Iran's Chief Nuclear Negotiator: 'We Welcome New Sanctions'

Saeed Jalili, general secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and the country's chief nuclear negotiator, talks to SPIEGEL about Iran's nuclear program, the prospects for this week's talks in Geneva and why Iran is not afraid of new sanctions.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Jalili, the West is expecting compromise from Tehran on the nuclear issue. What offers of compromise will you be bringing to the talks with the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, which begin in Switzerland on Oct. 1?

Saeed Jalili: In the name of God the merciful, let me clarify this -- the problem of nuclear weapons is a concern shared by all humanity. We have drawn up a position paper for the talks, which also addresses the nuclear issue.

SPIEGEL: But only in passing, in just part of one sentence out of a total of five pages.

Jalili: In order to make true progress, however, we need to agree on principles of justice, democracy and multilateralism. I believe we have more in common on international matters than some people think, for example in the fight against terrorism, like in Afghanistan. It would certainly have made more sense if NATO had sent tractors there instead of tanks. Terrorists cannot be defeated simply through the use of ever-increasing force. The best chance of winning the war against terror is through civilian reconstruction aid.

SPIEGEL: Iran and the West can agree on the fact that the Taliban are their common enemy. But while you see the Palestinian group Hamas as a legitimate liberation movement, the United States and Europe consider it a terrorist organization.

Jalili: You see, this is precisely why we need to sit down together and agree on common definitions.

SPIEGEL: How would that work?

Jalili: On some points of contention, we will be able to reach an agreement or come closer together in our positions. With others, it probably won't be possible.

SPIEGEL: In your position paper, you call for a "reorganization of the United Nations" and "collective management for environmental matters." With all due respect, that's not what this is all about -- it's about Iran's potential nuclear bomb.

Jalili: You're setting the wrong priorities. It is not us who are the danger, but rather the other powers which have already possessed nuclear weapons for a long time. We want all nuclear powers to disarm, as they called for in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We're calling for an "Axis of Negotiations"…

SPIEGEL: … a clear allusion to former US President George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil," which Bush considered Iran to be part of, together with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. But, if you'll pardon our saying so, you've been talking about everything but Iran's nuclear program.

Jalili: But how do the fears in relation to the program arise? Who creates this atmosphere? The media in the US and Europe are irresponsibly playing on people's fears. Take the alleged threat of Iranian missiles, for example. For years, Washington wanted to set up a missile shield in Eastern Europe. Now President Barack Obama has determined that the threat doesn't exist, and he's abandoned the missile shield plan…

SPIEGEL: …but instead he has announced a mobile missile defense system as an alternative.

Jalili: In any case, Europeans have seen a problem vanish into thin air overnight.

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