President Bush Participates in Joint Press Availability with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom (Excerpts)

April 17, 2008

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all. Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to the Rose Garden. Glad you're here. It's a beautiful day. I'm -- been a pleasure to welcome a good friend to the Oval Office, and had a good discussion.

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Spent some time on Iran. Our position is clear that we're going to work together, along with other nations, to make it abundantly clear to the Iranian regime that they must not have the capability of developing a nuclear weapon.

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PRIME MINISTER BROWN: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me first of all thank you for your warm welcome, for your hospitality, and for your offer to cook the meal this evening. (Laughter.) And let me thank you most of all for your leadership. The world owes President George Bush a huge debt of gratitude for leading the world in our determination to root out terrorism, and to ensure that there is no safe haven for terrorism and no hiding place for terrorists.

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We have repeated our common commitments in the fight against terrorism, and will continue to work together at every level to defeat terrorism wherever it is. Iran continues to defy the will of the international community, and we are agreed on the need to strengthen the sanctions regime and ensure that these sanctions are effectively implemented. I will be talking to my European colleagues in the next few days about how we can move forward with both these issues throughout Europe. And we want to extend measures to include investment in liquefied national [sic] gas.

We also discussed climate change, following President Bush's announcement yesterday. And we agreed we must work internationally to secure progress at the G8 and towards a post-Kyoto deal on climate change.

President, this is an ambitious agenda that we share together. It can only be achieved by closer cooperation that will happen over these next few months. I look forward to continuing to work with President Bush and his administration in taking it forward. And thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, sir. We'll take two questions a side. Hunt. Terry Hunt.

. . .

Yes, Toby.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, Mr. ElBaradei of the IAEA said today that Iran's progress in developing uranium enrichment is slow and that its centrifuges are older models. So how do you reconcile that with the U.S. view that Iran is a major nuclear threat?

And Prime Minister Brown, what concrete measures can Western governments take to address the soaring food prices? And do you think that there should be a rethinking of biofuel policy?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me start on Iran here. If they learn how to enrich, it is knowledge which can be used to develop a nuclear weapon. They claim that they have got a civilian program in place -- this is only for civilian purposes. If that's the case, why did they have a secret program? Why have they violated the IAEA? And so our objective is to, on the one hand, recognize they have a sovereign right to have civilian power by joining Russia and providing them with the fuel necessary to run their civilian nuclear facility; and then having them honor the agreements they've signed up to.

They have proven themselves to be untrustworthy. And, you know, to say that, well, okay, it's okay to let them learn to enrich -- and assume that that program and knowledge couldn't be transferred to a program, a military program, is, in my judgment, naive. And that is why the United States, in working with Britain and France and Germany and the United Nations Security Council, is all aiming to say to the Iranians: Verifiably suspend your program and there's a better way forward for you.

And so it's -- our diplomatic efforts are ongoing, and I appreciate the fact that Great Britain has been a great country to work with on this issue because Gordon Brown seriously sees the threat -- as do I. And now is the time to confront the threat, and I believe we can solve the problem diplomatically, and that is why we're working to verifiably suspend their enrichment.

PRIME MINISTER BROWN: Well, I make no apology for saying that we will extend sanctions where possible on Iran. Iran is in breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran has not told the truth to the international community about what its plans are. And that's why I'm talking to other European leaders about how we can extend European sanctions against Iran over the next period of time, and to ensure that what sanctions are taken are effectively implemented, and to monitor the effect on the Iranian regime where we see high inflation in Iran that is not properly disclosed by the regime, and the effect that sanctions are actually beginning to have on that country.

So in the next few weeks we want to extend the measures and sanctions to include investment in liquefied natural gas. I believe that sends another signal to the regime that what is happening is unacceptable. I'm pleased Secretary of State Rice is here with us today because we will support her in the efforts that are being made, working with our other partners, including of course Russia and China on this, to make sure that Iran recognizes that it cannot ignore the international community and its obligations at its -- without -- with impunity.

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