Executive Summary Sample

July 3, 2012

Migration

In light of political instability and conflicts occurring in the Arab Spring, Khalid Koser of Brookings-LSE discusses the three matters that are of concern to the MENA regions regarding migration and displacement:

  1. New and Continuing Displacement

In Syria, 156,000 people have been displaced this past year, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, making the total of internally displaced persons 589,000. The UNHCR has an estimate of more than “88,000 registered Syrian refugees, in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.” The UNHCR issued a regional appeal in March 2012 for $84 million to combat a food shortage and absence of rudimentary household items for many Syrian refugees, was only funded at 36 percent as of May. The properties of many of the IDPs have been looted or damaged according to The International Committee of the Red Cross reports. Buildings that sheltered many IDPs do not have water and electricity access, as well as have been damaged. As the level of violence in Syria increases so does the number of those fleeing for safety- a matter of deep concern since Syria hosts about one million Iraqi refugees, 100,000 of which receive UNHCR aid, and nearly half a million Palestinian refugees. Reports say that some Iraqi refugees have returned back to Iraq. Parts of the Syrian regime have accused the Palestinians of supporting the revolution, worrying analysts that the regime may attack the refugee camps, but widespread violence, displacing some Palestinians is more probable. An estimated 175,000 people have been displaced this year in Yemen and the estimated half million displaced last year in Libya have returned home, yet 70,000 people continue to be internally displaced. Of great worry are the outcome of Qaddafi supporters and the restitution of property.

  1. Filling the Protection Gap for Foreign Nationals

The violence in Libya displaced half a million foreign nationals that relied on a combined effort by the UNHCR and the International Organization on Migration, as they “fell into a legal grey zone.” Most foreign nationals have returned to their home countries, but many remain internally displaced in Libya. Returnees face employment, financial and housing difficulties upon return to their home countries, however attracting foreign nationals to return to Libya will be a struggle. In response to the large-scale displacement of foreign nationals, the international community has begun to form contingency and evacuation plans, as well as other planned responses to the future displacement of foreign nationals.

“At the level of international institutions, the focus for IOM’s annual International Dialogue on Migration in 2012 was ‘Migration Consequences of Complex Crises.’ Among the chair’s recommendations were: greater coordination between humanitarian, migration and development policies and actors in order to better integrate the different principles and procedures often adopted in these separate realms; and more coherent links between short-, medium- and long-term responses. Another recommendation was for vulnerability mapping, acknowledging that existing categories for crisis-affected populations do not always capture the vulnerabilities experienced by those displaced in crises. A third recommendation was for more innovative partnerships between the various U.N. agencies, international and non-governmental agencies involved in migration crises such as Libya, but also including a role for the private sector. There may, for example, be a role for the private sector in the provision of micro-insurance to migrants to help them cope with emergency situations.”

  1. Developing Regional Protection Frameworks

Egypt and Tunisia have been applauded for keeping their borders open to Libyan refugees, however, Egypt has been criticized for not protecting the refugees during the Egyptian revolution and Tunisia has been criticized for not inhibiting refugees from trying to reach Europe by boat. The MENA has poor framework for the protection of displaced people as for the most part they “are not signatories of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol… Even in those countries in the region that are signatories, international protection principles have tended to be poorly applied.” The UNHCR is currently working on helping Egypt and Tunisia improve their legislation regarding refugees and asylum seekers. “And direct experience of displacement, combined with regime change based on concerns about dignity, rights, social justice, legitimate governance and representative democracy, should provide an opportunity to strengthen international protection principles, at both the national and regional levels.”

Sources

Brookings, Migration, Displacement and the Arab Spring: Prospects for the Next Year, Read more

Iran

Reva Bhalla, writing for Stratfor, discusses sanctions on Iran and U.S.-Iranian negotiations as news sanctions are imposed, attempting to ultimately target Tehran’s “resources that otherwise would be allocated to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” However, there have been ways for Iran to skirt sanctions through front companies. Iran depends on tax haven nations to “switch out flags, names, registered owners and agents, and addresses of owners and agents.” While the U.S. Treasury Department is aware of these tactics, numerous shell companies “operating under different names and flags can be created in the time it takes a single sanctions lawsuit to be drawn up.” Many nations have cut their Iranian oil imports in recent months, however, many nations overlook “shell practices to maintain their crude oil supply at steep discounts.” The Obama administration is aware of the shortfalls of sanctions, but U.S. legislators plan to compose “stricter sanctions legislation in an effort to track down more Iranian shell companies…the U.S. administration is rumoured to be preparing a list of options by which it can selectively repeal the sanctions for when it sits down at a negotiating table with Iran.”

In an editorial appearing in U.S. foreign policy journal The National Interest, two insiders of the Iranian regime, Iranian political analyst Mohammad Ali Shabani and former member of Iranian nuclear negotiating team Seyed Hossein Mousavian, communicated several key points on behalf of Tehran:

    -The United States and Iran must continue to negotiate.

    -Sanctions hurt Iran economically but by no means paralyze Iranian trade.

   – Iran cannot be sure that any bilateral agreement made with the United States will be honoured by a new administration come November.

   – The United States must abandon any policy intended to bring about regime change in Tehran.

   – Washington has few remaining options other than military intervention, which is an unlikely outcome.

    – Iran can significantly increase pressure on the United States by, for example, threatening the security of the Strait of Hormuz, an act that would raise the price of U.S. oil.

The Strait of Hormuz acts as a point of contention as Iran and the U.S. “have an understanding that allows for the free flow of oil through the strait.” Iran can close the strait and use that as a negotiating tool. This act could make “everything from the sanctions campaign to U.S. covert backing of Syrian rebels to the nuclear program,” negotiable.

