Daily Press Briefing - July 15, 2015

John Kirby
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 15, 2015



TRANSCRIPT:

2:42 p.m. EDT

MR KIRBY: Hello, everybody. A couple of things here at the top.

As you all are certainly aware, yesterday working with the EU and our P5+1 partners, we concluded a deal that if fully implemented, will peacefully and verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon ever. This is a good deal and one that fulfills and even surpasses the framework for a comprehensive deal that was reached in Lausanne back in April. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. It ensures vigorous inspections and transparency necessary to verify that Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, and it ensures that sanctions will snap back into place if Iran violates the deal.

The Secretary is obviously glad to be back here with his team, and while everyone is certainly taking time to recharge, we’re also hard at work preparing for the next steps. That includes getting the necessary documents to Congress for their review, briefing members and preparing ourselves for implementation of the deal, and of course, answering questions from the media which the President just completed, as you know, over at the White House.

This is an incredibly detailed and highly technical deal, and we want to encourage everyone to read it and try to fully understand it. To that end, I’ll be happy to take questions today, of course, but I may also have to take them – meaning take them – some of your more detailed or technical questions back to experts if we need to do so. And as you saw, the President spoke, I thought, at quite some length today at the White House about it as well.

On Macedonia, the United States commends Macedonia’s leaders for reaching agreement to resolve the political crisis. The agreement is a compromise among all parties and serves the interests of the people of Macedonia by strengthening Macedonia’s prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration. We and our international partners will continue to help Macedonia with the hard work ahead. The United States greatly appreciates the efforts of EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and members of the European parliament, together with the EU and the U.S. ambassadors in Skopje, to facilitate this agreement.

And I also have a program note. You may have known – noticed that today through Friday the Department of State, in partnership with the George Washington Elliott School for International Affairs, is hosting the 6th Annual Generation Prague Conference. The inspiration for this conference is President Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague where he stated that the U.S. commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. One of our main goals is to encourage younger generations to participate in the international security debate and perhaps pursue careers in the field.

The theme of this year’s conference is bridging divides and defining the future, and there’s quite a – if you can look on our website you can see the list of speakers. It’s quite a robust agenda. Admiral Gortney, the NORTHCOM commander, was there just this morning.

And today we do welcome to the State Department a visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, His Excellency Lundeg Purevsuren, who is visiting Washington, D.C. this week. He’ll be meeting with Secretary Kerry very, very soon. We’re excited to celebrate with Mongolia its 25th anniversary of democracy this year and look forward to building upon our strong partnership with Mongolia.

And with that, I’ll take some questions.

QUESTION: Okay. I have a question.

MR KIRBY: Are you sure?

QUESTION: I’m pretty sure. Yeah.

MR KIRBY: Because you didn’t raise your hand.

QUESTION: I didn’t, but you looked at me, so I took that as you – your cue. (Laughter.)

MR KIRBY: I may not look at you in the front row --

QUESTION: Right. Right.

MR KIRBY: -- with that terrific beard of yours.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you. You should try one if you can grow one. (Laughter.)

So Kerry said yesterday this is a lifetime deal. Is that really accurate? I mean, why is he calling it a lifetime deal? I, of course, listened to the President say, heard what he had to say about how far out it reaches; but really it’s a 10-year deal, isn’t it?

MR KIRBY: No. No. The Secretary was absolutely accurate about it being a lifetime deal, and I think the President addressed this just a few minutes ago. Certainly, there are aspects of it in terms of enrichment that go out to 10 or in some cases 15 years. But the agreements in the deal that Iran made for the Additional Protocol, and therefore the ability for IAEA inspectors to continue to be able to monitor and assess, there are elements of that that are permanent.

And I would also point you to something that – it’s a little line that I don’t think people have looked at. If you look at the preface, the first paragraph of the first page of the deal, the last sentence says Iran commits to never, ever pursuing or trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. It’s in the first paragraph of the deal.

QUESTION: Of course, they’ve already said they’re not doing that. So I mean --

MR KIRBY: But the verification aspect in this deal has lasting effects and will give us the assurances we need to make sure that they’re meeting their requirements.

QUESTION: Is there a limitation on this – an expiration date on the snapback clause, as it were? Do you always – is there a lifetime on the snapback? In other words, can you snap these sanctions back into place at any point or only – I mean, does that also – does that expire at the end of 10 years?

