Department Press Briefing – July 11, 2019 (Excerpts)

July 11, 2019

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MS ORTAGUS: [...] First to Iran. The Department of State condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy’s attempt to unlawfully harass and interfere with the passage of the UK-flagged merchant vessel British Heritageyesterday near the Strait of Hormuz. We commend the actions of the Royal Navy in ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce through this critically important waterway. We will continue to work closely with the United Kingdom and our allies to ensure that Iran’s regimes – the Iranian regime’s malign activities do not further disrupt international law, maritime security, or global commerce.

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QUESTION: Thanks, Morgan. Is the administration considering any measures to address China’s importation of Iranian oil?

MS ORTAGUS: I mean, we have said very publicly, the Secretary has said it here from this podium, that we’re going to zero and that countries that don’t abide by U.S. sanctions will face repercussions for not abiding by U.S. sanctions. That goes for China or any other country in the world.

QUESTION: So the U.S. would conceivably sanction those imports?

MS ORTAGUS: We expect all parties – we expect all countries to abide by U.S. sanctions. We have gone – as the Secretary said here from this podium and has talked to many of you about it several times, we’ve gone to zero as it relates to that. And we expect every country to abide by that.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on Iran?

MS ORTAGUS: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does – is it the Secretary’s or the State Department’s current position that the UN Security Council should invoke snapback sanction measures given that Iran appears to be violating some elements of the JCPOA now?

MS ORTAGUS: What was the start of the question? Is it – you said something about the Secretary.

QUESTION: Is it the Secretary or the State Department’s view that sanctions should be snapped back under the terms – the Security Council resolutions?

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah, I mean, I think what you’re asking of me would be, again, to preview actions that we are not ready to discuss publicly. I think as it relates to Iran in general, I think that we have been very vocal about our position. We talked about in the topper at the beginning about what the British navy was able to do in terms of the harassment yesterday. I mean, as you know, the Secretary – you’ve been on some of the trips – the Secretary’s been all over the world dealing with this issue, talking to our allies. The President has said that he will meet with the Iranians without preconditions. So we seek a diplomatic solution. We have asked our allies many times – we’ve talked about this from the podium – that we’ve asked our allies to ask Iran to de-escalate the situation, not harass American allies and our interests, not terrorize the region. I feel like that this is stuff that I’ve talked about – quite a bit about from this podium that you guys are well versed on.

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