I would just say we’ll stay behind afterwards if there are other subjects that you want to talk to us about. You did hear upstairs the Secretary a short time ago in the press avail with her counterpart from Kuwait indicate that subject to agreement by the Arab League Follow-on Committee tomorrow night, that we will begin proximity talks in the region on Middle East peace next week. But again, we’ll start with Susan Rice and then Ellen Tauscher and then Susan Burk, and we’ll alternate questions between Washington and New York.
Ambassador, thank you for being here.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thanks a lot. Good afternoon, everybody. Last spring in Prague, President Obama stood before the world and set a new direction for the nuclear weapons policy of the United States – to take us out of the Cold War postures and instead meet today’s security threats.
He declared America’s commitment to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
The President also spoke of the work that would be required to realize that goal, and the security benefits we would gain as a result.
In the year since Prague, President Obama has backed up his words with concrete progress: A United Nations Security Council Summit last September on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament that gained the Council’s unanimous endorsement of many elements of his Prague agenda; a new START Treaty that will bring our stockpile of deployed strategic warheads to its lowest point since the 1950s; a Nuclear Posture Review that reduces the role of nuclear weapons in our security strategy, strengthens our negative security assurance for NPT parties in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations, and commits that we will not develop new nuclear warheads or engage in nuclear testing. The President also directed, as part of the NPR, a review of our arms control objectives to achieve future reductions in nuclear weapons.
And he reaffirmed our commitment to work toward Senate ratification of the CTBT.
On nonproliferation, we have also moved forward. Most recently, President Obama convened a national Security Summit, the largest gathering of world leaders convened by a U.S. president since 1945, to agree on steps we can take collectively to prevent nuclear terrorism and secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years.
The U.S. has worked with other states to help them adopt and reinforce effective laws prohibiting proliferation consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540. In addition, the U.S. has helped lay the foundation for an international agreement to end the production of fissile material.
In addition, we have strengthened our commitment to the rights of parties that are in compliance with their NPT obligations to access nuclear energy and technology for peaceful purposes. The United States has enhanced civil nuclear infrastructure cooperation, and in the past two years alone we have led technical cooperation delegations to a dozen countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Next week in New York, the United States delegation, led by Secretary Clinton, will join nearly all of the 188 other nations that are party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And they will gather.
It is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the importance of the treaty as a cornerstone of our national, as well as our collective, security. It is an opportunity to undertake a constructive, balanced review of where things stand, and to assess what steps we can take together to strengthen the treaty.
As the President said last spring in Prague, the “basic bargain of the treaty is sound: Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy.”
We expect that that the conference will demonstrate the critical role the NPT plays in the international nonproliferation framework and in reinforcing regional and global security and stability.
Our goal for the Review Conference is to strengthen the treaty across all three of its pillars: disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. But we don’t just come to this conference with the resolute commitment of President Obama to make progress across all these pillars. We come with months of hard work already underway and already bearing fruit.
We will focus on ways to improve compliance with the nonproliferation requirements of the treaty and to strengthen support for the IAEA. The noncompliance of any state with its NPT obligations undermines the nonproliferation regime as a whole.
We will emphasize the fundamental importance of IAEA safeguards for assuring parties that their neighbors and others are complying with their NPT obligations.
Without these assurances, insecurity and instability will grow both regionally and globally. NPT violations are corrosive – if one country in a region violates the NPT, other countries are forced to reevaluate their security needs and military decisions. In the end, a single violator can potentially undercut longstanding efforts to achieve universal adherence to the NPT.
We also strongly believe that the IAEA must have the resources and the authorities it needs to carry out its mission. At the same time, we will work with others on preventing parties to the NPT from misusing the treaty by seeking key nuclear assistance under the treaty and then withdrawing from it when they wish to violate its terms.
Also at the conference, we hope to fortify the “peaceful uses” pillar, by expanding cooperation to help developing countries build their capacities.
As President Obama noted at the Nuclear Security Summit, “For nations that uphold their responsibilities, peaceful nuclear energy can unlock new advances in medicine, in agriculture and economic development.”
So, as you can see, we have a full agenda for this Review Conference next month. It’s been built on months and years of hard work on all of these issues.
