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Diplomacy in Action

Middle East Digest - September 24, 2009

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Washington, DC
September 24, 2009


The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit daily press briefings.

From the Daily Press Briefing of September 24, 2009

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QUESTION: Ian, the Iranian President Ahmadinejad said in an interview yesterday that Iran was willing to have its nuclear experts meet with scientists from the U.S. and other countries as a confidence-building measure aimed at resolving the concerns about its nuclear program. What is the – is the U.S. willing to do that?

MR. KELLY: Well, let me first say that we are committed to a dialogue with Iran, a serious dialogue, and the proof of this is our willingness to sit down with them next week in Geneva. But we also have made it quite clear that Iran has a responsibility to demonstrate that its program is intended for exclusively peaceful purposes. And this really isn’t that hard to do, to have transparency and be able to gain the confidence of the international community that they do intend to have an exclusively civilian nuclear program. Their continued refusal to cooperate has damaged their credibility and also undermined these claims that they don’t intend to pursue a nuclear weapon.

Now, regarding the proposal that you referred to in your paper today, there – I mean, there are – there exist diplomatic channels for them to be able to provide this – or to make this kind of proposal. And they’ll have an opportunity, of course, next week, on October 1st. And just to reiterate, we are serious. We do want to sit down with them and have a serious exchange and find out if, indeed, they are ready to open up their nuclear program.

QUESTION: What would you be – well, you obviously have not received, I guess, a diplomatic --

MR. KELLY: No, not that I’m aware of anyway.

QUESTION: -- overture like this. But would that be the kind of thing – would this sort of idea – have its nuclear experts meet with U.S. and other scientists, would that be something the U.S. would look favorably on?

MR. KELLY: Well, we have this meeting next week, and I just don’t want to prejudge exactly the way we’re going to respond. I mean, we – there are no details on this. I think we’d have a lot of questions about it. But like I say, we are prepared for a serious dialogue with them.

QUESTION: Okay. And one further question. The Iranian president also said that at these talks next week that Iran is going to look to buy enriched uranium from the U.S. for medical purposes. So what would the response be to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, as we’ve said many times, we’ve never rejected their right to use – to have a civilian nuclear program which is for peaceful purposes. But they have not satisfied our demands that they have to put in place some verifiable and transparent means for the international community to be assured that what they’re doing is for – solely for peaceful purposes.

QUESTION: So would this type of request for medical uranium, enriched uranium needed for medical purposes, would that fit into something – the type of thing the U.S. would be willing to do?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, we’re willing to entertain constructive proposals, but we also need to have addressed our very, very serious concerns about the nature of their nuclear activities.

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