Iran FM: US Must Change Policy to Improve Ties

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. (Elsa Ruiz/Asia Society)
NEW YORK, October 2, 2008 – Islamic Republic of Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called upon the United States to accept the peaceful nature of his country’s nuclear program and invited the next American administration to try a new approach to the nations’ troubled relationship.

In a breakfast conversation at the Asia Society, Mr. Mottaki reiterated that “all of Iran’s political and religious leaders have announced time and again…that WMDs have no place in our doctrine. To be more specific, atomic bombs have no place in our defensive doctrine.”

He further reinforced Iran’s position that it had answered questions posed by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) satisfactorily. He characterized the more recent round of questions posed by the IAEA as “baseless” allegations generated by the US.

Even so, Iran views the Bush administration’s decision to send Under-Secretary of State William Burns to last July’s negotiations as a step in the right direction. Given sufficient political will, Mr. Mottaki believes that "continued negotiations will reach an agreed point and then, an agreed action.”

When asked if a new American president presented an opportunity for Iran-US dialogue, Mr. Mottaki responded that the incoming administration needs to follow a new approach: "Whatever candidate becomes the next president of the US, he will have no other option than to bring about new developments in American foreign policy [and he will have to try to] reach out to other countries around the world, including the countries in the Middle East."

The conversation was moderated by Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, Vice Chairman, External Affairs, American International Group.

Reported by Michelle Nellett