Removing Cuba’s Military from the Remittance Process

24 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Yesterday, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action to remove Cuba’s military from the process of sending remittances to Cuba. Once these changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) are effective, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will no longer be authorized to process remittances to or from Cuba involving any entity or sub-entity on the State Department’s Cuba Restricted List. These changes provide for a 30-day period before they are effective in order to allow for technical implementation. U.S. remittances to Cuba can still flow, but they will not flow through the hands of the Cuban military, which uses those funds to oppress the Cuban people and to fund Cuba’s interference in Venezuela.

The United States supports the principle that Cubans should be able to prosper and support their families without the Cuban military utilizing their hard currency earnings as it wishes. The Cuban government and military have created a system that seizes hard currency through military-operated financial mechanisms, such as FINCIMEX and AIS, and takes a cut from the remittances ordinary Cubans receive from abroad, including from the United States. Cuba is the only country in the hemisphere where the military takes a cut of remittances. Furthermore, the Cuban regime forces ordinary Cubans to use the remittances they have remaining to buy goods at marked-up prices from government-controlled stores.

Yesterday’s action demonstrates the United States’ long-standing commitment to ending economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence, and security agencies or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people.

The military of General Raul Castro will not profit from the well-intentioned, generous funds families send to the Cuban people.

The United States will continue to stand up for the Cuban people, who desire a democratic government and who deserve to have their human rights respected. As long as General Castro’s military apparatus denies freedom of religion, expression, association and so much more to the Cuban people, we will deny the regime its misappropriated resources. The Cuban people deserve the maximum benefit from their families.

 

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The United States Announces Humanitarian Assistance for the Crisis Response in Sudan

24 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States announced $81 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.  This funding includes more than $64 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and $17 million from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.  It brings the total U.S. humanitarian response for vulnerable people, including those affected by recent flooding as well as refugees and those displaced by conflict in Darfur, South Sudan, and elsewhere in the region to more than $436 million in Fiscal Year 2020, including for the COVID-19 humanitarian response.

Sudan continues to confront a number of humanitarian challenges, including significant population displacement caused by intercommunal violence, which has endangered civilians and led to deteriorating humanitarian conditions.  The lingering effects of conflict, economic shocks, and recurrent environmental hazards, such as drought and the worst flooding in more than a century, have resulted in more than nine million people in need of humanitarian assistance.  We will continue to promote unfettered humanitarian access throughout the country for humanitarian organizations, including unrestricted access to vulnerable people without requiring military or intelligence service involvement or permission.

With this funding, the United States will continue to deliver assistance to crisis-affected people in Sudan.  This assistance will provide critical protection, shelter, essential healthcare, emergency food assistance, education, and water, sanitation, and hygiene services for refugees, internally displaced people, and vulnerable host communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this protracted humanitarian crisis.  To answer these increased needs, the United States has provided more than $33 million in humanitarian assistance for the COVID-19 response in Sudan to bolster support of crisis-affected people and host communities.

In concert with this life-saving assistance, the United States will work with Sudan and others in the region to continue to create the conditions for peace and end decades of instability.  The United States will continue to stand with the people of the region as they work to build a brighter, more hopeful future, moving away from the conflicts of the past.

The United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance, both in Sudan and globally.  We appreciate all donors who have stepped up and call on others to do so transparently through the UN-coordinated international response to help the people affected by crisis in Sudan.

 

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Joint Statement: The Summit on Women’s Leadership in STEM The following is the text of a joint statement from Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States

24 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The Summit on Women’s Leadership in STEM

Joint Statement from Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States

October 23, 2020

Special Assistant to the Foreign Minister of Japan and Ambassador in Charge of Women’s Issues Atsuko Nishimura, the Republic of Korea’s Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs Lee Seong-ho, and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Kelley Currie led the second Japan-Republic of Korea-United States Women’s Empowerment Trilateral Conference on October 19 – 23, 2020, from Tokyo, Seoul, and Washington, D.C.

This year’s Summit focused on Women’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), bringing together more than 47 leaders from government, business, and civil society to emphasize the vital role women play in advancing global STEM initiatives. The discussion also focused on the future of the economic growth and prosperity of the three countries. More than 500 people registered for the interactive, virtual conference from 33 other countries around the world.

