Jimmy Carter photo

San Jose, California Informal Exchange With Reporters.

September 23, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. I just wanted to say very briefly that I have stayed in touch this morning with Dr. Brzezinski, with Harold Brown, the Secretary of Defense, and have recently communicated with Secretary of State Muskie, who is at the United Nations in New York. We all are doing everything possible, through international means and also through individual countries' contacts, to help terminate the conflict that presently exists between Iran and Iraq.

Apparently air strikes against one another have increased today, with some reports that I've had that the oil refineries both in Iraq and Iran have suffered some damage. Also Baghdad has been attacked through aerial means. So far most of the conflict has been through air and naval forces, but there has been some movement apparently of ground forces from Iraq into the Iranian territory. We are concerned that this might escalate further between the two countries.

We urge all nations, the Soviet Union and all nations, to refrain from any interference or involvement in this conflict. We will certainly observe that mandate meticulously.

We are concerned also that the supply of oil to the Western World and to the rest of the world might be interrupted or reduced. In recent months Iraq has been producing and shipping out about 3 million barrels of oil per day, Iran only about a half-million barrels of oil per day. But some nations, not ourselves, are heavily dependent on these shipments of oil. We hope that the countries involved will honor the international nature of the passage for ships through the Straits of Hormuz, and we will, of course, restrain ourselves and do everything that we can do to minimize any further danger of further escalation of the conflict.

Q. What will happen if they close the Straits of Hormuz?

Q. Any effect on the hostages, Mr. Carter?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know.

Q. What will the United States do?

Q. What will be the effect on the hostages of any—

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we hope and we expect that the conflict between Iran and Iraq will not have any effect on the safety or lives of the hostages. We will be consulting with other nations about the international straits. As I say, we buy very little oil directly from either Iraq and none from Iran. But countries like Brazil, Japan, Italy, France are heavily dependent on shipments of oil from Iraq. We'll be consulting with others. We do have military forces in the area, but we don't anticipate at all the use of American military forces.

Q. Have you had any contact with Iran, sir?

Q. Mr. President, have any American military forces been moved at all, any carrier dispositions?


Q. Do you have any contact with Iran on this, directly or indirectly?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I'd better restrain my answers to those I've already given.

Thank you very much.

Note: The exchange began at 11:10 a.m. at the San Jose Municipal Airport, prior to the President's departure for Oregon.

As printed above, this item follows the text of the White House press release.

Jimmy Carter, San Jose, California Informal Exchange With Reporters. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251586

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