State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 31, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
July 31, 2006
UN Security Council Resolution on Iran
Qatar and Explanation of Vote on Resolution
Iran's Reaction to Security Council Resolution / Prospects for
Promoting Human Rights and Democracy in Iran / US Ability to Reach
Secretary Rice's Travel in Region / Contacts with Israeli and
Status of Planning for International Security Force / Diplomatic
Israeli Suspension of Aerial Bombardments for Forty-Eight Hours
Hezbollah's Actions and Reaction by Countries in the Region and
Secretary Rice's Meeting with President Bush Tonight
Timing for Secretary Rice's Travel to the Region
Under Secretary Hughes' Travel with the Secretary and Role /
Possibility of Conflict Expanding in Region
Reported US Measure to Ban Travel to North Korea
Reports China Refuses to Repatriate Chinese Citizens from US
House Vote on US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative
12:40 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I have one brief opening statement and then we can get into questions. We'll release the whole text of the statement after the briefing. This is concerning the UN Security Council Resolution on Iran that passed 14 to 1 just this morning.
"We are extremely pleased by the UN Security Council's clear and strong action today by adopting Resolution 1696. This tough resolution sends an unequivocal and mandatory message to Tehran: Take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors, including full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and suspend construction of the heavy water reactor. In setting a deadline for August 31st for Iran's full, unconditional, and immediate compliance, this significant resolution expresses the international community's determination to deal firmly with the direct threat to international peace and security posed by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons."
With that, I'm happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: All right. Well, the way ahead now on --
QUESTION: Can I ask for a moment to speak on this one, on the resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: Do you yield the forum, Mr. Schweid?
QUESTION: I do.
MR. MCCORMACK: All right.
QUESTION: Thank you. Very, very kind indeed.
MR. MCCORMACK: All right.
QUESTION: He's been traveling.
QUESTION: The only vote against the resolution was the one of Qatar. Since Qatar is a very good U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, I wonder whether you had discussions with them and do you know why they voted the way they did?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think John Bolton talked to them. They had an explanation of the vote and John, in public, just a while ago, said that he understood that it was a matter of timing, not a matter of substance. We'll take them at their word in that regard. I don't know if we are going to have any other follow-up conversations with them, Nicholas.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the United States thought that this could have been a stronger resolution, specifically with regard to immediate sanction?
MR. MCCORMACK: This is exactly what we said we were going to get when we started this process and it's what we have. It has -- it contains in it, if you look at the resolution, a statement that if Iran does not comply with what the international community has asked it to do, then it is subject to sanctions. And that's something that we will -- if they don't comply, then we'll take up after the August 31st deadline.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Iran had talked to the UN body, if there is a resolution against Iran, then they will not negotiate or talk to anyone else at all about their nuclear program.
MR. MCCORMACK: Uh-huh; are they're going to stomp their feet and hold their breath until they turn blue, too? Look; this is -- the international community has been very clear in what is required of Iran. I can't explain to you what's going into their calculation, why they have not complied. Either they are -- have some idea that they gain by willfully going against the will of the international community or they have something to hide. You know, I don't know what the explanation is, but it is in their interests, it's in the interest of the international community and the Iranian people for them to comply.
What has been offered to them is a pathway to realize the kind of peaceful uses of nuclear energy that they say they want. That's what they've said, so the international community has offered them a pathway. All we're doing is asking -- we, the IAEA, and the P-5+1 and now the UN Security Council is asking them to suspend all their enrichment-related activities so that we can have negotiations. It's not asking them to decide what the endpoint of those negotiations is. That's what the deal is here. We and the P-5+1 will suspend activity within the Security Council in return for their suspending activity in their uranium enrichment-related programs. It's very simple.
They've chosen, to this point, to defy the call of the international community and we'll see what happens in the intervening time. They have an opportunity now, during the month of August, to meet with the call of the international community. We'll see if they do so.
QUESTION: Sean, you think -- just to follow quick, you think they have in mind this -- that if Pakistan can keep it, then why they can't keep it?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Goyal, I can't -- you know, I can't go into the decision-making processes of the Iranian leadership.
Yeah, Barry, did you have any other questions?
QUESTION: Yeah, I wondered about the way ahead. The Secretary is on the way home. She's seeing the President this evening?
MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on Iran?
QUESTION: And -- more on Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I think we have one more Iran.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, yes.
