Briefing with Spokesperson Sean McCormack on P5+1 Incentive Package for Iran (Excerpts)

June 6, 2006

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QUESTION: Since the proposal has been made to Iran, can you ascribe at all what is happening here -- has the -- who has the Secretary been in touch with, if anyone? And what is your assessment of the initial reaction from the Iranians?

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. We have not had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Solana or any other member of his party. My understanding is that Mr. Solana as well -- accompanied by the political directors from the EU-3 -- England, Germany and France -- presented the proposal to the Iranian Government this morning and that they answered some of the Iranian Government's questions about it. We don't have a readout yet of the meeting. I would expect that in the near future the Secretary will probably talk to Mr. Solana but at the political director level we'll be in touch as well. So I can't offer you any insight into the atmosphere --


MR. MCCORMACK: Today. I would expect today. And we'll -- I'll try to keep you up to date on that. If there are any phone calls this afternoon, I'll try to let you know about them and share what I am able to from those phone calls. So I can't provide you any readout as to the atmosphere or any particular reaction from the Iranian Government. We have seen some public comments from it. I think you could look at them for yourself. I wouldn't characterize them one way or the other at this point, as either accepting or rejecting the proposal. So what we're going to do is going to wait to see what Mr. Solana has to report back from the meeting and then we'll try to have a little bit -- little bit fuller reaction. I can't tell you exactly when that will be, whether that's today or tomorrow.

QUESTION: We're reporting that the -- one of the components is an offer of U.S. technological help for civilian nuclear development. Can you describe that component at all?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I -- you know, I've seen a lot of reports flying around for the past couple of days about what may or may not be in this package. I would just caution everybody, until we actually are able to discuss what is in the package in public, to take reports with a grain of salt. There are robust measures on both sides, both the incentive side as well as the disincentive side in the package that was presented to the Iranian Government today. Where it presents the Iranian Government with a very clear choice on both sides of the road here: a pathway of negotiation, a pathway of increased isolation. So we'll to wait to see what their answer is. At the moment, we're going -- we're not going to discuss in public what the elements of the package may be, we want to give them time to consider it. They have had it presented to them. Now it's time for them to consider what their answer is going to be. We hope that there's going to be a positive answer. That we think is the best outcome for all involved; that they choose the pathway of negotiation; that they meet the conditions that the P-5+1 has laid them for them in order to have those negotiations.

QUESTION: And how long do they have to do that?

MR. MCCORMACK: The Secretary said it's a matter of weeks, not months. I'm not going to pin it down any further than that.

QUESTION: Sean, I'm sorry, did you say how Javier Solana is going to report back his discussions with the Iranians? Is there going to be another meeting or --

MR. MCCORMACK: What I told Anne, as well as the others here, is that I would expect the Secretary will be in contact with Mr. Solana at some point in the near future. We'll try to let you know when that is and I'll share with you what I can out of that contact.


QUESTION: Are you anticipating that there's going to be some sort of give and take and some negotiations over these robust measures? And secondly, why are you not releasing details of them? They now have them in hand. I mean, it could take weeks or possibly even a month, I don't know, for them to answer. So why do you want to keep it secret?

MR. MCCORMACK: Because we want to give this every opportunity to succeed. And once we start talking about these various -- the package in public, it becomes a public document, it becomes a matter for public debate and that's not where we are right now. The diplomacy, I would say, is at a sensitive stage. This package has been presented to the Iranian Government and we want to give them a little bit of space to consider what's in the package, both on the positive as well as the negative side. And we want to do that free from having a public debate about what has been agreed upon by all the members of the P-5+1.

QUESTION: And what about negotiations? Is there room to negotiate over this package?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're not to that point yet. And when we reach that point, what we talked about is having negotiations. But in order to get that point -- to that point, the Iranian regime needs to meet the conditions that were laid out for it by the P-5+1. And central to those conditions is a full suspension of all enrichment-related activities. It was laid out -- as laid out in the IAEA Board of Governors resolution in February -- I believe February of this year.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you that when do you think you're going to be able to give us details of what is in the package?

MR. MCCORMACK: In due course. In due course we hope to be able to share these with you. But as I said, we want to give the Iranian Government some time to consider what is in this package. So in due course, we will, I'm sure, be able to share this with you. But the time is not now.

QUESTION: But don't the public have a right to know what their governments are offering the Iranians?

MR. MCCORMACK: What the governments have a right to expect -- what the people have the right to expect is that their governments do everything that they possibly can to give diplomacy a chance to succeed and that's what we're doing now.


QUESTION: Sean, how would the fact that you would make this public impede Iran's chances or their desire to respond positive to the package? I mean, what --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think I just answered that question for Sue, Nicholas.

QUESTION: Well, I didn't hear the answer. If somebody did, please let me know. But what you said was that it leaves you more room in the negotiations.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, that's not what I said. That's not what I said, Nicholas. What I said is that this is a matter of sensitive diplomacy at the moment. We want to give the Iranian Government some time to consider this, to consider this package, free from having a public debate about what may or may not be in the package and we think that that's appropriate. We think that -- and all the ministers in the P-5+1 agreed that that is appropriate. There was an agreement among the ministers that we would not discuss the elements of the package in public before the Iranian Government has had some time to consider what is being offered to them.


