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Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 10, 2008


Question About Photos of Iranian Missile Test Firing
Iran's Actions Make Access to International Financial Systems Difficult
Questions About Timeframe and Number of Iranian Missiles Firings
Iranian Actions Are Significant to the Region and Its Stability
U.S. Message to Iran About It's Behavior in Iraq
Secretary Rice's Attendance of Olympics
Question About Xinjiang Region of China
Civilian-Nuclear Agreement to be Discussed at IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
U.S. Fully Committed to Moving Civilian-Nuclear Agreement Forward
Contact with Capitol Hill Regarding Moving Civilian-Nuclear Agreement Forward
Fuel Oil to be Discussed By Six-Party's Energy Working Group
U.S. Attendance at Memorial Service for Turkish National Police


12:57 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don’t have anything to begin with, so we can --

QUESTION: Any visual aids today?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, but more are coming, Matt.

QUESTION: Are they?

MR. MCCORMACK: More are coming. Stay tuned.

QUESTION: Imminently?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, not today, not at today’s briefing. There are changes afoot.


MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll leave it at that.

QUESTION: Fair enough. I don’t have anything.

MR. MCCORMACK: Excellent.

QUESTION: Sean, can I just ask you something on the --


QUESTION: -- on reports that Iran had apparently doctored photographs of missile test firings and exaggerated the capabilities of the weapons?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I looked into that question for you. I haven’t been able to determine one way or the other the accuracy of the report.

Joel, welcome back.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Further comments on today’s missile tests from Iran? Have the Secretary and this Department spoken to the G-8, to the EU and to the UN this morning? And apparently, the Secretary’s warnings from yesterday and possibly today have gone on deaf ears to Tehran.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Joel, look, I think it’s pretty clear over the past – from their behavior over the past couple of years that this regime is, at the moment, following its own pathway and certainly not heeding the counsel of the international system. 

It’s our hope that they will. Because, at the moment, their course of action has only served to further isolate Iran. And it’s had very real costs for Iran, and the Iranian people. There have been a number of news stories about the difficulty of the Iranian Government getting access to the international financial system, thereby making it much more difficult for them to participate in the international trading system. There are news stories about their oil and gas sector being affected by the steps that the international system has taken in response to the defiance of the Iranian Government.

All of that said, it is still our hope that they will respond positively to the most recent overture made to them by the P-5+1. We’ll see. We await their answer.


QUESTION: Back on these possibly doctored photos, are you looking into that to see whether that’s possible? Because I noticed that the guy who’s saying this – one of the guy who’s saying that it’s – they were doctored is a former State Department official. You know, I mean, unless --

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know. I didn’t see any former State Department officials quoted. I don’t --

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzpatrick.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t dispute the account.


MR. MCCORMACK: A couple things. One, I’ve asked the question about – this specific question about, you know, photoshopping, you know, missile launch photos. I haven’t found anything to refute it one way – refute it or support it. I can say in terms of the published reports about yesterday’s missile launches, kind of, the order of magnitude of numbers, I don’t dispute that. You know, I’m not going to get into talking about specific numbers, you know, down to the ones or the twos. But in terms of the order of magnitude of the launch, I – we have no reason to dispute what has been reported.

QUESTION: Sean, I saw the White House is not confirming the second round of missile tests, but I thought Secretary Rice had reacted to them this morning. I’m just wondering what you know.

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I have not seen what my colleagues over at the White House said. I have not looked into any of the technical details of today’s missile launches. You’re right; the Secretary did respond to a question that was put to her about the missile launches today.

QUESTION: Okay. So she was responding to the second set or what she thought was the second set?

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that’s what the question was.


QUESTION: But it has to be a matter of intense interest to you whether this actually happened and, you know how many missiles were fired --

MR. MCCORMACK: Of course, I’m sure that our intelligence community is closely monitoring what’s going on there.


QUESTION: So not to belabor this, but there seems to be --

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, why not?

QUESTION: There seems to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Go ahead.

QUESTION: There seems to be some indication there really was only one missile test, that the missiles were launched on Wednesday, one did not fire, and so it was subsequently fired slightly later. Does that seem to be in line with what you are hearing?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, Charlie, I haven’t looked into the intelligence of it.

QUESTION: Well, how about this? From a policy perspective, does it matter?

MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Something got fired into the air. The Iranians are claiming it’s a great sign of their --


QUESTION: -- ability to defend themselves.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well --

QUESTION: Does it matter to the United States?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I guess there’s no simple yes-or-no answer to that question, because, you know, in a sense, it does matter what was fired. So --

QUESTION: No, I understand that. 

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, the – right.

QUESTION: The implications of --

MR. MCCORMACK: But basically, the fact that you have an Iranian regime which is acting in clear defiance of the intent of the international community regarding its ballistic missile program, certainly, this is -- you know, whether it is seven or eight or nine or 12 missiles, that in that sense, it doesn’t matter, all right? But I will emphasize it does matter, you know, what it is that they’re launching. And the fact that yesterday, they were working on launches of ballistic missiles with medium-to-long range, that’s quite significant in terms of the region, its stability, and it -- as well as the possible implications outside the Middle East as well.


QUESTION: Further, the Iranians are going back to the Stone Age. They’re providing a lot of the electronics going into a new type of bombing armament that they’re using, using used propane canisters weighing up to about a hundred pounds, similar to the IEDs that have been causing havoc throughout Iraq. What -- through third-party, are you able to make your feelings known further with this oversized weaponry that they’re now using? 

