1:51 p.m. EDT
MS. HARF: Good afternoon. Welcome to the daily press briefing. Sorry for the delay. It’s been a busy few days, as you all know. Hi.
QUESTION: You’re sleeping it off?
MS. HARF: Well, as you know, we landed at about 6:00 a.m. this morning from Switzerland, so —
QUESTION: You look none the worse for wear.
A couple updates at the top, and then I will get to all of your many questions that I am sure you have. Again, as I said, as you know, the Secretary and his team landed this morning at about 6:00 a.m. at Andrews Air Force Base returning from Switzerland and the Iran negotiations.
Just a couple of data points about the Iran talks that I think at this point make sense to have out there, and then, of course, a couple of other items and then we’ll go to questions.
So since March 1st, the Secretary has spent a total of 19 days in Switzerland working on the Iran talks. That’s a combination of Geneva, Montreux, and Lausanne. We’ve had two negotiating sessions at Lausanne that have lasted a week or longer. Surrounding the Switzerland trips, the Secretary had 17 calls with other P5+1 foreign ministers. So over the last week, I know there have been a lot of questions about who’s where when in terms of his colleagues, when they’re in Switzerland and when they’re not. I think this just shows that even when they’re not all together in one place they are constantly coordinating, strategizing, updating each other. That’s certainly been the case as well.
QUESTION: Just – I’m sorry. Is that 17 calls with P5+1 foreign ministers or —
MS. HARF: Yes. P5+1 foreign ministers and the High Representative Mogherini. Those are individual calls, though.
This morning, the Secretary convened a conference call with the foreign ministers of the GCC to update them on the latest in the Iran negotiations. This included the Omani foreign minister, the Saudi foreign minister, the UAE, Kuwaiti, Qatari, and Bahraini foreign ministers on one conference call as well.
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken will travel next week to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and Tunisia to meet with a wide range of government officials and nongovernmental experts to discuss key political, economic, and security issues. First, from April 5th to 6th, Deputy Secretary Blinken will meet with senior government officials in Beirut as well as civil society representatives working on humanitarian and education issues in Lebanon. He’ll then travel to Riyadh on the 7th, where he will meet with senior Saudi officials. On the 8th, he will travel to Abu Dhabi and meet with senior Emirati Government officials to discuss our continued cooperation on a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. In Muscat on April 9th, he will meet with senior Omani officials to discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues as well. And his final stop will be in Tunis on April 10th to meet with senior Tunisian government officials and civil society representatives. Deputy Secretary Blinken’s visit reinforces the U.S. steadfast support for Tunisia’s democracy in the face of the recent Bardo Museum attack.
Obviously, Iran will be at the top of the agenda at every stop, both the parameters for an agreement that were agreed to in Lausanne, but also other issues that our Gulf partners care about – and Lebanon as well, including their destabilizing activities in the region. Obviously, he’ll be discussing a range of issues, including the coalition to counter ISIL.
Just two more items at the top and then, Brad, we’ll get to you.
The United States reiterates in the strongest possible terms its condemnation of the April 2nd al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Garissa University College in Kenya. As the families of the innocent victims deal with this tragedy, we urge Kenyans of all faiths to come together in peace to defeat violent extremism. Terrorists seek to sow religious and ethnic division, and we must not let them succeed. The United States continues to stand resolutely with the Government and people of Kenya to bring those behind these attacks to justice and to end the scourge of terrorism.
And then finally, I’d like to welcome our group in the back, students from the University of New Mexico who are in Washington as part of the Fred Harris Congressional Internship working in the offices of the five members of the New Mexico delegations. You’ve picked a very interesting day to be here. You will probably learn a lot about nuclear technology today. We’re happy to have you here today. And thank you for your patience as well.
QUESTION: I expected an even longer radioactive half-life to that opening, but —
MS. HARF: Oh, that’s good. That’s good.
MS. HARF: I’m glad that will be memorialized in the transcript.
QUESTION: In the transcript, yes.
MS. HARF: For everyone. We may.
QUESTION: Can you explain why the fact sheet was issued just by the United States and not as a P5+1-plus-Iran agreement?
MS. HARF: Well, the Iranians and the U.S. both released information. We called ours the parameters. I’m not sure what the Farsi translation was.
QUESTION: What did you call them?
MS. HARF: Parameters.
MS. HARF: So the Iranians did put out to their press information about what had been agreed to. We did as well. It’s my understanding that some of our European colleagues are using the same parameters that we’ve been working from. This isn’t unusual. Often, the U – or the EU, excuse me, and Iran will issue a joint statement at the end of some of these rounds and we’ll each put out our own media notes or specifics on them. That happened with the JPOA as well.
QUESTION: The reason I ask is because – and I have a few, so just bear with me.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: The foreign minister immediately pounced – the Iranian foreign minister immediately pounced on the notion of the sanctions drawdown, pointing out what was in his joint statement with High Representative Mogherini and the notion of gradual drawdown in the parameters. How do you reconcile those two?
MS. HARF: Well, we made very clear that one of the things that has always been a part of our position on this agreement was that sanctions would be phased. Certainly, you saw us outline how that might work, that Iran will receive sanctions relief if it verifiably abides by its commitments. U.S. and EU nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. Suspension is obviously the first step. In terms of U.S. sanctions, it’s suspension and then later termination to ensure that Iran has abided by its commitments. But we were very clear that this is what was agreed to, and that’s what we’re working on here.
QUESTION: I think the Secretary put a timeframe on when that first —
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: — tranche might be expectable.
MS. HARF: Yes. So it will likely take at least several months. I think he said six, possibly six after the JCPA is finalized – so it obviously wouldn’t start till the end of June if we can come to a final agreement – before Iran is able to complete the steps it must for suspension of sanctions to occur. We expect that suspension – so the suspension piece – to happen generally within the first year. But again, this is – if Iran takes these steps more quickly, then the suspension could come more quickly. It’s dependent on them taking steps, and again, we just can’t predict.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm. And now, another issue with the sanctions was the notion of snapback with – which I think both the Secretary and the President mentioned.
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: Yet enshrined in that parameters that you guys released was a notion of a dispute resolution process. How would you be able to snap back sanctions immediately and somehow address any allegations of cheating through a dispute resolution process at the same time? Wouldn’t that —
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: — imply that that takes some time?
MS. HARF: Well, the dispute resolution process, all the details still have to be worked out. But it would enable any GC – JCPA, excuse me, participant to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of commitments, certainly, with the process. And the details about those are still being figured out.
But certainly, on the U.S. side, if at any time we think that Iran is not living up to its commitments, we can certainly snap back sanctions into place. The EU – or the EU and the UN can as well. The exact specifics of timing and how that all works will be part of these discussions over the next three months. But that concept that we can snap back very quickly – obviously, there are some bureaucratic challenges.
QUESTION: You could – what you’re saying is —
MS. HARF: You could do it.
QUESTION: — you can snap back without going – exhausting whatever dispute resolution process is in the agreement?
MS. HARF: That’s not what I’m saying.
MS. HARF: I think the dispute resolution process is still – the details of it is still to be negotiated in terms of timeframe —
MS. HARF: — for what that resolution process might look like. But the concept of quick snapback has been, as you said, enshrined in the parameters. Keeping in mind nothing is finally agreed until everything is agreed.
QUESTION: Right, right.
MS. HARF: But yes, that concept is certainly important to us.
QUESTION: But snapback, then, is not subject to negotiation, is what I’m trying to get at.
MS. HARF: Well, correct, right. But I think the broader point, though, is that if one of the members of the P5+1 or the EU or Iran says one of the other parties to the JCPA aren’t living up to their obligation, it’s a good thing that there’s a resolution process where we can resolve these disputes about whether people are in compliance or not. Right? So how that will work is still being determined. If one country says, “We don’t believe that Iran is complying with item X,” then we have a resolution process to confirm whether they are or not.
QUESTION: Correct. Right, but the notion that you could then respond very quickly, that’s something you could do independent of that resolution or —
MS. HARF: Yes.
