Get involved with Israeli Apartheid Week

mail@bdsnationalcommittee.org

Want to support Palestinian freedom, justice and equality?

Join #IsraeliApartheidWeek 2016

Each year, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) takes place in more than 150 universities and cities across the world. With creative education and action, IAW aims to raise awareness about Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people and build support for the nonviolent Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In response to the impressive growth of BDS in the last few years, Israel and its right-wing allies in the west have launched repressive, anti-democratic attacks on the movement and the right to boycott, instead of fulfilling their obligations to end Israel’s violations of international law. This makes this year’s #IsraeliApartheidWeek more crucial than ever.

Support Palestinian popular resistance to oppression–join IAW 2016.

Check out apartheidweek.org and #IsraeliApartheidWeek to find out what’s happening in your area. More events in different cities are being added all the time, so do check back if there’s nothing in your city listed yet. 

Want to organise #IsraeliApartheidWeek events on your campus or in your city? Register your organisation here and you’ll receive an info pack full of ideas about how to organise #IsraeliApartheidWeek.

Dates:
UK: February 22-28
Europe: February 29-March 7
Palestine: March 1-10
South Africa: March 7-13
Arab World: March 20-26
US: various, including March 27-April 3
Latin America: April 10-24
Canada: various throughout March, check with local organisers

Human Rights Newsletter

mazin@qumsiyeh.org

Gratitude blog available here where you can leave comments

http://popular-resistance.blogspot.com/2016/02/grateful.html

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming

gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible

odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get

activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people

deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people

to work.  Our tiny little small part of the world (Palestine now an

apartheid sate called a “Jewish state”) has become a major center of global

activism. This centrality can be due to many factors:

1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked

for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity –> Crusaderism),

the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked

(Judaism –>Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas

beginning to be hijacked (Islam –> Isis and Wahhabism).

2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than

in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human

rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and

engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing

(so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people).

Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda.

3. The 12 million Palestinians in the world, most refugees and others

squeezed into bantustans have been remarkably peaceful and tolerant and had

a long history of popular resistance for the past 130 years that provided a

stellar example to the world (see my 2012 book “Popular Resistance in

Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”).

4. Israeli citizens and the global community are increasingly joining hands

with us to demand justice as the only road to peace.

5. More and more people realize that peace in the “Middle East” (Western

Asia) and around the world is dependent on peace for Palestine. Zionism

with its (sometimes dominant, sometimes subservient) twin US imperialism

are and have been most destructive forces in causing global conflict.

But what really gives us optimism daily are the people we interact with.

Students at the universities who see the importance of knowledge (power)

and come to school with enthusiasm even in the face of suppression of their

movement. Farmers that work hard in their fields even as land and water are

being taken from them by the occupiers. Unarmed young demonstrators showing

bravery in challenging the heavily armed Israeli forces (who occasionally

murder them). Thousands of political prisoners and “administrative

detainees” who resist the prisoners (one on hunger strike is close to

death). Activists who sometimes sacrifice comforts to be with us.

Organizers of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities around the

world who refuse to be silenced by illegal measures their governments try

to impose on them to suppress free speech. Volunteers at our activities

from refugee camp youth centers like Al-Rowwad to our Institute of

Biodiversity and Sustainability (http://www.palestinenature.org/about-us/ ).

Sometimes small actions make us retain our sanity and gives joy and meaning

to our lives. Just this past week:

– A small village of Izbet al-Tabib managed to gather 300 demonstrators

protesting the illegal confiscation of land and resources to serve settlers.

-We saved a cattle egret (bird with long legs and beak from the heron

group) which had been shot and with a macerated wing. We did an operation

that saved its life (unfortunately the wing had to be amputated).

-We released a fox that was drowning in a water treatment pool in the

Bethlehem garbage dump site.

– My tourism class did an exercise to help in a local tourism promotion

project.

-We noted several species of butterflies in our botanic garden already and

the flowers of rare orchids and even the Star of Bethlehem

-We had our first class in biodiversity for the new master program in

environmental biology at Birzeit University.

-We received dozens of visitors to our facilities and added to our very

large network of friends (now tens of thousands)

-We submitted two small grant proposals (we hope to start to do major

fundraising soon for our museum, botanical garden, and institute of

biodiversity and sustainability)

-Our aquaponic system is doing great and we expect our first harvest next

week (lettuce)

– We said goodbye to some volunteers and we welcomed others who helped us

build this institution.

We expect to receive more volunteers next week including a professor from

Jordan and an aquaponics researcher from Switzerland and at least 10

students from Bethlehem University doing their community service. We are so

grateful for all the above and we welcome volunteers and supporters with

all backgrounds and skills. We are guided by love and respect (to

ourselves, to others, then to nature). We are strengthened amid all the

suffering (here in Gaza, in Syria, in Yemen etc) by human connections and

by caring for each other.

Israeli soldiers beat detained Palestinian teenaged boys

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzw2D5iL0bg

Palestinian Teacher Among World’s Top 10

http://www.palestinechronicle.com/palestinian-teacher-among-worlds-top-10/

Reconstruction Of Gaza: Zero Buildings, Massive Profit

http://www.whoprofits.org/content/reconstruction-gaza-zero-buildings-massive-profit

Should Jews Have To Pay Reparations for Slavery? Richard Kreitner

http://forward.com/culture/213776/should-jews-have-to-pay-reparations-for-slavery/

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have

roses.” Alphonse Karr

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor and (Volunteer) Director

Palestine Museum of Natural History

Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability

Bethlehem University

Occupied Palestine

http://qumsiyeh.org

http://palestinenature.org

BDS in 2015: Seven ways our movement broke new ground against Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid

info@bdsmovement.net, mail@bdsnationalcommittee.org

The year 2015 will be remembered as the year that Palestinian popular resistance spread across historic Palestine and that saw tens of thousands of Palestinians take to the streets to resist and confront Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Ten years since the launch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, 2015 was also a landmark year for BDS, as our detailed round-up of the year shows.

To all of the amazing people whose commitment and tireless efforts are making this happen: thank you. Our collective achievements inspire us, motivate us and give us hope.

Let’s continue to build our movement in support of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

If you can, please donate to our fundraising appeal to help us grow our movement even further in 2016. We’re delighted to be offering some amazing Palesitnian spoken word poetry books and downloads as part of our fundraiser – go take a look!

If you’d like to share it, you can find this list online at http://bdsmovement.net/2015/7-ways-our-movement-broke-new-ground-13634.

1. We showed our movement can have a real economic impact on Israel

The authors of a UN report said that BDS was a key factor behind the 46% drop in foreign direct investment in Israel in 2014. The World Bank cited BDS as a key factor behind the 24% drop in Palestinian imports from Israel. The Israeli government and the Rand Corporation both published reports predicting that BDS will cost Israel billions of dollars.

Moody’s, a leading credit ratings agency, said “the Israeli economy could suffer should BDS gain greater traction.”

One senior Israeli businessman even complained that the growing strength of the BDS movement means that major European companies now avoid investing in Israel.

2. We won our incredible campaign against Veolia

French corporate giant Veolia sold off all of its businesses in Israel. This was a direct result of our 7-year campaign against its role in infrastructure projects for illegal Israeli settlements that cost it more than $20 billion in lost tenders and contracts. Our grassroots organising persuaded a corporate giant to completely abandon Israel!

And it’s not just Veolia: telecoms giant Orange responded to BDS pressure in France, Egypt and elsewhere by saying it will pull out of Israel by 2017. G4S has started talking about ending its contract with the Israeli prison service.

3. 1000+ artists joined the cultural boycott

Prominent names like Lauryn Hill and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth said they won’t perform in Israel, and more than 1000 artists across Ireland, the UK, the US and Belgium have said they support the cultural boycott of Israel.

Donate now: Help us build an even stronger BDS movement in 2016

4. The academic boycott went more mainstream across the world

Israeli universities play a key role in planning and whitewashing Israel’s crimes but now academics across the world are taking effective action.

Major academic associations in the US including the American Anthropological Association conference and the US National Women’s Studies Association have voted to endorse BDS.

More than 500 UK academics, 450 Belgian academics1,600 academics and academic staff in Spain and more than 200 South African academics have all signed statements in support of the academic boycott.

5. Our movement is spreading to new areas and winning new support

New BDS coalitions have been established in Malaysia and Egypt and BDS is growing rapidly in Latin America and the Arab world.

Major trade union bodies like the Connecticut branch of AFL-CIO and the Quebec Confederation of National Trade Unions joined the dozens of national trade unions that already support BDS.

6. Justice for Palestine has become a key issue for students and youth across the world

Divestment motions were passed at Stanford, Princeton, the University of California and 6 other US campuses, and the UK National Union of Students joined the 30+ individual campus student unions that already support BDS.

Israeli Apartheid Week took place in more than 150 cities. Student groups are getting organised across Europe, Canada, South Africa and Latin America.

7. Israel’s reaction shows that our “soft” power is having a real impact

Israel knows it is losing the argument and is throwing everything it has at sabotaging our movement, dedicating money, government staff and apparently even its security services to undermining BDS. Israel is exporting its mentality of repression and getting its allies in the west to run McCarthyite attacks on free speech in the US, France, the UK, Italy, Canada and elsewhere.

One has to be inspired to inspire others. In the BDS movement, we are definitely inspired, motivated and full of hope. Help us not only in seeking freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people but also in proving that the hegemonic powers that be around the world can also be held to account in the pursuit of justice everywhere.

 

Call out: International BDS wave of solidarity with Palestinian Popular Resistance #SolidarityWaveBDS

Starting this weekend October 16-18
Solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance! Boycott Israel now!

#SolidarityWaveBDS

http://www.bdsmovement.net/2015/call-out-international-wave-of-solidarity-with-palestine-13334

A new generation of Palestinians is marching on the footsteps of previous generations, rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have joined demonstrations taking place in dozens of cities across historic Palestine and in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries.

Starting this weekend, join an international wave of action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. People of conscience who want to stand with the Palestinian struggle are urged to take action and develop Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions efforts. This would strongly convey to Palestinians that they are not alone.

The ongoing, youth-led Palestinian uprising is a response to Israel’s intensifying ethnic cleansing and oppression of Palestinians, especially in occupied Jerusalem. In recent months, Israel has sped up its theft of Palestinian land and demolition of Palestinians homes, stepped up its racist attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, tightened the siege on Gaza and implemented new racist measures against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Israel and its fundamentalist settler terror groups are savagely attacking Palestinian protests, executing Palestinian children and youth in the street and have left more than 1,000 with life-changing injuries.

An effective international response is urgently needed to pressure governments, institutions and corporations to end their role in Israel’s crimes.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which leads the global BDS movement, is a broad coalition of Palestinian unions and organisations, many of which are involved in popular resistance. The BNC is calling for a wave of action this weekend in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle starting this weekend, October 16-18.

Let’s take international solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance to the next level through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS):

  • Call for a military embargo and other sanctions against Israel at all protests and creative direct actions.
  • Maximize the benefit of solidarity protests by calling for BDS campaigns in all fields to further isolate Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid, as was done to apartheid South Africa.
  • Campaign against complicit international companies, such as G4S and HP, and Israeli companies, such as Elbit Systems, that participate in Israel’s infrastructure of oppression.
  • Organize events, teach-ins, creative actions and occupations to educate about Palestinian rights through involvement in BDS campaigning.
  • Promote your actions using the hashtag #SolidarityWaveBDS.

Are you organising a protest in your town or city? Let us know about what you’re planning by filling out this form. We’ll be posting the details of all of the actions taking place across the world on our website at bdsmovement.net/solidarity-wave in the coming few days.

www.bdsmovement.net

info@bdsmovement.net

MEDIA NOTE: U.S. Treasury Sanctions Major Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Leaders, Financial Figures, Faciliatators and Supporters

 

U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

 

September 29, 2015                          

 

 TREASURY SANCTIONS MAJOR ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT LEADERS, FINANCIAL FIGURES, FACILITATORS, AND SUPPORTERS

Coordinated Treasury, State, and United Nations Designations in Advance of the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism Underscore an International Focus on Defeating ISIL

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of 15 key Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorism facilitators pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. These designations focus on attacking ISIL’s finances by inhibiting ISIL’s financial leaders and facilitators from using the international financial system, and support President Obama’s strategy to disrupt and ultimately destroy ISIL. The State Department concurrently announced 15 additional ISIL-related designations, and amended the designations of two additional groups, under E.O. 13224. Demonstrating international resolve to counter ISIL, the United Nations (UN) today also added some of these domestic ISIL designations to the UN al-Qaida Sanctions List. These designations precede the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism to be held later today on the margins of the UN General Assembly meetings, and which will bring together leaders from more than 100 countries, 15 multilateral bodies, and 120 civil society and private sector organizations to review progress on and announce initiatives to counter ISIL, the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, and violent extremism.

As a result of today’s actions, any property or interest in property of the individuals and entities designated by Treasury or State within U.S. jurisdiction is frozen. Additionally, transactions by U.S. persons involving the designated individuals and entities are generally prohibited.

“Treasury remains relentless about depleting ISIL’s financial strength and denying this violent terrorist group access to the international financial system,” said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “We will continue to hinder ISIL’s ability to gain, move, and use funds, and will work closely with our partners across the U.S. government and the international community to destroy this brutal organization.”

Treasury designated domestically the following ISIL officials and facilitators: Hasan al-Salahayn Salih al-Sha’ari, Ali Musa al-Shawakh, Tarad Mohammad Aljarba, Morad Laaboudi, Mu’tassim Yahya ‘Ali al-Rumaysh, Mounir Ben Dhaou Ben Brahim Ben Helal, Sami Jasim Muhammad al-Jaburi, Tuah Febriwansyah, Muhammad Sholeh Ibrahim, Nasir Muhammad ‘Awad al-Ghidani al-Harbi, Hafiz Saeed Khan, Muwaffaq Mustafa Muhammad al-Karmush, Bajro Ikanovic, Aqsa Mahmood and Omar Hussain. Several of these individuals were also included today on the UN al-Qaida Sanctions List. Consequently, all member states of the United Nations are obligated to deny these individuals access to the international financial system and prohibit any travel. 

The designations announced today also support the efforts of the Counter ISIL Finance Group (CIFG), which was formed in March 2015 in Rome and is co-led by Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The CIFG, which focuses on disrupting the financial and economic activities of ISIL, is one of five working groups that were established by the Coalition to Counter ISIL. The CIFG seeks to prevent ISIL’s use of the international financial system; counter ISIL’s extortion and exploitation of economic assets; deny ISIL funding from abroad; and prevent ISIL from providing financial or material support to its foreign affiliates. The third CIFG meeting is scheduled to take place in Washington, DC on October 6 and 7, 2015.

 

Hasan al-Salahayn Salih al-Sha’ari (al-Sha’ari)

Salih al-Sha’ari is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Libyan national al-Sha’ari is an ISIL facilitator who has previously been associated with the group’s predecessor, the U.S. and UN-designated al-Qaida in Iraq. Now-deceased former AQI leader Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi trained al-Sha’ari. In mid-2012, al-Sha’ari was released from an Iraqi prison and returned to Libya, where he continued to support ISIL, subsequently starting a branch of ISIL in late 2014. From late 2012, al-Sha’ari provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to several individuals, including senior ISIL member and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) Tariq Bin al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi (AKA Tariq Abu Umar al-Tunisi), and provided experienced, trusted personnel to aid al-Harzi. By early 2014, al-Sha’ari and other associates had sworn themselves to ISIL and in the fall of 2014 he led ISIL convoys in Darnah, Libya.

Ali Musa al-Shawakh (al-Shawakh)

Al-Shawakh is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of mid-2015, Syrian national al-Shawakh served as ISIL’s governor for Raqqah, Syria, after previously serving as ISIL’s senior security official for Syria and as governor in Aleppo, roles in which he directed combat assignments for foreign fighters.  Al-Shawakh was in charge of ISIL’s detention of foreign hostages, and oversaw the appointment of other ISIL leaders. Al-Shawakh supervised security matters, including executions, interrogations, and transfers of ISIL prisoners, at an al-Raqqah detention facility used to hold foreign hostages and ISIL foreign recruits who had refused to fight. In mid-2014, al-Shawakh ordered the beheadings of two ISIL hostages. Al-Shawakh also served on a governance council chaired by ISIL leader and U.S. and UN-designated SDGT Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (AKA Dr. Ibrahim al-Badri).

Tarad Mohammad Aljarba (Aljarba)

Aljarba is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of April 2015, Saudi Arabian national Aljarba was ISIL’s senior Syria-Turkey border and logistics official. In 2014, Aljarba facilitated the travel from Turkey to Syria of prospective ISIL fighters from Australia, Europe, and the Middle East and managed ISIL’s processing center for new recruits in Azaz, Syria. As of mid-2014, Aljarba was also ISIL’s leader for operations outside of Syria and Iraq. He facilitated the travel to Syria of several European ISIL members in 2013.

Morad Laaboudi (Laaboudi)

Laaboudi is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Moroccan national Laaboudi is an ISIL-affiliated extremist, and as of early 2015, a Gaziantep, Turkey-based travel facilitator for ISIL, assisting fighters in crossing the Turkish-Syrian border into Syria.