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Joel, I’ve seen the story to which you are referring. I can’t confirm any particular linkage there. And I think people in Baghdad and specifically, the military are in a better position to talk about (a) what new kind of weapons or threats they’re seeing out there and (b) what kind of linkages they see in terms of who’s responsible for these things. 

You know, in terms of the message sent to the Iranians about their behavior in Iraq, I think that’s loud and clear. We have done that face-to-face, via Ryan Crocker, and we’ve also done it extensively in public. I think they understand what the message is. And they have also heard from the Iraqis as well, you know, in the form of real questions about what are the Iranians doing in Iraq and what’s their intent. 


MR. MCCORMACK:  Yes, ma'am. 

QUESTION: A different topic. Can you tell us more about the Secretary’s plan to visit Beijing for the Olympics? 

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, not much more other than to confirm what you heard during her last trip to Beijing, and that is that she intends to attend the closing ceremonies and probably get to Beijing one or two days in advance to see some of the sporting events that are on -- still ongoing, prior to the closing. 

QUESTION: Will she be the first Secretary of State to attend the Olympic ceremony, do you know? Or –

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know as a fact. I suspect not, but I don’t know that as a fact. And remember, the President is going to the opening ceremonies. 

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MR. MCCORMACK: No, we haven’t planned that out yet. We’re working on it. 

Yes, in the back. 

QUESTION: The India-U.S. nuclear deal. The draft text that India submitted to the IAEA --


QUESTION: Did the U.S. get to see it before they submitted it to the IAEA? 

MR. MCCORMACK: Tell you the truth, I don’t know. We look forward to discussing the issue at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting. And this is really a signal that India intends to move forward with this significant strategic step in terms of not only a different kind of relationship, but in a different kind of relationship with some of these international organizations that are involved in civilian nuclear power. So this is a very significant step forward for India in terms of its development of civilian nuclear power, but also it’s a very important step for the international nonproliferation regime. 

So you know, we very much welcome India’s step, look forward to talking about the issues not directly under our control, i.e., what we’re doing – going to do with the Congress, but in the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as the IAEA. Certainly, you should know and the Indian people should know that our commitment to moving forward the agreement is a sign of the fact that this agreement is in our national interest. It also demonstrates the great respect we have for India, the Indian people, and the kind of relationship that we want to have with India in the future. 

QUESTION: Okay. Has the U.S. seen anything that might be objectionable or sort of – could you tell us whether the text goes far enough?

MR. MCCORMACK: To tell you the truth, I don’t – you know, I’m not briefed up on the details. I can’t tell you the extent to which we, as the U.S. Government, are briefed up on the details. I know that this was an effort that the Indian Government was working with the IAEA directly. Certainly, as a member of the Board of Governors, we’re going to have an opportunity to talk about these issues. But the United States is fully committed to doing everything it can to move this forward – move this agreement forward to its completion. 

Yeah, Gollust. 

QUESTION: The Indian Government is apparently going to go to the mat in the parliament and force a confidence vote, if necessary to get this through. Have you been in consultation with the Indian Government about, you know its plans here and have you been able to give them any comforting word that, you know, the U.S. side of this could get completed here in this current Congress, for instance? 

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we certainly, via our Ambassador and our Embassy in Delhi, have been following the issue quite closely. But the deliberations that were taking place were done – were entirely within the Indian political system. And the decisions at which the Government of Prime Minister Singh arrived were fully, solely, the decisions of the Indian Government. 

Of course we’re interested in seeing this agreement move forward, but we also made clear that there were certain decisions that the Indian Government needed to make. They have apparently made those decisions. And we, as a result, are fully committed to doing everything that we can to fulfill our end of this agreement. 


QUESTION: Sean, any liaison with Congress in relation to the timeframe in which the whole package could be put forward to the House and the Senate?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I know they’ve been – I don’t have a particular timeline for you. A lot of that is under the control of the Congress, the House and the Senate. But I know we have been in contact and really, you know, regular contact over the past several months with the Congress on the issue. And I know that we have also more recently been in contact with the Hill regarding moving this process forward so that we can fully implement the agreement. 

QUESTION: Were you able to deal with some unresolved questions from this morning about the Fulbright Gaza thing, like, how many others? Do you know -- 

MR. MCCORMACK: I have --

QUESTION: -- how many others have been held up? 

MR. MCCORMACK: I have not been able to get a full accounting. I am sure we are working on that.

QUESTION: Are there any other details about this extraordinary operation that you’d care to share with us?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing beyond what I have – the extensive comments that I had for you this morning, Matt.


QUESTION: Were you able to get information about what the different parties are doing to assist with fuel to North Korea?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. And I understand that it is going to be a topic of conversation in the current session of the Energy Working Group of the Six-Party Talks. So they’re hand – they’re talking about it in Beijing, is the answer. But I don’t have a final – I don’t think there’s a final resolution to the question you asked. 

Yeah, Param.

QUESTION: On that, the Chinese Government said that it’s facing a serious terrorist threat in Muslim Xinjiang region.


QUESTION: And they have arrested about more than 80 people who they believe are suspected terrorists. But dissident groups say that, you know, it’s an excuse by China to impose a crackdown on the region ahead of the Olympics.

MR. MCCORMACK: Let me look into that issue for you. We’ll get you an answer. We’ll post it up.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: On Turkey. Any new information about the terrorist attack to the U.S. Consulate?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing new in terms of the responsibility or the investigation. That’s still ongoing. We’re still working very closely with the Turkish Government. Our Consul General did attend a memorial service for the Turkish National Police officers who gave their lives defending the Consulate. 

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right, thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:10 p.m.)

DPB # 123

Released on July 10, 2008

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