There will undoubtedly be challenges, but the United States delegation will focus on areas where we can make concrete, meaningful progress. We’ll seek common ground, and we will be a constructive, flexible, and consensus-building voice during the Review Conference to make the most of this opportunity – and to continue building on that progress in the months and years ahead.
Thank you, and now Under Secretary Tauscher.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Thank you very much. It’s an honor for me to appear here today with Ambassador Rice and Ambassador Burk, two great colleagues that I really enjoy working with. And good afternoon to all of you.
Ambassador Rice has given a very comprehensive view of the Obama Administration’s goals for the Nonproliferation Treaty Review. Ambassador Burk has worked for nearly a year to accomplish many of the goals. I just want to make a couple of points because I think Ambassador Rice did do a very good job of giving a comprehensive briefing of what we’re hoping to do.
A couple of simple points. April has been quite a month for the Obama Administration and the delivery of the President’s Prague speech agenda. The Nuclear Posture Review, the new START treaty being signed, and the Nuclear Security Summit, and obviously, at the end of the month, here we go into the Nonproliferation Treaty Review.
I just want to make a couple of points about the NPT Review Conference. First is that it’s not a silver bullet. It is not an end to itself. It is not going to, itself, curb proliferation. Our yardstick is that we want to get our points of view out – United States very strong central pillar of the President’s agenda on nonproliferation, the peaceful uses and on disarmament. We believe that the United States and our other countries very much want to move to a consensus. But at the end, if there is not consensus because of the activities of some outliers, we believe that we still will be able to have great agreement on those three central pillars and moving forward to strengthening the NPT.
So I think that it’s best to turn to Ambassador Burk, who’s been working very, very hard on this, as I said, for over a year. And then I’ll be here to answer some questions.
AMBASSADOR BURK: Thank you, Ambassador Rice and Under Secretary Tauscher. I agree with everything that you’ve said and I won’t take a lot of additional time on the points you’ve made. I do want to welcome the members of the press corps here in New York that have shown up for this briefing today, and thank you very much for coming this afternoon.
Let me just briefly make a couple of points. First, I want to stress the U.S. is not approaching the impending NPT Review Conference in any business as usual spirit. President Obama strongly believes in strengthening the NPT and, as a result, the United States is taking a series of steps to achieve that goal.
But I use the word “help” here very deliberately. The United States cannot realize the NPT vision on its own. It takes all parties working together, all of us setting aside stale debates and perspectives that have too often led to gridlock. We believe that all parties share responsibility for strengthening the treaty, and you’ve heard from Under Secretary Tauscher and Ambassador Rice what the United States is doing for its part.
The Review Conference, the 2010 Review Conference that begins next week provides an opportunity for NPT parties to take stewardship of our shared responsibilities and to contribute to our shared efforts to strengthen the NPT and restore confidence in its authority. We’re looking forward to working with our treaty partners to try to identify areas where agreement on concrete measures to reinforce the global nuclear nonproliferation regime can be reached now and on areas where further work and deliberation are needed so that agreement might be possible in the future. The United States is going to work with our treaty partners. We have been consulting with them for many months now, but we’ll be working over the next month to revalidate the treaty’s vital contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security. Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, we’ll take questions starting in Washington and then in New York.
QUESTION: Hi, Desmond Butler with the AP. Ambassador Rice, you said that you want to use the conference to strengthen the NPT across all the pillars. But in fact, you’re not going to change the treaty at the conference and you’re – it seems a foregone conclusion that you won’t have consensus. Where do you – how do you actually strengthen the treaty and where does that happen? Is that something for the IAEA at a later date? What exactly do you mean?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: I’m going to pass it to Susan. Susan?
AMBASSADOR BURK: Let me say, you’re right about not changing the treaty. That’s written by its own terms – is difficult if not impossible. And consensus, as you all know, is an elusive goal and we can’t count on that. That’s for certain. But we do think that we can, through a good discussion next – over the next four weeks, we can come up with a probably broad agreement on an agenda for the future, because the real work of strengthening the regime is not going to happen next week. It’s going to happen in the months and the years to come at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and at the conference on disarmament in Geneva and here at the UN in New York. So we do think we can reach broad agreement on an agenda and that’s certainly what we’re going to be working for.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: If I can just follow up on Desmond’s point, I think what we want to stress is that while next week is very important, it is four weeks where you get 180 plus countries to come. It is not about a final communiqué or a product that comes out other than an ambition to move forward together on doing the things that we believe that we can get consensus on. So we want to be very clear that we’re serious about this, but we’re also sanguine and have our eyes wide open about it.