Mu’tassim Yahya ‘Ali al-Rumaysh (al-Rumaysh)

Al-Rumaysh is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Yemeni national al-Rumaysh is a financial and foreign fighter facilitator for ISIL who also has held membership in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Rumaysh also helped an ISIL member procure funds for the travel of foreign fighters from Yemen to Syria transiting Turkey. As of December 2013, al-Rumaysh coordinated with SDGT entities AQAP and Al-Nusrah Front to facilitate the travel of ISIL members. In November 2013, al-Rumaysh sent a group of Yemeni extremists to Turkey to U.S.-designated SDGT and UN Security Council Resolution 1267 designee Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al-Juburi, who brought them to an AQAP facilitator in Syria.  

Mounir Ben Dhaou Ben Brahim Ben Helal (Helal)

Helal is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, and for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, AQIM, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Tunisian national Helal facilitates the travel and activities of foreign terrorist fighters, utilizing his experience in establishing and securing travel routes. As of late 2012, Helal was involved in a Tunisia-based terrorist facilitation network that recruited and transported volunteers to Syria, and supplied arms to U.S. designated SDGT al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Helal has provided material support to AQIM in North Africa and worked to assist foreign terrorist fighters’ travel throughout North Africa to Syria to join ISIL.

Aqsa Mahmood (Mahmood)

Mahmood is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

United Kingdom national Mahmood is an ISIL recruiter and member of an ISIL all-female police unit, who as of 2015, used social media to lure foreigners, especially Western women, to travel to Syria and join ISIL. In February 2015, Mahmood helped recruit three UK minors to travel to Syria, where they joined ISIL. At least one of the three minors had been in direct contact with Mahmood via social media in the days prior to their departure. As an ISIL recruiter, Mahmood posts practical information and advice to young women interested in joining ISIL on her blog. In blog posts, Mahmood has described the benefits of living under ISIL and urged individuals in the West to travel to Syria before it became difficult, among other topics.

In addition to recruiting for ISIL, as of September 2014, Mahmood served in the al-Khansaa Brigade, an all-female ISIL police unit enforcing the ultra-strict brand of sharia law imposed by ISIL in Raqqa, Syria. As of August 2014, Mahmood received a monthly salary for her role as an enforcer in the al-Khansaa Brigade, which imposes beatings, lashings, and executions for infractions of ISIL’s laws and manages ISIL’s brothels of Yazidi sex slaves in Raqqa, Syria.

Omar Hussain (Hussain)

Hussain is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of September 2015, UK national Hussain (AKA Abu Sa’eed al-Britani) was considered to be one of ISIL’s most prominent recruiters. As an ISIL fighter, he offered tips on evading British security to individuals interested in leaving the United Kingdom to fight with ISIL. In July 2015, Hussain confirmed that he had joined ISIL and was in Aleppo Province, Syria. Via his blog, he provided guidance about traveling to Syria to fight with ISIL and described alternate occupations to support the group for those unable to fight.

Sami Jasim Muhammad al-Jaburi (al-Jaburi)

Muhammad al-Jaburi is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, and providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL.

As of March 2015, Iraqi national al-Jaburi supervised ISIL’s oil and gas, antiquities, and mineral resources operations. In April 2015, al-Jaburi and now-deceased ISIL oil and gas official Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi (AKA Abu Sayyaf) worked to establish a new funding stream for ISIL from increased production at oil fields held by the organization. In August of 2014, al-Jaburi was ISIL’s shari’a council chief and second in command in southern Mosul, Iraq.

Tuah Febriwansyah (Febriwansyah)

Febriwansyah is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Indonesian national Febriwansyah is the leader of an Indonesia-based ISIL-aligned organization and has provided support to ISIL in the areas of recruitment, fundraising, and travel. The organization led by Febriwansyah has publicly sworn allegiance to ISIL.

On March 21, 2015, Indonesian police arrested Febriwansyah and five other Indonesian citizens for recruiting and funding Indonesians to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIL. Febriwansyah and his accomplices were accused by Indonesian police of facilitating travel for as many as 37 Indonesians on behalf of ISIL. Indonesian police charged Febriwansyah with terrorism offenses, including funding terrorism and violating the country’s “Information and Electronic Transactions Law.”

As of mid-2014, Jemmah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) leaders sought Febriwansyah’s support to bolster JAT during a schism over allegiance to ISIL. JAT, which seeks the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, and has carried out numerous and deadly attacks against Indonesian government personnel, police, military, and civilians, was designated an FTO and SDGT on February 23, 2012.

Muhammad Sholeh Ibrahim (Ibrahim)

Ibrahim is being designated for acting for or on behalf of JAT, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Indonesian national Ibrahim has served as the acting emir of JAT since 2014. Ibrahim has supported ISIL and swore allegiance to the group in 2014. Ibrahim has also been involved in raising funds for JAT. As of 2014, Ibrahim served as a leader of JAT’s Solo (or Surakarta), Indonesia office. He previously was responsible for the JAT Solo office’s planning and strategy.   In mid-2011, Ibrahim organized buses to transport JAT supporters from Central Java to Jakarta for the trial of JAT founder Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, designated as an SDGT in April 2006. Additionally, Ibrahim was involved in registering new JAT paramilitary recruits in 2010 and took part in JAT paramilitary training in 2008.

Nasir Muhammad ‘Awad al-Ghidani al-Harbi (al-Harbi)

Al-Harbi is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

In mid-2015, Saudi Arabian national al-Harbi, an ISIL leader in Yemen, allegedly recruited for ISIL’s military forces in Yemen. Around 2014, al-Harbi received funding to implement ISIL’s strategy in Yemen. In late 2014, al-Harbi, the self-proclaimed ISIL leader in Yemen, facilitated the movement of people and material for ISIL operations in Saudi Arabia. He was in Yemen with a group that pledged allegiance to ISIL and received significant funding from either ISIL or an unidentified donor. As of September 2014, al-Harbi and others established contact with ISIL, and sought pledges of allegiance on ISIL’s behalf. Al-Harbi was commissioned by ISIL in Syria to gather pledges of allegiance in Yemen. He declined to recruit and facilitate efforts in Yemen on behalf of AQAP in favor of an alleged promise of 4,000 AQIM fighters by U.S. and UN-designated SDGT and ISIL leader Dr. Ibrahim al-Badri (AKA Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi). As of 2014, al-Harbi had provided funds to ISIL.

Hafiz Saeed Khan (Khan)

Khan is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of early 2015, ISIL leader al-Badri (AKA al-Baghdadi) appointed Pakistani national Khan as the emir of ISIL in the Khorasan (ISIL-K), the organization’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khan was recruited to ISIL by al-Badri and pledged allegiance to him in October 2014.

Khan, as leader of ISIL-K, plays a central role in expanding ISIL’s operations in the region, commanding militants and coordinating the delivery of supplies and munitions, the travel of associates, and other arrangements. In mid-2015, Khan appointed ISIL representatives in Kunar Province and Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan and approved funding for the establishment of a training camp for ISIL fighters in western Afghanistan. ISIL militants under Khan’s command had taken control of several districts in Nangarhar Province in mid-2015. Khan in early 2015 claimed ISIL was responsible for the April 18, 2015 suicide attacks in Jalalabad City, Nangarhar Province which killed approximately 33 people. Khan formerly served as a senior commander in Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, an SDGT designated by the U.S. government in September 2010.

Muwaffaq Mustafa Muhammad al-Karmush (al-Karmush)

Al-Karmush is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of December 2014, al-Karmush supervised ISIL’s financial affairs, including salary payments. He previously oversaw ISIL’s military financial affairs and served as one of AQI’s financial chiefs.

Bajro Ikanovic (Ikanovic)

Ikanovic is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Bosnian national Ikanovic has held various leadership positions within ISIL in Iraq and Syria over the past several years, including on ISIL’s Shura Council in 2014. In December 2013, ISIL commander and SDGT Tarkhan Teymurazovich Batirashvili (AKA Abu Omar al-Shishani) promoted Ikanovic to head of the largest ISIL training camp in northern Syria.

 

For the identifying information regarding today’s action, click here.

 

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TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Upcoming UNGA Events

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                       September 24, 2015

 

 

PRESS CALL

BY BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR

FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS;

STEVE POMPER, NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR MULTILATERAL AFFAIRS;

AND CELESTE WALLANDER, NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR RUSSIA

ON THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

Via Telephone

 

5:06 P.M. EDT

 

     MR. PRICE:  Good afternoon, everybody.  And thanks for joining the call.  We wanted to convene this call to preview next week’s activities at the U.N. General Assembly up in New York City. 

 

     First ground rule, this call is on the record.  It is embargoed until the conclusion of the call, so we would ask you not tweet or otherwise use this material until the call concludes.

 

     We have three senior administration officials on today’s call.  First we have Ben Rhodes; he’s the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.  We have Steve Pomper; he is the National Security Council Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs.  And we have Celeste Wallander; she’s the National Security Council Senior Director for Russia. 

 

     So, again, this call is on the record and embargoed until its conclusion.  And I will turn it over to Ben to start.

 

     MR. RHODES:  Thanks, everybody, for getting on the call.  I’ll just say a few opening comments and go through some of the main elements of the President’s schedule at the U.N., and then Steve can talk through a number of the summits that we’re hosting or participating in.  And Celeste can talk through the bilat with President Putin of Russia.

 

     First of all, every year at the U.N it’s an opportunity for us to try to address global crises, but also to make progress on an affirmative agenda.  And this year is, of course, no different.  There have been some very noteworthy, positive developments since last year’s session.  For instance, last year the President had to convene an emergency session to deal with the spread of Ebola.  The collective action that came out of that effort successfully stopped the spread of Ebola, and now we are working hard to try to stamp it out while also building a broader architecture of global health security.

 

     Last year we were in the midst of the Iranian nuclear negotiations.  This year we clearly will have an opportunity to mark on the global stage the progress that has come with the nuclear deal, which is set to be implemented and will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

 

     The President goes to the U.N. focused on a number of affirmative priorities that are represented in this schedule.  Our commitment to development and the goal of eradicating extreme poverty is going to be on display as we attend the Sustainable Development Goals Summit meeting.  The President’s commitment to build capacity around international peacekeeping, which has been a priority of ours at the United Nations, will be on display at the summit he’s convening. 

 

Importantly, climate change will be a focus at the United Nations this year.  This has been a core priority of the President’s, at home and abroad.  It’s been a priority of the Secretary General.  And this session at the U.N. is an important opportunity for nations to come together once more before the Paris discussions at the conclusion of the year where we’re aiming to reach a global agreement to combat climate change.

 

     Of course, we will have to be addressing some very significant global challenges.  Certainly, the counter-ISIL efforts, which was a focus last year, will continue to be a focus this year given the summit the President is convening.  And it relates to both the situation in Iraq and Syria, and our efforts to combat ISIL, and also the humanitarian challenges that are emanating from the region will certainly be a topic this year.

 

     And the situation in Ukraine continues to be of significant concern, and our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine will be front and center throughout our discussions, particularly with President Putin.

 

     So with that as a backdrop, let me just go through the schedule, and turn it over to my colleagues to go into more detail.

 

     The President will arrive on Sunday afternoon, and the first thing he will be doing is giving remarks at the Closing Session of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.  This is the world’s commitment to embrace a set of sustainable development goals that hold out extraordinary promise for lifting people out of poverty and promoting the type of development that, again, will lead to not just better standards of living for individuals, but broader and shared economic growth and good governance.  And Steve can speak to that.  That’s the main element of his agenda on Sunday at the United Nations.

 

     On Monday morning the President will address the United Nations General Assembly.  Again, this will be an opportunity for him to review the progress that’s been made over the course of the last year while addressing a range of global challenges.  And he will be making the case about the type of leadership that is needed to build on the progress that’s been made, but also to confront the very real challenges we face.  And I’d be happy to take any additional questions around the speech.

 

     Following his address, he will be having a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India.  This will give the two leaders an opportunity to build on the discussions they had earlier this year during the President’s historic trip to India.  We are deeply committed to strengthening the U.S.-Indian relationship, building our economic and commercial ties, advancing our political and security cooperation in Asia and around the world.  Notably, India will be critical to a successful global effort to combat climate change, so the two leaders will certainly address their shared vision of how to approach the upcoming meetings in Paris.

 

     Following the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi, the President will attend, as he does every year, the lunch that is hosted by the Secretary General for the leaders.  And he’ll have an opportunity to have brief meetings, as he does every year, with the U.N. Secretary General and the President of the U.N. General Assembly.

 

     Then the President will convene a summit on peacekeeping, which again has been a priority for us at the United Nations.  Steve will speak to that in more detail.  Following the summit on peacekeeping, the President will have his bilateral meeting with President Putin of Russia.  And I’ll let Celeste describe the agenda for that.  And then that evening, the President will host his traditional reception for the leaders who are attending the U.N. General Assembly.

 

     On Tuesday, the main event on the President’s schedule is a summit that we are convening that is focused on countering ISIL and combating violent extremism.  This builds on the meeting the President chaired last year — the Security Council focused on this issue — and brings together our broad counter-ISIL coalition and other partners committed to combating terrorism and countering violent extremism.

 

     I’ll stop there.  I would just note we expect that there will be additional bilateral meetings that may be scheduled in the coming days, so we will keep you updated as that comes together.

 

     But I’ll turn it over to Steve now to go through the summit.

 

     MR. POMPER:  Hi.  So thanks for joining us on this call.  And some of what I say will be a little bit reiterative of what Ben has already mentioned, but I’ll try and give a little bit more detail, and then leave plenty of time for questions.

 

     So this is the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ founding, and it’s the kickoff, therefore, to the U.N. General Assembly’s 70th session.

 

And high-level week — which is what this is — it’s always a busy time for the diplomatic community, but particularly so in the 10-year anniversaries, which are really a particular focal point for the world leaders to come in and hone in on the challenges facing the international community and to plot a course for the future.  And really, that’s a consistent theme that unites the three major leader summits that President Obama will be participating in.

 

So Ben has already alluded to them, but I’ll just highlight a few details with respect to each of them.  So on Sunday, he’ll be speaking at the Secretary General’s Summit on Sustainable Development Goals, which are also known in shorthand as the SDGs.  The adoption of these goals marks the culmination of a multiyear process where the international community has come together and thought through I think the 17 goals that are going to organize its work on development for the next 15 years.

 

The last set of goals, the Millennium Development Goals, are timing out.  Those goals really did galvanize international action on a host of issues, including reducing the global share of people living on very, very small amounts of money every day, helping to achieve gender parity in primary school enrollment, reducing rates of child mortality, et cetera.  So these are really very important organizing principles for the international community’s work on development, and the President’s participation in this even demonstrates a commitment to the agenda and our sense that its implementation will both bolster, frankly, international peace and stability, and promote inclusive economic development and American values all around the world.  So we’ve very excited to be able to participate in that event.

 

On Monday, the President will be co-hosting a summit on U.N. peacekeeping with Secretary General Ban and eight other co-hosts.  Now, U.N. peacekeeping has been — never been, I should say, more stretched or more important than it is to international peace and security right now.  I believe there are probably 100,000 troops deployed around the world under U.N. blue helmets in something like 16 missions.  It’s a critical tool for the advancement of both U.S. security and humanitarian interests, and we have a very strong interest in seeing this system sort of strengthened as we sort of face the future.

 

Last year, Vice President Biden co-hosted the summit where participants were invited to make concrete pledges in support of a more modern, nimble and capable U.N. peacekeeping architecture.  And this year’s summit is the culmination of a years’ worth of efforts, in the meantime, to generate very concrete commitments towards those ends. 

 

We expect to hear very significant pledges, some from states that will be returning to U.N. peacekeeping in important ways after years of essentially non-participation.  And we also anticipate this will be a forum for states to support reform initiatives recommended by a high-level panel appointed by the Secretary General that will also help gird this instrument for the future.

 

The final big multilateral event in which the President will participate will be on Tuesday.  It’s an event focused on countering ISIL, and, more broadly, on countering violent extremism and on the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters.  This summit will focus not only on counter-ISIL coalition efforts, but, more broadly, on what the international community is doing to counter violent extremism a year after the President chaired a Security Council summit that produced a resolution on countering foreign fighters.  And we’re going to be looking at how implementation of that resolution has been going and what more we can be doing as an international community to counter that threat.

 

So really, this is an event that’s about addressing a broad spectrum of issues relating to the terrorism threat at every stage in its life cycle.  And the summit will include leaders and other officials from governments and other multilateral organization, and also, importantly, partners in civil society who are critical to the countering violent extremism effort.

 

I think that’s all I’m going to say about the summits right now.  Maybe it’s time to turn it over to Celeste.

 

MS. WALLANDER:  Thanks, Steve.  Thanks, Ben and Ned.  So as we confirmed today, there is a bilat between President Obama and President Putin scheduled for Monday.  The two agenda items that we will focus on in that summit are the continuing situation in Ukraine, and, of course, the new issues raised by Russia’s involvement in Syria.

