In this Idea Exchange, Iranian ambassador Gholamreza Ansari says Tehran achieved what it wanted to in the Geneva nuclear deal. Promising commitment to the pipeline project, the ambassador adds the only solution to terrorism is economic cooperation. The session was moderated by Shubhajit Roy of The Indian Express
Shubhajit Roy: On November 24, Iran signed a historic nuclear deal with six major world powers. What made Iran come to Geneva, and what is the future of the country?
People are saying that Iran came to Geneva because of the sanctions and military threats. Let me go into the history of the issue and compare to 2003... Afghanistan had been attacked by the Americans. After Afghanistan, we were blamed. We received offers from Europeans saying they were ready for some settlement and we were told they would respect our rights according to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). In those days, we just had 164 centrifuges and, sometimes, when we talked about yellowcake (uranium oxide), it was amazing for everybody that Iran was capable of it. It was very difficult for people to believe that. We respected the offers and came to some sort of negotiation. In the end, we found that they are not respecting our rights...
Now, there is a completely new situation in the region. We have had an Islamic awakening, the Arab Spring. The kings are very shaky. From the economic point of view, the oil price is the highest in history—around 100 dollars a barrel. We have high revenues from oil and now, even if we are facing sanctions, everyone knows our capabilities in aerospace, biotechnology and computer science... We have more than 9,000 centrifuges now.
If you go into what we have signed in Geneva, you will understand the capabilities of Iran. We have had very successful elections. More than 73% of the population took part in the elections, which were peaceful and accepted by everybody, whether friends of Iran or against it. (Hassan) Rouhani came to office with a completely new approach—constructive, cooperative, confidence-building measures—and this new approach took us to Geneva.
It was not because of the American sanctions and military threats but because, comparing 2003 to 2013, we are in a completely new situation. Everyone knows what is going on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Africa and Syria, all these countries surrounding Iran and the Middle East. Everybody tells us that military threat is quite constant. Sanctions