Briefing with Scott McClellan on Ukrainian Shipment of Missiles to Iran (Excerpts)

April 4, 2005

Related Country: 

  • Ukraine

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Q In that -- on that topic, did they talk about the sale of the cruise missiles to Iran by Mr. Yushchenko's predecessor?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that did not -- that did not come up in this meeting.

Q It did not?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are going to be a number of other senior-level discussions going on with President Yushchenko and his staff. And they'll get into more specifics of some of the issues that they addressed.

Q But did that fact, which came out last week -- does that change the President's assessment of Iran's nuclear program in any way?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, a couple of things. First of all, on the sale of the missiles, President Yushchenko has spoken out on that matter and the government of Ukraine has been investigating the matter. This occurred before he was in the presidency. And they are acting in a responsible manner to address those issues.

What was the second part of your question?

Q I'm talking about the President, President Bush. Has that changed his assessment of Iran's nuclear program, this information?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, our assessment of Iran remains the same. We have a number of concerns about their behavior and, certainly, when it comes to their nuclear program, we have real concerns about their intent. We believe that they have been pursuing a nuclear weapons program under the guise of a civilian program. And our suspicions are only heightened by the fact that for some 20 years Iran was hiding what they were doing from the international community. We believe it's very important that Iran cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency and provide the Agency access to their sites so they can fully inspect, and we believe that they need to turn away from that path.

Q Right. But just specifically about this last issue, the cruise missiles have nuclear capability -- has that changed the administration's --

MR. McCLELLAN: Our concerns remain the same --

Q It didn't change anything? It didn't heighten your concerns?

MR. McCLELLAN: Our concerns remain the same regarding Iran, and this is an issue that's still being looked into by the government of Ukraine.

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Q To follow up again on Ukraine, did President Bush and President Yushchenko talk about Yushchenko's health at all and about who poisoned him? And is President Putin taking any retaliatory actions because of their friendship, such as selling Russian missiles to Iran?

MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. I don't know anything about the second part of your question; I haven't heard anything like that.

On the first part of your question, I think they talked briefly about it. I mean, the President wanted to know how he was doing. And beyond that, I'd leave it to Ukraine, the government of Ukraine to discuss.

Q Is he going to see the American doctors who helped him?

MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with his office on that.

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