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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

UN Security Council Resolution 1929 on Iran

FPC Briefing
Bill Burns
Under Secretary of Political Affairs
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC
June 9, 2010


Date: 06/09/2010 Location: Washington D.C. Description: Under Secretary of Political Affairs Bill Burns briefs on the UN Security Council Resolution 1929 on Iran at the Washington Foreign Press Center on June 6, 2010. - State Dept Image

Video
Secretary Clinton's Statement
Statement by U.S. Permanent Representative to UN Susan Rice
Fact Sheet
Statement by Foreign Mininsters of P5+1

4:00 P.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Good afternoon and welcome to the Foreign Press Center. We’re fortunate to have with us Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns. He’s here to speak on the UN Security Council vote that took place earlier this morning.

We have about 30 minutes with Mr. Burns, so out of courtesy for everybody here, all colleagues please limit your questions to just one question, and also stay on the topic. Also, for the transcript, when you ask a question, wait for the microphone, and please clearly state your name and your media organization.

So, we’ll go ahead and turn the time over to Mr. Burns.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you very much and good afternoon. The United Nations Security Council has adopted a strong resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran today – Resolution 1929. This is the Council’s sixth resolution on Iran, and the fourth to impose legally binding Chapter VII sanctions on Iran. Resolution 1929 sends an unmistakable message of what is expected from Iran by the international community. It enhances existing United Nations sanctions by expanding the breadth and reach of those measures and at the same time breaks new ground with additional categories of sanctions to further pressure Iran to comply with its international nuclear obligations.

How we arrived at this day is clear. Despite President Obama’s repeated and unprecedented efforts since he took office to offer Iran a path of engagement to address international concerns about its nuclear program, Iran has refused. It has instead increased its enrichment and other proliferation-related activities in violation of successive UN Security Council resolutions, and rebuffed offers to meet again with the P5+1 on the nuclear program.

We have made clear that we respect Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. But with Iran’s rights come responsibilities. As we have seen over the last 16 months, the Iranian government has failed to meet those responsibilities. We witnessed the revelation of Iran’s concealed nuclear enrichment facility in Qom, a development that raises serious questions about the nature of Iran’s program. Iran chose to initiate enrichment activities to near 20 percent, in violation of its own obligations under UN Security Council resolutions to suspend uranium enrichment, and Iran vowed to build at least ten more enrichment facilities in violation of its obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency. All of this, along with Iran’s continued failure to cooperate fully with the IAEA, have led the IAEA Director General to declare again, as recently as last week, that he cannot verify that Iran’s nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes.

Turkey and Brazil worked hard to make progress on the Tehran Research Reactor proposal, and we respect and acknowledge their leaders’ good intentions to address the Iranian people’s humanitarian needs. The United States will continue to discuss this proposal and our concerns about it, which we have communicated with our French and Russian partners to IAEA Director General Amano in Vienna. But the Tehran Research Reactor proposal – in October, and now – does not address fundamental and well-founded international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. This resolution does.

This resolution contains the most comprehensive sanctions that the Iranian Government has ever faced. While minimizing the impact on average Iranians, they will impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities; its ballistic missile program; and, for the first time, its conventional military. They will put a new framework in place to stop Iranian smuggling, and crack down on Iranian banks and financial transactions. They target individuals, entities, and institutions – including those associated with the Revolutionary Guard – that have supported Iran’s nuclear program and have prospered from illicit activities at the expense of the Iranian people. With the adoption of this resolution, there are now 75 entities and 41 individuals subject to an asset freeze and travel ban. Thirty-five additional individuals previously subject to “travel vigilance” will now be subject to a travel ban. We will work closely with our partners and allies to ensure that these sanctions are fully enforced. As the Secretary’s statement earlier today announced, the State Department’s Special Advisor for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn will lead the U.S. effort to coordinate the implementation and amplification of this resolution.

But sanctions on Iran are not an end in themselves, and in fact, Iran itself can win their suspension simply by suspending its enrichment and reprocessing activities and meeting the requirements of the IAEA.

In the meantime, we remain committed to dialogue and a diplomatic resolution. As was noted in the statement by the P5+1 Foreign Ministers earlier today, the adoption of Resolution 1929 keeps the door open for continued engagement between the P5+1 and Iran to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, as well as the other differences between us. We are committed to a diplomatic solution to address all these challenges with Iran, and hope the Security Council’s adoption of this resolution will affect Iran’s strategic calculus and cause Iran to take a more constructive course. We remain ready with our P5+1 partners to meet immediately with Iran to discuss international concerns about its nuclear program, and begin an engagement process that can lead to international confidence in Iran’s peaceful nuclear intentions and the removal of these sanctions. If Iran really wants to achieve that outcome, it should not be hard to accomplish.

