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Interview by David Ensor of CNN

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Vienna, Austria
June 2, 2006

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, did you get everything that you hoped for in the bargain?

SECRETARY RICE: We are very pleased with the outcome of last night's talks. Indeed it is what we came here to do. This establishes two paths and it also establishes again that the Iranians need to return to the negotiating table, but in order to do that they need to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities as a condition for returning to the talks -- a condition, by the way, that the United States didn't set; a condition that was set by the IAEA Board of Governors, by the presidential statement in the UN and indeed by the Europeans at the time that their talks broke down.

QUESTION: How long does Iran have to respond?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not one that's given to timetables, but I think we are talking about a matter of weeks here, not -- we can't wait for months while Iran again says on the one hand maybe they're interested in negotiating, on the other hand maybe they're not. They need to make a choice and the international community needs to know whether negotiation is a real option or not. And the Iranians have been given every reason to make a choice for negotiation. They've said that they have a right to civil nuclear power. People acknowledge that. But they have to pursue that civil nuclear power in a way that does not have a proliferation risk; in other words, that they cannot hide a nuclear weapons program under the cover of a civil nuclear program.

QUESTION: It wouldn't surprise me, and perhaps not you either, if the Iranians decide that the best approach now is to try to split the international coalition arrayed against them. They've had some fortune with that in the past. What do you think the chances are that they can break this group up fairly easily?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would just say look at the picture last night of the six standing there, as Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, made her statement. That is as unified an international community as you're going to see on any issue. And I can tell you that that picture very much bespoke what went on in the room. There is a very clear understanding that Iran needs to suspend, it needs to rejoin negotiations, that it cannot have a civil nuclear program that has high proliferation risk and that it is time to have two paths for Iran. So rather than worrying about splitting the international community -- which isn't going to happen - it is important for Iran to make its choice and get on with it.

QUESTION: So have Russia and China signed on to tough sanctions in the event this does not -- that Iran does not make the choice for talks?

SECRETARY RICE: Russia and China have signed on to the two paths that Margaret Beckett described last night. I'm not going to get into a discussion of what's on either of those paths, the positive or the negative, because we do need to allow the diplomacy to work and it's only fair that this proposal will be given to the Iranians before it's given to the press, with all due respect.

But I can tell you that we've established the two paths. That's what we came here to do. We've established robust measures on both paths and I'm very pleased that Iran has a choice but that the international community also has other options if Iran chooses not to negotiate.

QUESTION: Final question. Do you think this is going to work?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we certainly hope that Iran is going to take a little time and think about the proposal that is being made to it and that it will react favorably. But what we've done is that we've established a path for negotiation that is quite robust if Iran chooses to take it. But we've also established a path if Iran chooses not to take it. And that puts the international community in the very best circumstance, the very best situation, because I think we now have a basis for addressing the Iranian nuclear problem on one of those two paths.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
2006/T15-4


Released on June 2, 2006

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