Sources

Stratfor, Negotiations Behind U.S. Sanctions Against Iran, Read more

Syria

The Syrian Army is detrimental to the survival of the Assad led Syrian-regime, according to Jeffrey White of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In the face of an expanding opposition, casualties and defections, the Syrian Army “will break, disintegrate, or withdraw to the Alawite heartland in order to preserve remnants of the regime. Alternatively, some units may move against the regime in order to save themselves.” Fighting between the Syrian Army and the opposition has been growing across key regions and more than eighty locations across Syria experienced combat. In June, more than 250 clashes occurred, the most clashes since the start of the conflict, showcasing the intensifying pace of the conflict. The regime forces face four challenges as the conflict intensifies: “Growing opposition capabilities, Geography, Tempo of operation and Attrition.” The Syrian army is unlikely to emerge triumphant using the tactic of “wearing down the opposition.” Regime forces have been unsuccessful at establishing new uses of its resources and there lies little “prospect for serious analysis of the challenges and implementation of realistic solutions…Although it has routinely employed field artillery against civilian and military targets, it could use such weapons much more widely and intensely. No place in Syria has witnessed the kind of artillery bombardment that the army is capable of inflicting.”

On the other hand, the regime benefits from having Alawite loyal generals and soldiers. Soldier loyalty to the Assad regime continues due to “personal commitment or benefits in the form of position, privileges, or pay. Others fear the consequences of regime change or desertion.” If the Syrian Army cannot address the challenges it faces, “it will likely collapse, though precisely when is difficult to determine.” Steady collapse of the regime forces is most likely to occur, but the Free Syrian Army must improve its “planning, intelligence, combat. And command-and-control capabilities would presumably speed this process even further.” The regime is forecast to fall in the event “the army breaks, and the opposition must have something ready to replace it.”

Sources

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mounting Pressure on the Syrian Army, Read More

Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Emanuele Ottolenghi, discussed the cons to intervention in Syria and what alternatives exist. Support for the fractioned opposition in Syria that may have elements of al-Qaeda “suggest that the toppling of the Assad dynasty may give way to an even worse regime.” The fear that Assad’s stroking of sectarian differences could plunge the nation into “anarchy if the regime were removed” exists as Assad uses sectarian differences to his advantage. “Anarchy would leave the vast stockpile of Syria’s weapons- including, crucially, its WMD arsenal- up for grabs among the warring factions…The danger that sectarianism may engulf ethnic communities across the border – the Kurds first and foremost – is already real.”

Iran and Hezbollah have become involved with support the Assad regime as they have a vested strategic interest in Syria. For economic purposes, such as weapons’ sales, Russia has become active in supporting the Assad regime. “Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are trying to support those they favour to come up on top – chiefly the Muslim Brotherhood – as a way to increase their influence.” A post-Assad regime may see the rise of Islamists that “will not be friendlier to the West. And under the fog of war and a looming defeat, a dying [Assad] regime may seriously contemplate using chemical and biological weapons, transferring them to their Lebanese proxies, or unleashing a war against Israel to tip the regional balance of sympathy in their favor,” making intervention costly and objectionable.

Alternatives to intervention include the assassination of al-Assad, supplying the opposition with “weapons that can countenance the regime’s,” and create “humanitarian corridors and buffer zones along Syria’s border with Turkey could alleviate civilian suffering and chip away at the regime’s confidence.”

Sources

Foundation for Defense of Democracies, The Syrian Conundrum, Read More

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Middle East Defined

As noted by Rashid Khalidi, the term “Middle East” has become a source of contention and is seen as an unsatisfactory term to describe the region we now know as the Middle East and North Africa. Khalidi is correct in being sceptical of the term “Middle East,” as its definition is unclear. The World Bank uses the term “Middle East and North Africa” which encompasses the nations of Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, as well as Yemen. The United Nations Statistics Division, however, refers to the countries of North Africa separately from the countries of “West Asia,” which includes the Gulf countries, the Levant, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. While the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Central Intelligence Agency, the UN Refugee Agency, as well as Human Rights Watch all have slightly different definitions of what countries encompass the Middle East or the Middle East and North Africa, the larger questions are: Why do these organizations feel the need to define this region and what is the need to define this region?   

Hasan Salaam, an Egyptian-American lyricist made a simple and important observation in some of his lyrics stating, “No such thing as the Middle East… No matter where you stand there’s always something to the east of you.” The definition of the “Middle East” and the terms that are used to describe North Africa, the Gulf, and West Asia have changed throughout history depending on which nations are the current superpowers. It seems that the European and American bodies that set th term “Middle East” into place, wanted to create Europe and North America as the centre of the world, in which everything must be in relation to these regions, and that the terms “Middle East” and “the West” are all relative.

The “West” has consistently defined the “East” in their own terms, in order to better define themselves and in order to mark “their” territory. When the “West” occupied the “Middle East,” it occupied the languages and the minds of the people in that region because, now, in Arabic the region is referred to as al-Sharq al-Awsat, or the Middle East. The “West” defined the borders of the “Middle East,” the same borders that the “Middle Eastern” countries fight to defend despite the end of colonialism. They have let the “West” define who is seen as friend and who is seen as foe. By doing this, the “Middle East” continues to be the pawns of the “West” and still unknowingly caters to the “West’s” notions of how the “Middle East” should be defined.   

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Dissecting Orientalism

As noted by Anderson, Tessler and Halliday, regional studies are essential to the social sciences because they make broader analytical frameworks pertinent to the areas they comprise. Halliday brings forward his thoughts on the impact of Orientalism on the social sciences and makes several concerning points about the Orientalist debate.

Edward Said considered one aspect of Orientalism to be a certain depiction of the Middle East and East Asian cultures, that portrayed the East as backwards, exotic, uncivilized and in need of rescue.

“Orientalism provided a rationalization for European colonialism based on a self-serving history in which “the West” constructed “the East,” yet in Halliday’s critique, he refers to Arabs as one entity. This fails to address the non- Arab population living in the Arab nations. Before the modern Arab world existed there were a multitude of different cultures and languages spoken in the Middle East and North Africa region. As of recent statistics, there are more than 300 million Arabs in the MENA region, this number, however, includes the many ethnic minorities that do exist in the area, including the Kurds, Armenians, Aramaeans, Chaldeans, Turkmens, Cherkess, Turks, Zangians, Nubians, Berbers, Banyans, Haratins, Gnawas, Tauregs, Chechens, Romanis, Ajamis, Moors and Assyrians.[1] Halliday fails to address the demographics of people who were Arabized, such as the Berbers, as Berber languages were seen as inferior to Arabic. [2,3, 4] Just as the West orientalized the East to justify their colonialism, in turn the Arabs Arabized the Berber population as they too were and are capable of orientalist-like beliefs. Haliday’s failure to address this flaw and label of “Arab” is in a sense an orientalist belief because he has grouped different cultures together under one label.