 

On Ukraine, this moment comes at a particularly opportune time.  The implementation of all of the elements of the Minsk Agreement, which were signed by President Putin and President Poroshenko, Chancellor Merkel, and President Hollande back in February, are coming to a critical turning point in October.  Ukraine has scheduled local elections for October 25th, and it remains insufficiently clear that Russia is committed to implementing its obligations under the Minsk Agreement, which is to support a local election that is consistent with Ukrainian law and that will be overseen by the international community — that is, specifically, the OSCE and its particular election-monitoring agency, ODIHR.

 

     So this is an opportunity for President Obama to make crystal-clear to President Putin that the United States supports full implementation of the Minsk Agreement; fully supports the diplomacy of Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande in advancing implementation; and make clear our expectations that Russia, and President Putin in particular, fully lives up to the commitments that Russia overtook in signing that implementation agreement back in February. 

 

Those elections are critical because they unlock the opportunity to implement all the other elements of that Minsk Implementation Agreement, including the special status for regions of eastern Ukraine, constitutional reforms that have made their way to the Ukrainian Rada, and then eventually to get, before the end of the year, to Russia’s commitment to fully withdraw its military forces and return control of the international border — the Ukrainian-Russian international border back to the Ukrainian government.

 

     So October is really important, and the opportunity to speak to President Putin directly is something that President Obama will embrace in this bilat.

 

     The second issue that the Presidents will discuss will be  — Russia has now announced clear military involvement in Syria, which goes beyond the assistance and the training that Russia has noted that it has been involved in for years in Syria, and has now involved the direct Russian military presence in Syria  — which we’ve talked about in other for a, but I can talk about in more specificity if needed.

 

     And in particular, President Obama will seek to understand what Russian government means when it states that it is enhancing or increasing its military involvement in Syria in order to support efforts to counter ISIL — because the United States certainly would welcome a constructive Russian contribution to counter ISIL — so the meeting is an opportunity to understand whether and how President Putin can see the Russian involvement and increased military presence might lead to that objective, and to make clear, of course, our longstanding policy and strongly held view that the only resolution to a conflict in Syria which allows us to tackle the problem of ISIL obviously involves a political transition of the Syrian regime — and that remains as key to the successful resolution of the challenge of ISIL in Syria as any other element that the Russians may bring to bear in terms of a new military presence.

 

     So let me leave it there.

 

     Q    Celeste, you mentioned a few of the other conversations that have happened between the U.S. and Russia.  And I’m wondering if there were any assurances or any more clarity that what Russia is doing there is not going to be enormously destabilizing or destructive to the situation as it stands.

 

     And secondly, a year after we heard the President’s resolution on foreign fighters, we’re hearing from military leaders that the flow continues as it has been.  As soon as you get rid of them, more pour in.  So is there going to be an effort to kind of realign or change the effort in that respect? 

 

     Thanks a lot.

 

     MR. RHODES:  So I’ll take the second question, Michelle, then I’ll turn it over to Celeste.

 

     First of all, I think we have seen progress over the course of the last year.  There have been significant efforts to work with dozens of countries to share more information about the flow of foreign fighters to align some of our laws and authorities that relate to stopping the flow of foreign fighters to address the challenge on the border between Turkey and Syria.  So nations have taken concrete steps to enhance their own capabilities in this space and we have been able to disrupt some of the foreign fighter flows. 

 

And, frankly, we’ve seen some progress in recent weeks as Syrian Kurds have been able to take territory along that Turkish border that was previously used by ISIL to move fighters into Syria.  That said, you are absolutely right that there continues to be a challenge of foreign fighters going to Syria and then potentially leaving the battlefield and returning to countries where they might conduct attacks. 

 

That’s part of the reason why the agenda for the summit is broader than just the foreign fighter issues.  So, for instance, we’re going to be focused on efforts to counter violent extremism.  This gets at what are respective countries doing to counter the ISIL ideology — which is the attraction, in part, that draws people to Syria — just as we’ll have an opportunity to update our efforts on the military side in degrading the ISIL safe haven in Syria. 

 

So the purpose of the summit is to look across all these different elements of the challenge — how are we using our military to go after ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq; how are we using our various authorities and capabilities, and sharing information to stop the flow of foreign fighters; and also how are we getting at the ideology that has been an attraction for some people to go to Syria.

 

Clearly there’s much more work to be done.  This is going to a long-term effort.  The counter-ISIL campaign is going to be measured in years.  But what we do have is a significant coalition of countries that are seized with this threat and that are enhancing their capabilities, and that are joining with us in this effort.  And I’d note, for instance, importantly, that Prime Minister of Abadi of Iraq will be attending that summit given the challenge he faces in his country.

 

But I’ll stop there and turn it over to Celeste.

 

MS. WALLANDER:  On assurances, we haven’t gotten any specific assurances in the conversations that have taken place so far with Russian officials.  The Russian public narrative has been very focused on the argument that the way to counter ISIL is to work with the Assad regime.  President Putin gave a speech just this week where he made that argument.  And this has certainly been one of the themes that Foreign Minister Lavrov has consistently advanced.

 

We think they got this backwards.  We think that one of the reasons why ISIL has taken hold and been able to attract support and gain recruits is because of the actions of the Assad regime.  So there’s clearly a difference of views in that regard.  And right now, that difference of views tends to take place — at least coming from the Russian side — in public rhetoric and speeches.  So this is an opportunity for the Presidents to talk directly about this very key issue face-to-face and one-on-one.

 

     Q    Hi, Ben.  Can you give us any indication whether President Obama might meet with President Rouhani, if there has been an overture to the Iranians, if the Iranians are giving you any indication whether they’re willing to meet, whether it’s in a bilat or in a broader setting at the reception?

 

     MR. RHODES:  Thanks, Robin.  We currently don’t have any plans for a meeting with President Rouhani, and we’re really not expecting one. 

 

     Secretary Kerry I’m sure will have the opportunity to have discussions with Foreign Minister Zarif.  That has been our effective and direct channel of communication with the Iranians on a host of different issues.  And I’m sure there will be other activities among foreign ministers who are engaged in the P5+1 discussions.

 

     Our general approach to this in the past has been that the President is willing to engage President Rouhani if it can make constructive progress.  Back in 2013, they did not meet but they spoke on the phone.  And that was an important moment because that was the initiation of the public discussions devoted to the P5+1 process that ultimately resulted in the nuclear deal.  So they had a clear purpose for that engagement at that time to try to catalyze those negotiations.

 

     So again, we don’t expect a meeting at this session.  We do expect engagement with the Iranians, however, through Secretary Kerry, of course.  And I’d also note that some our key allies who share many of our interests and concerns as it relates to regional issues regularly engage President Rouhani.  And so we’ll have the opportunity to follow up with them as they have those discussions.

 

     Q    Hi, everyone.  Thanks for doing the call.  I was hoping that you could talk in a little bit more detail about the climate summit on Sunday.  Are you looking at specific deliverables, pressure on sort of non-players to step up their game ahead of Paris?  Do you think there will be any announcements or conclusions out of there?  And also can you talk a little bit about what the Vice President’s role this year will be at UNGA, whether he and the President will be doing something jointly and/or whether he’ll be doing some things on his own?  Thanks.

 

     MR. RHODES:  Thanks, Margaret.  So in terms of the Secretary General’s event on Sunday, President Obama won’t be attending the climate discussions.  He’ll be attending the SDG summit.  However, we very much welcome the Secretary General’s focus on climate change.

 

     And what we want to get out of the discussions in New York is a sense of momentum for a successful outcome in Paris.  Many nations have made commitments in terms of their emissions reductions targets, in terms of their contributions to Green Climate Fund, in terms of various steps that can be taken to phase out the use of fossil fuels, but some countries have been more forthcoming than others.  So I think, first and foremost, we welcome the Secretary General’s effort to catalyze further action from all nations — major economies and developing countries — around this challenge.  And we see the U.N. this year as a key milestone on the pathway to Paris.

 

     Now, in terms of what President Obama will be focused on, first and foremost, of course, we’ve done significant amount of work on the domestic side with respect to the Climate Action Plan to ensure that we are going into Paris with very concrete steps that we’re prepared to take to support a successful outcome.  But we’ve also spent a lot of time — and I can tell you in his diplomatic engagements this year, climate has been front and center.  So in terms of how I think this plays out, you heard Pope Francis here at the White House the other day issue a very strong call on the United States and the nations of the world to confront climate change. 

 

You then will have President Xi Jinping of China here tonight and tomorrow.  Climate change will be high on the agenda in that bilateral meeting.  As the two biggest emitters of the world, the leadership shown by the U.S. and China heading into the U.N. session and the meetings in Paris will be critical to a successful outcome.  So after the breakthrough last year in terms of the United States and China both announcing targets in terms of emissions reductions, we’ll have an opportunity to put some additional meat on the bones in the discussions over the next two days about the commitments the United States and China will be taking into Paris.

 

     So I think what you can see very clearly is the moral authority of the Pope behind global efforts to combat climate change, the leadership of the Secretary General in making this at the top of the U.N.’s agenda at this moment in time, the leadership of the two largest emitters in the world coming together to support aggressive action to reduce emissions and have a successful agreement in Paris.  And then the President’s meeting with Prime Minister Modi will be very important because India, of course, is also another major economy — major emitter and we’ll want to continue the discussions that we had in India about what Prime Minister Modi is prepared to do to support successful international action against climate change. 

 

     So this will feature in the President’s diplomacy.  It will feature in his remarks certainly.  And I think taken together, all of those different elements provide very strong momentum towards Paris and, frankly, puts pressure on countries to step up and make some meaningful commitments.

 

     I don’t know, Steve, if you have anything to add on that.

 

     Next question.

 

     Q    Ben, can you just talk a little bit more about the priorities that the President will lay out going forward?  You already said that he is going to talk about some of the accomplishments, but what do you see as a couple key things that he is going to emphasize with this?  And also, how significant in the big picture of the attendance of Raul Castro is as well as his speech — can you put that into some perspective for us?  Thanks.

 

     MR. RHODES:  Thanks, I always appreciate Cuba questions, Chris.  I think it’s very significant.  This is Raul Castro’s first time at UNGA.  It comes on the heels of the United States and Cuba establishing diplomatic relations earlier this summer, and on the heels of Pope Francis traveling to both Cuba and the United States on this trip of his.  I think it’s a symbol that things have changed and that the United States’ approach to Cuba has changed. 

 

And one thing that you can be sure of is that the nations of the world overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, support the President’s policy.  One of the many things that was wrong with our Cuba policy is that it was succeeding only in isolating ourselves.  It was a major irritant in the hemisphere, but even around the world, frankly, we did not have any support for a policy of embargo and isolation that was only failing to improve the life of the Cuban people.

 

     So I think, symbolically, it’s important that President Castro is coming to the U.N. General Assembly.  I think it’s a symbol that we’re in a new era.  I think that the world will welcome the steps that President Obama has taken, and we see this as a way to unlock positive cooperation particularly in our hemisphere, but also around the world.

 

     Now, we’ll have differences, and particularly with respect to human rights, we have been very clear with Cuba that we’ll continue to raise those differences.  But we also believe that the best way to advance our interests and our values in Cuba is to open it.

 

     I’d expect that the President will have some opportunity to see President Castro at some point during the days that we’re there.  So we’ll certainly keep you updated on any interaction that they may have.

 

     On the question about the President’s speech, first and foremost, I think the President made clear time and again at the U.N. the necessity of an effective international system that can solve problems and advance collective action and burden-sharing.  So when you look at our affirmative agenda in the world, so much of it depends upon building coalitions and advancing collective action. 

 

     So, with respect to climate change, we need all of the nations of the world to step up and be a part of the solution.  With respect to peacekeeping that can help resolve conflicts and advance stability, the concrete contributions that we are seeking with other countries to U.N. peacekeeping missions will help make us more secure and help make the world more secure.

 

     With respect to development, we have the opportunity to promote global health security in ways that can prevent pandemic that could threaten us and save countless lives around the world just as we have the opportunity to lift many people out of poverty in the coming years.

 

So there’s a set of affirmative items I think the President will be speaking to.  He’ll also be underscoring the importance, however, of there being a rules-based approach to solving problems.  Now, some of that is on the firmer side, as well; the Transpacific Trade Partnership that we’re pursuing aims to establish rules of the road that apply to trade that opens markets, but also protects workers and the environment.

 

But when we look at conflict, the President will certainly be focused on the situation in Syria and Iraq, and he’ll be focused on the situation in Ukraine.  And there, too, I think our focus is going to be on the fact that there has to be a cost for a nation like Russia that is violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and that cost has been imposed through sanctions, even as we’re focused on and have a preference for diplomacy in resolving that crisis.

 

At the same time, in Syria, even as we have an aggressive military effort underway against ISIL, the only lasting resolution to that challenge is for there to be a political settlement, as well. 

 

So I were to say there’s a common thread between (inaudible) and diplomacy.  Diplomacy has borne significant fruit this year with the Iran deal, with the Cuba opening, with the advances on the TPP negotiations.  Diplomacy is necessary to bring about a conclusion, or at least a political resolution, as it relates to the situation in Syria.  Diplomacy is necessary to resolving the tensions in Ukraine.  But diplomacy has to be backed by teeth, and, in some cases, that’s force, as we’re using against ISIL.  In some cases that’s sanctions, as we’re using against Russia. 

 

But in all cases, I think the case the President will be making to the world is we need to remain invested in an international order that can solve problems and hold people accountable when they break the rules.

 

Q    Hi.  Thanks a ton for doing the call.  My question is for Celeste.  The administration has repeatedly said that Russia’s intentions in Syria remain unclear.  I was wondering if there’s been any update, if you could provide more clarity as to what Russia is perhaps up to in Syria, and if not, why is it still unclear?  Thanks a ton.

 

MS. WALLANDER:  Thanks.  As I tried to indicate earlier, we have a lot of public statements from Russian officials, senior Russian officials — including President Putin himself — about what he argues is necessary to successfully counter ISIL.  Since that argument doesn’t fit with our understanding of what’s necessary to counter ISIL, it doesn’t really hold water as far as we’re concerned, we’re going to use the opportunity to talk to President Putin and understand what he means by that, and make clear what we think is necessary to successfully counter ISIL, and test whether Russia’s efforts to basically deal itself in to a counter-ISIL effort will yield a constructive approach.

 

     So there’s a lot of talk, and now it’s time for clarity and for Russia to come clear — come clean and come clear on just exactly how it proposes to be a constructive contributor to what is already an ongoing multi-nation coalition. 

 

     So, no, I’m not going to — that’s a question for President Putin, and it’s a question we’ll be posing to President Putin.

 

     MR. RHODES:  Let me add just very quickly in addition to the current military deployments that we see, President Putin had reached out and initiated a phone call with President Obama earlier this year to discuss his concerns about the situation in Syria and to discuss the potential for a political resolution.

 

     Now, we continue to have very serious differences with the Russian government about the nature of the Syrian government that would emerge from that political resolution.  We believe Bashar al-Assad will have to leave power as a part of any durable solution given that he has lost the legitimacy with his own people.  Russia is continuing to support Assad.

 

     But again, even as we have this discussion about the very specific issue related to military deployments, I think we will want to be discussing, what are the prospects for advancing a political resolution?  And clearly any successful political resolution would have to benefit from the support of Russia and the United States and the countries in the region, and of course, importantly, the Syrian people.  So the political element will be discussed as well as the military.

 

     Q    Thank you.  It seems like it’s been a real long time before the President and Putin have met face to face.  Can you explain policy-wise what seems to be a shift away from a position of isolation, particularly a shift that’s happening when Russia is only escalating its intervention in Syria?  And is the President going to walk into that meeting with any new clarity or any new elements to the U.S. position in Syria?

 

     MR. RHODES:  Thanks, Margaret.  Well, you’re absolutely right.  It has been some time since they had a bilateral encounter.  We canceled the summit that had been planned in Russia for a variety of reasons.  And we have not had bilateral discussions.

 

     They have seen each other at global summits like the G20, and had conversations on the sidelines of those summits, but frankly, given the situation in Ukraine, we wanted to make very clear that Russia was going to pay a cost for its actions in terms of not being isolated from groups like the G8, which is now the G7, and in terms of the sanctions we’ve imposed.

 

     All that said, at every juncture we said that we remain open to engagement if it can make progress.  They’ve spoken on the phone a number of times.  I think — to your question very specifically — given both the situation in Ukraine and the critical juncture that we’re at there, and the situation in Syria, it would be irresponsible to not have a face-to-face encounter and to not directly address with President Putin our positions and concerns on these two issues.

 

     I should also add that President Obama was urged to have this meeting with President Putin by some of our closest European allies who thought it would be constructive in the context of Minsk for him to hear directly from us as well as them about the importance of following through on the Minsk agreement.  So this is something that we’re doing with respect to Ukraine very much in coordination with our European allies who have taken the lead on many elements of the diplomacy with Russia, even as we’ve of course led with them in imposing consequences on Russia for its actions.

