Iran's Secretary General of the High Council for Human Rights, Mohammad Javad Larijani has said that the recent claims by the International Atomic Energy Agency against Tehran are “laughable.”
In his November 8 report on Iran's nuclear program, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano claimed... Show More >>Iran's Secretary General of the High Council for Human Rights, Mohammad Javad Larijani has said that the recent claims by the International Atomic Energy Agency against Tehran are “laughable.”
In his November 8 report on Iran's nuclear program, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano claimed that Iran had engaged in activities related to developing nuclear weapons before 2003, adding that these activities “may still be ongoing.”
Based on the report, which Iran has called "unfounded and unbalanced," the IAEA Board of Governors on Friday passed a new resolution on the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities.
The resolution voices "deep and increasing concern" over Tehran's nuclear program and also calls for Iran and the IAEA to intensify dialogue to resolve the dispute over the issue.
Larijani made the remarks in a heated television debate aired on the American channel MSNBC.
US president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Richard Haass, Mike Barnicle and John Mitchun were the other guests on the television debate.
What follows is a rough transcription of the interview:
MSNBC: Let's go to the heart of the matter when it comes to Iran, the headlines of the past week, the IAEA report found evidence of nuclear weapons program in Iran and you are quoted as saying that is “quite laughable.” Why sir?
Larijani: The reason is very simple. There is no single evidence in that. These allegations which is aired again is based on a document which was put to us four years ago based on a laptop somewhere found by United States authorities.
And at that time, four years ago, it has been discussed with the agency and the conclusion was that none of these allegations could be verified.
So by a letter it has been closed- the whole issue. Then again it has been renewed and [let me] just give you an example. A good part of this so-called document which is on the laptop, for example lecture notes that somebody presented in Brussels or at some universities. Some of them are parts of some textbook as put together with pictures, formulas, so it is totally inconclusive.
MSNBC: Let's back up. Before I send this to Richard Haass- are you saying it doesn't exist? There is no nuclear program?
Larijani: Well we have a very extensive nuclear program but not to the direction of producing arms. Our nuclear project is very extensive, very advanced. We are number one in the Middle East but we are not pursuing the nuclear armament for two basic reasons.
Number one there is a Fatwa by Ayatollah Khamenei, the leader and it is against the Islamic jurisprudence to build and use mass destructing weapons. It is Haram we call it, unlawful.
And secondly, it doesn't add to our security. It is more liability than asset for us. Our military muscle is strong enough to repel or to deter any imminent threat and this is basically very important achievement.
MSNBC: Richard Haass, put this into perspective for us. What the reports were saying and what this gentleman is saying.
Haass: Well quite frankly it is impossible to take the Iranian denial seriously. They are preposterous. The International Atomic Energy Agency taking information from all the member states in the United Nations have put together a comprehensive and extraordinarily damning report.
And what there is, is a pattern, not a single incident, a pattern over years of Iranian program to move in the direction of developing nuclear weapons.
We see a procurement mechanism to gain access to all sorts of equipment, we see all sorts of undeclared efforts to produce nuclear material now up to 20 percent well on its way to what it needs to produce a weapon, most important there is now serious evidence about the Iranian testing of the implosive device that would actually be the heart of the nuclear weapon.
So the idea that the Iranians have all these underground and undeclared facilities, that they have been misleading the International Atomic Energy Agency for years, the idea they're doing this- this oil rich country in order to produce electricity? If you believe that you seriously have to believe in the tooth fairy.
MSNBC: Sir this doesn't sound like preposterous, little pieces of information that were roaming together randomly.
Larijani: Well the whole scenes of allegation is produced and initiated by the United States. It seems there is a good machinery to produce perpetual allegation against Iran, it is not only one case.
I am telling you exactly that there are no secret programs in our nuclear program and development. Iran's transparency is far ahead of United States, far ahead of UK, far ahead of France and incomparable to Israel which is a renegade state in the sense of NPT.
Barnicle: So you allow inspectors to just come into Iran.
Larijani: The inspectors are coming to Iran periodically, the cameras are there 24 hours. This is quite obvious.
