Tehran Times does rare Q&A with Hecker on nuclear cooperation

Tehran Times does rare Q&A with Hecker on nuclear cooperation

In a rare and exclusive interview in the Tehran Times, CISAC and FSI Senior Fellow Siegfried Hecker tells Iranian journalist Kourosh Ziabari that the only way forward for the country’s nuclear program is transparency and international cooperation.

The interview comes during an unprecedented period of rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Several days after his inauguration last August, President Hassan Rouhani called for the resumption of negotiations with the so-called P5+1, a group of six world powers using diplomatic efforts to monitor Iran’s energy program.

In September, President Barack Obama called Rouhani, marking the highest-level contact between the United States and Iran since 1979 hostage crisis.

The P5+1 and Iran are drafting a comprehensive nuclear agreement to ensure that Tehran is not building a nuclear bomb, but trying to expand its nuclear energy program. The International Atomic Energy Agency has given Iran until Aug. 25 to provide more details about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.

In the interview, Ziabari did not pull any punches with Hecker.

“You’ve argued that Iran doesn’t possess sufficient uranium reserves like Japan, and its uranium enrichment program is not cost-effective,” Ziabari asks. “However, you know that Iran’s nuclear program was first launched in 1950s as part of the U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. At that time, the United States thought that it’s beneficial to help Iran with its nuclear energy program, because Iran was an ally, but now, Iran is a foe, and does not need nuclear power anymore. Is it really like that?”

You can read Hecker's response and the entire the Q&A in its entirely on Ziabari’s website.

In Feburary, the Iranian government republished an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Hecker and Abbas Milani, director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University. The story ran in Farsi on at least one official website. That could reflect, the scholars say, a genuine internal debate in Tehran regarding the future of its nuclear program.