Fordham Law


Iranian Ambassador Addresses US-Iranian Tensions

February 21, 2013

 
 Dr. Seyed Hossein Mousavian
The Obama administration must be willing to compromise with Iran by removing sanctions if the United States ever hopes to engage in meaningful political discourse, former Iranian ambassador to Germany, Dr. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, argued in a discussion with NBC investigative producer Bob Windrem on February 12 at Fordham Law.

The event, presented by the Center on National Security, addressed the motives behind and the possible solutions to Iran’s growing nuclear program.

Mousavian, who served as spokesman for the Iranian nuclear negotiations team from 2003–2005 and is now a visiting research scholar at Princeton University, said that the installation of new uranium enrichment centrifuges will continue if the U.S. persists in its current behavior toward Iran.

“As much as [the U.S.] increases the sanctions, we will increase our enrichment capacity,” he said, explaining that the introduction of UN resolutions and Western demands for transparency is a reaction to an over 30-year history of failed diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran.

Regarding Joe Biden’s recent comments that the U.S. would be willing to hold direct talks with Iran, Mousavian doubted the Vice President’s sincerity, saying, “The problem is not with these statements. Iranians evaluate the intentions of the U.S. administration by actions, not statements.”

According to Mousavian, the Obama administration’s punitive actions undermine U.S. government claims of wanting to ease tensions between the two countries. Mousavian added that, despite professing a wish for diplomacy, Obama has merely continued the aggressive policies of the Bush administration, with Iran now facing an economic crisis caused by “a historically unprecedented level of sanctions.”

The ambassador mentioned Iran’s cooperation with the U.S. during both the Iranian hostage crisis and the War on Terror as examples of Iranian goodwill; however, the country, argues Mousavian, has been met only with increased pressure and hostility.

Mousavian denied claims that Iran was expanding its nuclear capabilities in order to create nuclear weapons.

“If Iran decided to make a nuclear bomb today, they would be able to do it,” he said, but cited Iran’s decision not to resort to chemical warfare during the Iran-Iraq War as evidence that Iranian leadership does not wish to create weapons of mass destruction.

Mousavian explained that the creation and use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the religious beliefs of the leadership of Iran, an Islamic state.

Mousavian also expressed concern over the ongoing cyberwar between the U.S. and Iran. He said that Iran began building a cyber army to address the growing threat of cyberwarfare from Israel and the West. Iran now has one of the most powerful cyber armies in the world, an unintended development, according to Mousavian.

“That’s why [cyberwarfare] worries me, because I know the potential of the U.S. and the West, and I now understand the potential of Iranians. This is part of the nuclear issue.” he said.

Despite the chilled relations between the U.S. and Iran, the ambassador said that he is optimistic about Iran’s readiness to reach a compromise regarding the country’s nuclear program. However, he said that Iran will only strive to meet the Obama administration’s demands if the Iranian government is given the same consideration in return.