For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 21, 2003
Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan to the Travel Pool
11:19 P.M. (Local)
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, as promised, I'm here to follow up on the questions about Iran. A couple of points, first of all. We have been in close contact with the Europeans all along, so we very much welcome the efforts by the British, German and French Foreign Ministers to obtain a commitment of full compliance by Iran with its IAEA and non-proliferation obligations.
If Iran does sign and implement the additional protocol, cooperate fully with the IAEA, and end its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, it would be a positive step in the right direction. Full compliance by Iran will now be essential. As British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, the proof of the value of today's agreement will depend not just on the words in the communique, but above all, on the implementation of what's agreed.
Q So you sound a little skeptical.
MR. McCLELLAN: Sorry?
Q You sound a little skeptical.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we welcome the efforts to obtain a commitment. But, again, as I said, full compliance and implementation will now be essential by Iran -- full compliance by Iran will now be essential.
Q You seem to be indicating that the crisis hasn't passed, but you're hopeful that with Iran --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the British Secretary -- Foreign Secretary summed it up very well in his comments.
Q Do you think Iran needs a civilian nuclear program?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we've addressed that issue previously. What's important about today's announcement is the commitment by Iran, but what's most important is that Iran fully comply and now implement what they've committed to. And again, those three things I think are key -- signing and implementing the additional protocol, cooperating fully with the IAEA, and ending its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities. That's essential. Those steps are essential.
Q So you seem to be indicating the White House is still puzzled as to why Iran, with all of the oil it has, needs a civilian nuclear program.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think, again, we have spoken to that issue in the past. I think today's focus is on what has been achieved by the efforts of the Foreign Ministers from those three countries.
Q So even though the Foreign Ministers ever talks about assistance, outside assistance --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, if Iran does those three things, it will be a positive step in the right direction. That's what's important.
Q If Iran does those three things, will you tolerate a civilian nuclear program?
MR. McCLELLAN: What Iran needs to do is act on the three things I mentioned.
Q Step in the right direction towards what?
MR. McCLELLAN: What?
Q You said it was a step -- if they comply it's a step in the right direction. Right direction towards what?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've expressed a number of concerns about Iran and that's why I said it would be a step in the right direction.
Q Where do you want it to lead?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, change in their behavior.
Q And what about relations with the U.S.?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I think the issue here today is what's been achieved by the Europeans. And again, we've been in close contact with the Europeans all along on this issue.
Q So this would enable them to maintain a civilian nuclear program -- signing a protocol, cooperating fully, ending the uranium enrichment -- if they do those three things, then they're okay --
MR. McCLELLAN: Keep in mind that the President has called attention to the issue of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the concerns related to proliferation. So the IAEA took some serious steps and today's actions by today's agreement that was obtained by the British, French and Germans is something that is very welcome.
Q Okay. Thanks.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.
END 11:27 P.M. (Local)