MR KIRBY: The snapback mechanism is in place when the P5+1 partners are able to verify to the UN that Iran is no longer in compliance with the agreement at whatever point we’re talking about. So that’s always an option available to us. And the unilateral sanctions that the United States will continue to hold Iran to – will also remain in place.

QUESTION: I got that. But again, do the – does snapback expire after 10 years?

MR KIRBY: No.

QUESTION: No. So that’s also sort of a lifetime part of the deal?

MR KIRBY: It’s an enduring partner – part of the agreement.

QUESTION: When do you think implementation day will – do you have any idea of when that could actually happen?

MR KIRBY: Well, I don’t have a – again, I think all of this is in the document, Justin. I don’t have the – I couldn’t put a date certain on the calendar, but I think it’s all in there, all the details of what, how long implementation day is and when that occurs. I just don’t have that level of detail.

Yes.

QUESTION: Yes, hi. I’m Barbara Opall-Rome, Bureau Chief in Israel for Defense News visiting here today. Thank you.

MR KIRBY: Great, welcome.

QUESTION: Thanks. Two questions, please. In parallel to the U.S. support for the IAEA inspections regime, will the U.S. Government be putting together some type of an interagency team of experts so that you have your own consistent, persistent eyes and ears following the process and you’re in parallel to the IAEA regime? That’s the first.

MR KIRBY: I’m not aware of any such plan. I mean, under this agreement, from the very beginning, it’s been about making sure that IAEA inspectors have the access that they need to verify compliance with the deal. And that’s what was agreed to. Again, it’s all in the agreement, if you go in there and look at it.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR KIRBY: There’s no plans that I’m aware of any parallel effort in the United States to do that. It’s all on the IAEA and having – and them having the access that they need. And as part of this deal, they’ll have a presence there in Iran. They’ll have offices. They’ll be there. And we have monitoring capabilities, 24/7 monitoring capabilities of declared – the declared locations that we need to observe.

QUESTION: But as you – but who other than you would know that the Pentagon traditionally puts together teams to monitor various treaties and compliances, and I was wondering if that would also be in effect, that there would be, whether they take off their uniforms and put on their suit and are seconded to the IAEA, if there would be some --

MR KIRBY: The inspection and verification regime under this deal is to be monitored and led by the IAEA.

QUESTION: Okay, second question, please. SecDef Carter will be visiting Israel next week, and of course, there will be lots of activity between Israel and its supporters on Capitol Hill, a lot of hefty conversations on this deal. But I wonder if discussions can already begin perhaps to allay Israeli fears or concerns and their supporters’ concerns on the Hill if there is some type of engagement that the U.S. will start once this agreement is in effect to address all those issues that Prime Minister Netanyahu is concerned about – global supporter of terrorism and a source of regional instability and arming various proxy forces.

MR KIRBY: Are you asking if there’s going to be some sort of separate forum just designed to deal with Israeli concerns?

QUESTION: Separate, parallel, within the context of the U.S. and Iran, if the U.S. would start to engage Iran on all these other issues that are not – were never part – of the nuclear deal.

MR KIRBY: Well, again, I think the President talked about this. There’s not – we’re not talking about a restoration of diplomatic relations with Iran. So there’s not going to be some sort of formal track here for dialogue and discussion about the other destabilizing activities that Iran continues to pursue in the region. Those are concerns that we share with Israel and we’ve consistently shared with Israel and our other partners in the region. And nobody is going to turn a blind eye to the other activities that we know Iran continues to pursue, whether it’s support for Hizballah or the Houthis, whether it’s human rights abuses, or even, as I think the President talked to, our concern – our ongoing concern about these four Americans in Iran, three that we know that are being detained there.

So this was a deal around making sure they cannot get a nuclear weapon. All the other concerns that we have with Iran remain issues of concern, and we have vehicles in the United States Government to deal with those concerns, whether they’re sanctions or other approaches that we can take to try to deal with this, to include a consistent, persistent U.S. military presence in the region, which is not going to go away. And I won’t speak for the Secretary of Defense, but as you’ve rightly pointed out, he’s on his way over to the region. And again, I’d point you to my colleagues at DOD, but I feel comfortable in saying at the very minimum that we can be assured that one of the messages that Secretary Carter will take is one of continued American commitment to our security commitments, to our allies and partners in the region.

Mm-hmm. Yes, Pam.