QUESTION: But if they do stop their enrichment work -- this is following up on Sue -- that means that the elements of the incentive package are still under negotiation. Is that accurate?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, if --

QUESTION: I mean, it's still open for discussion once they stop -- if they stop their nuclear work*?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's -- then if they meet the conditions that have been laid out for them, it then becomes a negotiation. And we have laid out -- laid out for the Iranian regime -- the P-5+1 has laid out what as a group we believe is a positive package, a positive pathway. We're offering them that pathway and we hope that they take up the international community on that positive pathway. As we talked about, there's another one. And the international community, the P-5+1 is fully prepared to go down that pathway if the Iranian regime doesn't meet the conditions laid out for it.


QUESTION: Can -- without going into the elements of the package then, can you at least assure us that some of the principals that were very firm before the package was presented, such as no security guarantees, no security assurances for Iran, that that's still true?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of U.S. Security affairs?

QUESTION: Right. U.S. policy.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. This is, as Saul will remember, this is the exception -- the exception that I made to not talking about the package. U.S. security guarantees are not on the table.

Yes, Sylvie.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to characterize the answer, the response of Iran, but can you at least tell us if, according to you, it's something -- it's a good sign or it's a bad sign or it's --

MR. MCCORMACK: Sylvie, without -- without all the facts here, I'm not going to try to characterize it. We've seen along with you all the public comments that Mr. Larijani have made. I think we're going to wait until we get a sense of what the response was from the representatives from the EU-3 and Mr. Solana before we have any further comment on it.

After we have had an opportunity to consult with them, then I'll try to get you a little bit more of a response. I'll try to share something a little bit more with you.

QUESTION: They're -- while not revealing any parts of the package, the Iranians have said that they find there is some ambiguities. Would you agree with them that there are any ambiguities or would you dispute that analysis?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, without having access to the facts here and the facts would be what Mr. Solana may have heard from the Iranians, I'm not going to try to dissect what they have said in public.

Yes. Anything else on Iran?



QUESTION: Although there's no kind of timeline, at what point do the penalties or sticks kick in if Iran doesn't suspend? I mean, you're not going to wait for them indefinitely to suspend.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we've talked about weeks, not months, as the timeline for them to consider whether or not they want to go down this positive pathway. If they choose not to, then the international community is fully prepared at that point to go down the pathway of the UN Security Council.

QUESTION: Well -- but weeks, not months is also kind of ambiguous. While you don't want to tell us specifically, have you told the Iranians you have X date to give us an answer?

MR. MCCORMACK: We -- let me wait until we get the readout from Mr. Solana's meeting before I go into any more detail on that.


QUESTION: How long would it take the Iranians to suspend and have that verified to your satisfaction?

MR. MCCORMACK: That -- well, part of that's a technical question because the suspension would be verified by the IAEA.

QUESTION: I'm just wondering how long that whole thing takes.

MR. MCCORMACK: I think it'll probably take a matter of weeks.

QUESTION: Not months.


QUESTION: You said U.S. security guarantees are not on the table.


QUESTION: Does that also include the U.S. acceding to any multilateral security guarantees that the other five may be willing to present?

MR. MCCORMACK: U.S. security guarantees, U.S.-based security guarantees, U.S. participation in security guarantees not on the table.

QUESTION: That should cover it. Thank you.

QUESTION: But are you willing to discuss the idea of security with them in a dialogue without providing a guarantee?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think I could be any more clear than I was with Teri.

QUESTION: Well, there's a difference between providing a guarantee and engaging with a country on a dialogue about the issue of security.

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that we have sliced the salami here about as thin as you can slice it.

Anything else on Iran?

QUESTION: Iranian President keeps saying according to the reports and also he keeps saying in public also that he is backed by China and Russia, and he will not move as far as nuclear program where Iran is concerned.

MR. MCCORMACK: All I can say is the package that was presented to the Iranians was agreed upon by the P5+1, which includes Russia and China.

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QUESTION: There must be some content inside this incentive side of the proposal like freezing foreign assets of Iran, like that. Do you recognize them as economic sanction or this is the only disincentive. Is there any difference between disincentives and economic sanctions?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there -- well, people will use different words to characterize it. We have used the words robust measures, robust steps that the international community would take that are agreed upon by the P5+1. So I'm not going to characterize it any further than that.

But I will say that we have talked about outside of this process, outside the Security Council, outside of this potential negotiating track, the United States and other like-minded states are looking at what other measures they might take that might prevent the Iranian regime from using the international financial system to further their nuclear weapons program, to further financing of terror, also talking to other like-minded states about counterproliferation measures.

A good example of that is our Proliferation Security Initiative, how to use those sort of defensive or counterproliferation measures to stop the inflow or the outflow of WMD, weapons of mass destruction technology and know how. So those are discussions that are also taking place but are outside the track of the P-5+1 potential negotiating track and outside of the Security Council track as well.

QUESTION: Do you mean it is -- you don't require any resolution in the Security Council for this -- disincentives?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you're mixing terms a bit here. Let me go back. We talked about this in terms of three tracks. There's the Security Council track, there's the P-5+1 potential negotiating track that everybody's very interested in today, and there's a third track and those are the so-called financial measures or the counterproliferation steps. Those are things that don't necessarily require any action by the Security Council. Those are steps that individual states or like-minded states can take together in concert outside of the Security Council track.

QUESTION: I just have one more question --


QUESTION: You say --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll start apologizing now. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I mean, you say you're not going to reveal the details of the package, but details are being leaked. I'm not saying by you, but clearly some information coming out of Vienna. Would you correct anything that is wrong in those leaks?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to do it one way or the other because that starts going down the road of what's in it, what might not be in it. I would just point out that the negotiations aren't taking place in Vienna.

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