Former Rouhani Nuclear Aide Hossein Mousavian Returns to Iran

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”.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



  1. This is an interesting piece, which adds more to the equation, leaving the guessing game to continue. Obviously, they see more than what the average information is telling. The times, they are a changing, for the better, we can hope. Assembling a strong team is what’s needed to bring about a successful climax to the issue, which will also lesson the chances of another “Clusterfuck” brought to the world by the warmongers.

  2. I tweeted your article out with this comment: ‘USA is unbelievable! We don’t catch spies hiking over our borders. We make them Professors [at Princeton, etc.]. I’m hoping U.S. will show some moxie and get 3 wrongly held U.S. Citizens (Abedini, Hekmati and Levinson) out of Iran before 7-4-14.

  3. The West is entitled to demand complete transparency from Iran to make sure that their nuclear program is not diverted to military uses. Apart from that, Iran is entitled to pursue a peaceful nuclear program (like some 40 other countries) in any way it wishes. Therefore, the bargain should be full transparency for full entitlement to a fuel cycle. Iran seems to have put together a strong team with the intention of reaching a deal with the West, now even including some hardliners to make sure that they will not spoil the deal. The inclusion of Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian in that team would be a welcome development, as he is fully conversant with the nuclear issue and due to his residence in the United States and talks with some leading Western politicians he is also well aware of Western concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

    It is time for the West to respond in kind and put an end to this unnecessary diversion in relations with Iran. There are many other points of contention between the United States and Iran, but once this phony excuse is removed one can get down to the real issues of Iran’s role in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict and, the most urgent of all, the issue of terrorism that is spreading in the Middle East and beyond. The hardliners in the West should not be allowed to spoil this opportunity.

  4. To Farhang, your comments are refreshing as always, in fact, you seem to see the bigger picture, that most don’t. Ever thought of joining the diplomatic corps? Assembling others with like vision, would run circles around most of the old guard, especially in the U.S. People to people, the key to solution[s], not the warmonger type[s] that abound today. I see the outflanking taking place in these proceedings beginning to materialize, to a peaceful conclusion I hope.

  5. To Norman, thank you for your kind comments. I believe that most people who go to politics or join the diplomatic corps are decent people with good intentions, but power corrupts. It is the allure of power and privilege that creates the illusion in them that they know better than anyone else and also makes them fall prey to special interests. I don’t think I will be immune from those temptations either. So the best thing to do is to remain on the sideline and speak our minds without any fear or favor and hope to have at least a little influence on the course of events. We are privileged to live in democratic countries where we are still free to express our views. We should use this opportunity.

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