Iran says nuclear deal could have been done long ago

Nuclear weapon use ‘unthinkable’ under Islam, says deputy foreign minister

Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi: “Nuclear weapons are against our Islamic teachings.” Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi: “Nuclear weapons are against our Islamic teachings.” Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images


The use of nuclear weapons is unthinkable under Islamic teaching and the current arrangement with the United States and other powers could have been concluded years ago, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi has said.

In a wide-ranging interview with journalists from Ireland at the ministry of foreign affairs in the Iranian capital yesterday, Dr Araghchi also said he would welcome the reopening of the Irish Embassy in Tehran, which closed two years ago.

Dr Araghchi, who is a key figure in current Iranian politics, was speaking after a lengthy debate with parliamentarians on the nuclear deal.

“I spent at least three hours in the parliament answering many different questions and criticisms. A good number of them are not satisfied with the current plan of action, they think it is not balanced,” he said.

This week saw the beginning of implementation of a nuclear accord negotiated last November with the US and five other world powers for the relief of sanctions on Iran in return for limits to that country’s nuclear development programme.

Dr Araghchi is also aware of opposition to the arrangement in the US: “It seems that lobbies from our own region are very active now – different lobbies.” But the minister added that the nuclear controversy was an “unnecessary crisis”.

“We believe that this agreement and the comprehensive solution – if, hopefully, we can get that – would be very helpful for the security and stability of the region, because it removes one of the most important sources of tension,” he said. He pointed out that in the past three decades there had been “at least 10 wars” in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region.

‘Invited and then disinvited’
On the Syrian conflict, he said Iran had been “invited and then disinvited” to the peace talks in Geneva.

When asked if he was annoyed about the withdrawal of the invitation to Iran, he replied: “Well, we are confused, because on the one side, all of them recognise that Iran is important, Iran can play a very important role, Iran is influential.

“But at the same time they in fact follow the desires of some specific parties to this conflict, those who have actually caused this terrible situation in Syria, those who encouraged and supported terrorist groups in Syria.”

Describing the decision to drop Iran from the list of participants as “strange”, he said: “It would lead us to think that maybe there is not a sincere desire to resolve this problem.”

Turning to the nuclear deal with the US and other powers he said it could have been concluded years earlier, adding: “It’s a fact that Iran does not want nuclear weapons.”

Such weapons were not part of Iran’s security calculations: “Nuclear weapons are against our Islamic teachings.”

He added that Islamic teachings laid down that weapons of mass destruction are “something that you cannot even think about”.

In addition to that, such weapons had no practical value: “We don’t think that they can add to our security.”

There was no use for these weapons nowadays: “The nature of threats has changed. How can we fight terrorism, for example, using nuclear weapons?”

‘Lack of trust’
The current stand-off had developed because of a “lack of trust” between Iran and the other powers, he added.

“What President [Hassan] Rouhani has done, after his election, is to change the approach, going for a ‘win-win’ situation. So we entered into negotiations with this new approach and we tried to have a common objective.

“We told them that what we want is only our peaceful programme, in the framework of the non-proliferation treaty, including enrichment for peaceful purposes – to the limit – and of course we want no sanctions. If we come to that destination, we are satisfied.”

He continued: “This is our win. So what is their win? They told us: ‘We are only concerned about the nuclear weapons.’”

Dr Araghchi added: “We agreed on this final destination for negotiations, that we come to a place where Iran enjoys its rights for peaceful use of nuclear technology including enrichment, there are no sanctions, and there are no weapons.

“In this situation, everybody is satisfied, everybody is happy and everybody has won.”

On the Irish Embassy to Iran, which was closed in 2012, Dr Araghchi said: “I would certainly welcome having an Irish Embassy in Tehran. We learned that this has not anything to do with political affairs, but just a question of budget, so we would certainly welcome your embassy in Tehran being reopened.”