Briefing with Spokesperson Sean McCormack on Upcoming P5+1 Meeting (Excerpts)

May 30, 2006

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QUESTION: Can you confirm there will be a meeting of the P-5+1 on Friday in Vienna?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what we're looking at, Sylvie, right now is we're looking at probably a meeting on Thursday. Again, we're -- we haven't finally set all the Secretary's travel plans. But I think what we're probably looking at is departing here some time on Wednesday later, some meetings -- having some meetings on Thursday, including a P-5+1 meeting and then likely returning on Friday. But again, we haven't -- we haven't worked out all the times, but I think that that's what you can look for. It's a P-5+1 meeting on Thursday.

QUESTION: In Vienna.

MR. MCCORMACK: In Vienna. Yeah.

QUESTION: And the other meetings are still Iran related, it's EU-3 plus the U.S.?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. You know, I -- again, we haven't set all those meetings, Saul. But there have been -- around P-5+1 meetings there have traditionally been -- inasmuch as we've had several of these things -- there have been separate groupings, like she might have a bilateral with one of the foreign ministers or there might be another grouping of ministers. But yes, I expect that there will be other meetings.

QUESTION: If it comes to punitive measures, if you can answer this, what is the thinking now? To go to the UN Security Council or to go -- I don't know what it's called -- coalition of the willing in this respect, too -- but you know, have individual countries or groups of countries apply all sorts of economic penalties or whatever?

MR. MCCORMACK: The answer is yes.

QUESTION: The second is preferred.

MR. MCCORMACK: It's both. Both. So the way we've talked about this, Barry, is there have been -- you can look at it as there are three tracks, three basic tracks right now. You have the Security Council track; you have the current track where you have the P-5+1 negotiating this package that presents the Iranian regime, or will present the Iranian regime with a choice, a choice, you know, confrontation or negotiation; and then there's a third track and that is talking about various other measures, financial measures. I wouldn't call them necessarily sanctions, but financial measures, as well as other defensive measures to guard against proliferation of know-how, both out of and into Iran. This is something that we work on, for example, with other likeminded countries concerning North Korea as well as other countries around the world. So you think about those three tracks. Now, in the -- you know, again this is getting way ahead of ourselves. If the Iranian regime chooses the pathway of confrontation, isolation, and keeping its foot on the accelerator on its nuclear program, then you would, under the concept that is now being discussed by the P-5+1, you would have that regime potentially facing a variety of different actions under the rubric of a Security Council action. You might get a Chapter VII resolution and under the rubric of that you could take certain actions. And then you open up the possibility of proceeding further down that line with subsequent resolutions, talking about specific sanctions and actions that might be taken. Now, separate from that, you know, throughout this process, even if you are proceeding down the Security Council route, Barry, you can still keep outside of that particular mechanism, individual states, likeminded states getting together to work on various financial measures that might be taken so that the Iranian regime can't exploit the international financial system for, you know, funding terrorism or for funding its weapons -- illicit weapons of mass destruction programs. Saul.

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QUESTION: Do you have any readout on the conference call today between the political directors of the P-5+1?

MR. MCCORMACK: Still going on. It's still going on. I think that going into the phone call, though, I think that we would -- we could safely say at this point that we feel like we're in good shape headed in -- heading into Vienna for the P-5+1 ministers meeting. The political directors are going down that list of issues that were still remaining open after the meetings last week. And I think that even over the weekend as well as yesterday and this morning before the conference call, that list of open issues is being whittled down, being narrowed and there's still the conference call going on now. We'll try to get you whatever we can that comes out of that conference call in terms of where the political directors have left it. Under Secretary Burns is our point man on it. He's been in touch with the Secretary over the weekend as well as this morning concerning various issues, getting decisions on various issues. So we're continuing to work it, but I think the assessment right now is that we feel as though we're in pretty good shape going into Vienna.

QUESTION: I don't want to split hairs, but I will split a hair. When you say whittled down, narrowed down, are some tough ones being excised from the list --


QUESTION: -- or are they being narrowed down by reaching some --

MR. MCCORMACK: Agreement, common ground.

