The Corner

Khatami aide admits strategy of nuclear deception

The former spokesman of the President Mohammed Khatami’s government (1997-2005) acknowledges in a debate that a goal of the reformism was to lull the West into a false confidence so that Iran could pursue illicit nuclear activities:

Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, Khatami-era government spokesman, on a panel with Mehdi Faza’eli, general secretary of the Muslim Journalist Association: “We did our outmost to prevent the case of Iran being sent to the Security Council, whose judge is the United States…. During the confidence building-era, we entered the nuclear club, and despite the suspension [of uranium enrichment] we imported all the materials needed for our nuclear activities of the country…We were not subjected to sanctions regime during the reform era, but today, even our ophthalmologists are not allowed to import laser products [needed for operations]… If we pursue the right to nuclear energy for bombs, it is clear that the world does not want this, and if we want it for electricity, they say ‘you don’t have nuclear power plants, what do you want nuclear fuel for?’ Just take a look at what the Russians have done to us in the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

With the current speed of enrichment, it will take us 25 years before we reach enrichment self-sufficiency. And who knows where we want to find nuclear fuel? And our reserves are unknown… The solution is to prove to the entire world that we want the power plants for electricity. Afterwards, we can proceed with other activities… The peak of our goal is an honorable life for the people. Do we want to become another North Korea…?

There are only two ways of coming through the current crisis. One is what Khatami did by winning the election of 1997, and the other what [he did] after September 11th, which both guarded the country against war. Today, the solution is to marginalize the Ahmadinejad government from political decision-making in the nuclear energy field, with decisions be taken elsewhere.

As long as we were not subjected to sanctions, and during our negotiations we could import technology. We should have negotiated for so long, and benefited from the atmosphere of negotiations to the extent that we could import all the technology needed. The adversary wanted the negotiations to come to a dead end and initiate a new phase. But we wanted to continue negotiations until the U.S. would be gone from the circle of negotiations. We had one overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of the activities…

We consider access to all sciences and technologies of the humankind a necessity, but we also prioritize confidence building. Today, in the field of confidence building, Japan is the most advanced country in the world, but Japan can produce a nuclear bomb in less than a week…We achieved to divide the Europeans from the Americans, but today it has come to a point that the Europeans and the Ameicans have harmonized their policies.

Thanks to former Royal Danish Defence College analyst Ali Alfoneh for finding this story in his scan of the Iranian press and providing a pre-dawn translation.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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