Interview by Yugeny Krishtalyev exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza
Tehran confirmed that it would conduct the next round of talks with the six international mediators in Alma-Ata on April 5-6. Vladimir Yevseyev, the director of the Center for Public Policy Research, told Vestnik Kavkaza about the situation in the Iran and Syria.
- What about the prospects of presidential elections that will take place in Iran?
- Now, about the prospects for the election. I can see that now, of course, in Iran, no one thinks about the election. I do not have that feeling. Now Nowruz is beginning. Now people are just thinking about how to relax. People are engaged in it. Now there is no election fever, I absolutely do not see that. And I have a feeling that the Iranians are now living very differently, they celebrate the new year, prepare fora new year. The real political life in Iran will only begin in early April. Now everything is just calm.
All the hopes of the West about the arrival of some pro-Western leaders are utopian, there are no such leaders, and they will not become president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of course, would not become president again, because a third term cannot take place. There are very serious doubts that there will be a successor to him. But the fact is that this person will not be pro-Western, I am quite sure of it. It is good that it will be a new man, and he will have no negative baggage in the eyes of the West, unlike Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In any case, the West can talk to him.
- The West will talk to him from scratch.
- Here there is some opportunity to advance on the solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. Apparently, the meeting to be held in Alma-Ata in early April will not work. But the fact is that negotiations are better than their absence. By autumn there will be a new president, and his inauguration will take place in August. I think, the West will lose some illusions about the omnipotence of the sanctions, because sanctions cannot crush Iran. Nevertheless, these are insanely tough sanctions against Iran. The West has somehow inflated expectations about its features. They did not want to talk soberly about how the Iranian nuclear issue can really be resolved. We need to set a very clear goal. For example, we want to access a facility in Parchin, a military base. What do we need? We need to offer something to Iran. And the IAEA should not implement this. The IAEA has no impact on Iran now. It has only a negative image. Therefore, Iran will not talk with the IAEA. But in the "group of six" this is possible. But Iran needs to get something for it, and we can offer something that Europe does not appreciate, but Iran has a major positive from it. For example, there are such things as allowing Iran to buy products, medicines, vitamins. in Europe for gold and precious metals.
- In fact, one way or another, this is humanitarian facilitation.
- Yes, but it is very important that in this regard we cannot trade directly with Iran. We have to go as far as to build confidence. Iran should be led up to it, we should talk about what really might be interesting, but what does not have anything to do with the nuclear issue, the missile program. However, the removal of these measures will move towards confidence-building, and I think that a visit to Parchin is quite real. But if we put some crazy tasks, such as stopping enriching uranium to 20%, this is not serious, Iran would not do it. This problem cannot be solved immediately. Unfortunately, the West put forward demands that are unacceptable for Iran. Plus, now is not a good time, because these negotiations, which will be in early April, will already be in the period of the election campaign. What concessions can there be ahead of the presidential elections? Now, perhaps we could talk about the persistence of the process. There is some positive aspect, which is that now at least a military solution to the Iranian nuclear problem is sidelined. First of all, the U. S. is not interested in it, Israel also is not ready, if evaluated objectively. That is, we have about two years. In two years, if we talk about the situation right now, we can try to agree on something to alleviate the problem. Because now Iran is not a nuclear or missile threat for Israel. This is positive.
There are negative factors, and they are both subjective and objective. Let us speak about subjective factors. I believe that if Mr. Ya'alon will be appointed defense minister in Israel, it would be a negative factor. As I understand it, he is a "hawk". I happened to listen to him in Israel. I think that this person will be more inclined to any decisions of an adventurous nature, unlike Ehud Barak.
As soon as Israel becomes more secure, it will have more and more of a desire to attack Iran, which is not very safe. This is an objective factor. There are still other factors that could push the situation to a build-up. This is, surprisingly, the situation in Northeast Asia. Because right now Japan and the Republic of Korea are beginning to think seriously about nuclear weapons. If Japan goes down this route, the Republic of Korea will think of a decision to follow its example. There are grounds for this. So far the Americans have enough capacity to hold in Japan, but how in the future they will be able to keep this potential is unknown. The desire to be protected among the Japanese is very strong. Especially in light of the third nuclear test. It seems that North-East Asia is far away, but if the non-proliferation regime collapses in the North-East Asia, this will impact on the Middle East.
- If Japan decides to create nuclear weapons, I think that talking about a nuclear non-proliferation regime will be pointless. Because Japan is a member of the NPT. It signed this document as a non-nuclear state. If it says that it needs to construct a nuclear weapon, and does so, then why is it impossible, for example, in Iran, North Korea, for someone else? So, everyone can do this. That's what the conversation is about. If Japan is building nuclear weapons, then one can say that the NPT has ceased to exist. And instead, we must make any other agreements that are now totally impossible to make. Especially considering the fact that many states have security problems. In any case, the threat is very serious, and it can have most negative effect on the situation in the Middle East. In addition, we can say that there is the militarization of the Persian Gulf. The U.S. is beginning deliveries of missile defense facilities. Accordingly, Iran will be forced to make some kind of response. Some of the processes initiated by the U.S. may also lead to negative consequences. Because if one side is armed, the second will have to do something to counter it. This arms race has a tendency to aggravate the situation in the Middle East and to increase instability to the extent that, if Assad holds power in Syria, there will be a zone of instability: Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, in fact, will unite, and in Turkey, I was talking to Turkish experts, they say up to 23-25 million is the total number of Kurds and Alawites. Alawites are present among different nations, but they are numerous. And if Syria would kill Alawites in large quantities, it can be a very serious problem in Turkey.
At the moment the situation in Syria is tending to become worse. In this context various thoughtless steps, for example, export of arms – the UK insists on it…
- You mean to the opposition in Syria?
- Yes. They say arms should be delivered to the moderate opposition. First of all, the moderate opposition doesn’t fight. Radicals will take these arms from them. Secondly, considering production of British military enterprises, they can export offensive vehicles. Why do they want to provide peaceful population with these items? It is nonsense. The West doesn’t learn. The murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi didn’t teach them anything. The West encourages terrorism to prosper. At first they raise Osama bin Laden, then they try to kill him. This is an infinite process. They don’t understand that it must not be done, because all in all Europe will suffer of that. They think they can be mediators.