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

June 16, 2008

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • North Korea

PRIME MINISTER BROWN: I'm delighted to welcome President Bush and the First Lady back to London. And his visit today is an opportunity to celebrate the historic partnership of shared purpose that unites the United Kingdom and the United States of America. We both share a great love of history and about how we have forged the ideas of democracy and liberty over centuries. And the special partnership that President Bush and I both agree today is a partnership not just of governments but of peoples is driven forward not simply by mutual interests, but by our shared values: both countries founded upon liberty, our histories forged through democracy, our shared values expressed by a commitment to opportunity for all, putting into practice what Churchill called the "joint inheritance of the English speaking world."

So let me thank President Bush for being a true friend of Britain and for the importance he attaches to enhancing our transatlantic partnership, from the work we do in Afghanistan and Iraq to every part of the world. And let me thank him for the steadfastness and the resolution that he has shown in rooting out terrorism in all parts of the world; in working for a Middle East peace settlement; in bringing hope to Africa; in working for a free trade world, where in spite of today's difficulties with oil and food prices, there is and should be a wider and deeper prosperity in the future for all.

Now in our substantive and wide-ranging talks last night and this morning, the President and I have discussed a number of central issues. We have discussed Iran's nuclear ambitions. We have discussed Iraq and Afghanistan, where our forces are working side by side. We have discussed the criminal cabal that now threatens to make a mockery of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. We have discussed what we can do about democracy in Burma.

. . .

Our message today to the Iranian people is that you do not have to choose the path of confrontation. The latest rounds of talks with the Iranians took place over the weekend. Once again, we put our enhanced offer on the table, including political and economic partnership, and help with nuclear technology for civilian use. We await the Iranian response and we'll do everything possible to maintain the dialogue. But we are also clear that if Iran continues to ignore united resolutions, to ignore our offers of partnership, we have no choice but to intensify sanctions. And so today Britain will urge Europe and Europe will agree to take further sanctions against Iran.

First of all, we will take action today that will freeze the overseas assets of the biggest bank in Iran, the bank Melli.

And second, action will start today for a new phase of sanctions on oil and gas. And I will repeat that we will take any necessary actions so that Iran is aware of the choice it has to make: to start to play its part as a full and respected member of the international community or face further isolation.

. . .

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. And I thank you very much for your friendship, thank you for your hospitality. This is -- this has been a good trip. By the way, some are speculating this is my last trip. Let them speculate. Who knows? (Laughter.) But it's been a -- we had a great dinner last night. I want to thank you and Sarah. And thanks for calling together the historians. It's a -- you know, Great Britain has produced great historians. And I am -- I love reading a lot of their works, and it was so kind of you to have them over. And the food was good, too. (Laughter.)

. . .

I thank you for your troop announcement today in Afghanistan, as well. Then you issued a strong statement on Iran. It was a clear statement, and it was a strong statement, and it was a necessary statement, because the free world has an obligation to work together in concert to prevent the Iranians from having the know-how to develop a nuclear weapon. And now is the time to work together to get it done, and I appreciate your statement. Hopefully the Iranian leadership will take a different position then the one they've taken in the past, which is basically, who cares what the free world says, we're going to -- we'll go our own way. And now has faced -- they face serious isolation, and the people who are suffering are the Iranian people. We have no qualms with the Iranian people. As a matter of fact, we want the Iranian people to thrive. It's in our interests that there be a hopeful society. It's their government who has denied them their rightful place in the world.

And so I want to thank you very much for working hard to, you know, to help keep this coalition together to provide pressure necessary so we can solve the problem diplomatically. That's my first choice. Iranians must understand all options are on the table, however.

. . .

Q Good morning, Mr. President, Prime Minister. I'd like to ask you both about Iran. President Bush, you've talked about it at every stop. A similar process, it seems, that is deterring North Korea from its nuclear ambitions has basically allowed North Korea [sic] to make progress toward nuclear weapons. At what point are you willing to draw a line here with Iran, and isn't Iran seemingly learning a lesson from the North Korea experience?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Ed, I just strongly disagree with your premise that the six-party talks has encouraged Iran to develop nuclear weapons. I don't know why you have even come to that conclusion, because the facts are the six-party talks is the only way to send a message to the North Koreans that the world isn't going to tolerate them having a weapon.

I mean, in other words, they are -- we'll see what they disclose, but we hopefully are in the process of disabling and dismantling their plutonium manufacturing. We're hopefully in the process of getting them to disclose what they have manufactured and eventually turning it over. We're hopefully in the process of disclosing their proliferation activities, and it's a six-party process. I mean, the only way, in my judgment, to diplomatically solve these kinds of problems with nations like Iran and North Korea, non-transparent nations, is through a multilateral process, where there's more than one nation sending the same message to the leaders of these respective countries.

And so I disagree with your premise. As a matter of fact, the Iranians must understand that when we come together and speak with one voice, we're serious. That's why the Prime Minister's statement was so powerful, and that's the lesson that the North Koreans are hearing. And so it's -- I said the other day that, you know, one of the things that I will leave behind is a multilateralism to deal with tyrants, so problems can be solved diplomatically.

And the difficulty, of course, is that sometimes economics and money trumps national security interests. So you go around asking nations -- by the way, it's not a problem for Great Britain -- so you say to your partners, don't sell goods; you know, let's send a focused message all aiming to create the conditions so that somebody rational shows up. In other words, people hopefully are sick of isolation in their respective countries, and they show up and say, we're tired of this; there's a better way forward.

And in order for that to be effective, Ed, there has to be more than one voice. So if I were the North Koreans and I were looking at Iran, or the Iranians looking at North Korea, I'd say, uh-oh, there are coalitions coming together that are bound tightly -- more tightly than ever in order to send us a focused message.

And, you know, let me just say one thing about the Iranian demand for civilian nuclear power. It's a justifiable demand. You just heard the Prime Minister talk about the spread of civilian nuclear power, which I support -- starting in my own country, by the way; we need to be building civilian nuclear power plants.

And so when the Iranians say, we have a sovereign right to have one, the answer is, you bet, you have a sovereign right, absolutely. But you don't have the trust of those of us who have watched you carefully when it comes to enriching uranium, because you have declared that you want to destroy democracies in the neighborhood, for example. Therefore -- and this is the Russian proposal, by the way -- therefore we'll provide fuel for you, and we'll collect the fuel after you've used it so you can have your nuclear -- civilian nuclear power, which undermines what the Iranians are saying, and that is, we must enrich in order to have civilian nuclear power. You don't need to enrich to have civilian nuclear power. The Russian proposal is what we support. This proposal wouldn't have happened had there not been a multilateral process.

And so what these nations need to see is we're serious about solving these problems. And the United States spends a lot of time working with our partners to get them solved.

Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER BROWN: Thank you all very much.