Press Availability With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (Excerpts)

September 14, 2017

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Related Country: 

  • United Kingdom

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QUESTION: 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?

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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.

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QUESTION: 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?

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FOREIGN SECRETARY JOHNSON: And just to get to your point about Iran, the North Korean crisis shows the importance of having arrangements such as the JCPOA. And you ask about extending the – having the sunset clause, and I actually can’t remember who raised it. It did come up. Everybody could see that it was going to get tenser as we get towards the deadline, and that’s why it’s important that we make it work and that we keep it alive. And there are two aspects to this. As Secretary Tillerson has just said, the Iranians have got to behave and fulfill their side of the bargain, and they’ve got to stop being adventurous and expansionist and causing trouble in the region, whether it’s in Yemen or Syria or anywhere else.

And of course, on the other side, we in the U.K. think it very important that Iran, that country of 80 million people, many of them young, potentially liberal, could be won over – could be won over to a new way of thinking. I think it’s important that they should see that there are benefits, economic benefits from the JCPOA as well. So we in the U.K. want to keep that alive, and that’s certainly a point that we have been making to Rex and others in the U.S.

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