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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Comments on Iran, 23 September 2009

Remarks At United Nations After P-5+1 Meeting, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, United Nations, 23 September 2009.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  (In progress) to give you brief readouts on two meetings this afternoon. The first was a meeting I participated in called by Security Council Ban Ki-moon about the policies and approaches toward Burma. A number of countries were represented, and I reported that our policy process, which has been underway for some time now, is almost complete, and I gave a preview.

I had announced this review back in February, and the major messages are as follows. First, the basic objectives are not changed. We want credible, democratic reform; a government that respond to the needs of the Burmese people; immediate, unconditional release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; serious dialogue with the opposition and minority ethnic groups. We believe that sanctions remain important as part of our policy, but by themselves, they have not produced the results that had been hoped for on behalf of the people of Burma.

Engagement versus sanctions is a false choice, in our opinion. So going forward, we will be employing both of those tools, pursuing our same goals. And to help achieve democratic reform, we will be engaging directly with Burmese authorities. This is a policy that has broad consensus across our government, and there will be more to report as we go forward.

Secondly, most of you were here when Foreign Minister Miliband read out the statement that has been negotiated among the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia, and of course, the European Union as represented by the High Representative Javier Solana. Let me just make four points about this statement, which I hope you will get a copy of and peruse, because I think it’s a very powerful statement that expresses these specific agreements.

First, the group remains united in pressing Iran to comply with its international obligations on its nuclear program, and it has serious concerns about Iran’s lack of compliance to date, particularly on the unanswered questions about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.

Secondly, the countries remain united in support of a dual track of engagement and pressure as a means of persuading Iran to comply with its obligations.

Thirdly, the ministers expressed a clear expectation that Iran should come to the talks on October 1st, ready to engage in serious and substantive discussions with a sense of urgency and a review of the practical steps that need to be taken on the nuclear issue, and that we will decide next steps on the basis of the meeting’s outcome.

And finally, we are committed to this dual-track policy. No one should underestimate our intention to follow through on either or both of these tracks. It depends on Iran’s response. And some of you have heard me say this numerous times – this process is now firmly up to Iran. It is Iran’s choice as to how they choose to proceed. And we are looking to the meeting on October 1st to get a clear indication of their intentions.

So those are the two meetings that I know have particular interest to a number of you, that I wanted to give you quick readout.


QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, did you discuss in any detail enhanced sanctions, and did you sound out the Chinese and the Russians as to their willingness to join, if necessary, the first part if your dual strategy doesn’t produce results?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mark, we have agreed among us that we’re not going to go beyond what is in this statement, because the statement represents a very significant level of agreement among all of us. It clearly references the dual-track policy, and it clearly references consequences. So I think that we will now await the results of the October 1st meeting and take stock at that time.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how exactly --


QUESTION: How exactly do you intend to engage directly with the Burmese authorities?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, we will be offering more specifics about that. But I wanted to preview this policy for our partners in the Friends of Burma group, and also to signal that the United States will be moving in a direction of both engagement and continued sanctions, to be sure that the Burmese leaders – some of whom, as you know, are in our country or about to come to our country – understand where we are in our policy review process.


QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, what specifically do you need to see from Iran after this talk for them to avoid consequences? When you say you want a clear indication of their intentions, what do you need to see?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will speak for myself and for our Administration. As we have said consistently, we want to see a serious effort by Iran to discuss the nuclear issue, which we are putting on the table, as we have made clear in this statement. And we are also looking for Iran to recognize that they are at a turning point. They have a choice to make. We have consistently said that Iran is entitled to peaceful nuclear power. They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons program. They do have rights, which we are willing to respect and recognize. But they also have responsibilities.

And as we set forth in this agreement, the serious concerns of the international community have been set out in five separate Security Council resolutions. So it is time for Iran to engage with the international community – this process is set up to do that – and for them to accept the opinion of the international community as referenced in this statement that they need to make clear their nuclear program, invite the IAEA in to see everything, and work toward peaceful nuclear energy that can be verified and completely accepted by the international community. Thank you.

Source: US Department of State, www.state.gov.

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