Employment in STEM occupations is projected to increase significantly over the next ten years compared to other industries.  During the summit, participants discussed ways to work together to remove barriers to women’s participation in STEM industries. Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States reiterated their continued commitment to trilateral cooperation and to seeking new opportunities for collaboration on regional and global issues. All three countries further acknowledged and recognized the barriers that continue to keep women from fully participating in the global economy, and committed to exploring new, effective programs and hosting a Women’s Empowerment trilateral meeting in the future to bring together women and girls including through exchange programs.

Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States also will seek to work together to advance the goals of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative to support women around the world, including workforce and training opportunities for women in STEM.

To learn more, or to watch the videos and panels from the summit, please visit: womenstemleaders.com/.

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Zambia National Day

24 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

As they celebrate the Republic of Zambia’s 56th Independence Day, it is my pleasure to congratulate all Zambians on behalf of the Government of the United States and the American people.

Zambia and the United States enjoy a multifaceted bilateral relationship.  Our well-established partnerships to improve health outcomes for Zambians are even more salient as we face COVID-19 together.  Zambia continues to be a stalwart security partner through its contributions to African peace and security initiatives, and as Zambia prepares for elections in 2021, we look forward to its efforts to ensure space for all voices.

We send best wishes to Zambia on this important day.

 

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U.S.-Bulgaria Sign Nuclear Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding

24 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

Today, the United States and Bulgaria signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Strategic Civil Nuclear Cooperation (NCMOU), which will further strengthen the diplomatic and economic ties between our two nations. This NCMOU bolsters our bilateral strategic relationship while deepening our cooperation on energy security.

Nuclear Cooperation MOUs are diplomatic mechanisms that strengthen and expand strategic ties between the United States and a partner country by providing a framework for cooperation on civil nuclear issues and for engagement between experts from government, industry, national laboratories, and academic institutions.

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United States Sanctions Five Iranian Entities and Watchlists IRGC Cyber Actors for Interfering in Our Elections

23 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections. The whole of the U.S. government is using all the tools at our disposal to target those who attempt to interfere in our democratic process. Yesterday’s action sanctions five Iranian entities pursuant to Executive Order 13848 for their efforts to spread disinformation and undermine our elections. We are also adding several cyber actors to our terrorist watch list and databases for their known association with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist, which will effectively prevent those individuals and their families from traveling to the United States.

For far too long, the Iranian regime has used its state propaganda machine to lie to the Iranian people and fan the flames of hatred against the United States. Iran has now deployed some of the same propaganda and media infrastructure in an attempt to undermine elections in the United States. The five entities designated – the IRGC, the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), and International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) – have engaged directly or indirectly in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in, foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, or are owned or controlled by entities engaged in such activity.

Through covert media operations, including targeted disinformation efforts directed at U.S. voters, the Iranian regime has demonstrated its intent is to undermine American elections. Over the past few months, Bayan Gostar, a front company for IRGC-QF propaganda efforts, has actively planned influence operations involving U.S. elections. IRTVU and IUVM appear to be propaganda arms of the Iranian regime that assisted in these efforts.

The individuals added to the terrorist watchlist are known members of the IRGC’s cyber operations unit. Those with the technical and educational skills required to carry out malicious cyber acts should take note; we will hold accountable those who join the IRGC and carry out malicious cyber activities. Talented Iranians should use their skills to promote peace and foster prosperity for their families, not assist the Islamic Republic in conducting its oppression at home and spreading terror abroad.

For more information about yesterday’s designations, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release.

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United States Sanctions Russian Government Research Institution

23 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States remains steadfast in countering malign cyber activities by Russian actors on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation. Today, we designated a Russian government research institution directly connected to the destructive and life-threatening Triton malware – also known as TRISIS and HatMan– pursuant to Section 224 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

The Triton malware was designed to specifically target and manipulate industrial safety systems. Such systems provide for the safe emergency shutdown of industrial processes at critical infrastructure facilities in order to protect human life. Today’s designation of the State Research Center of the Russian Federation FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM), a Russian government-controlled research institution responsible for building customized tools that enable Triton malware attacks, highlights the threat the Russian government poses to cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. In 2017, a cyber-attack using Triton malware disrupted operations at a petrochemical plant in the Middle East. Additionally, the actors behind the malware have reportedly scanned and probed U.S. facilities.

While the Russian government claims to be a responsible actor in cyberspace, it continues to engage in dangerous and malicious activities that threaten the security of the United States and our allies. We will not relent in our efforts to respond to these activities using all the tools at our disposal, including sanctions.

For more information about this action, please see the Department of the Treasury press release.

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