Press Conference with Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor (Excerpts)

August 11, 2005

. . .

Q Steve, what was the thinking on Iran? We've heard some disturbing information from Secretary Rumsfeld this week about very sophisticated, powerful bombs being smuggled from Iran into Iraq. We've seen Iran now restart uranium enrichment. We've seen Iran say that the Paris Accord is now defunct. The IAEA has passed a resolution condemning the activities and calling for more talks. What kind of communications, either directly or through channels, has the U.S. government had with Iran about its activities and along the border with Iraq? And is there any kind of a connection that might be drawn between the posture the Iranian government takes in both areas?

MR. HADLEY: The question was about Iran, what's going on

-- what's happening on the nuclear front and what's happening on reports of Iran -- perhaps, let me put it this way, weapons coming across the border from Iran into Iraq and are they related.

I don't see any relationship between the two. I think where we are on the nuclear issue in terms of Iran is this: They have -- they have indicated and taken steps to begin the conversion. They have not done anything on reprocessing or enrichment; they have done something on conversion. They have asked the IAEA to remove the seals and they have removed the seals. It is still being done under IAEA observation. But the EU 3 have taken the position, and we agree with it, that that activity is inconsistent with the Paris Accord and is one of the things that the Iranians agreed to freeze or suspend as part of that Paris Accord. And so they are in violation of that Paris Accord, and that is what the EU 3 has said.

The Board of Governors adopted a resolution calling on the Iranians to come back into compliance with the Paris Accord, to suspend any further conversion activity. They've called it a matter of great seriousness. They've asked the Director General to make a report on the 3rd of September. And there is an opportunity for Iran to do what the EU 3 and we, and I think most of the Board of Governors hope they will do, which is come back into compliance, stop the conversion activity, and then to resume discussions and negotiations with the EU 3 about a more permanent arrangement.

And it's interesting that while they have resumed this conversion activity, they have still done it under IAEA supervision. And we had the President of Iran indicating that they would have some ideas and that there would be further negotiations. We think that is the right step, to have -- for Iran to come back into compliance with the Paris Accord, and to resume the negotiations and discussions with the EU 3. We've made that clear publicly. We, of course, have our ambassador at the IAEA. He has said that in the IAEA discussions. So we have, I think, good communication with the Iranians on that issue.

In terms of the border issue with Iraq, obviously, we and the Iraqis monitor closely the activities of Iranian representatives in Iraq. We try and ensure that from both of the borders -- the border that Iraq has with Syria and the border it has with Iran -- that there are not flows of fighters or armament or anything else that will make the situation in Iraq more difficult. Iraqis have called on both Syria and Iran to support the democratic process and to support their efforts to defeat the terrorists in Iraq by ensuring that there isn't any of this activity going across their borders.

We've been very concerned about Syria as a staging area for foreign fighters coming into Iraq. We have raised this issue repeatedly with the Syrians. We have been monitoring, and the Iraqis have been monitoring, the Iranian border, and the concern is that there are -- there may be IEDs and other munitions showing up that seem to have a footprint similar to that of devices used by groups that have historically had Iranian support. That's the concern we have.

And whether the Iranian government is directly involved, we don't know. But it's a concern we've had. We've raised it publicly. Other allies in the coalition have raised it publicly, and the Iraqis are now aware of it, and they've indicated that they will look into, as well.

But we're all in agreement that Iran and Syria need to control their borders and make sure that there is nothing going across those borders that will compound the security situation in Iraq and lead to not only coalition forces and Americans being at risk and killed, but also, of course, Iraqis, because scores of Iraqis are dying. They are the principal victims of this terrorism.

. . .