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We are heartened to learn that the Iranian regime backed off their plans to execute three men for protests. The U.S. will always stand with the Iranian people and we call for justice for the many others still at risk of torture and execution. Pressure works! #StopExecutionsInIran” 

–Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, Tweet, July 22, 2020



Iran and China, the Totalitarian Twins: Their ‘partnership’ is less than meets the eye, but it does reveal commonalities between the two regimes.


SECRETARY POMPEO: Welcome. I want to start by marking two anniversaries. First, on July 11th, the United States and Vietnam celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Quite an achievement.

And second, this week marks the anniversaries of two terrorist attacks by Iran-backed Hizballah: the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the 2012 suicide bomb targeting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. We continue to exert maximum pressure on Tehran and call on all responsible nations to join us in that.

QUESTION: Aha, well, good morning and greetings from my basement. Mr. Secretary, it’s been a long time. I’m sure you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you.

Can I ask (inaudible) things really quickly? One, on the Nord Stream and TurkStream sanctions, you’re saying, if I get this correctly, that any company that is involved in this, even those who had been previously grandfathered in with sanctions exemptions, are now subject to those sanctions. Is that correct, number one?

And then secondly, on Iran, you guys had talked about the idea of bringing the arms embargo extension resolution to the Security Council as early as this week, and that doesn’t look like it’s happening now. And I’m just wondering, are you hoping to staunch some of the opposition that you’re seeing to the resolution from the Europeans and others with a little bit more time for diplomacy? Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Matt. It’s good to hear your voice. On the first one, so what State Department’s action today is we’re going to revise the guidance, and you’ll see that. I’ll let Frank Fannon talk to you about the details of its implementation and its execution. But make – I think we should be very clear: Our expectation is that those who participate in the continued project will be subject to review for potential consequences related to that activity.

As for Iran and timing, you suggested that we’ve delayed because of opposition. In fact, virtually everyone agrees that the arms embargo should be extended. Our European counterparts too are very concerned about what will happen if the arms embargo itself expires on October 18th of this year. And so there’s enormous consensus around the objective. How to achieve that objective, there’s different views on. We’ve made clear to – both publicly and in private to all the members of the Security Council – we intend to ensure that this arms embargo continues. We hope that this can be done by a UN Security Council resolution that all of the permanent members sign up for, and indeed every member of the larger UN Security Council.

But in the event that that’s not the case, we are still going to do everything in our power to achieve that, and we think we’ll be successful ultimately in doing that. The precise timing of that, we’re going to keep to ourselves until such time as we’re ready to move to the UN Security Council and introduce the resolution. We’re not that far away from doing that, Matt.

QUESTION: In our interview a little over a year ago, Mr. Secretary, I asked you if you considered Iran to be an evil regime, and you said quite simply, “Yes.” I’m wondering if, as a member of the Trump administration, as a seasoned student of and practitioner of international relations, or simply as a devout Christian, you regard China as an evil regime.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I appreciate your question. I’m going to leave my comments for today precisely where it is. I will tell you, the things that are happening on a human rights scale, I’ve described it as the stain of the century. I stand by those remarks.

QUESTION: Two questions, if I may. The first one is on China and Iran. The second one is on China and Taiwan. I would like to – what is your assessment of the prospective trade and military partnership between Iran and China, and how would you respond to criticism that the U.S. sanctions have further strengthened the alliance between the two countries?

And separately, if I may, on Taiwan and China. What is – what is your comment on China’s threats to impose sanctions on American company Lockheed Martin over U.S. arms sale to Taiwan? What is the calculation of the State Department when it approved the arms sale to Taiwan? And should U.S. companies be punished when the U.S. Government is implementing the Taiwan Relations Act? Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. So your second question is easy – no, of course not. We had an American company conducting business that was consistent with American foreign policy, the policy of the arms sales that we made to Taiwan. I regret that the Chinese Communist Party chose to make that threat against Lockheed Martin. It’s not the first time they’ve chosen to do that to an American contractor who was working on a program that was between the United States and Taiwan, so I regret that. I hope they’ll reconsider that and not follow through on the remarks that were made yesterday or the day before when they made them.

Your first question was about Iran and China. I mean, we all, a little history is in order, right? Think about a long time ago – Persia. And the relationship, this is not brand-new. But I think what you saw in the reporting there, and something we’ve been following, is evidence of a couple simple things. First, the need to extend the arms embargo, right? Now we have a reporting that suggests that not only when the arms embargo will expire does the Secretary of State of the United States believe that China will sell weapons systems to Iran, but the Iranians believe that China will sell systems to Iran. And indeed, they have been working on it, waiting for this day, waiting for midnight on October 18th for this arms embargo to expire. I think Europeans should stare at that and realize that the risk of this is real and that the work between Iran and the Chinese Communist Party may well commence rapidly and robustly on October 19th if we’re not successful at extending the UN arms embargo.

As for the larger picture, we have a set of sanctions related to any company or country that engages in activity with Iran. The sanctions are clear. We have been unambiguous about enforcing them against our companies from allies, countries from all across the world. We would certainly do that with respect to activity between Iran and China as well.


QUESTION: And moving – you mentioned Iran. Iran has I guess admitted that it’s building missile cities and that it has a space vehicle program, and we know that they’ve also provided support to the Venezuelan Government. The embargo ends in October. What do you think will happen this fall with regard to Iran sanctions and the embargo?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So I’ll mention only one more thing as a predicate to the answer to that question. There was a news story yesterday about an arrangement between China and Iran that was at least being contemplated. I think that’s very telling about what will happen on October 19th when the current embargo for Iran that prevents Iran from both purchasing most weapon systems and being – and acting as an arms dealer. It would be tragic. This was one of the central failings of the JCPOA, just that that was but a roughly five-year hiatus in Iran being the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and one of its larger sellers of arms to bad actors around the world.