Another concerning point unaddressed by Halliday was the effect Orientalism had on MENA academics, researchers, journalists and writers, as well as what happens when these people serve an Orientalist agenda. For example, Joumana Haddad is a Lebanese poet, translator and the creator of the Jasad quarterly magazine. She is also the editor of the cultural pages of the Al-Nahar daily paper. In her book I Killed Schehrezade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman, she attempts to debunk stereotypes of Arab women in the West, yet she also enhances the eroticization and orientalization of Arab women in her magazine’s erotic portrayals. She aims to show that the “typical image of Arab women is not all wrong, but rather incomplete,” but her argument and actions found throughout the book leads the reader to believe that she herself believes Arab women are oppressed.[5] She orientalizes herself by grouping Arabs with Muslims together, as not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs.

While Halliday, Tessler and Anderson addressed many issues faced by academics studying the Middle East, their concerns seemed self-centred and short-sighted, seeing as little focus was given as to how their research can influence ideologies held by MENA researchers and politicians, as well as affect the lives of the people living in the regions they study.

[1] The Islamic Human Rights Commission. “IHRC – Minorities in the Arab World.” Islamic Human Rights Commision (IHRC). 27 Jan. 2004. Web. 17 July 2011. <http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=989&gt;.

 

[2] Weiss, Bernard G. and Green, Arnold H.(1987) A Survey of Arab History. American University in Cairo

Press, Cairo, p. 129.

 

[3] Harich, N., E. Esteban, A. López-Alomar, P. Moral, A. Chafik, and G. Vona. “Classical Polymorphisms in Berbers from Moyen Atlas (Morocco): Genetics, Geography, and Historical Evidence in the Mediterranean Peoples.” Annals of Human Biology 29.5 (2002): 473-87. Print.
[4] BBC NEWS. “Africa | Q&A: The Berbers.” BBC News – Home. 12 Mar. 2004. Web. 17 July 2011. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3509799.stm&gt;.

 

[5] Haddad, Joumana. I Killed Scheherazade Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman. P. 31. Lawrence Hill, 2011. Print.

Get involved with Israeli Apartheid Week

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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

Compilation of Interviews with Secretary Kerry from July 20

Dear Journalist:
Below please find transcripts from Secretary Kerry’s interviews with Candy Crowley of CNN’s State of the Union, David Gregory of NBC’s Meet the Press, George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week and Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release July 20, 2014

Interview

Secretary of State John Kerry
With Candy Crowley of CNN’s State of the Union

July 20, 2014
Washington, D.C.

QUESTION: Joining me now, Secretary of State of state John Kerry. Mr. Secretary, it’s good to see you. Let me start off with whether you know anything new about the downing of this Malaysian airliner from intelligence information. What do we now know for certain?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we know for certain a lot more, Candy. We know for certain that in the last month there’s been a major flow of arms and weapons. There was a convoy several weeks ago of about 150 vehicles with armed personnel carrier, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, artillery, all of which crossed over from Russia into the eastern part of Ukraine and was turned over to the separatists.

We know for certain that the separatists have a proficiency that they’ve gained by training from Russians as to how to use these sophisticated SA-11 systems. We know they have the system. We know that they had this system to a certainty on Monday the 14th beforehand, because the social media was reporting it and tracking it. And on Thursday of the event, we know that within hours of this event, this particular system passed through two towns right in the vicinity of the shoot-down. We know because we observed it by imagery that at the moment of the shoot-down, we detected a launch from that area and our trajectory shows that it went to the aircraft.

We also know to a certainty that the social media immediately afterwards saw reports of separatists bragging about knocking down a plane, and then the so-called defense minister, self-appointed of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Igor Strelkov, posted a social media report bragging about the shoot-down of a transport plane – at which point when it became clear it was civilian, they pulled down that particular report.

We know from intercepts, voices which had been correlated to intercepts that we have that those are in fact the voices of separatists, talking about the shoot-down of the plane. They have shot down some 12 planes, aircraft, in the last months or so, two of which were major transport planes. And now we have a video showing the – a launcher moving back through a particular area there out into Russia with a missing – at least one missing missile on it.

So we have enormous sort of input about this which points fingers. And now we have these horrendous —

QUESTION: At who, Mr. Secretary? At who?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it basically – it’s pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists. We know with confidence – with confidence – that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point in time. So it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists, and that’s why President Obama and the international community are demanding a full-fledged investigation, which Russia said they would do.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you believe that Russia is culpable for the downing of this commercial jetliner if they gave these separatists the equipment, whether or not they were there on site at the moment the anti-aircraft missile was launched? We do know from folks that have said so publicly in the intelligence community that, in fact, they had to have been trained by Russians, they had to have gotten the equipment from Russia. Doesn’t this make Vladimir Putin culpable for this plane crash?

SECRETARY KERRY: Culpability is a judicial term, and people can make their own judgments about what they read here. That’s why we’ve asked for a full-fledged investigation.

Yesterday – on Friday, the investigators and the people who were needing access, the OSCE monitors, were given 75 minutes. And obviously, the area is under control of the separatists. Yesterday they were given three hours. Today we have reports of drunken separatists piling the remains of people into trucks in an unceremonious fashion, actually removing them from the location. They are interfering with the evidence in the location. They have removed, we understand, some airplane parts.

It is critical – this is a very, very critical moment – for Russia to step up publicly and join in the effort in order to make sure there is a full-fledged investigation that the investigators and people who are coming to help from outside, the ICAO, the FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board. We’re sending people over, others are sending people, experts who have an ability to be able to put these facts together so no one will have doubt, no fingers will be pointed about conspiracies, about ideology and politics governing this. We want the facts. And the fact that the separatists are controlling this in a way that is preventing people from getting there, even as the site is tampered with, makes its own statement about culpability and responsibility.

