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UANI CEO Mark Wallace Debates Iran's Former Ambassador and Nuclear Spokesman Hossein Mousavian
"There is no purpose of having breakout capacity or highly-enriched uranium other than to create a nuclear weapon"
On March 3, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) CEO Ambassador Mark Wallace debated former Ambassador and Nuclear Spokesman Hossein Mousavian live on Voice of America Persian. Currently a research scholar at Princeton University, Ambassador Mousavian is viewed by many as the Iranian regime's unofficial spokesperson in the United States.
Ambassador Wallace noted Ambassador Mousavian's "forthright admission" that Iran's threat to expand activities unnecessary for a civilian nuclear energy program -- including reprocessing and enrichment of uranium to 20% -- contradicts Iran's claims that its program has always been, and would remain, exclusively for peaceful purposes:
"There is no purpose of having breakout capacity or highly-enriched uranium other than to create a nuclear weapon. He said it himself and it was a very forthright admission that 5% and less uranium is what is used for a nuclear reactor. He has acknowledged that Iran has enriched up to 20% and beyond even and is seeking breakout capacity within 2 to 3 months. None of those things have to do with a civilian nuclear energy program."
Below are further excerpts of Ambassador Wallace's key remarks:
"The Issue Isn't Israel": The Issue is Iran's Neighbors and Nonproliferation
"The issue isn't Israel. The issue is for Iranian people. The issue is for the countries in the region. And the real issue of concern is that all of Iran's neighbors, all of the Middle East, have stated that they will seek nuclear weapons, from Saudi Arabia, from the Gulf countries, from Egypt, even Turkey has expressed concern about Iran going nuclear and made it clear that if Iran were to remain a nuclear threshold state, those countries too would seek similar abilities. That creates proliferation, that creates a nuclear arms race in the Middle East in already the most volatile region in the world and if you don't think that's dangerous for the Iranian people, I think you're wrong."
"No Legitimate Reason for Iran to Seek to Enrich Uranium But to Be a Threshold Nuclear Weapons State"
"If I could respond, you know Iran claims that it seeks a peaceful nuclear energy program, but that's belied by the facts. The Ambassador knows very well what these countries have in common: Canada, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, South Africa, a variety of other countries. Those countries all have in common one thing: they have civilian nuclear energy power, but do not enrich on their soil. Enrichment, the only reason to enrich, is if you seek a nuclear weapons threshold state fast. And many responsible countries don't enrich on their soil, but maintain civilian nuclear energy, so there is no legitimate reason for Iran to seek to enrich uranium but to be a threshold nuclear weapons state. And of course the Ambassador also knows that the IAEA has recently said, and over and over again said, that Iran has not clarified its nuclear weapons capacity. The IAEA said over and over again that Iran refuses to answer questions about the status of its nuclear weapons development..."
Iran's Advanced Nuclear Capacity and Capabilities Do Not Match Its Practical Needs
"But as you know, Iran's nuclear capabilities right now, number of centrifuges and its research and development, are capable of producing highly enriched uranium far in excess of what Iran needs for its nuclear reactors, and on top of that, generally states, I feel, act in commercially responsible manners because they don't want to bankrupt themselves. Iran, of course, sits on vast oil and natural gas reserves, it has been offered to have uranium brought in to power its nuclear power plants by a variety of countries, a consortium of countries, all of which it has turned down."
"Put Yourself in the Shoes of...Arab Leaders in the Region and [Those] of the Prime Minister of Israel"
"And most importantly, you have to put yourself in the shoes of other Arab leaders in the region and in the shoes of the Prime Minister of Israel. Your leadership, the Ayatollah, President Rouhani, the leadership of Iran, routinely call for the extermination of Israel, the annihilation of Israel. No responsible world leader would allow a state actor that says such things about your country to legitimately pursue nuclear weapons which are capable of fulfilling that commitment and that call to arms. You would agree with me Ambassador that the Ayatollah Khamenei has called for the extermination of Israel. You must understand that nuclear weapons are capable of doing just that and how frightening that would be to an Israeli Prime Minister or the leaders of other moderate states in the region."