 

     I think with respect to Syria we’ll be making — the President will have the opportunity to make clear to President Putin that we share the determination to counter ISIL, that we welcome constructive contributions to counter ISIL.  But at the same time, we believe that one of the principal motivating factors for people who are fighting with ISIL is the Assad regime.  And its zero justification, obviously, for the horrific extremism we’ve seen in Syria, it’s simply a pragmatic fact that if there is a political transition in which Assad leaves then, frankly, we have the opportunity to better focus on going after ISIL because there will be a better political context in the country to do so.

 

     So I think that both — as I said, both the military and the political components will be discussed, and the key question, right, is how do those two converge.  And how do you have both a successful counterterrorism effort against ISIL alongside a political resolution that can ultimately restore some semblance of stability to Syria.

 

Q    Thank you.  Ben, quick question regarding the conversation that Secretary Kerry will have with Foreign Minister Zarif.  As you said, if there is nothing to be happening between two leaders, what do you expect to get out of that now that the deal is in the implementation phase other than the nuclear deal?  Are you hoping — are you seeing signals that the Iranians are more willing to talk about Syria?  Or is that — we know there’s going to be that bilateral on Saturday, then the P5+1 will have another one on Monday evening.  What do you expect to get out of that?

 

MR. RHODES:  Well, I don’t want to speak too much for Secretary Kerry.  I’ll just say a couple of things.  Number one, I think it is important to discuss implementation of the Iran deal.  We are nearing adoption day, at which point Iran will have to take — or begin to take its significant nuclear steps.  And in terms of how that implementation goes forward, it’s always important to have direct communication among the P5+1 and with the Iranians, because there are significant moving parts associated with Iran’s nuclear steps, the institution of the verification regime, and then, after Iran completes its key steps, the provision of our sanctions relief.

 

I think, secondly, we always raise with the Iranians the detained Americans.  And so I’m certain that there will be a clear message about our continued and grave concerns about the ongoing detention of Americans in Iran. 

 

With respect to regional issues, as we’ve made clear throughout the debate over the Iran deal here, we continue to have significant differences and concerns about Iranian destabilizing activities in the region — whether it’s in Syria or Iraq or Yemen, or threats to Israel.  In the past, issues like Yemen and Syria have come up in these discussions.  At times, Foreign Minister Zarif in his public comments has suggested a desire to play a constructive role with respect to regional challenges, but we have not seen actions from Iran that follow through on that.  So, for instance, with respect to Syria, again, their ongoing support for the Assad regime is what — is part of what is fueling this conflict. 

 

So I would imagine that regional issues may come up, but again, our position has been to underscore our concern with destabilizing Iranian activities.  And again, we’d have to see in actions, not just words, that Iran, after this nuclear deal, is prepared to move in a more constructive and less-destabilizing direction on these issues.

 

Q    Yes, hi.  Thanks for doing the call.  You’ve insisted on the fact that Mr. Putin is the one who asked for the meeting at the U.N., but what kind of interaction are you — can you expect?  Do you believe — does the President believe that Vladimir Putin can be trusted or that he can be a partner in Syria? 

 

MR. RHODES:  The Russians requested the meeting.  President Obama, like I said, believes that it would be wrong to not engage at this critical time given the pressing issues.

 

     I think our approach with respect to trust is one of watching deeds, as well as listening to words.  With respect to Ukraine, what Russia says publicly has often not matched what the world has seen happening — whether it’s the provision of arms to separatists or other activities.  So look, we would be measuring the outcome of this meeting not just by the nature of their discussion by what follows. 

 

     The one thing I would say is even as we’ve had these differences — and very significant ones — on Ukraine and Syria, Russia was a very constructive partner in the P5+1 process.  They very much were united with the P5+1 and insisting on a good deal.  So it does demonstrate that we can have sustained cooperation on critical global issues even as we have very significant differences.  And we would not want to deny ourselves the ability to have that cooperation because of our differences on important issues.

 

     So again, that’s a demonstration of the fact that we will follow these things in deeds, not words.  And Ukraine, the deeds have rarely matched the words.  But in the Iranian nuclear issue, Russia did follow through on its commitments and played a constructive role.

 

     Q    Yes, thank you.  Thanks for having the call.  I’m just wondering about the meeting with Raul Castro.  Are you trying to set up a bilat?  Are you thinking they might run into each other in the hall?  How hard are you guys pushing that?

 

     MR. RHODES:  I don’t know that they’ll have time for an extended bilat.  I would just expect that they’ll be able to see each other at some point over the course of the several days.  They’ll be both at the U.N. I expect on Monday and perhaps Tuesday morning. 

 

     So I think that they’d just look for an opportunity to exchange some words.  But we’ll keep you posted if anything is scheduled.  What I would say is that they spoke on the phone in advance of the Pope’s visit to Cuba and the United States.   They were able to note the — and speak the first time since the establishment of diplomatic relations.  Note that there are areas where we are working to cooperate constructively — whether it’s on counter narcotics, counterterrorism, the provision of health assistance in Haiti, which we just did jointly with Cuban medical professionals — while also continuing to have very real differences from our standpoint with respect to the human rights of the Cuban people.  From their side, certainly issues like Guantanamo come up.  So I think they’ll have some opportunity to speak with one another and continue this process of normalization.

 

     And I think the message to the world — and it will be very powerful that the United States has turned the page on a failed policy, that we’re willing to pursue our interests and values through engagement.  And I believe that will be very welcome here in the hemisphere and around the world.

 

     And one opportunity for me to note that one area where there’s been U.S. and Cuban involvement is in the Colombian peace process, where Cuba has hosted discussions between the Colombian government — a close stalwart, ally, and security partner of the United States — and the FARC.  And we’ve had an envoy who has been able to participate in those talks and we just had a significant breakthrough.  That’s separate and apart from our bilateral normalization process, but I think it shows that we’re committed to broader efforts in the hemisphere to solve problems.

 

     All right, thanks, everybody, for getting on the call.  And we’ll keep you updated as any other bilateral meetings are scheduled.  I wouldn’t anticipate there being many, but there may be one or two so we’ll keep you posted in the coming days.

 

                        END                 5:57 P.M. EDT

 

 

 

 

 

—–

TRANSCRIPT: Conference Call to Preview the Visit of President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China

 

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

 

Office of the Press Secretary

_______________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                         September 22, 2015

 

 

ON-THE-RECORD CONFERENCE CALL

BY BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS

CAROLINE ATKINSON, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS

DAN KRITENBRINK, NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR ASIAN AFFAIRS

TO PREVIEW THE VISIT OF PRESIDENT XI JINPING OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

 

Via Telephone

 

 

5:53 P.M. EDT

 

MR. PRICE:  Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining this preview call to preview the visit of Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China.  This call will be on the record but it will be embargoed until the conclusion of the call, so we would ask that you not tweet or otherwise use the contents of this call until its conclusion.

 

We have three senior administration officials on today’s call.  We have Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.  We have Caroline Atkinson, the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics.  And we have Dan Kritenbrink, who is the Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.  

 

So with that, I will turn it over to Ben Rhodes to kick us off.

 

MR. RHODES:  Great.  Thanks, Ned.  Appreciate everybody getting on the call.  I’ll just make some opening comments about how President Obama has approached this relationship with China in office.  I’ll turn it over to Dan who can go through the agenda and some of the specific issues related to the visit.  And then Caroline can speak to some of the economic issues that will come up around the visit.

 

First of all, we start from the premise from the beginning of this administration of pursuing a policy of sustained engagement with the Chinese leadership.  We do so in the belief that this is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world given the breadth of issues on which the United States and China have common interests, or at times have differences.  But we believe strongly that engagement, including at the highest levels, is necessary to work through both those issues where we agree and can pursue constructive cooperation, and on those issues where we differ.

 

And as such, throughout this administration we’ve sustained a regular pace of meetings through our strategic and economic dialogue, and also at the head of state level. 

 

To recap, you’ll recall that President Obama was hosted for a state visit by Hu Jintao, and then he reciprocated and hosted President Hu here in Washington.  After President Xi Jinping came to office, we hosted him at Sunnylands for a very extended discussion in a more informal setting where they were able to get to know another and cover the very broad range of issues upon which the United States and China deal with one another.

 

Last year we had a very successful state visit to China in which we were able to reach a number of significant breakthroughs, particularly as it relates to climate change, some trade irritants that we were able to overcome, and advancing our military-to-military cooperation among others. 

 

Just to make a couple of other comments here — again, we’ve approached this relationship knowing that we’re not going to agree on everything, but with the strong belief that we benefit when we can advance cooperation.  That includes on bilateral issues, but it also includes multilateral and global issues.  We believe that the more China is invested in resolving global issues and supporting a rules-based international order, the better it will be for the United States and for the world.  And the climate commitment that came out of last year’s state visit is a direct indication of how sustained engagement can yield results in which the U.S. and China, again, are cooperating not just bilaterally but setting an example and helping provide momentum to global efforts as well.

 

Bilaterally we have a very broad — I should add actually just one more note on global issues.  Another issue in which we’ve worked very persistently with China over the years is the Iranian nuclear issue.  It took a lot of time and effort at the highest levels of our government to secure Chinese cooperation for the sanctions that applied so much pressure on Iran.  And then China was side-by-side with us at the table and the P5+1 discussions that resulted in the breakthrough and the nuclear deal that was reached to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

 

At the same time, of course, we’re going to continue to have a range of bilateral differences, some of which I’m sure we’ll discuss on this call.  But we certainly believe that the way to address those is directly with the Chinese, through engagement.  Denying ourselves that type of engagement with the Chinese would simply deny ourselves the ability to advance our interests and to make clear to China where we stand.

 

The last thing I’d say is that the U.S.-China relationship is just one part of the broader rebalance to the Asia Pacific region.  You’ve heard the President speak often about how America’s interest in the 21st century will largely be defined by our engagement in the largest-emerging market in the world.  A central pillar of our Asia rebalance is this bilateral relationship with China.  Other pillars of course include the U.S. alliances, which are the cornerstone of our approach to the Asia Pacific, and we’ve invested significantly in those alliances, as well as our emerging partnerships with countries such as the ASEAN countries.

 

So this is part of a broader Asia policy.  But what I will say is that the countries of the Asia Pacific certainly believe that a good U.S.-China relationship, a stable U.S.-China relationship contributes to the stability and the prosperity of the region.  So even as we are deepening those alliances, building those partnerships with emerging countries, working to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will be a landmark effort to advance America’s economic interest and to cement our engagement in Asia, we see this bilateral relationship with China as fundamental to our Asia rebalance.

 

With that, I’ll turn it over to Dan to go through the details of the visit.

 

MR. KRITENBRINK:  Thank you, Ben.  If I could just walk you through, briefly, the schedule here in Washington, and then I’ll talk just a little bit about some of the goals of the visit.

 

President Xi will arrive in Washington on the afternoon of September 24.  That evening, President Obama and President Xi will have a private dinner similar to the meal that they had done at Sunnylands and at Yingtai last November.  And we expect they would use that meal as a somewhat more informal occasion to have a strategic-level discussion about their respective priorities and visions for the future of the bilateral relationship.

 

President Obama and Mrs. Obama will then host President Xi and Madam Peng Liyuan for a state visit on September 25.  That will begin with an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn, followed by meetings in the White House and then a joint press conference.  From there, Vice President Biden and Secretary Kerry will host President Xi and Madam Peng at the State Department for a state lunch.  The President and Mrs. Obama will then host President Xi and Madam Peng for a state dinner at the White House that evening.

 

I think Ben has covered very well our approach to China and how our China policy is embedded in our larger approach to the rebalance to the region.  I guess I would just emphasize, as Ben did, that we take a balanced, clear-eyed and realistic approach to our relationship with China.  There will be, I expect, a real focus on some of the key international security issues such as Iran and North Korea when the two Presidents sit down to meet.

 

We’ll also focus on ways we can expand cooperation on several of the global issues that Ben mentioned, including climate change, global health, building on the work that we did to combat Ebola in West Africa, and perhaps on some other issues.

 

And then of course, there will be a range of bilateral issues as well, including, we hope, further work at building out confidence-building measures between our two militaries, and some things we can do to improve people-to-people interaction between the American and Chinese people, building on last year’s visa-related extension agreement.

 

I would close by just saying, as Ben said, there will also be I think a very robust discussion of the differences between our two countries.  As the President has said, the national security advisor has said, we won’t paper over those differences.  We’ll be very clear and candid about them.  Some of those differences will include cyber, economic and trade issues, maritime issues and human rights.  So I think you’ll see that balanced approach on display during the state visit. 

 

That’s all I wanted to say.

 

MS. ATKINSON:  Thank you, Dan, and thanks to everybody on the call.  I just wanted to make a couple of points about the relationship with China in the economic sphere.  Clearly, as Ben said, this is an extremely important and deep relationship.  We have seen, this summer, that it’s important that China demonstrate that its economic reforms are on track; that it will refrain from competitive devaluation; and that it will implement pro-growth fiscal policies that accelerate the transition to consumer-led growth.  This is extremely important, we believe, for the acceleration of China’s reform for continuing the growth that China wants and that is also in the interest of the global economy.

 

Secondly, the United States believes that it’s time for China — it’s important that China should share responsibility for sustaining the rules-based international economic system.  This system, which was put in place with a lot of work by the United States and others, has benefitted China and enabled its rise.  We believe that China recognizes this, and that it’s important for us to work together to strengthen that international financial system, including through more balanced economic growth in China.  Of course, the United States is in a relatively strong position at the moment in terms of our economic performance.

 

And finally, as Dan mentioned, there are some irritants on the bilateral economic relationship that can be threatened by China’s policies that can be discriminatory and protectionist on technology, uneven enforcement of anti-monopoly law, and actions in the agricultural sphere where science-based approach is not yet fully in place.

 

So we believe that it’s in China’s interest and our interest that China move to reaffirm the protection of intellectual property and allow market forces to play a decisive role in the economy as they have said, and allow for fair competition and a level playing field for foreign firms in their domestic market. 

 

Q    You guys have talked a lot about cyber and we know that cyber will be probably a tense discussion.  Can we expect that there will be an agreement at all on the cyber issue — and/or will you say to Xi, will the President to President Xi that sanctions are pending?

 

     MR. RHODES:  I’ll start, Jeff, and then see if Dan wants to add anything.  I think cyber will certainly be a very important part of the agenda and the discussion.  We made very clear to China our deep concerns about certain cyber activities.  In particular, we focused on a Chinese government-sponsored, cyber-enabled theft of confidential business information and proprietary technology from U.S. companies.  And so to be very clear here, this is not just a matter of whether or not countries conduct traditional espionage; it’s a matter of whether our businesses can have the confidence that they can operate in China or operate globally without being subjected to cyber intrusions and that seek to steal their intellectual property.

 

     This should be of interest to the Chinese as well.  In the last several decades, as we’ve expanded this relationship, one of the key stakeholders for the U.S.-China relationship here in the United States has been the business community.  But we are increasingly hearing concerns about activities that the Chinese have been engaged in.  So we want to make very clear that this puts at risk China’s ability to continue on its economic growth if businesses don’t have confidence that they’re not going to be subjected to cyber theft.

 

     Our preference is to handle this through dialogue and through diplomacy, and through mutual understandings that we can reach.  I don’t want to suggest a particular formal agreement — we’ll have to see again what type of discussions the leaders have.  What I do want to emphasize is that the area where we would like to reach a greater understanding with the Chinese is on the protection of intellectual property and the ability of businesses to operate without concern of cyber theft.  And, again, this will be an ongoing dialogue.

 

     Now, we’ve also made clear that we have other punitive measures available when we do see instances of cyber intrusions and cyber theft.  In the past, the United States government has already engaged in law enforcement actions, for instance, that targeted Chinese entities who we believed were behind that type of activity.  Sanctions remain the tool of the United States, and we would be prepared, if necessary, to pursue sanctions as a tool if we felt that there was a case that merited that type of punitive action.

 

     So there’s a range of options available to us, ranging from constructive dialogue and mutual understandings to more punitive measures to include sanctions.  And I think we’ll have the ability to lay that out for the Chinese.  But I think we do so from the premise that it’s in China’s interest to ensure that businesses have the confidence that there is a level playing field in China and that they’re not at risk from Chinese cyber actors.

 

     Q    Hi, there.  It seems like the course of this relationship is always one step forward and then one step or two steps backwards, especially in Chinese actions in the cyber realm, maritime security and human rights.  Do you feel like it’s an inevitability that that’s going to be the course of this relationship in the future?  Do you have any optimism or confidence that China will be a better actor in cybersecurity?  And if you do have some optimism, where does that come from?  Thanks.

 

     MR. RHODES:  So, Michelle, I think that there’s going to be aspects of the relationship that are cooperative and there are going to be aspects of the relationship that are competitive.  And that’s always been our understanding.  And as a general matter, we welcome the peaceful rise of prosperous China.  That can benefit our own interests.  It can support U.S. jobs in economic activity.  And it can contribute to the stability of the Asia Pacific region.

 

     What we’re not going to do is say that because we have significant differences with China, we’re not going to cooperate with them on other issues.  Because if you look at the steps forward, to use your formulation, there have been some very significant steps forward.  The U.S.-China cooperation on climate change, which will be a focus of this summit as well, is absolutely essential to achieving an ambitious agreement in Paris when the nations of the world will come together to try to deal with climate change.  As the two biggest emitters, our ability to work together is what unlocks the possibility of reaching that type of agreement.

