Council on Foreign Relations on Monday hosted an on-the-record meeting in New York with Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Below are some of the points he made during the event, which was moderated by New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright. The text was provided by CFR.
On whether Iran with a nuclear bomb would mean regional stability: “No, no…Had Iran chosen to go nuclear in the sense of weaponization…it would attract more threats and invite more threats from the other side. Because suppose we wanted to go nuclear and manufacture one or two rudimentary bombs, who is on the other side? It’s not India and Pakistan. Seemingly, it is Iran and the U.S.”
Salehi himself posed the question whether any “rational” country, including Iran, would think to challenge the U.S., and then answered: “Certainly not.”
On the progress of Iran nuclear talks: “Each time that the two sides came close to some kind of understanding, mutual understanding, somehow it was disrupted…a phantom-third party has disrupted this. But we have not lost hope.”
On regime change in Syria: “We wish [the Syrian government] had taken a better position…in the outbreak of the uprising. There were some mistakes committed, but this does not justify in any way interference from outside. We are not in a position…we never think, ever, to tell the president of a country, ‘please step down.’”
On a question about Syria potentially using chemical weapons in the current conflict: “If a country, any country, including Iran, uses weapons of mass destruction, that is the end of the validity, eligibility, legality of that government…It is something that is not at all acceptable. Therefore, if your hypothesis, God forbid, ever materializes, I think nobody can justify it anymore; Nobody can go along with anybody who has been involved in such …inhuman acts.”
File photo: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (AFP)