MS. HARF: We always reserve the right to snap sanctions – the ability, I should say, not the right – the ability to snap sanctions back into place. But again, the details of the dispute resolution process are part of this next three months of negotiations.
QUESTION: But those sanctions you’re talking about, they don’t require voting or deliberation within the countries involved? These are just instant, instantaneous sanctions?
MS. HARF: Well, nothing is instant. But —
QUESTION: Right. But like “snap”? (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Like “snap” means instant.
MS. HARF: That was a technically —
QUESTION: Yeah. So my question is –
MS. HARF: — challenging question.
QUESTION: Could you truly snap them back into place —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — if they require, as you said, some bureaucratic challenges?
MS. HARF: Well, not challenges, but if you ask the Treasury Department how – if you have to sign the paperwork —
MS. HARF: — it doesn’t come the next minute, right.
MS. HARF: But very quickly, yes. When sanctions are suspended and not terminated – termination is different, but even then —
QUESTION: I see.
MS. HARF: — those could be snapped back in. But when sanctions are suspended through things like executive waivers, then you can re-impose them fairly quickly.
Yes. James Rosen.
QUESTION: Hi, there.
MS. HARF: Making an appearance in the briefing room today.
QUESTION: Drawn by you.
MS. HARF: I’m sure.
QUESTION: And thank you. I, too, have kind of a series of things I want to go over —
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: — with your indulgence and that of my colleagues.
MS. HARF: It’s a Friday. I’m sure they’ll indulge you.
QUESTION: First, Secretary Kerry in his remarks yesterday very pointedly sought to rebut the idea that there is a sunset —
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: — provision to this entire deal. And in his very next set of sentences, he mentioned how some of the clauses expire after 10 years, some after 15 years, some after 20 years, some after 25, and then some —
MS. HARF: And some —
QUESTION: — that don’t at all.
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: But –
MS. HARF: So the deal as a package never – there are pieces of it that will go on forever.
QUESTION: So isn’t it accurate —
MS. HARF: Which is contrary to “sunset.”
QUESTION: Isn’t it accurate to say that many key provisions are, in fact, sunset?
MS. HARF: The deal overall, as people have reported over the last few weeks before they knew the details of it, is not a sunsetted deal. There are provisions that will be in place for certain periods of time. That is true. There are different phases in this. There’s a 10-year, a 15-year, a 25-year. Again, I think some people who just said this would be 10 years might be a little surprised at what we announced yesterday. But the key point about the forever commitments are that these are the ones that get at transparency and monitoring and verification, which is so important to us, particularly when it comes to the covert path. If you talk about things like the additional protocol, modified Code 3.1, these are the things that get us insight into Iran’s nuclear program. So that, for us, is an incredibly important piece of this that never expires, certainly.
QUESTION: Let’s move to some of the transparency measures.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: In the fact sheet that was distributed setting forth the parameters —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — in all of the provisions relating to inspection, I didn’t see any reference to the ability of IAEA inspectors to conduct snap inspections – that is to say, to be able to go where they want to go when they want to go. Am I correct in my interpretation?
MS. HARF: Well, first, Iran has agreed under this to the most robust and intrusive inspections in transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. The IAEA will be allowed regular access to all of Iran’s declared facilities; that’s Arak, Fordow, and Natanz. Inspectors will also have access to the entire uranium supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program from start to finish, and these elements, as we’ve said, have the – are the best hedge, really, against a covert path. The IAEA will also be permitted to use technology, such as cameras, in all three declared facilities to accomplish their traditional safeguards mission as well as to monitor compliance. So even if there’s not an inspector there, there will be a camera there at all —
QUESTION: Not in all places and cases; in certain places and cases.
MS. HARF: In all three declared facilities – Arak, Fordow, and Natanz.
MS. HARF: And so I think most people would think those are the important ones. The IAEA, under the newly implemented additional protocol which Iran has agreed to provisionally start immediately implementing and then will ratify would be able – the IAEA would be able to request inspections anywhere in Iran whenever they wanted to. We have also negotiated a specific provision for the JCPA that would essentially guaranteed that IAEA could access where it wants to go in a timely manner if Iran refuses, even though the additional protocol says they can request inspections wherever they want and whenever they want.
QUESTION: So just to put a fine point on this —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — the IAEA inspectors will be able to go where they want when they want?
MS. HARF: Under the newly implemented additional protocol, the IAEA would be able to request inspections anywhere in Iran whenever they wanted them. That is the —
QUESTION: They can —
MS. HARF: Wait.
QUESTION: Excuse me. That’s —
MS. HARF: That’s part of the additional protocol. That’s part of the additional protocol.
QUESTION: Okay. So it is the view of the —
MS. HARF: Which Iran has agreed to.
QUESTION: It is the view of the United States Government that notwithstanding decades of massive deception on the part of Iran, that Iran should be entitled to all of the benefits and codicils of the additional protocol that they disregarded for so long?
MS. HARF: I’m now sure how the additional protocol is – benefits to them when it lays out a very stringent inspection transparency regime they will be party to.
QUESTION: Well, in other words —
MS. HARF: That’s not a benefit to them; that’s a restriction on them.
QUESTION: Well, but, for example, the additional protocol —
MS. HARF: And if they don’t live up to it, they would be in violation of a JCPA commitment.
QUESTION: Okay. So just not to get too bogged down, they cannot go wherever they want to go when they want to go. You’re telling me they can request to go wherever they want to go when they want to go.
MS. HARF: And then I said we have negotiated a specific provision for the JCPA that would essentially guarantee the IAEA could access where it wants to go in a timely manner if Iran initially refuses. Now, two more points on that. The details of that are part of what will be worked out in the next three months. But again, if under the IAEA the – or excuse me, if under the additional protocol the IAEA has this ability, Iran has to maintain compliance with the additional protocol to be in compliance with the JCPA and to not have sanctions re-imposed.
QUESTION: Moving just to – just a couple more, real quick, Said.
MS. HARF: So again, this is the most intrusive transparency regime that has ever been negotiated in the history of any nuclear program. The measures that are included in this are things that I think many people would look at and say, “Without this, we will have none of these. Without this agreement, we will have none of this transparency.”
QUESTION: So you would expect all military sites that the IAEA wants to see to be – for them to get access to that?
MS. HARF: Well, we are still negotiating over all of the people and places where the IAEA will have access required when it comes to possible military dimensions. We have a path forward here, an agreement that Iran will undertake a PMD access list process to form out that list when it comes to potential military sites. That’s part of what will be negotiated over the next three months, but in principle, we have agreement that that is a process they will undertake.
QUESTION: But you can’t say with definitive clarity at this point that, for example, inspectors will be allowed into Parchin?
MS. HARF: Well, we would find it, I think, very difficult to imagine a JCPA that did not require such access at Parchin.
QUESTION: Now, it’s been my observation in studying the transcripts of the briefings very closely that the briefers at this podium have been kind of all over the place in terms of whether or not the resolution of the PMD issues was in fact a part of the Joint Plan of Action for the past 16 months. There have been times when the briefers have indicated that that was, in fact, embedded in the JPOA, and times when the briefers have sought to argue that, in fact, that was a totally separate process of some kind.
MS. HARF: I don’t think I’ve ever argued that. I think you’re conflating a couple issues, and I’m happy to unpack it a little bit. But if you have a question —
QUESTION: Be all that as it may —
MS. HARF: Well, right, but I think you’re mischaracterizing it.
QUESTION: Again, why should – I understand that – why should Americans have faith that over the next three months, U.S. and allied negotiators will be able to arrive at some satisfactory process for resolving the PMD questions when not only has Iran failed to do that over many years’ time, but in fact failed to do it over the course of the JPOA when they were required to do so?
MS. HARF: If you look very specifically at the language in the JPOA – I was there when it was finalized; I’m very familiar with it – it said in order to get to a joint comprehensive plan of agreement – so there was a part at the end that talked about what we needed for a final agreement – that past and present concerns would need to be resolved. So when – that’s the statement that references PMD in the Joint Plan of Action. So just staying on our negotiations for a second, when we say we have a path forward, they have agreed to undertake a PMD access list, that is something that is very important to us. Obviously, there is work over the next three months to do on this, but that is part of what we were getting at in the JCPA.
