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02/18/2010

Iran Update

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made some important statements in the Middle East at various venues on Feb. 14 and Feb. 15, both in formal remarks as well as in Q&A sessions. Following are some excerpts.

Secretary of State Clinton:

(An issue) that demands our cooperation based on the principles I’ve outlined is Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In his inaugural address, President Obama endorsed a new era of diplomatic engagement, including with those nations who have at times been hostile to the United States. We have proven our willingness to engage. For example, we are resuming high-level contacts with the Syrian government. And we are preparing to send an Ambassador back to Damascus for the first time since 2005.

We have pursued extensive efforts to reengage with Iran, both through direct communications and through greater participation in multilateral efforts. Our goal has been that after 30 years of hostile relations with Iran, we need to begin to build a more constructive relationship.

Our position regarding Iran’s nuclear program is simple. We believe that all states, including Iran, start with the same rights and the same responsibilities. And according to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nations have the right to nuclear power so long as they accept the responsibility of demonstrating unequivocally that their programs are used solely for peaceful civilian purposes.

But Iran has consistently failed to live up to its responsibility. It has refused to demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. And last year, the world learned of a secret nuclear facility near the city of Qom. The IAEA Board of Governors responded with a resolution criticizing Iran that received wide support.

In October, in our continuing efforts at engagement, the United States, for the first time, joined the so-called P-5+1 in meeting with Iran in Geneva. These were the highest level discussions between the United States and Iran in more than 30 years. We went to Geneva with the hope that Iran would seize the opportunity to begin to resolve our differences, and to pursue greater political and economic integration with the international community. We joined Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China and Germany to endorse an offer to provide Iran with fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which creates medical isotopes for medical treatment. This offer demonstrated a good-faith commitment to working with Iran toward a future civil nuclear program for peaceful purposes.

Iran agreed in principle, but then refused the IAEA’s terms. Now, Iran has announced that it will increase its enrichment activities to produce up to 20 percent enriched uranium, in violation of successive United Nations Security Council resolutions. And its explanation doesn’t add up. It could have the very enriched uranium it says it seeks by accepting the international IAEA offer.  So this has only deepened the international community’s doubts about Iran’s nuclear intentions, along with increasing the isolation of the Iranian government.

Furthermore, since the meeting in Geneva in October, Iranian officials have refused every offer to meet on its nuclear program. So these actions, understandably, have caused us to wonder: What does Iran have to hide? Why is Iran refusing to live up to its international obligations, which would lead to political and economic integration with the international community that would actually benefit the Iranian people?

Iran leaves the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps. Together, we are encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions. We are now working actively with our regional and international partners, in the context of our dual track approach, to prepare and implement new measures to convince Iran to change its course.

And of course, our concerns about the Iranian government’s intentions are intensified by its behavior toward its own people. The world has watched the events of the past several months in Iran with alarm. We know of the large-scale detentions and mass trials, political executions, the intimidation of family members of the opposition, and the refusal to extend Iranian citizens the right to peaceful assembly and expression, as we have seen again in just the last few days.

The United States joins other nations in condemning these events. If the Iranian government wants the respect of the international community, it must respect the rights of its people.

---
From a Q&A

Sec. Clinton: (We) think that it is time for Iran to be held to account for its activities, which do already – and can continue to have – destabilizing effects. And what we want is to look for a way to change Iran’s calculations.

But I fear that the rise of influence and power by the Revolutionary Guard – which is really tragic, because that is not in keeping with what the Iranian people had hoped for, and thought they were getting in their democratic system – poses a very direct threat to everyone. And I would like to figure out a way to handle it in as peaceful an approach as possible. And I certainly welcome any meaningful engagement, but we don’t want to be engaging while they are building their bombs.

And, therefore, we think the time has come for the world community to take a position which perhaps will penetrate into all of the decision-making arenas that exist now within Iran, and cause some reconsideration not of their peaceful program, which I know the Iranian people support and have every right to have, but of their nuclear weapons military program.

---

Q: Just as a follow-up to what you said about Iran, Madam Secretary, you said in your speech before the U.S.-Islamic World Forum [Ed. the opening comments above] that more pressure should be applied to Iran. And there are a lot of people in the Middle East wondering if the United States is planning, at any one time, whether before the withdrawal from Iraq or after the withdrawal from Iraq, planning to launch a military attack of one kind or another against Iran.

Sec. Clinton: No. We are planning to try to bring the world community together in applying pressure to Iran through sanctions adopted by the United Nations that will be particularly aimed at those enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard which we believe is, in effect, supplanting the government of Iran. I mean, that is how we see it. We see that the Government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament, is being supplanted, and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship. Now, that is our view.

And so, what we are trying to do is to send a message to Iran, a very clear message, that we still would be open to engagement, we still believe that there is a different path for Iran to take. But we want the world united in sending an unequivocal message to Iran that, “We will not stand idly by while you pursue a nuclear program that can be used to threaten your neighbor, and even beyond.” And we hope to try to influence the decision making within Iran. And that is our goal.

Q: So, Madam Secretary, now you are saying there is no plan on the part of the United States to launch an attack? Not in the immediate future, not in the middle term, not in the long term?

Sec. Clinton: We are interested in changing Iran’s behavior and – now, we will always defend ourselves, and we will always defend our friends and allies. And we will certainly defend countries here in the Gulf who face the greatest immediate nearby threat from Iran. But we have pursued a dual track, not a triple track, but a dual track approach of engagement and potential pressure, and that is what we’re focused on.

Source: state.gov

Hot Spots will return in two weeks.