QUESTION: Apparently, the next step will be very clear, because at the end of August, you're not going to see anything or hear anything from Iran. Then that will be the sanction; is it?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll see. I'm not going to try to predict what reaction they're going to have to this. I saw one news report saying that the resolution has no legal basis, so I'm not sure what that means. This is a Security Council resolution that has the basis -- it was based in international law that requires them to do this. A member of the United Nations, this resolution requires them to take certain actions. We'll see if they comply with that. We'll see. I'm not going to try to predict one way or the other. We hope that they do in fact take up the opportunity that has been offered them and -- but we'll see. We'll see. The decision is up to them.
QUESTION: Given that Iran had six or eight weeks to consider the package and made no discernible movements in the direction the allies wanted to see, why was Iran given in this resolution a full -- another full month to ponder things again?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is the approach that we have been pursuing for some time, James, and Secretary Rice laid this out several -- laid it out several months ago, back to May, that we would pursue an approach of gradually trying to step up the pressure on Iran to maybe heighten some of the choices for them and that they might see their way clear to engage in serious, constructive negotiations with the international community. Thus far they have chosen not to pursue that pathway of negotiations so the pressure is going to gradually increase on them. The hope is that they will take up this opportunity.
This is a resolution that passed 14 to 1. That's a pretty strong signal to the Iranian regime. They don't have anywhere to hide right now. They can't hide behind anybody. They at this point don't have any protectors. So the spotlight is on them to see whether or not they are going to make the tough decision. Are they going to pursue the pathway of negotiation? Are they going to pursue the pathway of further isolation? This resolution shows that they are now pursuing -- they are going down that road of further isolation.
QUESTION: Just as a matter of fact, have discussions begun with other countries about what the future steps will be if in fact there is no movement from Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: In general, yes. In general, there is the package that was agreed upon in Vienna in which there was the positive pathway and the negative pathway. On the negative side there was a menu, if you will, of possible sanctions that all agreed among the P-5+1 would be on the table. Now, when to use any particular sanction or group of sanctions is going to be a point of discussion. So there is already agreement on the use of sanctions. And as for specific discussions, James, I'll have to see if there's anything more that I can add to it. I think certainly there have been general discussions but I don't think it's really gone beyond that, certainly at the senior political level.
Barry, we come to you.
QUESTION: Yeah, can we try to look ahead?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: She's on her way home. Sees the President. Has contact with the Lebanese Prime Minister. What else can you tell us about if you have a report from the plane, any calls to leaders and what's the game plan now?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, she talked of that quite a bit --
QUESTION: I know.
MR. MCCORMACK: -- talked about this quite a bit, Barry. I don't know how much more I'd have to add. I'm just getting read in myself.
QUESTION: Well, let's try contacts if you could. Any special contacts, any additional contacts from the plane?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of, Barry. She's talked to recently over the course of last night and this morning talked to Foreign Minister Livni, talked to Prime Minister Siniora, talked to Secretary General Annan, and those are the only calls that I have, Barry. I think that -- I think you -- everybody is pretty much up to date. She talked a little bit on the plane, plane ride from the Middle East into Shannon, Ireland about the fact she had spoken with Siniora. So I think as far as I know, we're up to date.
QUESTION: One last thing. Well, I'm sure there are a lot of things. But the plan to try to move a resolution or an agreement at least on peacekeeping, on an international security force, does that remain on course? Does that remain something she's going to pursue, possibly by going to the UN this week?
MR. MCCORMACK: Her personally going to the UN?
QUESTION: Well, new question.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: Are you going to pursue that course? Will she jump in there?
MR. MCCORMACK: We're on the -- well, she's already in, Barry.
QUESTION: I mean (inaudible.)
MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of the pathway ahead, she laid it out. She gave you guys a statement from Jerusalem. She elaborated a bit on that statement during the press briefing on the plane ride over. Don't have a whole lot to add to that. Yes, we are seriously engaged up in New York. I think it's fair to -- if you want to look at this, where the center of gravity in terms of diplomatic activity is, I think it's shifting to New York now. And you're going to have a lot of discussions up in New York about the three-track approach, mutually reinforcing approach that the Secretary talked about and -- talked about and there's going to be a lot of discussion about how you memorialize those agreements, encapsulate those agreements in the form of a resolution. So that discussion is already taking place up in New York. I expect it to take place during this week. As for her personally going up there, Barry, we'll -- you know, we'll keep you up to date. Stay tuned on that.
