Rafsanjani Says Final Iran Deal Could Come within One Year
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council (EC) Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani raised hopes of a comprehensive nuclear deal with world powers within a year.
In a rare interview with the Financial Times in Tehran, Mr Rafsanjani, 79, declared that Sunday’s interim deal was the hardest step because it meant overcoming decades of diplomatic estrangement with the US going back to the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“It was breaking the ice, the second stage will be more routine,” said the former two-term Iranian president.
Mr Rafsanjani was determinedly optimistic. “Part of it (the breakthrough) was because talking to the US was a taboo. That taboo could not be easily broken and nuclear talks could not move ahead without the US.”
He said Iran had no interest in developing nuclear weapons and dismissed Israeli threats of a military strike to curb its nuclear programme. “Israel is so small; no small fish can eat big fish.”
In the interview, Rafsanjani referred to the ruinous damage to the economy wrought by sanctions.
He expressed hope of a turnround in the economy in the next two years, especially if foreign investors come in and support sectors such as aviation, the oil and gas sectors, petrochemicals, shipping and railroads.
He made clear that Iran has no intention of abandoning its nuclear programme, but rather intended to bring it in line with the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty that allows for the peaceful development of nuclear power.
This mirrors the view of the Iranian government, which would like to preserve its low-level uranium enrichment programme while providing sufficient assurances, through inspections and other forms of compliance, that it will not divert nuclear material for more sinister use.
“The limitations set by international laws are acceptable to us. The Non-Proliferation Treaty is acceptable to us. Anything more than that would be considered imposed on us.”