 

     On Iran, China was instrumental in reaching the P5+1 agreement.  On North Korea, I think we’ve seen in recent years an increasing Chinese willingness to understand that we need to be underscoring the necessity of denuclearization, and as necessary applying pressure on the North Korean regime.

 

     So there’s a range of issues, I think, where I think we can say we’ve made progress.  At the same time, we are going to have concerns and we’re going to be open about those concerns.  We talked about cyber.  Again, the chief reason I think the Chinese have an interest in changing some of their behavior in the cyber realm is because if they’re operating outside of established international rules and norms, they’re ultimately going to alienate businesses, including U.S. businesses who have been critical to Chinese economic growth. 

 

In the South China Sea, similarly, we are not a claimant; what we have an interest in is the free flow of commerce and stability in the region.  But when we see militarization of the South China Sea, when we see land reclamation, that obviously has the potential to be destabilizing.  What it also does, frankly, is provoke some of the other nations in the region.  And it’s not in China’s interest to do so.  China has benefitted from a stable Asia Pacific; benefitted from good relations with the ASEAN countries.  And so, therefore, I think we would make the case that abiding by international law, having ways of avoiding conflict, having a code of conduct so that there’s transparency in the South China Sea, and ultimately resolving these claims consistent with international law is in their interest as well.

 

So we’ll continue to expect that when you have two countries that are as big and different as the United States and China, we’ll have disagreements and we’ll be competitive.  But again, I think through engagement we can still make important progress.

 

You mentioned human rights.  Human rights goes beyond the difference.  We have a set of universal values that we stand for everywhere.  So this isn’t, like, a policy difference like we have on a trade irritant.  We believe that people should have the right to speak freely.  We believe that journalists and NGOs should be able to operate freely, and we are going to be very clear about that not just with China but with any country in the world.  And I’d expect that that would be a part of this visit as well.

 

MR. KRITENBRINK:  I completely agree with that.  I mean, I think it’s an exceptionally complex relationship; I think it always has been.  I think we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that, as Ben very correctly pointed out, that we’re cooperating in a broad range of areas.  I think you could argue that we’re cooperating in more meaningful ways, on a more diverse set of issues than ever before.  At the same time, the challenges that we face are exceptionally important and they’re complex, and we intend to tackle those issues head on and deal with them in a forthright manner. 

 

And could I add just one comment on the human rights issue.  I also thought, in addition to the fact that we have very clear views about how states should behave in the way that they treat their peoples and the universal rights of their peoples that they should respect, I think increasingly we’ve been concerned about certain steps that China has taken domestically through various national security-related laws — draft NGO law — that really seem to be designed to further constrict the operations of civil society, and unfortunately seems designed to restrict the activities of many NGOs, universities, foundations and others who have contributed directly to China’s development and to the development of our bilateral relationship.  And so I think that will be another area of focus under the human rights rubric during the visit.

 

Q    Hi, guys.  Thank you for doing the call.  I wanted to see if you could just talk a little bit about the relationship between President Obama and President Xi.  We hear the relationship between Obama and Putin described sometimes as “businesslike.”  Considering their meeting at Sunnylands, what kind of relationship do he and Obama have?  And can you talk a little bit about in their talks, perhaps, that private dinner or their other meetings, how President Obama will approach breaching some of these tougher issues if they do have a somewhat more friendly relationship?  Thanks.

 

MR. RHODES:  I think he’s been able to develop a good relationship with President Xi.  That doesn’t mean we agree with everything President Xi does.  But I think that they have been able to have constructive conversations.

 

And here’s how I’d put it.  The U.S.-China — someone who’s been in a lot of these meetings — oftentimes, frankly, because we have such a long agenda, you end up sitting there and going through a list, and “here’s our position on X-issue and here’s your position.”  I think what’s been distinct about their relationship, starting at Sunnylands, is far and away the most constructive engagements they’ve had have been in their private dinners. 

 

You have the bilateral meetings, you work through the agenda, and that’s necessary and very important.  But both at Sunnylands and in China, President Obama commented afterwards that he felt the most constructive engagements were when they were able to talk for several hours over dinner without a formal agenda, and give a vision for where they want to take their country, give a vision for how they think the U.S. and China should operate together in the world, and kind of put aside the talking points and actually get a window into one another’s world view. 

 

And those world views are very different.  And that’s part of why I think the conversations are useful and important, because it provides a context for all these issues.

 

And so again, I think starting in Sunnylands and then in China, this ability to step back and offer a perspective of where we are in terms of our relationship and where our respective countries are, President Obama was able to hear from President Xi about his own domestic program, and was able to share some thoughts on his domestic program, as well.  It doesn’t mean that there’s going to be perfect agreement, but I think they have an understanding as leaders of where they’re coming from on these issues — so that way, when there is a dispute, they’re able to address it directly.  And when there’s an opportunity to make progress, we seize it.

 

So for instance, at Sunnylands there was a lot of talk about climate change, and there we had an important but more modest goal of dealing with the Montreal Protocol.  But those conversations I think led to the effort to have the breakthrough last year, where we announced these joint targets with respect to our missions.  And I think that was rooted in President Obama’s understanding that President Xi is ambitious, and that ambition can serve global interests. 

 

I think it’s a misnomer to say that we don’t want China to play a large role on the world stage.  If China is invested in addressing climate change and supporting health security and working with us on development efforts, and expanding infrastructure in places like Africa, that can be beneficial.  Now, how that would be done matters.  But the conversations I think provided a framework where we could find, okay, here’s a target of opportunity. 

 

In Sunnylands, we had a good discussion about climate and the environment, and how China is thinking about that domestically.  I think that allowed us to make the progress that ultimately resulted in the announcement last year.  So I think as we look ahead to this state visit, starting with that private dinner is very important because at that dinner it won’t be a formal agenda, ticking off a list of issues.  They can step back, look at the strategic context, acknowledge the differences and some of the tensions that are there, but also look for what are the opportunities for the next areas where we can cooperate. 

 

And last thing I’d say is, a good example of this is the military-to-military cooperation, which had become moribund but has expanded significantly since President Xi took office.  Even as we’re having significant differences over certain activities in the South China Sea or the Air Defense Zone, the ability to have our militaries be in contact is critical to avoid miscalculation or any further escalation, and hopefully over time to build some sense of trust that can add to the stability of the region.  So I think that private dinner will set a context and then help us make more progress on the agenda the following day.

 

Next question.

 

Q    You mentioned some of the previous interactions these two Presidents have had, and presumably the issue of cyber has come up at Sunnylands and in China.  And it seems like things have gotten progressively worse, even after those dialogues.  So I’m wondering, though you say you want to fix things with dialogue, if the fact that things have gotten worse after previous encounters indicates that if there isn’t something concrete, something deliverable, some kind of pact that comes out of this, sanctions are pretty likely.  And then, secondly, I just want to know if you were able to see the Wall Street Journal interview that President Xi did.  And in that interview, he said that the Chinese government does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form, nor does it encourage or support Chinese companies to engage in such practices.  I wanted to know what your response was to his denial.

 

MR. RHODES:  Well, candidly, cyber is an issue where we have not made the progress that we’ve wanted to make.  We have not seen the types of steps that give our companies greater assurances.  And we’ve been very forthright about that.  And while our preference is resolving this through dialogue, we’re not averse to punitive measures, including sanctions, if we feel like there are actors in China and entities that are engaged in activities that are sanctionable.  So that remains very much a tool of U.S. policy and we’ll have a mix of tools available, some of them more focused on dialogue and cooperation, but as necessary, we’d be willing to take punitive action.  And we have in the past; you’ve seen some major law enforcement actions, for instance, that have been focused on Chinese entities.

 

And I just want to underscore this — I didn’t see the full interview from President Xi.  What I would say is that we’re drawing a very clear distinction between the fact that, look, there are activities that all governments engage in as it relates to national security, but what we don’t engage in as the United States is the theft of trade secrets.  And that’s something that gets at the integrity of the global economy, and that’s why we’ve been so focused on this.

 

MR. KRITENBRINK:  Could I — yes, one point.  I think on this issue, certainly this has been an issue for the past few years.  The President has raised it very directly.  I think one indication that the Chinese side has taken seriously are concerns of the fact that they sent Secretary Meng Jianzhu here as President Xi’s special envoy to address these issues.  And we had very candid and open discussions with him on that.

 

And you mentioned, President Xi’s comments — I mean, what I would say is, of course we would welcome a commitment on the part of the Chinese not to engage in this type of behavior.  The focus of course has to be on actions not simply words.  So I think we’ll be looking very carefully at the actions of the Chinese state going forward.

 

MR. RHODES:  Yes, and President Xi did say also, looking at this interview, that he wants to strengthen cooperation with the United States on this issue.  I think this summit will be an opportunity for us to hear directly from him what form that takes, and then we’ll be able to make a judgment based on those conversations.

 

Q    Along the same line on this, can we rule out any action before the meeting?  There had been some discussion of perhaps this could happen before or after the trip.  It is now safe to say that there will be no action ahead of the meeting?

 

MR. RHODES:  Yes, I would not anticipate — if you’re talking about sanctions — I would not anticipate that type of action before the meetings, no.

 

Q    Thanks.  I have two quick questions.  One is, I know White House officials and, to some degree, Chinese officials have sort of discounted some of the anti-China rhetoric that’s coming from the campaign trail right now, saying it’s a campaign phenomenon.  But there are folks — foreign policy analysts around town in think tanks and so on — who say that there is a sense from the Chinese folks they’ve talked to that there’s concern in Beijing about a next administration, whether Democratic or Republican, taking a stronger line against China. 

 

And so some of what you’re seeing with the Chinese leadership right now, not just in locking in some agreements with the United States but also in taking some belligerent actions in the South China Sea, is aimed at sort of doing that before the U.S. might take a tougher policy.  I’m wondering how you would react to that.

 

And then the second thing was, because the news just broke, I wanted to see if Ben might want to respond to — Hillary Clinton has come out and said just moments ago that’s she’s opposed to the Keystone Pipeline.  I just thought I would offer you an opportunity to respond to that, as well.

 

MR. RHODES:  It might shock you to know that I believe that there’s an ongoing review that the State Department is doing.  And we don’t have any announcements to make as it relates to Keystone.

 

I’ll just say a word on your first question, and then Dan may want to chime in.  There is always a degree of rhetoric related to the U.S.-China relationship.  And, look, some of that is rooted in very real differences.  When President Obama was running for office, he highlighted some areas where he had significant differences with the Chinese government, and we’ve acted on those differences in many ways — for instance, we brought numerous cases through the WTO and been very successful in that effort.

 

And there is concern across the spectrum about some of the activities in the South China Sea, and we share those concerns.  And I think this administration has sought to raise the profile of maritime issues in the South China Sea, including through the President’s regular engagement at the East Asia summit and our belief that we need to work both with China and ASEAN to address those issues.  I will say, however, that this is such a big and complicated relationship that it is a mistake to oversimplify or suggest that somehow we can benefit from disengaging from China or taking a purely adversarial stance with China. 

 

We conduct over half a trillion dollars in economic activity with China.  There is an enormous amount of U.S. jobs that are created and supported through our trade with China.  China is a member of the U.N. Security — a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.  China is the biggest country in the world, and also the biggest emerging power in the region of the world that is going to be a focal point for the United States. 

 

So I think anybody who is President of the United States will find an interest to work through differences with China and to find areas of cooperating with China.  It’s not a coincidence that there’s been bipartisan support for that type of policy for decades — from Nixon and Ford to Carter to Reagan to Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama.  There have been differences of emphasis and differences on issues, but on the core premise that the United States of America benefits from engagement with China, I think that’s clearly supported by bipartisan administrations.

 

What I would say is China needs to be mindful that its activities don’t undermine its standing here in the United States.  Congress has a very important role to play in U.S.-China policy.  The stakeholders who supported the U.S.-China policy — significantly our business community — have an important role to play. 

 

And so part of our message is, look, if you are not taking steps to address some of these concerns as it relates to particular trade irritants or cyber activities, you risk eroding the support for the U.S.-China relationship that comes from the business community; you risk inviting responses from Congress.

 

So China does need to be mindful of the broad concerns in the United States on certain issues.  And so I think that’s an entirely valid point that, again, across the political spectrum, people are concerned about certain Chinese activities, and that is going to reflect itself not just in what this President does and the next President does, but in what Congress does and how different stakeholders in the United States see the relationship.

 

And the same is true around the world and in the region.  The more China is invested in a rules-based international order, I think the more support the Chinese will find for their objectives in Asia and around the world.  The more China is testing or going beyond the boundaries of that rules-based international order, I think the more countries are going to raise concerns.

 

And so that’s very much the nature of the discussion, but I don’t think people should discount the fact that engagement has yielded very concrete results, including an administration — when you look at our signature initiatives — be it the Iran nuclear deal or climate change — China’s cooperation was fundamental to that progress, as well.

 

MS. ATKINSON:  Just then, to add, that in terms of the global economy, China is the second-largest economy, and what it does matters a lot for the rest of the world.  And I think the way we see it is that this rules-based international order, which we have in the economic sphere as well, supported China’s rise.  And that was remarkable, but it’s now time for China to embrace the responsibility that’s commensurate with its size. 

 

China can’t be a free-rider on the international system.  China needs to help to sustain the rules that enabled its rise and that will support a stronger and more stable global economy.

 

     Q    Question first for Dan or Ben on the South China Sea.  There’s been a lot of discussion about the U.S. sending planes and ships within the 12-mile limit toward the man-made islands that China has been constructing to show that reclaimed land does not grant China any sovereignty rights over large parts of the South China Sea.  There’s an option that’s been proposed by a number of military officers.  I wanted you to say what the White House’s view on that is.  Is that the right step for the U.S. to be taking to push back against China’s military build-up in the South China Sea?  And then quickly for Caroline.  Given China’s economic reforms, do you now think that the Chinese currency is now ready to become part of the SDR in the IMF’s basket of official reserve currencies?

 

     MR. KRITENBRINK:  Well, could I address your first question on, as I understood it, U.S. military operations in the South China Sea.  I would just emphasize the United States has a global freedom of navigation program that it conducts throughout the world and is also very active in East Asia, including in the South China Sea.  That is what we’ve done in the past, that is what we will continue to do in the future.  And as the Secretary of Defense and other senior U.S. officials have made clear, the U.S. military intends to operate anywhere and at any time it is allowed to do so under international law.

 

     And, again, this gets to Ben’s earlier point of our goal is to support and sustain the international rules-based order, and that applies on maritime issues and it applies on a whole range of other issues.  We’re looking to uphold these larger principles of international law, such as freedom of navigation; freedom of overflight; unimpeded, lawful commerce; and peaceful resolution of disputes.  And as a maritime nation, that’s why we carry out these activities on a regular basis — to make clear that everyone is subject to these rules, both large countries and small countries and, of course, including the United States.

 

     MS. ATKINSON:  Thank you.  So as far as the SDR is concerned, as you know, there is a review underway in the IMF.  I’ve noticed comments from France and the U.K. in the last few days in discussions with China that they believe that if China is able to move its reforms forward so that it can meet the tests in that review, then presumably it could meet the tests, it can join the SDR.  I think that all of us — all of the other countries in the IMF feel similarly that what’s most important is for China to take the steps necessary to meet the IMF’s criteria and then to see what happens in that review, which will take place later this year.

 

     Q    I kind of have to repeat the first question.  Can you speak to reports that appeared in the New York Times this weekend stating that the United States and China are pursuing what’s called the cyber arms control agreement?  Basically relinquish the use of certain cyber-offensive capabilities against each other’s critical infrastructure during peacetime. 

 

MR. RHODES:  Sure.  What I’d say is we’ve had a number of very focused discussions with the Chinese, including on the recent trip from the Chinese minister.  We believe very strongly that the U.S. and China both have an interest in investing in clear international norms as it relates to cyber activity.  We’re working together to try to arrive at common principles that could give us greater confidence that China is acting in a manner that does not disadvantage our businesses, and that upholds and invests in those evolving international norms. 

 

I don’t want to suggest that we reached an arms control agreement here, but I do want to suggest that ultimately the goal here is we start from a common understanding that you have agreed-upon principles which we believe must include that cyber theft does not go forward.  And then as the two largest economies in the world, I think we can lead an effort to develop international norms that govern cyber activity.  And that is going to be something that is of interest to the United States and China and the whole world, and is an example of where we need to address bilateral differences but we can also, frankly, set a global framework that can deal with cyber issues going forward.

 

MR. KRITENBRINK:  I think that’s absolutely right.  I would just say, as we’ve I think explained earlier in this call, the issue of cyber and particularly of the concerns that we have with various Chinese behaviors in the cyber realm will be a key focus of the discussions.  I’d be reluctant to raise expectations about an agreement along the lines of what you’ve described.  But certainly that would be, as Ben said, a long-term goal of working towards establishing those norms.  But I think we’re a long ways from getting there, but that certainly is the goal.

