Venezuela’s National Day

3 Jul

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend our enduring support to the people of Venezuela, interim President Juan Guaido, and the democratically elected National Assembly as you commemorate the 209th anniversary of your independence on July 5.

Venezuela was the first Spanish Colony in South America to declare its independence in 1811. Today, the Venezuelan people carry the spirit of Simon Bolivar as they seek a democratic transition from authoritarian rule that is abetted by nefarious foreign infiltrators that enable repression and corruption. This struggle for freedom and democracy will not end until its goals are realized.

Every day that Venezuelans stand up for their rights brings them a day closer to truly celebrating Independence. Democracy will not be intimidated. We remain committed to supporting Venezuela’s peaceful, democratic transition and free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections. The United States, and nearly 60 nations, stand with Venezuelans inside Venezuela and the more than 5 million forced to flee.

 

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Statement of the twenty-fifth polio IHR Emergency Committee

3 Jul

The twenty-fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) on the international spread of poliovirus was convened and opened by the Director General on 23 June 2020 with committee members attending via teleconference, supported by the WHO Secretariat.  Dr Tedros in his opening remarks said that while there has been amazing progress on wild poliovirus in Africa, there is still much more work to do to end transmission in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Similarly, the significantly greater than expected number of circulating vaccine derived polio virus type-2 (cVDPV2) outbreaks are another major challenge.  The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on public health programs, including polio eradication.  As a result, the risk of the international spread of polio is likely to have increased considerably.  At the same time, the polio infrastructure that has been developped in Pakistan and Afghanistan has been used to assist with the tracking and tracing as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

He also remarked that the novel oral polio vaccine type-2, which will be made available under the Emergency Use Listing procedure (EUL), is expected to be an important new tool to stop the vicious cycle of using monovalent Sabin OPV2 to combat outbreaks, but in turn seeding new outbreaks of cVDPV2.  Dr Tedros thanked the committee for their commitment and said he looked forward to receiving their advice.

The Emergency Committee reviewed the data on wild poliovirus (WPV1) and circulating vaccine derived polioviruses (cVDPV).  The WHO Secretariat presented a report of progress for affected IHR States Parties subject to Temporary Recommendations.  The following IHR States Parties provided an update at the teleconference on the current situation and the implementation of the WHO Temporary Recommendations since the Committee last met on 26 March 2020: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Mali and Pakistan.   In order to ease the burden on affected  State Parties in the exceptional situation following the determination of the COVID-19 outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020, the following invited State Parties were asked to present their reports electronically only instead of attending via teleconference: Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Philippines, and Togo.  All these States Parties have previously attended teleconferences of the committee to present their statements.

  

Wild poliovirus


The global situation remains of great concern with the increased number of WPV1 cases that started in 2019 continuing in 2020.  This year there have been 70 WPV1 cases as at 16 June 2020, compared to 57 for the same period in 2019, with no significant success yet in reversing this upward trend.

In Pakistan transmission continues to be widespread, as indicated by both acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance and environmental sampling. WPV1 transmission continues to be widespread, with southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa becoming a new WPV1 reservoir, and some areas such as Karachi and the Quetta block having uninterrupted transmission.  There has also been expansion of WPV1 to previously polio free areas in Sindh and Punjab. 

In Afghanistan, the security situation remains very challenging.  Inaccessibility and missed children particularly in the Southern Region have led to a large cohort of susceptible children in this part of Afghanistan.  The risk of a major upsurge of cases is growing, with other parts of the country that have been free of WPV1 for some time now at risk of outbreaks. The number of provinces reporting WPV1 has increased from three in 2019 to 11 in 2020.  This would again increase the risk of international spread.  

The  Committee noted that based on results from sequencing of WPV1, there were recent instances of international spread of viruses from Pakistan to Afghanistan and from Afghanistan to Pakistan.  The ongoing frequency of WPV1 international spread between the two countries and the increased vulnerability in other countries where routine immunization and polio prevention activities have both been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are two major factors that suggest the risk of international spread may be at the highest level since 2014.  While border closures and lockdowns may mitigate the risk in the short term while in force, this would be outweighed in the longer term by falling population immunity through disruption of vaccination and the resumption of normal population movements.

The Committee noted that at its meeting 15 – 17 June, the African Regional Certification Commission had accepted the evidence presented by Nigeria that it was now free of WPV1 infection, and commended this achievement by the Government of Nigeria and its partners.

Vaccine derived poliovirus (VDPV)

The multiple cirulating VDPV (cVDPV) outbreaks in four WHO regions (African, Eastern Mediterranean, South-east Asian and Western Pacific Regions) are very concerning, with one new country reporting an outbreak since the last meeting (Mali).  Unlike historical experience, international spread of cVDPV2 has become quite common, with recent spread from Chad and CAR to Cameroon; Nigeria, Togo and Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire; Nigeria to Benin, Ghana to Burkina Faso, Nigeria to Mali, Togo to Niger, Ghana and Benin to Togo, Angola to DR Congo, and Pakistan to Afghanistan.  In addition, a new local emergence attributable to mOPV2 use has recently occurred in Ethiopia.

