Ayatollah Rafsanjani: Iran not seeking nuclear weapons
Iran’s head of Expediency Council has said IAEA should facilitate the negotiation process.
The first part of Mehr News exclusive interview with Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was focused on domestic issues; the second and last part shifts focus on international issues and immediate region of the Middle East, where the Ayatollah believes, there are many complicated issues. On Iran’s nuclear negotiation, Hashemi describes a good deal as securing the nation’s rights; “we are a member of the IAEA and by virtue of the membership, we are entitled to their help,” adds Hashemi, highlighting the fatwa by the Leader of the Islamic Republic officially banning acquiring of nuclear weapons; “the fatwa would definitely make clear that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons; otherwise, Leader would issue a political statement instead of issuing a fatwa; the Leader’s whole prestige and authority would guarantee the fact that Iran will not go for nuclear weapons,” he told Mehr News interviewers.
“The public turnout works well in changing the world’s view of the country; the high turnout would translate into the solid background of the system; they would take the nation seriously, since they notice that Iranians would not remain indifferent to their country’s affairs,” Hashemi Rafsanjani emphasized, “the turnout communicate positive messages to the outside world; for example, such turnout was conspicuous in Arbaeen ritual in Iraq few months ago, which drastically changed the image the world had from the Shia ritual altogether,” he noted.
“In nuclear negotiations, we believe the national rights should be a prime cause; we are a member of IAEA and according to the privileges by the very membership, all countries have the right to peaceful nuclear technology; as I said before, we do not seek military applications of the nuclear technology; reports by the opposition and MEK (aka MKO) would add to the sensitivities in the west, raising doubts as to our intensions.”
“The current deal is good; a bad deal is that which ignores our rights or simply denies us our rights; even a little excess in their [5+1] trespassing to territory of our rights is not tolerated as bad; the Leader’s position has been clear enough on the bad or good deal; the US and Israel would conceive of the bad or good deal differently than we do; they consider a good deal one which would asuure no evidence would prove that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons; on the other side, we see the situation as denying our rights; these differences are quite understandable.”
“The relations with Saudi Arabia have never been worse; the sermons made by Friday Prayer imams have even aggravated the already tense situation in Iran-Saudi Arabia relations; before Revolution [of 1979] two countries developed rivalry in oil and other issues; after the Revolution, Saudi Arabia feared us, especially when they heard our motto of exporting the Revolution; they feared the minority Shias in their country and Sunni-majority countries in the region; they supported Saddam Hussein during the war, and severed the relations especially the Hajj pilgrimage. It was during my term in presidency which came a period of détente, when I remembered a decree by Imam Khomeini (RA) who demanded that the Hajj pilgrimage be made to Saudi Arabia, since we are Muslims and the most important ritual in Islam was Hajj.”
“Now, Iran and Saudi Arabia have many issues to solve in their geographical sphere of influence in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and even in regard to Israel; we do not believe that the Zionist regime would keep the status quo; I believe Iran and Saudi Arabia could go along with each other in the region; the harmony between two countries would solve many issues automatically; we are not seeking gains in Syria, Iraq, and Bahrain. The one country’s concerns are another country’s conflicting position in their sphere of influence. Saudi Arabia is essentially a Wahhabist country formed by the revolution (if ever it could be said as such) of Abdul Aziz, and his followers have remained committed to their revolution; however, we as Shias, have our own specific problems. Once friends, we came to a general agreement that we should leave ideological issues to clerics, and should run the country as statesmen; I think if Iran and Saudi Arabia manage a convergence of positions, terrorism would be defeated; now, ISIL has extended influence outside Syria and Iraq. Commissions made by the two countries would address issue of discord through understanding, which King Abdullah and I had agreed to make. The thing was possible.”
“In Afghanistan, Mujahedeen, either Shia or Sunni, fought and defeated the former Soviet. The success was for both countries; however, the problems surfaced as seeking shares in the Afghan local government; these two countries have the capability to solve all problems in the region, provided they work together.”
“I have only dim hope for the region to find stability; the ISIL now is a considerable force in Iraq and Syria, now ruling over an area as large as the size of the Great Britain. They are definitely supported by some powers behind the scenes; otherwise, their operations would be limited to few suicide attacks and blast here and there; also in Yemen, Al-Qaeda and Sunnis are the majority and the situation is tense.”
“[Revolutionaries] in Yemen are adjacent to Saudi Arabian southern borders and the kingdom fears Houthis possible takeover of the Yemeni government. The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council met in an emergency to agree on a military intervention in Yemen; now, I fear civil war in Yemen. The UN Security Council’s resolution was reportedly vetoed by Russia. There have been reports that a Russian ship carrying arms for Houthis in Yemen has docked in Yemeni waters; this is quite a novel situation.”
“The current conditions in the region would only be solved through developing a broad vista and cooperative spirit; for a fresh start, Pakistan and Afghanistan should be in the forefront for a solution to complex problems of sectarian strife.”