QUESTION: I have just one more thing again then. There's a partial ceasefire. Do you -- are you talking about -- literally about putting that in a resolution or do you mean the larger top -- your larger interest in a ceasefire? Am I making sense?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there's an action that the Israeli Government decided to take on its own. We applauded that. And that was -- they said that there'd be 48 hours of suspension of aerial bombardment. The caveat to that would be they were going to take action to defend themselves if there were those groups or individuals who were going to be engaged in attacking Israel. I think that that is what we've seen. We've talked to them about the importance of -- I mean, if keeping to that promise of that 48 hours not only keeping to the principle of it, but also looking at very carefully at its application to make sure that its application followed the principle. They also agreed upon this 24-hour period in which for humanitarian reasons they would allow aid in and people to leave. Those are things that we certainly have praised.
And as for any more durable action, Barry, I think that is something that again, we're trying to negotiate with our international partners, with the Israel Government, with the Lebanese Government and others, so that you have a durable ceasefire that takes place within a political context that a ceasefire supports. You want to have a ceasefire supporting some lasting political solution and then to support enforcement of that and to see that it happens, you want to have an international force in support of the Lebanese Government taking control of Lebanese territory in the south. So that's what we're working on.
QUESTION: I'm just trying to clarify, for these interim measures, you are trying to enshrine in resolutions? Or are you still looking for a way to --
MR. MCCORMACK: We're looking for --
QUESTION: -- on the main (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: We're looking for a durable solution, Barry.
MR. MCCORMACK: A durable solution.
QUESTION: Is there any evidence to suggest whether Hezbollah has responded in kind during this 48-hour period that began?
MR. MCCORMACK: James, I, you know, I couldn't say. I know that yesterday there were I think -- one estimate of 100 rocket attacks. I can't tell you whether or not that's accurate, but certainly provocative and aggressive actions on the part of Hezbollah have continued, whether or not militarily on the ground that continues as of this hour, I can't tell you. I don't have an assessment of that.
QUESTION: Referring specifically to reports of Hezbollah firing on an Israeli ship.
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to look into it, James. I don't have the latest on that.
QUESTION: And I just wondered lastly if you would elaborate maybe on something that Under Secretary Burns said over the weekend.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Namely, he said that he was asked why Hezbollah would have any particularly incentive to make itself part of any peace agreement, given that it's sworn to destroying Israel and so on. And his response was, well, these last few weeks have not been positive ones for Hezbollah. How so? Has Hezbollah not -- is it not gaining in some public relations sphear or why should we believe that Hezbollah has not profited from this in some way?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, certainly we don't' want to -- I don't think anybody, except maybe for Hezbollah and its backers, wants to see Hezbollah profit from this. But clearly there has been some degradation of their capability to carry out attacks across borders. I can't give you an assessment of that. Military experts can give you a more precise assessment of the extent of that degradation. And you have also from the very beginning, James, seen the region really rally around the idea that Hezbollah was the group that precipitated this violence, this current violence. And that they have been condemned for that -- for their actions.
They are in essence, along with Syria and Iran, are isolated from the rest of the Arab world. And you notice that you have countries like Egypt, you have countries like Saudi Arabia, countries like Jordan in the region working together with the international community, working together with us to come up with a lasting solution. Nobody wants to go back to the status quo ante, with the caveat maybe Hezbollah and some of its backers do. So they find themselves isolated. And I think over time in a democracy you don't -- people don't want to have some group, some small group that has not been elected to lead a nation be able to drag that nation into war. And we all want to get to the point where the Lebanese people are able to exercise their will through the ballot box, to choose who's going to lead them and that those leaders will have the ability to exercise control over the institutions of a government and control -- and that control will extend to an entire country.
That's what we all want to see. That's what we mean when we talk about a durable solution. So you don't have terrorist groups like Hezbollah who can drag the Lebanese people, the Israeli people and an entire region into the kind of violence that we have seen over the past couple weeks.
QUESTION: But it's focused on the Lebanese Government.
MR. MCCORMACK: They have a couple of --
QUESTION: The Lebanese.
