15 October 2003
U.S. Calls on Iran to Fully Disclose Nuclear Program
State's Boucher also seeks Iranian cooperation in investigating Al-Qaida
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher has called on Iran to fully disclose its nuclear program in accordance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution of September. He also suggested the IAEA look at all credible sources of information on Iran's nuclear activities.
Commenting at his October 14 briefing on press reports of the presence of senior al-Qaida terrorist organization members in Iran, Boucher said "the continued presence in Iran of senior officials of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, was a significant cause of concern for us as well as for other people in the region."
He called on Iran to turn over any people wanted for information or for crimes committed, and he said Iran "should cooperate with countries that are conducting investigations of al-Qaida's activities, including the May 12th bombing. "
Following are excerpts from the transcript of Boucher's October 14 press briefing relating to Iran:
QUESTION: Richard, do you have any comment on the report based from an Iranian opposition group, also part of a Foreign Terrorist Organization, according to the State Department, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which talks about Iran having yet another nuclear facility?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we've seen the press accounts. I think they've said they would reveal shortly some details about another undisclosed Iranian nuclear facility. What's clear, I think, to all of us, based on the reports the International Atomic Energy Agency has already prepared, is that Iraq has not fully disclosed --
MR. BOUCHER: -- Iran has not fully disclosed its nuclear programs. The IAEA is asking them to do so. We think the Agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, should take into account all information from all sources and look at it carefully as they proceed with their inspections. They have continued to carry out rigorous inspections of Iran's nuclear activities, and so we look forward to seeing their reporting once they have been able to complete that task, in accordance with the resolution that the Board of Governors passed.
QUESTION: Yeah, another on Iran. It has been -- the Iranians have said that they have a number of al-Qaida detainees in custody. There is a story in today's Washington Post that suggested that these people were not really in custody, or, if in custody, were still being allowed to have contacts with other al-Qaida members and to be involved in terrorist operations.
What is our understanding of the status of the al-Qaida detainees?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything I can share with you on that. I think we have said all along that there was considerable questions about what kind of custody they might have been in. There have been repeated statements like this from the Iranians, but not much clarification as to their status nor whether they were being transferred to countries that might be interested in them for investigative purposes.
QUESTION: So we don't know --
QUESTION: Richard, can I follow up?
QUESTION: We don't know?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any answers for you.
QUESTION: On Iran, I imagine you'd be quite interested in what the Mujaheddin have, or claim to have, on the nuclear facility. Have you asked them for a preview of their --
MR. BOUCHER: We do not have any contact with the National Council for Resistance because they are a front organization for the MEK.
QUESTION: But even if they have important information, you would not --
MR. BOUCHER: They said they intended to make it public. We think that all information needs to be considered by the IAEA. But as far as we're concerned, they're a terrorist organization and we don't have any contact with them.
QUESTION: Do you think that Israel has the right to strike against Iran nuclear facilities as self-defense?
MR. BOUCHER: That's such a vague and hypothetical question, I don't -- no way I can deal with it.
QUESTION: There are some reports citing U.S. intelligence that this Al Quds Force, or also called the Jerusalem Force, is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, may be the ones sheltering these al-Qaida members, including one of Usama bin Laden's sons. Is there -- what is the U.S. trying to do to secure, through the Iranians, access to these people? Can you say anything about this Jerusalem Force?
MR. BOUCHER: No. As far as what we're doing, I think we've made very consistently clear, especially since the May 12th bombing in Saudi Arabia, that the continued presence in Iran of senior officials of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, was a significant cause of concern for us as well as for other people in the region, and that they should cooperate with countries that are conducting investigations of al-Qaida's activities, including the May 12th bombing.
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't be able to comment on that. Sorry.
QUESTION: On that, do you believe that President Khatami is not in control of some of these, these possible forces, like -- like just mentioned, Jerusalem Force? Do you not hold him responsible for their actions?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no way of speculating on internal Iranian politics, but obviously the Government of Iran is responsible for what happens in Iran.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)