this by no means means that we will stop our nuclear activities.
They will continue without interruption, but everything under IAEA.
HOCKENBERRY: Okay, Ambassador, I totally understand
that. So why not simply have the inspectors come in and prove to the
world that these are civilian nuclear facilities and any attack is
SOLTANIEH: That is exactly what we are doing! The
enrichment facility is under 24-hours cameras and also unannounced
inspections of the IAEA! Over 100 unannounced inspections have been made.
That is working and doing the enrichment. And this facility, as I have
said, before anyone dictates to us: I have already announced to the
agency and we are planning for the inspection. And everything will be,
and this new facility will be, under fullest of safeguard of IAEA. We
have already done so! Therefore that is what I'm saying, that this hasty,
hostile reaction in Pittsburgh was very [unclear] reaction and rather
than welcoming Iran's gesture to inform well in advance, they just
discouraged us. We could have informed after the meeting of the 1st of
October, but we wanted to be transparent, cooperative, and in fact create
conducive environment for the meeting. That is why we are very
discouraged, and this is very unfortunate that they should appreciate,
and in fact I have a letter from the IAEA, has welcomed this
announcement, and now we are arranging to have the inspection, and it
will be under the IAEA fullest of safeguards.
HOCKENBERRY: Ambassador, I have to say I'm encouraged,
because it sounds like from what you're saying, there will be a lot of
agreement when negotiators sit down on October 1st, at least on the issue
of inspections of this uranium enrichment facility. Ambassador Ali Asghar
Soltanieh is the ambassador to the IAEA, in Vienna. Thank you,