Al Arabiyah Television Interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Excerpts)

January 30, 2006

Related Country: 

  • Afghanistan
  • Iran

QUESTION: Thank you for this interview with Arabiya. You're in London for what seems to be intensive talks on Middle East issues and also participation in Afghanistan conference, especially Iran and the P-5 meeting is of interest to us. So if we start with Iran, what are you hoping to achieve from this P-5 meeting today?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly, the international community has come together to say to the Iranians that they need to find a way to have peaceful nuclear energy, if that is what they desire, but in a way that removes proliferation risk associated with the current Iranian course, the course that they're on. Iran has shown no evidence that they are prepared to do what the international community is asking them to do. So this P-5 meeting tonight, I think will assess the situation. We will want to hear from everyone. But we have a Board of Governors meeting coming up in a few days and I think it's very important that Iran get a very strong message from the international community that it cannot continue on the course that it's on.

QUESTION: I mean, is the transfer of the Iran nuclear forum, I mean, and to stop Iran through Security Council, is it inevitable now? I mean, the shift of this fight to the Security Council, is it inevitable?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, when the European 3 in Berlin came out and asked for this extraordinary meeting of the Board of Governors, they did so, so there has there could be a referral by the Security Council. I would like to remind people that several months ago, we actually had a resolution to refer Iran to the Security Council, but decided to not act on that resolution, so that Iran would have time to demonstrate that it was prepared to return to the talks with the EU-3 or perhaps look at the Russian proposal seriously. Instead, Iran decided to end its moratorium on enrichment and reprocessing, it broke the seals unilaterally on the equipment for those experiments. So Iran has given the world a very good reason now to take the next step, put this in the Security Council where the diplomacy doesn't end, but it begins a new phase, a phase in which the weight of the Security Council can be brought to bear to help the IAEA with its work.

QUESTION: I mean, talks have been going on for more than two years. And Secretary of State -- Secretary of State Jack Straw of Britain said in Davos that they have been really the most difficult talks he's ever gone through. But also there have been talks that not enough incentives and assurances on the security for Iran been given during these talks. Are you hoping maybe to offer Iran other incentive to bring them around?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Iranians have plenty of incentives. First of all, the package that the European 3 put on the table -- trade relations, political relations -- it was very broad. And --

QUESTION: It's a an American --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, but the United States has backed that and for instance, Iran had wanted to be -- to apply to the World Trade Organization. The United States removed its objections so that that could take place. But this isn't an issue of incentives for Iran. The Iranian incentive should be to get back into good standing in the international community and that means to accept a proposal for peaceful nuclear energy development that does not raise proliferation concerns by giving Iran access to enriching and reprocessing technology. That's really what this is about. It's that simple. The Iranians have many proposals that they could accept. The Russians, for instance, when they designed their Bushehr reactor, designed it in a way that they could bring the fuel back to Russia after the reactor is fired. So there are lots of options for the Iranians. The incentive is for Iran to get back on the right side of the international community.

QUESTION: Do you believe that a nuclear-powered Iran is a reversible process?

SECRETARY RICE: I am quite certain that if the international community really stands firm and has a coherent approach, that this march toward a nuclear weapon for Iran can be arrested because Iran has a lot to lose from isolation in the international community. The Iranian people deserve better than their regime is giving them. They deserve better than being led down a path where they're going to get neither peaceful nuclear energy nor access to the international system. And no one wants to isolate the Iranian people. The Iranian people are not the problem here, but the Iranian regime is undertaking policies that are going to isolate Iran; that are going to result in the inability of Iran to do the things that it needs to do.

QUESTION: Iran has been isolated according to the Iranian diplomacy, have been isolated, especially by the U.S. since 1981. So what more isolation or sanction will do? They are under a certain kind of sanction?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the United States and Iran have a particular relationship going back to the seizure of our embassy at the end of the 1970s. And yes, there is a lot of history between the United States and Iran. But Iraq* has not been isolated from Europe. It has not been isolated from Russia. It has trade relations. It has been able to have people to come to these countries.

We in the United States would like to see a way that the Iranian people are not isolated from America. I would love to see Iranian soccer players playing in the United States. I would love to see Iranian university students coming to the United States. The Iranian people should not be isolated. But the Iranian regime has not -- we don't just have a nuclear weapons problem, we have a problem with terrorism with the Iranian regimes, support for Palestinian rejectionist groups, support for Hezbollah and violent activities. And of course, Iran's own history in the last several years has been to move back from any reformist tendencies domestically that might have been there.

QUESTION: Many people that never spoke of anything short of recognizing that a (inaudible) regime of Iran would not form a secure or assurances to this regime. What do you say to that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would say that this regime has been offered an awful lot -- there's an awful lot on the table. But this an issue of behavior. There is no reason for Iran to fund terrorist organizations that are frustrating the hopes of the Palestinian people for peace; that are frustrating the hopes of the Lebanese people for peace. There's no reason for Iran to support insurgent activity in Iraq that ends up in the deaths of innocent Iraqis. If these behaviors and these policies change, I think Iran will start to move back to a place where it is no longer isolated.

QUESTION: What would you do if Israel takes some of the nuclear facilities -- nuclear facilities of Iran?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's best not to get involved in hypotheticals, but that people even talk about such, says -- speaks to the volatility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. And this is not just an issue of Israel. I'm quite certain that you will have a much more insecure Middle East as other states, who worry about Iran's policies, try and develop their own options.

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