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Middle East Digest - September 25, 2009

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Washington, DC
September 25, 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 25, 2009

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Ian Kelly: Canada and the United States are deeply concerned about the continued detention of Canadian and American citizens, including dual nationals, inside Iran, and once again urge Iran’s leadership to positively resolve these cases as a humanitarian gesture in accordance with their obligations under international conventions. Individuals in detention include Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari; Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh; retired Iranian-American businessman Reza Taghavi; and American hikers Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd. American Robert Levinson has also been missing in Iran since March 2007.

We call on the Government of Iran to provide American and Canadian detainees with immediate consular access, full legal rights and protection, and a complete and transparent account of the charges against them.

As we have stated in the past, we fully respect the sovereignty of Iran. At the same time, we seek the safe and rapid return of all detained and missing citizens in Iran to their respective countries so they may be reunited with their families.


MR. KELLY: Iran.

QUESTION: Iran. How long – I know this is probably getting into intelligence matters, but if you could tell us how long the United States has been kind of investigating this secret facility in Qon – Qon? And maybe if you could talk about the timing? Is this designed to create pressure on Iran to kind of come fully prepared to negotiations? If you have anything to add to the Secretary’s statements that she made this morning?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have much to add. I think that as you point out, we are getting into intelligence information. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been carefully watching and analyzing this facility for several years. But beyond that, I don’t want to go into too much more details. In terms of the timing of it, I mean, I think you saw the statements of the three presidents[1] and then of Secretary Clinton.

I think the – it has nothing to do with the October 1st meeting. I think we – one reason we decided on – in doing it now was we just learned that Iran had sent a letter to the IAEA, and we thought it was a good time to get the facts out on the table after this letter from Iran. But like I said, I don’t want to go into too much more detail about what we knew and when we knew it.

QUESTION: And so just to follow up, were they actually – I know that there was a statement sometime back that Iran had actually halted its – halted processing of uranium in 2003. Does this reverse that? Has – was Iran actually processing any uranium at this site?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think what you’re referring to is the National Intelligence Estimate of a couple years ago. Well, again, this is obviously intelligence information, but I understand that in and of itself, the information that we announce today does not contradict the assessment that we made in the NIE in 2007.

Anything else on Iran? (No response.) Okay. Yes, go ahead.

[1] Spokesman meant to say two presidents and one prime minister.

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