U.S. Department of State: Press Availability with Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz (Excerpts)

January 30, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the press conference of the Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Mr. Jacek Czaputowicz. 

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QUESTION: Hello, good morning, and thank you. Mr. Secretary, I wanted to ask you if we could briefly just recap three issues of big concern, either crises or issues of major urgency that you’ve addressed this week in Europe. First, in London, after your meeting with Foreign Secretary Johnson, you said – you expressed some hope that there could be an agreement between the United States and Europe on a supplement to the Iran deal. Yet the next day, in Paris, the French foreign minister seemed to be a little more skeptical of that and said he didn’t really understand – or the French didn’t really understand why the U.S. was putting so much pressure on Europe in this.

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SECRETARY TILLERSON: Thank you for that global series of questions. As the old saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. And I don’t want to say we’re at the darkest moment of any of those three areas that you just asked about, but I think it’s why we have given it so much attention and are working hard with partners and allies to put mechanisms in place to begin the very, very hard work of addressing the concerns in all three.

As to the Iranian nuclear agreement, President Trump has been quite clear on his view that that agreement has a number of flaws, and he intends to have those flaws addressed. What we have agreed to do is work with our European counterparts, the E3 most particularly, and ultimately the EU, to identify what areas we believe have to be addressed and a mechanism by which we can address those. And working groups have already begun meeting on the effort to agree principles, what is the scope of what we will attempt to address, and also how might we engage the Iranians on discussions to address these issues.

But beyond that, as you well know, the U.S.’s broader Iran policy is about much, much more than the nuclear agreement. The nuclear agreement only represents a small part of the policy. The U.S. has greater concerns and more immediate concerns regarding Iran’s malign behaviors throughout the region: support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen; launching of rockets from Yemen into Saudi Arabia; supplying weapons to militias that are destabilizing Iraq, Syria; support for Lebanese Hizballah. You know the long list of things that the U.S. is concerned about, as are our allies.

So our work group also is intended to identify areas of greater cooperation between Europe to push back on Iran’s malign behaviors as well. So the work is underway. If it was easy, it would have already been done. We recognize the challenges, but we think we have to do everything we can to address those.

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FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter) If I may also respond to this question, I would like to stress that Poland shares the goals of the United States as regards the way we see challenges of global nature. We support the policy of the United States, of the democratic world, vis-a-vis Iran. Ten days ago President Andrzej Duda participated in the UN Security Council debate concerning nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We support the position of the United States and other allies from Central Europe that this regime has to be strengthened...

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