Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and German Foreign Minister of Affairs Joschka Fischer on Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Program (Excerpts)

November 17, 2003
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It has been my pleasure once again to host my colleague and good friend, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. We've had a very good discussion over lunch on the state of U.S.-Germany bilateral relations, which I think are solid. And the disagreements that we have had in the past, we are leaving in the past, as we move forward on discussing issues of mutual interest to our two countries -- the alliances that we belong to, NATO, as well as issues relating our relationship with the European Union.

I'll be leaving tonight for European Union meetings tomorrow, and I look forward to those meetings, and so I think we're moving in the right direction. Germany has been especially helpful with the alliance efforts, the coalition efforts in Afghanistan - a willingness to take on responsibility for a provincial reconstruction team in Kondoz, the very significant financial contribution from Germany toward the rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan.

And we also had an opportunity to discuss the work that Foreign Minister Fischer, joined by Foreign Secretary Straw and Foreign Minister de Villepin have been doing, with respect to the Iranian nuclear program, and I thanked him for those efforts. We'll have a chance to discuss that further with my other European Union colleagues tomorrow.

And so, Joschka, it is our great pleasure to have you here, and I invite you to say a word, and then we'll take a couple of questions.

FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Thank you very much. First of all, I conveyed my condolences and sympathy to my colleague, Colin Powell, about the death of American servicemen who were killed in Iraq. We were all so shocked about what happened with the Italian Carabinieri and about these outrages and terrible terror attack against synagogues during the Shabad in Turkey.

It reflects the situation of today, and we must cooperate very closely in the transatlantic family, and therefore we appreciate it very much that Colin is going to Brussels. We discussed the initiative now to move forward with the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq. We appreciate that step forward, and hopefully it can be broadened. And towards the UN, we discussed about the Middle East conflict, Iran, Afghanistan, the whole variety of crises. We are cooperating very closely, and we discussed about the transatlantic relationship.

Once again, it's good to be here in Washington, and have very close discussions with my friend, Colin Powell. Thank you very much.



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QUESTION: Mr. Secretary -- I'm sorry -- Minister Fischer, primarily, as one of the people who went to Iran shortly before the October 31st deadline -- you've surely been watching that situation carefully -- what did you think of the U.S. assessment already that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report is "impossible to believe," and does the German Government share that assessment?

FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Well, first of all, I think it's very important that we are moving forward, based on realism, and realism must be based on transparency and these are the basic principles of the agreement, the three of us, the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, France and myself reached with the Iranian side in Tehran.

I think we are moving in the right direction, but we must go now into the details. It means full compliance, and this must be measured by the IAEO. So, if we are moving in the right direction, I think it's a good message, but it must be based, once again, on realism.

QUESTION: But what about the reports? You didn't answer my question. What does the German Government think about the IAEA report issued by ElBaradei?

FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Well, we will discuss it now, I think, in a constructive way, and inside the Board of Governors. I mean, this discussion will not happen here on the press conference. It will happen and take place in the Board of Governors. But we are quite positive about the whole atmosphere, but once again, we must be realists.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the possibility of turning Iraq into some sort of formal NATO mission, formal NATO undertaking, is this possible? Is it desirable, sir?

SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't rule out anything at this point. I know that NATO has discussed this and I've had discussions with NATO, but right now, I think it's premature to think about that. As we get further down the road on this new plan that we have, we could look at a variety of options, but I think it would be premature to rule that in or rule it out at this point. It's something to be discussed and thought about as we go forward.

Over to our European friends.


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QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, EU Foreign Policy Representative Solana said that the Iranians provided "honest data" about their nuclear program. Does the Administration agree with that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't have gone quite as far. The Iranians have provided us a great deal of information. It confirms what the United States has been saying for some time and which we believe, that the Iranian nuclear development program was for more than just the production of power, that it had an intent to producing a nuclear weapon, and I think that the information that has come forward establishes that.

For a long time, we were the only ones who were sort of pressing the case. I think that my three colleagues, the EU Three, played a very, very helpful role in going to Tehran on a couple of occasions and putting the facts before the Iranians and coming back with a very, very positive and productive result. But I don't think this matter is finished. I think we have to remain vigilant; as the minister said, we have to be realistic.

But realism means making sure that the Iranians tell us every single thing there is to know about what they have been doing with respect to nuclear developments of all kinds so that the international community can make an informed, comprehensive and full judgment as to what they have been doing and whether they have stopped doing the things that we have been suggesting for some time they were doing, that were inconsistent with their obligations and should cause all of us to have serious concerns about judging too quickly whether or not we have now received the full and complete story from the Iranians.

Thank you.

(Secretary escorts Foreign Minister.)

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what do you think of the draft? What do you think of the -- wait, Barry. What do you think of the draft - the draft IAEA resolution?



SECRETARY POWELL: Or a proposed resolution?

QUESTION: Well, their draft.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, whose draft? Whose draft?

QUESTION: It's the German, French and --

SECRETARY POWELL: We're examining it, and I'll have a position on it after my staff has finished (inaudible).


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