Thursday, May 05, 2005

Secretary Rice, EU's Solana Discuss Iran, Sudan, China

U.S. Department of State:
Iran’s nuclear power program, the situation in Sudan and the European Union (EU) arms embargo on China were the principal issues discussed at a press briefing May 3 with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and EU High Representative Javier Solana following their meeting at the State Department.

The secretary of state reiterated U.S. support for talks between Iran and the European Union Three -- France, Germany and the United Kingdom -- aimed at achieving a commitment from Iran not to seek a nuclear weapon under the cover of a civilian nuclear power program.

We continue to believe that this is the only way for Iran to resolve this issue in a way that the international community will be able to verify and to support,” she said, adding that “the Iranians need to take advantage of the opportunity that the Europeans are giving them.”

Solana, citing Iran’s agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning the suspension of uranium enrichment activity, said, “The Iranians know what they have to do, and what would happen if they don't.” ...

Following is a transcript of the press briefing: READ MORE

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
May 3, 2005


May 3, 2005
Washington, D.C.
(5:20 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Welcome, my good friend, Javier Solana, the EU High Representative [for the Common Foreign and Security Policy] who has been a very active participant in just about everything that we've been doing in recent months. We've met a couple of times in Brussels. We had a chance to see each other in Vilnius. He's now here. We've just had wide-ranging discussions, as befits the wide-ranging and deep relationship that the United States and the EU enjoy.

We've had an opportunity to talk about Sudan and the importance of assisting the African Union mission, as it begins to develop a course for further efforts to try and stabilize the situation there and prevent the loss -- further loss of human life. We had an opportunity to talk about our deepening dialogue on the Middle East, on democracy. We've talked about Iran. We have talked about the conference that we will sponsor together on Iraq, as well as a number of other issues.

And so we are very much committed to an intensive and continuing dialogue with the EU, which is, of course, one of our great partners in the spread of freedom and democracy and prosperity and I thank you very much for being here, Javier.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Thank you very much, Condi. It is a pleasure to be here, once again. It is the first time, I think, that I'm here, having been with you in so many places in the world. It's the first time that we met in Washington. So we welcome your hospitality here in Washington.

The Secretary of State has said the range of issues that we have talked today about. I would like to insist that Sudan is a very important issue in which we are working together. I had the opportunity to be in Africa in the last few days and I know how much has to be done there, not only Sudan, but also in Congo, we are going to work together. And as you know there is a mission now from people from the European Union, people from the United States, from Canada, from other countries, from NATO, so trying to analyze the manner in which with the African Union the cooperation can be done more rapidly and more effectively.

On the Middle East, we are going to have a Quartet meeting in Moscow next Monday, if I'm not mistaken. It is the second one that we have together already. And I hope very much with the appointment of Mr. Wolfensohn to be the representative of the Quartet on disengagement of Gaza, we will be able to move that process forward in an effective manner.

We have talked about many other things, but I would like to say that we talked also about China and I want to say that we are ready and willing to have a deeper dialogue about China between the European Union and the United States, not only of China, but about the whole region of the Southeast Asia, in which a lot of things are taken place which are important and having the United States (inaudible) responsibilities that we have because we are not presently there.

In the same manner, we want also to be -- to cooperate, to be part of the solution on the part of the difficulties there. Therefore, I appreciated also that possibility and once again, thank you very, very much for having had this good exchange of views. And since we are going to continue talking together next Monday, as you can see, we are practically every other week together or almost every week together.

Thank you very much, Condi.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, as I'm sure you are aware, Iran today said that it is determined to continue to pursue certain nuclear activities including uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. What's your reaction to that? And Mr. Solana, yesterday French Foreign Minister Barnier told us that he regarded the EU-3 [France, Germany, United Kingdom] talks with Iran as fragile. Do you think they're not merely fragile, but heading toward a breakdown?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have worked very closely with the EU-3 and with the Commission on these talks with the Iranians. We are completely supportive of what the EU-3 is trying to achieve and what they're trying to achieve is very simple. And that is that there needs to be a very clear commitment from the Iranians to live up to their international obligations not to seek a nuclear weapon under the cover of a civilian nuclear power. And that means certain, as the Europeans call them, objective guarantees about their nuclear program and that means that they can't have access to certain kinds of technology that can -- that have high proliferation risk. That's what this is about.