There is also – you are correct – a separate process the IAEA has been undertaking. We work with them very closely, obviously. We have encouraged Iran to work with them. But when it comes to this agreement, we have always said we will not sign onto any final agreement that does not meet our standards for what we need to see here in terms of PMD, even given the fact that this is an agreement about the future, not about the past, and that’s something that’s very important to us.
QUESTION: Two final question, two final ones.
QUESTION: And then I have (inaudible).
QUESTION: Very grateful.
MS. HARF: Brad doesn’t want to indulge you, but –
QUESTION: On the repurposing of the facility at Arak.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Understanding that these are just the kind of precise technical details that the negotiators hope to hammer out over the next 90 days, nonetheless I wonder if you could tell us or point to a single instance of a heavy-water reactor like the one at Arak having been repurposed in the way you envision such that it could not produce weapons-grade plutonium.
MS. HARF: Well, there are a number of countries that have heavy-water reactors that do not produce weapons-grade plutonium. We’re happy to get you a list of those. I don’t have all of those in front of me. However – wait – under this agreement, the plutonium pathway will be shut down. And our goal, our bottom line here, has always been to get to that. Iran will fully design its Arak reactor under strict international oversight so the reactor does not produce weapons-grade plutonium. The original core of the reactor, which would’ve enabled the production of significant quantities of plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.
So our bottom line of ensuring that Arak cannot lead to the plutonium pathway to a bomb has been met. We’ll hammer out all the details in the next three months, but that is very important to us, and there are examples of other countries who indeed use heavy water reactors for non-weapons-grade purposes.
QUESTION: Final question. I want to get at something that is a broader theme here surrounding these negotiations. And you’ve heard it articulated from many places, and including individuals whom you would regard as partisan, but probably also from some individuals whom you greatly respect as arms control experts and foreign policy intellectuals: Namely, that the Obama Administration, in concert with its negotiating partners over the course of these negotiations, scaled back its aims, dialed back its negotiating posture, conceded too much.
And as evidence for that, I want to read to you a statement by President Obama himself to the Brookings Institution in December 2013 as these negotiations were just getting underway. The President said, and I quote, “We know that the Iranians don’t need to have an underground fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program, unquote”
Isn’t it self-evidently true that President Obama dialed back his negotiating posture over the course of these negotiations in order to concede further and further to the Iranians?
MS. HARF: Not at all, James, and I would note in the quote you just read, he didn’t say, “So therefore, our negotiating position will be X.” He was making the rhetorical point that Iran claims their program is for entirely peaceful purposes and they don’t want a nuclear weapon. However, historically, they have done things that led people to question that, including those two things he mentioned.
Our bottom lines here, James – our bottom lines in this negotiation have never changed. We need to cut off the four pathways for Iran to get to a nuclear weapon and we need to get Iran from currently two to three months of breakout time up to six times that, so to a year – at least a year breakout time under this agreement, and that’s what we have done.
Our bottom lines here in terms of what we needed to get at the negotiating table have never changed. That’s why we didn’t take a deal last November or last July or at any point. That’s why it took so long between when we finalized the JPOA and now.
QUESTION: You know that only Heinonen challenged this notion of the breakout time being a year based on 6,500 centrifuges?
MS. HARF: And he also used a much higher – he, I think, used 500 kilograms of stockpile. Under this agreement, we have 300 kilograms of stockpile, which is a key part of the equation that gets us to a year breakout time. We also have fewer centrifuges as well. So when it comes to the breakout calculation, he was using numbers that are much greater. He was also using a calculation, my experts tell me, that doesn’t account for how any of these centrifuges operate in the real world. And essentially, he was using a textbook calculation which doesn’t account for things like breakdown of centrifuges, which, when our intelligence community and our experts calculate breakout, they calculate it as it happens in the real world.
And that’s how we get, using our experts at DOE and the labs – nonpolitical, nonpartisan people who have served under Democratic and Republican administrations – they are confident in the science behind what we have done that with this equation, we get to at least a year breakout time.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you all. Appreciate it.
QUESTION: Let me get several questions out of the way, and I’ll try to do this —
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: — like speed round.
MS. HARF: It’s okay.
QUESTION: All right. On —
MS. HARF: I’m not tired or anything. It’s fine. I’m just going to start leaning on the podium a little more. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: On R&D —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — there were some vague words like “limited” —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — “certain” restrictions. Is that to say that R&D remained unsolved at the time of the agreement?
MS. HARF: So in general, Iran will be permitted limited R&D under this deal in a manner that constrains its developments for at least 10 years. It is true that details still remain to be worked out on many R&D issues. On a couple of key facilities, though – for example, Iran will not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow, for example. So in general, we still have some R&D issues to work out, and those are among the most challenging, to be frank.
QUESTION: On years 10 to 15, there was no mention of the breakout time. Is that still to be determined or is there no limit whatsoever on breakout timing here?
MS. HARF: So we are – we’ve always said, again, our bottom line was at least a year breakout time for at least 10 years.
MS. HARF: Given that some of the R&D is still being negotiated and some other issues, I don’t have more specifics than that. But obviously, we want to push breakout as far as possible.
QUESTION: Okay. And then – I’m just going to do them fast, sorry. Is June —
MS. HARF: It’s okay. I haven’t briefed all week.
QUESTION: Is June 30th a fixed deadline or is it a flexible deadline like we saw on March 31st?
MS. HARF: Well, I would remind people that it just took us a couple extra days to get to this, which I think most people would say is probably within the margin here. But June 30th is – look, the reason we put these dates in place – there are a couple reasons. The first is a bureaucratic or a logistical one, I should say. The Joint Plan of Action was technically extended till the end of June, so the provisions of it, including, on our side, the sanctions waivers, are extended till the end of June. So that’s just a technical point.
MS. HARF: But second, I think if anyone who followed this over the last week can see, these deadlines are actually – can be a very helpful forcing mechanism to get people to make decisions. And I think that’s part of one of the reasons we put March 31st in place, and I actually think that that worked. So yes, we believe this is a important deadline. Obviously, I have no idea how these next three months are going to play out.
QUESTION: Would the final accord need to be followed up by an implementation agreement like —
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: — with the JPOA?
MS. HARF: It’s my understanding – and I can check with our experts – but that these annexes in the next months is – that is the implementation —
MS. HARF: — piece of what you’re referring to, I think, from the JPOA.
QUESTION: Yeah. Have more talks been scheduled or mulled yet?
MS. HARF: They have not been scheduled yet.
MS. HARF: Everyone’s mulling them right now —
MS. HARF: — after they wake up from very long sleep. We just don’t know yet, but we obviously want to get to work as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Has there been a date to brief Congress yet or any planned – any concrete plans?
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I know the Administration has done a number of individual congressional calls over the past 24 hours. I don’t have a date for a briefing or a hearing yet.
QUESTION: And then can you say anything more about what the President said yesterday on working with Congress on an oversight role? What did he mean? And is there any flexibility on, for example, Senator Corker’s legislation in particular on giving Congress a say?
MS. HARF: Well, the President has said that if the Corker legislation comes to his desk, he will veto it. And he also, though, said yesterday that we will be engaging with Congress on what that oversight role might look like. I don’t have more details to share at this point.
QUESTION: So that veto threat stands?
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: Marie, since all the bases have been covered, technical and otherwise, let me ask you a very simple question.
MS. HARF: I told our guests they were going to get a lot of information about how to make nuclear weapons today.
QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. Let me —
MS. HARF: Or how not to make nuclear weapons. Let’s put it that way.
QUESTION: Right. Let me ask you —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — a very simple question regarding the Iranian claim. They said that they basically offered you the same deal, the same kind of framework deal, back in 2003. Do you refute that?
MS. HARF: Well, I certainly wasn’t here in 2003.
