U.S: Iran's Anti-Terror Efforts "Insufficient"
White House Calls Iran's Anti-Terror Efforts "Insufficient"
(White House Report, May 27: South Korea/Japan/Canada)
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said May 27 that the United States continues to have concerns about two issues inside Iran, a country President Bush identified as a member of the "axis of evil" in his January 2002 State of the Union address.
"We are pressing Iran not to develop nuclear weapons. We are pressing them not to harbor terrorists," Fleischer said. "There is no change in American policy."
"The steps that the Iranians claim to have taken in terms of capturing al Qaeda are insufficient," Fleischer said. "We continue to have concerns about the presence of al Qaeda in Iran."
The U.S. is also concerned about Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs, Fleischer said.
"Our position is consistent and principled toward Iran," he told reporters at his daily briefing. "The future of Iran will be decided by the Iranian people, but we will not miss important opportunities to state our case to Iranian authorities through whatever channels are appropriate because it represents important principles about not harboring terrorists, about not developing nuclear weapons; these are important positions and we will not be shy about expressing them."
Fleischer said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that it had discovered in Iran several facilities that are used in the production of nuclear weapons. Iran has admitted to the IAEA that it is pursuing a full nuclear fuel cycle, although it maintains that this is for peaceful purposes, to produce fuel for civil nuclear reactors, he said.
"The United States rejects that argument as a cover story," Fleischer said. "Our strong position is that Iran is preparing, instead, to produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons. That is what we see." He said the White House awaits an IAEA report on Iranian activities that is due in June.
"They don't need nuclear energy for their electric grid," Fleischer said. "They don't need nuclear energy to produce energy in their country. They have sufficient energy from fossil fuel sources, from gas and from oil. So that raises a concern."
That Russia has provided aid to Iran for the completion of its nuclear fuel cycle program "has been a matter of some dispute between the United States and Russia," Fleischer said. "I think it remains an issue where the president is hopeful that we can effect a change in policy by Russia, but it does remain a matter of some dispute."
Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to meet in St. Petersburg May 30 prior to the G-8 summit in France June 1-3, and Iran is likely to be a topic the two leaders will discuss.
The United States, which does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Iran, hopes such diplomatic endeavors will work to get the message across to the Iranian government, Fleischer indicated. "We are continuing to press the Iranians as well as all who can play a constructive role, including Russia and the IAEA, to work to make sure Iran ends its nuclear weapons program," Fleischer said.
BUSH SPEAKS TO LEADERS OF SOUTH KOREA, SPAIN AND CANADA
President Roh Moo-hyun of South Korea called President Bush May 26 to thank him for his hospitality during his meeting with Bush at the White House on May 14, Fleischer told reporters.
The two leaders agreed that the meeting was an important step forward in strengthening U.S.-South Korean cooperation and working for the peaceful, verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, Fleischer said. They also exchanged observations on the president's recent meeting at his Texas ranch with Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
President Bush called the president of Spain's government, Jose Maria Aznar, May 26 to express condolences over the loss of Spanish soldiers on a military transport that crashed earlier that day in Turkey, Fleischer said.
The two leaders also discussed Iraq and the Middle East. Bush also congratulated President Aznar on his party's successes in the local election and sent congratulations to Mrs. Aznar, who won a seat on the Madrid City Council.
Bush also spoke May 26 with Canada's Prime
Minister Jean Chretien. Fleischer said "the two leaders
discussed the upcoming G-8 meeting [in Evian-les-Bains,
France, June 1-3], U.S.-Canada relations, and other
international issues of concern." Both said they look
forward to seeing each other at the summit, Fleischer said.
"They also touched on Afghanistan, the situation in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, and on the global economy."