In this Der Spiegel interview, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki comments on Iran's policy of stoning as punishment, the impact of sanctions, and the risk of a military attack on Iran.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Foreign Minister, you are the senior diplomat of the Islamic Republic of Iran. You represent a nation that prides itself on a cultural history stretching back more than 2,500 years. Don't you find it shameful that people are stoned to death in your country?
Manouchehr Mottaki: You come from a country that murdered millions of people during a tyrannical war, and you want to talk to me about human rights? OK, we can certainly discuss the laws in various countries and naturally we can, in a friendly atmosphere, debate the different legal principles.
SPIEGEL: It isn't a matter of legal subtleties. Stoning is a glaring violation of universal human rights. It's barbaric.
Mottaki: There is a certain framework for punishments in Islam. In Iran, we treat crimes that are punished with the death penalty with special sensitivity, because Islam assigns special value to human life. The Koran reads: "Anyone who murders any person (...), it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people."
SPIEGEL: We are not talking about murder, for which the death penalty by hanging is imposed in Iran, but about the stoning of adulterers. International human rights organizations report that there have been seven cases in the last five years alone.
Mottaki: I cannot confirm your number. But it shows that this sentence is in fact carried out very rarely.