Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Iran, June 20, 2007

Subject(s):
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov
20 June 2007

Transcript of Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference of Foreign Ministers from Caspian States, Teheran, June 20, 2007

Question: Iran has long since been awaiting fulfillment of Russia's promises concerning the launching of the electric power generating station in Bushehr. Russia is also inviting the US to cooperate in using information from Gabala Radar Station in Azerbaijan. Is this not a cause for concern with regard to the interests of Iran in the Caspian Sea?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I want to specify this matter a little. At issue is not fulfilling the promises of Russia, but fulfilling contractual obligations, which are the contractual obligations of both countries. Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki and I discussed this question today. The Russian side reaffirmed its firm intention to completely fulfill its contractual obligations in accordance with the existing documents and the safeguards which the IAEA provides. But, I repeat it, this is a two-way street, and both sides have to honor their obligations. There is nothing that we do not understand completely on that score. We have agreed that competent agencies will soon continue contacts to ensure that the relevant agreements and contractual obligations are fully complied with.

As to the second question about Gabala Radar Station, I think that you are under the influence of what was previously customary to call "western propaganda." As Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said in public, which was reconfirmed during his preliminary consultations with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, we perceive no threat from Iran. We do not understand why to justify construction of elements of a US missile defense system in Europe they should be using a thesis about a threat from Iran. We have repeatedly adduced facts, assessments, and professional estimates showing that there is no such threat, which President Putin particularly emphasized. If the American side has suspicions about the presence of any such threat, they can easily be removed by the real-time use of information from Gabala Radar Station. Today I told my friend and colleague, Mr. Mottaki, as well as the President of Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad, about this. My firm impression is that our explanation was received with full understanding.

Question: Don't you think that adopting a resolution by the UN Security Council is not a solution to the question of the Iranian nuclear program? As Mohamed ElBaradei has suggested, it is necessary to acknowledge the realities and progress achieved under the nuclear program of Iran.

Foreign Minister Lavrov: The UN Security Council resolutions began to be passed after the IAEA Director General had reported that his possibilities to continue clarifying the several specific issues still outstanding were exhausted. We are convinced that in any case this question must be tackled on the basis of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA. UN Security Council resolutions are not an aim in itself. They are designed to give support to the IAEA. Today we in contacts with our Iranian friends welcomed the readiness of the Iranian side to clarify the questions which the IAEA still has.

As to the well-known position of ElBaradei, which he voiced not so long ago, we respect his professional assessments. In all our steps in determining approaches towards talks with Iran, we insist on his assessments, which are the only assessments by independent professional experts, being taken full account of. That's the basis from which we will continue to proceed.

Question: Can we expect a summit of the Caspian nations this year?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Firstly I will add to what Mr. Iranian Foreign Minister said about Gabala Radar Station. We absolutely do not want a renewal of the arms race. That is why we state our position regarding plans to deploy a third US missile defense position area in Europe honestly and frankly. The offer of Russian President Putin, agreed with Azerbaijani President Aliyev, to use information from the radar station that has already been operating for several decades, is aimed precisely at confirming the absence of a need to deploy that third position area because there are no reasons for that. Of course, we are getting ready for the further discussion of Putin's offer during his meeting with US President George Bush in the state of Main on July 1-2.

As to the question whether we are going