Nowhere in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Does It Say There is a Right to Enrich
"Well again, with respect, Ambassador, ... you keep citing the NPT Treaty, which is the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, you know that the NPT Treaty allows the signatories to that agreement to have civilian nuclear energy, but nowhere in that agreement does it provide that countries are entitled to enrich uranium. In fact, many, many countries, as I have said, do not enrich uranium, but have civilian nuclear energy and are part of the NPT Treaty."
"... I'm ready to take the Ambassador out for a nice [dinner] here in New York if he can point to a single provision in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that provides for a country to enrich as a signatory. And the countries he identified were countries that provide nuclear fuel to other countries and that have not been the leading state sponsor of terrorism over the last 35 years."
Response to the Notion that "No One Can Make Iran Unlearn the Scientific and Nuclear Expertise It Already Possesses"
"But it's not ideas that build nuclear bombs, it's machinery. It's large-scale infrastructure and that centrifuges, separative work units, which are combinations of centrifuges, heavy water reactors in the case of plutonium reprocessing and I think it's very clear that if Iran has those materials they are far closer to the bomb than would be acceptable to all the countries in the region... I think it's far too dangerous for Iran to have the infrastructure in place [that will allow it to build nuclear weapons]. That's what scares people. That's what we'll see, every country in the region building the exact same capability and we will have a nuclear arms race in already the most volatile and dangerous region in the world where terror and nonstate actors are a step away from such weapons and its incredibly dangerous not just to the other people in the Middle East, but to the Iranians."
Iran as a Nuclear Weapons Threshold State Will Make the Iranian Regime and the Iranian People Less Safe
"It would be incredibly irresponsible to be the leader of Israel or the leader of any state in the Gulf or in the Middle East or neighbors to Iran to abide Iran's, at times quite radical leadership, having nuclear weapons capability while continuing to make those statements [threatening to annihilate Israel], causing enormous mischief in the region, remaining the number one state sponsor of terrorism. You would have to agree with me that if you were sitting in Bibi Netanyahu's shoes or in any one of the Gulf countries or any one of your neighbors that the notion of nuclear armed Iran would be a terrifying concept and leads to all of those countries pursuing that same nuclear weapons threshold capability and I assure you, if the Middle East goes nuclear, that is very bad for Iran and that is very bad for every other country in the region. It's bad for the world and the United States and you, as a responsible diplomat, cannot count on this, a nuclear armed Middle East."
"So I would just urge the Iranian people to understand that if Iran is left as a nuclear threshold state that region will become much more dangerous and much more dangerous for the Iranian people because every other responsible government in the region will pursue their own nuclear weapons capability and I know that Amb. Mousavian knows that and doesn't want that."
Amb. Wallace: If Iran Says Its Program is Peaceful, Why is It Threatening to Take Measures That Are Only Consistent with Nuclear Weapons Development?
In response to Amb. Mousavian's inadvertent admission that Iran has engaged in activities that would give the regime a pathway to produce nuclear weapons, and that Iran would only expand such activities if negotiations were to fail, Amb. Wallace said:
"And another key point that Amb. Mousavian said and I think it's a strong, it's an honest admission. There is no purpose of having breakout capacity or highly-enriched uranium other than to create a nuclear weapon. He said it himself and it was a very forthright admission that 5% and less uranium is what's used for a nuclear reactor. He has acknowledged that Iran has enriched up to 20% and beyond even and is seeking breakout capacity within 2 to 3 months. None of those things have to do with a civilian nuclear energy program.
"Highly enriched uranium, 20%, breakout capacity, those are the terms and technologies of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons only. They have no application to a civilian nuclear energy program. And I think that you have to come back to the reality. Whether or not Amb. Mousavian and the Iranian leadership want to have a nuclear bomb, it's really up to them. But the reality is that other countries in the region, putting Israel aside for a moment, will all seek nuclear weapons capacity if Iran proceeds on this course.
"And I know that Iran has called for a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, but he himself has acknowledged that breakout capacity in less than 3 months, highly-enriched uranium, have one role and one purpose only and that's to a pathway to a nuclear weapon and nothing to do with civilian energy."
Click here to watch the video of the debate.