Secretary Michael R. Pompeo at a Press Availability (Excerpts)

July 15, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Military

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QUESTION: Aha, well, good morning and greetings from my basement.  Mr. Secretary, it’s been a long time.  I’m sure you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you.

Can I ask (inaudible) things really quickly?  One, on the Nord Stream and TurkStream sanctions, you’re saying, if I get this correctly, that any company that is involved in this, even those who had been previously grandfathered in with sanctions exemptions, are now subject to those sanctions.  Is that correct, number one?

And then secondly, on Iran, you guys had talked about the idea of bringing the arms embargo extension resolution to the Security Council as early as this week, and that doesn’t look like it’s happening now.  And I’m just wondering, are you hoping to staunch some of the opposition that you’re seeing to the resolution from the Europeans and others with a little bit more time for diplomacy?  Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Matt.  It’s good to hear your voice.  On the first one, so what State Department’s action today is is we’re going to revise the guidance, and you’ll see that.  I’ll let Frank Fannon talk to you about the details of its implementation and its execution.  But make – I think we should be very clear:  Our expectation is that those who participate in the continued project will be subject to review for potential consequences related to that activity.

As for Iran and timing, you suggested that we’ve delayed because of opposition.  In fact, virtually everyone agrees that the arms embargo should be extended.  Our European counterparts too are very concerned about what will happen if the arms embargo itself expires on October 18th of this year.  And so there’s enormous consensus around the objective.  How to achieve that objective, there’s different views on.  We’ve made clear to – both publicly and in private to all the members of the Security Council – we intend to ensure that this arms embargo continues.  We hope that this can be done by a UN Security Council resolution that all of the permanent members sign up for, and indeed every member of the larger UN Security Council.

But in the event that that’s not the case, we are still going to do everything in our power to achieve that, and we think we’ll be successful ultimately in doing that.  The precise timing of that, we’re going to keep to ourselves until such time as we’re ready to move to the UN Security Council and introduce the resolution.  We’re not that far away from doing that, Matt.

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QUESTION: Two questions, if I may.  The first one is on China and Iran.  The second one is on China and Taiwan.  I would like to – what is your assessment of the prospective trade and military partnership between Iran and China, and how would you respond to criticism that the U.S. sanctions have further strengthened the alliance between the two countries?

And separately, if I may, on Taiwan and China.  What is – what is your comment on China’s threats to impose sanctions on American company Lockheed Martin over U.S. arms sale to Taiwan?  What is the calculation of the State Department when it approved the arms sale to Taiwan?  And should U.S. companies be punished when the U.S. Government is implementing the Taiwan Relations Act?  Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah.  So your second question is easy – no, of course not.  We had an American company conducting business that was consistent with American foreign policy, the policy of the arms sales that we made to Taiwan.  I regret that the Chinese Communist Party chose to make that threat against Lockheed Martin.  It’s not the first time they’ve chosen to do that to an American contractor who was working on a program that was between the United States and Taiwan, so I regret that.  I hope they’ll reconsider that and not follow through on the remarks that were made yesterday or the day before when they made them.

Your first question was about Iran and China.  I mean, we all, a little history is in order, right?  Think about a long time ago – Persia.  And the relationship, this is not brand-new.  But I think what you saw in the reporting there, and something we’ve been following, is evidence of a couple simple things.  First, the need to extend the arms embargo, right?  Now we have a reporting that suggests that not only when the arms embargo will expire does the Secretary of State of the United States believe that China will sell weapons systems to Iran, but the Iranians believe that China will sell systems to Iran.  And indeed, they have been working on it, waiting for this day, waiting for midnight on October 18th for this arms embargo to expire.  I think Europeans should stare at that and realize that the risk of this is real and that the work between Iran and the Chinese Communist Party may well commence rapidly and robustly on October 19th if we’re not successful at extending the UN arms embargo.

As for the larger picture, we have a set of sanctions related to any company or country that engages in activity with Iran.  The sanctions are clear.  We have been unambiguous about enforcing them against our companies from allies, countries from all across the world.  We would certainly do that with respect to activity between Iran and China as well.

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