Briefing with Department Spokesperson Sean McCormack on the two Pathways Open to Iran (Excerpts)

June 12, 2006

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QUESTION: As you know, Ali Larijani, the top negotiator of Iranian regime, traveled yesterday to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, meet with the President of Egypt and some kind of campaign they started to do that regarding the package of P-5+1.

My question is: are you staying firm on your position regarding the full suspension of Iranian -- enrichment of Iranian or -- because they're talking about a partial enrichment?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. No. It's the position of the P-5+1, which was the agreed upon by the ministers, was full suspension of all enrichment and reprocessing related activities, and that is a necessary -- that is a prerequisite to beginning negotiations.

QUESTION: And then he mentioned that there is no word of sanction in the package. But President, Madame Secretary and all officials repeated many times that there will be a sanction in this Security Council. Why you didn't mention the word of sanction on the package?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what we've talked about are two pathways, and we've talked about the incentive side. There is also a disincentive side. And that disincentive side would come about if Iran does not take up the P-5+1 on this offer that's offered for negotiations.

And should they choose not to take up on this offer, then the international community, the P-5+1 is prepared to go down the route of the UN. Now I'm not going to go into exactly what steps the UN would take, but suffice it to say there is agreement among the P-5+1 that should they choose to not take up this offer, then we go down the pathway of disincentives.

QUESTION: It seems that Javier Solana is hopeful, even expectant, that he will receive a reply this week from the Iranians. Do you -- have you received any messages of that kind from your allies? Do you have any reason to suspect the answer will come this week?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll see. We'll know the answer when we receive it. It could be this week, it could be next week. We would hope that it's soon. And we would hope that it's a positive response and that Iran would take the steps necessary in order to realize these negotiations. But really the ball is in their court. It's really up to them now. This offer of negotiation has been made, and we'll see if they take up the world on that offer.

QUESTION: I know you don't want to tell us the deadline, but is it getting close? Is it ticking, ticking, ticking?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's closer than it was when they made the agreement.

QUESTION: Is there anything new regarding Ambassador Zal to start meeting with Iranian diplomats about --


QUESTION: -- in Iraq?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, nothing new.

QUESTION: The issue of reprocessing notwithstanding, the Iranians have talked about, oh, there's parts of this we like and we're going to come with a counteroffer. Is that something the P-5 is willing to entertain in general or was it a yes or a no on the package?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the prerequisite to have negotiations -- I think then that's when you get into offers and counteroffers -- is for them to meet the conditions. The conditions are laid out by the IAEA Board of Governors. These aren't U.S. conditions. These are the conditions of the P-5+1 and, I might add, the conditions of the IAEA Board of Governors. And it gets into living up to the standards of the additional protocol. But the central condition is that Iran would have to fully suspend and verifiably suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing-related activities.

QUESTION: So you're not prepared to get into a negotiating process with them at this stage about the package?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, it's pretty simple. The ball is in their court. The conditions are very clear. They couldn't be more clear. They were laid out by the P-5+1, laid out by the IAEA. We'll see if they take up the offer.

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