President Mohammad Khatami
Q&A Session

Question by Raj Chengappa:

Today Iran is facing international isolation over its nuclear ambition and is on the path of confrontation with a world again, if you were the President today, how would you guide your country through these troubled times and also what is your advice to the world.

The nuclear issue I have talked about in the inaugural session, but I would like to add a couple of words in response to the question. First of all I have to state this point that since the nuclear issue started when I was in the office as the President and the trend of what has happened, I would like to briefly report on what has happened to the esteemed participants. We have oil and gas reserves….. huge ones, but these are going to get finished very soon and the second issue is at the fissile fuels which now a days are recognized as harmful and the world is going to find good replacement for these fuels. And most important part of the energy all around the world is nuclear energy which is the most accessible kind of energy I may say and I hope that in the future we would have solar and wind energy much more accessible to the people which we would be able take advantage of these two source of energy but for the time being the best one would be the nuclear energy available in most part of the world.  In Switzerland and France - 30 % in United States goes beyond this, in east and west and every where people like to have this energy.  And Iran has the legitimate right to think about the future sources of energy and have peaceful purposes of nuclear energy.

 Fuel is another issue, the nuclear fuel. Experience have shown that we are not able to rely on powers who have this fuel at hand and may be they will use it as political feature to control us like our nuclear energy. Iran has great nuclear scientists. They are very capable and also we have not very much but handful of uranium sources so we will be able to have a good future of the fuel cycle of this technology. We are a member of the Non Proliferation Treaty and based on article four of NPT all the member countries have the right to have nuclear peaceful purposes technology and the other countries are supposed to have access to this nuclear power for peaceful purposes. It has always been the matter of the interest of Iran ...we have the capacity and that is why we are paving the way to the peaceful purpose of the nuclear power and it is a natural intention of the country.

The next issue is that, we are very much concerned about the proliferation of the nuclear arms and that is a very valid worry. There are arsenals which are enough to destroy the whole world time and again and what has taken place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the second world war and now the nuclear arsenal have thousand times more capability, so the existence of nuclear weapon is a very serious one and is a major concern for every one. Either Iraq has it, United States, Israel, any it is a major concern. At the same time I in the United Nations also stated that whether it should be a nuclear free zone WNG free zone ... we would like to have peaceful purposes of the nuclear energy and also all the nuclear weapons should be dismantled particularly with respect to the fact that there are some crisis driven one so we have to make Middle East a nuclear free zone. We are a member to NPT and its our right to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes . Aand we have stated that, in the political tough terrains of Iraq we do not see any place for nuclear weapons. And this we would be able to resolve through negotiations so they would recognize the legitimate right of Iran on this subject and also we would give some objective guarantees that Iran would never go to he nuclear weapon technology. That was the path we paved and we went on in negotiating with the Europeans and IAEA but unfortunately the Europeans were so slow in solving the problem they wasted a lot of time, lot of pressure on Europe and IAEA  deprived us of the opportunity to get to a very sound logical solution to this to solve it. And now we have to solve it in IAEA and there was no need to send it to the security council it could be very harmful. Unfortunately now the way the Americans are having an insolvency problem it’s a unilateral war and they would like to have a hand and power to solve any problem and they are also using this power to solve this problem which would not work .

I would like to state that no nation,…. not any nation when they get to the point that it’s our national interest will never forget about their national interest on any circumstances. Crisis for power may make the problem worse, and our region is a very sensitive one and the issues  you may see in Afghanistan in Iraq, in Palestine as well as in he other countries of the region. You see the crisis...they are horrendous ones ann our region can’t suffer another new crisis. So only solution to this is through negotiations and without any pressure we will not be able to get a lasting solution. So Iran would have this right in the framework of  NPT as well as being in the region of IAEA and Iran will I’ve the objective guarantees that it will never go towards the nuclear weapon technology. I think it is quite possible to do so because we never wish to have such kind of weapons, we must  want nuclear energy technology. And also Iran should never get deprived of the peaceful purpose nuclear technology. We always claimed that we don’t want nuclear weapon. You see they are imposing power on us, depriving us and at the same time they are supporting some dictator regimes in the region. Some countries also have nuclear arsenals...they are supporting the Americans...Why do they deprive us fro Nuclear peaceful technology. I hope that without going to threats and power we would able to solve the problem through logical negotiations. And time and again we have reminded negotiations do not require any conditions it needs goodwill and I hope that all sides of this problem see that we have this goodwill and we wll not see any new crisis in the region and we will not see some power and pressure by some countries who would deprive some nations of their legitimate international rights.          

By Mr Bajaj
His excellency I would like to know what is the state of the women’s empowerment in your country especially in terms of politics, business and home.

