Turkey's President Abdullah Gul: Iran must be more transparent on nuclear program
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul discusses Iran's nuclear program, Turkey's unique role as a mediator, and next steps for Israel after the Gaza flotilla incident.
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Nathan Gardels: Turkey is now the main mediator between the West and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. Many are looking to Turkey as the last hope of preventing confrontation. Yet, some worry that Turkey is not so concerned if Iran gets a bomb and that its interventions are just buying time for Iran. How serious is Turkey? What role can it really play?
Abdullah Gul: First of all, let me say that you should not underestimate how seriously we take the issue of a nuclearized Iran. After all, we are neighbors and nuclear weapons would threaten us most of all. We are the first to object.
Having said that, all our efforts are going to solving the issue diplomatically. The last thing we need is another war in this region. The war in Iraq caused us immense problems, both economically and politically. It created huge security and immigration problems.
We believe we can uniquely contribute to the diplomatic solution because we are the only ones in the NATO alliance that can talk directly to the Iranian leadership and have a frank and free exchange of opinions.
A deal with Iran
Gardels: What is the essence of the deal that can be made with Iran?
Gul: If you look at the so-called “Additional Protocol” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Security Council, it is about “confidence building measures.” Our role in the end is to continue pushing Iran down this road of confidence building toward a diplomatic solution.
Gardels: Do you believe the Iranians are negotiating in good faith? Or are they using talks with Turkey to buy time as their enrichment goes forward so they have break-out capacity for a weapon?
Gul: I can’t say “no” they are not seeking a bomb; I can’t say “yes” they are.
We don’t know. The only agency that can answer this question is the IAEA. Iran is not only a member of the IAEA but also a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. So, they are obliged to show transparency over all aspects of their nuclear program.
The issue at hand is whether or not there is enough transparency on Iran’s part. At the UN General Assembly last week, President Obama said the door remains open to diplomacy. But he said the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment through more transparency and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program. Iran must respond to this. And we are ready to help them do so.