QUESTION: Yes, my name is (inaudible) Egyptian newspaper. The American invitation for a non-nuclear Middle East region, what exactly about the Israeli program – Israeli nuclear program. Is there any American push for the Israeli delegation to unveil its nuclear program? Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: We are working with our friends in Egypt and many members of the non-aligned movement and other Arab states on the 1995 Middle East WMD-free zone resolution. Israeli is a not a party to the NPT, will not be at the NPT. What’s important to see is that we have a very good opportunity to go forward both on balancing the requirements of the 1995 resolution for a opportunity to look to have a free zone in the Middle East and the areas of noncompliance – the countries of noncompliance that are also in the Middle East. So I think –
QUESTION: But there isn’t any American push on the Israeli state to unveil itself –
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: The United States has always stood for universality of the NPT.
QUESTION: So there is no –
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, we’ll take one more here and then we’ll go to New York.
QUESTION: Eli Lake of the Washington Times. As sort of a follow-up on that question, do –would the U.S. delegation support a conference on a nuclear-free Middle East? Would it support a coordinator in that position and would it support the Egyptian proposal for member states to produce annual or regular reports on the transfer of fissile material to Israel?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: The United States was an original sponsor of the 1995 resolution. And the United States does support a conference that would work to an opportunity in the future when conditions in the Middle East are more favorable, for example, when there’s a comprehensive peace plan and when there is just generally much more of the ability for states to participate in a regional WMD-free zone conference.
And what was the second question?
QUESTION: Regular reports on transfers of fissile material to Israel from member states.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, I mean, we stand for all of the pillars of the nonproliferation treaty. And so we have said that we want universality. We would like all states to accede to the Nonproliferation Treaty.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, at this point we’ll go to New York for a couple of questions.
QUESTION: Hi, it’s (inaudible) from the New York Times. I have a question for Ambassador Rice. Nice to see you, Ambassador Rice, however remotely. The question is the Egyptian ambassador said the other day that the Iran and Israel problems have to be addressed simultaneously, that you cannot solve the problem of Iran’s noncompliance with some measures of the IAEA – or of the NPT, rather, unless you address Israel’s. I wonder if you could react to that specifically.
And also, to what extent do you think the fact that people are raising Iran and Israel simultaneously is going to overshadow the conference and affect your efforts to get sanctions through or negotiate sanctions at the same time that this treaty is – the review – sorry, the Review Conference is running?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I’ll answer the sanctions part, but Under Secretary Tauscher will speak to the Egyptian comment.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: We agree that it’s important to move forward on the final delivery of the 1995 Middle East WMD-free zone resolution. We have been working with numbers – a number of parties, our P-5 colleagues and members of the Arab League including Egypt. So I think it’s important to say that we believe that that is something that should be delivered upon and we’ve been working to get the elements together. But when it comes to noncompliance, we also believe in another part of the conference when the noncompliance issues are dealt with in committee, that it’s important to look at Iran, specifically an NPT party that is in wide variation outside of its commitments and that that is something that it is very important that is done together.
AMBASSADOR RICE: (Inaudible) dealing with issues of noncompliance is obviously one of our priorities in the context of the NPT Review Conference as we work to strengthen all three pillars of the NPT regime. With respect to Iran and sanctions, as you know, we have been and we continue to pursue a dual-track approach and the purpose of our efforts with respect to sanctions in New York is to clarify the choice that Iran faces. It remains out of compliance not only with its NPT obligations and IAEA obligations, but also its Security Council obligations.
And the purpose of the work we are doing towards a new sanctions resolution is to seek to persuade Iran that it is in its interest, and indeed required, that it uphold its international obligations and do so promptly. We’re going to continue our efforts in New York and in capitals through the beginning of next month and as long as it takes to get a strong and sound resolution passed. And we are not, in any way, deterred by the fact that there is a coincidence of the calendar, which means that it may coincide with the NPT Review Conference.
MR. CROWLEY: Another question, New York?
