Joint Press Conference with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband (Excerpts)

October 11, 2009

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • United Kingdom

. . .

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Obviously, we have also reviewed our position on Iran, where our countries work so closely together, including on the most recent revelation of the covert Iranian uranium enrichment site. My point on this is very, very simple, that Iran will never have a better opportunity to establish normal relations with the international community. And it will never have a better opportunity than to show that the peaceful intent that marks its words about its nuclear program is matched by its deeds.

. . .

SECRETARY CLINTON: British leadership was pivotal in the run up to the historic Security Council session chaired by President Obama that unanimously adopted Resolution 1887, and committed us to work toward a world without nuclear weapons. British leadership is important to the P5 Plus 1 process, as we work together to press the world's great concerns about Iran's nuclear programs.

We agree that the P5 Plus 1 meeting in Geneva was a constructive beginning. But it must be followed by action. Words are not enough. And we are speaking with a single voice, and delivering a clear message to Iran: The international community will not wait indefinitely for evidence that Iran is prepared to live up to its international obligations.

. . .

QUESTION: Thank you very much. This question would be to both secretaries, if you would.

Secretary Miliband, you have mentioned the covert facility at Qom. And in light of this annex to the IAEA report, do you -- what is the possibility that that enrichment facility at Qom might be just one of a series of secret uranium enrichment facilities in Iran?

And then, just another quick question about these democracy protesters whom Iran says they are going to execute. How do you keep faith with the democracy supporters, while at the same time engaging with Iran to get what you want, which is the end to their nuclear program?

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Well, I think that Iran's history of covert secret programs before 2003, whether it's their dispute with the IAEA, and more recently in respect of the Qom facility, explains why the international community does not have confidence in the Iranian regime's protestations about the purely peaceful aspects, or purely peaceful purposes, of their nuclear program.

I think the IAEA's role is particularly important, and I think it's very important that we support them. I think both of our countries are pledged not just to support the IAEA, but to build up the IAEA as an organization that can do that. By definition, we don't provide a running commentary on covert sites in Iran or in -- anywhere else. But I think that the revelations, in respect to the Qom facility, are very significant, indeed.

Secretary Clinton referred to the unity of the international coalition, and I think it is very important to use platforms like this to say that the P5 Plus 1 -- the United States, Russia, China, plus the three European countries -- are joined as one in our determination to engage with Iran, but also to engage on very clear principles. Iran can be treated as a normal country, in respect to nuclear matters, when it starts behaving as a normal country.

And that really leads to the second question, which is that we just have to stick to our principles. And our principles, in respect of human rights, are very clear. Our insistence that it is not for us to choose the government of Iran is clear. But also our insistence that it is right to stand up for human rights around the world, for universal values, is also very clear. And I think that that message to the Iranian government, as well as to the Iranian people, that it's their rights that need to be sacrosanct, is absolutely right, and is the right way to show our commitment and our engagement.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the whole premise of our approach to Iran is to pursue, wherever possible, the kind of engagement that will produce results, as we saw at the P5 Plus 1, on agreement for inspection of the site at Qom, the (inaudible), the agreement to have the enriched uranium shipped out of the country, and then returned for the Tehran research reactor, and an agreement for follow-on meetings that would be held soon.

So, it was a constructive beginning. But it has a long way to go before any of us are convinced that Iran is willing to abide by its international obligation, and to cease and desist any efforts toward a nuclear weapons program.

But, you know, we have negotiated with many, many countries over the years -- the former Soviet Union, for example -- whose human rights record and behavior toward their own people was of great concern to us, and that we spoke out about it at the same time that we negotiated arms control agreements.

With Iran, it is tragic that a country with such a great history, with, you know, so much to give to the rest of the world, is so afraid of their own people. And the way that they are utilizing secret prisons and detentions, show trials, is a reflection of the discontent that they know people feel toward the current leadership.

So, as David said, you know, we know that decisions about the future of Iran are up to the Iranian people. But we will continue to speak out on behalf of human rights, on behalf of democracy, on behalf of freedom of expression, that are really at the core of human freedom. And it's important that the people in Iran know that the United States, the United Kingdom, and others in the international community, are watching very closely as to what is happening, and standing on their side when it comes to their willingness to take great risks on behalf of the kind of future that they would like to see for their country. Thank you.

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, David.