In 2020, West Africa and Ethiopia are experiencing high levels of transmission of cVDPV2, and due to the pandemic, outbreak response has been significantly hampered, with many areas that have reported cases recently not having had an immunization response.  The Committee repeated its strong support for the development and proposed Emergency Use Listing of the novel OPV2 vaccine which should become available mid-2020, and which it is hoped will result in no or very little seeding of further outbreaks.  

Impact of COVID-19

The Committee noted that in many polio infected countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted polio surveillance to a varying extent, sometimes significantly, resulting in an unusual degree of uncertainty regarding the current true polio epidemiology.  All of the countries reported postponements of immunization responses to cases, further increasing risk.  In addition, routine immunisation has also been adversely affected by the pandemic in many countries.  There is evidence that in some polio infected countries, the pandemic may yet to have peaked.  As international travel begins to return, there is unknown risk of exportation of polioviruses.  There are many other challenges ahead, such as the effect of COVID-19 on community trust and support for immunization, the possibility of other epidemics such as measles, the risks to front-line workers and how these can be managed, and the risk of immunization activities being associated with COVID-19 outbreaks, either truly or spuriously.  

On a positive note, the contribution of polio infrastructure, such as the National Emergency Operation Centre in Pakistan, to pandemic control efforts was significant.  Going forward, the committee noted the opportunity to link polio eradication and pandemic response in positive ways.  

Conclusion

The Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for a further three months.  However noting that many international borders are closed to prevent  international spread of COVID-19, State Parties may not currently be able to enforce the Temporary Recommendations in all places. The Committee strongly urges countries subject to these recommendations to maintain a high state of readiness to implement them as soon as possible ensuring the continued safety of travelers as well as health professionals.  The Committee recognizes the concerns regarding the lengthy duration of the polio PHEIC, but concludes that the current situation is extraordinary, with clear ongoing and increasing risk of international spread and ongoing need for coordinated international response. The Committee considered the following factors in reaching this conclusion:

  • Rising risk of WPV1 international spread: The progress made in recent years appears to have reversed, with the Committee’s assessment that the risk of international spread is at the highest point since 2014 when the PHEIC was declared. This risk assessment is based on the following:

 

  • the ongoing WPV1 exportation from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and from Afghanistan to Pakistan;
  • ongoing rise in the number of WPV1 cases and positive environmental samples in both Pakistan and
    Afghanistan with formerly polio free areas within the countries reporting cases in 2020;
  • the quickly increasing cohort of inaccessible unvaccinated children in Afghanistan, with the risk of a major
    outbreak imminent if nothing is done to access them;
  • the urgent need to overhaul the leadership and strategy of the program in Pakistan, which although already commenced, is likely take some time to lead to more effective control of transmission and ultimately eradication;
  • increasing community and individual resistance to the polio program.

 

  • Rising risk of cVDPV international spread: The clearly documented increased spread in recent months of cVDPV2 demonstrate the unusual nature of the current situation, as international spread of cVDPV in the past has been very infrequent.  The number of new emergences of cVDPV2 in Africa raises further concern.  The risk of new outbreaks in new countries is considered very high.  
  • COVID-19:  This unprecedented pandemic is likely to continue to substantially negatively impact the polio eradication program and outbreak control efforts.  The need to take extra precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission will probably have an impact on vaccination coverage, and also hamper polio surveillance activities leading to increased risk of missed transmission.  
  • Falling PV2 immunity:  Global population mucosal immunity to type 2 polioviruses (PV2) continues to fall, as the cohort of children born after OPV2 withdrawal grows, exacerbated by poor coverage with IPV particularly in some of the cVDPV infected countries.
  • Multiple outbreaks: The evolving and unusual epidemiology resulting in rapid emergence and evolution of cVDPV2 strains is extraordinary and not yet fully understood and represents an additional risk that is yet to be quantified.
  • Weak routine immunization: Many countries have weak immunization systems that can be further impacted by various humanitarian emergencies including COVID19, and the number of countries in which immunization systems have been weakened or disrupted by conflict and complex emergencies poses a growing risk, leaving populations in these fragile states vulnerable to outbreaks of polio. 
  • Lack of access: Inaccessibility continues to be a major risk, particularly in several countries currently infected with WPV or cVDPV, i.e. Afghanistan, Nigeria, Niger, Somalia and Myanmar, which all have sizable populations that have been unreached with polio vaccine for prolonged periods.
  • Population movement: While border closures may have mitigated the short term risk, conversely the risk once borders begin to be re-opened is likely to be higher.  

 

 

 

 


Risk categories

The Committee provided the Director-General with the following advice aimed at reducing the risk of international spread of WPV1 and cVDPVs, based on the risk stratification as follows:

  • States infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3, with potential risk of international spread.
  • States infected with cVDPV2, with potential risk of international spread.
  • States no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection by WPV or cVDPV.

