Briefing with Spokesperson Tom Casey on Negotiations with Iran (Excerpts)

May 22, 2006

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QUESTION: Tom, new subject. There's a report today that the United States is using its leverage with banking regulations to sort of put the screws to Iran's trade and I'm wondering what you can say about that. And also, how does that square with the idea of, at some point, offering Iran a choice between incentives and disincentives when it seems like they're getting the disincentives up front?

MR. CASEY: Well, let me take the liberty of your question to provide you answers to one you didn't ask, but I know other people are interested in and then I will answer your question. How about that? For starters, I know there was some questions about the schedule for Under Secretary Nick Burns and his travels, so let me give you the latest and greatest. The latest, at this point, is he will be leaving today from Boston, where he's been with the Secretary at the Boston College commencement address. He'll be arriving in London and then on Tuesday, will be having consultations with individual members of the P-5+1 group. And then as I understand it, the full P-5+1 meeting will, in fact, take place on Wednesday. So there is the latest schedule update for you and I hope that --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: He's good for 10 minutes, maybe.

MR. CASEY: You said it, Barry. In terms of the question you raised, Dave, I think what you're seeing here is a very clear indication that financial institutions are starting to reevaluate their dealings with Iran. And I think that there's ample reason to believe that these kind of financial institutions certainly monitor what's going on in the international community, they're following what's happening in the process not only from the U.S. side, but from the other groups.

But you know, I think they're making some pretty clear decisions on their own that are based on their business concerns and based on an assessment of whether they really want to be associated with a country and doing business with a country that's engaged in actively seeking a nuclear weapon, that's actively defying the international community. And so I think what we're seeing is an example of how Iran is, in fact, isolating itself.

QUESTION: But clearly, this is at the encouragement of the U.S. Government that they're taking this look, correct?

MR. CASEY: Well, I would leave it to folks at Treasury to talk to you about financial measures or individual issues involved, but I do think that what's being -- happening here is in response to real business decisions and real business concerns, rather than any specific pressure from the United States or anyone else. I mean, people are going to decide for themselves who they want to do business with. And I think Iran has created for itself a record that's going to make not only financial institutions but other kinds of private enterprise think seriously about whether they want to engage with them.

QUESTION: Do you remember when Mr. Burns's schedule was up in the air again and again? The idea of -- we were told was that we're looking for a package to fall into place, and when it does it'll be appropriate for him to go there and talk to his counterparts on this new strategy. So should we assume, since he's getting on an airplane, that you now have a package in place to be tidied up in London?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think you should assume that what he's going to be doing in London is talking with all of his colleagues about that package. I'll leave it to them to talk to you about any details of it or to make any announcements as to what's included in it.

QUESTION: I understand. Of course he's going to be talking about it. The question is, he was not to go -- that's putting it a little strong, but he was not to go until the package was in hand.

MR. CASEY: Well, I think it's safe to say that the EU-3 has something that they'd like to discuss with us and the other members of the P-5+1, and that's certainly what we're interested in seeing while we're out there.

Yeah, Sylvie.

QUESTION: Yesterday the Secretary said that Europeans didn't ask any security guarantee for Iran, but today Europeans say just the opposite. The spokesman of the French Foreign Ministry said that security question will be indeed discussed in London. So aren't you concerned that these obvious differences will hamper the importance or the weight of this package?

MR. CASEY: I haven't seen comments from the French Foreign Ministry. I stick, obviously, 100 percent and completely behind what the Secretary said and I'd just refer you to her comments on that.

Yeah, Libby.

QUESTION: What is the latest on the UN Security Council resolution? Is the goal to finish that this week when Nick is in London, to finish up a text?

MR. CASEY: I don't actually have a timetable to share with you. Obviously, the consultations on that are continuing in New York. But you know, I think we'll put that into place as sort of part of the overall effort, but I'm not offering any predictions today.

QUESTION: Mohamed ElBaradei is coming this week and the issue of security guarantees is definitely on his agenda. So will the Secretary tell him that this is something that the U.S. just cannot support and that all options have to stay on the table? Will she just reiterate that?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'm not going to predict what's going to happen in meetings that she has. But again, I think on this issue, Sue, we've made it about as clear as we possibly can. She has spoken to it. Sean has spoken to it from here. I think Nick has in his various engagements either. This is not something that's on the table, as she said, and I don't expect there to be any change in that.

QUESTION: So are the French lying then when they say that this is a big issue and that it's been brought up?

MR. CASEY: Sue, all I can tell you is what she said to this subject. I am unfamiliar with the comments made that Sylvie is referring to. But again, I'd just refer you back to what she said on it.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the same table?

QUESTION: Is the question too formal? In other words, the Administration has made clear that it has no plans, blah, blah, blah, but the option, blah, blah, blah, the table, the chair, you know, the blackboard. Well, you know the rote of this.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: It could be you're talking of the difference, the disagreement here or the distinction may be whether you have a formal guarantee or not, and the U.S. is not in favor of a formal guarantee. Could that be it?

MR. CASEY: No, that's not -- again, I think her comments were about as explicit as you could make it, Barry, and I don't want to try and slice the salami here.

QUESTION: But how can even the French get it so wrong?

MR. CASEY: I'll leave it to them to describe it.

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QUESTION: A question about consultation on Iran in London. I heard the Japanese Vice Foreign Minister is going to London to meet with Mr. Burns over there. And then I understand that now, a consultation could be expanded beyond P-5, plus Germany and Japan is going to participate in that consultation?

MR. CASEY: That's not anything I've heard and in terms of the Japanese Vice Foreign Minister's travels, I'd refer you to them.

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