MR. MCCORMACK: They have a couple ministers. But Prime Minister Siniora made very clear that the Lebanese Government was not aware that Hezbollah was intending to take this action or had taken this action until they -- I don't know exactly how they found out, but they had no -- they didn't have foreknowledge of this event, Barry, which makes the point, which makes the point that the government of -- the government -- you have a group operating outside the boundaries of the democratic institutions -- granted, these are fledgling democratic institutions in Lebanon -- but nonetheless democratic institutions that have the imprimatur of the Lebanese people. This group operate -- was operating outside that.
QUESTION: Why as a rhetorical or factual matter should jihadists around the world not point to this episode and cry victory? The jihadists, the Hezbollah faction, stood up to the mighty IDF and withstood it and took its best shots and was left standing and is now being courted by world powers for its acquiescence in a multinational force. Why as a rhetorical or a factual matter should jihadists not look upon this as a great victory?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, we'll see exactly how they come out of this, James. Nobody wants -- nobody wants to see them back in the position in which they were. What was the position in which they found themselves? Encamped on Lebanon's southern border with Israel with the ability to fire rockets at will into Israel, the ability to launch raids over the Israeli border and kill Israeli citizens, capture Israeli soldiers. We don't want to go back to that.
And what Secretary -- and that's the point the President and Secretary Rice have made from the very beginning. You don't want them to be able to claim this as some sort of victory. You want to make sure that you don't get back to that point. And so that's why Secretary Rice has been working so hard -- see you, Barry.
MR. MCCORMACK: That's all right.
QUESTION: You've said so much I had to put it out.
MR. MCCORMACK: I know, I know. Pearls of wisdom.
QUESTION: If you would only embroider it. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well --
MR. MCCORMACK: Go ahead, James.
QUESTION: Should -- I mean, I'm not saying that I agree with this point of view, but I'm sure you're aware that it's out there and I wonder if at that podium you can explain or disabuse jihadists or anyone else out there who might be tempted to so characterize this --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I don't think I'm going to be able to convince too many jihadists, people who are committed to wanton acts of violence. I mean, I'm not sure how many of them are listening to my press briefing.
QUESTION: Don't sell yourself short, my friend. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Look, these are the kind of people that are committed to taking innocent life. You know, they don't play by any particular rules and they can make all the kinds of claims that they want. But what we are concerned with and what responsible states in the region are concerned with is trying to help the people of the region build a more peaceful, prosperous Middle East and a more peaceful, prosperous Lebanon. That's what they want. We think that most people want to send their kids to school, be able to go to work every single day, and realize a better life for themselves and for their children. And that's what we are working with the states of the region to try to accomplish.
There are those who -- you know, those who are committed to violence, the violent jihadists that you talk about. They are -- some -- most are probably irreconcilable to any sort of political solution. They have to be dealt with and we, as well as others around the world, are committed to dealing with them. There are others who may have some political grievances. What we say to them is, there is an avenue in which you can peacefully address political viewpoints, different points of view. That is through a democratic political process. And you can use that process to try to exercise some influence, but you can do that in a peaceful way, not in a violent way.
QUESTION: The Secretary meets with President Bush tonight for dinner at 7 o'clock after everybody gets home. What will they discuss that hasn't already been broached? And Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor, is also there. What's on the agenda? Can you kind of shape it out for us?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I don't think -- not going to get into what the Secretary is going to talk about with the President in any particular detail. He talked -- he himself talked about the fact that he's going to sit down with her and talk about what it is that she has heard, talk about the ideas that she has heard in the region, what blocks, elements she has put in place to try to build a durable solution to bring about an end to the violence in a way that we don't end up back here in three months or three years.
So that's, very basically, what they're going to talk about. And obviously, they'll have a lot more detailed conversation than I've just gotten into, but that's essentially it.
QUESTION: One of the things that came up in one of the background briefings at the White House was whether there has been some foot-dragging. It's a week later than when she was first called upon to urge the immediate ceasefire that'll be coming out as part of the resolution. Is there any retrospective analysis now that maybe she should have gotten on board a little sooner?
MR. MCCORMACK: She talked about that. She talked about that before she left. And you don't want to send the Secretary of State or any minister out to the region on a -- you know, shuttle to nowhere with no particular purpose. You got to have a plan. And what she brought with her out there were ideas that she had developed with her advisors here and in consultation with other members of the international community about how to bring about a durable end to the violence and not bring about the kind of solution whereby you allow Hezbollah and other extremist groups just to -- an opportunity, under the shield of the cease-fire, to regroup, rearm, and strengthen themselves.