QUESTION: The President mentioned – this is in terms of dealing with conflicts in which inspectors want access to a site and Iran is reluctant to grant access. The President mentioned there were provisions to override Iran’s objections. He also talked about the 24-day period to get a clarification. Can you elaborate on what happens after that point if there is still no consensus on whether or not inspectors should have access to a site?

MR KIRBY: Say that last part again.

QUESTION: If there’s – if Iran continues to object beyond that point, can you elaborate on what are the alternatives?

MR KIRBY: Under the JPOA – the JCPOA, Iran will need to either satisfy the IAEA’s questions without providing access or provide such access within 24 days. Not doing so would constitute a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and sanctions could be snapped back. Our experts believe that this is a short enough time that even if Iran were to attempt to clean out a location before granting access, particle evidence is not easily removed – you heard the President talk about that. IAEA testing would almost certainly detect the presence of nuclear material if it was suspected in an unauthorized location.

QUESTION: And if you – well, I mean, so you’re basically – and the President said this too – you’re basically leaving this up to the possibility that you’re going to have to do some serious detective work and figure out if there was some activity going there. But you’re acknowledging the fact that they could – there’s a clear possibility that they could hide some operations and move them, and then your last recourse would be to sort of sniff it out, and that’s a real possibility.

MR KIRBY: It is a possibility, Justin, but the kinds of material we’re talking about and equipment – I mean, if – first of all, the monitoring is going to give us 24/7 access to the supply chain. So like every – from the mines and the mills all the way to the way they can fabricate centrifuges, we’re going to be able to monitor that activity. So in order to hide something, to have a covert process in any of this, you have to have a covert supply chain. That’s going to be very, very difficult. So it’s going to be very hard to do something without the IAEA knowing about it.

But in the hypothetical sense that they did or they could, there’s – the kinds of – these kinds of processes are highly technical and require a lot of resources, and it’s going to be difficult to hide that. If – to take your hypothetical out all the way, if they were able to somehow remove, we will be able to detect. There will be a – these – this kind of material is easy to detect, or it can be detected. I shouldn’t say easy, but it can be detected. So I don’t think there’s a great level of concern about this 24-day process. And there is, as the President noted, a resolution process here whereby – that their objections can be overridden and the access can be had if it needs to be had. And I think the Secretary is very comfortable with the provisions in the deal with respect to that regard.

Yeah.

QUESTION: But for the snapback to be in place, you would have to have unanimous agreement between the P5 powers, correct?

MR KIRBY: For the snapbacks?

QUESTION: Right.

MR KIRBY: If --

QUESTION: Because it would go to the UN Security Council.

MR KIRBY: If – well, what would happen is the – we’d have some sort of evidence, right, of noncompliance. That would be taken to the P5+1. That would then be taken to the UN for final adjudication, but the snapback would be immediate at that point.

Yes.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Jalil Afridi. I’m from Frontier Post, an English newspaper from Pakistan. My questions are two – interlinked a little bit. Recently there was a discussion between Taliban leadership and Pakistani Government. They held a dialogue in Murree, and according to reports, the U.S. presence was also there. And today, Mullah Omar has given a statement to AFP which has been carried by Newsweek as well. So I want to know if the U.S. was really part of this dialogue process, because we have not heard from America whether they were in that peace process and that dialogue process or not which took place about two weeks ago in Murree.

MR KIRBY: Yeah. At the invitation – invitations – of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S. did send representatives to participate as observers in these talks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR KIRBY: Observers.

QUESTION: And my second question is a little bit interlinked to Iran deal, because a lot of people over there in Pakistan are wondering what the U.S. has gained from this nuclear deal with Iran, because there are two nuclear states just right next door. So is this nuclear deal basically because of these 14 years of this Afghanistan thing? Now the U.S. is pulling out of there and a lot of things are happening there. Is this like a new strategy of the U.S. Government to look after that region in a less expensive way? Because we don’t see any gains – sitting in that part of the world, we don’t see really what the U.S. has gained from this nuclear deal with Iran. Like --

MR KIRBY: I – before I answer that part, I want to understand what you mean – “a less expensive way.”

QUESTION: Well, because there was so much casualty, there was so much money involved in Afghanistan. All these 14 years, the amount of money the U.S. has spent over there, the amount of human losses that the U.S. has faced over there – so, I mean, journalists over there are thinking – I mean, what – why is the U.S. getting this leverage to Iran and getting close to them? Like, what is the gain behind it, basically?