 For sure in the countries that are less developed there situation of women are not very good and they are deprived of many social rights. And some times here are some traditions that are pushing women so they are not able to take advantage of their capacity and have less opportunities as compared to men. It is quite common in many countries who are a matter of fact we call the developing countries is very common in these countries. The countries which have great civilization and cultures unfortunately they have some experiences and traditions of the past adding up to the problem over the whole society as well as the women. But I would like to also state this that in the new world we are living in, still the situation of the women ...although from the legal point of view is better but still we see that there are some negative and incorrect approaches to women’s rights, even the western countries are suffering from this and some are misusing and abusing women. As the most important part of the human society and we are very concerned about that. And in our country particularly the soft revolution of 1978 we have had great developments and in many of the human rights fields, men share their rights with women off course there are some limitations and restrictions based on the Iranian constitution of law, women are not able to go to campaign for Presidency but I myself believe that from the Islamic point of view and from the human point of view there is no obstacle in the way to have women as a President and in future we will remove these obstacles. And in other situations I think we have very positive trends of course we are still away from the ultimate goal of the women’s rights. In my time as a President...second year in the office I remember the number of girls admitted to the university were 65% and men 40%, so girls were going to the university more and in the high ranking directing levels we had Mayors, Governer Generals as well as the Dean of Universities, Director General of huge companies was 3% but in my time it went up to 20%. In the share in different levels of the social activities women are active and I have stated time and again that we should seek the right.....go and get the right. Nobody would give us the right if they flourish. they would be recognized and they will get he rights. Our girls and women are having great education and they understand their own rights and the Islamic Republic of Iran with due respect to Iranian  culture and Islam there are some limits to respect women as they say as well as  to strengthen the family relations we have to also observe these values and the Iranians would not like to forget about these values. But it doesn’t mean that the women is the second gender, they are equal to men. And with due respect to the fact that development is a social trend if we would like to have our women developed we should also see that they get the proper share in the social activities. And if you look at the past we have made some very positive steps ahead and in future still we have role to play to the ultimate future of women

Ques: Mr. Joginder Singh
Your Excellency, you have made an excellent case for Iran’s use of peaceful energy.  I would like to ask something nearer home.  There have been reports in the media about the Pakistan getting Iranian cooperation or cooperating with Iran in producing nuclear weapons.  First of all we would like to know from you Sir, and whether you guarantee that neither in the past nor in the future, Iran is going to help any other country, particularly neighbours to India, for making any weapons which may be a source of threat to the security of this country.  I thought since you mentioned about the nuclear programme and it is one issue which affects us, there can be no doubt that peaceful use of nuclear energy is essential that is certainly supported by India but we are more concerned with our security and the role of Iran vis-à-vis Pakistan and a guarantee from you Sir as a President that neither you did it in the past nor will you do it in the future.

We do not have any special cooperation with any country on the earth in scientific nuclear study and research activities   but of course we will take advantage of the existing experience in this sphere wherever it might be of course in the legitimate scale and science does not have any limits to any country and wherever it might be we have to get access but it does not mean that we have nuclear cooperation issue with any special country. I would give the guarantee that you wished that this technology would never be a threat to any country but also clearly and transpirely I would like to state that Iran would never ever go to have access to nuclear weapons......never ever and I hope that we would see a world, including the Middle East, would be a nuclear free zone. The most important issue is that there should be a soul and spirit of understanding and peace among the nations. I wish that between the good rate countries true friends of us India- Pakistan they would also grow a wisdom and think about the common interests and they would be able to see that in future here is no concern and worries by Pakistan against India and India against Pakistan there wouldn’t be any worry in future. We have done our efforts to do improve the relationship between these two friends of Iran and I would give you the guarantee that Iran would never help any country to be a threat to any other country and I would guarantee that Iran would never get an access to nuclear weapon .

Ques: Mr. Gulabchand
            Sir, we were glad to hear you, you were discussing about pluralism.  Iran is an Islamic republic is based on an absolute faith which does not brook dissent.  Pluralism requires that we have to respect and accept other peoples and will have right to dissent.   How do then reconcile these two in terms of living in a pluralistic and globalised world. 

It depends on how we are defining Islam or any other religion. If to be Muslims and if only the Muslims have the right to live or decide about the future, that is one understanding of Islam- some believe that nobody else has the right to live only the Muslims have. Yes, this understanding of Islam has nothing to do with your rights. But if we look at Islam in which it respects all religion, which, in fact it is, and in establishing Islamic republic, where Islam respects any other religion would give them the rights to have access to any sort of rights they deserve. So, to be in Islamic Republic there is nothing in contrast. All countries, anyhow, aim at some sort of base to live, follow some principles which may be different from other countries. In the west, where we have liberal democracies there are some non liberal or rejected - even communists are not able to run there. And in Germany or some other country, the Fascists and Nazis, do they have the belief that they are illegal and they are not recognised. And they are not able to run there and be active but they are not condemned because they believe in Pluralism. This depends on the culture of the society.  It does not have anything against democracy or Pluralism or interest for the human being. Of course, the Fascists have the wrong understanding of religion and it may contribute to the loss of the society and deprive people of their rights.