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Cablegate: Iranian Official Statements On the Nuclear Issue

VZCZCXRO3534
RR RUEHBC RUEHKUK
DE RUEHDE #4047/01 1791638
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281638Z JUN 06
FM AMCONSUL DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1848
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 1595
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 4821

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBAI 004047

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/IR; ISN/RA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IR ZP PGOV PREL KNNP
SUBJECT: IRANIAN OFFICIAL STATEMENTS ON THE NUCLEAR ISSUE


DUBAI 00004047 001.2 OF 002


1.(SBU) Summary: Iranian officials and government-run media
reports present a range of outlooks on the nuclear issue, from
pessimistic to hopeful. The negative comments assert that the
ultimate goal of the US is the overthrow of the Iranian
government, regardless of outcome of the nuclear issue. While
most statements reflect a degree of satisfaction with the US
diplomatic overture, there is criticism of the proposal's
requirement for enrichment suspension and of the West's demand
for a response. All interlocutors continue to deny Iran is
seeking a nuclear weapon. They remain ambiguous on Iran's
willingness to use oil as a weapon, not ruling it out as an
option. The absence of a formal response to the P5-1 package may
be an indication that the Iranian government has not yet reached
consensus on an approach, or it may reflect a strategy to try to
gain leverage in negotiations, or a combination of both. End
Summary.

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On Negotiations with the US
---------------------------

2.(U) Supreme Leader Khamenei said on June 27 that negotiating
with America does not benefit Iran, Iranians do not need
negotiations, and that Iran will not negotiate on its right to
use nuclear technology. "However, if they (presumably the US)
recognize this right for us, we are prepared to talk about
international controls, supervision and guarantees, and the
grounds for such negotiations have been prepared."

3.(U) Foreign Minister Mottaki spoke positively about both the
P5-1 proposal and Iran's position in recent interviews. In
reporting of meetings with Turkish Foreign Minister Gul, Mottaki
was quoted saying the proposal had positive points but also
ambiguities. He indicated Iran would study the nuclear package
carefully and seriously and that Iran would not accept deadlines
for a reply or preconditions for a meeting. He said P5-1
decision-making meetings without Iran would jeopardize the
positive process and stressed negotiations with Europe more than
with the US. He emphasized Iran's support from the Non-Aligned
Movement and (unidentified) Islamic countries.

4.(U) Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani also emphasized
positive developments in the negotiations, remarking on the
relative calm that has followed the "European" proposal package.
On June 23, he stated -- in interviews and in Friday prayers --
that the grounds for negotiations are set, and the parties
should try to build trust and solve the problems through
negotiation. Rafsanjani maintained this positive outlook in
later interviews when he said dialogue and peace were keys to
the nuclear problem. He reiterated Iran wanted nuclear
technology for peaceful purposes.

5.(U) Government Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said June 26
that the current global atmosphere was conducive to reaching a
diplomatic settlement.

6.(U) In a series of interviews, Ali Larijani, Iran's chief
nuclear negotiator, indicated that the P5-1 nuclear package is a
positive overture. Iran would respond as soon as possible and
experts were working hard on counter-proposals. He also said
Iran wants to solve the issue in a rational way. Allies of both
sides (Iran and the P5-1 countries) can serve as good mediators
for solving the issue, and both sides could come up with a
mutually beneficial agreement.

On US intentions
----------------

7.(U) Larijani on June 23 accused the US of seeking regime
change, regardless of the outcome of the nuclear crisis. He
called the USG's request for USD75 million to promote democracy
in Iran a strategy to overthrow the government.

8.(U) President Ahmadinejad praised the recent calm in the
political environment, while emphasizing that Iran is used to
sacrifice and can live under hard conditions if necessary. In
several public gatherings, he emphasized the need for Iranians
to join together in national unity and persevere through
whatever hardship foreign powers may inflict on them.

9.(U) A commentary June 25 in conservative newspaper Resalat
argued that the US was trying to lead the negotiations into a
deadlock in order to precipitate a crisis.

On Enrichment Suspension
------------------------

DUBAI 00004047 002.2 OF 002

10.(U) In a survey of political figures and analysts this week
by Mehr News Agency, most respondents believed Iran should
either not accept suspension preconditions or only accept
suspensions during the talks. There was general consensus that
Iran should negotiate with the West, and that recent political
developments were somewhat positive, although ambiguous. Foreign
Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi on June 26 denied reports
that Iran would suspend enrichment for three months, saying such
a move would be a "step backwards."

11.(U) The Resalat commentary referenced above asserted that the
nuclear proposal must recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium
on its own soil.

On Nuclear Weapons
------------------

12.(U) Almost all official statements include the standard
refrain that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, only nuclear
energy. The reasons given why Iran is not pursuing a weapons
program range from the desire to have a nuclear-free Middle East
-- usually a pointed jab at Israel -- to the assertion that
nuclear weapons are un-Islamic. The justification for the
nuclear program is the need to fulfill rising energy demands. In
a June 27 interview, the Minister of Science, Research, and
Technology, Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, accused Western powers of
imposing a "scientific apartheid" on Iran to prevent it from
developing new technologies. Mottaki, Larijani, and other
officials echoed his comments.

Oil as a Weapon?
----------------

13.(U) Larijani on June 23 denied reports that Iran would block
oil routes in the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions or force were
imposed. Elham said June 26 that the government would not use
oil as a weapon, unless the country's interests came under
attack.

14.(SBU) Comment: The somewhat discordant messages among the top
officials of the government may be a strong signal that there is
a lack of agreement on which path to pursue in the negotiations.
Ahmadinejad's declaration that Iran would respond by August 22
may indicate officials are not yet close to a compromise. At
the same time, there may be a deliberate strategy not to commit
in order to try to get the upper-hand in negotiations and to
prove it will not submit to pressure.

15.(SBU) Comment continued: Although Iranian officials did not
specify which "allies" they believe can help the negotiation
process, the extensive coverage in the Iranian press on Gul's
recent meetings in Tehran may indicate that Iran views Turkey as
a good candidate for mediation.
BURNS

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