DOS: Iran Misbehaving

QUESTION: The Iranians this weekend made several statements and including President Ahmadi-Nejad today, but this weekend the Foreign Minister said that if the international community would sanction, we will take appropriate measures. - How do you assess the risk for the sanctions to give way to an influence, negative influence of Iran in Middle East, in Iraq, in the Palestinian territories --

MR. MCCORMACK: They are already doing that. They're already doing that. They already are a negative influence in the region. I think the rest of the world and especially Iran's neighbors would very much like for Iran to play a positive role in the region. Iran as a country and as a culture has a lot to offer, has a lot to offer the rest of the world, has a lot to offer the rest of the region.

But the situation you have now, given Iranian behavior and under the current leadership, you have Iran really on the other side of the line from where the rest of the region is heading. The rest of the region is heading towards greater openness, greater freedoms, greater democracy, looking for solutions to avoid conflict, to work out differences through dialogue. Whereas, you have the Iranian regime which is just headed the other way. They're the sponsors of Hezbollah, which started a war in the region. They are clearly playing an unhelpful role in Iraq. The Iraqi Government has talked to them about that. They are probably the most significant state sponsors of terror in the world and they are now working to develop a nuclear weapon, which if they accomplish that would be probably one of the single most destabilizing events that we have ever seen in the Middle East.

So Iran already is playing, unfortunately, a negative role in the region and Iran's neighbors, more than anybody else, are concerned about that and have spoken out about it.

QUESTION: But this is a real threat so it could be worse. That's what they are saying. It could be even worse.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again, I don't think that that argues in favor of not doing anything with respect to their nuclear program. As I said, it could get worse, absolutely. It could get a heck of a lot worse if you have a nuclear-armed Iran in the heart of the Middle East. Think about that. And Iran's neighbors have been thinking about that and they are alarmed at the prospect. The rest of the world, the international community is alarmed by that prospect. That's why you had -- that's why you had a Security Council resolution that was passed that called upon them to suspend all their enrichment and reprocessing- related activities. And you've also had others who looked at what happened when Hezbollah started a war in the Middle East and were quite concerned about that fact, quite concerned about the fact that a terrorist group sponsored by Iran could drag the entire region down into conflict. That got people's attention.

And I think that in terms of Iranian behavior, there is a lot of concern over a variety of things. I haven't even mentioned human rights and the just terrible record that this regime has on human rights and the way it treats its own people. So there's a lot to be concerned about concerning this regime's behavior. And certainly looking the other way because they might do -- they might lash out in some other way is certainly not how we're going to respond. And I don't think you're going to see the rest of the world turn a blind eye, because that is just -- once you start going down that pathway that is a pathway that just leads to a very, very negative place.




  • DOS: Iran Misbehaving

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