Criteria to assess States as no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV:

  • Poliovirus Case: 12 months after the onset date of the most recent case PLUS one month to account for case detection, investigation, laboratory testing and reporting period OR when all reported AFP cases with onset within 12 months of last case have been tested for polio and excluded for WPV1 or cVDPV, and environmental or other samples collected within 12 months of the last case have also tested negative, whichever is the longer.
  • Environmental or other isolation of WPV1 or cVDPV (no poliovirus case): 12 months after collection of the most recent positive environmental or other sample (such as from a healthy child) PLUS one month to account for the laboratory testing and reporting period
  • These criteria may be varied for the endemic countries, where more rigorous assessment is needed in reference to surveillance gaps (e.g. Borno State, Nigeria)

Once a country meets these criteria as no longer infected, the country will be considered vulnerable for a further 12 months.  After this period, the country will no longer be subject to Temporary Recommendations, unless the Committee has concerns based on the final report. 

TEMPORARY RECOMMENDATIONS

States infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with potential risk of international spread 

WPV1
Afghanistan     (most recent detection 27 May 2020)
Pakistan           (most recent detection 8 June 2020)

cVDPV1
Malaysia          (most recent detection 12 February 2020)
Myanmar        (most recent detection 9 August 2019)
Philippines      (most recent detection 28 November 2019)


These countries should:

  • Officially declare, if not already done, at the level of head of state or government, that the interruption of poliovirus transmission is a national public health emergency and implement all required measures to support polio eradication; where such declaration has already been made, this emergency status should be maintained as long as the response is required.
  • Ensure that all residents and long­term visitors (i.e. > four weeks) of all ages, receive a dose of bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (bOPV) or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) between four weeks and 12 months prior to international travel.
  • Ensure that those undertaking urgent travel (i.e. within four weeks), who have not received a dose of bOPV or IPV in the previous four weeks to 12 months, receive a dose of polio vaccine at least by the time of departure as this will still provide benefit, particularly for frequent travelers.
  • Ensure that such travelers are provided with an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in the form specified in Annex 6 of the IHR to record their polio vaccination and serve as proof of vaccination.
  • Restrict at the point of departure the international travel of any resident lacking documentation of appropriate polio vaccination. These recommendations apply to international travelers from all points of departure, irrespective of the means of conveyance (e.g. road, air, sea).
  • Further intensify cross­ border efforts by significantly improving coordination at the national, regional and local levels to substantially increase vaccination coverage of travelers crossing the border and of high risk cross ­border populations. Improved coordination of cross ­border efforts should include closer supervision and monitoring of the quality of vaccination at border transit points, as well as tracking of the proportion of travelers that are identified as unvaccinated after they have crossed the border.
  • Further intensify efforts to increase routine immunization coverage, including sharing coverage data, as high routine immunization coverage is an essential element of the polio eradication strategy, particularly as the world moves closer to eradication.
  • Maintain these measures until the following criteria have been met: (i) at least six months have passed without new infections and (ii) there is documentation of full application of high quality eradication activities in all infected and high risk areas; in the absence of such documentation these measures should be maintained until the state meets the above assessment criteria for being no longer infected.
  • Provide to the Director-General a regular report on the implementation of the Temporary Recommendations on international travel.

 


 

 




States infected with cVDPV2s, with potential or demonstrated risk of international spread 

Afghanistan       (most recent detection 15 May 2020)
Angola                (most recent detection 9 February 2020)
Benin                  (most recent detection 16 January 2020)
Burkina Faso     (most recent detection 30 March 2020)
Cameroon         (most recent detection 5 May 2020)
Central African Republic  (most recent detection 5 February 2020)
Chad                  (most recent detection 9 May 2020)
Cote d’Ivoire     (most recent detection 9 May 2020)
Democratic Republic of the Congo    (most recent detection 8 February 2020)
Ethiopia            (most recent detection 16 March 2020)
Ghana               (most recent detection 11 March 2020)
Malaysia           (most recent detection 22 January 2020)
Mali                   (most recent detection 6 February 2020)
Niger                 (most recent detection15 March 2020)
Nigeria              (most recent detection 1 January 2020)
Pakistan            (most recent detection 2 May 2020)
Philippines       (most recent detection 16 January 2020)
Somalia            (most recent detection 8 May 2020)
Togo                  (most recent detection 3 May 2020)
Zambia             (most recent detection 25 November 2019)

These countries should:

  • Officially declare, if not already done, at the level of head of state or government, that the interruption of poliovirus transmission is a national public health emergency and implement all required measures to support polio eradication; where such declaration has already been made, this emergency status should be maintained.
  • Noting the existence of a separate mechanism for responding to type 2 poliovirus infections, consider requesting vaccines from the global mOPV2 stockpile based on the recommendations of the Advisory Group on mOPV2.
  • Encourage residents and long­term visitors to receive a dose of IPV four weeks to 12 months prior to international travel; those undertaking urgent travel (i.e. within four weeks) should be encouraged to receive a dose at least by the time of departure.
  • Ensure that travelers who receive such vaccination have access to an appropriate document to record their polio vaccination status.
  • Intensify regional cooperation and cross border coordination to enhance surveillance for prompt detection of poliovirus, and vaccinate refugees, travelers and cross border populations, according to the advice of the Advisory Group.
  • Further intensify efforts to increase routine immunization coverage, including sharing coverage data, as high routine immunization coverage is an essential element of the polio eradication strategy, particularly as the world moves closer to eradication.
  • Maintain these measures until the following criteria have been met: (i) at least six months have passed without the detection of circulation of VDPV2 in the country from any source, and (ii) there is documentation of full application of high quality eradication activities in all infected and high risk areas; in the absence of such documentation these measures should be maintained until the state meets the criteria of a ‘state no longer infected’.
  • At the end of 12 months without evidence of transmission, provide a report to the Director-General on measures taken to implement the Temporary Recommendations.