Thank you, and with that, I’d be glad to take your questions.

MODERATOR: We’ll start right in front up here.

QUESTION: I’m Denise Chrispim Marin from O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper. I would like to know if the fact that Brazil and Turkey did not vote with the United States and the other countries in favor of these sanctions can damage the legitimacy of these sanctions.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think Resolution 1929 -- its passage today -- sends a very strong message of international concern about Iran’s nuclear program. I think the reality is that both Turkey and Brazil, while clearly differing over timing and tactics, made clear that they oppose a nuclear-armed Iran, and made clear also that they share concerns about the fact, as Mr. Amano has underscored, that the Iranians have not yet answered fully the questions put to them by the IAEA. I think it’s important to note that both Brazil and Turkey have made clear that they intend to faithfully implement the new Security Council resolution.

And so, as I said, while we differ over timing and tactics, I think the message that’s sent to Iran by Resolution 1929 is clear, strong, and unmistakable.

MODERATOR: Now going in the middle.

QUESTION: Thank you. This is Lalit Jha from Press Trust of India. Last week, you had a Strategic Dialogue with India at the State Department. And Iran, I believe, was one of the topics of discussion. Are you and India on the same page as far as sanctions against Iran are concerned? And do you expect India to fully implement the Security Council resolution? Because a number of Indian companies have businesses in Iran. Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think India’s record on implementation of previous Security Council resolutions has been an admirable one, and I do expect that India, as its leadership has made clear publicly, will follow through and implement the new resolution.

I think it’s also worth noting that India has voted three times in the IAEA Board of Governors to hold Iran accountable for its failure to meet its international obligations. And Prime Minister Singh has also reinforced on a number of occasions the fact that India shares international concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran and the obvious negative consequences that would have for a part of the world that’s very important to both of us, as well as to the global economy.

MODERATOR: We’ll go right there.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Kazuhiro Kimura. I’m with Japan’s Kyodo News. I have a question about what’s going to happen afterward. With these sanctions, obviously Iran is looking at real pressure from the international community. Then what is your best-case scenario in which – what is the Iranian reaction that you are anticipating? You said that with this sanction, hopefully Iran will take a more constructive course. What does it mean exactly?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: One thing I’ve learned on this issue, and a number of others, is to be careful about best-case scenarios, so all I can tell you is what we’re determined to do. And that is, first, work with our partners in the international community, on the Security Council and outside it, to ensure the most vigorous and thorough and systematic possible implementation of this new resolution. And at the same time, we’ll keep the door open to engagement as the P5+1 Foreign Ministers’ statement made clear today.

It is certainly our hope that the passage of Resolution 1929 will affect the calculus of the Iranian leadership. We believe it will have a significant impact in constraining the ability of the Iranian leadership to continue to defy its international obligations, and the impact of that international pressure will lead it to look more seriously at the prospect of real diplomatic engagement -- and we remain ready for that.

MODERATOR: We’ll come up front now.

QUESTION: Thank you. Andrei Sitov from TASS, from Russia. Thank you for doing this, sir, and thanks to the FPC for doing this also. My question is about Russia. Our two leaders will be meeting shortly, both bilaterally and in the G-20 format. Do you expect them to still talk about Iran as they’ve been doing for years? And if you could say a few words, more generally, about your expectations for the meetings. Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think Iran is such a serious concern, not only for the United States and Russia but for the rest of the international community, that it’s hard to imagine that the issue won’t be part of the agenda.

What I would emphasize is that the partnership between the United States and Russia, particularly over the past year on this issue, has been a very constructive one, and I think significant in producing the outcome that you saw today in New York -- the passage of Resolution 1929. We were partners in putting forward the original TRR proposal with the French as well as the then-Director General of the IAEA, Mr. ElBaradei, and we’ve been partners ever since in trying to make as effective as we possibly can a dual-track strategy. In terms of the wider summit agenda, there are obviously a number of other issues that are important for us to discuss: following through on the ratification of the new START agreement; ways in which we can cooperate together on other pressing regional issues, particularly in the Middle East and on North Korea; as well as ways in which we can expand the arc of our cooperation, particularly in the economic field where I think there’s a lot of potential for doing more in the U.S.-Russia relationship.