MR KIRBY: Okay. Let me answer it this way: The gain isn’t just to the United States. It’s to the international community. And the gain is an Iran that does not and cannot possess a nuclear weapon, which I think everybody can agree is a good outcome for the region. It’s just a fact. And that this outcome was able to be reached without bloodshed, without armed conflict, through diplomacy, I think is extraordinary. And it is historic.

Nothing will change – that aside, nothing is going to change about the United States commitment to the people of Afghanistan. You talked about pulling out. Well, we are no longer in a combat role in Afghanistan. They are – Afghan national security forces, who we spent nearly a decade training and advising, are now in the lead for security operations inside their country. That too is a good outcome, and they’re responding well and performing well. But we still have Americans on the ground in Afghanistan, and we will under this new advise and assist mission.

Now, it’s not a permanent presence; eventually, as the President laid out, that force posture will go down all the way to a more normal American presence – not just military but a diplomatic footprint – at the end of next year. We are going to normalize the security relationship with Afghanistan – also a good outcome. But nobody – and this gets to my other answer – nobody’s turning a blind eye to the challenges and the threats that still exist in South Central Asia and the Middle East and the growth of terrorism and the way ISIL continues to try to metastasize its own brand. So lots of work to do, lots of attention being paid, and this deal actually helps our national security interest and the national security interests of our allies and partners, particularly in the region, because it removes the specter forever of Iran possessing nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: Thanks.

QUESTION: Can you walk us through the – and I’m trying to find the portion of the document – of what happens in a snapback situation? So if there is – and this was one of the questions, was alluded to in one of the questions. If there is a confirmed or suspected violation and it gets to the point where one member, say the U.S., wants to – believes sanctions should be snapped back, is there a joint commission that votes on that, or is it automatic? How does that --

MR KIRBY: That’s a – I don’t have an answer, Justin.

QUESTION: Yeah, but that was --

MR KIRBY: Why don’t you let me --

QUESTION: -- one of the big --

MR KIRBY: Why don’t you let me take that, because I’m – as I said at the outset, I’m not going to get into technical details of this. It’s all – many of these things are in the agreement, if you haven’t read all the way through it. And if it’s not in there, I’ll see if I can get you an answer. But I’m not going to try to speculate on that kind of hypothetical from here.

Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: On Japan?

MR KIRBY: Sure.

QUESTION: Japanese lower house passed the security legislation that basically expands the role of Self-Defense Forces overseas. Do you have any response to that?

MR KIRBY: My first point is that the security legislation in question is a domestic matter for Japan to speak to. We certainly welcome, as we’ve said before, Japan’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the alliance and to play a more active role in regional and international security activities, as reflected in our new guidelines for U.S.-Japan defense cooperation. But for additional information about this legislation, I would refer you to the Government of Japan.

QUESTION: Do you have any concerns that this bill is likely to be passed in entire lower house, possibly tomorrow, and there are still a lot of objections from lawmakers and protestors in Japan? Do you have concern about --

MR KIRBY: Again, this is a domestic issue. This legislation is a domestic issue for the Government of Japan to speak to. What we’re interested in is making sure that our alliance with Japan and our security commitments to Japan remain solid, unbreakable, and that we continue to try to improve our ability to cooperate in the defense relationship.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR KIRBY: Yes, in the back there.

QUESTION: Hi, nice to meet you. This is Yukiko Toyoda from Kyodo News.

MR KIRBY: From who?

QUESTION: Hi. Yukiko Toyoda from Kyodo News.

MR KIRBY: Okay.

QUESTION: Nice to meet you. This is the first time. Yeah. Can I go back to the Iran-related question?

MR KIRBY: Iran?

QUESTION: Yeah, Iran. Do you expect the nuclear deal with Iran would have some impact on North Korea, or maybe the future deal with North Korea with United States, which developed a nuclear weapon likewise and refuse to the regime changes.

MR KIRBY: Well, we’ve – our position on the North hasn’t changed. I mean, the onus is on the DPRK to try to commit to verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula. And thus far they’ve shown absolutely no interest in pursuing that process through the Six-Party Talks. This deal is about Iran and preventing Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon. Our position on the North has not changed and will not change as a result of this.

QUESTION: So does – the department doesn’t relate the Iran deal with that kind of --

MR KIRBY: No, we don’t.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR KIRBY: No, there’s no – there’s no connection.

Yeah.

QUESTION: John, you mentioned at the beginning that now you have to focus on what comes next --

MR KIRBY: Right.