 

 





 

 

 


States no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection by WPV or cVDPV

WPV1

  • none

 

cVDPV
  • Mozambique cVDPV2 (most recent detection 17 December 2018)
  • PNG cVDPV1 (most recent detection 6 November 2018)
  • Indonesia cVDPV1 (most recent detection 13 February 2019)
  • China (most recent detection 25 April 2019)


These countries should:

  • Urgently strengthen routine immunization to boost population immunity.
  • Enhance surveillance quality, including considering introducing supplementary methods such as environmental surveillance, to reduce the risk of undetected WPV1 and cVDPV transmission, particularly among high risk mobile and vulnerable populations.
  • Intensify efforts to ensure vaccination of mobile and cross ­border populations, Internally Displaced Persons, refugees and other vulnerable groups.
  • Enhance regional cooperation and cross border coordination to ensure prompt detection of WPV1 and cVDPV, and vaccination of high risk population groups.
  • Maintain these measures with documentation of full application of high quality surveillance and vaccination activities.
  • At the end of 12 months without evidence of reintroduction of WPV1 or new emergence and circulation of cVDPV, provide a report to the Director-General on measures taken to implement the Temporary Recommendations.

Additional considerations 

Impact of COVID-19 on the polio program:

  • The committee urges all countries, but particularly those at high risk of polio, to maintain a high level of polio surveillance throughout the ongoing pandemic, noting that the postponement of polio immunization campaigns whether preventive or in response to outbreaks may lead to an increase in polio transmission including international spread.  There may be opportunities to strengthen polio and COVID-19 surveillance synergistically.
  • Secondly, outbreak affected countries should resume immunization response campaigns as soon as feasibly possible.  The planning and implementation of the response should employ a flexible approach whereby some activities are put on hold as the transmission of COVID-19 intensifies and then resumed as the COVID-19 transmission reverses back from community transmission to the interruption of COVID-19 transmission.  Critically, campaigns should be planned and implemented in such a way that they protect front line polio workers and also the communities they serve so that COVID-19 transmission is not increased.  This includes ensuring teams have access to appropriate personal protective equipment, teams are selected so that high risk workers are not put on the front-line, and that the risks related to the pandemic are factored into the selection and planning of areas targeted by polio campaigns.
  • Given the risk of international spread, countries need to ensure that they are ready to use appropriate polio vaccines, as recommended by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, in response to new outbreaks.
  • The committee urged countries to maximize the use of polio assets to synergistically address the COVID19 pandemic, noting that polio affected countries may be vulnerable to poorer outcomes in the pandemic due to health care system fragility and poorer health status of the population generally.  
  • Lastly the pandemic should serve as a reminder to high risk countries with poor immunization coverage that infectious disease outbreaks can lead to social and economic disruption as well as straining the health care system, and countries can increase their population resilience and recovery through prioiritising  robust immunization programmes. This is relevant not only to polio, but to all other vaccine preventable diseases particularly measles.  In particular, countries whether eligible for Gavi support or not should plan to implement a second dose of IPV now being introduced to protect children from paralytic polio.


    Based on the current situation regarding WPV1 and cVDPV, and the reports provided by affected countries, the Director-General accepted the Committee’s assessment and on 3 July 2020 determined that the situation relating to poliovirus continues to constitute a PHEIC, with respect to WPV1 and cVDPV.  The Director-General endorsed the Committee’s recommendations for countries meeting the definition for ‘States infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with potential risk for international spread’, ‘States infected with cVDPV2 with potential risk for international spread’ and for ‘States no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection by WPV or cVDPV’ and extended the Temporary Recommendations under the IHR to reduce the risk of the international spread of poliovirus, effective 3 July 2020. 

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Belarus National Day

3 Jul

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the government of the United States and the American people, I send my congratulations to all Belarusian citizens on the occasion of your Independence Day.

The United States strongly supports the continued aspirations of the Belarusian people for democratic principles including universal freedoms, civil liberties, and the rule of law.  We urge the government of Belarus to do everything in its power to ensure the upcoming elections are free and fair.  This includes the right of a diverse range of candidates to participate in the campaign, the right of citizens to assemble peacefully and speak freely, and open and fair ballot counting.  All of these fundamental freedoms are necessary to ensure the continued independence and sovereignty of Belarus.

