November 21, 2013


MEDIA CONTACTS:

Jonathon Price
202-736-5808
jonathon.price@aspeninst.org

Ben Chang
202-842-7222
bchang@albrightstonebridge.com

Former Foreign Ministers Statement on Iran

We, former Foreign Ministers from 13 countries, representing Europe, the Asia Pacific, North America, and the Middle East, strongly believe it is in our collective global interest to support— and continue—the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran on its nuclear program.

As former foreign ministers, we believe it makes sense to commit to intensive negotiations with Iran while Iran freezes its nuclear enrichment program. We say this both encouraged and mindful of the history and the progress made. It has been 7 years since the P5+1 offered negotiations to Iran and 34 years since the United States has had a significant conversation with the Iranians. Now, President Rouhani has signaled a revived interest in engaging in discussions on Iran’s nuclear program, and the interim agreement that is on the table provides a real promise for resolving this issue diplomatically. It must be given time.

We agree with President Obama and many other world leaders that Iran should not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons. It remains in our interest, and to our advantage, that Iran freezes its enrichment programs during the negotiations. It takes away any chance that Iran can accelerate its enrichment program during the life of the negotiation, ensuring the process can move forward. Moreover, such an interim agreement will build trust as the P5+1 head into final negotiations on the entire nuclear issue.

Clearly, the sanctions regime has had an effect, and during these negotiations the most effective and stringent sanctions will remain in place until a final and comprehensive agreement is reached. The suggestion to unblock a selection of Iran's frozen assets is a minor concession to help achieve the deeper goals.

Some have charged that any negotiation is too risky. However, if we deprive ourselves of that option, that leaves only the binary choice of the use of force or acquiescence to an Iranian nuclear weapon. Clearly, giving this diplomatic track a chance is a better way forward.

The interim agreement would constitute an important step in a long process. We must support the efforts of the P5+1 to reach such an interim agreement and then continue their good efforts to seek a comprehensive agreement. We call upon the government of Iran to agree to a freeze, to open up its country to full IAEA inspections, and to abide by all relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Signed,

Madeleine K. Albright – United States
Halldór Ásgrímsson – Iceland
Lloyd Axworthy – Canada
Shlomo Ben Ami – Israel
Erik Derycke – Belgium

Lamberto Dini – Italy
Jaime Gama – Portugal
Han Seung-soo – Republic of Korea
Don McKinnon – New Zealand
George Papandreou – Greece
Niels H. Petersen – Denmark
Lydie Polfer – Luxembourg
Knut Vollebaek – Norway