Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney on Iran issues
THE WHITE HOUSE
January 31, 2013
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Q Does the President believe the government of Iran is legitimate and elected?
MR. CARNEY: I think our views on the last presidential election were clearly expressed, the President’s views on that matter and our views on the behavior of the regime in Tehran are expressed again and again and again. The fact is we judge Iran by its behavior -- not by its words, but by its actions -- and they are consistently in violation of their United Nations obligations, their international obligations. And because of that, they are enduring the most intense sanctions regime in history that has had a dramatic impact on their economy as well as on their politics. And that pressure will continue and it will increase as long as Tehran refuses to live up to its international obligations with regards to its nuclear program.
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Q First, on Hagel -- Hagel has suggested that the military option against Iran really is not an option. I just want to be clear --
MR. CARNEY: I believe he said, as the President has said, that he takes no options off the table and every option remains on the table. That’s the President’s position and it’s a position that Senator Hagel supports.
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Q I’d like to also ask about Iran’s announcement that it’s upgrading its centrifuges. What do you have on that?
MR. CARNEY: We have seen reports that Iran has announced its intention to install advanced centrifuges and a production unit at Natanz. There is no indication of how many such centrifuges Iran plans to install or its timeline for doing so. But this does not come as a surprise given the IAEA’s regular reports on Iran’s development of advanced centrifuges.
However, the installation of new advanced centrifuges is a further escalation and a continuing violation, as I was speaking about moments ago, of Iran’s obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council and IAEA board resolutions. It would mark yet another provocative step by Iran and will only invite further isolation by the international community.
We continue to believe that there is time and space for diplomacy to work, but actions like this undercut the efforts of the international community to resolve its concerns over Iran’s nuclear weapons.
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Q Jay, going back to the earlier question about Hagel’s comment about the Iranian government being elected and legitimate, you may recall that at the time of the last election, Vice President Biden said that there were doubts about the legitimacy of the election. So I’d like to give you a chance to put a finer point on it. Is this government elected and legitimate?
MR. CARNEY: The government that we’re dealing with is a government that has continued the unacceptable behavior that we’ve seen from Tehran for some time, its refusal to abide by its international obligations. And the President’s view on the protests in reaction to the election are very clear and remain the same.
The issue with Iran is we have pursued a policy that has imposed upon that country the most severe sanctions regime in history with significant economic consequences. We have worked with our international partners to bring about a consensus on Iran’s behavior that never existed in the past, and that, too, has increased the isolation that Tehran feels.
And the President has also made clear that when it comes to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, that all options remain on the table. The window for diplomacy remains open, but it will not be open indefinitely.
Q So yes or no, is it legitimate?
MR. CARNEY: Look, it’s the government that we deal with, and it is the government that continues to flout its international obligations, and that behavior is illegitimate.
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