QUESTION: And what is the U.S. doing about that today? What is different in your approach to Russia since this plane crash? If you believe that they have control or some say-so over what these separatists do —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, yesterday —

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

SECRETARY KERRY: Yesterday, Candy, I had a direct conversation with my counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov. It was a direct and tough conversation. We’ll see if anything happens as a result of that. I’m confident that President Obama will shortly be talking yet again with President Putin in order to find a way with very specific steps to move forward.

But President Obama, I remind you again, the day before this event, unilaterally moved even before this to put tougher sanctions in place, what we call sector sanctions, sanctions that begin to do something about their energy companies, about their defense companies, about their banks. Several of their biggest banks —

QUESTION: Sure. But Mr. Secretary, is it true that you think —

SECRETARY KERRY: — will now not be able to access the market.

QUESTION: Do you think – but so far, these sanctions have not changed Russia’s behavior in the least.

SECRETARY KERRY: That’s why they were ratcheted up. That’s precisely the point. I don’t think anybody in America is yet talking about putting troops in there. Nobody’s talking about military. The point is that we’re trying to do this in a thoughtful way with the maximum amount of diplomatic energy and pressure, and it would help enormously if some countries in Europe that have been a little reluctant to move would now recognize this wakeup call and join the United States and President Obama in taking the lead and also stepping up. That’s important.

QUESTION: And Mr. Secretary, I have to let you go, but I can’t without asking you about Israel, which has now expanded, it says, its attack into Gaza to try to stop the missiles from coming into Israel. We all know that the U.S. believes in Israel’s right to defend itself. Are there, in your mind, any line after which you think Israel has gone too far? Have those discussions taken place at all?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the President talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu Friday. I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. The President’s talking to him again today. We’re in constant conversations. And I believe the President is asking me to go over there in very short order to work on the issue of a ceasefire. I was in touch yesterday with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. We’ve agreed to meet at a certain time. We’re working on the idea of a ceasefire.

Israel is under siege by a terrorist organization that has seen fit to dig tunnels and come through those tunnels with handcuffs and tranquilizer drugs, prepared to try to capture Israeli citizens and take them back to hold them hostage. No country could sit by and not take steps to try to deal with people who are sending thousands of rockets your way, literally in the middle of a conversation both with the President and with me. While we were talking to the prime minister, sirens went off. The prime minister of Israel had to interrupt the conversation with the President of the United States to go to a shelter. People can’t live that way.

And Hamas needs to understand we are supporting the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire. We will work for a fair ceasefire and we will work afterwards, as we have shown our willingness to try to deal with the underlying issues. But they must step up and show a level of reasonableness and they need to accept the offer of a ceasefire, and then we will certainly discuss all of the issues relevant to the underlying crisis. No country has indicated a greater willingness to do that, and no president’s been more willing to put himself on the line in recent time to do that than President Obama.

QUESTION: So as I understand it, what you are saying is that the U.S. is comfortable with Israeli actions thus far —

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I —

QUESTION: — but you would like to see a ceasefire?

SECRETARY KERRY: Candy – Candy, please. No country, no human being is comfortable with children being killed, with people being killed, but we’re not comfortable with Israeli soldiers being killed either, or with people being rocketed in Israel. So in war, it’s very difficult. There tends not to be a sort of equilibrium in terms of these things. The fact is that we’ve asked Israel and Israel has said we will try to reduce whatever we can with respect to civilian involvement, and civilians have been warned to move well ahead of time. The fact is that Hamas uses civilians as shields and they fire from a home and draw the fire into the home, precisely to elicit the kind of question you just asked. We need to have a ceasefire.

QUESTION: Secretary of State Kerry, very much appreciate your time this morning.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.
# # #

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release July 20, 2014

Interview

Secretary of State John Kerry
With David Gregory of NBC’s Meet the Press

July 20, 2014
Washington, D.C.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m glad to be with you, David. Thank you.

QUESTION: The President demanded absolute cooperation from Russia, from the separatists in eastern Ukraine, and now the whole world is watching, and the startling developments that the rebels are removing bodies from the crash site, putting them on refrigerated trains, even talk of removing the black box. What do you say about that this morning?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, what’s happening is really grotesque and it is contrary to everything that President Putin and Russia said that they would do. There are reports of drunken separatist soldiers unceremoniously piling bodies into trucks, removing both bodies as well as evidence from the site.

They promised unfettered access, David, and the fact is that right now – they had 75 minutes on Friday, yesterday three hours. There were shots fired in the area. The separatists are in control. And it is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatists, encourages the separatists, trains the separatists, and Russia needs to step up and make a difference here.

QUESTION: How might the investigation be compromised the government’s ability to determine with certainty who fired this missile based on what’s happening now? And specifically, I speak here about these reports of the black box being removed.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me tell you what we know at this point, David, because it tells you a lot about what is going on. In the last month, we have observed major supplies moving in. Several weeks ago, about 150-vehicle convoy, including armored personnel carriers, tanks, rocket launches, artillery all going in and being transferred to the separatists. We know that they had an SA-11 system in the vicinity literally hours before the shoot-down took place. There are social media records of that. They were talking, and we have the intercepts of their conversations talking about the transfer and movement and repositioning of the SA-11 system.

The social media showed them with this system moving through the very area where we believe the shoot-down took place hours before it took place. Social media – which is an extraordinary tool, obviously, in all of this – has posted recordings of a separatist bragging about the shoot-down of a plane at the time, right after it took place. The defense minister, so-called self-appointed of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Mr. Igor Strelkov, actually posted a bragging statement on the social media about having shot down a transport. And then when it became apparent it was civilian, they quickly removed that particular posting. We —

QUESTION: Are you bottom-lining here that Russia provided the weapon?

SECRETARY KERRY: There’s a story today confirming that, but we have not within the Administration made a determination. But it’s pretty clear when – there’s a build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence. I’m a former prosecutor. I’ve tried cases on circumstantial evidence; it’s powerful here. But even more importantly, we picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing, and it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar. We also know from voice identification that the separatists were bragging about shooting it down afterwards.

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY KERRY: So there’s a stacking-up of evidence here which Russia needs to help account for. We are not drawing the final conclusion here, but there is a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible. And what President Obama believes and we, the international community, join in believing, all, everybody is convinced we must have unfettered access. And the lack of access – the lack of access, David, makes its own statement about culpability and responsibility.

