Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 25, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • STATEMENT
    • Canada and the United States are deeply concerned about the continued detention of Canadian and American citizens inside Iran
    • U.S. calls on the Government of Iran to provide American and Canadian detainees with immediate consular access
  • NORTH KOREA
    • U.S. is looking at a number of ways to get North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks through bilateral talks
    • U.S believes if North Korea takes irreversible and verifiable steps towards the complete denuclearization we would reciprocate in a positive manner
    • Robert King the Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights will be part of Ambassador Bosworth's team in the Office of the Special Representative for North Korea Policy
    • Robert King will work closely with bureaus within the State Department and the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs
    • Human rights is in the center of all of the State Department's bilateral discussions
  • IRAN
    • U.S. has been carefully watching and analyzing the secret facility in Qon -Qon facility for several years
    • The information the U.S announced today does not contradict the assessment that we made in the NIE in 2007


TRANSCRIPT:

12:50 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Well, good afternoon. First of all, our apologies for having to reschedule our guest star today, Mr. Campbell. We hope to reschedule his briefing on our Burma policy for very early next week, I hope as early as Monday.

Let me read something very quickly at the top. It’s a short statement, but it’s an important statement. It was just released by the State Department and by the Canadian Government:

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.

And with that, I’ll take your questions. Yes.

QUESTION: (inaudible) from Singapore Straits Times newspaper. I actually came for the briefing by Mr. Campbell.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Sorry.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering why it was postponed. Do we know?

MR. KELLY: Well, it’s actually very simple. We – of course, before we do any kind of public detailing of our – of a change in policy, we have to go through a number of consultations, and we were hoping to have completed the consultations this morning, but because there are elements of the U.S. Government in at least three different places right now, it was just difficult to bring it all together by 12:30 today. So I’m sorry you had to – you’ll have to make another trip next week, but I do beg your understanding for it.

Yes.

QUESTION: Also some U.S. officials are meeting with Burmese?

MR. KELLY: Are any U.S. officials meeting with Burmese?

QUESTION: Burmese. And also planning to meet with the Burmese prime minister, who is attending the UN General Assembly next week?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I am not aware of any plans to meet with the Burmese prime minister, and I’m not aware of any meetings today. That’s not to say that we won’t have meetings with Burmese officials. But at this moment, there are no scheduled meetings.

Yes.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MR. KELLY: North Korea? Okay.

QUESTION: Yes. South Korea President Lee Myung-bak again suggested grand bargain with North Korea at the UN General Assembly. So what is U.S. Government’s position on this specific suggestion – grand bargain?

MR. KELLY: Well, we are, of course, in very close agreement and close coordination with all of our partners, with our five partners, and we all agree on the ultimate goal. And the ultimate goal, of course, is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We’re looking at a number of ways to get North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks, and we’ve already said that one of the ways that we’re willing to do that is through bilateral talks. And this has been something that’s been closely coordinated with our partners. No decision has been made to have these bilateral talks.

In addition, we’ve said all along that if North Korea took irreversible and verifiable steps towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea, that we would be willing to reciprocate in some positive manner. Now, you can call that approach anything that you want, but this is something that we all agree on. I don’t know – I mean, this is the – calling it a grand bargain is something that the South Korean president has chosen to call it, but I think that we all share the goal of getting to a comprehensive agreement that would lead to the goal of all of our five partners, and that’s the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Yeah, in the back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have any readout for the South Korean negotiator Wi Sung-lac’s meetings with Sung Kim?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, actually, I do, but I’ll have to – I will have to – I mean, I don’t have it right here. So we’ll send it to you by --

QUESTION: Why has he been meeting so often with Sung Kim? I mean, he met with him yesterday and the day before, or two days before and --

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure how often he met with him.

QUESTION: It’s been a lot this week, so --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, it’s entirely natural. I think that Ambassador Kim’s South Korean counterpart came with the South Korean president. As I say, they are counterparts, so it’s entirely natural that they would have consultations and even frequent consultations while he’s here.

Yeah.

QUESTION: So as far as bilateral talks with North Korea, I think this government has already obtained green sign from Japan and China and South Korea in highest level already, through meeting with his counterpart this week. So why you don’t make a final decision to go ahead? Or is there any obstacle for you to make it clear before the final decision at this point?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I say, we have decided that if such a meeting would lead to our shared goal, the goal that we share with our five partners, of getting North Korea to return to some kind of meaningful talks within the Six-Party context, that we’re willing to consider this. We’re still considering it, and we simply have nothing to announce at this time.

Yes.

QUESTION: Iran?

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.

QUESTION: Can I go back to North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The White House yesterday nominated Robert King as a special envoy for North Korea human right. So how will his role different from the previous human rights special envoy? And how will he work on this current North Korea situation?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: How will it contribute in this --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah. Well, let me just tell you a little bit about the person that the White House announced that they intended to nominate. His name, of course, is Bob King. He has extensive experience working on human rights. He was staff director for the House Foreign Affairs Committee under Congressman Tom Lantos and also under Congressman Berman. He traveled with Congressman Lantos to North Korea in, I think, 2004 and also played a key role in the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act. He has a Ph.D. in international relations from Tufts, and has authored five books.

In terms of what his role will be, he will be part of Ambassador Bosworth’s team in the Office of the Special Representative for North Korea Policy. He’ll work closely with bureaus within the State Department here, our human rights bureau – Democracy, Human Rights and Labor – and of course, with the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. And of course, he’ll coordinate with his colleagues in the Korean office with Ambassador Kim and Ambassador Goldberg.

He’ll also have a very important role of being the liaison with the human rights community, with the NGO community, and will also engage with international human rights organizations in his efforts to try and highlight the problem of North Korean human rights and trying to promote a more transparent political system in North Korea.

As you know, we are – we’re deeply concerned about the situation in North Korea, particularly the plight of North Korean refugees. And human rights, in general, for the State Department are a big priority, and this is another indication of that.

QUESTION: Will Bob King also participate in the possible U.S.-North Korea bilateral meeting? Because he is on the team of Ambassador Bosworth.

MR. KELLY: Well, I think first we have to make the decision we’re going to actually have the bilateral talks, and then we’ll see who actually participates in it.

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you intend to be talking with North Korea specifically about human rights during these meetings that are often more geared towards the nuclear program, the Six-Party Talks?

MR. KELLY: Do we talk about human rights when we –

QUESTION: Will you be – I mean, before, you separated human rights out from the Six-Party Talks.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Will you be now bringing human rights back in to the Six-Party --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. You’re asking me to speculate on how – what the framework of the talks will be. I mean, human rights is in the center of all of our bilateral discussions, and I’m sure – although our priority, of course, is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, human rights always plays an important role in our bilateral relations.

Other questions? Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:04 p.m.)
[1] Spokesman meant to say two presidents and one prime minister.

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