Condoleezza Rice Addresses Iran Concerns on European Trip
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MARGARET WARNER: Stopping in London today on her first trip as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice was asked bluntly about the administration’s intentions toward Iran and its nuclear program.
SPOKESPERSON: Can you envisage circumstances during President Bush’s second administration in which the United States would attack Iran?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The question is simply not on the agenda at this point in time. While no one ever asked the American president to take all of his options, any option off the table, there are plenty of diplomatic means at our disposal to get Iranians to finally live up to their international obligations.
MARGARET WARNER: Those diplomatic means have been pursued by the Europeans. Last fall, the so-called “EU Three” — Britain, France and Germany — struck a deal in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend its uranium-enrichment program while negotiations continued.
Washington was not a party to the deal, and on the flight to Europe, Secretary Rice told reporters the U.S. would not join the negotiations now, nor offer any incentives to the Iranian regime.
Iran says its nuclear program is for energy production and that as a signatory to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, it has every right to pursue uranium enrichment technology. Enriched uranium is a critical ingredient in nuclear bombs.
Secretary Rice today warned Iran against trying to use a civilian nuclear program as a cover for developing weapons.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: It’s 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.
MARGARET WARNER: The administration has never publicly threatened military action against Iran. But on the Don Imus Show last month, Vice President Cheney, when asked about reports that the U.S. was scouting out Iranian nuclear sites for potential strikes, suggested another country might take action.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked.
That if, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.
MARGARET WARNER: At every stop today, Rice also made a point of calling for change in Iran’s internal politics. Here, in Berlin, with German Chancellor Schroeder:
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Peoples everywhere, including in Iran, have the right to have their aspirations acknowledged, and that it will — it should be that the Iranians enjoy the freedom that they deserve.
The behavior of the Iranian government both internally and externally is of concern to an international community that is increasingly unified around the view that values matter.
MARGARET WARNER: But she sidestepped questions about whether the U.S. was seeking to generate regime change in Tehran.