QUESTION: Given that – given that and what comes next, The Washington Post has editorialized this weekend what was missing from the President’s comments when he spoke out on Friday was a clear moral conclusion about the regime of Vladimir Putin or an articulation of how the United States will respond. What about it?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re in discussions about that right now. I had a conversation yesterday with my counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and made it very, very clear that we need this cooperation. We’re going to try to find a way immediately to determine whether or not that’s going to be forthcoming. As you know, President Obama only the day before this incident took place unilaterally moved in order to impose tougher sanctions. And he imposed sanctions on Gazprom, sanctions on energy companies, sanctions on military companies. We’ve taken tough sanctions. We hope this is a profound wakeup call for those countries in Europe that have wanted to kind of go slow and soft-pedal this. And —

QUESTION: But call Vladimir Putin what he is. What is the threat that he and Russia present to the United States and to the West?

SECRETARY KERRY: It’s not a question of the threat that they present to the West, David. It’s a question of whether or not you’re going to get the cooperation necessary in a way that they have said that they would. And we’re trying for the last time to see if that will be forthcoming at this moment or not. But obviously, the additional sanctions are reflections of the President’s exhaustion of patience with words that are not accompanied by actions.

Going back to the meetings that I had with Mr. Lavrov in Geneva several – what, a couple months ago now, the fact is they agreed to do certain things and the Ukrainians agreed to do certain things. Ukraine declared a ceasefire. Twenty-six soldiers of Ukraine were killed during the course of the ceasefire.

We need Russia to publicly, publicly start to call for responsible action and itself take actions that they can take with the separatists that they have encouraged, they have inflamed, they have supplied, they have trained, and that are still engaged in a contest for the sovereignty of Ukraine itself. Russia said they would respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, but that is not respectful to be transferring those weapons across. That’s why the toughest —

QUESTION: But I detect in your words, Mr. Secretary, some reluctance to make this a one-on-one battle. You want to give Russia a little bit more room here. But the question is still about consequences. How can anyone view this as anything other than the lowest moment between the United States and Russia in the post-Cold War environment?

SECRETARY KERRY: David, you can get into these grand sort of proclamations about where things are and where they aren’t. The fact is we live in an extremely complicated world right now where everybody is working on ten different things simultaneously. Russia is working with us in a cooperative way on the P5+1. We just had important meetings in Vienna where we’re trying —

QUESTION: This is about Iran’s nuclear program.

SECRETARY KERRY: — in order to try to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. Russia was constructive and helpful and worked at that effort. Russia has been constructive in helping to remove 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons from Syria. In fact, that was an agreement we made months ago and it never faltered, even during these moments of conflict. So this is more complicated than just throwing names at each other and making declarations. There has to be a continued effort to find a way forward, and that’s what we’re trying to do. But we’ve made it clear even as we do that.

There is no naivete in what President Obama has done with respect to these very tough sanctions. And the United States has been working diligently with Europe trying to bring Europe along. They’ve included additional sanctions. We think, frankly, that they may need to be tougher. And it may well be that the Dutch and others will help lead that effort because this has to be a wakeup call to Europe that this has to change. We cannot continue with a dual-track policy where diplomacy is winding up with nice words and well-constructed communiques and agreements, but then there’s a separate track where the same policy continues.

QUESTION: Let me ask you —

SECRETARY KERRY: This is a moment of truth for Mr. Putin and for Russia. Russia needs to step up and prove its bona fides, if there are any left, with respect to its willingness to put actions behind the words.

QUESTION: The war in Gaza also is occupying your time. What is it that you think Israel stands to gain from its invasion into Gaza and the bombardment of Gaza?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, this is a very, very difficult moment also and a very difficult situation. Israel has been under attack by rockets. I don’t think any nation in the world would sit there while rockets are bombarding it, and you know that there are tunnels from which terrorists have come jumping up in the dead of night, some with handcuffs and with tranquilizer drugs on them, in an obvious effort to try to kidnap people then hold them for ransom. The fact is that is unacceptable by any standard anywhere in the world. And Israel has every right in the world to defend itself.

But we’re hopeful, very hopeful, that we could quickly try to find a way forward to put a ceasefire in place so that the underlying issues – so that we can get to the questions. But you cannot reward terrorism. There can’t be a set of preconditioned demands that are going to be met. So we support the Egyptian initiative joined in by Israel and others to have an immediate ceasefire, and we’re working that ceasefire very, very hard. I have been in touch all yesterday, the day before, many days now, with my counterparts. The President has been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I think day before yesterday. They will talk again today. I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. And I believe the President wants me to go very, very shortly to the region in order to try to see if we can get a ceasefire in place.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, before I let you go, I want you to answer critics who accuse this President of an uncertain course in his foreign policy. And it harkens back to something the President wrote in his own book, Audacity of Hope. He wrote this critical of the Bush years: “Without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands, America will lack the legitimacy and ultimately the power it needs to make the world safer than it is today.”

SECRETARY KERRY: David, let me —

QUESTION: Is that the problem President Obama faces?

SECRETARY KERRY: No. Let me tell you what he faces maybe is a problem with a bunch of critics who want to jump to conclusions without looking at the facts. But the facts could not be more clear: The United States of America has never been more engaged in helping to lead in more places than we are now.

I just came back from China where we are engaged with the Chinese in dealing with North Korea. And you will notice, since the visit last year, North Korea has been quieter. We haven’t done what we want to do yet with respect to the denuclearization, but we are working on that and moving forward.

With respect to Syria, we struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out. With respect to Iraq, we are deeply involved now in the process of government formation, helping the Iraqis to be able to choose a government of unity that can reunite it. They’ve elected a speaker. They’re about to elect a president. We believe that’s moving forward.

On Afghanistan, we helped strike a deal recently to help warring parties in contest of the election to be able to come together and hold Afghanistan together.

With respect to Iran, we – this President has taken the risk of putting together a negotiation. For the first time in 10 years, the Iranian nuclear program is actually being rolled backwards, and Israel and the region are safer than they were.