QUESTION: Well, I mean – but I’m sure that —
MS. HARF: And their nuclear program was actually at a very different place in 2003. The number of centrifuges was much lower, their stockpile was lower. So in terms of our side, we need that equation to get to a year breakout time. I don’t know how you can compare the two points in history.
QUESTION: And I believe that was said in response and sort of refuting your fact sheet in a way.
MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see that, Said. As I said, they also put out their own —
MS. HARF: — set of facts in a sheet to reporters, so I think I will leave it at that.
QUESTION: I have couple more questions on the Camp David meeting next week. So will that —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Is it next week, next Thursday?
MS. HARF: I don’t know. You’re talking about the one the President announced?
QUESTION: The President called – yeah.
MS. HARF: I don’t have more details on that for you.
QUESTION: Would that be – okay. We don’t know the details. Will that be just sort of dedicated to the – this Iran deal, or is going to – is it going to talk about other things and include —
MS. HARF: I’m sure they’ll talk about other issues, but obviously, the security of our Gulf partners is incredibly important to us. I know a lot of them have questions about – that’s why the Secretary spoke with their foreign ministers this morning, so I imagine other issues are likely to come up, very likely to come up. But I don’t have more details to share at this point.
QUESTION: Did you find the statements made by Congress yesterday – by Senator Corker, for instance – to be more flexible than it was before? Or do you expect it to be more flexible?
MS. HARF: Well, I think there was a range of reactions from Congress. Many were very supportive, and I think many notably expressed pleasant surprise that as many details had been put under these parameters as were.
QUESTION: Okay. And are we to expect that prime minister of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu, will come to Camp David as well?
MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s what the President announced, Said.
QUESTION: And I know he did not announce.
MS. HARF: I think he talked about the GCC.
QUESTION: Is that something to be expected?
MS. HARF: I would – I have no way to answer that question. I have not heard anything about that. I have nothing to read out in terms of possible meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu. The President spoke with him. Our – his views on this are clear, but I haven’t heard anything indicating that he would be coming to the United States.
QUESTION: And my final question – actually, just a follow-up to Brad’s: On terms of schedule or agenda, I mean, are you looking at, let’s say, meetings maybe in the next month – over the next – this month?
MS. HARF: We literally landed at 6:00 a.m. this morning. We don’t have a meeting schedule yet.
QUESTION: I understand, but you really don’t have that much time between now and June 30th, so —
MS. HARF: That is true, we do not. I think we’ll have some more clarity by early next week.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: One of the things that the prime minister —
QUESTION: Can we go back to – sorry —
QUESTION: Sorry, Justin. One of the things that the prime minister said was that any final deal that’s reached in June, if that happens, needs to demand that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist. Is that an appropriate thing to include in a deal of this sort, in the U.S.’s view?
MS. HARF: Well, this is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue. We have purposefully kept that separate from every other issue. That issue is complicated enough to deal with on its own. No, this is an agreement that doesn’t deal with any other issues, nor should it, and that’s what we’re focused on.
QUESTION: To go back to Brad’s question about the understanding, did you attempt at any point to put together a joint parameters note rather than each do individual notes about what was agreed upon?
MS. HARF: I mean, we – what we —
QUESTION: I mean, because if it was an agreement, you would think that one parameters could suffice.
MS. HARF: Well, not necessarily. I mean, keep in mind this isn’t the final agreement.
MS. HARF: So this – we believe this was most appropriate at this point. We had – look, the conversations inside the room were focused on the substance, not necessarily what was put down on paper and who signed on to it. We had discussions with them about what we would say publicly and they let us know they would say things publicly, and I’m not really concerned about sort of this – how they will sell this back at home.
MS. HARF: But we certainly had conversations with them about the – our need, certainly, for our purposes, to be able to say as much of this publicly.
QUESTION: And you didn’t have any problems with the stuff that they put in their parameters? I hadn’t seen them.
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t read Farsi yet, unfortunately, so I don’t know exactly what all the details were. But I haven’t heard much feedback from people.
QUESTION: Yeah. Google translates now.
MS. HARF: Always really accurately, too, I think.
QUESTION: And – but so would you be willing —
MS. HARF: I’m not sure I’m going to rely on Google Translate to answer questions at this podium. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Right. Do you have a copy of them, and would you be willing to share their parameters?
MS. HARF: I’m – I think you can probably ask them.
QUESTION: Okay. You don’t have a copy, though?
MS. HARF: I think you can probably ask them. They’re online. They’re on – they’ve been linked to on Twitter. So I’m happy to Google that for you, or you can find it.
QUESTION: Beyond the parameters of their parameters, just in their broader dialogue or the statements made in English by Foreign Minister Zarif, are you aware of any misrepresentations of the deal by the Iranian side, to your knowledge?
MS. HARF: I’m happy to take a look, James. Again, I’m not really concerned with how they’re going to be talking about this publicly back in Iran. What we’re focused on is what was we discussed at the negotiating table. As the Secretary said, I think, in his interview – one of his interviews that we did, I think, maybe with CNN – that we’re quite confident about the parameters as they’ve been articulated, and that’s what’s most important to us.
QUESTION: On the sanctions, Marie.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: On the sanctions. Now the Secretary said something like six months, but the agreement —
MS. HARF: He said “possibly.”
QUESTION: Possibly six months.
MS. HARF: He said it could take, yes.
QUESTION: Okay. But he also said that Iran has honored all its commitments.
MS. HARF: That is true.
QUESTION: So you have no reason, or at least no past evidence, to sort of say that Iran basically may not honor its commitments between now and the June 30th deadline.
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think that’s – I don’t know how to make that prediction.
MS. HARF: Under the Joint Plan of Action, they’ve lived up to all their commitments. That is true.
QUESTION: Well, and if they have actually stuck to their commitments over the past 18 months, one would expect that they will stick to their commitments when they are so close to having the sanctions lift, wouldn’t they?
MS. HARF: I don’t really have expectations one way or the other. We just need to see them do it.
QUESTION: Okay. And just one last question on this issue. So suppose there is a deal on June 30th. Why would the sanctions remain for another additional three months?
MS. HARF: Well, if Iran can complete all of its nuclear-related commitments quicker, then they’ll get the sanctions suspension quicker. That they have to take the nuclear commitments, the key ones that will be laid out, before the sanctions are suspended. So if they can do it more quickly, then we would suspend sanctions more quickly. It’s tied to how fast they can do things.
QUESTION: On the sanctions?
MS. HARF: Sanctions, yes.
QUESTION: Yeah. From this podium, you and others have addressed the issue of sanctions playing a role in the India-Iran trade. They went from not using dollars. They went on barter and all, and they were on a list of – and then over a period of time, all those, after hiccups, finally they were cleared. So have the Indian Government been told about the – what is coming, or they come to know through media? Or is – are you going to —
MS. HARF: I’m sure we’ll be reaching out to them. Again, anything that talks about Iran’s oil purchases, none of that would change, obviously, until (a) we either get a joint comprehensive plan of action finalized in June, by the end of June, but then obviously for a period of time until Iran completes steps related to its nuclear program. So we’ll have the conversation with India. We’ve been in constant communication with them. And the other – there are five countries and Taiwan, I think, that still export – import, excuse me, Iranian oil. So those conversations will be ongoing.
QUESTION: So because these deals, they don’t – are not snapped back into action, as the word has been used. It takes some time for these governments to finalize these deals. So when do these governments expect a word from here?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m sure – we’re having constant conversations about – with them, and I can check and see what the conversations with India have been. But again, none of this could even start even taking impact – or effect until after this agreed to, which the deadline is the end of June. So at this point, we’ll have the conversations but nothing’s imminent, I would say.
QUESTION: Marie, did you even try to work out a document that, for all of us in the press, that would serve as a, like, common position of all the participants of the talks, other than having your own principles separately and the Iranian principles separately, and maybe some other countries’ principles separately?
MS. HARF: Well, these aren’t our principles, as it said at the top of the parameters document.
QUESTION: Parameters, yes.
MS. HARF: These were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland, and these elements will form the foundation upon which the JCPOA will be written. So —
QUESTION: Okay. But this is how you present them. Does this mean that all the other countries agree with them, all the other participants?
MS. HARF: As we’ve said, this is what was agreed to in Lausanne.
QUESTION: Okay. And speaking about all of the participants, I am obviously interested in Russia, so a very simple question like Said’s: How important has it been for you to have Russia on board to reach this deal? And how important is it for you to have Russia on board to reach the final deal, if it ever happens, at the end of June?
MS. HARF: Absolutely, and it’s incredibly important, and the fact that we and Russia, even though we disagree on so many issues, are on the same page when it comes to the Iran nuclear program has been very helpful inside the negotiating room, certainly. I think it has shown the Iranians that even though we disagree on so many issues, we agree on this. I think on a couple of technical pieces, the Russian team has been also particularly helpful. Obviously, they have a lot of nuclear technological knowhow. That’s very helpful. When it comes to talking about UN sanctions and the UNSCRs and possible action there, obviously being a permanent member has been very helpful as well.
QUESTION: And the Russians have always stressed the importance of a linkage there between the program – the agreement of Iran to do the program, and the lifting of the sanctions. Do you find that helpful?
MS. HARF: Well, certainly, they have, yes, across the board played a helpful role in these negotiations, I would say.
QUESTION: Change topics?
MS. HARF: Anything else on this?
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: I mean, potentially about the possible opening of relations or exchange of relations between the United States and Iran. I mean, people were dancing in the street. There is obviously popular support. There’s a great deal of goodwill. Is that something that’s been talked about, restoring relations and perhaps —
MS. HARF: No, it hasn’t been.
QUESTION: — an opening?
MS. HARF: No, it hasn’t been. This is not what these negotiations are about.
QUESTION: Can we talk about the —
QUESTION: You did a good job laying out what you guys got out of the deal, but as we know, and just in laymen’s terms, all negotiations come with compromise. So if you had to lay it on the table, what concessions would you say the U.S. made in these talks?
MS. HARF: Well, it’s not about concessions, Justin, because —
QUESTION: It’s not? Okay.
MS. HARF: It’s not. No. Look, there are a lot of technical ways, as we’ve always said, to put together the number of centrifuges, the type, R&D, stockpile, to put that all together, to cut off the four pathways and get to a year breakout. There are a number of different ways you can configure that at all of the different facilities.
QUESTION: So you made no concessions is what you’re saying?
MS. HARF: This – I’m saying this isn’t about concessions. This is about us having our bottom lines met, that we needed to make sure the four pathways were cut off, and that they got to a year breakout. There are a number of different ways you can do that. We needed to try to find a way that also Iran could agree to that met what they said they wanted, which was a civilian, peaceful nuclear program. Obviously, you go back and forth and you trade ideas and you try and find something where both sides can get to yes. But we absolutely made no concessions on our bottom lines, and that is the only thing that’s important here.
QUESTION: What I don’t understand is if breakout time was so significant and so guiding in your efforts, how come you’ve agreed to a framework and you don’t know what the breakout time would be in year 11?
MS. HARF: I’m not saying we don’t know. I’m saying that we haven’t agreed to all of the specifics about what those years will look like, and those are conversations that will be ongoing.
QUESTION: I understand you haven’t agreed to the nuts and bolts, but what is —
MS. HARF: But the nuts and bolts are what matter when it comes to breakout.
QUESTION: Well, no, you said that you had this redline of a one-year breakout time for the first decade.
MS. HARF: For at least 10 years, yes.
QUESTION: And the nuts and bolts work together to reach that goal.
MS. HARF: And we’re still working out —
QUESTION: So what is your —
MS. HARF: — what the nuts and bolts will look like for those years.
QUESTION: Right, but what is – right, but you reverse engineered it in essence. You had a one-year breakout time as the goal, and then you found the ingredients to reach that goal, correct?
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: So what is the goal now for year 11 to 15?
MS. HARF: Those are conversations that are ongoing, Brad. Look, these are – this is part of what’s going to be negotiated over the next three months. Our goal in general is obviously always to get Iran to as long of a breakout time as possible. And breakout timeline doesn’t – it’s something that changes – it doesn’t just change overnight. It takes time to ramp up or ramp it down. So —
QUESTION: Which is why I didn’t say year 10, day one, but —
MS. HARF: Right. No, I know, but these are ongoing conversations.
QUESTION: Was there any rough agreement on the division of uranium stockpiles that would be diluted and kept onsite and those that – the volume of it that would be shipped offshore?
MS. HARF: Well, we – that’s one of the things that still needs to be negotiated, the disposition of the stockpile, the 300 – excuse me, everything but the 300 kilograms. As we’ve said, you can dilute it, you can sell it on the international market, you can ship it overseas. We’re talking to them right now about what – or not at the moment right now. We will be talking to them in the next three months about exactly how to do that. What matters to us is that they get rid of it.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
MS. HARF: Yes, we can.
MS. HARF: Yep, Roz, go ahead.
QUESTION: Okay. This is the worst attack in 17 years since the embassy bombings. It’s almost a year and a half since the Westgate Mall attack. Because Kenya has been trying to crack down on al-Shabaab, obviously, al-Shabaab has essentially declared war on Kenya. There is a lot of criticism inside Kenya today about the seeming inability or unwillingness or lack of political will – whatever you want to call it – of President Kenyatta to not deal with what is a very serious security problem, despite intelligence being given to him by the U.S. and the UK, despite the UK’s warning to its citizens in the last 10 days to not visit parts of Kenya because of the threat from al-Shabaab. Does this building believe that Uhuru Kenyatta is dealing with the problem of al-Shabaab? And if not, what can be done on the part of the international community to try to shore up the security in this country?
MS. HARF: Well, a couple points. Our embassy has been in touch with Kenyan officials, including their security services, in the wake of this attack and is providing assistance. In general, Kenya is a partner in the fight against terrorism, and we work with them very closely to try to improve their capabilities. Al-Shabaab is a very serious threat and it is a tough challenge for the Kenyans. We provide a range of security assistance, including training and equipment, to many key Kenyan military and law enforcement units.
So that’s certainly something that we’ve been focused on. But again, it is a challenge. I think we’ll be having conversations with the Kenyan Government in the coming days and weeks about how they can do better, how we can all help them do better.
QUESTION: Can you talk more about the apparent lack of capacity to deal with al-Shabaab? What is it that Washington has seen that the Kenyatta government has not been able to achieve or has been unwilling to achieve?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think I have much more analysis to do for you, Roz. Obviously, this is a very serious threat they’re facing. We’re working with them to increase their capacity. They’re trying to do so as well. And I can check and see if there’s more specifics, but I just don’t really have much more to share with you at this point.
QUESTION: Is there any sense that Kenyatta is basically trying to protect the country’s tourism industry by downplaying suggestions that al-Shabaab is as much a threat to his country’s citizens and visitors as intelligence would suggest otherwise?
MS. HARF: I don’t think there’s any doubt, probably around the world, about the kind of threat al-Shabaab poses to Kenya. All you have to do is look at news reports from the last 24-36 hours. So I don’t have much more analysis to do on the president of Kenya. But again, with Kenya writ large, we do have a longstanding counterterrorism cooperation relationship, and that’s important to us.
QUESTION: What can be done, given that you still have a very fragile government next door in Somalia? What can the U.S. propose to do? Is it time to bring in the African Union and for the AU and the U.S. to discuss ways of shoring up their ability to support these two countries as they’re trying to deal with al-Shabaab?
MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I don’t have any other predictions to make for you about how we can help more. I’m happy to talk with our team and see if there’s more we can say about this. I just don’t have much more.
MS. HARF: In terms of what?
QUESTION: In terms of assistance for the Saudi-led mission.
MS. HARF: I don’t have anything new, I think, to share today.
QUESTION: Okay. And —
QUESTION: Nothing beyond refueling (inaudible)?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think we ever said it was limited to refueling. We said it was intelligence, logistical support. Let me see if I have any more here. I mean, certainly nothing new.
QUESTION: But the refueling is new?
MS. HARF: I don’t think it’s new that we’re doing it. I think the specificity just had not been out there before, but it’s certainly not new. It’s logistical and intelligence support.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Why would they need refueling when it’s really – it’s a very short distance. I mean, I’m trying to understand that.
MS. HARF: I’m happy for you to ask the Department of Defense about why that might be needed.
QUESTION: Okay. Yeah, I have a follow-up on Yemen. Today the speaker of the Lebanese parliament said that Lebanon is willing to host talks between the two different groups in Yemen. Would you support something like this, or is that something that Tony Blinken will discuss on his trip?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m sure he will discuss Yemen when he’s in Lebanon. I don’t know if he’ll discuss this proposal. But we certainly believe that dialogue is the way forward here, and that’s what needs to happen.
QUESTION: Marie, I also have a follow-up on Yemen, strangely enough. It’s been a subject —
MS. HARF: It doesn’t have to be strange. Yes.
QUESTION: It’s been a subject that’s been of interest to my audience back home. People have been asking why is it that the president, the Yemeni president, who fled from his capital, remains legitimate in your eyes.
MS. HARF: Well, I think —
QUESTION: Whereas, like another president who fled. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Well, I wouldn’t use the term “fled” when he was forced to because the armed Houthis were increasingly taking over parts of the capital and then the capital and more of Yemen. So I wouldn’t use the term “fled.” That sounds a little more proactive, probably.
But there is a constitutional process in Yemen for who is the president.
QUESTION: Right, and —
QUESTION: To be fair, from this podium you said he left voluntarily when he left.
MS. HARF: Well, that was the very first day, but then I think it was very clear that it was because of the security situation that he left the country.
QUESTION: It was very clear, I think, at the time to all of us, but yes. Do you have —
MS. HARF: Wait. Were you done?
QUESTION: May I ask about —
MS. HARF: Sorry.
QUESTION: Yes. If you refer to a constitutional process, then you – obviously, you understand where I am drawing a parallel with. So the Ukrainians, right? Was the constitutional process observed in the Ukrainian case?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to draw parallels here. We’ve been very clear how we feel about Ukraine. And it was also – last time I checked, major parts of Kyiv weren’t being taken over by an armed rebel group when President Yanukovych left, so I think it’s pretty different.
QUESTION: Just on Yemen, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — has made significant gains in the last few days while you were in Swiss luxury, negotiating in the wee hours of the – nah. But there was a prison that was —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — where all the inmates were freed. There was a military base overrun. How concerned are you that the fighting between the Houthis and the Sunni forces writ large will take all the attention away from AQAP?
MS. HARF: I don’t – I mean, I haven’t heard concern about that. Obviously, there is a great amount of concern about what AQAP was able to do in terms of the prison and in terms of the robbery of the central bank, but the fighting remains ongoing on the ground and the situation is fairly fluid.
QUESTION: How much would you like to see a quick resolution to the fighting, even if it’s imperfect, given that the longer this goes on the more we know AQAP will take advantage of it?
MS. HARF: Well, I think, certainly, it is essential that we get to a political process here as quickly as possible for obvious security reasons, not just related to AQAP.
QUESTION: Is there any effort by the U.S. to, I don’t know, push parties toward at least a ceasefire so that counterterrorism goals are not lost?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t know about a ceasefire specifically. I do have just one quick update, sorry. Ambassador Tueller met with President Hadi on April 2nd in Riyadh. I don’t know if we had put that out there yet, but I’m happy to now. We’re certainly in conversation with him about getting a political process. Obviously, the Houthis are the ones who initiated this military action, and I know other people have been talking to them to try and urge the same thing.
QUESTION: Different subject – oh, go ahead.
QUESTION: Very, very quickly al-Qaida.
MS. HARF: A couple more on Yemen.
QUESTION: The leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said that he’s going to dissolve the organization and have each group function as an autonomous or an independent, as a matter of fact, organization.
MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that, Said.
QUESTION: Well, that’s what he’s saying, so —
MS. HARF: I’m happy to take a look at that.
QUESTION: — that is likely to complicate the situation for you, especially in Yemen.
MS. HARF: Well, I think, for all intents and purposes, many of al-Qaida’s affiliates are already acting very independently. I mean, AQAP has enormous ties to AQ core – what’s left of it – in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but certainly, obviously, operates very far away from AQ core. They have funding; they have leadership. If you look at other AQ-affiliated organizations, they certainly operate independently, even though they are still affiliated as well. So I’m not sure what the practical impact might be from something like that, and again, I hadn’t seen his comments.
QUESTION: Few more on this?
MS. HARF: Let’s just do a few more.
QUESTION: Yes, for a second to my line of questioning. President Yanukovych – when he fled, his residence was immediately mobbed, captured, and ransacked by the mob in Kyiv. And then he claims – I don’t know if it’s true or not, but he claims that he was under attack when he traveled, that people shot at his car and he was under immediate physical threat. So I don’t see how —
MS. HARF: Well, I certainly can’t confirm those.
QUESTION: Yes, I don’t see how you can —
MS. HARF: It’s completely different.
QUESTION: My question is the same. The similarities between the two cases are striking.
MS. HARF: In that there aren’t many?
QUESTION: And —
MS. HARF: In that there aren’t many similarities?
MS. HARF: Oh. Okay.
QUESTION: There are a lot, I think, but anyways —
MS. HARF: Okay. We can agree to disagree.
QUESTION: Okay. I wanted just to remind you also that in about a month we’ll have an anniversary of one of the worst atrocities in recent history in Europe: the torching of this building in Odessa during May Day holidays, where several dozen people were killed, were burnt alive and clubbed when they tried to escape. At that point, you condemned the incident, and if I remember correctly, asked for an investigation.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But now a year later, I will be asking you about the result, okay?
MS. HARF: Okay. I appreciate the heads up. But I would also say when you said it was one of the worst atrocities in modern European history, it was certainly a horrible tragedy – as I said at the time, we condemned it – but let’s put that into context next to the downing of a civilian airliner, MH-17, with hundreds of people onboard, with the violence that the Russian separatists have perpetrated all over eastern Ukraine, the illegal annexation of Crimea. I think we need to put things in a little bit more perspective here.
And we’re moving on.
MS. HARF: Yes, Elliot.
QUESTION: Yemen. Yeah, are you able to confirm the death of an American citizen in Yemen?
MS. HARF: We can’t. Let me see what I have on that. We’ve certainly seen the reports. Let me see. I have something on that. We’re aware of the reports that a U.S. citizen was killed in Yemen on March 31st. We’re working to verify the information. We cannot do so at this time.
QUESTION: Are there any plans for the U.S. to take a more proactive role in evacuating U.S. citizens who are still on the ground in Yemen?
MS. HARF: There are not.
MS. HARF: Well, first, we have been warning for I think a decade now that American citizens not travel to Yemen. So that’s not a reason why not to; I’m just reminding people of that. The second is that in each of these cases, we have to make a decision based on the security situation and what is feasible to do. And given the situation in Yemen is quite dangerous and unpredictable, doing something like sending in military assets even for an evacuation could put U.S. citizen lives at greater risk. In some other places we’ve helped evacuate U.S. citizens. For example, airports were still open and you could evacuate people on commercial airlines. Obviously, that’s not the case in Yemen. So we’re continuing to evaluate the security situation, and we’re continuing to look at what our options are, but at this point, no plan – no change in plans.
QUESTION: Okay. A lot —
QUESTION: Do you see —
QUESTION: Sorry, one more on this. A few other countries have used their own military assets.
MS. HARF: It hasn’t – they haven’t continuously been open because of the fighting, but go ahead.
QUESTION: A few other countries have used their own military assets to —
MS. HARF: That is true.
QUESTION: — evacuate their citizens, and in one case a Chinese ship was used to evacuate foreign nationals.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Are you – if you are unwilling to use your own military assets to evacuate U.S. citizens, are you considering asking other countries for help?
MS. HARF: I have not heard that we’re considering proactively asking other countries for help.
QUESTION: Okay. What would you say – I mean, it seems like U.S. citizens – Yemeni-Americans on the ground are making statements to the point of essentially feeling abandoned by their own government.
MS. HARF: Well, we’re certainly not abandoning them, Elliot, but I think the challenge for us is that we have had very strict travel warnings in place for a decade now for Yemen, including multiple travel warnings telling people not to travel there and that if they do, the U.S. can provide only limited assistance, especially now given that our embassy is closed. So we certainly understand the challenge. We are looking at what our options are. But you have to balance what options we have for a possible evacuation against the security situation, against what is feasible, against what kind of assets could do this, and what the risk is to those assets. So it’s just a balancing act situation, and that’s what we’re looking at or the way we’re looking at it.
QUESTION: On Bahrain?
QUESTION: A quick one on Yemen.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Just – sorry. Pakistan has —
MS. HARF: I’m going to start keeping this to essential questions. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. Pakistan has joined Saudi Arabia in this fight that’s going on in Yemen. Do you feel this will affect the Pakistan’s capabilities to deal with the terrorists?
MS. HARF: I don’t. I’m going to just keep my answers shorter. Maybe that’s the way to do this.
QUESTION: Our colleagues at The Daily Caller have published a story reporting that potentially millions of current and former illegal immigrants now have the opportunity to fly their children to the United States with taxpayer dollars and that upon arrival these individuals will be eligible for benefits, including free education, health care, and food stamps. The story further alleges that this is a program being jointly administered by DHS and the Department of State.
MS. HARF: Well, the first sentence you said was not true. This program is not a pathway for children to join undocumented relatives in the United States. The program only allows parents from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who are lawfully present in the United States to request U.S. resettlement for children under the age of 21 who are still in one of these three countries. So the parent or parents in the United States have to be lawfully present in the U.S. We’ve established this program to provide a safe, legal, and orderly alternative, as we talked about, to this very dangerous journey that some children are currently undertaking to join parents in the United States.
QUESTION: What’s the price tag?
MS. HARF: The price tag? I don’t know.
QUESTION: But it’s —
MS. HARF: I don’t know.
QUESTION: It would seem that it would be significant, right, given the number of children we’re talking about who would qualify?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m not – do you know what the number is, or are you just assuming it’s high?
QUESTION: I think it’s a safe assumption, no?
MS. HARF: I don’t make assumptions about things I don’t know the facts on, so I would not make that assumption unless I knew.
QUESTION: Is there some price tag associated with it?
MS. HARF: I’m happy to look. I think – obviously, this is I think partly administered by DHS. I’m happy to check and see if there is. But I would note, when you’re talking about dollar numbers, if their parents are lawfully present in the United States, I’m not sure you can put a price tag on preventing kids who are minors from taking a very dangerous journey to try to join their parents here. I’m not sure you want to attach a dollar value to that.
QUESTION: I’m not attaching a dollar value to that. I’m —
MS. HARF: Well, you asked about a dollar value.
QUESTION: I’m asking about the dollar value – the price tag associated with the provisions being made.
MS. HARF: With joining parents – children with their parents?
QUESTION: With the affirmative actions being taken. That’s all.
MS. HARF: Well, but the affirmative actions being taken are joining children under the age of 21 with their parents who are lawfully present in the United States. I can see if there’s a number we can get you, but I’m not willing to put a price tag on that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Bahrain, and then I’ll come over here.
QUESTION: Yeah. There are reports that Bahrain is pushing or encouraging the U.S. Government to lift arms restrictions as a way of helping them aid in the fight against Islamic State. Are there any such efforts underway or any discussions related to that, and would that be something the U.S. would consider?
MS. HARF: I haven’t heard about discussions. We obviously continue to approve exports to Bahrain on a normal case-by-case basis of items related to external defense, counterterrorism, and the protection of U.S. forces. At this time the U.S. Government continues to withhold exports to Bahrain of things like crowd control items and other items that have a potential internal security use, and have made no decision at this time to resume those shipments. But on the counterterrorism issues, we evaluate them just on a case-by-case basis.
A couple more. Yes.
MS. HARF: Yep.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — if you have any update. But the question is: There was a report or a story on the Foreign Policy, talking about that the United States is helping the ethnic cleansing, which the argument was that you are helping the Iraqi army and the Shia militia on the ground, and there are some footages also for that – and the United Nations Human Rights Office. So is there any mechanism that if the Tikrit is liberated, I think it is – a large part of it is liberated, that you can oversee the process to prevent the ethnic cleansing and the revenge act, anything like that?
MS. HARF: Well, first, backed by coalition airstrikes, Iraqi forces have advanced to the heart of Tikrit, taking the city center and other major areas of the city from ISIL. I think this is pretty impressive progress by the Iraqi Security Forces and a severe blow to ISIL. There are still some remaining pockets of Tikrit that are – need to be cleared. This will be painstaking work. IEDs are also a concern, as are possible snipers and potential holdouts of ISIL fighters. So we will continue working with our Iraqi partners until ISIL has been completely forced out from the area around Tikrit. We are concerned by sporadic reports of looting and the burning of some homes in Tikrit. We have raised those concerns with the Iraqi Government.
Prime Minister Abadi has ordered the Iraqi Security Forces and federal police to arrest and prosecute anyone who was involved in such activity. It’s the responsibility of the Iraqi Government to ensure that such abuses and criminal behavior are not allowed, to avoid any rise in sectarian tensions. I would note that Prime Minister Abadi and the governor of Salah ad Din province raised the Iraqi national flag during the prime minister’s visit to Tikrit on Wednesday – I think an important sign of Iraq’s united effort to defeat ISIL – excuse me – and cooperation between national leaders like the prime minister and provincial leaders like the governor.
QUESTION: How about the working of the destabilization working group? Is there anything, like – because it’s – United States is part of that, that you work with them?
MS. HARF: I don’t have any additional update on that.
QUESTION: One more on the visa process. Maybe it’s the DHS more of that. There is a process for special immigrant visa for Iraqi nationals worked with U.S.
MS. HARF: There is, correct.
QUESTION: Yeah. And that’s also one of the reasons that – why I’m here. But there are also hundreds of others waiting, like, for maybe for more than two years. Is there any – I think there is a process going on in the court suing United States Government by a U.S. retired general or colonel. But is there anything that you can work with the DHS to review the process? Because what they want is an answer – either refuse, or accept the application.
MS. HARF: And we obviously believe greatly in the SIV process, both for Iraq and for Afghanistan. And actually, it is housed at the State Department, a huge part of this process. And we have taken great strides over the past months to improve the speed of the process, given the security situation. After the briefing, let me have our folks send out our latest numbers and statistics about how we’ve done so. I know we have them and I know we’ve worked very hard on this, so let’s get all of those out to you and make sure you have – we have your information so we can get that to you.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority became a member of the ICC. I wonder if you have a reaction to that.
MS. HARF: Well, they tried to accede to the ICC, and the U.S. position on this issue is well known. We do not believe the Palestinians are eligible to accede to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court.
QUESTION: But I think the Court disagrees with you. They said that they are entitled to be a member. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. HARF: Well, I think our position is clear.
Yes, right here.
MS. HARF: I do have a brief one, I think. Let me see what I have here. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim met April 1st with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Morgulov – Morgulov – am I saying that right, Andrei?
MS. HARF: — thank you – and other Russian officials to discuss a wide range of issues related to North Korea. These discussions are the latest in a series of regular, ongoing consultations with our five-party partners, all of whom remain united in pursuit of their shared objective: a denuclearized North Korea.
QUESTION: Any plans for follow-on meetings?
MS. HARF: Not that I know of. Not that I know of.
MS. HARF: I can check on that. I know the process is ongoing.
MS. HARF: I don’t know.
QUESTION: Okay. And then I have a question on Indonesia.
QUESTION: Can we stay on Cuba real quick?
QUESTION: You can.
QUESTION: Has anything developed in the talks thus far to make it more likely that Secretary Kerry will be paying a visit to Cuba, and doing so soon?
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve said he will go at some point; nothing in terms of what that timing might look like.
QUESTION: Does it – would it appear imminent to you?
MS. HARF: How do you define imminent? Are we leaving tomorrow?
QUESTION: The next month?
MS. HARF: I don’t – I wouldn’t – I would not define month as imminent, as a broad point of clarification.
QUESTION: Put it this way: Will he visit Tehran before Havana at this point?
MS. HARF: No. James, in all honesty, we do not know when that might happen. I don’t think anything is imminent. But I would define imminent sooner than that, but we just really don’t know. No clue.
QUESTION: Well, how do you define imminent?
QUESTION: Can you say how likely it is that the embassies —
MS. HARF: The bottom line is we have no idea when we’re going. I wasn’t trying to talk around it there. We really don’t.
QUESTION: Can you say how likely it is that embassies would be opened in Havana and Washington before the Summit of the Americas, or is that looking pretty much not possible?
MS. HARF: Well, the summit starts six days – we leave, I think, six days from now, so that’s imminent. Six days is imminent.
QUESTION: So you would say not likely?
MS. HARF: It’s not a lot of time, let’s put it that way.
QUESTION: Can I – I had a question on Indonesia. There’s an operation today to rescue hundreds of fishermen who had been in slave-like conditions. Is the United States Government involved in that operation in any manner?
MS. HARF: In the operation?
MS. HARF: I don’t believe so. We – I don’t know the details of that. We understand the Indonesian minister of fisheries has reported she intends to freeze the fishing permits of the boat companies and the media as – because they’ve left, allegedly, these fishermen stranded, that she’s ordered an investigation into the reports. We are certainly following the situation closely. We’ve been in touch with the governments involved – the Thai, the Burmese, and the Indonesians. We’ve raised our concerns and we hope they’re working towards a resolution.
QUESTION: Now the Thai Government sent a delegation to visit this area yesterday, I believe?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And they said there was no signs of any labor problems whatsoever. Now they could either have not seen it or maybe they have a different interpretation of what proper labor standards maybe are. Are you going to bring this up with them to express any concern?
MS. HARF: Well, we have been in touch with the Thai Government on this issue. The Secretary and the State Department are deeply concerned about human trafficking in the fisheries or seafood sector. I think we raised this in our annual TIP report as well. It has become, I think, increasingly clear that workers in this industry, particularly many of whom are migrants, are exploited at multiple parts along the supply chain here. So this is something we have discussed with the Thai.
QUESTION: Now the Burmese have been slow in the past to provide papers for people like this who are returning. Is this something you’re going to work specifically with the Burmese on?
MS. HARF: Yes, and we have raised it with them in the past.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Marie, may I re-ask my earlier question in a different way?
MS. HARF: This is the last time you get to ask the question.
MS. HARF: Absolutely, absolutely.
QUESTION: Would it be possible, do you think, for the talks to conclude at this point with this intermediate agreement without support from Russia?
MS. HARF: No, they’re part of the P5+1. And I would also note that Moscow hosted a round of P5+1 talks many – before my time here, but they have been a key part of this process.
QUESTION: How confident are you that they will keep this support?
MS. HARF: I am confident that the P5+1, including Russia, will remain united in our objectives, in our approaches. But there is a lot of work to do over the next three months, and I will say that. This is a very good step we have taken, but we have to get all the technical details right, we have to get all of this down on paper for the next three months.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The French claim that they toughened the agreement by not accepting some of the things you and the Iranians had suggested.
MS. HARF: I have no idea —
QUESTION: Do you accept that narrative?
MS. HARF: — what they are referring to. I have absolutely no idea what they’re referring to. We have internally, inside the P5+1, always said we all have national positions on issues, and that’s why we have all these coordination meetings to say, “Okay, here’s what we think, here’s what we think.” But we are all committed to getting to the same goal here, so I don’t have any idea what they’re referring to, certainly.
QUESTION: So what do you attribute these comments to? Posturing by the French Republic?
MS. HARF: The French are a key partner in these talks, Brad, and I am really just not going to do more analysis about what is said publicly and why. They have been absolutely a key partner here.
QUESTION: Marie, I’m wondering if you want to comment on the State Department’s anti-ISIS, anti-radicalization information campaign. In the wake of now three American women who have been arrested in the United States for either plotting to detonate bombs in the U.S. or to travel overseas to ISIS, I mean, how – is there an update on that campaign? Why do you think women now are being radicalized? And is there anything being done to reach out to women specifically?
MS. HARF: Well, in terms of the State Department’s campaigns, those are designed mainly for a foreign audience. We deal with the foreign public. Obviously, Twitter is – everyone can see it and that’s – certainly, people can see what we do, but the State Department’s counter-ISIL message and campaign is – tends to be focused overseas. Other government organizations deal inside the United States with counter-radicalization programs, whether it’s DHS or the FBI or others. We certainly work with them. But we’re mainly focused overseas and I don’t have much analysis to do for why women want to join ISIL. I don’t really know why anyone would want to join ISIL, but – not any gender-specific analysis for you.
MS. HARF: A couple more, guys.
QUESTION: Next —
MS. HARF: Yep, okay.
QUESTION: You said that you purposefully separated the Iran nuclear deal from —
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: — other issues.
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: And I think the whole purpose behind preventing Iran getting their nuclear bomb is to the safety of the region and your allies there.
MS. HARF: Correct, yes.
QUESTION: But Iran is still doing destabilization effort. And what is the point if they are still doing that and you are not doing what you have done?
MS. HARF: Can you imagine how much more power they would be able to project in the region if that was backed up by nuclear weapons?
QUESTION: But still, they are doing their efforts to destabilize —
MS. HARF: Right, which is the reason we need to deal with the nuclear issue. And if you try to deal with every regional issue that we had problems with that Iran was doing, I’m not sure how long those negotiations would take, but the nuclear issue is tough enough as it is. But on those other issues, we have other ways of combatting and countering that, whether it’s sanctions, whether it’s increasing security to our Gulf partners, whether – there’s a variety of ways we can do that.
QUESTION: That’s what you are going to do after the deal.
MS. HARF: No, we’ve been doing that for many, many years. We’ve sanctioned Iran for its human rights record, for its terrorism support. They are a state sponsor of terror. We support the security of our Gulf allies because Iran is destabilizing in so many places. So these things aren’t mutually exclusive, but the nuclear agreement is focused on a very complicated and very technical and very critical security issue, which is the nuclear issue – because we don’t want them to be able to project more power backed up by nuclear weapons when the region is already so destabilized.
QUESTION: So that’s what I – if I – if it’s correct that you think – United States and the world power that if Iran doesn’t have the nuclear bomb, then it will have less influence in destabilizing the region? That’s —
MS. HARF: Well, you flipped what I said. I think they already have a great amount of influence in the region and they are very destabilizing in many, many places, which we sanctions them for, which we work to counter in a number of ways. So certainly, we’re very concerned about that activity. That’s why the leaders of GCC nations will be coming to Camp David to meet with the President to discuss exactly this issue.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And Iran – I know that Iran and North Korea are totally different cases, but in some aspect the Iran’s nuclear deals could affect North Korea’s nuclear deals. I mean, though, my question is: What does this Iran’s deal mean for North Korea? And is there any possibility of a resume – I mean the resuming talks over the negotiation with North Korea about nuclear things?
MS. HARF: Well, I think that these really are very different issues, and what Iran chooses to do or not do doesn’t have a lot of bearing on whether North Korea lives up to its international obligations. So we have said that if North Korea is open to coming back to the table in a credible way as part of the Six Party Talks, obviously, we believe the goal is the same. We need to get to a denuclearized Korean peninsula. So the responsibility is on them, though, and regardless of what’s happening in other nuclear talks around the world.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Everyone, have a great holiday weekend, a happy Passover, a happy Easter, Good Friday.
QUESTION: Thank you for briefing, Marie.
MS. HARF: We hadn’t briefed all week. I take my responsibility seriously.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:01 p.m.)
DPB # 55