Joint Press Conference with U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Excerpts)

July 15, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Related Country: 

  • Iran

. . .

Q: Mr. President, let me address my question to both of you. There has been a lot of concerns about proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And having discussed this issue, could you share the results of your talks? And also, if you could let me, we all can see that you enjoy good personal relationships, but do you notice any deterioration of ties on a state level between the two countries? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: What was the first part of the question?

Q: Have you discussed proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery, and what are the results of your talks?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We sure have. We talked about our concerns about Iran developing a nuclear weapon, or Iran having the capacity to make a nuclear weapon, and we talked about North Korea. And the results of our talks are that we agree that we've got to work together to send a common message to both that there is a better way forward for these leaders.

And so we're working with Russia and our partners to develop Security Council resolutions that will send a clear message. One thing is for certain, that if the Iranians see that the United States and Russia are working together on this issue, they'll understand the seriousness of our intent.

. . .

PRESIDENT PUTIN: I have already mentioned that we will not participate in any crusades, in any holy alliances. This is true. I reaffirm our position in this matter. But our common goal is to make the world a more secure place, and certainly we'll be working with all our partners, including the United States, in order to address this problem. It is for this reason that we are joining our efforts with other G8 countries.

And I have to say that this is not some kind of plot against a particular country, where a certain problem emerges, be it missile or nuclear proliferation. We are seeking not only for the possibility of controlling this or that process; we are seeking opportunities for ensuring their legal access to nuclear technology. It is to this end that we have adopted our joint initiative on the creation of international centers for uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. These are not unilateral actions aimed at trying to block somebody's access to something. This is a search for solutions that could ensure development in the world, at the same time would make the development secure in terms of nuclear nonproliferation and missile nonproliferation.

We're satisfied with the level of exchanges at the working level, which we have achieved in terms of bilateral cooperation. At the summit's end, in the context of the U.N. Security Council, we will continue our work tonight and tomorrow in the course of our discussion with our partners who are arriving in St. Petersburg.

Q: Mr. President, we know that you talked about Iran and North Korea. Let me ask you if you moved forward at all on these issues? Did you ask Russia to take specific steps, for example with Iran to agree to U.N. sanctions? Did you discuss what you could move on in North Korea to move it forward?

And, President Putin, is Russia now willing, if necessary, to vote for sanctions in the United Nations to stop Iran's nuclear preparations?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We strategized on both issues. But this isn't the first time that we've talked together to -- on how to solve problems. You might remember that Russia proposed a very interesting way forward for Iran. It was the Putin government that said to the Iranians, if you want a civilian nuclear power program, we will support you in that; however, we will provide the fuel and we'll collect the spent fuel. I thought it was a very innovative approach to solving the problem. I strongly supported the initiatives.

So, Bill, to answer your question, this isn't the first time that we have strategized on how to solve this problem. And, yes, we talked about the U.N. Security Council resolution. And, no, I'm not going to tell you the particulars about the conversation. I will tell you, however, that there is common agreement that we need to get something done at the U.N. And I'm confident we will be able to do that. And there's agreement that we need to get something done on North Korea at the United Nations.

Here's the thing, though, just so that everybody understands: Diplomacy is not two countries just saying, this is the way it is. Diplomacy is two countries agreeing to work together with other countries, in this case, to come up with common language that we can live with that sends the same message, and that is, no nuclear weapons programs.

. . .

PRESIDENT PUTIN: You know, I have spoken on this account many times. I can repeat, it is not in Russia's national interest to see a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, especially in such an explosive region as the Middle East.

This is something that we tell our Iranian partners directly. We have always told them about it. There is nothing novel or new about our position in this respect. But we work on the assumption that we have to find efficient ways of ensuring security around the world. We need to take efficient diplomatic steps that would not disrupt the gentle fabric of the negotiations in the search for mutually acceptable decisions. And we're satisfied with the status of the U.S.-Russia relationship in this area.

Q: I apologize, but I would like to follow up on the question of my U.S. colleague. Could you speak at greater detail? You have discussed the Iranian nuclear issue in terms of what has happened before and what may happen in the future. There is now the situation with the Iranian nuclear issue. How do you see it as of now? And most importantly, what are we to expect in the future?

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- progress, because Russia and the United States agree that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. In other words, the Iranians need to understand that we're speaking with one voice that they shouldn't have a weapon, and that's progress.

You see, my judgment is they're testing the resolve of the parties to determine whether or not we really are resolved to work together to prevent them from having a weapon. And the clearer they hear a message, the better off -- or the closer we'll be to them recognizing there's a better way forward. See, we've made our choice, and that's progress. We've agreed to work together to achieve a common goal. That's considerable progress.

And now the choice is theirs to make. I have said the United States will change our posture on this issue if the Iranian government does what they've already said they would do, which is to verifiably suspend their enrichment program. At which point, if they do so, we will come to the negotiating table. We will sit side-by-side.

Right now, we're negotiating together to send a common message. We will come to the table. It's their choice to make, however. There is a better way forward for the Iranian people than to be isolated because of their government's actions. And so I would say that we've made good progress on the issue.

. . .

PRESIDENT PUTIN: I would like to add to what has been said by George, that Russia has agreed to participate in the six-way format for the discussion of the Iranian issue. We assume that in the course of the elaboration of the position of the six countries, the opinion of Russia will be taken into account, and we can see that our partners are acting along these lines, precisely.

What does this imply for us? This implies that if we elaborate common approaches to this difficult problem, we will see to it that our joint decisions are fulfilled. This is what we said honestly and directly to our Iranian partners. I said it at the meeting with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in China quite recently.

True, it is extremely important to adhere to an approach within which the countries that are involved in the negotiations would be able to elaborate a shared approach to the resolution of the problem, but the approach has to be balanced and has to take into account the interests of the Iranian people in their desire to develop state-of-the-art, high-tech industries, including nuclear ones. This has to be done under the obligatory requirement that non-proliferation is ensured and the overall security situation around the world is improved.

. . .