She talked about the fact that this was an important moment for the Middle East. And we do mourn the loss of innocent life. I don't think that there is anybody in the leadership of this government who doesn't mourn the loss of innocent life. But let's remember why those people lost their lives. They lost their lives because a terrorist group launched an attack into the territory of a sovereign state. We don't want to see that happen again. We don't want to be back at the point three years from now where more innocent people lose their lives.
So while they're -- while we have seen tragic circumstances unfold as a result of the violence that was precipitated by Hezbollah, we don't want to get in a position whereby we just buy ourselves more of that kind of violence, that -- more of that kind of innocent death in the future by securing what may be an expedient solution, but not something that is going to be durable or lasting.
QUESTION: Sean, after those initial statements from some of the Arab countries strongly criticizing Hezbollah, there has been criticism of the United States for not calling for a cease-fire. It was very clear in Rome last week that except for the British, everybody, including the Europeans, were very frustrated with the United States' support of Israel as much as it was publicly expressed.
I wonder, since Karen Hughes actually was on the trip -- is on the trip and I think this is the first time that she's gone with the Secretary, actually, on an entire trip, are you trying to explain to your allies, even their publics, what the roots of this strong support of Israel are and how you might -- you know, will try to deal with public opinion in the Arab world, even in Europe?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Secretary asked Karen to come along on this trip in her role as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. Karen is at the crossroads of policy and public diplomacy for the Administration, so I think the Secretary thought it was very useful to have her on the trip. I think that Karen has found it very useful to be on the trip.
Look; there is -- part of -- oftentimes, sticking by principle and operating on the basis of principle in policy will buy you some criticism. We understand that. People should not, however, mistake that for the United States not caring about the loss of innocent life. In fact, we have been from the very beginning forthright in talking to the Israeli Government both in public and in private, about the importance of avoiding civilian casualties, taking every possible measure to avoid the loss of innocent life, to do everything it can to avoid undermining the legitimate democratic institutions of the Lebanese Government.
Sadly, we have seen incidences where innocent life was taken. But let's also remember, you know, as I said before how this started. This started because of Hezbollah. But let's also remember about how Hezbollah operates. This is a group of people that will hide themselves in the most cowardly fashion possible among innocent civilians. They will hide themselves among children and families to launch rockets and to bring violence down upon other innocent civilians across the border in Israel.
That's the kind of despicable group of people that we're dealing with. And so this is very tough for any democratic state like Israel to deal with. But we have stood by firmly the principle that a sovereign state, sovereign democratic state has the right to defend itself. And when there are instances that need to be looked into as the Israeli Government has said with Qana. They look into it. And that's the way democratic states operate. There's no such accountability mechanism for a terrorist group like Hezbollah who, like I said, kill, target innocent life and target that innocent life while hiding among innocent civilian populations.
QUESTION: Is -- is Karen going to engage in some sort of an effort as a follow-up to the trip since she's seen and she's been in virtually every meetings that the Secretary's had. Do you know if she's going to do follow-up work when she comes back here and -- because as you know, most of your allies as far as the United States is concerned, Israel can do no wrong. So an explanation or some of an effort to engage other publics might be something that she might consider. I'm just wondering.
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I don't know. I haven't talked to her about what her plans to engage foreign publics might be. Certainly our Ambassador should be out there explaining U.S. policy, that's part of their job and we expect them to do that. And you know, as for any other forms of communication, she'll certainly do what she thinks is right in terms of dealing with those international audiences.
QUESTION: Within the hour, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk announced to a Brookings Forum that Israel troops were amassed upon the Golan Heights as a defensive measure, they're calling up additional reservists. Now we don't have the best of relations right now with Syria. But who's to say and what are you talking among our allies to make certain, if at all possible, that Hezbollah wouldn't broaden this war and maybe fire its rockets into up northern Iraq at American troops and such.
MR. MCCORMACK : Well, I think the Israeli Government has made it clear that it has no desire to expand this conflict. Their target is Hezbollah.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) last week, many Iranians were demonstrating in Washington for freedom and democracy and human rights. All the U.S. attempts now in the midst of all this Iranian nuclear as far as freedom and those voices are being still heard by Washington?