MODERATOR: Now, over to Mina.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mina Al-Oraibi, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Hi.

QUESTION: Hi. I want to ask you about the aspects of the Iranian economy and the strengths of Iran outside of what the resolution actually covered – most importantly, Iran’s very lucrative oil trade and commerce. How do you want to put pressure on Iran in this particular angle? Do you see sanctions from individual countries outside? And are you in talks with the EU? Because I believe William Hague, when he was here last with Secretary Clinton, said that the UK will be working with the EU on new sanctions once this resolution has passed the Security Council. Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thanks for the question. The EU, at its EU council meeting of European leaders last December, made an important statement about its commitment to implement vigorously a new Security Council resolution when it was passed -- and it has passed today -- as well as to accompany that step with measures that the EU takes in order to have maximum impact on Iran’s calculus and maximize the chances that we can produce serious diplomatic engagement. And so I believe that the EU is going to follow through on that. I think it’s an important step. It’s consistent with steps that the European Union has taken in the past after the passage of new UN Security Council resolutions.

And we certainly look to other countries in the world to implement this resolution vigorously and faithfully and systematically. And I think that’s going to be very important to preserve the chances for a diplomatic resolution of this issue.

The only other thing I’d add in response to your question is we’ve tried in constructing this resolution with our partners to minimize the impact on the Iranian people and maximize the focus on the Iranian leadership. And that’s why, for example, when you look at the annex and the list of entities that are designated there, much of the focus is on the IRGC, given its very close connection to illicit nuclear and ballistic missile activities.

MODERATOR: Now, we’ll go in the back.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for this opportunity.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Sure.

QUESTION: I’m from – my name is Mochizuki from Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. My question is about the fact that this resolution is mentioning the Central Bank of Iran. And I heard that one of the reasons why this resolution has impact on the Iranians is this mentioning of the Central Bank. Could you elaborate on the reason why it is significant to mention the Central Bank in the resolution?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Sure. I think the mention of the Central Bank, along with the rest of the Iranian banking system, is significant because we’ve shared with many other countries in the world a concern about the manipulation of the banking system to serve illicit nuclear and missile-related purposes. And what the resolution does is highlight that concern and call upon all the members of the United Nations to exercise vigilance as they look at those kind of activities, not just with regard to the Central Bank but with regard to other Iranian banks. And it highlights as well the concerns that we share with the rest of the international community about practices like correspondent banking, which often times can be used to serve purposes which are proscribed by Security Council resolutions -- in other words, serve an illicit nuclear program.

So I think that focus, not only on the Central Bank but on the Iranian banking system and ways in which the international financial system can be manipulated, is an important new development and a significant step forward in this resolution.

MODERATOR: Come up front over here.

QUESTION: Thank you. This is Arshad Mahmud, BDnews24.com.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: You just mentioned that the U.S. Special Representative of NPT will work to implement and amplify the sanctions. Could you please just elaborate on what would be the specific things that would be done? More specifically, if, as Iran said, that it will simply harden their resolve to go ahead. Are you going to attack physically or what is the course that the United States is thinking to stop Iran from pursuing?

And the other point is, we have seen in the past that sanctions really don’t work, as we saw in Iraq. The real people who get hurt are the common people. How do you ensure that this will not happen this time?

Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, there are two or three very good questions packed in there, and I’ll try to answer each of them. First, I’ll be honest with you, there is no perfect assurance that you can give with regard to a sanctions regime or a new sanctions resolution and its impact on a country and a society. All I can tell you is that we have tried very, very hard, and I think the details of Resolution 1929 bear this out, to keep the focus on the Iranian leadership and on those parts of the Iranian Government which have been most actively and intimately involved in programs which are proscribed by previous UN Security Council resolutions. So we’ve tried, as I said, to minimize the impact on the Iranian people and maximize the impact on that calculation of the Iranian leadership. Is that a perfect solution? No, I wouldn’t pretend that. But I think we’ve worked very hard to target the resolution in that way.

Second, I understand your sort of general skepticism about sanction resolutions as you look around the world. But in this case, I think this is an important measure of the international community’s concern about an enormously serious issue because the consequences of Iran pursuing, unchecked, a program which it has not demonstrated is exclusively peaceful, can be quite negative in a part of the world, that as I said before, is extremely important to the global economy and to much of the international community.

And so in this case, we believe the practical measures are going to have an impact on Iran, particularly given the fact that its own economy is not well managed at this point. We think they’re targeted very carefully, and we think the political message that a new Security Council resolution sends -- the strong support of the permanent members of the Council and representatives on the Council from many parts of the world -- is also going to have an impact as well, and helps to sharpen the choice for the Iranian leadership.