The United States is encouraged by the growing relationship between our two nations and is committed to assisting Belarus to develop and diversify its economy.  The United States reiterates its commitment to working with all Belarusians as you build a bright, secure, and democratic future.

I wish you continued prosperity and success in the years ahead.

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European Commission revamps its ‘Have Your Say' portal

3 Jul
The European Commission has launched a revamped version of the ‘Have Your Say' portal. This online platform invites all citizens, (including businesses and non-governmental organisations), to share their views on Commission initiatives at key stages in the legislative process.

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Secretary Pompeo to Deliver a Speech on the Commission on Unalienable Rights in Philadelphia

2 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will deliver a speech on the Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, 2020.

This meeting will be live streamed on www.state.gov.

For more information, please contact the Department of State’s Office of Press Relations at PAPressDuty@state.gov.

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This Week in Iran Policy

2 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

“It is certainly a full-fledged diplomatic effort that we’re engaged in to convince the world that this is the right outcome not just for the United States, but go talk to our partners in Saudi Arabia or the Emirates and Kuwait.  They know, too, that if Iran is allowed to become an arms merchant again, instability in the Middle East will flow.”

– Secretary Pompeo, Remarks to the Press, July 1, 2020

 

PLEASE SEE NEW VIDEO ON IRAN ARMS EMBARGO HERE.

 

SECRETARY POMPEO’S REMARKS AT STATE DEPARTMENT PODIUM BRIEFING, JULY 1.

 

  • I want to note three brutal honor killings that have taken place in Iran: 14-year-old Romina Ashrafi, 19-year-old Fatemeh Barhi, and 22-year-old Rayhaneh Ameri. Two were beheaded and one was beaten to death with an iron bar at the hands of relatives.  For 40 years, corrupt Iranian leaders have condoned murder, dehumanized women, and ignored cries for justice.  When will they stop this unspeakable wicked assault on human dignity?
  • Staying on Iran: As many of you saw yesterday, I spoke to the UN Security Council, urging them to retain the 13-year-old arms embargo on Iran.  These restrictions, as a result of the failed JCPOA, are set to expire in October.
  • If Iran is allowed to buy weapons from the likes of China and Russia, more civilians in the Middle East will die at the hands of the regime and its proxies. It’s that straightforward.  Tehran will become an arms dealer for the Maduros and Assads of the world.  Sworn enemies of Israel like Hamas and Hizballah will be better armed.  European nations will be put at risk.
  • Our team has put together a short video that explains why this is so important. I’d like to show it to you now.
  • So when you all hear about legal niceties and complexities and intra – international fighting about what the right course of action is, remind yourself about what happens to the world if this arms embargo is lifted. In the end, that’s what matters.  In the end, that’s what the UN Security Council has the capacity to ensure does not take place.  I remind you to go back and look at remarks from the previous administration about the fact that the United States has the unambiguous right, without the consent of any other nation, to ensure that this arms embargo stays in place.  This administration is going to do everything we can to make sure that that happens to keep not only American people safe but to reduce instability in the Middle East.

 

QUESTION:  I have two for you on Iran if I may.  One, on the arms embargo.  I was curious if the U.S. is willing to accept a temporary extension to potentially get Russia and China to go along with it.  I was hoping you could get into the specifics of what terms are acceptable.  And on the larger nuclear violations that the U.S. and now the IAEA have identified, are we looking at a menu of options for repercussions for this, and specifically, might snapback be one of those options on the menu?  I was hoping you could touch on that specifically, because it seems some are making the argument that snapback accounts for the arms embargo and of course all other restrictions.  So I was hoping you could talk about that a bit.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So, first of all, our objective is not to extend the arms embargo for another short period of time.  That’s how we got into this mess, right.  The arms embargo should be lifted when the Islamic Republic of Iran begins to behave in a way that is consistent with the ability to move arms around the world, to purchase – to act in a way that’s consistent with the way normal nations act.

So it’s not a time-limited matter, it’s a conditions-based matter, and our objective is to make sure that the lifting of that arms embargo is conditions-based.  And when the time is right, happy to let it happen tomorrow, but extending it for six months or a year or two years fundamentally falls into the same trap that the previous administration fell into.  I know this is a bit of a strawman argument:  What if you got 20 years, what if you got 50 years, what if you got 100 years?  I don’t want to talk about anything specific.  But our objective is very clearly to say that the lifting of that arms embargo is not appropriate until such time as the world can be assured that these folks won’t use those weapon systems or the money that flows from the sale of those weapon systems are for malign purposes.

As for the other provisions, what’s happening at the IAEA, make sure everybody’s up to speed.  The IAEA filed a report that made very clear that the Iranians have failed to allow access to two sites that are suspected of potentially having engaged in nuclear activity related to their previous programs, programs that predate the JCPOA.  The Iranians continue to deny access to the IAEA.  This is not about the JCPOA, this is about the NPT framework, the safeguards provisions that every nuclear power signs up for and that the Iranians have agreed to.  This is outside and separate from the JCPOA.  It’s never been the case before that a regime has denied access to the IAEA.  And so, yes, in terms of how we’re thinking about responding, we hope the world will see that this is a serious risk to the entire nonproliferation regime, and the United States is prepared to lead to come up with responses to this which would be appropriate and consistent with protecting and preserving that regime against Iranian intransigence that is entirely inappropriate.

