No friend of Ahmadinejad, Iranian insider still defends nuclear ambitions
June 5th, 2012
03:38 PM ET

No friend of Ahmadinejad, Iranian insider still defends nuclear ambitions

By Ashley Fantz

A former spokesman for Iran's nuclear program whose life was turned upside down when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused him of spying still vigorously defended his homeland's nuclear efforts on Tuesday.

Sayed Hossein Mousavian stressed that the West is making a mistake in believing that Iran is making a bomb, or that the country has nefarious intentions with its nuclear plan.

Mousavian, an associate research scholar at Princeton, spoke for an hour at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

He repeatedly said that the West, particularly the United States, must recognize Iran's right to build its nuclear program and that the United States and Iran would be better served if they were less suspicious of each other. He also argued that the international community should ease sanctions against Iran. Iranians "cannot give concession under pressure," he said, referring to the sanctions. Working under pressure is counter to Iranian culture, he said. A few people chuckled at that as they watched Mousavian on a closed-circuit television outside the auditorium where he addressed a packed audience.

Mousavian's lecture was well-attended, probably because it was billed as a "personal account" that would detail his experiences at the "heart of Iran's power structures before a dramatic fall from grace." He was the head of the Foreign Relations Committee of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and spokesman for Tehran's nuclear negotiating team.

On Tuesday, Mousavian's 612-page memoir, "The Iranian Nuclear Crisis," was published. But at Carnegie, Mousavian said very little about being suddenly arrested in Iran in 2007, and didn't describe a four-year ordeal in which he was pursued by Ahmadinejad for espionage. According to a Princeton press release touting Tuesday's lecture, Mousavian was tried on "charges of espionage for his opposition to the nuclear and foreign policy of the Ahmadinejad administration."

He was acquitted in two trials.

On Monday, Princeton provided a few excerpts of Mousavian's memoir. One contained a smidgen of color from his time working with Ahmadinejad.

Mousavian details a meeting with the Iranian president on July 19, 2005. The two talked in a temporary office the president was keeping in Iran's parliament. The conversation was scheduled to last 20 minutes, he writes out, but went on for two hours.

"President-elect Ahmadinejad and I discussed not only the nuclear issues but also the broader question of Iran's relations with the West," Mousavian wrote. "We did not have a single point of agreement in our basic views. I had the opportunity to hear directly about his foreign policy strategy, which was the most radical position I had ever heard from an Iranian politician since the revolution.

"He told me in clear terms that he did not care about the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) resolutions, nor the possible referral of the nuclear file to the U.N. Security Council, nor possible U.N. sanctions, nor the positions of the international community toward Iran, nor about relations with Western countries."

Ahmadinejad "would welcome" sanctions because they would be in the country's interest, "forcing" it to become more "independent and self-sufficient," Mousavian wrote.

"After this meeting I understood that Iran was bound for new confrontations regionally and internationally, and I had no doubt that President Ahmadinejad would order the start of enrichment activities without any compromise with the IAEA or international community," he wrote. "Nor did I doubt that Iran's nuclear dossier would be referred to the U.N. Security Council and that sanctions would be in place very soon."

After that meeting, Mousavian wrote, he offered to resign.

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Filed under: Ahmadinejad • Diplomacy • IAEA • Iran • Middle East • Nuclear
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Nabin

    Critics could question Clinton's crielbdiity asking, as one student did Tuesday, why the United States opposes nuclear weapons in Iran but does nothing about Israel's nuclear stockpile. And Arab commentators could note the irony of Clinton warning of a rising military dictatorship in Iran on a day when she hopscotched from one autocratic regime, Qatar, to another, Saudi Arabia. Already, many commentators have been quick to seize on that point. If Iran is indeed becoming a military dictatorship, this probably qualifies it for American aid and hugs, rather than sanctions and threats, wrote Rami Khouri, editor at large of Beirut's Daily Star. The United States has adored military dictatorships in the Arab world, especially states dominated by the shadowy world of intelligence services.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
  2. James

    There has been a huge propaganda campaign by AIPAC against Iran. Lies have been constantly served to the US public to get the US into another very very major war. The Congress and Senate are outright bought by AIPAC and the funding of election campaigns by big money.

