MR PALLADINO: Hi, guys. A couple things for the top. We have an update on – for you all on the Global Engagement Center and their efforts to counter foreign disinformation. At the end of September, the Global Engagement Center obligated 40 million to support initiatives to counter disinformation and propaganda spread by foreign countries abroad. That funding included an extra 20 million provided to the Global Engagement Center by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill and 20 million from the Department of Defense transferred to the State Department.
QUESTION: Since June, Iraq has been exporting oil from Kirkuk to Iran. Now that’s ending and Baghdad and the KRG are negotiating a return to using the pipeline to Turkey to export that oil. Were you involved in making Baghdad switch its operations regarding the Kirkuk oil? And are there other major outstanding issues with Iraq in regard to Iran sanctions?
MR PALLADINO: What I’d say, Laurie, is we’ve seen that report, and I would defer to the Government of Iraq to address any discussions that it may have had with other nations. What we’re going to continue to do is discuss our Iran policy with our partners around the world and the implications of our re-imposition of sanctions that were previously lifted or waived under the Iran deal, the so-called Iran deal. Now, we’ve given the same message to all countries around the world that the President has said previously, and that is the United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions.
QUESTION: So presumably also would welcome a decision like that, which would put Iraq more in compliance with the Iran sanctions, if it’s not exporting oil to Iran but sending it to Turkey instead. You’d welcome that?
MR PALLADINO: I would say that the United States – we are committed to exerting maximum pressure against the Iranian regime in reducing oil to zero. That said, Iraq is a friend, an important partner of the United States, and we’re committed to ensuring their stability and prosperity.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I ask --
MR PALLADINO: That’s all I’ve --
QUESTION: Can I ask about Iran?
MR PALLADINO: Iran?
MR PALLADINO: All right. Stay on Iran.
QUESTION: Can we – has the administration decided to give any waivers to countries importing Iranian oil?
MR PALLADINO: Our goal remains to get to zero oil purchases from Iran as quickly as possible. That’s not changed. And we are determined to implement our policy of maximum pressure on Iran, and that’s our strategy. But we are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis. The United States government currently is in the middle of an internal process to consider significant reduction exemptions for individual countries.
QUESTION: Can you tell us which countries those are?
MR PALLADINO: Nothing to announce today.
QUESTION: The 180-day review period for those SREs relief comes to an end on November 4th or 5th. So can we expect an announcement of some sort on that date? Do you have a congressional notification requirement for how those SREs are unveiled?
MR PALLADINO: I have nothing further on that right now.
QUESTION: And tied to --
QUESTION: You don’t know --
MR PALLADINO: Toward Iran?
QUESTION: -- or we just – you don’t know or --
MR PALLADINO: I just have nothing further for you on that right now.
QUESTION: And tied to that, Robert, yesterday the Secretary spoke to his South Korean counterpart. The ministry – the South Korean foreign ministry did a readout of it; this building didn’t. So the South Koreans have asked the United States for maximum flexibility on its request for a waiver regarding the U.S. sanctions against Iran. Can you give us – tell us what that discussion, whether that actual discussion took place, and what was the Secretary’s answer to that?
MR PALLADINO: Yeah. I don’t have a readout of any call that may have taken place yesterday.
QUESTION: Would this waiver for an ally like South Korea be something you would be considering?
MR PALLADINO: I mean, our goal is to get to zero oil. That is our strategy and that’s what we are pursuing. We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis, and I would leave it at that.
QUESTION: You can’t say whether the call happened?
QUESTION: Can you clarify one point?
MR PALLADINO: I can confirm that the call happened, but I don’t have a readout of that call. I haven’t spoken to the Secretary.
QUESTION: Can you clarify one point?
MR PALLADINO: Any – yes, please.
QUESTION: You said that it is going to be a country-by-country basis and you are in talks with them, but – and the countries are reducing, but India has recently signed an agreement to import oil from Iran and there is no sign of, as they say, reducing. So where do they stand on the 4th of November?
MR PALLADINO: Our strategy is to encourage zero omissions and that’s across the board. I don’t have any further specifics and I’m not prepared from the podium to give – provide an analysis country by country.