QUESTION: Agreements?



QUESTION: So can you tell us (inaudible) good news, what the issues are that you've come to agreement on?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think, Saul, we're going to hold off in talking about specific parts of the package until we really have the whole thing put together, ministers and capitals having blessed it and ready to talk about it in public.

QUESTION: Is your expectation then that the ministers turn up to bless the package that's already --

MR. MCCORMACK: It is our hope that they will be ready to sign off on the package in Vienna, if not beforehand.

QUESTION: Sean, is the --


QUESTION: Are the talks going to be held in connection with the IAEA at the IAEA and is there any -- is it just a coincidence that IAEA is in Vienna?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's just coincidence, Charlie. It ready had to do -- it boiled down to people's schedules and travel times and making sure that you could get all the ministerial level people there at one time. And it just worked out that Thursday in Vienna was the place that seemed to best fit everybody's schedule and everybody's timing.

QUESTION: Related to the previous question, in addition to Under Secretary Burns talking to the Secretary over the weekend, has the Secretary been on the phone talking to any of her colleagues or has she not yet done that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Let me check for you, Charlie.

QUESTION: In the last few days.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Let me check for you. Okay.

QUESTION: On this?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we still have more on this here.

QUESTION: The AFP has published today that a draft proposal on Iran nuclear issue.

MR. MCCORMACK: The AFP has put out their own proposal? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The draft proposal -- has published it. Did you see it? And it's --

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen it, Michel. I have to say that I have not seen it. I am not going to comment on various news reports. There have been a lot of news reports over the past week that, with various elements, that are supposed to be in this draft package. I'm just not going to go down that road. Elise.

QUESTION: On the idea of the package, is the United States committed to signing onto a package that doesn't have an agreement on the basic principle that there will be penalties if Iran continues its suspension? For instance, you talk about potential penalties, like perhaps a Security Council Chapter VII resolution, but are there certain red lines for you in terms of what you would not -- what kind of package you wouldn't sign off to, if it didn't have guaranteed penalty?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we wouldn't. It wouldn't be a package. You need the two sides there. You need the pathway that leads to negotiation, to compromise, to bringing Iran back into the mainstream on the nuclear issue; and then the other pathway, which is further isolation, the potential of sanctions and other measures by the international community. So, by definition, we wouldn't split those two things apart. And that's what everybody is working on now. I don't think you have anybody now who isn't constructively engaged and working on both sides of that package.

QUESTION: But is a Chapter VII resolution, for instance, a red line for you? Or it seems as if that --

MR. MCCORMACK: We believe --

QUESTION: -- it's the idea of some penalty would be applied, but do you have a certain kind of minimum standard requirement?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have talked about -- we have talked about the fact that we believe, at a minimum, a Chapter VII resolution is -- would be in the offing, again, if the Iranian regime chose to take that pathway.

QUESTION: Are the security guarantees still not on the table?

MR. MCCORMACK: The -- an American security guarantee is not on the table. See, this is the -- these are two exceptions that I'm making to the not talking about particular parts of it, Saul. (Laughter.) I just wanted to say that before you pointed that out to me.

QUESTION: What about security guarantees in a multilateral forum?

MR. MCCORMACK: Security guarantees in a multilateral --

QUESTION: What about that would include --

MR. MCCORMACK: I can only speak for the United States and the United States -- for the United States, security guarantees are not on the table. Yes.

QUESTION: On likeminded states coming up with some action on Iran, can we have the names of the countries that are working together with the United States in this regard?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we've -- you know, I'll let other countries speak for themselves and what they think of particular ideas that have been surfaced with them. Under Secretary Joseph and Assistant Secretary Hillen have been traveling around. They've traveled through the Gulf. They've traveled to Europe. Certainly we have also raised this issue with Japan as well as other countries. So there are a variety of countries that we have talked to about this -- approaches on that particular track, but I'm going to let them speak for themselves.

QUESTION: In this regard, any response from other Asian countries aside from Japan?

MR. MCCORMACK: On this particular issue?


MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have anything that I could share with you at this point.

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