We’ve negotiated a ceasefire in an effort to try to bring troops into South Sudan. We’ve negotiated a disarming of the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We’re negotiating a major economic treaty, a package trade agreement —

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY KERRY: — with Europe, 40 percent of the world’s GDP. Same thing in Asia.

I would tell you something, David. One thing I’ve seen for certain: People aren’t worried around the United States and sitting there saying, “We want the United States to leave.” People are worried that the United States might leave. And the fact is that every fundamental issue of conflict today, the United States is in the center leading and trying to find an effort to make peace where peace is very difficult. And I think the American people ought to be proud of what this President has done in terms of peaceful, diplomatic engagement rather than quick trigger, deploying troops, starting or engaging in a war of choice. I think the President’s on the right track and I think we have the facts to prove it.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, as always, thank you for your time.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release July 20, 2014

Interview

Secretary of State John Kerry
With George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week

July 20, 2014
Washington, D.C.

QUESTION: We are joined now by the Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr. Secretary, thanks for your time this morning. We just heard in Alex Marquardt’s piece that Palestinians are calling this morning’s operation in Gaza a massacre and a war crime. What’s your response?

SECRETARY KERRY: That’s rhetoric that we’ve heard many, many times. What they need to do is stop rocketing Israel and accept a ceasefire. It’s very, very clear that they’ve tunneled under Israel. They’ve tried to come out of those tunnels with people with handcuffs and tranquilizer drugs to capture Israeli citizens and hold them for ransom, or worse. They’ve been rocketing Israel with thousands of rockets. They’ve been offered a ceasefire, and they’ve refused to take the ceasefire. Even though Egypt and others have called for that ceasefire, they’ve just stubbornly invited further efforts to try to defuse the ability to be able to rocket Israel.

So it’s ugly, obviously. War is ugly, and bad things are going to happen. But they need to recognize their own responsibility. We have offered to have a ceasefire and then negotiate the issues. We’ve obviously shown our bona fides in the United States, and the President has put his presidency behind the effort to try to find peace in the region. So they need to join up and be responsible and accept a unilateral – not a unilateral, but a multilateral ceasefire without conditions, and then we pledge to discuss all the underlying issues, which we’ve been trying to do for the last year and a half.

QUESTION: You pin the blame – you seem to pin the blame most squarely on Hamas. Is there any dealing with Hamas, or must they be removed from power?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s a – well, we don’t deal with Hamas, but there are people in the region who obviously do, and Israel has had to find a way to communicate through Egyptians or others in order to get Private Shalit back or other kinds of things historically. But there are plenty of people talking to Hamas in the region, and they’re all telling Hamas that they need to try to have a ceasefire. And what we need to do is get that ceasefire rapidly. I’ve been in touch with every foreign minister involved in this discussion. I talked yesterday with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. President Obama talked on Friday evening with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I talked to him yesterday. The President will talk to him again today. We are trying to get a ceasefire in place, and then be able to move on and get back to the discussions that really are underlying this conflict.

QUESTION: In the meantime —

SECRETARY KERRY: But in the immediacy, when three young Israeli kids are taken and murdered, and Hamas applauds it and celebrates the fact that they were kidnapped and supported the kidnapping, and then starts rocketing Israel when they’re looking for the people who did it, that’s out of balance by any standard, George. And I think it’s important for people to remember the facts that led to this. Hamas needs to join up, be part of a solution, not the problem

QUESTION: The U.S. and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, you just mentioned, have also called on Israel to do more to stop civilian casualties. What exactly would you like to see from Prime Minister Netanyahu?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu has indicated that he is not trying to go in and create some sort of massive counter-civilian re-takeover. What he’s trying to do is make it clear to Hamas that he’s prepared to do what he needs to do to protect the citizens of his country. I mean, just yesterday, when I was talking – or the day before, when I was talking to the prime minister, in the middle of our conversation, the air raid sirens go off and the prime minister of the country has to tell me, “I have to interrupt the conversation. We have to go to the shelter.” Twenty minutes later, we can pick up a conversation. The same thing happened with the President of the United States. This is happening to families all across Israel. Every day, they have to seek shelter. Hamas has to understand you can’t just sit there and claim moral rectitude or the higher ground while you’re busy rocketing people and capturing people and digging tunnels to attack them. And this has to stop.

Now, we’ve indicated our willingness to be a fair mediator, arbiter, to try to come in together with others, in order to negotiate the key issues. But you can’t reward this terrorism with a bunch of preconditions up front. There has to be a humanitarian or some kind of ceasefire in order to stop the violence.

QUESTION: I want to move on.

SECRETARY KERRY: And we all want to see that happen.

QUESTION: I want to move on to the situation in Ukraine. Our embassy in Kyiv has laid out a string of evidence tying the shoot-down to Russia. In your view, is Russia responsible for these deaths?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the question of responsibility is going to be adjudicated, obviously, in an investigation, providing we can get that full and fair investigation. But there are an enormous array of facts that point at Russia’s support for and involvement in this effort. Russia – there are – I mean, some of the separatist leaders, George, are Russian. Russia has armed the separatists. Russia has supported the separatists. Russia has trained the separatists. Russia continues to refuse to call publicly for the separatists to engage in behavior that would lend itself to a resolution of this issue. And the fact is that only a few weeks ago, a convoy of 150 vehicles of artillery, armored personnel carriers, multiple rocket launchers, tanks crossed over from Russia into this area, and these items were all turned over to the separatists.

We track – we, ourselves, tracked the imagery of the launch of this surface-to-air missile, of the disappearance of the aircraft from the radar at that time. We know that this comports with an SA-11 system because it hit an aircraft at the altitude of 33,000 feet. We know to a fact that the separatists bragged on the social media immediately afterwards about the shoot-down, and then later, when one of the leaders of the social – of the movement who – Igor Strelkov, who’s the self-proclaimed defense minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, he posted a social media bragging about the takedown of a military transport, and when it turned out to be civilian, he then quickly removed it from the social media. Now, drunken separatists are stacking bodies into the back of trucks, removing materials from the site. On Friday, we had 75 minutes of access to the site; on Saturday, three hours of access. This is an insult to everybody.

QUESTION: So given all that, Mr. Secretary —

SECRETARY KERRY: This is a moment of truth for – it’s really a moment of truth for Russia to step up and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

QUESTION: So given all that, what exactly should President Putin do right now?

SECRETARY KERRY: President Putin should publicly call on the separatists. He should engage in a public support for the ceasefire. He should engage with the separatists directly in order to release the hostages that they’ve taken, and he should encourage them immediately to take part in a political process that can bring peace to the region. He needs to stop arming them. He could help prevent people crossing the border. He could stop the supplies from coming in. He could engage in the kind of constructive effort that Russia engaged in with us in order to remove 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons from Syria. He could do those things.

QUESTION: There’s no indication, yet, Mr. Secretary —

SECRETARY KERRY: All of those things.

QUESTION: — that he’s prepared to do that. So if he doesn’t, what’s going to be the United States’ response, and do you believe Europe is now prepared to go along with greater sanctions?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we hope Europe will be obviously. We think this is a wakeup call for countries in Europe. President Obama, however, took the lead and put additional sanctions in place on energy, on arms manufacturing companies, and on banking. And those are the toughest sanctions that have been put in place to date. He did that the day before this incident took place, and he is absolutely prepared to consider further, but we need to consult with our allies in Europe. And equally importantly, we’d like to take a stab at seeing if we can find a way for Russia to join in taking actions that actually back up the words that we’ve been hearing.

QUESTION: Finally, Mr. Secretary, you’re juggling so many different crises right now. Your friend and former colleague, Senator John McCain, has said that the world is in greater turmoil than any time in his lifetime. And he and many of your other critics say that the President bears some responsibility for that, he hasn’t been forceful enough. Do you agree with this analysis of the world right now? And how do you respond to the criticism?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I agree with the analysis to the degree that it says that the world is in turmoil right now, and the world is because enormous numbers of forces have been unleashed with globalization, with the Arab Spring, with the radical religious extremism, none of which are the fault of President Obama. And that’s a nice narrative, politically, if all you want to do is play politics. But the fact is that the United States of America, George, is more engaged in more places in the world, and frankly, I think, to greater effect than at any time in recent memory, and I can’t think of a time when the United States has been engaged in more places where people are worried not about our staying, but they don’t want us to leave, and they recognize that American leadership is critical.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for your time this morning.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.

# # #


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release July 20, 2014

Interview

Secretary of State John Kerry
With Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday

July 20, 2014
Washington, D.C.

QUESTION: Joining us now to discuss all these issues is the Secretary of State, John Kerry, who’s in Boston. Secretary Kerry, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Chris. Good to be with you.

QUESTION: Pro-Russian separatists have reportedly removed almost 200 bodies from the crash site and are continuing to refuse to allow investigators full access to the site. Has this investigation already been compromised, sir?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s been seriously compromised, notwithstanding President Putin and Russia saying that they were going to help to enforce the idea of a full investigation that was – had integrity and access. We haven’t. On Friday, the monitors and the people trying to get in there to secure the site were given 75 minutes. Yesterday, they were given three hours. Drunken – I mean literally drunken separatist soldiers are piling bodies into trucks unceremoniously and disturbing the evidence and disturbing the pattern that is there. Anything that is removed – and we understand some aircraft parts have been removed – compromises the investigation.

So we need full access. And this is a moment of truth for Russia. Some of the leaders of the separatists are Russian. Russia arms these separatists. Russia trains these separatists. Russia supports these separatists. Russia has spoken out and has refused to call on them publicly to do the things that need to be done. So I think this is a fundamental moment of truth for Russia, for Mr. Putin. They need to exert all of the influence that they have in order to protect the full integrity of this investigation.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, you say that they arm the separatists, they train the separatists. I want to try to get your latest intelligence on what the Russian role was in this shoot-down. Did they supply the missile that was used to shoot down this airliner? Did they have some complicity, direct or indirect, in the actual decision and the action of shooting down the missile?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Chris, nobody – you can’t draw a final conclusion to an investigation before you’ve had the investigation. But let me tell you what we know and people can begin to make their own assessments. We know to a certainty that within the last month, a major convoy of 150 vehicles, including tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers and armored personnel carriers, all crossed over from Russia into this area of Ukraine, and these things were turned over to the separatists. This is one instance. We know to a certainty that the separatists have gained proficiency in using sophisticated surface-to-air missiles and that they have shot down some 12 aircraft in the last months, including two transport planes. We know to a certainty that we saw the launch from this area of what we deem to be an SA-11 because of the altitude – 33,000 feet – and because of the trajectory. We have the trajectory recorded. We know that it occurred at the very moment that this aircraft disappeared from the radar screen. We know that very shortly thereafter, separatists were bragging in the social media about having shot down a transport plane. We know that the so-called defense minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Mr. Igor Strelkov, actually posted a bragging social media posting of having shot down a military transport, and then, when it became apparent that it was civilian, they pulled it down from the social media.

QUESTION: But Secretary Kerry —

SECRETARY KERRY: We have voices that we have overheard of separatists, in Russian, bragging about the shoot-down and then subsequently taking down social media —

QUESTION: But Secretary Kerry —

SECRETARY KERRY: — and yesterday —

QUESTION: — you’re presenting – and I know that you were a prosecutor in Massachusetts – a very strong case with a lot of Russian involvement, which raises the question in the immediate aftermath of the shoot-down on Friday, President Obama said he still is not going to provide military aid to Ukraine, and he said that he is not going to impose new sanctions on Russia. And —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the President – no, no, no, I think you —

QUESTION: — if I may finish my question, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And I guess the question is: If this is an outrage of unspeakable proportion, as the President said, why not impose a greater cost on Vladimir Putin?

SECRETARY KERRY: The President imposed a greater cost on Vladimir Putin the day before this shoot-down took place. And what we are doing now is trying to bring our European counterparts along because we have 4 percent of Russia’s trade is with the United States; 50 percent of their engagement is with Europe. So we are trying to encourage our European friends to realize this is a wakeup call, and hopefully they will also join us in these tougher sanctions.

QUESTION: But again, sir —

SECRETARY KERRY: The President – let me finish, let me finish. The President is prepared to take additional steps, and we are discussing with the Ukrainians right now what they need, what else we can do, and every – I don’t think anything except American troops going there – other things are on the table, Chris. All of that is now being discussed.

