Khatami-era Nuclear Negotiator Explains why Iran doesn’t want the bomb

According to Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian, the spokesperson for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team (2003-2005) and now a visiting scholar at Princeton University, an Iranian nuclear weapon “would provide only a short-term regional advantage that would turn into a longer-term vulnerability”.

Arrested for apparently politically motivated reasons during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency, Mousavian has become an important source for many in Washington who want to gauge regime thinking.

Among Mousavian’s top 10 reasons for why Iran doesn’t want a bomb is the desire to avoid North Korea-level isolation and regime survival:

9. Deterrence: A major accusation levied against Iran is that once it acquires nuclear weapons, it will use it against the United States and Israel. This makes no rational sense, since any provocation by Iran against two states that possess thousands and hundreds of nuclear weapons respectively would result in Iran’s total annihilation. Iran has publicly acknowledged this fact.

As always, Mousavian concludes by listing the terms that Iran could agree to for a negotiated settlement over its nuclear program:

Tehran would only accept a deal in which the P5+1 recognizes Iran’s legitimate rights of enrichment under the NPT and gradually lifts the sanctions. In return, to assuage Western worries, Iran would operationalize Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa banning nuclear arms, implement the Additional Protocol and the Subsidiary Arrangements (Code 3.1), and cooperate with the IAEA to resolve technical ambiguities and its worries about possible military dimensions. It would also export its enriched uranium stockpile beyond domestic consumption or convert it to fuel rods, cap enrichment at 5 percent, and establish a multilateral consortium for enrichment in Iran.

This package can guarantee Iran’s legitimate NPT rights of enrichment while ensuring that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state forever.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.