A lot is possible if Iran chooses to address the concerns that the Security Council and the IAEA have put on the table. As I said before, it should not be hard to address those concerns. Mr. Amano has said that Iran is a unique case. The reason it’s a unique case, in my judgment, is because Iran is the only NPT signatory today that, for whatever reason, cannot convince the IAEA of the exclusively peaceful purposes of its nuclear program and because it has refused to address the questions about potential militarization activities or weaponization activities in the past. It has refused since the 1st of October to sit down with the P5+1, as it agreed in Geneva at the beginning of October, and deal directly with the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program.

So there’s a fairly straightforward path here, should Iran want to take advantage of it. And the fact that it has refused to do that, I think, raises serious questions about its intentions.

QUESTION: Can I ask a follow up?

MODERATOR: We’re going to go right here with the Saudi Press Agency. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Yes, I am from the Saudi Press Agency. And my question is, basically, I know I’ve heard a lot from the Administration that Iran is fighting really hard to avoid these sanctions. So it kind of begs the question, how close were we getting just in the threat of sanctions to having them somewhat comply to whatever the international standards are with the NPT?

And, I mean, the multi-track with the focus on sanctions being there, how much does that take away from the diplomatic engagement? Because, I mean, if nothing else, Iran might just be growing more and more resentful of the fact that there’s the lingering threat of sanctions. So I don’t know how close we were to just going – sticking with the diplomatic engagement or pressure that way, rather than applying this new round of sanctions. Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: It’s a very good question. What I would say is the following. First, it’s been more than two years since Resolution 1803, since the last sanctions resolution. There has been no lack of effort on the part of the Obama Administration to try and engage with this Iranian leadership. The President has reached out in ways that are truly unprecedented in the 30 years since the Iranian Revolution.

Facts are stubborn things, and the stubborn fact remains that since the 1st of October, Iran has refused to engage with the P5+1 with a focus on international concerns about its nuclear program. So, as I said, it’s not difficult to try to make some progress diplomatically here. But I think the most telling single indicator has been the unwillingness of the Iranians to engage directly with the P5+1 since October.

And left with that situation, and left with the reality that we can’t stand idly by and not demonstrate that there are consequences when a country like Iran fails to meet its international obligations, we and our international partners were left no choice but to pursue this resolution. We want to keep the door open to engagement. We believe that this step supports and reinforces the possibility of taking advantage of the engagement track in the future.

QUESTION: Sir, how realistic is engagement at this point, after these sanctions? What are you expecting?

MODERATOR: To the microphone.

QUESTION: Sir, how realistic is the expectation for engagement at this point following this new round of sanctions?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think if you’ve looked at past experience after previous sanctions resolutions, there has been a period in which the reaction from the Iranians was dismissive. But over time, possibilities for engagement have reopened. And all we can do is make clear our willingness to engage. And that’s been made clear not only by the United States but by our other P5+1 partners today. And that’ll remain the case.

MODERATOR: Okay. We’re going to go way in the back.

QUESTION: Hi. Sean Flax with NHK.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Hi.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m wondering – you’ve spoken about keeping up the pressure following these sanctions. What are the next steps for the U.S. here in terms of unilateral sanctions or persuading other countries to impose unilateral sanctions?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Certainly this gets back at the question that was asked earlier as well. The announcement that Bob Einhorn will coordinate the efforts of the U.S. Government to ensure the most vigorous and thorough possible implementation of this new Resolution 1929 is a clear reflection of our determination to try to make sure that this resolution is implemented in a very effective way.

We also want to work with our partners around the world, including the European Union as I mentioned before, as they consider steps that they can take. The U.S. Congress has also been considering legislation for some time. We’ve been working with the Congress to try to ensure that it’s as effective as it can be. We believe it has been very important to move ahead in the UN Security Council because we think that sends the most effective possible international message of concern because, again, I would underscore that the issue here is not about the United States and Iran. It truly is about the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and its failure to live up to its obligations.

MODERATOR: Okay, right here in the middle.

QUESTION: Nadia Bilbassy with NBC Television.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Hi.

QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador, for doing this.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Sure.

