Daily Press Briefing by Sean McCormack, Department Spokesperson on Iran's Relations with Egypt, Space Launch Program and U.N. Sanctions Process (Excerpts)

February 4, 2008

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Related Country: 

  • Egypt

. . .

QUESTION: Sean, there have been quite a few Iranian officials visiting Egypt in the past couple of weeks talking about reestablishing relations between the two countries. Are you encouraging that or do you think there is a sort of potential danger of the Iranians having some influence in Cairo?

MR. MCCORMACK: Completely up to the Egyptian Government and the Iranian Government to decide upon whether - what sort of relationship they have and whether that involves diplomatic relations. We're confident that the Egyptian Government, however, will relay to the Iranian Government in any of these meetings or interactions what the international community has been saying: Play a positive role in the world, whether that is stopping your support for terrorism, treating your people better, or adhering to the lawful demands of the international community.

QUESTION: Do you get anything about the Iranian (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: This was the space launch --

QUESTION: Satellite.

MR. MCCORMACK: Satellite, yeah. I did look into it, and it is just another troubling development in that the kinds of technologies and capabilities that are needed in order to launch a space - a space vehicle for orbit are the same kinds of capabilities and technologies that one would employ for long-range ballistic missiles. And of course, the UN Security Council and other members of the international system have expressed their deep concern about Iran's continuing development of medium- and long-range ballistic missiles. The reason for that concern is tied to their continued development of - to continued search to perfect enrichment of uranium, which can, of course, be used in a nuclear weapon.

So you know, we have talked oftentimes about the three parts that are needed for an Iranian nuclear weapons program. You know what our intelligence estimate has said about the active part about their military efforts to build a nuclear weapon, but there are two other parts to being able to successfully deliver a nuclear weapon. Part of that is a ballistic missile program, which they are continuing on with, their medium-range ballistic missile program, which they say can now reach a distance of 2,000 kilometers, can hit Europe. They're clearly marching ahead on the development of a long-range ballistic missile and, of course, you have the enrichment program which they are continuing to engage in.

QUESTION: How are your efforts at getting the elements of the resolution that were - was agreed by the P-5 plus Germany through or accepted by the ten non-permanent members at the UN?

MR. MCCORMACK: My understanding is that on Friday the EU-3 circulated the draft resolution - so that's not just the elements but that's the actual text of a resolution - with the other members of the Security Council. The EU-3 are going to be sponsoring the resolution.

I can't tell you what sort of reaction they've gotten yet. I would expect if this situation holds to past practice, that you will have a variety of different reactions from, "Where do we sign," to "Well, we'd like to discuss a few of these elements or some of this language," all of which are acceptable and to be expected in the Security Council process.

I can't tell you how long it will take. I wouldn't be surprised if it took a few weeks for this process to complete itself. But we believe we have a good, strong resolution, a Chapter 7 resolution which, again, sends a message to the Iranians, once passed, that: Continue to defy the international community and you will find yourself further and further isolated from that international system.

QUESTION: Who are in the, "Where do we sign," category, would you say?

MR. MCCORMACK: What's that?

QUESTION: Which countries are in the, "Where do we sign," category?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm just - I was speculating. I was just speculating, Matt, that you can have a range of possible reactions based on past experience.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.