Briefing with Department of State Deputy Spokesperson J. Adam Ereli on Negotiations with Iran (Excerpts)

February 23, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

. . .

QUESTION: I'd say I'd like to ask you about Iran, the Foreign Minister traveling, I think, in Indonesia said, "We are ready to compromise." And he refers, apparently, to just a few outstanding items to wrap up an enrichment proposal made by Russia that the U.S. kind of supports. Do you want to address that? Do you see something to be optimistic about in dealing with Iran? Have the Russians told you that things are looking up?

MR. ERELI: Obviously, the talks are going on between the Russians and Iranians. I'd leave it to them to describe to you where they are in those discussions. We've made clear our view, which is we support the Russian proposal; it's within the context of the EU diplomacy aimed at getting Iran to re-suspend its enrichment activities and return to negotiations.

The bottom line for all of us is that Iran does not have a fuel cycle capability within Iran. Certainly don't appear to be there yet. There's nothing that Iran has said or done, I think, that gives us any reason to believe that they've made the choice to move in that direction. There are a lot of statements made by different Iranian officials every day that seem to contradict one another. I think all of this will be considered in deliberate fashion by the Board of Governors when they get a comprehensive report from the Director General on March 6th and then we'll look at it in the Security Council.

QUESTION: You say they're not there yet. You mean the whole thing, the whole business about stopping activity?

MR. ERELI: Right, right.

QUESTION: You don't mean the Russian proposal?

MR. ERELI: No, I mean the whole thing. Because we need to look at the Russian proposal within the context of, you know, what our broad objectives are.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, last night at CSIS, Joschka Fischer, the former German Foreign Minister, thought that the U.S. -- said he not just thought, he urged the United States to join the talks with the Europeans because they're stalemated now, sidelined with Iran. And Brzezinski, the other speaker, pretty much -- he didn't necessarily say sit down at the table, but joint action is required. Is the -- and Brzezinski used the Korean negotiations as an example that he thought was preferable to having the U.S. thunder and the Europeans' offer, and it just seems to -- they seem to conflict with each other.

Does the U.S. have any -- State Department have any views of whether the U.S. should -- would consider joining talks if they're ever resumed?

MR. ERELI: I think we're comfortable with the approach that we've got now, with close coordination with the EU-3, with the Russians, with the Chinese, with the Indians. I think you've seen over the course of the last several months a broadening and strengthening of the international consensus with regard to Iran's nuclear program and the threat that it poses, and that's a result of consistent and well-thought-out diplomacy on our part and we're comfortable with where we are.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: But you're not saying no?

MR. ERELI: I'm saying we are -- we're comfortable with where we are in the development and maintenance of an international consensus and approach to getting Iran to come into compliance with its international obligations and to provide real assurances to the international community that it's not developing a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: And the U.S. doesn't have to be at the table to further this goal?

MR. ERELI: No, no.

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