Briefing with Spokesperson Tom Casey on Negotiations over the Iranian Nuclear File (Excerpts)

June 2, 2006

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QUESTION: Did you see President Putin's statement that sanctions against Iran would be premature?

MR. CASEY: I actually just saw the statement before I came out, George. Look, I think the thing that we want to make clear is what the Secretary has been saying and I think you've all seen her remarks today. We think the Vienna meeting was a great success and we're very satisfied with the outcome that we achieved on all fronts of that. And what the P-5 have agreed to is two pathways ahead to offer Iran. First of all -- and there's also robust pathways on -- robust measures on both pathways, excuse me. The first is on the positive incentives and then also on the disincentives.

Now as the Secretary said and as the ministers themselves made clear last night, we're not going to discuss the details of either side of this package until there's an opportunity for this package to be presented to the Iranians and they have a chance to look at it, think about it for a while. So frankly at this point, what I'm going to do on this is just leave this issue where it's been -- with the Secretary's comments. We believe this package is good. It does offer both incentives and disincentives. All the P-5+1 ministers have agreed to it and now the next steps are really to take it to the Iranians and let them consider it.

QUESTION: So it doesn't sound like the ministers have agreed on disincentives, does it, if Russia is saying no to sanctions?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, all I can tell you is what I know coming out of Vienna which is that a package was agreed to and we are quite satisfied with it and that it does include both measures on the incentive side as well as on the disincentive side. I'm not going to try and, you know, comment on other people's remarks related to it. And again, I think the point now is for us not to be trying to talk about the various pieces of it publicly. What needs to happen now is a serious diplomatic presentation of that package to the Iranians and let's see what they do with it.


QUESTION: Already today the Iranian President's come out saying that the West will not win, essentially, to try to get them to stop their nuclear technology pursuit, as he would call it. Any reaction to that? It doesn't sound like he's very threatened by what has just come out of Vienna.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think before we can consider that there's an Iranian reaction to the package, the package needs to be presented to them. Again, I think if Iran chooses the path of cooperation, if Iran decides to suspend uranium enrichment, come back to talks, negotiate in good faith and move forward on this, then this is something that can be beneficial not only for the rest of the international community but for Iran and for Iran's people as well.

QUESTION: But it sounds like that threshold of stopping uranium enrichment work is not something the Iranians are willing to do.

MR. CASEY: Again, I think before we know what their reaction is to the package, I think it needs to be presented to them and let's wait and see -- see what they do.


QUESTION: But, Tom, the Iranians have made it very clear to the Foreign Minister, who said they are welcome to talks but no end to uranium enrichment.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I know we've seen a variety of statements that have been made by a variety of people, both in Iran and elsewhere on this. But again, nobody's actually presented the package. The Iranians don't, as of yet, have it. They don't know what's in it. And I think what's important to remember about this is this is a unified package. It represents the concerted agreement of all the ministers that were there in Vienna. And again, it does present Iran with the kind of clear choice that the Secretary's been talking about.

And I think what we need to see happen is have that choice presented to them, presented in a very clear form specifically as agreed to, and then we'll honestly be able to know what their reaction is. Until that time, I know there's a lot of interest. I know there's a lot of speculation about what will happen or what won't. But this is a real and sincere effort at diplomacy. It is about giving Iran that kind of clear choice that we've been talking about and we'll see what Iran does. Clearly what we believe is in the best interest of Iran, of the Iranian people and of the international community is for them to accept the terms that have been established by the international community to suspend uranium enrichment activities, to return to the talks and to negotiate in good faith. That's the course of action that we hope they'll take.

But ultimately, we'll just have to see what they do once they've seen the package and had a chance to think about it.

Yeah, Teri.

QUESTION: Tom, as a general principle, has the U.S. ever agreed to take off the table, even for a short period of time, the threat of military force or is that something that just will never be -- which would amount to a security assurance for Iran?

MR. CASEY: Teri, I don't have any changes to the, you know, longstanding U.S. policy on any issue, which is not to -- certainly on my part -- not take off the table on behalf of the President any actions or non-actions. But again, our pursuit of this and what we've shown through our actions in the last few weeks here, and certainly what we've shown coming out of Vienna, is that we are working full-out on a diplomatic resolution of this crisis. We're doing so in conjunction with our allies in Europe, with the Chinese and the Russians, the Germans, the French, the British as well as others in the international community at the Security Council and elsewhere. So we're very much on a diplomatic track.

