State Department Press Briefing (Excerpts)

August 7, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

MS NAUERT: Good afternoon, everybody. Hope you’re all doing well. I’ll start off with a few announcements today, and first I would like to, along with my colleagues, begin today by recognizing the 20th anniversary of the terror bombings that took place at our embassies in Nairobi and – in Kenya and Tanzania.


Last thing I’d like to address today, and that is Iran and the reimposition of sanctions that were rolled out today. 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.

And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions


QUESTION: Just a quick one on – do you have a reaction on – to North Korea’s foreign minister just visited Iran on the same day the United States --

MS NAUERT: I’m sorry. Say that again? His – about his what?

QUESTION: The North Korean foreign minister just visited Iran, then – and they had a official meeting yesterday, although there is no formal readout of the meeting.


QUESTION: But I’m wondering, what’s your reaction to it? On the same day the United States just reimposed the sanction on --

MS NAUERT: Yeah. I certainly saw the reports. We’ve seen the reports that he was supposedly traveling to Iran as a government – I don’t know that we can confirm it. I don’t know – I think those are just media reports right now. If we can confirm it and have something for you on that, I’ll let you know, okay?

QUESTION: On Iran. On Iran again.

MS NAUERT: Hi, yes.

QUESTION: Hi, Heather. I’m Guita with Voice of America Persian service.

MS NAUERT: Oh, hi. Nice to meet you.

QUESTION: Nice to meet you as well. Going back to your statement on the sanctions on Iran, you said Iran needs to think about the consequences of its actions on its people. At the same time, in different – on different occasions and again on the – at the outset of this announcement of the renewal of the sanctions, the U.S. administration has said that it stands with the Iranian people who are demonstrating against the country’s mainly economic situation. How do you square these two? You’re saying Iran needs – the sanctions obviously impact the Iranian – the general population first and foremost, so how does the U.S. want to stand next --

MS NAUERT: 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.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: How do you – how does the administration intend to support the Iranian people?

MS NAUERT: Well, 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.


QUESTION: When you say – when you say --

MS NAUERT: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: -- “change their behavior” --


QUESTION: -- you’re talking about a fundamental change in policy – I mean, not some sort of behavioral therapy, right?

MS NAUERT: Well, we’d like to see them --

QUESTION: So you’re expecting --

MS NAUERT: -- see them stop terror attacks, that’s for sure.

QUESTION: You’re – yeah.

MS NAUERT: We – I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

QUESTION: That is a fundamental change in almost all of their policies, not just one particular area, correct? And that includes the 12 points that the Secretary of State outlined a couple months ago?

MS NAUERT: That would be correct.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS NAUERT: We’ve not changed our policy in that regard.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Heather. Heather.

MS NAUERT: Yeah. Hi.

QUESTION: Iran again.

QUESTION: If the administration wants to hold them accountable for this whole comprehensive range of bad behaviors, how can you really get them to stop sponsoring terrorism around the region through financial sanctions alone?

MS NAUERT: Yeah, 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.

QUESTION: Quick follow-up: Has State been talking at all to DOD about --

MS NAUERT: Has what?

QUESTION: Has State been talking at all to DOD about the possibility of any kind of military action required?

MS NAUERT: That would be a DOD question, but we do diplomacy here. But I can tell you the Secretary speaks regularly with his counterpart over at DOD.

And we’re going to have to wrap it up in just a couple minutes.

QUESTION: Heather, just a couple more on Iran.

MS NAUERT: Hey. How are you doing?

QUESTION: On Iran, you’re basically saying to the country change your entire foreign policy and we’ll talk to you if you agree to change everything that you --

MS NAUERT: 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.