MR. MCCORMACK: Of course, the United States still stands for human rights and democracy in Iran and we talk about it consistently. I know that oftentimes, because of the news of the day, we focus quite a bit on the nuclear issue. It's a very important issue, certainly for peace and security in the region and in the world. But also fundamental to peace and security in the region, is a responsible Iranian state that operates as a democracy and that respects the rights of its citizens. Certainly that is in everybody's interest, not the least of which would be Iran's citizens.
QUESTION: No, I meant is there really -- even talking about this before also, but what's the U.S. is doing and how these voices are being heard because they have been demonstrating in the past also. And the U.S. has been saying the same thing in the past, also that U.S. will recognize their stand for democracy and human rights. But in which way are you going to help them out or how can they achieve their goals?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Goyal, we don't need people demonstrating to remind us to try to promote freedom and democracy in Iran. We have taken a number of different steps here in the State Department to expand our abilities to reach the Iranian people through media as well as other means. We have also expanded our abilities to understand what is going on inside Iran. We don't have a diplomatic presence inside Iran, but certainly there's a lot that we can do in terms of applying personnel resources and the brain power of the State Department to better understand what is going on inside Iran. So this has been an effort that Secretary Rice is focused on, Under Secretary Burns is focused on it as well as Assistant Secretary Welch. So we're doing quite a bit.
Yeah. Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: On North Korea. Can you confirm reports that the U.S. Government has taken steps to impose a ban on travel to North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: A ban on travel?
QUESTION: Yeah. There is an Asian Pacific travel company and they were allowed -- they were authorized to say by them -- to allow citizens to travel to North Korea and that --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll look into it for you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: On North Korea again, yesterday Assistant Secretary Hill said that United States has measures to further isolate North Korea so that they cannot go on developing nuclear program. Is the United States planning a new set of sanctions on North Korea or at least is the United States planning to strengthen the current sanctions regime.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you always look for opportunities to -- use defensive measures, what we -- those kind of defensive measures that we've used in the past to defend the United States currency and also to prevent North Korea from exporting its wares in terms of weaponry around the world. This is -- it would be perfectly consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution that passed 15-0, not two weeks ago, which calls upon the states to look at what they can do to ensure that North Korean regime doesn't, in any way, benefit in such a way that it would further its weapons of mass destruction or missile programs. And certainly the world doesn't want to see the North Korean open arms bazaar continue in which they try to export these kind of wares to states around the world.
QUESTION: Sean, there's a press report this morning that China is refusing to take back many thousands of undocumented people who have been detained in the United States. In addition, insisting that, as a condition for accepting the repatriation of these people, the United States send back Falun Gong and other types of asylum seekers. Is that an issue you're aware of and --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll look into it for you, Dave.
QUESTION: Okay. Yeah.
MR. MCCORMACK: Goyal.
QUESTION: One on India. Sean, last week the House passed a resolution on civil nuclear agreement between the United States and India by 359 to 68. What number of -- they had some amendments. They were also discussing in the Indian parliament, I understand, on these amendments and there was some criticism of too many amendments. Have you heard, on the State Department, from the Indian authorities about these amendments and also what is the next step -- of course, it's the United States Senate, but how the Secretary is taking all this --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're -- yeah, Goyal, we're working closely with the Hill. But, you know, this is a democratic process. I think the parliamentarians in India are well familiar with that and our Legislative Branch has certain prerogatives and they exercise those prerogatives. We have been working very closely with them so that they exercise those prerogatives in such a way, in the form of amendments or other types of things, so that the fundamental principles of the agreement with India are not touched so that you can move forward on this agreement. But certainly the Legislative Branch has a say in this matter.
QUESTION: This morning the Security Council met at the United Nations and apparently both Russia and China abstained. They're not willing to push the Iranian question so you wanted an immediate answer from the Iranians. Again it's put off until the end of August. Is this acceptable?
MR. MCCORMACK: This is -- again, this is how this process was envisioned to unfold in which you would have this resolution if Iran had not taken up the offer and that there was a going to be a period of time for them to consider the fact that they just had a resolution passed against them, in this case 14-1. And that this resolution contains a date, August 31st. It calls upon them to come into compliance with what the now Security Council has required them to do. This is -- all I can say about the process is, this is really how we had envisioned the process unfolding in the case that Iran chose not to take up the offer the international community had presented to them in the -- by the way of a negotiated pathway.
QUESTION: What does (inaudible) mean by the timing?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know, you'll have to talk to them.
Thank you very much.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m.)
Released on July 31, 2006