QUESTION: Yes, thank you. This is for Ambassador Rice as well. It’s Joe Lauria for the Wall Street Journal. I know there has been a lot of dancing around this, but how realistic is it to have a nuclear-free Middle East if the United States does not declare publicly that Israel has nuclear weapons if they must then give them up?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: The 1995 resolution calls for a WMD-free zone which would also include, obviously, a nuclear-free zone. And the mechanism is a conference that would go forward with all regional parties in attendance. And, as I said to Eli’s question, we believe that this is a very worthy goal, something that we have supported since 1995. But we are concerned that the conditions are not right. And unless all members of the region participate, which would be unlikely unless there is a comprehensive peace plan that is being accepted and worked on, then you couldn’t have the conference that would achieve what we are all looking to achieve, which is for the region to make its own decisions and come together and find a way to do that.
So we are in support of both WMD-free zones and nuclear-free zones that exist around the world. But in this specific case, we want to help facilitate and make clear that this is still a goal of the United States and many of our partners, I think, believe the same thing. But in – but at the same time, this is something that the region has to embrace and they have to embrace it at the right time when all parties can participate.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll come back here to Washington (inaudible) come back to New York shortly.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) news. I wanted to ask you about what kind of pledges – you made references to additional resources needed for the IAEA and additional cooperation with countries under the element of the NPT related to civilian nuclear energy. Are you – can you tell us anything about specific plans on that score that you may have to offer?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Last year and again in this year, we are working to support an increase in the IAEA budget both for nonproliferation activities and other forensic activities, also for their science lab. That is a very good science lab, but it’s gone under disrepair. So we’re interested in getting that up. And I can tell you that on Monday, Secretary Clinton will be making some announcements in her speech about other investments. So stay tuned.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? Just very briefly on the IAEA point, what about additional authorities that they’re going to need to carry this out?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Obviously, we want not only a fully funded IAEA, but one with teeth. So part of the opportunity at the Review Conference is to really understand what mechanisms we need because of these issues of noncompliance. What does the IAEA actually need in authorities and funding to accomplish what the world community wants it to, which is to be a credible watchdog?
QUESTION: There are reports that – this is for Under Secretary Tauscher. There are reports that China is about to sell nuclear reactors to Pakistan irrespective of the feelings of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This is something that appears to have been the door opened to – have the door opened to because of the U.S.-India nuclear agreement. In that, how does the United States – how would the United States respond to allegations that it was the United States that opened the door to this and, in doing so, may have inadvertently weakened the NPT?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: We don’t believe we weakened the NPT in our peaceful civilian nuclear deal with India, that it’s a deal that comes with safeguards and it comes with a number of other transparency mechanisms that we think, frankly, add to the security and the nonproliferation concerns that we had prior to that. So I think that it’s not our bad if something else happens, but certainly what we’re for and what we make very clear we’re for is that we want a strong NPT, we want a strong IAEA that is well funded, that has the authorities it needs to be the right watchdog for the time that we live in.
QUESTION: Let me just follow up there. How would the United States feel – how does the United States feel about such a deal, the sale of nuclear reactors to Pakistan, which is a country of concern when it comes to proliferation? And the United States seemingly has not actually made a great deal of public – brought – discussion about Pakistan’s blocking of the fissile material cutoff treaty, it’s continued production of Pu and highly enriched uranium. What we have heard is the United States talking about how cooperative Pakistan has been vis-à-vis Afghanistan, but not heard anything about Pakistan’s conduct when it comes to the nuclear file.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, I’m not going to speculate on a future, perhaps, sale between China and Pakistan. These things take a long time so I’m going to wait to see how that develops. But I will tell you that I think everyone shares the disappointment that the United States shares that there is a country that is blocking the program of work that was a very hard fought agreement among the six chairmen, somewhat historic, last year in the conference on disarmament in Geneva to move forward on a program of work, to begin negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty. As you know, we are for that. President Obama made very clear in his Prague speech a year ago that the United States would move toward negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty. And I think we join a lot of our friends and allies trying to persuade that country to step away and let the program of work go forward because it would be a long negotiation. And certainly, that is a good opportunity for them to make their opinions known and their concerns known.
MR. CROWLEY: Let’s go back to New York for a couple of questions.
QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Ezzat Ibrahim. I’m from the Al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo. I would like to ask Ambassador Burk and Ambassador Rice about this. Some Arab diplomats circulated some news in the last couple of days about this, an agreement between Russia and the U.S. on paper circulated to the Arab diplomats and to Middle East diplomats concerning a common approach to the conference. And they said that you put more pressure on the use of peaceful nuclear energy in the future, which it can – why didn’t this agreement between the Arab group and the U.S. – I need to listen to your reaction to this. Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: It’s always hard to control paper at times. We certainly were looking at some elements with the Russians. This is on the Middle East, WMDs-free zone. And apparently, the very early draft of some of the elements that we were discussing got circulated, but let me tell you that we have a much more comprehensive draft that I think that certainly our friends in the Egyptian Government and other both nonaligned and Arab states are looking at, that we have support from many of our other allies on. This is an effort to get consensus to put forward what we are reasserting, which is our strong commitment to the 1995 resolution. But I also at the same time to make clear that that needs to go forward, along with language that would deal with Iranian noncompliance of their NPT obligations.
MR. CROWLEY: Susan, do you want to add anything?
AMBASSADOR BURK: I was going to kick it to Under Secretary Tauscher.
QUESTION: This is for Ambassador Burk. Press Trust of India. Both Pakistan and India are not going to be participating. Will the U.S. be addressing the absence of Pakistan and India from the NPT? Will you be urging them to join? And will you be addressing the issue of their absence from the NPT at all?
AMBASSADOR BURK: I think, as Under Secretary Tauscher said, the U.S. has had a longstanding policy of supporting the universal adherence to the NPT, and I am quite confident that that issue will be raised during the review conference and there will be a desire to recommit the parties’ support for that.
QUESTION: Arshad Mohammed of Reuters. Just a follow-up for Ambassador Rice. Simply stated, how are the negotiations on the fourth sanctions resolution going? Do you discern any progress?
AMBASSADOR RICE: We are working continuously with our partners in the P-5+1 as a first step towards, obviously, a larger consideration and consultation with the whole of the Security Council. Those discussions have been happening with a significant pace and intensity. I think they have yielded progress. And we have some continued work to do but I am – I think they are worthwhile and we expect further progress to come.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) you said something about having them continue into early May. Is there any reason that you mentioned early May? Presumably, they’ll keep going (inaudible) you’ve given up.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Only because this is April 30th. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I know. And therefore, it seems kind of obvious that they’re going to go into early May. But my question is if there was any sort of point on the timing at all, or do you feel like they might actually come to a closure anytime soon?
AMBASSADOR RICE: We are working to complete this effort as swiftly as possible. You’ve – we attach urgency to securing a strong and meaningful resolution from the Security Council and we’re working with that sense of urgency in New York. So I can’t tell you exactly when it will all be cooked but we’re pushing for as soon as possible.
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal. Then we’ll do one, two. Go ahead.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) India (inaudible). Madam Ambassador, as far as your post at the United Nations is concerned, you also deal with the Human Rights Council there, which you have mostly the rogue nations which does not believe in human rights but they are taking decisions – or making there. What role do you play there as far as among those rogue nations? Now United States, which is a responsible nation. And as far as this conference is concerned in New York, just two days conference in Bhutan in SAARC nations concluded their conference and Indian and Pakistani prime ministers met there. Now they will be coming there, their leaders, I mean India and Pakistan (inaudible) this conference.
But my question is that how will you – how can you say that you will have a nuclear free world when rogue nations may be getting or supplying nuclear weapons to terrorists, including China and Pakistan, to North Korea, to Iran, and now spreading around the globe?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Let me answer your question on the Human Rights Council, and then I’ll ask Under Secretary Tauscher to take the nonproliferation question.
First of all, as you know, the Human Rights Council is in Geneva. The United States took the decision last year to seek a seat on the Human Rights Council after many years of not choosing to do so. We ran and won overwhelmingly because we took the view that despite the Human Rights Council’s many and manifest flaws, that it was a body whose mission we are committed to. It is an important element of the founding principles of the United Nations and we thought that we would serve our interests and the interests of human rights and the universal application and adherence to human rights by working constructively from within that body, however flawed, rather than staying on the outside and complaining about its behavior.
We think that is a good decision and a right decision. It gives us the opportunity to engage in the peer review process that we think is important. It gives us an opportunity to play an important role in the review of the Human Rights Council’s work, which will come up before the General Assembly in New York next year. And we – while there are a number of states – not the majority, but a number of states on the Human Rights Council whose human rights record plainly does not merit their membership of the council, there are many states that we work with very constructively that are committed to strengthening and improving the Human Rights Council and making it more credible.
