U.S. Department of State
Department Press Briefing
August 7, 2018
At 12:01 this morning, the President’s executive order entitled “Reimposing Certain Sanctions with Respect to Iran” went into effect. The executive order is reimposing sanctions on Iran’s automotive sector and on its trade in gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions related to the Iranian rial, in support of the President’s decision to cease U.S. participation in the JCPOA. A number of provisions of this order became effective today, while others will become effective on November the 5th. The United States is fully committed to enforcing all of those sanctions.
The United States is seeking new detail – excuse me, a new deal, rather, that will comprehensively address the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior – not just their nuclear program, but also their missile program, their support for terrorism, and their malign regional behavior. The United States is willing to engage in talks with the Iranian regime, but we are looking for a commitment that they are willing to make fundamental changes in their behavior. Iran will need to think seriously about the consequences of its behavior and the consequences that it’s having on its country, and especially on the Iranian people, and they should choose to correct their course of action going forward.
We have a regular dialogue with the Government of Saudi Arabia on human rights and also other issues. This particular case regarding Canada, we have raised that with the Government of Saudi Arabia. They are friends, they are partners, as is Canada as well.
Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together. We can’t do it for them. They need to resolve it together. The United States respects – has respect for international recognized freedoms and also individual liberty. That certainly has not changed, and that’s basically where we stand today.
we have those conversations with the Government of Saudi Arabia. We have had conversations with them about this as it pertains to Canada. But we would encourage both governments to work out their issues together. It’s a diplomatic issue. Saudi Arabia and Canada can certainly stand to work it out together. We would encourage the Government of Saudi Arabia overall to address and respect due process and also publicize information on some of its legal cases.
Look, part of the difficulty, I think – and we have discussed this extensively here at the State Department – is that UNRWA is a program that has lacked a good revenue funding stream that does not just rely on the United States for very many years. The United States has called on, as has Ambassador Haley, for UNRWA to restructure it. That’s our piece of it; that’s what our piece talks about. We have close conversations, of course, with the White House and with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, and I’m afraid I just don’t have anything more for you on that specific part of the question.
I would say let’s keep the focus on where it belongs, and that is the Iranian regime. The reason people there are frustrated and have been increasingly frustrated over the years is because Iran has chosen to spend the money and resources and the hard work, efforts of its own people on destabilizing – excuse me – destabilizing the region. They spend it on foreign adventurism, they spend it on attacks in other countries, going into Syria, going into Iraq, you name it. That is all well documented and very well known, and they’re not giving the benefits of the labor back to their own people. And so I think people choosing to protest are expressing their concerns about the government.
We’d like to see a change in the behavior of the Iranian regime. We’re not ashamed to say that. We’d like to see a change in their behavior where they take care of their own people, they stop their human rights abuses, and they spend their money on their own people, not the foreign adventurism and not terrorism around the globe.
I think one of the ways that we can do it is by giving voice to their concerns and by highlighting concerns that we have about the Iranian regime, and we’re doing – we are doing just that. Secretary Pompeo has spoken extensively about this issue and by supporting the Iranian people, letting them know that we stand with you.
I think financial sanctions lead to that because we know that the government doesn’t spend its money on its own people. It’s not spending its money on health care, on services that we enjoy and so many other nations – free nations enjoy. They’re not spending their money there. We know that they are spending that money on terror attacks. We know that they’re spending their money on bombs and launching weapons against other countries. We know that that’s where they’re spending their money. And so the United States, in choosing to impose these sanctions, is taking that effort. We would certainly much rather use sanctions than – in this instance than use other resources or assets, and we think that this is a good way forward.
I would think that we should ask another country to stop attacking other nations and to stop fomenting terror. That’s one of the things that the United States Government does. We’re not alone in asking them to do that. I think that’s important to take that stand and not back away from that.
We have concerns about what the Houthi rebels have been doing for quite some time. That is well documented. They have been terrible and conducted many, many attacks against their own – against the people of Yemen. We’ve seen what has happened at the port there, the Hodeidah Port, and the inability to have a good free flow of goods coming in, and Saudi Arabia certainly has a right to try to take out some of those bad actors. That’s something that they have a right to do and we support that.