QUESTION: I don’t know if you heard the Iranian reaction but they basically rejected the resolution as expected and, roughly translated, they said it will go to the trash bin. And they vowed to continue with the enrichment. Considering that the diplomatic option – or the dialogue, rather – it’s not, as many people believe, it’s not going to go further, at least at this stage. Would you consider reviving the Brazilian-Turkish offer as a medium way to get out of it?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: On the TRR proposal, we made clear on the 1st of October that we saw this as a valuable confidence-building step. Now, if you remember, on the 1st of October, the Iranians agreed in principle not only to pursue the TRR proposal but also to engage intensively; they had agreed to a meeting within one month with the P5+1 to talk about the core concerns about their nuclear program. So we certainly remain open to pursuing the TRR proposal.

We do have some clear concerns, which we share with Russia and France about the Tehran declaration that was issued by Iran, Brazil, and Turkey a few weeks ago. We conveyed those concerns to Mr. Amano. We’re certainly prepared to engage on the basis of those concerns if Iran is prepared to address them seriously as well. And as I made clear earlier, we’re certainly prepared at any moment to engage directly with the Iranians, along with the P5+1, on the wider international concerns about the nuclear program. So we’ll remain ready to move ahead on both of those fronts, so long as there is serious interest on the Iranian side.

MODERATOR: We’ll go in the back.

QUESTION: Ali Aslan, Zaman newspaper.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Hi.

QUESTION: Turkey said no to this resolution. Can you please address a little bit the implications for U.S.-Turkish relations of this vote?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We’ll see. Turkey made a sovereign choice in deciding how to vote today. As I said before, we respect and acknowledge the efforts that Turkey made with regard to the TRR proposal. I won’t conceal the fact that we’re disappointed with the vote that took place today. But we believe that Turkey shares – and the Turkish representative in New York made clear that Turkey shares – international concerns that Iran has not lived up to its obligations. It has not answered the questions posed by the IAEA. And we share with Turkey the view that Iran does need to address those concerns and needs to do that urgently.

We’ve also taken careful note of Turkey’s statement that as a member of the United Nations, it will implement the new resolution that has been passed, and that’s important as well. Turkish leadership has also made very clear that it’s opposed to a nuclear-armed Iran and that it’s incumbent upon Iran to demonstrate to the IAEA the exclusively peaceful nature of its program, which it hasn’t done yet.

MODERATOR: Over to Joyce in the middle, Al Hayat.

QUESTION: Yes, hi.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Hi.

QUESTION: Joyce Karam with Al Hayat newspaper. I want to ask you if you fear any backlash of this resolution on Middle East stability, mainly if Iran would do anything, you know, in Lebanon? It happened in 2006 when you were meeting to discuss another resolution. I mean, how much do you anticipate any violence or any negative reaction in the Middle East out of this?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: As you know better than I do, the Middle East situation is complicated enough today without others, whether it’s the Iranians or anyone else, further complicating it. We’ve made no secret of our continuing concerns about Iran’s support for terrorist groups in the Middle East and the ways in which it has sought consistently to undermine prospects for a negotiated resolution between Arabs and Israelis, and particularly between Palestinians and Israelis.

So all I can stress is that the United States is going to remain committed to pursuing diplomatic possibilities between Israelis and Palestinians. That’s what Senator Mitchell is fully engaged in right now. That’s why Palestine’s President met with our President today. We’ll continue to pursue that. And our very strong hope is that other parties, particularly Iran, aren’t going to seek to undermine that process. That’s certainly not in the interests of Palestinians.

MODERATOR: Okay. We have time for one final question. We’ll go right here in the green.

QUESTION: If I could follow on that just a little bit tangentially.

MODERATOR: Your name and media organization?

QUESTION: I’m sorry, Rob Gentry with TV Asahi.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Hi.

QUESTION: Do you think that this resolution will in any way, by achieving some result of a change of policy in Iran or by demonstration of the international community’s focus on this issue, lessen the concerns in Israel that they are perhaps so threatened that they need to respond in some military way in the near term regarding Iran?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: The only thing I can say in response is that I think this Resolution 1929 is a very clear demonstration of international resolve, of international concern about Iran’s nuclear program. We remain very much focused on a diplomatic resolution of that problem. We think that the new sanctions resolution reinforces the chances for an eventual diplomatic resolution and that’s what our focus is on today.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up real briefly? Do you think this is the last resolution that’s going to come out of the – on Iran right now?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I’ve learned to take this one step at a time. And what we’re focused on right now is this resolution, its implementation, trying to get across as strongly as the international community can our concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and its failure to live up to its international obligations.

QUESTION: Can we expect you to come back in six months and give us some concrete result of what has happened? Is that fair to ask?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: That’s fair to ask, sure. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Thanks.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Come back.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thanks.