State Department Press Briefing (Excerpts)

June 5, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

MS NAUERT: Hi, everybody.

QUESTION: Hello.

MS NAUERT: How are you all doing today? A couple quick notes, not the marathon notes I had for you last time, if you recall those. Just a couple quick announcements before we get started today.

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QUESTION: On Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered that preparations should begin for uranium enrichment in case this nuclear deal falls through, and he has also rejected any limits whatsoever on Iran’s missile program. What is your comment on that?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. In terms of Iran, we’ve certainly seen that report. The Secretary, just a few weeks ago, gave his policy speech on the way forward with Iran. That took place on – I think it was May 21st. And he was clear that Iran has to stop its enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. Iran must have no path to a nuclear weapon.

In terms of what you’re asking about, if the IAEA believes that that is taking place, we believe that the IAEA will report that back to its Board of Governors and also to the United Nations, so we’ll just await – await that, if that has, in fact, ended up happening in Iran.

QUESTION: And there was a report that they were going to remove the inspectors and the cameras and what-have-you from Fordow. Do you --

MS NAUERT: Yeah. I’ve seen that report. We saw that report earlier today. We just can’t confirm it right now. We’re looking into it.

QUESTION: Since the withdrawal, since the President withdrew the U.S. from – you do not have a seat in the Joint Commission. Is there any concern that not having a seat in the Joint Commission will somehow impede your ability to get information from the IAEA?

MS NAUERT: I think we’re in a better position than we were before. The United States has launched a global outreach campaign where we are having conversations and meetings with many of our partners and allies around the world. We have teams on the ground right now in Central and Eastern Europe who are talking with partner governments about the way forward on Iran and part of Secretary Pompeo’s speech going forward and what we will collectively do together to address Iran’s malign influence around the world.

QUESTION: I’m talking about getting information from the inspectors in Iran. (Inaudible.)

MS NAUERT: Yeah. Look, the United States remains a tremendous world power. I have no concerns about whether or not the United States will be able to get the kind of information or intelligence that it needs to make its decisions. Okay?

Okay, we’ll go back.

QUESTION: On Iran and the (inaudible).

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: Since the statement was issued by the Iranians, the French Government – I think the French president, actually – has warned of de-escalation – of escalation – sorry – in the region because of the enrichment. What leverage does the United States have after withdrawing from the deal?

MS NAUERT: What leverage do we have over --

QUESTION: On Iran. On Iran, now that it’s saying that basically they intend to enrich and also to keep their ballistic missile program.

MS NAUERT: I think we have a lot of leverage. As --

QUESTION: But they already mentioned that --

MS NAUERT: As a world superpower and as an economic superpower, we can impose sanctions on Iran. Other countries are choosing not to do business with the Government of Iran, and that will reduce the amount of money that goes into that government and that does not go necessarily to its people, despite the fact that Iran had promised under the JCPOA that the money that would come in when sanctions were lifted, it would go to the people and it would support the people and the people would be better off after. Well, it appears that the people aren’t better off after. So, we believe with a sanctions campaign that the U.S. could undertake, and we’re discussing that with partners and allies right now, that that will reduce the amount of money that Iran would end up using for its nuclear program.

QUESTION: But Heather, that’s already been declared by the Secretary when he spoke at the Heritage and he said we’re going to impose the harshest sanctions in the history – I think he used the reference. But I’m talking about today, that the Iranians are challenge you further now and saying we’re going to enrich.

MS NAUERT: You know what? Countries are going to say a lot. Countries around the world are going to threaten us, they’re going to be bellicose, and we’re just not going to be able to respond to everything that is said out of every government and every leader.

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