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US Welcomes Atomic Energy Agency Vote on Iran

State's Burns Welcomes Atomic Energy Agency Vote on Iran

Calls the vote a step forward toward international consensus

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns welcomed the September 24 decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors to find Iran in violation of its nonproliferation obligations and to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council.

Burns said the vote represented a step forward in the effort to forge broad international consensus behind the idea that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civil nuclear energy program.

Following is the transcript of Burns’ remarks:

(begin transcript)


Remarks to the Press on the IAEA Board of Governors Resolution Regarding Iran

Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Via Telephone
Washington, DC
September 24, 2005

(2:50 p.m. EDT)

Good afternoon, everybody. Let me just make some points, just three points, to try to put into context what we think happened today.

First, this is a significant step forward in the international effort to isolate Iran. It's also a significant setback for Iran's nuclear strategy because it's clear to us now that Ahmadi-Nejad's speech at the UN last weekend backfired. It was seen as excessively harsh and uncompromising.

He spoke about Iran's rights but he didn't speak about Iran's responsibilities. And he three times mentioned in that speech that Iran was determined to enrich, which I think caught the attention of the international community. And there was a stiffening, especially in the European position, over the last week, which was quite notable. Before the speech was made, most people we were talking to thought that a vote like this probably wouldn't be possible, both to find Iran not to be in compliance and to refer Iran to the Security Council. That's the first point.

Second point. It's very significant to the U.S. that India voted with the majority. That is a blow to Iran's attempt to turn this debate into a developed world versus a developing world debate. Peru, Ecuador, Singapore and Ghana also voted with the majority against Iran. So we're very grateful for India's support and it's significant that India is now working very closely with the United States and Europe to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Third and last point: looking ahead over the next couple of weeks and next couple of months. We have a patient, long-term strategy. It is to isolate Iran on this question. It's to ratchet up the international pressure on Iran. It is to assemble a growing international coalition against it, as we've done with North Korea. And Iran now needs to reflect on its choices. It is isolated on this question. One country voted with it today, and that country was Venezuela. And significant countries upon whom Iran was relying for support, whom Iran thought might vote against, abstained, countries like Russia and China and South Africa. So we would call on Iran to suspend its nuclear activities, to suspend the uranium conversion and return to the negotiations with the European Union.

Those are my three points to start.

Released on September 27, 2005

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