Secretary Clinton On Iran during Remarks at Daily Press Briefing
29 June 2009
Secretary Clinton: Let me also say a word about the detention of five British Embassy staff in Tehran. We are following this situation with great concern. We have noted the statement from the European Union. We find that the harassment of Embassy staff is deplorable, and we will continue to support the United Kingdom in calling for their release.
Question: On Iran, the sense we’ve been getting from your aides that we’ve been talking to is that the U.S. policy of engagement obviously is somewhat in abeyance right now as we wait to see this fluid situation on the ground in Tehran and throughout the country evolve. But I wonder what you would say to the argument that any prospect for meaningful engagement by the U.S. and the P-5+1, of which the UK is obviously a member, are drastical ly set back by what we’ve seen; in fact, that you’ve gotten your answer to all of your attempts at engaging this regime, that you’ve seen an authoritarian regime unmask itself, and that, in essence, they’re never going to strike any grand bargain with you on the nuclear question or terrorism or anything else.
Secretary Clinton: Well, there certainly is reason for us to be cautious in our dealings with Iran. There is not yet a final outcome of the process that they’re engaged in internally to demonstrate to their own people the credibility of the electoral process that has just been completed. So I am well aware of the daunting challenges ahead of us or any group that tries to deal with the Iranian regime.
Having said that, I think the President has made clear in several statements in the last week that we’re going to watch this unfold and we’re going to act in America’s national interest. That&rs quo;s what this has always been about. It’s never been about Ira n as much as it’s been about the values, goals, and the interests of the United States of America. And we remain committed to doing all we can to try to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons power.
So we’re going to watch this and we’re going to gauge our actions accordingly.
Question: But there’s no sense you get in which these events might have somehow enhanced the prospects for engagement, have they?
Secretary Clinton: I’m not going to make a value judgment on what they may or may not have done. I’m just going to reiterate that everything we intend to do is in light of how we view America’s long-term interests and security, as well as those of friends and allies, not just in the region but around the world.
Question: Madame Secretary, back to Iran. The Guardian Council has just announced that it – just after a limited recount, that they consider the vote valid. Is this enough for the international community? Do you plan on recognizing the government of President Ahmadinejad? I mean, we’ve seen this crisis over the last few weeks illustrate a real division in the regime. Do you think that this is the beginning of the end of the Iranian regime?
Secretary Clinton: Well, I’m not going to speculate on what happens with their internal regime. Obviously, they have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process. And I don’t think that’s going to disappear by any finding of a limited review of a relatively small number of ballots.
But clearly, these internal matters are for Iranians themselves to address and we hope that they will be given the opportunity to do so in a peaceful way that respects the right of expression. And it has been my position and that of our Administration that we support the fundamental values of people’s voices being heard, their votes being counted. And we’ll have to see how this unfolds. You know, it’s – this is a historic moment for Iran and for the Iranian people. And I don’t want to speculate on how it’s going to turn out.
Question: Well, will you recognize President Ahmadinejad as the democratically elected president?
Secretary Clinton: We’re going to take this a day at a time. We’re going to watch and carefully assess what we see happening.
Thank you all very much.