Interview with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer (Excerpts)

November 22, 2003

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MS. WARNER: Finally, on Iran and its nuclear program, the IAEA, the Atomic Energy Agency, is now deliberating, of course, in Vienna over what to do. Is the U.S. still pushing to have the IAEA declare that Iran is in violation and refer this to the Security Council?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, what our position is, clearly, no one would say that Iran wasn't in violation. She's admitted her past transgressions, and Dr. ElBaradei and his colleagues on the IAEA have said as much publicly.

We're looking for an appropriate response. We're working with the Europeans and other members of the Board of Governors to try to have an appropriate response which will make it very clear what Iran did and which way that the international community thinks she needs to go in the future.

MS. WARNER: What's your reading of why the Europeans have not agreed with the U.S. fully on this?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think, like any diplomatic endeavor, it takes a long time to get full agreement, particularly when you've got so many members who have so many opinions. I would prefer to use a term that we haven't yet reached agreement, rather than do not agree. We're still continuing these discussions. There's movement on all sides as we fashion the appropriate response.

MS. WARNER: Do you think that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has, in any way, undercut the U.S. ability to push hard in the case of Iran?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, quite the contrary. It was the U.S. who was proven to be quite correct, standing up against the Iranian program, against those who said, "Oh, Iran is just acting in a benign way and of course they don't have a program."

Now, faced with the admissions of the Iranians themselves, I think that both our intelligence agencies and our political judgments are validated.

MS. WARNER: Secretary Armitage, thanks so much.