Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (Excerpts)

August 13, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Military

MS. MCENANY: Hello, everyone. This is a historic day, and I have here with me Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Ambassador Robert O’Brien. They’re going to summarize the history that was made today and take a few of your questions. We also have Special Representative Avi Berkowitz here; and Special Envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, who will be in attendance.


Q Jared — just to follow up on Iran — please, Jared, you promised me earlier (inaudible). To follow up on Iran, you said earlier this is part of the (inaudible) of isolating Iran. The administration has recently revised a U.N. Security Council resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran. (Inaudible) a lot of tough language on Iran, but still — there is still a danger of veto from Russia and China.

So, some observers are saying that the administration is risking losing face if you can’t get support over this deal. Can you comment on that?

MR. O’BRIEN: Well, the first thing is, we’re always going to do the — the administration is always do the right thing. And President Trump is always going to do the right thing, whether it’s losing face or there’s a Russian veto or a Chinese veto.

If the Chinese or the Russians veto the continuation of the arms embargo and want to start sending arms to Iran and destabilizing the region, that’s on them and that’s not on us. So we’re always going to take the position — the right position — and not worry about what the Russians or what the Chinese might do at the U.N. If we did that, if we worried about that all the time, we’d get nothing done at the U.N.

We also have other tools that we’ll use to deal with Iran to make sure that that arms don’t flow into Iran, that there’s not further destabilization of the region. There are tools that we can use diplomatically, and there are other tools that we have.

And nobody in the region wants to see Iran on the receiving end of a bunch of Russian MiGs or Chinese missiles or Chinese drones. The region has made that very clear, we’ve made that very clear, Israel has made that very clear — so I don’t think that’s in the interest of anyone in the world. It’s not in the interest of global peace and security and prosperity.

So we’re going to continue to prosecute our case at the U.N. and we’re going to hope for the best. I hope the Russians and the Chinese do the right thing. They should do the right thing. And — and if they don’t do the right thing, well, we’ve got — we’ve got backup steps that we’ll take.

Q Can you clarify whether you’ll support the snapback option?

MR. O’BRIEN: The snapback is certainly one of the tools that we could use. And — and that’s something we’re looking at very closely. And it wouldn’t — look, what we’re focused on right now is the vote to extend the arms embargo. We’d like a clean rollover of the arms embargo. We’d like to see our allies get behind it. We’d like to see the Russians and Chinese get behind it.

I just can’t imagine any leader anywhere in the world who thinks it’s a good idea to put advanced armaments in the hands of the Ayatollah and his regime, especially in today’s Middle East. I mean, that just makes zero sense whatsoever.

So hopefully, the countries at the U.N., at the Security Council will do the right thing — they’ll roll over the arms embargo and keep it in place. But if that doesn’t happen, we’ve got — we’ll take steps necessary, and one of those steps could be could be snapback.