Brian Trumbore


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-02/18/2010-      
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Hot Spots

02/18/2010

Iran Update

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made some important statements in the Middle East at various venues on Feb. 14 and Feb. 15, both in formal remarks as well as in Q&A sessions. Following are some excerpts.

Secretary of State Clinton:

(An issue) that demands our cooperation based on the principles I’ve outlined is Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In his inaugural address, President Obama endorsed a new era of diplomatic engagement, including with those nations who have at times been hostile to the United States. We have proven our willingness to engage. For example, we are resuming high-level contacts with the Syrian government. And we are preparing to send an Ambassador back to Damascus for the first time since 2005.

We have pursued extensive efforts to reengage with Iran, both through direct communications and through greater participation in multilateral efforts. Our goal has been that after 30 years of hostile relations with Iran, we need to begin to build a more constructive relationship.

Our position regarding Iran’s nuclear program is simple. We believe that all states, including Iran, start with the same rights and the same responsibilities. And according to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nations have the right to nuclear power so long as they accept the responsibility of demonstrating unequivocally that their programs are used solely for peaceful civilian purposes.

But Iran has consistently failed to live up to its responsibility. It has refused to demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. And last year, the world learned of a secret nuclear facility near the city of Qom. The IAEA Board of Governors responded with a resolution criticizing Iran that received wide support.

In October, in our continuing efforts at engagement, the United States, for the first time, joined the so-called P-5+1 in meeting with Iran in Geneva. These were the highest level discussions between the United States and Iran in more than 30 years. We went to Geneva with the hope that Iran would seize the opportunity to begin to resolve our differences, and to pursue greater political and economic integration with the international community. We joined Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China and Germany to endorse an offer to provide Iran with fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which creates medical isotopes for medical treatment. This offer demonstrated a good-faith commitment to working with Iran toward a future civil nuclear program for peaceful purposes.

Iran agreed in principle, but then refused the IAEA’s terms. Now, Iran has announced that it will increase its enrichment activities to produce up to 20 percent enriched uranium, in violation of successive United Nations Security Council resolutions. And its explanation doesn’t add up. It could have the very enriched uranium it says it seeks by accepting the international IAEA offer.  So this has only deepened the international community’s doubts about Iran’s nuclear intentions, along with increasing the isolation of the Iranian government.

Furthermore, since the meeting in Geneva in October, Iranian officials have refused every offer to meet on its nuclear program. So these actions, understandably, have caused us to wonder: What does Iran have to hide? Why is Iran refusing to live up to its international obligations, which would lead to political and economic integration with the international community that would actually benefit the Iranian people?

Iran leaves the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps. Together, we are encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions. We are now working actively with our regional and international partners, in the context of our dual track approach, to prepare and implement new measures to convince Iran to change its course.

And of course, our concerns about the Iranian government’s intentions are intensified by its behavior toward its own people. The world has watched the events of the past several months in Iran with alarm. We know of the large-scale detentions and mass trials, political executions, the intimidation of family members of the opposition, and the refusal to extend Iranian citizens the right to peaceful assembly and expression, as we have seen again in just the last few days.

The United States joins other nations in condemning these events. If the Iranian government wants the respect of the international community, it must respect the rights of its people.

---
From a Q&A

Sec. Clinton: (We) think that it is time for Iran to be held to account for its activities, which do already – and can continue to have – destabilizing effects. And what we want is to look for a way to change Iran’s calculations.

But I fear that the rise of influence and power by the Revolutionary Guard – which is really tragic, because that is not in keeping with what the Iranian people had hoped for, and thought they were getting in their democratic system – poses a very direct threat to everyone. And I would like to figure out a way to handle it in as peaceful an approach as possible. And I certainly welcome any meaningful engagement, but we don’t want to be engaging while they are building their bombs.

And, therefore, we think the time has come for the world community to take a position which perhaps will penetrate into all of the decision-making arenas that exist now within Iran, and cause some reconsideration not of their peaceful program, which I know the Iranian people support and have every right to have, but of their nuclear weapons military program.

---

Q: Just as a follow-up to what you said about Iran, Madam Secretary, you said in your speech before the U.S.-Islamic World Forum [Ed. the opening comments above] that more pressure should be applied to Iran. And there are a lot of people in the Middle East wondering if the United States is planning, at any one time, whether before the withdrawal from Iraq or after the withdrawal from Iraq, planning to launch a military attack of one kind or another against Iran.

Sec. Clinton: No. We are planning to try to bring the world community together in applying pressure to Iran through sanctions adopted by the United Nations that will be particularly aimed at those enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard which we believe is, in effect, supplanting the government of Iran. I mean, that is how we see it. We see that the Government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament, is being supplanted, and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship. Now, that is our view.

And so, what we are trying to do is to send a message to Iran, a very clear message, that we still would be open to engagement, we still believe that there is a different path for Iran to take. But we want the world united in sending an unequivocal message to Iran that, “We will not stand idly by while you pursue a nuclear program that can be used to threaten your neighbor, and even beyond.” And we hope to try to influence the decision making within Iran. And that is our goal.

Q: So, Madam Secretary, now you are saying there is no plan on the part of the United States to launch an attack? Not in the immediate future, not in the middle term, not in the long term?

Sec. Clinton: We are interested in changing Iran’s behavior and – now, we will always defend ourselves, and we will always defend our friends and allies. And we will certainly defend countries here in the Gulf who face the greatest immediate nearby threat from Iran. But we have pursued a dual track, not a triple track, but a dual track approach of engagement and potential pressure, and that is what we’re focused on.

Source: state.gov

Hot Spots will return in two weeks.

Brian Trumbore