 

MR. RHODES:  Great.  Thanks, everybody, for joining the call.

 

                   END                6:40 P.M. EDT

—–

Secretary of State John Kerry Nuclear Agreement with Iran September 2, 2015

 

 

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 REMARKS

September 2, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry Nuclear Agreement with Iran

September 2, 2015

National Constitution Center

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

SECRETARY KERRY:  Dick, thank you so much for a generous introduction.  I’ll say more about it, but I want to say good morning to all of you here.  It is great for me to be able to be here in Philadelphia.  I am delighted to see so many young people with us.  I know school has started and I know the choice between coming here and sitting in class was a very tough one.  (Laughter.)  We’re glad you made the choice you did.

I am particularly grateful that Senator Lugar chose to come here this morning in order to introduce me and to reaffirm his support for this agreement.  But I’m even more grateful for his service to our country over a course of a lifetime.  As a former colleague of his on the Foreign Relations Committee, which he referred to in his introduction, I can bear witness that Dick Lugar is one of the true legislative pathfinders of recent times, with a long record of foreign policy accomplishments.  And what he and Sam Nunn did is a lasting legacy of making this world safer.  He is also someone who has consistently placed our country’s interests above any other consideration, and he has a very deep understanding of how best to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.  He is one of our experts when it comes to that judgment.

So it is appropriate that the senator is here with us this morning, and I think every one of us here joins in saying thank you to you, Dick, for your tremendous service.  (Applause.)  It’s also fitting to be here in Philadelphia, the home ground of this absolutely magnificent Center to the Constitution, the Liberty Bell, and one our nation’s most revered founders, Benjamin Franklin.  And I must say I never quite anticipated, but this is one of the great vistas in America, and to be able to look down and see Independence Hall there is inspiring, I think, for all of us here.

I would say a quick word about Ben Franklin.  In addition to his many inventions and his special status as America’s first diplomat, Franklin is actually credited with being the first person known to have made a list of pros and cons – literally dividing a page in two and writing all of the reasons to support a proposal on one side and all of the reasons to oppose it on the other.

And this morning, I would like to invite you – all of you, those here and those listening through the media – to participate in just such an exercise.

Because two months ago, in Vienna, the United States and five other nations – including permanent members of the UN Security Council – reached agreement with Iran on ensuring the peaceful nature of that country’s nuclear program.  As early as next week, Congress will begin voting on whether to support that plan.  And the outcome will matter as much as any foreign policy decision in recent history.  Like Senator Lugar, President Obama and I are convinced – beyond any reasonable doubt – that the framework that we have put forward will get the job done.  And in that assessment, we have excellent company. 

Last month, 29 of our nation’s top nuclear physicists and Nobel Prize winners, scientists, from one end of our country to the other, congratulated the President for what they called “a technically sound, stringent, and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance … that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.”  The scientists praised the agreement for its creative approach to verification and for the rigorous safeguards that will prevent Iran from obtaining the fissile material for a bomb.

Today, I will lay out the facts that caused those scientists and many other experts to reach the favorable conclusions that they have.  I will show why the agreed plan will make the United States, Israel, the Gulf States, and the world safer.  I will explain how it gives us the access that we need to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains wholly peaceful, while preserving every option to respond if Iran fails to meet its commitments.  I will make clear that the key elements of the agreement will last not for 10 or 15 years, as some are trying to assert, or for 20 or 25, but they will last for the lifetime of Iran’s nuclear program.  And I will dispel some of the false information that has been circulating about the proposal on which Congress is soon going to vote.

Now, for this discussion, there is an inescapable starting point – a place where every argument made against the agreement must confront a stark reality – the reality of how advanced Iran’s nuclear program had become and where it was headed when Presidents Obama and Rouhani launched the diplomatic process that concluded this past July.

Two years ago, in September of 2013, we were facing an Iran that had already mastered the nuclear fuel cycle; already stockpiled enough enriched uranium that, if further enriched, could arm 10 to 12 bombs; an Iran that was already enriching uranium to the level of 20 percent, which is just below weapons-grade; an Iran that had already installed 10,000-plus centrifuges; and an Iran that was moving rapidly to commission a heavy water reactor able to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium for an additional bomb or two a year.  That, my friends, is where we already were when we began our negotiations.

At a well-remembered moment during the UN General Assembly the previous fall, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had held up a cartoon of a bomb to show just how dangerous Iran’s nuclear program had become.  And in 2013, he returned to that podium to warn that Iran was positioning itself to “rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it.”  The prime minister argued rightly that the so-called breakout time – the interval required for Iran to produce enough fissile material for one bomb – had dwindled to as little as two months.  Even though it would take significantly longer to actually build the bomb itself using that fissile material, the prime minister’s message was clear: Iran had successfully transformed itself into a nuclear threshold state.

In the Obama Administration, we were well aware of that troubling fact, and more important, we were already responding to it.  The record is irrefutable that, over the course of two American administrations, it was the United States that led the world in assembling against Tehran one of the toughest international sanctions regimes ever developed.

But we also had to face an obvious fact: sanctions alone were not getting the job done, not even close.  They were failing to slow, let alone halt, Iran’s relentless march towards a nuclear weapons capability.  So President Obama acted.  He reaffirmed his vow that Iran would absolutely not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon.  He marshaled support for this principle from every corner of the international community.  He made clear his determination to go beyond what sanctions could accomplish and find a way to not only stop, but to throw into reverse, Iran’s rapid expansion of its nuclear program.

As we developed our strategy, we cast a very wide net to enlist the broadest expertise available.  We sat down with the IAEA and with our own intelligence community to ensure that the verification standards that we sought on paper would be effective in reality.  We consulted with Congress and our international allies and friends.  We examined carefully every step that we might take to close off each of Iran’s potential pathways to a bomb.  And of course, we were well aware that every proposal, every provision, every detail would have to withstand the most painstaking scrutiny.  We knew that.  And so we made clear from the outset that we would not settle for anything less than an agreement that was comprehensive, verifiable, effective, and of lasting duration.

We began with an interim agreement reached in Geneva – the Joint Plan of Action.  It accomplished diplomatically what sanctions alone could never have done or did.  It halted the advance of Iran’s nuclear activities.  And it is critical to note – you don’t hear much about it, but it’s critical to note that for more than 19 months now, Iran has complied with every requirement of that plan.  But this was just a first step.

From that moment, we pushed ahead, seeking a broad and enduring agreement, sticking to our core positions, maintaining unity among a diverse negotiating group of partners, and we arrived at the good and effective deal that we had sought.

And I ask you today and in the days ahead, as we have asked members of Congress over the course of these last months, consider the facts of what we achieved and judge for yourself the difference between where we were two years ago and where we are now, and where we can be in the future.  Without this agreement, Iran’s so-called breakout time was about two months; with this agreement it will increase by a factor of six, to at least a year, and it will remain at that level for a decade or more. 

Without this agreement, Iran could double the number of its operating centrifuges almost overnight and continue expanding with ever more efficient designs.  With this agreement, Iran’s centrifuges will be reduced by two-thirds for 10 years. 

Without this agreement, Iran could continue expanding its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is now more than 12,000 kilograms – enough, if further enriched, for multiple bombs.  With this agreement, that stockpile will shrink and shrink some more – a reduction of some 98 percent, to no more than 300 kilograms for 15 years. 

Without this agreement, Iran’s heavy-water reactor at Arak would soon be able to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium each year to fuel one or two nuclear weapons.  With this agreement, the core of that reactor will be removed and filled with concrete, and Iran will never be permitted to produce any weapons-grade plutonium.

Without this agreement, the IAEA would not have assured access to undeclared locations in Iran where suspicious activities might be taking place.  The agency could seek access, but if Iran objected, there would be no sure method for resolving a dispute in a finite period, which is exactly what has led us to where we are today – that standoff.  With this agreement, the IAEA can go wherever the evidence leads.  No facility – declared or undeclared – will be off limits, and there is a time certain for assuring access.  There is no other country to which such a requirement applies.  This arrangement is both unprecedented and unique. 

In addition, the IAEA will have more inspectors working in Iran, using modern technologies such as real-time enrichment monitoring, high-tech electronic seals, and cameras that are always watching – 24/7, 365.  Further, Iran has agreed never to pursue key technologies that would be necessary to develop a nuclear explosive device. 

So the agreement deals not only with the production of fissile material, but also with the critical issue of weaponization.  Because of all of these limitations and guarantees, we can sum up by saying that without this agreement, the Iranians would have several potential pathways to a bomb; with it, they won’t have any. 

Iran’s plutonium pathway will be blocked because it won’t have a reactor producing plutonium for a weapon, and it won’t build any new heavy-water reactors or engage in reprocessing for at least 15 years, and after that we have the ability to watch and know precisely what they’re doing.

The uranium pathway will be blocked because of the deep reductions in Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity, and because for 15 years the country will not enrich uranium to a level higher than 3.67 percent.  Let me be clear:  No one can build a bomb from a stockpile of 300 kilograms of uranium enriched only 3.67 percent.  It is just not possible. 

Finally, Iran’s covert pathway to a bomb will also be blocked.  Under our plan, there will be 24/7 monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities.  As soon as we start the implementation, inspectors will be able to track Iran’s uranium as it is mined, then milled, then turned into yellow cake, then into gas, and eventually into waste.  This means that for a quarter of a century at least, every activity throughout the nuclear fuel chain will receive added scrutiny.  And for 20 years, the IAEA will be monitoring the production of key centrifuge components in Iran in order to assure that none are diverted to a covert program.

So if Iran did decide to cheat, its technicians would have to do more than bury a processing facility deep beneath the ground.  They would have to come up with a complete – complete – and completely secret nuclear supply chain: a secret source of uranium, a secret milling facility, a secret conversion facility, a secret enrichment facility.  And our intelligence community and our Energy Department, which manages our nuclear program and our nuclear weapons, both agree Iran could never get away with such a deception.  And if we have even a shadow of doubt that illegal activities are going on, either the IAEA will be given the access required to uncover the truth or Iran will be in violation and the nuclear-related sanctions can snap back into place.  We will also have other options to ensure compliance if necessary.

Given all of these requirements, it is no wonder that this plan has been endorsed by so many leading American scientists, experts on nuclear nonproliferation, and others.  More than 60 former top national security officials, 100 – more than 100 retired ambassadors – people who served under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, are backing the proposal – as are retired generals and admirals from all 5 of our uniformed services.  Brent Scowcroft, one of the great names in American security endeavors of the last century and now, served as a national security advisor to two Republican presidents.  He is also among the many respected figures who are supporting it.  Internationally, the agreement is being backed, with one exception, by each of the more than 100 countries that have taken a formal position.  The agreement was also endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on a vote of 15 to nothing.  This not only says something very significant about the quality of the plan, particularly when you consider that 5 of those countries are permanent members and they’re all nuclear powers, but it should also invite reflection from those who believe the United States can walk away from this without causing grave harm to our international reputation, to relationships, and to interests. 

You’ve probably heard the claim that because of our strength, because of the power of our banks, all we Americans have to do if Congress rejects this plan is return to the bargaining table, puff out our chests, and demand a better deal.  I’ve heard one critic say he would use sanctions to give Iran a choice between having an economy or having a nuclear program.  Well, folks, that’s a very punchy soundbite, but it has no basis in any reality.  As Dick said, I was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when our nation came together across party lines to enact round after round of economic sanctions against Iran.  But remember, even the toughest restrictions didn’t stop Iran’s nuclear program from speeding ahead from a couple of hundred centrifuges to 5,000 to 19,000.  We’ve already been there.  If this agreement is voted down, those who vote no will not be able to tell you how many centrifuges Iran will have next year or the year after.  If it’s approved, we will be able to tell you exactly what the limits on Iran’s program will be.

The fact is that it wasn’t either sanctions or threats that actually stopped and finally stopped the expansion of Iran’s nuclear activities.  The sanctions brought people to the table, but it was the start of the negotiating process and the negotiations themselves, recently concluded in Vienna, that actually stopped it.  Only with those negotiations did Iran begin to get rid of its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.  Only with those negotiations did it stop installing more centrifuges and cease advancing the Arak reactor.  Only then did it commit to be more forthcoming about IAEA access and negotiate a special arrangement to break the deadlock. 

So just apply your common sense:  What do you think will happen if we say to Iran now, “Hey, forget it.  The deal is off.  Let’s go back to square one”?  How do you think our negotiating partners, all of whom have embraced this deal, will react; all of whom are prepared to go forward with it – how will they react?  What do you think will happen to that multilateral sanctions regime that brought Iran to the bargaining table in the first place?  The answer is pretty simple.  The answer is straightforward.  Not only will we lose the momentum that we have built up in pressing Iran to limit its nuclear activities, we will almost surely start moving in the opposite direction.

We need to remember sanctions don’t just sting in one direction, my friends.  They also impose costs on those who forego the commercial opportunities in order to abide by them.  It’s a tribute to President Obama’s diplomacy – and before that, to President George W. Bush – that we were able to convince countries to accept economic difficulties and sacrifices and put together the comprehensive sanctions regime that we did.  Many nations that would like to do business with Iran agreed to hold back because of the sanctions and – and this is vital – and because they wanted to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  They have as much interest in it as we do.  And that’s why they hoped the negotiations would succeed, and that’s why they will join us in insisting that Iran live up to its obligations.  But they will not join us if we unilaterally walk away from the very deal that the sanctions were designed to bring about.  And they will not join us if we’re demanding even greater sacrifices and threatening their businesses and banks because of a choice we made and they opposed.

So while it may not happen all at once, it is clear that if we reject this plan, the multilateral sanctions regime will start to unravel.  The pressure on Iran will lessen and our negotiating leverage will diminish, if not disappear.  Now, obviously, that is not the path, as some critics would have us believe, to a so-called better deal.  It is a path to a much weaker position for the United States of America and to a much more dangerous Middle East.

And this is by no means a partisan point of view that I just expressed.  Henry Paulson was Secretary of Treasury under President George W. Bush.  He helped design the early stages of the Iran sanctions regime.  But just the other day, he said, “It would be totally unrealistic to believe that if we backed out of this deal, the multilateral sanctions would remain in place.”  And Paul Volcker, who chaired the Federal Reserve under President Reagan, he said, “This agreement is as good as you are going to get.  To think that we can unilaterally maintain sanctions doesn’t make any sense.”

We should pause for a minute to contemplate what voting down this agreement might mean for Iran’s cadre of hardliners, for those people in Iran who lead the chants of “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and even “Death to Rouhani,” and who prosecute journalists simply for doing their jobs.  The evidence documents that among those who most fervently want this agreement to fall apart are the most extreme factions in Iran.  And their opposition should tell you all you need to know.  From the very beginning, these extremists have warned that negotiating with the United States would be a waste of time; why on Earth would we now take a step that proves them right?  

Let me be clear.  Rejecting this agreement would not be sending a signal of resolve to Iran; it would be broadcasting a message so puzzling most people across the globe would find it impossible to comprehend.  After all, they’ve listened as we warned over and over again about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program.  They’ve watched as we spent two years forging a broadly accepted agreement to rein that program in.  They’ve nodded their heads in support as we have explained how the plan that we have developed will make the world safer.

Who could fairly blame them for not understanding if we suddenly switch course and reject the very outcome we had worked so hard to obtain?  And not by offering some new and viable alternative, but by offering no alternative at all.  It is hard to conceive of a quicker or more self-destructive blow to our nation’s credibility and leadership – not only with respect to this one issue, but I’m telling you across the board – economically, politically, militarily, and even morally.  We would pay an immeasurable price for this unilateral reversal.  

Friends, as Dick mentioned in his introduction, I have been in public service for many years and I’ve been called on to make some difficult choices in that course of time.  There are those who believe deciding whether or not to support the Iran agreement is just such a choice.  And I respect that and I respect them.  But I also believe that because of the stringent limitations on Iran’s program that are included in this agreement that I just described, because of where that program was headed before our negotiations began and will head again if we walk away, because of the utter absence of a viable alternative to this plan that we have devised, the benefits of this agreement far outweigh any potential drawbacks.  Certainly, the goal of preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon is supported across our political spectrum and it has the backing of countries on every continent.  So what then explains the controversy that has persisted in this debate?  

A big part of the answer, I think, is that even before the ink on the agreement was dry, we started being bombarded by myths about what the agreement will and won’t do, and that bombardment continues today.

The first of these myths is that the deal is somehow based on trust or a naive expectation that Iran is going to reverse course on many of the policies it’s been pursuing internationally.  Critics tell us over and over again, “You can’t trust Iran.”  Well, guess what?  There is a not a single sentence, not a single paragraph in this whole agreement that depends on promises or trust, not one.  The arrangement that we worked out with Tehran is based exclusively on verification and proof.  That’s why the agreement is structured the way it is; that’s why sanctions relief is tied strictly to performance; and it is why we have formulated the most far-reaching monitoring and transparency regime ever negotiated.  

Those same critics point to the fact that two decades ago, the United States reached a nuclear framework with North Korea that didn’t accomplish what it set out to do.  And we’re told we should have learned a lesson from that.  Well, the truth is we did learn a lesson.  