    June 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  3. mex

    Look, Iran can do whatever it wishes. But Iran, like anybody else, needs to understand the consequences of their actions. They foolishly base their position on allah defending their actions. Look at the mid east and islamic countries in general. NOT ALL, but a significant number of them are in serious stages of military flux, and they aren't fluxing in positive directions. And I have yet to see any cosmic diety interfering. It seems like the bodies are piling up faster than you can say mohammed. Maybe that is what allah wants.....

    June 6, 2012 at 10:34 am | Reply
  4. The sound of VICTORY

    this guy had better ware a helmet & ear plugs if he wishes to defend the nuke sites

    June 6, 2012 at 1:55 am | Reply
    • glennrobert

      The US and Israel can bomb Iran at will. Then we can watch while Iran puts Saudi Arabia out of the oil business. Major Saudi targets a few hundred miles from Iran and they hate each other. The world markets will not for give us when oil starts at $300.00 a barrel and goes up from there. Why would they attack the straights of Hormuz and irritate the US navy when they also use the straights. No need to attack the US or Israel just hurt big oil.

      June 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  5. Tex

    It was a man possessing outstanding Judaic genius, and a level of uncontested holiness who enunciated the Jewish stance regarding Zionism. This charismatic individual, the Rebbe of Satmar, Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, did not mince any words. Straight to the point he called Zionism "the work of Satan", "a sacrilege" and "a blasphemy". He forbade any participation with anything even remotely associated with Zionism and said that Zionism was bound to call the wrath of G-d upon His people. He maintained this stance with unwavering bravery from the onset of Zionism whilst he was still in Hungary up until his death in New York where he lead a congregation numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Grand Rabbi Teitelbaum, scion to a legacy of holy mystics and Hassidic Masters unfortunately had his prediction fulfilled. We lost more than six million of our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in a very horrible manner. This, more than six million holy people had to experience as punishment for the Zionist stupidity. The Holocaust, he wept, was a direct result of Zionism, a punishment from G-d.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Reply
    • paul

      Idiot. The Jewish dream of re-establishing the Jewish homeland is ancient. Zionism is ancient, but only became practical in the last century. The holocaust was the result of evil men, not God. The rabbi, assuming God ordains all human events, concluded the holocaust was ordained by god as a form of punishment. He started from the wrong premise and came to the wrong conclusion. Anyhow, your point is completely off topic of this article.

      June 6, 2012 at 11:47 am | Reply
  6. Tex

    It's time to stop serving Israeli interests concerning Iran, and start being the America the world needs.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Reply
    • mex

      Tex, Israel should be supported, even in the toughest of times. Look what "being" something to the world has done. We are being driven back to western shores for the most part by technologically advancing 3rd world countries who literally and figuratively wish to eat westerners for lunch AND dinner.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
      • glennrobert

        Israel wanted us to subdue Iraq. So we did. Now they are really unhappy because we are not attacking Iran (yet). Yes we are being forced out of places where we have no legitimate interest.

        June 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  7. Oh


    June 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  8. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Nothing at all surprising here!

    Even CNN's own Mr. Fareed Zakaria has been PASSIONATELY (if not vociferously!) been defending NOT merely a peaceful Iranian nuclear program, BUT ALSO a WEAPONS Program.

    True to his style he has been trying to blunt the sharp edges of American public opinion which is overwhelmingly hostile to the Iranian quest by telling Americans that it's not all that bad!

    June 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • Tex

      That is good.

      He also needs to step up criticism of Israeli crimes when they occur.

      June 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Reply
    • glennrobert

      Let's see. What is the only nuclear armed country in the near east. Hey! You guessed it. A country of about 6 million really throws it's weight around.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Reply
      • Oladipupo

        thank you , i dont understand the votes etiher, i guess its because i have applied from the outside of the hungarian community. Kf6szf6nf6m, nem e9rtem a szavazatok sem, azt hiszem, hogy aze9rt, mert ke9rte kedvfclről a magyar kf6zf6sse9g.

        July 1, 2012 at 1:12 am |

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