Haass: But the whole concept the way this works, just when you talk about inspectors, let's just be clear, I am sure if everyone watching this will understand, the entire international nuclear inspection effort depends upon the willingness of the country in question to cooperate fully.
This is a gentlemen's agreement. They declare their facilities that are involved in the nuclear business then the inspectors come in and look at them. If they do not declare facilities the inspectors don't give a chance and the problem is this is a gentlemen's agreement in a world where not every country is a gentleman.
So Iran quite frankly has undeclared facilities and undeclared programs which the inspectors had not had access to and the reason we only know about it is that member states, not simply the United States sir, but many, many member states of the United Nations have provided independent information to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which by the way you know and I know is not controlled by the United States.
We have fundamental differences with this agency over the years including over Iraq. We had fundamental differences and we've also had differences over Iran where we the United States felt, this agency was not being nearly tough enough. So now they have come in with an extraordinarily damning report and Iranian officials can dismiss it.
MSNBC: So if this is a gentlemen's agreement, the gentlemen certainly don't agree and sir, you seem very confident and almost as if it's funny it's interesting because we interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about this about a year ago, off camera, and he too seemed very comfortable about his position which is similar to yours.
And if you are so comfortable with your position about the lack of nuclear armament and the facilities that the IAEA is talking about, why not let inspectors completely come in? Open the door let them come in and see what you have.
Larijani: Well the mechanism that the gentleman addressed is not complete because first of all there is no single secret installment or activity which is concealed from the agency.
Secondly, two years ago we asked the agency tell us all the questions you have and he managed to put to us six groups of questions. The questions were raised by themselves not dictated by us. So one by one groups of inspectors came to Iran and we cleared them up and there is official letters from them this group has been finished then we moved to another one.
Well it doesn't make sense that every morning somebody says we guess there is some secret things done there. There should be foundation for this allegation. What do you mean the door should be open? They should ask where do you want to inspect? Did they want to inspect my bedroom or other places? I mean it doesn't make sense.
Barnicle: A few moments ago when you mentioned the nuclear programs of other nations I detected a definite edge in your voice when you mentioned the state of Israel. Do you fear an attack from the state of Israel on your nuclear facilities?
Larijani: Well I am beyond the fear. What is the difference between us and Israel? Israel has a bomb, not a member of NPT; it doesn't disclose anything to agency, nothing wrong with it. You see what the double standard is in here.
We are member of NPT, they periodically come to Iran, their cameras are there, we don't have the weapon then the whole pressure is put on us. No, not at all. We don't fear any attack from anyone. We take it serious in our calculation but we don't fear. There is a difference between that.
Mitchum: Given your tone again Sir when you talk about Israel, just a second ago why shouldn't we suspect that there would be ambitions for Iran to join the club of which Israel is a part with the nuclear arms?
Larijani: We are very advanced in the nuclear technology which is a matter of pride for us and that gentleman mentioned that we have plenty of gas and oil with all good calculations, the age of this is up to 20-25 period, 25 years from now.
It means that if we don't have it, then we should beg in front of the Western countries to light our houses and we know how bad they are treating us in this area. We are right now very happy that we have the first power plant, we know how to make the fuel. We already have more than 25 percent share of sodalite and erudite they don't give us a bit of this fuel that we need, even the twenty percent that we needed for Tehran.
Haass: It's important to keep in mind we are not talking about an established democracy that treats its own people with respect, we are talking about a country also that is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. So this is obvious and understandable concern about what Iran is doing.
Larijani: In terms of record I think United States of America is the largest and the greatest country supporting terrorism. The records of terrorist activity which is supported by the tax money of these people is enormous, I can go one by one.
Barnicle: Wait a minute. This is a free country. And part of our gift is we have the liberty and the freedom to say anything and to sound foolish, to sound absurd, to sound smart. That's absurd saying that America is the biggest terrorist nation in the world.
My question to you Sir is, you seem like a really nice guy, alright, why doesn't your country be a better neighbor?
Larijani: We have fantastic relations with all of our neighbors...