I hope the Iranians will change their mind to allow full IAEA unfettered, repeated, consistent access.  To date, they’ve chosen not to do so.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, yesterday following your speech at the Security Council, the German representative said the U.S. has no standing in this meeting to invoke UN sanctions, and by doing so you would be violating the international law.  How do you comment on that?  And to what extent would the snapback be efficient if it is not supported by your allies, by your European allies?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So two things.  I don’t want to get into the legal analysis that you’re suggesting.  We have the full authority to go exercise that right.  As a participant in UN Security Council Resolution 2231, we are highly confident that we have the right to exercise that.  It is not our first objective.  We hope that the UN Security Council, the Chinese, the Russians, every partner there, will see that it is in their best interest to deny Iran this benefit that comes when they have not changed their behavior one lick.  And so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to do this without having to go through a complex, difficult process at the UN.  So that’s our – certainly our objective.  And we think – we think we’ll prevail.

We think as we get closer, the world will see – if you are a citizen living in Brussels or you’re someone in Athens, do you really want the Iranian regime to have Chinese fighter planes?  I don’t think so.  I think – I think the Government of Greece will conclude the same thing.  If you’re – if you’re sitting in Finland and you’re trying to sort your way through about whether it’s a good idea for the Russians to be able to have another partner who they sell weapons to, I think these – I think each nation will conclude this is a bad idea, they will regret that the JCPOA allowed this to expire, and they’ll join us in this.

It is certainly a full-fledged diplomatic effort that we’re engaged in to convince the world that this is the right outcome not just for the United States, but go talk to our partners in Saudi Arabia or the Emirates and Kuwait.  They know, too, that if Iran is allowed to become an arms merchant again, instability in the Middle East will flow.

  

UNITED STATES SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAN AND SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE SECRETARY BRIAN HOOK VISITED VIENNA, AUSTRIA, ON JULY 1, 2020, FOR CONSULTATIONS ON IRAN.

 

  • Special Representative Hook met with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg to discuss the expiration of the UN arms embargo on Iran. Hook also met with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi to discuss the IAEA’s verification work in Iran and express full support for the Agency’s professionalism and objectivity. The Iranian regime must comply with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, and Additional Protocol by providing the IAEA with the information and access required under its agreements.

 

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAN AND SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE SECRETARY BRIAN HOOK VISITS ISRAEL FOR CONSULTATIONS ON IRAN, JULY 1.

  • Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State Brian Hook held discussions on Iran with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem, Israel on June 30, 2020.
  • Special Representative Hook and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed joint efforts to counter Iranian malign activity in the region and deny Iran the resources it needs to fuel terrorism and fund proxies. They also discussed the importance of extending the United Nations arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire on October 18, 2020. The United States and Israel are committed to ensuring arms restrictions on Iran do not expire. Special Representative Hook and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi discussed the ongoing diplomatic cooperation between Israel and the United States across a range of areas and underscored our shared values and interests. Special Representative Hook reiterated the United States’ steadfast commitment to Israel’s security.

  

FACTSHEET:  UN REPORT EXPOSES IRAN’S DEFIANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS, JUNE 30.

 

  • This latest report on UNSCR 2231 implementation, published by the United Nations Secretary-General based on an impartial evaluation of the available evidence, confirms what the United States has said all along: Iran continues to use its arsenal of conventional weapons to destabilize the Middle East and foment sectarian violence and terrorism across the region.
  • The report determines that the weapons used to attack Saudi Arabia in September 2019 were of Iranian origin. Iran intentionally misled the world by claiming that the Houthis were responsible for the attack last September. This new finding by the UN Secretary-General underscores Iran’s connection to the brazen attack on Saudi Arabia.
  • The UNSCR 2231 report also concludes that arms and related materiel seized off the coast of Yemen in November 2019 and February 2020 were of Iranian origin. The fact these items were seized outside of Iran is indicative of an arms embargo violation by Iran.
  • The report also details troubling ballistic missile activity that defies calls the Security Council has made repeatedly on Iran, and it notes equally troubling nuclear activity by Iran, which has ceased performing key nuclear commitments under the JCPOA.
  • Iran continues to defy the Security Council by providing arms to groups abroad in contravention of the arms embargo, including to proxy groups and terrorist organizations across the Middle East, such as in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain. These groups use Iranian weapons, training, and funding to destabilize the region and spread violence. Failing to extend the arms embargo in light of this activity will risk greater violence and instability in the region. With fewer arms restrictions, Iran will transfer even more weapons.
  • In light of the report’s findings and Iran’s repeated violations of the arms embargo, the Security Council must act to exert greater pressure on Iran, not less. At no point in the last decade has Iran’s behavior shown it would be appropriate to lift the arms embargo.
  • The draft resolution circulated by the United States is consistent with United Nations precedent. The UN has maintained arms restrictions on Iran for 13 years. The resolution we have circulated would extend restrictions on Iran indefinitely, until its behavior changes. The embargo should never have been given an arbitrary end date under UNSCR 2231. The restrictions should not be removed until Iran demonstrates a credible change in its behavior.

