Interview
Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Brussels, Belgium
February 15, 2012


QUESTION: I'm joined now by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon who's on the line, though in Brussels.

Do you believe that Iran is behind this set of explosions?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: It would be premature to make that allegation now based on what we know. Clearly these attacks are troubling, it seems to be a troubling pattern, we support a full investigation to understand and I don't want to get ahead of what those investigations might reveal.

QUESTION: President Ahmadinejad has been speaking in the last few minutes, he is saying that those who oppose Iran getting nuclear weapons have got nuclear weapons themselves, that his opponents claim to have humanitarian interests but they don't, clearly Iran pressing ahead, what is the twin-track policy of the United States right now, are you finding ways to negotiate?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well we do have a twin-track policy and I want to make very clear that we're determined on both tracks that is to say, so long as Iran is not abiding by its obligations in the international community, U.N. security council resolutions on its enrichment program, we are determined to continue to rally international support to raise the costs on Iran for failing to abide by its obligations. But at the same time we are also sincere in wanting to resolve this diplomatically, and I think President Obama has been very explicit that we are ready to talk, invitations have been extended to Iran by Katherine Ashton, the High Representative for the European Union's foreign policy, to come and meet and we are looking to Iran to respond substantively to that invitation and to bring it back to the negotiating table and until and unless they do, I think you will see an increasingly determined and united international community and you've seen even in recent weeks that pressure rise and I think it's having an impact in Iran.

QUESTION: Do you think Israel is close to launching a strike on Iran now as Leon Panetta your defense secretary suggested?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I don't want to speculate on what Israel might do, but clearly the talk on such an action reflects what everybody knows is growing concerns throughout the region and in Israel, about what many Israelis consider to be a potentially existential threat, all the more reason for us to up our efforts in the international community both to show Iran that there is a different way forward which is a diplomatic one but also to show it that if it fails, it runs real risks of growing isolation, and…

QUESTION: How, How long do you think there is…in terms of...

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: …again I need to underscore the international community really is increasingly united on this front and we are seeing more and more countries sign on to very tough sanctions to send a signal to Iran that it really needs to come back and talk seriously about this enrichment program.

QUESTION: How long is the diplomatic window now before it becomes impossible for the West to intervene?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: We don't know and we don't want to put a deadline on it but clearly it is an increasingly urgent issue and again the speculation about Israeli use of force is one factor that should remind everybody that now is the time, one for the international community to keep the pressure on and even more importantly for Iran…

QUESTION: OK, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Gordon, we'll have to leave it there, sorry, we are out of time. Thank you very much for watching.

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[This is a mobile copy of Interview With Geeta Guru-Murthy of BBC]