The agreement with North Korea was four pages and only dealt with plutonium.  Our agreement with Iran runs 159 detailed pages, applies to all of Tehran’s potential pathways to a bomb, and is specifically grounded in the transparency rules of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which didn’t even exist two decades ago when the North Korea deal was made because it was developed specifically with the North Korea experience in mind.  Lesson learned.

The reality is that if we trusted Iran or thought that it was about to become more moderate, this agreement would be less necessary than it is.  But we don’t.  We would like nothing more than to see Iran act differently, but not for a minute are we counting on it.  Iran’s support for terrorist groups and its contributions to sectarian violence are not recent policies.  They reflect the perceptions of its leaders about Iran’s long-term national interests and there are no grounds for expecting those calculations to change in the near future.  That is why we believe so strongly that every problem in the Middle East – every threat to Israel and to our friends in the region – would be more dangerous if Iran were permitted to have a nuclear weapon.  That is the inescapable bottom line.

That’s also why we are working so hard and so proactively to protect our interests and those of our allies. 

In part because of the challenge posed by Iran, we have engaged in an unprecedented level of military, intelligence, and security cooperation with our friend and ally Israel.  We are determined to help our ally address new and complex security threats and to ensure its qualitative military edge. 

We work with Israel every day to enforce sanctions and prevent terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah from obtaining the financing and the weapons that they seek – whether from Iran or from any other source.  And we will stand with Israel to stop its adversaries from once again launching deadly and unprovoked attacks against the Israeli people. 

Since 2009, we have provided $20 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, more than half of what we have given to nations worldwide. 

Over and above that, we have invested some 3 billion in the production and deployment of Iron Dome batteries and other missile defense programs and systems.  And we saw how in the last Gaza War lives were saved in Israel because of it.  We have given privileged access to advanced military equipment such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Israel is the only nation in the Middle East to which the United States has sold this fifth-generation aircraft.  The President recently authorized a massive arms resupply package, featuring penetrating munitions and air-to-air missiles.  And we hope soon to conclude a new memorandum of understanding – a military assistance plan that will guide our intensive security cooperation through the next decade. 

And diplomatically, our support for Israel also remains rock solid as we continue to oppose every effort to delegitimize the Jewish state, or to pass biased resolutions against it in international bodies.  

Now, I understand – I understand personally there is no way to overstate the concern in Israel about Iran and about the potential consequences that this agreement – or rejecting this agreement – might have on Israel’s security.  The fragility of Israel’s position has been brought home to me on every one of the many trips I have made to that country.

In fact, as Secretary of State, I have already traveled to Israel more than a dozen times, spending the equivalent of a full month there – even ordering my plane to land at Ben Gurion Airport when commercial air traffic had been halted during the last Gaza War; doing so specifically as a sign of support.

Over the years, I have walked through Yad Vashem, a living memorial to the 6 million lost, and I have felt in my bones the unfathomable evil of the Holocaust and the undying reminder never to forget.

I have climbed inside a shelter at Kiryat Shmona where children were forced to leave their homes and classrooms to seek refuge from Katyusha rockets. 

I visited Sderot and witnessed the shredded remains of homemade missiles from Gaza – missiles fired with no other purpose than to sow fear in the hearts of Israeli families.

I have piloted an Israeli jet out of Ovda Airbase and observed first-hand the tininess of Israel airspace from which it is possible to see all of the country’s neighbors at the same time.

And I have bowed my head at the Western Wall and offered my prayer for peace – peace for Israel, for the region, and for the world.

I take a back seat to no one in my commitment to the security of Israel, a commitment I demonstrated through my 28-plus years in the Senate.  And as Secretary of State, I am fully conscious of the existential nature of the choice Israel must make.  I understand the conviction that Israel, even more than any other country, simply cannot afford a mistake in defending its security.  And while I respectfully disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the benefits of the Iran agreement, I do not question for an instant the basis of his concern or that of any Israeli.

But I am also convinced, as is President Obama, our senior defense and military leaders, and even many former Israeli military and intelligence officials, that this agreement puts us on the right path to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon.  The people of Israel will be safer with this deal, and the same is true for the people throughout the region. 

And to fully ensure that, we are also taking specific and far-reaching steps to coordinate with our friends from the Gulf states.  President Obama hosted their leaders at Camp David earlier this year.  I visited with them in Doha last month.  And later this week, we will welcome King Salman of Saudi Arabia to Washington.  Gulf leaders share our profound concerns about Iran’s policies in the Middle East, but they’re also alarmed by Iran’s nuclear program.  We must and we will respond on both fronts.  We will make certain that Iran lives up to its commitments under the nuclear agreement, and we will continue strengthening our security partnerships.

We’re determined that our Gulf friends will have the political and the military support that they need, and to that end, we are working with them to develop a ballistic missile defense for the Arabian Peninsula, provide special operations training, authorize urgently required arms transfers, strengthen cyber security, engage in large-scale military exercises, and enhance maritime interdiction of illegal Iranian arms shipments.  We are also deepening our cooperation and support in the fight against the threat posed to them, to us, and to all civilization by the forces of international terror, including their surrogates and their proxies. 

Through these steps and others, we will maintain international pressure on Iran.  United States sanctions imposed because of Tehran’s support for terrorism and its human rights record – those will remain in place, as will our sanctions aimed at preventing the proliferation of ballistic missiles and transfer of conventional arms.  The UN Security Council prohibitions on shipping weapons to Hizballah, the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in Yemen – all of those will remain as well.

We will also continue to urge Tehran to provide information regarding an American who disappeared in Iran several years ago, and to release the U.S. citizens its government has unjustly imprisoned.  We will do everything we can to see that our citizens are able to safely return to where they belong – at home and with their families.

Have no doubt.  The United States will oppose Iran’s destabilizing policies with every national security tool available.  And disregard the myth.  The Iran agreement is based on proof, not trust.  And in a letter that I am sending to all the members of Congress today, I make clear the Administration’s willingness to work with them on legislation to address shared concerns about regional security consistent with the agreement that we have worked out with our international partners.

This brings us to the second piece of fiction: that this deal would somehow legitimize Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.  I keep hearing this.  Well, yes, for years Iran has had a civilian nuclear program.  Under the Nonproliferation Treaty, you can do that.  It was never a realistic option to change that.  But recognizing this reality is not the same as legitimizing the pursuit of a nuclear weapon.  In fact, this agreement does the exact opposite.  Under IAEA safeguards, Iran is prohibited from ever pursuing a nuclear weapon. 

This is an important point, so I want to be sure that everyone understands:  The international community is not telling Iran that it can’t have a nuclear weapon for 15 years.  We are telling Iran that it can’t have a nuclear weapon, period.  There is no magic moment 15, 20, or 25 years from now when Iran will suddenly get a pass from the mandates of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – doesn’t happen.  In fact, Iran is required by this agreement to sign up to and abide by the IAEA Additional Protocol that I mentioned earlier that came out of the North Korea experience.  And that requires inspections of all nuclear facilities.

What does this mean?  It means that Iran’s nuclear program will remain subject to regular inspections forever.  Iran will have to provide access to all of its nuclear facilities forever.  Iran will have to respond promptly to requests for access to any suspicious site forever.  And if Iran at any time – at any time – embarks on nuclear activities that are incompatible with a wholly peaceful program, it will be in violation of the agreement forever.  We will know of that violation right away and we will retain every option we now have to respond, whether diplomatically or through a return to sanctions or by other means.  In short, this agreement gives us unprecedented tools and all the time we need to hold Iran accountable for its choices and actions.

Now, it’s true some of the special additional restrictions that we successfully negotiated, those begin to ease after a period – in some cases 10 or 15, in others 20 or 25.  But it would defy logic to vote to kill the whole agreement – with all of the permanent NPT restrictions by which Iran has to live – for that reason.  After all, if your house is on fire, if it’s going up in flames, would you refuse to extinguish it because of the chance that it might be another fire in 15 years?  Obviously, not.  You’d put out the fire and you’d take advantage of the extra time to prepare for the future. 

My friends, it just doesn’t make sense to conclude that we should vote “no” now because of what might happen in 15 years – thereby guaranteeing that what might happen in 15 years will actually begin to happen now.  Because if this agreement is rejected, every possible reason for worry in the future would have to be confronted now, immediately, in the months ahead.  Once again and soon, Iran would begin advancing its nuclear program.  We would lose the benefit of the agreement that contains all these restrictions, and it would give a green light to everything that we’re trying to prevent.  Needless to say, that is not the outcome that we want, it is not an outcome that would be good for our country, nor for our allies or for the world

There is a third myth – a quick one, a more technical one – that Iran could, in fact, get away with building a covert nuclear facility because the deal allows a maximum of 24 days to obtain access to a suspicious site.  Well, in truth, there is no way in 24 days, or 24 months, 24 years for that matter, to destroy all the evidence of illegal activity that has been taking place regarding fissile material.  Because of the nature of fissile materials and their relevant precursors, you can’t eliminate the evidence by shoving it under a mattress, flushing it down a toilet, carting it off in the middle of the night.  The materials may go, but the telltale traces remain year after year after year.  And the 24 days is the outside period of time during which they must allow access.

Under the agreement, if there is a dispute over access to any location, the United States and our European allies have the votes to decide the issue.  And once we have identified a site that raises questions, we will be watching it continuously until the inspectors are allowed in. 

Let me underscore that.  The United States and the international community will be monitoring Iran nonstop.  And you can bet that if we see something, we will do something.  The agreement gives us a wide range of enforcement tools, and we will use them.  And the standard we will apply can be summed up in two words: zero tolerance.  There is no way to guarantee that Iran will keep its word.  That’s why this isn’t based on a promise or trust.  But we can guarantee that if Iran decides to break the agreement, it will regret breaking any promise that it has made.

Now, there are many other myths circulating about the agreement, but the last one that I’m going to highlight is just economic.  And it’s important.  The myth that sanctions relief that Iran will receive is somehow both too generous and too dangerous.

Now, obviously, the discussions that concluded in Vienna, like any serious negotiation, involved a quid pro quo.  Iran wanted sanctions relief; the world wanted to ensure a wholly peaceful nature of Iran’s program.  So without the tradeoff, there could have been no deal and no agreement by Iran to the constraints that it has accepted – very important constraints.

But there are some who point to sanctions relief as grounds to oppose the agreement.  And the logic is faulty for several reasons.  First, the most important is that absent new violations by Iran the sanctions are going to erode regardless of what we do.  It’s an illusion for members of Congress to think that they can vote this plan down and then turn around and still persuade countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, India – Iran’s major oil customers – they ought to continue supporting the sanctions that are costing them billions of dollars every year.  That’s not going to happen.  And don’t forget that the money that has been locked up as the result of sanctions is not sitting in some American bank under U.S. control.  The money is frozen and being held in escrow by countries with which Iran has had commercial dealings.  We don’t have that money.  We can’t control it.  It’s going to begin to be released anyway if we walk away from this agreement.

Remember, as well, that the bulk of the funds Iran will receive under the sanctions relief are already spoken for and they are dwarfed by the country’s unmet economic needs.  Iran has a crippled infrastructure, energy infrastructure.  It’s got to rebuild it to be able to pump oil.  It has an agriculture sector that’s been starved for investment, massive pension obligations, significant foreign reserves that are already allocated to foreign-led projects, and a civilian population that is sitting there expecting that the lifting of sanctions is going to result in a tangible improvement in the quality of their lives.  The sanctions relief is not going to make a significant difference in what Iran can do internationally – never been based on money.  Make no mistake, the important thing about this agreement is not what it will enable Iran to do, but what it will stop Iran from doing – and that is the building of a nuclear weapon.

Before closing, I want to comment on the nature of the debate which we are currently engaged in.  Some have accused advocates of the Iran agreement – including me – of conjuring up frightening scenarios to scare listeners into supporting it.  Curiously, this allegation comes most often from the very folks who have been raising alarms about one thing or another for years.  

The truth is that if this plan is voted down, we cannot predict with certainty what Iran will do.  But we do know what Iran says it will do and that is begin again to expand its nuclear activities.  And we know that the strict limitations that Iran has accepted will no longer apply because there will no longer be any agreement.  Iran will then be free to begin operating thousands of other advanced and other centrifuges that would otherwise have been mothballed; they’ll be free to expand their stockpile of low-enriched uranium, rebuild their stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, free to move ahead with the production of weapons-grade plutonium, free to go forward with weaponization research.    

And just who do you think is going to be held responsible for all of this?  Not Iran – because Iran was preparing to implement the agreement and will have no reason whatsoever to return to the bargaining table.  No, the world will hold accountable the people who broke with the consensus, turned their backs on our negotiating partners, and ignored the counsel of top scientists and military leaders.  The world will blame the United States.  And so when those same voices that accuse us of scaremongering now begin suddenly to warn, oh, wow, Iran’s nuclear activities are once again out of control and must at all costs be stopped – what do you think is going to happen?  

The pressure will build, my friends.  The pressure will build for military action.  The pressure will build for the United States to use its unique military capabilities to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program, because negotiating isn’t going to work because we’ve just tried it.  President Obama has been crystal clear that we will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  But the big difference is, at that point, we won’t have the world behind us the way we do today.  Because we rejected the fruits of diplomacy, we will be held accountable for a crisis that could have been avoided but instead we will be deemed to have created.

So my question is:  Why in the world would we want to put ourselves in that position of having to make that choice – especially when there is a better choice, a much more broadly supported choice?  A choice that sets us on the road to greater stability and security but that doesn’t require us to give up any option at all today. 

So here is the decision that we are called on to make.  To vote down this agreement is to solve nothing because none of the problems that we are concerned about will be made easier if it is rejected; none of them – not Iran’s nuclear program, not Iran’s support for terrorism or sectarian activities, not its human rights record, and not its opposition to Israel.  To oppose this agreement is – whether intended or not – to recommend in its policy a policy of national paralysis.  It is to take us back directly to the very dangerous spot that we were in two years ago, only to go back there devoid of any realistic plan or option.

By contrast, the adoption and implementation of this agreement will cement the support of the international community behind a plan to ensure that Iran does not ever acquire or possess a nuclear weapon.  In doing so it will remove a looming threat from a uniquely fragile region, discourage others from trying to develop nuclear arms, make our citizens and our allies safer, and reassure the world that the hardest problems can be addressed successfully by diplomatic means.

At its best, American foreign policy, the policy of the United States combines immense power with clarity of purpose, relying on reason and persuasion whenever possible.  As has been demonstrated many times, our country does not shy from the necessary use of force, but our hopes and our values push us to explore every avenue for peace.  The Iran deal reflects our determination to protect the interests of our citizens and to shield the world from greater harm.  But it reflects as well our knowledge that the firmest foundation for security is built on mobilizing countries across the globe to defend – actively and bravely – the rule of law.

In September 228 years ago, Benjamin Franklin rose in the great city of Philadelphia, right down there, to close debate on the proposed draft of the Constitution of the United States.  He told a rapt audience that when people of opposing views and passions are brought together, compromise is essential and perfection from the perspective of any single participant is not possible.  He said that after weighing carefully the pros and cons of that most historic debate, he said the following:  “I consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”

My fellow citizens, I have had the privilege of serving our country in times of peace and in times of war, and peace is better.  I’ve seen our leaders act with incredible foresight and also seen them commit tragic errors by plunging into conflicts without sufficient thought about the consequences.

Like old Ben Franklin, I can claim and do claim no monopoly on wisdom, and certainly nothing can compare to the gravity of the debate of our founding fathers over our nation’s founding documents.  But I believe, based on a lifetime’s experience, that the Iran nuclear agreement is a hugely positive step at a time when problem solving and danger reduction have rarely been so urgent, especially in the Middle East.

The Iran agreement is not a panacea for the sectarian and extremist violence that has been ripping that region apart.  But history may judge it a turning point, a moment when the builders of stability seized the initiative from the destroyers of hope, and when we were able to show, as have generations before us, that when we demand the best from ourselves and insist that others adhere to a similar high standard – when we do that, we have immense power to shape a safer and a more humane world.  That’s what this is about and that’s what I hope we will do in the days ahead.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

# # #

Weekly announcement of events in the Washington, D.C. area

Washington PressPass: June 16-20, 2014
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The Foreign Press Center is pleased to share with you our weekly announcement of events in the Washington, D.C. area. The Washington Foreign Press Center provides this information as a convenience, and the inclusion of an organization or activity does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation. Please note that this information is subject to change.