And in fact, I think it’s notable that many countries joined with the United States in making the point to a broad swath of countries around the world that a country such as Iran, which had sought a seat on the Human Rights Council in the upcoming election next month and campaigned hard for it, did not merit membership, given its human rights record in general, and in particular what has transpired over the course of the last year.
I think Iran found that it did not have anything like the support it would need from the general membership in order to obtain that seat, and therefore last week withdrew its candidacy for the Human Rights Council.
QUESTION: I have a quick follow-up for you.
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.) Hold on. Let’s answer the second part of the question and keep the conversation moving.
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: President Obama strongly delivered on two elements that you talked about. The first is in the Nuclear Security Summit, where he brought together 46 heads of state, including himself. Keep in mind he was in the room, engaging with heads of state for a day and a half on the issue, I think, that has been animating him for well before he became President, and that is the question of nuclear security and the issues of additional states acquiring nuclear weapons, and the necessity to make clear that, whether you’re a nuclear weapons state or not, it is a worldwide responsibility to keep the world safe from nuclear proliferation.
The second is the President made clear that he puts a premium on not only membership of the NPT but on adherence to the NPT in the negative security assurance part of the Nuclear Posture Review where he said that if you are a non-nuclear state that is in compliance with your NPT obligations, we will neither target or use nuclear weapons against you.
So I think that the President is working very hard to make clear that this is the central pillar of his nonproliferation strategy, that we support the three pillars, that we’re working very significantly on those three pillars, certainly on civilian nuclear with the kinds of the moves that we’ve made to support the Angarsk fuel bank at the IAEA with Russia just in November, certainly on disarmament with the new START treaty, and on nonproliferation by making clear that we are for universality and that there is a premium that we put on being a good member of the NPT.
QUESTION: Madam Ambassador, just like a quick follow up.
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, you’ve had two. We’ll take one more here and then we’ll go up to New York.
QUESTION: Michael (inaudible) from AFP. I have a question. Iran has a rather high-ranking delegation coming to New York and the U.S. diplomacy is dual track, both engagement and tougher measures if necessary. Given that such a high-ranking delegation is coming, which will include the President, are any contacts envisaged? Is there any way in which it would be useful to pursue the negotiations track at the same time that you’re pursuing the sanctions track?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I think Secretary Clinton addressed this yesterday and said that there are no planned contacts with the Iranian delegation coming for the NPT review conference.
MR. CROWLEY: New York.
QUESTION: My name is Miki Ebara from NHK, Japanese Television. This is a question to Ambassador Burk. And can you tell us what is the position of the U.S. Government to make the conditions for withdrawal more difficult for parties to suddenly just want to withdraw, and what is the prospect of the discussion on that issue?
AMBASSADOR BURK: Well, let me just say very briefly, the issue is – the U.S. is looking at – and we’re not the only country; there are many countries that are looking at this issue. We’re not proposing to change the withdrawal provision or to, in any way, abridge parties’ rights to withdraw.
What many countries are looking at, and the U.S. among them, is the question of a country that may violate the treaty and then try – and withdraw as a way to evade penalties for its violations. I’m not a lawyer, but I understand from the lawyers that in customary international law, you remain accountable for your violations. And so that’s really the issue here is ensuring that there is an understanding of the need to hold countries accountable for violations and not allow them to attempt to use this provision as a way to avoid that.
QUESTION: My name is Thomas Siemienski. I work for the Polish Public Radio. President Obama cancelled the project of anti-missile defense in Central Europe because probably of very strong Russian – impressions against this project. Can we – what is now the new vision of this anti-missile system in that part of Europe?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: The President did not cancel the missile defense shield for Europe. The President, after a thorough review and a new intelligence estimate, changed the architecture of the proposed missile shield for Europe to deal with three things. One, to deliver it faster in 2011 when Aegis ships will be in the Mediterranean; secondly, to use a proven system, the SM-3 system, both on ships and on land that can be deployed faster and that can be used to defeat short- and medium-range missiles; and thirdly, to have universality of coverage of NATO, which is very important to this Administration not only because of our Article 5 commitments, but because we believe it is a finest defense alliance.
