of State Condoleezza Rice and Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said at a joint news conference today (Friday, Feb. 4) that
Iran must not seek to develop nuclear weapons, must end its efforts to destabilize the Middle East, and must grant freedom to its own citizens.
At the same time, Rice tried to calm concerns that either the United States or Israel was planning to start a war against Iran.
Speaking at Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Rice said the United States and Britain share four goals vis a vis
Iran. She said both countries;
• want Iran to end those activities "that are destabilizing to the region in which it lives, particularly when it comes to support for terrorism which is aimed directly at
destabilizing and frustrating the Palestinian-Israeli peace which we all seek. Recently the
European Union and the British took steps to make clear to Hamas that they could not find support in Europe while they were trying to frustrate those activities. So, we have complete understanding and agreement on matters of terrorism and the Iranian regime."
• "We are completely unified in our view that Iran should not use the cover of civilian nuclear power development, an opportunity granted to it by NPT membership, to sustain a program that could lead to a nuclear weapon. And indeed we and the EU-3 have been in very close consultation about the efforts that the EU-3 is making to get the Iranians to live up to their international obligations. And frankly, the Iranians ought to take the opportunity that is being presented to them to show that they want to live up to their international obligations."
• "we have been united in our view that the Iranian regime should have transparent relations with its neighbors in
Iraq. There is nothing wrong with relations between Iran and its neighbors--that would be only natural--but that efforts to undermine in any way democratic developments in those countries would be wrong. "
• "We have all been concerned about the abysmal human rights record of the Iranian regime. There are very recent examples of just how abysmal that human rights record is, and we know that this is an Iranian population with a flourishing history and culture and civil society, that frankly deserves better than to have an un-elected few frustrate their aspirations."
"And so," said Rice, "I find that there is really very little difference between us about the challenges that we face in dealing with the Iranian regime. We have many diplomatic tools still at our disposal and we intend to pursue them fully."
Agreeing, Straw said "in support of what Secretary Rice has said that the efforts of the
EU-3--France, Germany and the United Kingdom--in respect of Iran, to the extent that they have worked so far, have only worked because we have been backed by an international consensus, and absolutely fundamental to that international consensus has been the support that we have received in the IAEA board, and in many other ways from the United States. So, this is a joint diplomatic effort, albeit that three countries are directly involved in the negotiation."
Asked if there were circumstances that the United States would attack Iran, Rice replied:
"The question is simply not on the agenda at this point in time. You know, we have diplomatic means to do this. Iran is not immune to the changes that are going on in this region. I think the spectacle of Afghans voting in Iran for a free Afghan election, Iraqis voting in Iran for a free Iraqi election, has got to have an effect on an Iranian people who have long been denied the right to do the same. We need to make clear to the Iranian regime that the "elections" in which they are going to engage are understood not to be, in fact, elections that can be supported by an international community that believes that people have a right to really say what they think. These are our most basic principles and they apply to the Iranian regime, just as they apply to other regimes around the world. But we believe, particularly in regard to the nuclear issue, that while no one ever asks the American President to take all of his options…any option off the table, that there are plenty of diplomatic means at our disposal to get the Iranians to finally live up to their international obligations."
Asked about the comment that Vice President Dick Cheney made that Israel might feel obliged to attack Iran's nuclear plants, Rice said:
"First, let me not respond to what was necessarily a paraphrase of what the Vice President said, but the point is that the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon is deeply de-stabilizing. It is de-stabilizing to Iran’s neighbors, for very good reasons; it would be de-stabilizing for peace and security internationally. That is why there has been, I think now, very strong international consensus that Iran cannot be allowed to go down that route.
"I would note that in addition to the efforts that Britain, France and Germany are making, we have a robust IAEA process, we still have options under the IAEA process, for instance for referral to the Security Council of the Iranian case. We, of course, have worked also with the Russians and their efforts to cooperate with the Iranians on civilian nuclear power have been much more attuned recently to concerns about the proliferation risk of civilian nuclear power development, and have, for instance, insisted on the Iranians signing the additional protocol and on a fuel take-back, which while it does not eliminate the proliferation risk, it certainly does help to mitigate. So again, it is the Iranians who are isolated if they wish to continue to go down this path. And I will just repeat the European Three has given the Iranians an opportunity to demonstrate that they are serious about living up to their international obligations. They ought to take it."
Straw said that in addition to cooperating on the nuclear weapons issue, there
is a "need for Iran to change its position in respect of the Middle East,
and above all its neighbors. It cannot go on, if it wishes to be a full member
of the international community, denying the right of one member of the United
Nations to exist, which is a fundamental de-stabilizing aspect of the Middle