REMARKS BY SECRETARY MICHAEL R. POMPEO AT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE IRAN ARMS EMBARGO, JUNE 30.

 

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you, Nicolas.  Thanks for the couple words in English there.  I appreciate that.

Good morning, everyone.  Good to see you, Secretary General.  Rosemary, thank you for your comments this morning.  I would like to say you made some comments about humanitarian assistance inside of Iran.  The United States has tried to facilitate that, in light of the COVID issues inside of Iran.  Indeed, we offered our own American assistance to the Iranians, which was rejected by them.  So to suggest somehow that our sanctions have prevented humanitarian assistance to get into Iran I think is a misunderstanding of the situation on the ground.

Because of the flawed nuclear deal negotiated by the previous American administration, the arms embargo on the world’s most heinous terrorist regime is scheduled to expire on October 18th, a mere four months from now.  Four months.

This chamber has a choice:  Stand for international peace and security, as the United Nations’ founders intended, or let the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran expire, betraying the UN’s mission and its finest ideals, which we have all pledged to uphold.

If you fail to act, Iran will be free to purchase Russian-made fighter jets that can strike up to a 3,000 kilometer radius, putting cities like Riyadh, New Delhi, Rome, and Warsaw in Iranian crosshairs.

Iran will be free to upgrade and expand its fleet of submarines to further threaten international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea.

Iran will be free to purchase new and advanced technologies for its proxies and partners throughout the Middle East, including Hamas, Hizballah, and the Houthis.

Iran will hold a sword of Damocles over the economic stability of the Middle East, endangering nations like Russia and China that rely on stable energy prices.

Iran will be free to become a rogue weapons dealer, supplying arms to fuel conflicts from Venezuela, to Syria, to the far reaches of Afghanistan.

In November of last year, President Rouhani himself said, quote, “When the embargo . . . is lifted next year, we can easily buy and sell weapons,” end of quote.  We should take him at his word.

Iran is not a responsible democracy like Australia or India.  We already know that Tehran will do, if given the ability to buy more weaponry.

Just consider the secretary general’s UNSCR 2231 report that we’re discussing today.  The report confirmed that weapons used to attack Saudi Arabia in September 2019 were of Iranian origin.  The report has also confirmed the weapons interdicted off the coast of Yemen in November of 2019 and February 2020 were of Iranian origin.

Iran is already violating the arms embargo, even before its expiration date.  Imagine if Iranian activity were sanctioned, authorized by this group, if the restrictions were lifted.

And we don’t need the secretary general’s report to see what else the regime is doing.  In January, Iran launched an attack on the coalition forces in Iraq with its own advanced missiles.

Iran, even as we sit here today, supplies Shia militia groups like Kata’ib Hizballah – groups which have launched dozens of rocket attacks since the fall of last year against U.S. and coalition forces fighting the important continued important campaign against Daesh.

Iran unleashes ship-mining attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Oman, as it did in May and June of last year.

Nearly all countries have arms.  Mature nations use them for defensive purposes and to promote stability.

But not the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Don’t just take it from me or from the United States; listen to countries in the region.  From Israel to the Gulf, countries in the Middle East – who are most exposed to Iran’s predations – are speaking with a single voice:  Extend the arms embargo.

This council has a responsibility to listen to them.

The United States’ overwhelming preference is to work with this council to extend the arms embargo to protect human life, to protect our national security, and to protect yours.

We’ve imposed arms restrictions on Tehran in various forms for 13 years, and with good reason, and to substantial effect.

When we unanimously adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1747 back in 2007 – which, among other actions, prohibited arms transfers from Iran – the United Kingdom’s representative to the council said, quote, “The path of proliferation by Iran is not one that the international community can accept,” end of quote.

I welcome the statement from the United Kingdom, from France and Germany, recently recognizing that lifting the embargo would have major implications for regional security and stability.

I also welcome the support of almost 400 members of the United States Congress.  For those of you not tracking, there’s only 435.  Those almost 400 members supported my diplomacy to extend this arms embargo.  Our concern is a matter of national security, not partisan politics.

We saw from Iran’s actions while implementing the JCPOA that the regime doesn’t moderate when we lift sanctions or weaken accountability.

In fact, it does just the opposite.

While still claiming to remain in the deal, Iran, by its own admission, and as confirmed by the IAEA, is showing no signs of slowing its destabilizing nuclear escalation.

Iran is also accumulating dangerous knowledge.  For example, late last year Iran announced that its scientists were working on a new centrifuge – the IR-9 – that would allow Tehran to enrich uranium up to 50 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges allowed under the JCPOA.

Even as Iran pursues research that could threaten its breakout time to a nuclear weapon, it’s also denied IAEA inspections access to locations Iran is obligated to provide.

This council cannot simply hope that Iran acts in good faith, given its indisputable fact pattern.

