Press Conference with Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor on the President's Trip to Europe (Excerpts)

June 15, 2006

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Q: Steve, are you surprised that Iran has not yet responded to your offer? How much longer do they have to respond, and what will the President's goal going into the summit be, vis-a-vis Iran?

MR. HADLEY: They're clearly considering the proposal. It's clearly taking them some time. They've made some indications that they're taking it seriously; we think that's a good thing. In terms of time, what the President and Secretary of State have said is weeks, not months. But weeks, not days. And we're kind of in that zone at this point in time.

There has been good cooperation between the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany; good cooperation with Russia and China. And so during the U.S.-EU summit, the President will have an opportunity to talk to the EU leadership on this issue and also Javier Solana, who you know has had a leadership role.

I think what you'll hear is simply an opportunity to assess where we're headed with the EU leadership and a reaffirmation of where we are -- that is to say, there is an opportunity for the Iranians to return to the negotiating table. If they do so, the United States and perhaps Russia and China will join. But of course, they need to suspend their enrichment -- verifiably suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities first.

I don't expect any news out of this. Remember, this is with the EU leadership, so it will be with Schussel and Barroso. You will not have Tony Blair there, or the Chancellor of Germany, or the French President there. So it will be a topic, Iran will certainly be a topic with the EU leadership, but I think it will be simply to review the bidding, where we are, and reaffirm what has been very good cooperation and solidarity on the international community. I don't think you're going to see any news on this issue coming out of the summit.

Q: Are you worried about Iranian attempts to crack the immunity on the subject?

MR. HADLEY: Well, this is something, obviously, they've been doing right along, for a long time. I think one of the reasons the President did what he did was to try and bring together and ensure a common approach among the United States, the so-called EU3 -- the U.K., France and Germany -- and Russia and China. And we think we've achieved that and we think that the messages being sent to Iran at this point in time are pretty consistent, and that is, in the President's view, essential in order to make diplomatic progress on this issue.

Q: There have been reports that the offer to Iran -- to Ahmadinejad -- was incentives, but didn't include disincentives, or sticks, if you will. Can you confirm that, and does that represent a different approach in dealing with the Iranian government?

MR. HADLEY: It wasn't an offer -- just for the record, it was not an offer to President Ahmadinejad. It was an offer, if you will, to the Iranian government. And what Javier Solana briefed was the outline of an offer that would be the context for negotiations should the Iranian government do what we hope they will do, which is suspend enrichment and reprocessing, and return to the negotiations.

It is obviously well-known and there's been a lot of discussion that while we hope that is the course they will take, if they do not take that course, then there is an agreement among the key parties that we would be proceeding to the United Nations. And there have been some discussion about the kind of things that would be adopted there. But the focus at this point in time, of course, is trying to show to the Iranian regime a positive path that is available to it, and to the Iranian people, if they would be willing to do what has been the position of the United Nations, the IAEA Board of Governors -- the United Nations Security Council, the IAEA Board of Governors, and France, Germany and the United Kingdom; that is to say they need to suspend enrichment and reprocessing and come back to the negotiations.

Q: So is it true that it doesn't include the disincentives in that formal package to the Iranian regime?

MR. HADLEY: The emphasis has been on what would be available as a matter of negotiations. I don't think that Javier Solana reviewed a sanctions list. You wouldn't have expected him to. The goal here is to try and show to the Iranians an affirmative path if they will suspend and return to the negotiations. But I think it's also very clear that there is another path if they refuse to do so, and that is a path that will involve consequences for the government.

Q: A follow-up. You had said and what the President said on Friday, it's a matter of weeks, not months, for Iran to weigh this offer. So does that mean that we shouldn't look at July 6th as any kind of deadline in terms of Iran has to respond by then?

MR. HADLEY: Look, they're clearly taking a look at this. There has been, obviously, internal discussions about what kind of time is reasonable if Iran is genuinely going to accept this offer. And at this point, let me just sort of -- let me just leave it at that.

Q: Will the President be trying to line up EU support for sanctions in case --

MR. HADLEY: Sorry?

Q: Will the President be trying to line up EU support for sanctions in case this deal falls through?

MR. HADLEY: Well, in terms of the parties that are involved -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China -- as you already know, there has been discussions about the kind of measures that might be adopted if Iran does not make the choice that we hope it will make. That's already been discussed. And at this point, the next step is really waiting for the response from the Iranian regime. There's not a lot more to discuss and negotiate.

Q: Wouldn't support from the EU as an entity bolster those other entities?

MR. HADLEY: Well, the expectation is that, I think with the United Kingdom and France and Germany involved, with Javier Solana who, after all, is the foreign policy principal for the EU as an organization, having been involved -- I think this is an understanding that is endorsed more broadly by the European Union. I think we have that consensus on the way forward.

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