by Jasmin Ramsey
Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who worked with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when Rouhani was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and who has been living in the US since 2009 following dubious charges of espionage has returned to Iran, reports the New York Times.
The ambassador served as an unofficial spokesperson for the Iranian government during his stay in the US where he was a Princeton research scholar. His Dec. 19 participation in an Asia Society expert panel on the Geneva deal that included former top US diplomat Thomas Pickering and former US negotiator Robert Einhorn appears to be Mousavian’s last US public appearance.
When Rouhani was elected during Iran’s June presidential election, some wondered whether the ambassador would go back to Iran to work with the Rouhani administration. It’s not clear why he has chosen to return now — it could be that he has been called back, or that he simply feels it’s safe enough to go home now — but Mousavian said he has returned to Iran “to stay”, according to the Iranian Student News Agency.
I interviewed the ambassador at length in July 2013 following Rouhani’s election. Although Iran and world powers were at that time far from the interim agreement that was signed on Nov. 24 in Geneva, much of it seems relevant even now. Here’s an excerpt:
Q: Your article for the Cairo Review, which was written more than a month before Mr. Rouhani’s election, has generated a lot of discussion over the suggestion that one of Iran’s options is withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Is Iran seriously considering this?
A: As I reiterated in the article published by the Cairo Review, the first and most favorable option for Iran is to continue seeking a peaceful resolution to the standoff. I explained the five major demands the P5+1 [U.S., Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany] made in recent nuclear talks to prevent Iran’s breakout capability and to ensure a maximum level of transparency. Iran, in return, had two major demands: lifting sanctions and recognizing Iran’s rights under the NPT. I have also proposed that the world powers and Iran place their demands within a package, to be implemented in a step-by-step manner with proportionate reciprocation.
Withdrawing from the NPT has never been Iran’s intention. The US and Israel have initiated “all options on the table”, leaving open the possibility of a military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. This policy goes against the UN charter, the NPT, and non-proliferation, where nuclear-armed states — the U.S. and Israel — are threatening to attack Iran, a non-nuclear weapon state. Therefore, as long as the U.S. policy of “all options on the table” remains valid, Iran as a sovereign state is forced to also have “all options on the table”.