The council must hold Iran accountable.  And we all have the chance to do so.

I’ll close with this.  I’ll close with an appeal to our greater purpose.

Article I of the UN Charter says the purpose of the UN is to “take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to … peace.”

Consider the overwhelming evidence that I’ve detailed today.  It’s a fraction of the evidence available.  If Iran isn’t a threat to peace that demands a collective measure, I do not know what is.

The council must reject extortion diplomacy.  President Rouhani recently declared, quote, “Iran will give a crushing response if the arms embargo on Tehran is extended.”  End of quote.

Given the Iranian regime’s history of resorting to terrorism and violence, perhaps we should take this threat seriously.  Iran’s foreign minister will speak today.  I hope he’ll tell us – I hope he’ll tell us whom he intends to crush and how he will crush them.

Renewing the embargo will exert more pressure on Tehran to start behaving like a normal nation.

The world needs this to happen.  The long-suffering Iranian people need this to happen.

Seventy-five years ago, the founders of the UN came together after the devastation of World War II to ensure that the world would never again have to face such horrors.

Let’s not shrink from the challenge before us simply because the path ahead seems hard.

Let’s uphold the mission of this body to address the threats to international peace and security that the Islamic Republic of Iran presents.

And let’s take real action in the name of this council by extending the arms embargo.

Thank you all for allowing me to be here today.

 

THE UNITED STATES AND THE KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON IRAN ARMS EMBARGO FOLLOWING CONSULTATIONS

  • Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State of the United States, Brian Hook, held discussions on Iran with His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister and His Excellency Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani on June 29, 2020. At the conclusion of the consultations, the Governments of the United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain released the following joint statement:
  • The United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain share a strong and enduring commitment to countering Iranian aggression. The Islamic Republic of Iran has sought to undermine the stability and security of Bahrain by fomenting sectarian tensions and providing arms to proxy groups and terrorists. Yet despite Iran’s efforts, Bahrain has remained true to its values and continues to prioritize the peaceful coexistence and religious freedom of all its people. The United States remains committed to Bahrain’s security and to our deep and effective partnerships to counter Iran-backed terror.
  • In recognizing the grave threat posed by Iranian arms transfers in the region broadly and in Bahrain specifically, the United States and Bahrain call upon the United Nations Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran before it expires. The embargo is an important tool to counter Iran’s proliferation of arms to proxies. It promotes greater regional stability and holds Iran accountable for its actions. We have seen what Iran is capable of in its attack on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019. If the international community fails to extend the embargo, the Kingdom of Bahrain and neighboring partners will suffer the consequences of a destabilizing arms race. The Security Council must uphold its responsibility to maintain international peace and security and extend the arms embargo on Iran. 

 

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAN AND SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE SECRETARY BRIAN HOOK VISITS THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA FOR CONSULTATIONS ON IRAN, JUNE 29.

 

  • Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, Brian Hook, held discussions on Iran with His Royal Highness Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, His Highness Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, His Excellency Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, and His Excellency Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 29, 2020.
  • Special Representative Hook and Saudi officials highlighted the importance of extending the United Nations arms embargo on Iran, which expires on October 18, 2020. They discussed joint diplomatic efforts at the UN and around the world to extend the embargo. Saudi officials briefed Special Representative Hook on their commitment to a political solution to the conflict in Yemen and de-escalating violence. Special Representative Hook reaffirmed the United States’ support of a negotiated end to the conflict and condemned recent Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia. He further reiterated the United States’ unwavering commitment to the security and stability of Saudi Arabia.

 

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAN AND SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE SECRETARY BRIAN HOOK VISITS THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FOR CONSULTATIONS ON IRAN, JUNE 28.

 

  • United States Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Brian Hook visited the United Arab Emirates June 27-28, 2020. During the visit, Special Representative Hook met with His Highness Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Excellency Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority Khaldoon Khalifa al-Mubarak. They discussed extending the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expires on October 18, 2020. Special Representative Hook updated Emirati officials on diplomatic efforts to extend the embargo and they discussed the risk of an arms race in the region if the embargo is not renewed.

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

@SecPompeo July 1

The Iranian regime doesn’t deserve to have its arms embargo lifted- it hasn’t abided by current restrictions and continues to commit violations. Iran cannot be trusted to act like a responsible nation when it continues threatening other nations and supporting terrorist activity.

 

@statedeptspox July 1

The Iranian regime cannot be trusted to act like a normal nation without restrictions. @SecPompeo made it clear to the UN Security Council: The long-suffering Iranian people and the rest of the world need the arms embargo to be renewed to ensure peace and stability.

@SecPompeo June 26

Iran’s refusal to cooperate is separate from the JCPOA; this is all about whether Iran is honoring its own legally binding safeguards obligations. If Iran fails to cooperate with its IAEA obligations, the international community must be prepared to take further action.

 

 

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 Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Finnish Foreign Minister Haavisto

2 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and discussed the importance of securing 5G networks.  Secretary Pompeo expressed appreciation for Finland’s significant contributions on global security issues, especially for development, humanitarian, and security assistance in Afghanistan.

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