Russian Doubts of the IAEA Report on Iran’s Nukes — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 11/12/2011

TAPPER: The Russians have indicated that they don’t believe necessarily in the credibility of the IAEA report. So did the President at least discuss that with [Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev about whether or not the IAEA report is to be believed?

BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Absolutely, the IAEA report is, again, the finding of a very credible international organization. This is not simply the judgment of the United States or any one country. This is the finding of the preeminent international organization that deals with these issues. Therefore it’s essential that the international community take those findings very seriously.

And I think, again, what the two leaders discussed was the need for the United States and Russia to continue to work together to address this issue and to review the report very carefully, to do so, again, with one another and in the broader context of our other P5-plus-1 partners and the IAEA Board of Governors. So I think there will be a continued review of information contained within the report.

Some of the concerns that you pointed to came out almost — in the days before the report came out. I think we’ve had time to digest it, we’ve had time to review it carefully. And we’ll have time to go over it further with the Russians and other countries. And I think the important point, as the President underscored, is to continue to forge a common response so it’s clear to the Iranians that they can’t flout their international obligations.

Now, there’s a foundation for sanctions that exist because of the U.N. Security Council resolution that we’ll continue to build up from. And as that’s taken place the United States has moved very far with other like-minded nations. The Russians have taken significant steps, unprecedented steps, in terms of their own sanctions, in terms of even canceling some arms contracts. But the U.S. is building out from that with European and Asian partners as well. So there’s space for us, again, to significantly dial up pressure as it relates to sanctions.

At the same time, it’s important that Iran is isolated diplomatically and politically when it’s outside of its international obligations. And that we believe has a very important impact on the Iranian government and on its position in the international community.

So, again, I think that, as we have been able to do over the last nearly three years, we’ll be working constructively with the Russians on this going forward even as we’re also working with other like-minded partners to develop new ways to apply pressure on the Iranians.

– Jake Tapper