NOTE: For the latest information on events, please check our online PressPass at: http://www.fpc.state.gov/events/index.htm

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Monday, June 16, 2014

WHAT: U.S. Department of State “Our Ocean” 2014 Conference, June 16-17, 2014
Conference Agenda
WHERE: U.S. Department of State
CONTACT: OES Public Affairs Officer Christopher Rich at RichCE@state.gov or the Office of Press Relations at (202) 647-2492.; web site: http://www.state.gov
SOURCE: U.S. Department of State – event announcement

WHEN: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Middle East Institute (MEI) Fifth Annual Conference on Turkey. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW 13th Floor
CONTACT: 202-785-1141; web site: http://www.mei.edu
SOURCE: MEI – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Mutual Security on Hold? Russia, the West, and European Security Architecture.” Speakers: Wolfgang Ischinger, Distinguished Scholar, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany, former German Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2006 to May 2008 and to the United States from 2001 to 2006; Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security adviser, Professor of American Foreign Policy, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Counselor and Trustee, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO, Wilson Center; Steven Pifer, Director, Arms Control Initiative, Brookings Institution; and Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe, Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion – True South:
Advancing Democracy in the Black Belt 50 Years After Freedom Summer. Speakers: Opening remarks and panel moderator: Ben Jealous, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Panelists: Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, Georgia General Assembly;
Derrick Johnson, President, Mississippi NAACP State Conference, National Co-Chair, Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary; and Steve Benjamin, Mayor, Columbia, South Carolina.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “What to Expect from the Al-Sisi Presidency.” Speakers: Moushira Khattab, former Public Policy Scholar, former Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa and to the Federal Republic of Czechoslovakia, and former Egyptian Minister of Family and Population; Marina Ottaway, Senior Scholar, former Senior Research Associate and Head of the Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Emad El-Din Shahin, Public Policy Scholar, Professor of Public Policy and Administration, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, The American University in Cairo.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “Transparency, Oversight and Accountability in the UN System: Problems and How to Fix Them.” Speakers: Robert Appleton, formerly Director of Investigations & Senior Legal Counsel at The Global Fund, Chairman of the United Nations Procurement Task Force, and Special Counsel to the UN Iraqi Oil for Food investigation; Edward Patrick Flaherty, Senior Partner, Schwab Flaherty & Associates; and James Wasserstrom, Senior Advisor on Anticorruption, U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and formerly Head of the Office for Oversight of the Publicly Owned Enterprises for the UN Mission in Kosovo.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 2:00 pm
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion on “The New Middle East Cold War: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Region’s Ongoing Battle over the Muslim Brotherhood.” Speakers: Peter Mandaville, Professor, George Mason University; Haroon Ullah, State Department Policy Planning Staff; Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Moderator: Hardin Lang, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Stimson Center Discussion on “India’s Nuclear Policy and Regional Stability.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1111 19th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-223-5956; web site: http://www.stimson.org
SOURCE: Stimson – even announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “How to Unwind Iran Nuclear Sanctions?” Speakers: Kenneth Katzman, Specialist, Middle East Affairs, Congressional Research Service; Cornelius Adebahr (via Skype from Berlin), Associate, Europe Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Moderated by Barbara Slavin, Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 3:30 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “Managing Conflicts in India: Policies of Coercion and Accommodation.” Speakers: Bidisha Biswas, associate professor of political science at Western Washington University. In 2012 and 2013, she served as a policy adviser on South Asia to the U.S. State Department; Milan Vaishnav, associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he coordinates Carnegie’s India Decides 2014 initiative; and Joshua T. White, deputy director of the South Asia program at the Stimson Center.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Next Steps and Future Vision.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 4:00 – 5:30 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “A Warming Arctic: Regional Drama with Global Consequences.” Speakers: Dr. Jan-Gunnar Winther,
Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute; Moderated by Ms. Heather A. Conley, Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS Europe Program.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 5:00 – 6:00 pm
WHAT: Brookings Institution Discussion on “Norway’s Guiding Principles for Peace and Reconciliation in Post-Conflict Settings.” Speakers: Introduction by Strobe Talbott,
President, The Brookings Institution; Featured Speaker: Børge Brende, Foreign Minister of Norway; Moderator: Michael E. O’Hanlon, Director of Research, Foreign Policy,
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.
WHERE: Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-797-6105 or events@brookings.edu ; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: Brookings – event announcement

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

WHAT: U.S. Department of State “Our Ocean” 2014 Conference, June 16-17, 2014
Conference Agenda
WHERE: U.S. Department of State
CONTACT: OES Public Affairs Officer Christopher Rich at RichCE@state.gov or the Office of Press Relations at (202) 647-2492.; web site: http://www.state.gov
SOURCE: U.S. Department of State – event announcement

WHEN: 8:00 am – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Elliott School of International Affairs, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, George Washington University Conference – The New Internationalism: Foreign Policy After Afghanistan and Iraq. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: George Washington University, Jack Morton Auditorium, 805 21st Street, N.W.
CONTACT: RSVP at http://go.gwu.edu/newsconsensus; web site: http://elliott.gwu.edu
SOURCE: Elliott School of International Affairs, GWU – event announcement

WHEN: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
WHAT: Brookings Institution Discussion on “Celebrating Progress, Remaining Steadfast and Asking What’s Next for Girls’ Education.” Keynote Address: The Next Global Agenda for Girls’ Education by Catherine M. Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-797-6105 or events@brookings.edu ; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: Brookings – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Religious Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Future of the Secular State.” Speakers: Ludovic Lado, Southern Voices African Research Scholar, Director of Institute of Human Rights and Dignity, Center of Research and Action for Peace; Tiffany Lynch, Senior Policy Analyst, The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; and Monde Muyangwa, Director, Africa Program.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “America’s Partnership with Bangladesh: Broader, Deeper, Stronger than Ever.” Speaker: Ambassador Dan W. Mozena, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Is the US AWOL in the ‘War on Drugs’ in Latin America?” Speakers: Keynote: Matt Salmon, US House of Representatives (R-AZ); Panelists: Jerry Brewer Sr., Criminal Justice International Associates LLC; Richard J. Douglas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics, Counterproliferation, and Global Threats; and Iñigo Guevara, former Director of Analysis to the Office of the National Security Council, Mexico; Moderator: Roger F. Noriega, AEI.
WHERE: AEI, 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Discussion on “The Role of Congress in U.S. Human Rights Policy and Beyond.” Speakers: Christopher H. Smith, Chairman, Subcommitte on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives; Presider: Michael D. Mosettig, writer, PBS Online NewsHour.
WHERE: CFR, 1777 F Street, N.W.
CONTACT: Tricia Miller Klapheke at 202-509-8525, tklapheke@cfr.org; web site: http://www.cfr.org
SOURCE: CFR – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:30 pm
WHAT: Brookings Institution Discussion on “The Future of U.N. Peacekeeping.” Speakers: Introduction by Ted Piccone, Acting Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy; Featured Speaker: Hervé Ladsous, Head of Department of Peacekeeping Operations, United Nations; Moderator: Michael E. O’Hanlon, Director of Research, Foreign Policy, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.
WHERE: Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-797-6105 or events@brookings.edu ; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: Brookings – event announcement

WHEN: 3:00 pm
WHAT: Organization of American States (OAS) Policy Roundtable – Policy Dialogues on Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for the Americas. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: OAS, Hall of the Americas, 17th Street & Constitution Ave. N.W.
CONTACT: RSVP: SER-DIA@oas.org; web site: http://www.oas.org
SOURCE: OAS – event announcement

WHEN: 4:30 – 6:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Chile’s New Foreign Policy.” Speaker: Heraldo Muñoz, Board Member, Latin American Program, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WHEN: 9:30 – 10:45 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) – An Armchair Conversation with Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 9:30 – 11:00 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “The State of Peace: Measuring Country Risk and Opportunity.” Speakers: Robert D. Lamb, Director and Senior Fellow, Program on Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Gary J. Milante, Program Director, Macroeconomics Security Program, Stockhold International Peace Research Institute; Paul B. Stares, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventative Action, Council on Foreign Relations; Alexandra I. Toma, Executive Director, Peace and Security Funders Group; and Aubrey Fox, Executive Director, Institute for Economics and Peace USA.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 9:30 – 11:00 am
WHAT: Stimson Center Discussion on “Small-Islands, High Seas: Sustainable Development in a Changing Climate.” Speakers: Dr. Milan J.N. Meetarbhan,
Ambassador of Mauritius to the United States, Permanent Representative to the UN;
Alice Thomas, Climate Displacement Program Manager, Refugees International;
Moderator: David Michel, Director of the Environmental Security Program, Stimson Center.
WHERE: 1111 19th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-223-5956; web site: http://www.stimson.org
SOURCE: Stimson – even announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: New America Foundation (NAF) Discussion on “Presidents at War: Presidential War Powers and the Challenges of Managing Wars.” Speakers: Major General John D. Altenburg Jr. (retired), Of Counsel, Greenberg Traurig, former Deputy Judge Advocate General, U.S. Army; Sidney Blumenthal, former Assistant and Senior Advisor to President Bill Clinton, Author, “The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man (Spring 2015)”; Louis Fisher, Scholar in Residence, The Constitution Project; Colonel Jeffrey McCausland (retired), Distinguished Visiting Professor of Research and Minerva Chair, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), U.S. Army War College; Moderator: Matthew Pinsker, Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History, Dickinson College, Author, “Lincoln’s Sanctuary,” (2003), Fellow, New America Foundation.
WHERE: 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400
CONTACT: 202-986-0722; web site: http://www.newamerica.net
SOURCE: NAF – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Protecting Christian Heritage in Turkey.” Witnesses: Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Ph.D., Visiting Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; and
Mr. Khatchig Mouradian, Coordinator of Armenian Genocide Program, Center for Genocide and Human Rights, Rutgers University.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 10: 30 am
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “Advancing Policy and Programs on Global Women’s Issues.” Speakers: The U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell, who will provide a keynote address about her vision for the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and U.S. government commitments and actions on preventing gender-based violence and promoting economic empowerment for women. This will be followed by a roundtable conversation, moderated by Janet Fleischman, senior associate with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, featuring Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, and Keith Hansen, Global Practices Vice President at the World Bank Group.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “The Challenge of Political Legitimacy in Southeast Asia.” Speakers: Muthiah Alagappa, nonresident senior associate in Carnegie’s Asia Program; and Vikram Nehru, senior associate in Carnegie’s Asia Program and an expert on development economics, growth, poverty reduction, debt sustainability, governance, and the performance and prospects of East Asia.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 11:00 am
WHAT: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at a Naturalization Ceremony of 50 new U.S. Citizens. This event is OPEN PRESS.
WHERE: NARA, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: Interested media must RSVP to public.affairs@nara.gov by Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm. Press who do not have a White House hard pass must include their social security number, date of birth, country of citizenship, current city/state of residence, and gender; web site: http://www.archives.gov
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies.” Speakers: James McGann, Assistant Director of the International Relations Program and Director, Tank and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania; and Andrew Selee, Executive Vice President and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:15 pm
WHAT: Hudson Institute – A Conversation with the Honorable Naftali Bennett. Naftali Bennett is Israeli Minister of Economy, Minister of Religious Services, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.
WHERE: 1015 15th Street, NW, 6th floor
CONTACT: 202-974-2400; web site: http://www.hudson.org
SOURCE: Hudson – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 6:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Assessing Threats Facing the U.S.-Korea Alliance.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 1:00 – 2:30 pm
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion on “Protecting Women from Gun Violence.” Speakers: Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), former United States Congresswoman; Mark Kelly, retired Astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Rob Valente, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Policy Consultant; Saundra Rhodes, Chief of Police, Horry County South Carolina; and Sarah Engle, domestic violence survivor; Moderator: Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “The Ukraine Crisis and NATO.” Speakers: David Lidington, UK Minister of State for Europe and MP for Aylesbury; Moderated by
Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:30 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “India’s Policy Priorities Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Speakers: Amb. Hemant Krishan Singh, Wadhwani Chair in India-U.S. Policy Studies, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations; Moderator: Richard Rossow, Senior Fellow and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Human Rights Abuses and Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea.” Witnesses: Andrew Natsios, Co-Chair,
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; Shin Chang-Hoon, Ph.D, Director,
Center for Global Governance, Asan Institute for Policy Studies; Mr. Shin Dong-hyuk, Survivor of North Korean prison camp; Briefer: Lee Jong-hoon, Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights, Republic of Korea.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2200
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “The Bergdahl Exchange: Implications for U.S. National Security and the Fight Against Terrorism.” Witnesses: Mr. Mike Waltz, Senior National Security Fellow, New America Foundation (Commanded a Special Forces’ Company in Eastern Afghanistan in 2009); Spc. Cody Full, USA, Retired (Served with Sgt. Bergdahl in Blackfoot Company, Second Platoon); and Mr. Andy Andrews, Father of deceased Second Lieutenant, USA, Darryn Andrews.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 2:15 pm
WHAT: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on “U.S. Policy In Afghanistan and the Regional Implications of the 2014 Transition.” Witnesses: James Dobbins, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State; Nisha Biswal,
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, U.S. Department of State; Mr. Michael Dumont, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, U.S. Department of Defense; and Brigadier General Robert White, Director of the Afghanistan/Pakistan Coordination Cell, Joint Staff, U.S. Department of Defense.
WHERE: Senate Dirksen Building, Room 419
CONTACT: 202-224-4651; web site: http://www.foreign.senate.gov
SOURCE: Senate Foreign Relations Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 4:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Chaos in Iraq: A Conversation with Senator John McCain and General Jack Keane.” Speakers: General Jack Keane, U.S. Army (ret.); John McCain, U.S. Senate (R-AZ); moderator: Danielle Pletka, AEI.
WHERE: AEI, 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

WHEN: 9:00 – 11:00 am
WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) Discussion on “Global Innovators: Women Leading Change Around the World.” Speakers: Claudia Paz y Paz, 2014 Leadership in Public Life Honoree, Guatemala; Suaad Allami, 2014 Fern Holland Honoree, Iraq; Priti Patkar, 2014 Human Rights Honoree, India; Victoria Kisyombe, 2014 Economic Empowerment Honoree, Tanzania; Susan Davis, Opening Remarks, Chair of the Board, Vital Voices Global Partnership; and Kathleen Kuehnast, Moderator, Director, Gender & Peacebuilding Center, U.S. Institute of Peace.
WHERE: USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue, NW
CONTACT: 202-457-1700; web site: http://www.usip.gov
SOURCE: USIP – event announcement

WHEN: 9:15 am – 4:00 pm
WHAT: The Hamilton Project Conference – Addressing America’s Poverty Crisis (Day 1). Keynote Address by former President Bill Clinton. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Grand Ballroom
CONTACT: Karen Anderson at 202-797-6023, KAnderson@brookings.edu; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: The Hamilton Project – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “One Year Under Rouhani: Iran’s Abysmal Human Rights Record.” Witnesses: Robert P. George, Ph.D., Chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Ms. Cler Baheri, Member of the Baha’i Community; and Mr. Hossein Alizadeh, Regional Program Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Mideast Shi’ites Defy Iranian Domination?” Complete agenda and list of speakers
WHERE: AEI, 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:30 pm
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion on “#BlackWomenLead: Harnessing the Political Power of Black Women.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 1:00 – 2:15 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “Security in and Around Europe.” Speakers: H.E. Ursula von der Leyen, Minister of Defense, Federal Ministry of Defense of Germany; Introduction by Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.), Chairman Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; Moderated by Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “Thailand: A Democracy in Peril.” Witnesses: Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and Amy Searight, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “Confronting the Human Rights Challenge in North Korea.” Speaker: His Excellency Lee Jung-hoon, Ambassador for Human Rights, Republic of Korea.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

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Friday, June 20, 2014

WHEN: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
WHAT: The Hamilton Project Conference – Addressing America’s Poverty Crisis (Day 2). Keynote Address by former President Bill Clinton. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Grand Ballroom
CONTACT: Karen Anderson at 202-797-6023, KAnderson@brookings.edu; web site: http://www.brookings.edu
SOURCE: The Hamilton Project – event announcement

WHEN: 12:15 – 1:45 pm
WHAT: New America Foundation (NAF) Discussion on “Crisis in Iraq: What Role Should the U.S. Play?” Speakers: Douglas A. Ollivant, Senior National Security Fellow, International Security Program, New America; Col. Joel Rayburn, U.S. Army Military Fellow, International Security Program, New America; Dr. Nadia Oweidat, Senior Fellow, International Security Program, New America; and Fuzz Hogan, Managing Editor, New America.
WHERE: 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400
CONTACT: 202-986-0722; web site: http://www.newamerica.net
SOURCE: NAF – event announcement

WHEN: 12:30 – 1:45 pm
WHAT: Hudson Institute Discussion on “The Solution to the Cyprus Problem: Famagusta, Energy, and Public Relations.” Speakers: Moderated by Seth Cropsey, Director, Center for American Seapower, Hudson Institute; and Alexis Galanos, speaker, Mayor of Famagusta and former Speaker of the Cyprus House of Representatives.
WHERE: 1015 15th Street, NW, 6th floor
CONTACT: 202-974-2400; web site: http://www.hudson.org
SOURCE: Hudson – event announcement

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Useful Calendars:

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42190.htm – New York Foreign Press Center PressPass

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42191.htm – West Coast PressPass

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/appt/ — US State Department daily appointments schedule

http://www.defenselink.mil/today/index.aspx?showdate=03/30/2007 — Today in Department of Defense (DoD)

http://www.capitolhearings.org/ — C-SPAN’s schedule of Congressional Hearings

http://npc.press.org/ — National Press Club

http://www.si.edu/events/ — Smithsonian Events

http://www.loc.gov/loc/events/ — Library of Congress