So the President did not cancel it. What he did do was change the architecture so now we will have a deployment in 2011 of Aegis ships in the Mediterranean, and then we will have a deployment in 2015 in Romania of land-based SM-3, and then a deployment in 2018 in Poland of land-based SM-3. We think it’s an improved system, and we think it not only is improved because it delivers security and deterrence sooner, but it also uses a proven system, and once again, it promotes universality inside of NATO.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one or two more here, we’ll take one or two more in New York, and we’ve got to wrap up. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Follow-up to the question in Pakistan and China. Will you be supporting China’s sending – building two nuclear power plants to Pakistan? What’s the U.S. position on this?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Frankly, I only heard about it about 10 minutes before I got in here. (Laughter.) I know we won’t have a feeling, but we will have a position, and I’m sure we will get back to you on that.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, this is for Under Secretary Tauscher. Howard LaFranchi with Christian Science Monitor. You used the word “outliers” to describe countries in noncompliance with the NPT. What specifically will the U.S. be doing during the review conference to sort of call out these countries or draw attention to their violations?
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Keep in mind that, as we’ve said earlier, this is not a review conference of 189 countries – that is about one country. But we are – we have equities here as state parties to the Nonproliferation Treaty, and our equities are to keep the treaty as strong as possible and to make sure that those allied with us in the treaty that are not in compliance are held accountable. And I think we know who we’re talking about specifically in this case.
But once again, this is – the review is not about that country, although they’re in a compliance area of the committee work and potentially in an agreed statement. We certainly would expect and we would promote dealing with that country’s non-compliance of their obligations both to the NPT, their issues with the IAEA, and certainly their UN Security Council resolutions.
MR. CROWLEY: Patrick, we’ll take two more questions from New York and we’ll wrap up.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Daily, Russia. Probably a question to all of us. Thank you for this opportunity by the way. As you well know, Russian officials stated many times that Russia has a different stance on Iranian sanctions. Do you see any progress on changing Russia’s position? Do you see that Russia may join U.S. position on sanctions towards Iran?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, I think I should let the Russians speak for themselves, and I think we have heard from the Russians of late, including within the last 24 hours from Foreign Minister Lavrov, addressing his perspective on this.
But from my point of view, I would simply say that as we work together in the P-5+1 to craft an appropriate proposed package, Russia has been a very constructive partner in that regard.
MR. CROWLEY: Last question from New York.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Maria Martins. I work for Globo newspaper in Brazil. I have two questions.
Do you still see a chance of negotiation to avoid sanctions in UN, because President Lula is insisting on that? And the second question is: I understand that you are also working for strengthen the UN’s sanctions against Iran – in Capitol Hill. Do you have a timetable for that? Can you have that approved before the UN sanctions?
AMBASSADOR RICE: The first question was --
MR. CROWLEY: The first question was probably–
AMBASSADOR RICE: Yeah. As I said earlier, the purpose of pursuing renewed sanctions in the Security Council is to give meaning and impetus to a dual-track approach. We remain committed to both tracks – pressure and engagement. And the aim is to persuade Iran that it would be wiser course indeed to engage in negotiations on its nuclear program and agree to steps to end its effort to obtain a nuclear weapons capability that are verifiable and permanent rather than continue on the path that it is on.
So obviously, if at any stage it chooses to take those steps, we and others would take notice, and we certainly would hope that they would. But we are – we have two feet planted firmly on each of these tracks and the pressure track continues.
Thank you. There was another --
MR. CROWLEY: I think the – the answer on legislation, and the ambassador knows, is the – a UN Security Council new resolution on Iran would be a framework through which then other countries can take steps nationally. And we are in consultation with our Congress and other countries are talking internally among themselves about steps that they might take in light of a UN Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: How can you have engagement with Iran if your foot is planted on the engagement track that you’re not taking advantage of an opportunity to talk to the highest levels of the Iranian Government on Monday?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Iran knows what our address is. It’s been the P-5+1. And if Iran has something new to say, it knows where to find us. And we think that the discussions that have occurred in the framework of the P-5+1, the proposals that have been made in that context are credible ones that Iran has a choice to make on. And thus far, it’s chosen not to embrace them nor even to fulfill the commitments it made October 1 in Geneva to do so.
So whether or not there’s an Iranian delegation in New York on Monday, there’s a clear-cut way and has been for Iran to communicate its intentions to us and others in the international community.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much.