Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney (Excerpts)

February 18, 2014

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile


Q    On the resumptions of talks over Iran’s nuclear program, does the administration still think there’s a good chance of a comprehensive agreement?

MR. CARNEY:  Our view hasn’t changed in that we think that it is absolutely the right thing to do to test whether or not Tehran is serious about resolving this conflict diplomatically. 

There is no question that the prospects for success are a matter of serious debate or that -- they're far from a sure thing, either way.  But because there is at least some prospect that Tehran might be willing to in a verifiable, transparent way convince the international community that it has forsaken pursuit of a nuclear weapon, we ought to do through diplomatic means. 

Resolving this issue through the use of military force has to be something that we obviously never take off the table but can't be a first option.  And because, in the wake of their elections and the enormous pressure that the unprecedented sanctions regime has placed on their economy, the Iranian government was willing to move forward with talks and to reach the interim agreement, the JPOA, and now to engage in the comprehensive settlement discussions is worth exploring.  But we’re obviously mindful of the fact that they may not result in an agreement, but because they present the opportunity, we have to take it.

Q    How much of a sticking point is their recent ballistic missile testing?  And how important is that to these talks?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I want to be very clear, per the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran, Iran must address the U.N. Security Council resolutions related to its nuclear program before a comprehensive resolution can be reached.  In other words, they have to deal with matters related to their ballistic missile program that are included in the United Nations Security Council resolution that is part of explicitly, according to the Joint Plan of Action, the comprehensive resolution negotiation. 

So U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, passed in 2010, prohibits Iran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.  So that is explicitly agreed by Iran in the Joint Plan of Action.  And I think that applies -- it’s important to note that that applies to all of the United Nations Security Council resolutions in this area.  That is explicitly referenced in the Joint Plan of Action.