One of the slogans of the government of “prudence and hope” was the issue of moderation. How would you define moderation in the area of foreign policy?
In my opinion, moderation means realism and the creation of balance between the different needs of the country in the advancement of foreign policy and its goals in the framework of prudent and wise methods and with an appropriate dialogue. Moderation does not mean forgetting the values or leaving the principles aside. Moderation does not mean ignoring the rights of the country either. In other words, as I mentioned in my speech in the Parliament, moderation is rooted in self-belief; a person who believes in his capabilities, power, possibilities, and capacities can take steps on the path of moderation. But an individual who feels weakness and fear will generally pursue radicalism. The radicals of the world are cowards. Despite the fact that their slogans might be different, they have close and good relations with each other. Today, the world needs moderation and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a powerful country, can advance its foreign policy with moderation.
Following his inauguration and in his first press conference, the President stated that one of his major priorities is to restart nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. Do you have any new proposals for this task?
We have had numerous discussions inside the government with the President with regard to how we should pursue the nuclear rights of the country and remove the oppressive sanctions imposed upon the Islamic Republic of Iran. Our basis for work is insisting on Iran’s rights and removing the logical concerns of the international community. As the Supreme Leader and the President himself have reiterated, this is easy provided that the objective is the resolution of the nuclear issue. We believe that the resolution of the nuclear issue requires political determination, and the election of Dr. Rohani in the Islamic Republic of Iran, with his record in this dossier, indicates that the people of Iran demand the resolution of the nuclear issue at the appropriate time. We hope that this political determination for the resolution of the nuclear issue also exists on the other side. In that case, we do not have any concerns about reassuring the world of the peacefulness of our nuclear program for, based on the “fatwa” of the Supreme Leader and Iran’s strategic needs, nuclear weapons have no place in our national security and can even disrupt it.
There are rumors that the nuclear dossier might be transferred to the Foreign Ministry from the High Council of National Security. Do you confirm such speculations and is there a specific plan to transfer this dossier?
I have not heard anything about this issue. This is a decision that is within the domain of the President’s authority. Nevertheless, considering my experiences in this case, I will make efforts to help in the advancement of this issue no matter what responsibility I might have. But decisions with regard to how we should pursue the nuclear dossier and the form and framework of negotiations are made at the higher levels of our political system.
As the Rohani administration came to power, we witnessed the formation of anti-Iran movements in both the Congress and the Senate. On the other hand, in their wars of propaganda, the Israelis claim that the government in Iran has changed but the policies are the same as before. How do you intend to deal with such radicalism?
It seems that the warmongers are concerned about the reduction of problems and are trying their hardest to find an excuse to intensify the crisis. The important point is for the decision-makers in Europe and the US to comprehend the nature and goals of the warmongers well and not allow the agenda of warmongering and tension-building – through oppressive pressures on the Iranian people which have no basis in international law – to prevent the usage of opportunities which can be used to find a solution. The same radical policy shows that the radicals are cowards and are concerned about negotiation and dialogue. Through resorting to hasty and pointless methods, these people close the door on moderation and balance. And cowards usually do not achieve their political objectives.
If bilateral talks with the US are proposed on the sidelines of meetings such as the UN General Assembly or P5+1 negotiations, would you accept such a proposal?
The Supreme Leader has stated his opinion with regard to these negotiations several times. There is no issue with negotiation itself, but the question is what issues will be discussed in these talks and how much of a political determination does exist on the other side to resolve the problems. The issue is whether this political determination will take shape and whether the US administration is ready to stand against the pressure groups and prevent the radicals groups from gaining leadership of this movement. In fact, this issue is a test for the US administration to show its readiness to play a serious role in finding a solution.
Do you not consider bilateral talks between Tehran and Washington as the secret prerequisite for the improvement of relations between Iran and Europe?
I consider political determination as the prerequisite for the improvement of relations. The methods can be evaluated but what is necessary is the formation of this political determination and its practical manifestation. Different methods can then be used to advance our goals. When it is not clear whether this political determination exists or not, the extent of the efficiency of new methods is not clear either. In Iran, the election of Mr. Rohani shows that the people have decided to have constructive interaction with the world and, through his speeches and choices, Mr. Rohani has also displayed his political determination to do so. Now, what is important is for the same determination to be formed on the other side.
You are taking over the position of foreign minister at a time when the Middle East is going through a critical period. There are different ongoing crises in Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iraq. What are your priorities on regional issues?
Due to the mismanagement of certain players, which we have seen especially from outside the region during the past few years, conditions in the region are moving towards chaos and necessitate practical measures by everyone involved to contain the crisis. Fundamentalism, on one hand, and forgetting and ignoring the votes of the people, on the other, and, of course, the very clear intervention of foreign countries, have inflamed the region, the result of which is the killing of thousands of innocent people. Therefore, it is not only necessary for serious measures to be taken to end the crisis in Egypt, but the more serious need of the region and the world is for serious measures to be taken to prevent radicalism through local democratic models. I believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly after this year’s political epic, can play a significant role in this area.