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”.

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Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



  1. Very interesting but I find Mousavian an enigmatic figure. My concern about him is exactly the opposite of that expressed by Daniel Barrett. Not that he is an Iranian “spy” but that he is a Trojan horse.
    His being embraced without reserves by the US and ease in obtaining a prestigious academic appointment upon arrival, and his political provenance (Rafsanjani circle tied to murky dealings in the Iran Contra affair), as well as his return at this critical juncture make him someone to watch.
    I don’t know what info Daniel Barrett has that makes him sure the three spies are “wrongfully held” in Iran. As an American I I’d rather like to see the American government show more “moxie” in grabbing and rightfully holding the AIPAC spies who got away with spying on the US for Israel.

  2. Hmmmm….Ariadna is an ‘American’ who is pro-Iran and anti-Israel. And introduces the counter-spy theory. You folks are better at chess, so I’ll let you debate that by yourself. Most ‘Americans’ once we get here are just that: plain vanilla Americans. Not German-Americans sympathetic to the Kaiser or Russian-Americans sympathetic to … well you get it. We meld in…or try to.

    As far as my information about the 3 spies wrongly held in Iran today (in deplorable, death-inducing conditions, as opposed to Gitmo where they get Korans, clean clothes and bedding, culturally sensitive meals, exercise yard, TV and a great view of the sea) I take the time to read. At least 2 of them held by Iran, one a Christian Pastor-spy and the other a grandmother visiting-spy are as much spies as the 3 hikers in 2009 who perhaps were not even on Iranian soil in the far north wilderness!

    America is the most open society in the world where someone from deepest Africa or central China could land at JFK and after going through customs and is on the street, we don’t give a second look or thought. All are welcome, IF they behave themselves. If they go through 7 or 8 rice cookers per year, that might get our attention. Everyone can take all the pictures they want of our bridges and skyscrapers, including the new Freedom Tower, and nobody cares. In Iran, taking one ‘wrong’ photo can land you in prison with a death sentence! And yes, if you ask politely, we will even make your nuclear bomb building-spies a professor or researcher or intern here too. Which Ivy League school do you want?

    We are either that kind or that stupid. If you want to say stupid, I will agree. If you want to say kind, I will agree also. Democracy isn’t always pretty, but it’s the best. Look, we even have free speech on the internet as long as you don’t plot against the country!

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