We are very supportive of the talks. We continue to believe that this is the only way for Iran to resolve this issue in a way that the international community will be able to verify and to support. And so we very much hope that the talks are going to succeed and the Iranians need to take advantage of the opportunity that the Europeans are giving them.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: I will be very brief because the Secretary of State has explained the position that we share. We have the same point of view, vis-à-vis this negotiation. And we are thankful for the United States for the help it has given us in this complicated negotiation.

Now, I will say that in the previous agreements, the clarity of the way they are written is total and the Iranians know what they have to do, and what would happen if they don't do what they have been agreed to be done. Let's hope that after the round of the 29th of April, we will continue. This was (inaudible) -- is to continue. But if they decided to break the agreement of previous, they know what may be the consequences.

QUESTION: I have two things, one very quick follow-up. Specifically, the Iranians have said that they would like to have 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz. They want to continue to have the right and the ability to reprocess -- to process uranium. I'm wondering about that, but also, you've both mentioned Sudan. Specifically, what are we talking about? Are we talking about U.S. and European troops helping -- getting African Union troops in place and supporting them on the ground in Sudan?

SECRETARY RICE: Let me speak to Sudan. What we've received and the EU has received and NATO has received is a request from the African Union for assistance in what is an African Union mission, which is to put additional forces on the ground. You know that there are two parts to this. One is to support the Naivasha Agreement so that the North-South agreement can go forward and that's someplace in the realm of 10,000 or so forces that are needed for that.

And then there is the question of additional monitors to the Darfur region, because we do know that when there are monitors in a region, that the violence subsides and that it's possible to get humanitarian assistance in. In both cases, we're talking about planning, logistics support. I think the African Union will certainly keep the lead in this. They would be African Union or forces, but we are prepared -- and I want to emphasize -- that NATO wants to do its part, the EU wants to do its part. We would hope that others will do their part as well, but this is -- at this point, what is being contemplated is logistics and planning support. But we want to be as active as quickly as we possibly can in support of that mission.

On Iran, I think that Javier said it best. The Paris Agreement is very clear that this is not to have enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and that's --

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: And related activities. Related activities also important.

SECRETARY RICE: And related activities, yes.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Let me go to Darfur. The resolution -- the UN Security Council resolution gives the African Union the responsibility, the leadership of that operation. So for the moment, the African Union has taken the responsibility of the troops on the ground and they are requesting us for help on airlift, transport, planning, et cetera and that we will do it.

MODERATOR: We'll do the last one with the Associated Press.

QUESTION: A question for both of you. Did you talk today about the possibility of referral to the UN Security Council if Iran does not comply? And have you identified a trigger, a point at which you would declare the EU-3 diplomacy fruitless and take that next step?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Well, the negotiations, the round - the last round of negotiations, as you know, ended up with Iranians going back to consult with your leaders in Tehran. See what is the response of that. If the response of that is that they resume any related activity to processing or to centrifuging, that will be enough to consider that they are not complying with the Paris Agreement; and therefore, the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] in Vienna, they have to consider that in the Board of Governors and decide what it's going to do. And you know what the possibilities are.

SECRETARY RICE: I would just say that we are all very clear that the international community has, as a step that it could take, referral to the Security Council. But we are very focused on hoping that these negotiations do succeed because it really is a very good opportunity for Iran to demonstrate that it's prepared to live up to its international obligations and we hope that it will do that.

Thank you.

(end transcript)
UPDATE: The Islamic Republic News Agency reported today that EU High Representative Solana said:

"For the moment they have not come up with anything which will give us the same kind of guarantees that a cessation (of uranium enrichment) will bring,"... "They have to put some ideas on the table."

"At the end, pretty close to full cessation is probably the only guarantee that would be objective."

Europe is beginning to cave in? Condi, please call Solana.