Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in an interview on the assumption of office of Iranian President Hassan Rohani. Published inthe Frankfurter Rundschau on 3 August 2013
This Saturday sees the assumption of office of Iran’s new President, Hassan Rohani, who is regarded as relatively progressive.What does that mean for the nuclear talks, which have made no progress at all for many years?
I believe Mr Rohani’s arrival in office brings with it an opportunity. But we will measure him and his Government by their actions, not their words. What is crucial for us is that Iran verifiably refrains from developing nuclear weapons. So we will be watching closely to see whether the new leadership means new flexibility in the negotiations with the five UN veto powers and Germany on the Iranian nuclear programme.
What initial gesture could Rohani make for you to lend credence to his words?
It is up to the new President to determine what steps he will take now. We want Iran to engage in confidence building measures and to make substantial progress to resolve the dispute around its nuclear programme.
And what about the West? Shouldn’t we already ease some of the sanctions as a sign of goodwill?
It is too early for that. We will stick to our dual strategy: on the one hand, we will keep up the political pressure with sanctions for as long as we cannot be sure Iran has ended its programme of nuclear armament. At the same time, our hand remains outstretched in readiness for dialogue.
So when would be the time to judge whether an alleged new openness to the West is genuine?
We will seek to enter into discussion with the new Government – first at civil servant level, then maybe also at ministerial level. And then we will draw our conclusions.
Reproduced by kind permission of the Frankfurter Rundschau.