Press Briefing with State Department Spokesperson Sean McCormack on Iran Options (Excerpts)

August 16, 2005

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

. . .

QUESTION: In Guardian newspaper, dated August 15 yesterday, an article has been (inaudible) with this title: "How Bush Would Gain From War With Iran." This is a small part --

MR. MCCORMACK: Which newspaper is this?

QUESTION: Guardian.

MR. MCCORMACK: The Guardian newspaper?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: President Bush has reminded us that he's prepared to take military action to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. On Israeli Television this weekend, he declared that all option are on the table. Could you please tell us your comment or reaction?

MR. MCCORMACK: In reaction to a newspaper article? No, I don't think so. We talked about this a lot yesterday and the fact of the matter is that we are strongly in support of the diplomatic efforts that the EU-3 has to negotiate with the Iranian Government concerning its nuclear program. The President reiterated longstanding U.S. policy on this issue. No U.S. President can take any option off the table, that's the - I think if you look back through history, you'll find American Presidents, Republican and Democrat, saying the same thing about a variety of different issues.

Where the focus needs to be on is Iranian behavior. The fact of the matter is that they have begun converting uranium in contravention of their agreement under the Paris accords and they are -- the IAEA is looking at whether or not they have contravened their obligations under the IAEA. Anything else is trying to change the subject. The focus needs to be on Iran and its behavior. That's where our focus is, that's where the focus of the IAEA is and that's where the focus of the EU-3 is. And we're pursuing diplomatic steps, through the EU-3 process, with Iran to try to resolve this issue. If the EU-3 efforts do not come to a positive conclusion, then the next step would be to take the issue to the Security Council. And that's where we are right now, so our focus is on the diplomatic efforts.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: The new government in Iran said today will not any resumption of ties with the United States as long as U.S. fails to respect the greatness and interests of the Iranian people. Do you have any reaction?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think, actually, the United States stands with the Iranian people. We stand with the Iranian people in their aspirations for greater freedom and greater democracy and greater human rights in their own country. So I think that certainly we stand with the Iranian people. The problem is the behavior of the Iranian Government, frankly.

QUESTION: Where do the Iranian people stand if they produce this kind of government?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Barry, I think that if you look at the election and look at the atmosphere in which the election took place, I think that we have seen the Iranian process, political process, take a couple steps backwards in terms of the composition of the Majlis and the composition of the government. There was a moment several years ago when the Iranian people saw an opportunity with the election of a new government for greater freedom and greater democracy; unfortunately, that government was not able to fulfill the expectations and the aspirations of the Iranian people.

Yes.

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