FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon everybody. We voted today in the Council on two very important resolutions, the first on the sanctions renewal for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The new resolution puts important and needed emphasis on the need to prevent the continued illegal exploitation of Congo’s minerals, including its gold, which is funding the rebels and the fighting in Congo. This is an important step, and one on an issue that we are greatly concerned about. We will continue to follow closely in the context of the MONUC renewal, which comes up shortly.
In addition, we voted on the resolution rolling over and strengthening the effort to combat piracy in Somalia and in the waters off of Somalia. This too was a very important resolution, in that it reaffirms and renews the authorities that were established last year, but also creates greater impetus for more effective domestic prosecution of pirates in various countries around the world. The importance of this was underscored yet again today by the brazen hijacking of a Saudi supertanker bound from Saudi Arabia to the United States, some 800 miles offshore of Somalia.
And in Security Council consultations today we have been discussing UNAMID and the situation in Darfur, and I wanted to make a few comments about that. I anticipate that the President of the Council will make a few broad remarks, consistent with the views expressed by a range of Council members, but I wanted to underscore that the United States is particularly concerned about the reports that we heard referenced in the Secretary-General’s report of some 42 instances in which UNAMID personnel and patrols have been denied freedom of movement and access. These quite directly and seriously contravene the terms in the status of forces agreement that the government of Sudan has committed to. It impedes UNAMID’s ability to protect civilians and do its vital work and it is utterly unacceptable, as are the threats by the government of Sudan against UNAMID and its personnel, threats that are amply documented in the Secretary-General’s report. But we expect that the UN will continue the important and vital efforts of UNAMID occurring in the most difficult of circumstances and we expect that the UN will report fully, accurately and on a timely basis, not only about incidents that occur, but who is responsible for incidents when they occur. And the sort of efforts that we saw today by the Permanent Representative of Sudan in the Chamber to try to bully and intimidate the United Nations into not reporting fully and accurately, will not be tolerated. And we will insist on and continue to expect timely and full reporting on these incidents and clear accounting for who is responsible so that we and other members of the Security Council can employ this vital information in the implementation of our national and our collective policies. With that I am happy to take some questions.
Reporter: What progress is being made toward an agreement on effective sanctions against Iran, bringing in China and Russia, in light of IAEA Chairman’s statement about a stalemate and Iran’s threat to build ten or more additional uranium enrichment facilities?
Ambassador Rice: Well first of all, let me underscore that the Board of Governors of the IAEA demonstrated a great deal of unity as well as a great deal of resolve in passing the resolution that they did last week. We feel the Iranian announcement – if it is in fact accurate and implemented that they intend to build 10 additional facilities – as completely inappropriate and further isolating Iran from the international community. We view that frankly as unacceptable. While we have been and will remain in close consultation with our P5+1 partners on the way forward, we have said that this is a dual track effort. There has been an engagement track which we have been very actively engaged in, but there is also a pressure track. And as Iran makes choices that seem to indicate that it is not at this stage ready and willing to take up the offers on the engagement track then we will put greater emphasis on the pressure track. Time is short, and we are serious about implementing to the fullest extent that dual track policy.
Reporter: Ambassador Rice, the Pakistani Interior Minister was quoted today as saying that the government has mitigated the situation, the number of deaths are going down and that he holds the United States and the United Kingdom now responsible for really intervening in Afghanistan. What is your idea on that, do you agree with the (inaudible)?
Ambassador Rice: I haven’t seen that report so I am not prepared to comment on it. Thank you.
Reporter: Ambassador, you start talking about how time is short, and I think back to the Iran question. How short? What is next, how is this going to play out in terms of getting the kind of reading you want on the next round of sanctions? Will there be a political directors’ meeting, a general (inaudible) meeting here before the end of the month? How do you sort of see the thing happening?
Ambassador Rice: We will continue, Bill, to consult with our P5+1 colleagues both in capitals and elsewhere. I think the President and other leaders have been quite clear that we would take stock at the end of the year and see where we are. And I think as the indications mount that Iran is not yet in a position to take up the very concrete and constructive offers that have been put to it by the P5+1 and by the IAEA, it seems more likely that we will be on the pressure track, even as the door remains open to Iran to accept those offers.
Reporter: Ambassador on DRC, (inaudible) other countries to punish nations such as Sudan and North Korea who have broken arms embargos and perhaps extend sanctions to countries, companies and traders who are actually buying these illicit metals.
Ambassador Rice: Well this is an issue that we will be looking very closely at. Obviously the sanctions regime on North Korea, in addition to the sanctions regime on DRC, may well have been implicated in this context and we will take both very seriously. Same to the extent that violations may be relevant as well to Sudan. Certainly, violations of the DRC regime seem to be evident based on the report of the group of experts. We are also quite interested. And the resolution that was just passed I think takes some important steps in the direction of restraining the illicit trade in gold and other minerals from the DRC. It is a more complicated task than, for example, the Kimberly Process with diamonds, where diamonds are obviously very readily identifiable by their source of origin, but the urgency and importance of it is no less great and we will continue to work, both from the context of the panel of experts and in our review of MONUC and our policy toward the region to look for opportunities to constrain that trade.
Thank you very much.
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