Shahram Chubin: arrest of Iran's former nuclear negotiator is an "outrageous act" intended "to inhibit discussion"

Iran’s former nuclear negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian’s detention Monday evening was most probably intended “to inhibit any discussion of the nuclear issue” inside Iran, said Dr. Shahram Chubin of the Geneva Center for Security Policy.

“It is an outrageous act to take a loyal supporter of the Islamic Republic who disagrees with a position, and put him in jail”, Dr. Chubin added in an interview Thursday with Middle East Times.   “Mousavian is not even a reformer –he is a loyalist”.

Chubin noted that “This just gives a good idea of what is going on inside Iran”.

Mousavian’s participation in a panel discussion on Proliferation Challenges and Security in the Middle East at the Geneva think tank on 21 March was virtually his last public appearance. On the same trip abroad, but just prior to his Geneva appearance, Mousavian had also visited the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and he was headed for discussions in Brussels before returning home. However, Mousavian certainly already felt himself to be under pressure at the time, one of the participants in the Geneva meeting noted.

Another participant in the Geneva discussion was Serguei Batsonov, a former Russian Ambassador for Disarmament in Geneva, who now works with Pugwash. Contacted by phone in Vienna, where he is attending a meeting preparing for the next review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Mr. Batsonov said “We all know very little, but what I can say is that it would be very easy now to jump into erroneous judgement.  The wider political picture must be taken into view”. He cautioned that “Otherwise, it would be so easy to make the situation worse”.

At the meeting in Vienna, Iran’s surprise opposition to wording in a proposed document has suspended sessions since Wednesday in the two-week NPT preparatory meeting, to allow for more consultations. Earlier Wednesday, Iran’s chief delegate Ali Ashgar Soltanieh had indicated his country wanted the text to specify that nations with nuclear weapons must equally comply with the provisions of the treaty.

Dr. Chubin said that Mousavian certainly hadn’t said anything in Geneva that could have caused him any difficulties, and noted that Mousavian had since accepted another invitation to address a forthcoming conference at GSCP in July. Dr Chubin added that he is shocked by the move, and expressed the hope that Mousavian has been neither discredited nor discouraged, and will be able to fulfill his commitment.

The juxtaposition of the arrest, with the very strong statement made by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday in Kerman reaffirming that Iran won’t relinquish one iota of its nuclear rights, seems to give good indication that the issues are linked, and the aim is to suppress debate, Dr. Chubin observed.

Mousavian was arrested at home on the evening of Tuesday 1 May, just hours before the renewal of discussions in London by the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council (the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France) plus Germany and European Union officials on possible further tightening of UN Security Council sanctions that were first imposed on Iran on 23 December, and upgraded two months later, on 23 March. A further UN Security Council review is scheduled on or around 23 May. The London meeting evaluated the recent renewed talks between the European Union’s Javier Solana and Ali Larijani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, who has most often taken the lead on discussion with international representatives on Iran’s nuclear program.

A report written by Hamid Ahadi on 25 January and published on the internet site Roozonline, says that “a number of former cabinet ministers and senior politicians expressed their fears about the state and direction of the country” in a meeting with former Majlis leader Mehdi Karubi.  In this meeting, Rooz reports, Mousavian told the group that “with the current sanctions in place, the West can stop any machinery coming to Iran on the grounds that they are part of a missile development program, which is banned under the most recent UN Security Council resolution.  He stressed that under the circumstances, even if Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment programs, the country’s nuclear program would remain at the Security Council. ‘Things have come so far that even if we accepted all the UN resolutions today, any Iranian who was studying anything related to nuclear physics could be denied his studies, while the IAEA’s assistance to the country’s nuclear programs too would be terminated’, he said”.

Mousavian served under former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who is mentioned as a possible opposition candidate in Iran’s next presidential elections, which have just been moved forward to next year, and will be held simultaneously with parliamentary elections.  Mousavian was a deputy to, and a spokesman for, Hojatoleslam Hassan Rowhani, who was then the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council — the position now occupied by Ali Larijani.

Rowhani is now head of the Center for Strategic Research in Iran, a state body that advises Iranian leaders, and Mousavian has been his deputy there.  In that capacity, they have worked closely with the powerful State Expediency Council led by another former Iranian President, Hashemi Rafsanjani.

One thought on “Shahram Chubin: arrest of Iran's former nuclear negotiator is an "outrageous act" intended "to inhibit discussion"”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *