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Middle East Digest: March 6, 2007

Bureau of Public Affairs
March 6, 2007

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The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/

 From the Daily Briefing on March 6, 2007:

QUESTION:  And are you making any progress or are you getting any closer on securing agreement among the P-5+1 on an Iran resolution?


MR. MCCORMACK:  We're chipping away at it.  It's up with the perm reps now in New York.  There was another -- there was a meeting yesterday among the P-5+1 ambassadors or representatives from the countries and there's another one again today.  We believe that the conversations are taking place within a constructive atmosphere, that all among the P-5+1 have reaffirmed their intent to seek a second resolution.  I expect that this will be an incremental resolution, but it nonetheless will be a Chapter 7, Article 41 resolution.  I'm not going to predict exactly when we're going to submit the -- a draft resolution to the other elected members -- to the elected members of the Security Council or when that might pass, but we are pushing for a resolution as quickly as we can.


QUESTION:  I remember you saying you hoped to do it this week.


MR. MCCORMACK:  Table a draft resolution.








QUESTION:  Mohamed ElBaradei saying today he has information that Iran has slowed down its enrichment of uranium, but the Foreign Minister Motaki says that's not true; they're going full speed ahead.  Can you shed any light on that?


MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, I'm not sure that's exactly what Mr. ElBaradei said.  I know that there was a news report out to that effect, but I'm not sure that that was an accurate characterization of what Dr. ElBaradei said.


There are a lot of remaining questions concerning Iran's nuclear program, and that's exactly what the IAEA is trying to determine the answers to -- what exactly is Iran up to with respect to its nuclear program.  But the international system has come to the conclusion that the Iranians are -- that their concerns are great enough concerning Iran's nuclear program, that it is subject to Security Council resolutions right now. 


We are convinced, as are others, that Iran is using the cover of the civilian nuclear program to pursue a nuclear weapon.  The fact of the matter is, as you stated, that Iran does still have an active program, that they have not suspended their enrichment or reprocessing-related activities.


QUESTION:  Well, what do you suppose the -- it was a little vague -- slowed down or postponed or delayed or put it up -- you know, their production process -- you don't have any information about a change in their --


MR. MCCORMACK:  I don't have -- I'll refer you back to the IAEA as to the state of their program.  They are the ones that are on the ground.  The basic fact, though, is that Iran has not made the political decision to suspend its enrichment or reprocessing-related activities.  I can't tell you whether or not the questions about the current state of the program and level of activities there are related to technical issues, engineering issues, or some other issue.  But regardless of that, the important fact is they haven't made a political decision yet to suspend that program and that's what matters.


QUESTION:  And then P-5+1 and -- I don't know if I missed this, but have you covered that?


MR. MCCORMACK:  We did briefly.  The perm reps are up in New York chipping away at the -- you know, putting together a resolution and we would hope that this week, we would either have or get very close to having a draft resolution that we could begin circulating to the other members of the Security Council so we can put it to the vote.  But all the P-5+1 members remain committed to seeking a second resolution.




QUESTION:  Sean, can you give us a readout of the meeting of the Secretary with the Lebanese Defense Minister?


MR. MCCORMACK:  Yeah, it was -- I wasn't in the meeting, but I know that on the agenda, very basically, were a couple of things.  One, an update talking to the Defense Minister regarding implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and the ability of the Lebanese armed forces to meet the mandate that has been laid out for it in terms of exercising control over all the Lebanese territory.  She is also going to talk to him about the Hariri tribunal and how to move that process forward within the Lebanese political system.


QUESTION:  Is there any project to give assistance to the Lebanese forces, financial assistance?


MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, we have already given the Lebanese armed forces some assistance in terms -- in the form of humvees.  We have also provided them with some training.  I know that we had in mind in our budget request some further training, but we can get you more on that with exactly what it is that the United States is -- intends to do.  But at the minimum, we have already provided them some equipment and some training.




QUESTION:  Back to Iran for a second.  Did you have anything on the ex-defense minister who apparently is missing?  And there are plenty of speculations about where he might be.  The theory is that the Israelis kidnapped him, that he might have gotten asylum in the United States.  Anything at all to say on that?




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