Iranian Diplomacy published an interview on August 17 with Javad Zarif, Iran’s new Foreign Minister. The whole thing is enlightening, but here are the parts related to the nuclear program, including a bit about the fatwa:
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.
Here’s what he had to say about bilateral talks with the United States:
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.
I’ve actually been wondering if Iran plans to deal with the non-U.S. part of the P5+1 separately. Zarif kind of addressed that issue as well:
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.