Kourosh Ziabari: Some critics of the foreign policy of President Ahmadinejad administration believe that he isolated Iran in the international stage with his radical policies toward the West. They also say that he failed to direct Iran's nuclear program in the right path and thus lost many opportunities including a cordial and amiable relation with the United States and Europe. Do you agree with them?
Abolghasem Bayyenat: I personally do not think some of President Ahmadinejad's rhetoric in foreign policy are helpful but I do not attribute the current standoff between Iran and Western powers to that. I have already explained in my answers to your previous questions what I consider to be the root causes of the crisis in Iran-Western relations.
The existing crisis in Iran-Western relations obviously predates the election of President Ahmadinejad. Iran was branded as part of 'the Axis of Evil' and further demonized by former U.S. President George Bush at a time when actually a reformist president was in power in Iran, who had promoted dialogue between Islam and the Western civilization and had advocated détente in Iran's foreign policy with the West. Under former Iranian President Khatami, Iran had also extended practical cooperation to the United States in its fight against terrorism after the September 11, 2001, but only to be rewarded with more hostility by the United States.
Having said this, there is no doubt that Iran became subject to more pressure by Western powers since Ahmadinejad came to office. Ahmadinejad's risk-taking behavior in relation to Iran's nuclear policy has provoked further hostile reactions by Western powers against Iran. But no gain in foreign policy comes without its due costs. Iran has also gained significant technological achievements in its nuclear program and has considerably developed its domestic capacity in various areas of nuclear activities.
Even if Iran was forthcoming on the nuclear issue as during President Khatami's tenure, U.S. antagonistic policies towards Iran would persist in new forms. Given that even Khatami's reformist government was not willing to extend the temporary suspension of Iran's nuclear activities, which was adopted as a temporary confidence-building measure, I believe more ore less the same level of Western confrontation with Iran would have been inevitable even if a reformist government was still in power in Iran