Barnicle: Really? [laughing]
Larijani: Definitely, but the policy of demonizing Iran, a very important policy which is pursued in the region- well it has its own benefit.
Barnicle But it's just in little things, like the American tourists cross the border, supposedly cross the border, you grab them, you scoop them, you hold them for months on end. Why?
Larijani: This is a very simple question I answered before; suppose the security of your people...
Barnicle You're here...
Larijani: No, I'm here with visa- It's quite different. [Suppose] The security of the United States' people, on a patrol with Mexico elsewhere they pick 3 Iranians and ask them why are you here? They say well we are just walking in the desert.
Well, with the whole hostility and suspicion which is between the two countries, you are in here to blow up somewhere definitely they will be put into jail for years if not in Guantanamo, they bring them somewhere else.
It took a lot of time that we convince- I was working on this case because they were like me from ... Berkeley. I talked with their families, managed to contact between them and their families when they were arrested- for their families to come to Iran to take the suspicion away.
This is very natural for security of people to suspect a cross bordering which is in the most volatile regional area of Iran- in which there is daily shooting over there.
Barnicle Ok. They're going to blow up the desert. What is the root? What do you think is the root of Iranian paranoia towards the United States and towards many of its neighbors?
What is the root of this paranoia? Is it the fear that we find out about your nuclear program?
Larijani: We don't have any paranoia about our neighbors. We are very suspicious of American paranoia with us. The question is what is wrong with Iran that this persistent hostility...
Barnicle: You have a track record of international terrorism.
Larijani: This is not true. We are ourselves the victim of international terrorism- terrorism in the area. Let me ask you, who was helping Al-Qaida and Taliban for years while we were at war with them in Afghanistan? The United States of America.
The money from the United States was pouring to Al-Qaida and Taliban- the idea was we should curb Iran by another religious front. Is it correct?
Haass: No it's not correct. The United States did support the Mujahidin; obviously in order to get rid of the Soviet... to say that the United States supported Al-Qaida is again preposterous- the fact is that Iran is supporting terrorism in Lebanon, it's supporting groups like Hezbollah, groups like Hamas; it is involved in Iraq; it is involved in Afghanistan.
Iran has basically become a regional power that is trying to destabilize many countries, trying to make them in some ways heavily influenced by Tehran and that is simply a fact of life- which again is one of the reasons the world is so concerned about Iranian nuclear program.
How do we know Iran will not become even more aggressive? How do we know that nuclear materials will not end in the hands of a group like Hezbollah? What do we see about Iran's track record that would lead us to believe that Iran in any way would be responsible with nuclear material?
This is a genuine concern and if you dismiss it as laughable Sir you are seriously underestimating not simply the American, not simply the Israeli, but I would suggest the world's concern over the direction your government is heading.
Larijani: The disastrous thing is the blind policy of the United States in supporting carte blanche renegade Israel which is the source of all tension in the region. If you call Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups- they are fighting to be given the permission to live. What about Israel?
Israel is involved in government sponsored terrorism. Kills anybody who thinks that it's not correct and deprives millions of people from basic tenures of life. 60 years of atrocity in that area is supported carte blanche by the US, this is even against the basic interests of that nation- they don't know it.
Mitchum:Sir do you recognize the right of Israel to exist?
Larijani: We recognize the rights of Jews, Christians and Muslims to live together in peace and tranquility- to create a racist regime in the middle of a land put the others out is like creating a small colony for the blacks and leave the rest for the whites.
Mitchum: Thank you for the answer.
Barnicle: The answer is no.
Larijani: No, the answer is not no. We respect any decision by Palestinians. We are not in a position to tell them what kind of state they [should] have. But they should be given the chance to decide.
MSNBC:This has been fascinating and a great picture window into the choices that Americans make when they're choosing their president and also a sense of what our Secretary of State and what our diplomats have to confront in dealing with when they're going out into the world and working with other countries.
It is extremely complicated and often conversations feel like they're going in circles because it's very hard to develop a common understanding or even a place where you can start engaging and I think this was an example of that. Mohammad Javad Larijani, thank you for coming on the show this morning. Show Less >>
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