Briefing with State Department Deputy Spokesman J. Adam Ereli on the International Atomic Energy Agency's Iran Report (Excerpts)

February 27, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

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QUESTION: Today's report has been submitted to the IAEA regarding the Iranian regime nuclear activities, including some important information by CIA about the subject.

Do you have of any of the specific --

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware that -- well, as you know, the Director General is going to report to the IAEA Board of Governors -- give a comprehensive report about Iran's nuclear activities. Obviously, that report will be ahead of the meeting, which is scheduled for March 6th. I'd seen press reports that that report was being presented today. I had also seen press reports that it had been pushed back.

I'm not aware that we've seen any such report. We've seen reports about the report. I would simply say this; that Iran has a long, I think, and well-documented history of deception and concealment of its nuclear activities from the international community and the IAEA, in particular. As a result of those actions, the Board of Governors declared in its last meeting that Iran was in violation of its NPT obligations and decided to -- voted to refer it to the Security Council.

So, ahead of that referral, we will be looking forward to the Director General's report to give a comprehensive accounting of what Iran has done not only in the run-up to the last Board of Governors meeting, but since the last Board of Governors meeting in order to inform our discussion of this very important issue, both at the Board of Governors, as well as in the Security Council.

QUESTION: What about this potential deal, in theory, with the Russians about a possible --

MR. ERELI: There you go. You've answered your own question -- potential, possible --

QUESTION: Well, I mean, have they been briefed by the Russians about this? I mean, what are the holdups and -- I mean, the deal, in principle as it stands is that something that you think can be flushed out?

MR. ERELI: We've talked a little bit to the Russians, don't have a real readout of things. There's no deal that -- frankly, that I'm aware of. This is -- frankly, I would characterize as more chafe being thrown up by the Iranians ahead of the Board of Governors meeting. It's certainly consistent with past actions designed to divert the world's attention from the fundamental issue, which is that contrary to its commitments -- contrary to commitments made to the Europeans and others and contrary to its treaty obligations, Iran is engaged in enrichment activity on its territory and that that is of serious concern to all of us and frankly, that's why Iran finds itself in the mess that it's in. And there's really nothing -- there's nothing that we've seen to date that indicates that they're moving away from that.

QUESTION: Right. But you -- if I could just follow up. But you and Sean from this podium and the Secretary herself have said that you wish that Iran would, you know, accept a deal of this nature.

MR. ERELI: We've supported --

QUESTION: Are you prepared to take yes for an answer, I mean, if these talks continue and a deal does emerge?

MR. ERELI: Yes, we've always said we have supported the Russian proposal within the broader context of the EU-3 diplomacy. But what does that involve? That involves suspending enrichment-related activity and it involves -- it involves objective guarantees that Iran isn't conducting activities on its soil to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon. So far, everything that Iran is doing is moving in the opposite direction.

So yeah, we support the Russian initiative and we support the EU-3 diplomacy. Unfortunately, Iran, to date, has proven itself unwilling to seriously engage on those.

QUESTION: But you say Iran is throwing chaff before the IAEA meeting, that it's not really an agreement. What about the Russian effort? Is it -- are they party to this little play-acting or are the Russians making a good faith effort and being horsed around by Iran?

MR. ERELI: Making a good faith effort and being horsed around, is the way I'd put it.

QUESTION: In terms of the Russian proposal, have you ever seen a hard copy, a paper copy of what this Russian proposal is? Because it seems to be a kind of wifty-wafty as to exactly --

MR. ERELI: No, I think it's pretty explicit. It's --

QUESTION: But have you been given a hard copy as to what this proposal is --

MR. ERELI: I don't know that -- the basic outline, the basic principles, have been discussed with the EU-3 and the Russians and it's an approach that we all endorse and subscribe to as being consistent with the EU-3 diplomacy. I don't, frankly, know how detailed it's gotten simply because Iran, to date, hasn't engaged seriously.

QUESTION: Are you familiar with the claim that Iran has already been testing the cascade of 20-centrifuges?


QUESTION: At Natanz?

MR. ERELI: Right. And I don't have any sort of information to help you clarify that. I think it's obviously a direction that we're concerned about, that it's an activity that violates the previous commitments made and has all of us concerned. And I think it helps explain why we're all sort of very much looking forward to the Director General's report to shed light on what Iran has been up to.

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