We will work with the UN Security Council to ensure that the arms embargo is extended, and I’m confident that we’ll get that outcome. I believe we have all the tools that we need. I hope we can solve it diplomatically. I hope we can convince the P5 that it’s the right thing to do to extend this arms embargo, to make it an indefinite arms embargo until the Islamic Republic of Iran changes its ways, but in the event we can’t convince them, I’m confident that we have a legal basis and a path forward so that we can, as President Obama reminded us, unilaterally reimpose all of those sanctions. We don’t need approval of anyone. I can find you 15 quotes from Secretary Kerry, from Wendy Sherman, from Barack Obama that reminded the American people that the United States had the unilateral right to reimpose all of those sanctions if we were unhappy with the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I can assure you this administration is not pleased by Iran’s behavior and we’re going to ensure that this arms embargo doesn’t expire in October.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate a little bit more on Iran’s role in countries such as Venezuela, for example? I don’t think people understand that very well.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, they’re trying to sell – so they’re trying to sell them gasoline. They’re trying to move resource to them. It’s difficult to heavily sanctioned nations – so it’s hard for them to move money around the world, and we’re making it as difficult as possible for them to violate those sanctions. We’re trying to enforce those sanctions with as much efficacy as we can. We don’t always succeed, but I’m confident that we will continue to raise the cost for those two to do business together and reduce the risk that they will come to each other’s salvation.


We reject the report and opinions released today by UN Special Rapporteur Callamard related to the U.S. strike that killed Islamic Republic Guard Corps Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. Ms. Callamard’s conclusions are spurious. The strike that killed General Soleimani was in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in preceding months by the Islamic Republic of Iran and militias it supports on U.S. forces and interests in the Middle East region. It was conducted to deter Iran from launching or supporting further attacks against the United States or U.S. interests, and to degrade the capabilities of the Qods Force.

The United States is transparent regarding the international law basis for the strike. As we outlined in a January 8, 2020, letter to the UN Security Council submitted in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, the strike was undertaken in the exercise of the United States’ inherent right of self- defense. As the President said on January 2, “We will always protect our diplomats, service members, and all Americans.”


QUESTION: Yes, hi, good morning. Thanks for doing this. I have a quick question. Not sure if you saw the news that Iran is claiming to have built missile cities. So my question to you, Mr. Secretary: With the embargo expiring in October, and the missile threat is increasing from Iran, are you holding any discussion with the GCC allies? Are you planning to boost their defenses given the current reality of things?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Joyce, thanks for the question. So yes, we remain concerned about missile proliferation – frankly throughout the region, certainly from the Islamic Republic of Iran. They continue to work on their missile program in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. It’s the reason we think it is so important that the world unite to extend the arms embargo that expires just a handful of months from now in the middle of October. We think that would be tragically dangerous for the region and create instability throughout the Middle East.

And yes, we’ve been working with our Gulf state partners, not only to get them to assist the United States effort to extend this arms embargo – which is very, very important for them – but second, we’ve provided a great deal of assistance. You see all kinds of U.S. sales of weapons – those are all public – and things that we can do both publicly and otherwise to help provide security in the face of an increasing capability of the Iranians to fire missiles all throughout the region, and ultimately establish a set of missile capabilities that is robust enough to defeat missile defenses throughout the region, but strike in places that go beyond even just their near neighborhood.

I’ll give you an example. We watch as they continue to try and build out their space launch vehicle program. They would, of course, claim this is for a civilian purpose, to put commercial satellites up. I think the world’s smarter than that. I think the world recognizes that program as being deeply connected to their desire to have longer and longer range missile systems that they can use to hold hostage the world.


@statedeptspox July 20

Important op-ed by @State_E Keith Krach and Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook on China and Iran’s “strategic partnership”, born of desperation between two dishonest regimes that pride themselves on propaganda.

@realDonaldTrump July 15

Three individuals were sentenced to death in Iran for participating in protests. The execution is expected momentarily. Executing these three people sends a terrible signal to the world and should not be done! #StopExecutionsInIran 

@SecPompeo July 16

Millions of people suffer extreme forms of deprivation under harsh authoritarian regimes such as China, Iran, and Russia. The Commission on  #UnalienableRights  Report reminds us of the urgent need for the U.S. to champion human rights in our foreign policy.

@SecPompeo July 10

The @UN  Security Council must extend the Iran arms embargo on Iran to prevent further conflict around the region.

@statedeptspox July 9

24 years ago, Iran-sponsored terrorists killed 19 Americans at the Khobar Towers and injured hundreds more. A U.S. court has once again found Iran liable to pay damages to victims and their families. Justice is overdue for the many victims of Iranian-supported terror.

@SecPompeo July 9

We reject the UN Special Rapporteur’s spurious report on targeted killings through armed drones in the case of Iranian General Quassem Soleimani. The United States has been transparent regarding the international law basis for the strike and will always act to protect America.

@SecPompeo July 9

On June 28, U.S. and partner forces interdicted a vessel off the coast of Yemen carrying illicit Iranian-origin cargo including surface-to-air and land-attack missiles, anti-tank missiles, hundreds of RPGs and rifles, & many other advanced weapons. The UN must #ExtendTheEmbargo. 

U.S. Department of State

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