Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson
London, United Kingdom
For Immediate Release
September 14, 2017
QUESTION: James Landale, BBC. First of all, Foreign Secretary, on aid. Do you believe that the government should be able to use its aid budget to help people in need in the Caribbean? And if so, what are you going to do about it?
Secondly, on Libya. Do you actually think that elections next year are feasible? And when do you think they should be held?
Thirdly, on Burma. You said last weekend that Aung San Suu Kyi was, and I quote, “one of the most inspiring figures of our age.” Do you regret saying that now, and has your view changed as a result of the events of this week?
And Secretary of State, if I could ask you on Iran. What actually is the position of the United States today on the Iran nuclear deal? Are you going to continue to waiver the sanctions? Do you continue to believe that Iran is fulfilling its obligations of that deal?
And secondly, what is your view on what is taking place in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and the behavior of Aung San Suu Kyi?
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, first, with respect to the administration’s view of the JCPOA, of the nuclear deal with Iran, the Trump administration is continuing to review and develop its policy on Iran. It is underway. There have been several discussions internally among our NSC and along with the discussions with the President. But – so no decisions have been made.
But I think it’s worth noting that, as the administration continues this review of the JCPOA, I think President Trump has made it clear to those of us who are helping him develop this policy that we must take into account the totality of Iranian threats, not just Iran’s nuclear capabilities; that is one piece of our posture towards Iran. And I think if one revisits the preface to the JCPOA, that preface reads that the participants, quote, “anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security,” end quote. That was one of the expectations of the JCPOA.
In our view, Iran is clearly in default of these expectations of the JCPOA through their actions to prop up the Assad regime, to engage in malicious activities in the region, including cyber activity, aggressively developing ballistic missiles. And all of this is in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, thereby threatening – not ensuring, but threatening – the security of those in the region, as well as the United States itself. So we have to consider the totality of Iran’s activities and not let our view be defined solely by the nuclear agreement. So it continues to be under review. No final decision’s been made.
With respect to the horrors that we are witnessing occurring in Burma, I think it is a defining moment in many ways for this new emerging democracy, although it is a power-sharing arrangement. We all clearly understand that. And so we appreciate the difficult and complex situation Aung San Suu Kyi finds herself in. And I think it is important that the global community speak out in support of what we all know the expectation is towards the treatment of people, regardless of their ethnicity, and that we must – this violence must stop; this persecution must stop. It’s been characterized by many as ethnic cleansing. That must stop.
And we need to support Aung San Suu Kyi and her leadership, but also be very clear and unequivocal to the military share – power-sharing in that government that this is unacceptable. And this is going to, in many ways, I think, define the direction that Burma will take. We – they need our strong support. We should give them our strong support.
QUESTION: Secretary Tillerson, on North Korea, President Trump described the UN Security Council resolution that was passed this week as a small step. Do you concur with that assessment, and do you still seek a full oil embargo against North Korea? And do you think China would ever agree to that?
And Secretary Johnson, on the – on Iran, the French have signaled a willingness to supplement the nuclear deal to extend sunset provisions. Did that come up in today’s conversations, and is Britain open to such a suggestion?
And Secretary Tillerson, would the U.S. be open to that as well?
SECRETARY TILLERSON: With respect to the UN Security Council resolution and the President’s view that it was a small step, I share that view. We had hoped for a much stronger resolution from the Security Council. Having said that, I think it does – it did accomplish a couple of things: one, a complete prohibition on textiles, which does represent somewhere between $7- and $800 million of export revenue to the regime.
And I think importantly, the successful conclusion of yet another unanimous UN Security Council resolution, in and of itself, I think, does continue to send a consistent message to the regime in North Korea and importantly to those who continue to enable North Korea’s activities that the international community does have a common view on the seriousness of North Korea’s proliferation program and the development of their weapons – their nuclear weapons, I think it’s clear that with respect to oil and a complete embargo on oil from the UN Security Council, that’s going to be very difficult.
In effect, that is directed at China alone because China supplies essentially all of North Korea’s oil. I am hopeful that China, as a great country, a world power, will decide on their own and will take it upon themselves to use that very powerful tool of oil supply to persuade North Korea to reconsider its current path towards weapons development, reconsider its approach to dialogue and negotiations in the future. That is a very powerful tool that has been used in the past, and we hope China will not reject that or discard that as a very powerful tool that they alone really have the ability to assert.
So we’re going to continue our efforts of the global campaign, going to continue to call on all countries to fully implement the UN Security Council sanctions and resolutions, and where countries have a sense that they can do more to put pressure on this regime to bring them to a point of dialogue with a – in a very productive way, we ask that everyone do that.