QUESTION: Well, wait a minute. Sir, that is not – sir, if – respectfully, that is not true. You just gave a long list of what Putin is providing the separatists, from surface-to-air missiles to tanks. We’re providing the Ukrainian military with MREs, with military rations. And you talk about putting pressure on the Europeans. In fact, the President, on Friday, didn’t put any pressure on the Europeans. Instead, he said this. Take a look.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We feel confident that at this point, the sanctions that we put in place are imposing a cost on Russia, that their overall impact on the global economy is minimal.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry —

SECRETARY KERRY: That has nothing – whoa, whoa, whoa. Look, Chris —

QUESTION: — if I may just ask my question.

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah.

QUESTION: If the massacre of 300 civilians isn’t enough, what is it going to take for the United States and Russia to go after entire sectors, not individual companies or individuals, but entire sectors of the Russian economy?

SECRETARY KERRY: Chris, that particular little clip is really taken out of context. It refers to the sanctions that we’ve had in place already taking a cost. The President has not taken off the table the notion that there may be additional sanctions. In fact, he also said that there would be additional sanctions if we can’t move this process forward.

QUESTION: Well, how about just for the fact —

SECRETARY KERRY: And we are currently —

QUESTION: — that they shot down the plane?

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just finish.

QUESTION: Why not sanctions for that?

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just finish. Chris, let me just finish. We are currently in discussions with our European allies precisely with respect to what the next steps will be. And rather than shoot from the hip, the President is going to do this in a thoughtful way – where it’s one day, two days later. We’re just gathering more facts, and I think it takes facts for responsible leadership. So that’s exactly what we’re doing.

QUESTION: I – we obviously have limited time, and there’s a lot to talk to you about. You announced Friday that the U.S. and the allies are extending talks – nuclear talks with Iran for another four months, but when those talks began six months ago, members of the Administration promised that there would be new sanctions if there was not a deal, if there was not an agreement by the deadline, which, in fact, is today. Take a look at what various Administration officials have said, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon.

MS. PSAKI: If the Iranians don’t get to a yes at the end of six months, we can put in place more sanctions.

QUESTION: But Secretary Kerry – and that last person was your spokesman, Jen Psaki. But instead of sanctions, Iran is going to get $2.8 billion more in assets that we have frozen instead of sanctions even though there’s no deal, and they continue to – their research and their enrichment.

SECRETARY KERRY: Actually, Chris, they’re reducing their enrichment, and the fact is that this is the first time in 10 years, under this current deal, that Iran’s nuclear program is being rolled back. And I know you and others don’t ever want to give the Obama Administration credit for almost anything, but the fact is this is the first administration to get a rollback in those 10 years, and right now Israel and countries in the region and the world are safer because Iran’s 20 percent enriched uranium is now being reduced to zero, and under this agreement to continue the negotiations for four months, Iran will further reduce the capacity of that enriched uranium to be used by turning it into fuel for the research reactor, which makes it almost impossible to be used in a weapon. In addition, we have inspectors in their facilities every single day. In addition to that, they have not been able to move forward on the Arak plutonium heavy water reactor.

QUESTION: But sir, they can continue —

SECRETARY KERRY: No, no, no.

QUESTION: I – they can continue enrichment.

SECRETARY KERRY: Chris, you like to ask questions, but you don’t like to get answers.

QUESTION: No, I do, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me answer.

QUESTION: But they do – they are able to continue enrichment.

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me finish my answer.

QUESTION: They are able to continue work on their centrifuges.

SECRETARY KERRY: Chris, I don’t care how many questions you ask. I’m going to finish my answer. And I am telling you that everybody said at the beginning of this the sanctions won’t work, the sanctions regime won’t hold, Iran won’t do what it’s supposed to, and they’re dead wrong. Everything that Iran was supposed to do they have done with respect to this, and we believe – and the sanctions have held, and we believe that it is smart to continue the negotiation as Israel even and others said don’t rush to an agreement; a bad deal is worse than no deal. And we agree, and so we’re trying to move, but we are making some progress, Chris, and we’re not going to turn our back on that progress. We’re going to try to continue for the next four months, and I think what we’re doing by holding their nuclear program at a lower level, we’ve expanded the breakout time, the world is safer, and this is a smart deal.

QUESTION: Finally, sir – and I wanted to give you an opportunity to answer the question there —

SECRETARY KERRY: Finally, yeah.

QUESTION: Listen, the limits on time have been put on by your people. We’d talk to you all day, sir. While – you’re doing a series of interviews with all of the networks, and while you were on camera and while you were on microphone, you just spoke to one of your top aides in between the interviews about the situation in Israel and the fact that 14 Israelis have either been shot or killed in an operation. We want to play a clip of that conversation, because it’s an extraordinary moment of diplomacy. Take a look at this.

SECRETARY KERRY: It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation. It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.

STAFF: Right. It’s escalating really significantly, and just underscores the need for a ceasefire.

SECRETARY KERRY: We’ve got to get over there.

STAFF: Yeah. Yeah.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Jon. I think, Jon, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, when you said it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, are you upset that the Israelis are going too far, and in fact, do you intend to go back to the Middle East tonight, sir?

SECRETARY KERRY: I think it’s very, very difficult in these situations, obviously very difficult, Chris. You have people who’ve come out of tunnels. You have a right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely support that, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in. Hamas has started this process of rocketing after Israel was trying to find the people who killed three young – and one American kid, three young Israeli citizens. It’s disgraceful.

And so, yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough to have this kind of operation, and I reacted obviously in a way that anybody does with respect to young children and civilians. But war is tough, and I said that publicly and I’ll say it again. We defend Israel’s right to do what it is doing in order to get at those tunnels. Israel has accepted a unilateral ceasefire. It’s accepted the Egyptian plan, which we also support. And it is important for Hamas to now step up and be reasonable and understand that you accept a ceasefire, you save lives, and that’s the way we can proceed to have a discussion about all of the underlying issues which President Obama has clearly indicated a willingness to do.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, we appreciate your answering all of our questions, even if occasionally I do interrupt, and thank you very much, sir, and safe travels.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you very much, appreciate it.

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