QUESTION: And can you say, as the Secretary did leading into this meeting still that the Europeans and others in the P-5+1 did not request the United States for any security assurances?

MR. CASEY: I have no change in what she said to that, no.


QUESTION: Is there anything regarding the violation of human rights, supporting of terrorism, in the package?

MR. CASEY: Again, I'm not going to -- I'm really not in a position to talk to you in specific details about the package, either on the incentive side or the disincentive side. The important thing is to let that be brought to the Iranians and have them respond to it and I think we'll be able to talk about it after that point.

Yeah, John.

QUESTION: I think the Secretary said the Iranians got weeks to look at these proposals -- not months -- but can you be any firmer in a sort of -- is there a date attached to the packages that are being offered?

MR. CASEY: I don't have any kind of timetable or anything to offer you beyond what she said, which is that the timeframe here is weeks, not months.

QUESTION: So the -- can you walk us through what happens next in the next few days, getting the package to the Iranians?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think as the Secretary said, it will be, you know, presented to the Iranians. We will not be part of that presentation, as she said. I don't really have a specific timeline to offer you as to when that presentation is going to take place. I think those are the kind of details that are being worked out now. And I don't want to try and get into pinning them down for people that are actively working on it that aren't me, for sure.

QUESTION: What about -- sort of -- what about the times of the presentation there? Can you tell us when exactly that will happen?

MR. CASEY: No. I mean, I expect that'll be happening. They'll be presented in the coming days. But I don't have a specific timeline to offer you -- for you on that. Again, I think those are details that are being worked out.

QUESTION: And at what level do you think these discussions will take place? Is it ministers or is it --

MR. CASEY: Again, I think the details of how that presentation is going to be delivered and such are things that are being worked out at this point. And I'd rather make sure that those are finalized and that the thing actually moves forward before I start trying to speculate on that. Sue.

QUESTION: So is it your assessment now that this is a sort of a knee-jerk reaction, the Iranian -- reaction that (inaudible) as kind of a knee-jerk reaction. Then when they see your carrots and sticks, they'll be completely smitten by the sticks fearful -- smitten by the carrots, fearful of the sticks and then they'll change their mind. Is that what you're hoping?

MR. CASEY: I'm seeing a large rabbit going -- (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yeah. Me, too. Me, too.

MR. CASEY: -- these carrots and sticks. (Laughter.)


MR. CASEY: Well, I think the only assessment I have to offer you right now is that we haven't seen a Iranian reaction to the package yet because the Iranians don't have the package to react to.


QUESTION: Why -- could you explain further why it's so important to keep the package so secret?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think what we're doing is the way diplomacy should normally proceed. As the Secretary said before she left for Vienna, we thought it would be useful to actually have the conversation among the ministers and reach agreement on the package before discussing it or debating it in public. And again, I think it is part of just the sincerity of this effort that rather than having the Iranian Government find out about this package by reading about it through public statements or by having it published out there, that we do what is appropriate diplomatic action, which is take it to them, have them be briefed on it, have them get a full reading and understanding on it, again, before we start talking about various pieces of it or talking about it in full publicly. And I think that's the basic rationale.

QUESTION: Would you say -- would you say then it's an effort to try to build some relationship of trust and good faith that perhaps has been lacking in the relationship?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think again what it shows is the seriousness of the diplomacy here and the belief that it's important that we proceed very clearly and directly and that there's no misunderstandings or miscommunications with the Iranian government about this and that means that what they need to get is to see the package, see it in full and be able to evaluate it based on what's actually there, rather than on what they may or may not hear through, you know, other public meetings.


QUESTION: Will the person who is delivering this -- I imagine it's Solana -- will he be given any wiggle room in terms of negotiating? Will he be doing a bit of shuttle diplomacy, going backwards and forth saying they want this, they don't want that or can we please adjust this?

MR. CASEY: You know, my understanding at this point is it will be presented to them. Obviously, they will have some time to think about it and then come up with a response. Where it goes from there, I guess depends on how they respond.

QUESTION: And then finally, the Russians are saying that it's too premature for sanctions. So can one assume that sanctions are not included, seeing as the Russians are onboard with all of the proposal -- with everything in the proposal?

MR. CASEY: Nice try. Again, I'm just simply not going to get into characterizing the incentives or the disincentive side again except to say that they're both there. They've all been agreed to and we feel very satisfied on all fronts with the outcome that we've gotten in this.

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