QUESTION: -- briefing members of Congress and allies in the region on the Iran deal. I’m wondering if part of that plan will also be to try to assure the allies in the region – Israel and the Gulf states primarily – that there has been some kind of definition attached to what would constitute a violation or what would constitute a smoking gun. How – are there mechanisms in place that would define what would be considered a violation that would then kick in the various --

MR KIRBY: Yes. And again, I won’t – I wasn’t in the negotiating room, but all the details are in the agreement, which you can find online and read it. But it’s very, very specific, especially the annexes – very specific about what compliance means in all these different realms.

QUESTION: Very specific, but they did not identify what it means by a violation. I mean, you could have a Talmudic interpretation of these things and it could be a potential aggravation point.

MR KIRBY: I don’t know what Talmudic means.

QUESTION: Just – I mean, people can interpret it for what they – like in the Bible, you pick out things that can prove your point.

MR KIRBY: Well, look, again I – we believe the deal is sufficiently detailed and specific with respect to what Iran’s obligations and commitments are in there, and there is throughout this entire document and throughout the process of implementation, which we’ll get to soon, all the right mechanisms to ensure compliance and to make sure that the proper transparency is in place for the partners as well as Iran to understand where everybody is with respect to compliance, and I just don’t think I’d go any more – into any more detail than that.

Yeah.

QUESTION: I have a question, to change subjects, about Secretary of State Clinton’s emails. We went through the emails that were released by the State Department and also checked with the select committee, and we’re – we don’t find any direct emails between Chris Stevens and Mrs. Clinton or vice versa. Is that the case? Is that so, or are there some that hadn’t been released, or are there none?

MR KIRBY: As I’m sure you’re aware, we’re working to review and post all the documents provided by former Secretary Clinton on our FOIA website with the exception of, I guess, approximately about a thousand or so, 1,200, that were found to be purely personal. You’ll see them all, everybody will see them all, and I’m not going to get ahead of that process. But I think, as a reminder, the 300 emails that were posted to our FOIA website back in May are the documents previously provided to the Benghazi committee in February.

QUESTION: So at this point it’s not a “no,” it’s that we have to wait to see the rest of them, right?

MR KIRBY: We – the 300 were those that we posted in May. They were provided to the Benghazi Select Committee because they – we believe they met what the Benghazi Select Committee was looking for with respect to particularly Benghazi-related email traffic. I can’t sit here and rule out that there may be in the more than 90 percent of pages of material, of the 55,000 pages of material that still has not been sorted through and made public, I can’t rule out that there may not be in that group some correspondence between former Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Stevens because we just haven’t gotten through them. But we’re confident in the veracity and the authenticity of the 300 that we’ve already provided to the select committee. I’d also remind you that not every communication between those two individuals may or may not have anything to do with what happened in Benghazi.

So I just – I think we’re going to keep churning through this every month and you’ll see them when we see them. But I can tell you that a good-faith effort has been made and continues to be made to meet the information requirements of the Benghazi Select Committee.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: On Ukraine.

MR KIRBY: Sure.

QUESTION: President Poroshenko – he referred to the attacks over the weekend, or the clashes between the Right Sector nationalists and the local security forces. He called them an act of terror. He said no political force should have its own militia in the field, referring to the Right Sector, and he called for a disarming of the illegal militia groups. What are your thoughts on those comments, and especially, does the U.S. agree that the Right Sector should be disarmed and in en masse, meaning the whole force, even the ones fighting alongside Ukraine security forces in eastern Ukraine?

MR KIRBY: Let me put it this way: The violence you’re referring to is totally unacceptable, totally unacceptable. And we expect all Ukrainians, no matter their affiliation or organization, to respect law and order. We further expect any grievances to be worked out through – to be worked out peacefully and lawfully. And there’s no room for vigilante justice or making demands at the barrel of a gun.

So ultimately, in terms of the Right Sector and where they are in terms of Ukraine’s security apparatus, it’s up to the Government of Ukraine to decide how this integration is going to be implemented. But we continue to urge the Ukrainian Government, as we have, to complete this transition as soon as possible precisely because of concerns such as the gun battle reported over the weekend.

QUESTION: The – so you’re in discussions with them about that gun battle?

MR KIRBY: We have been in discussions with them routinely about all the activities inside Ukraine. I don’t have any specific diplomatic conversations to read out with respect to this, but our position writ large about the transition of the security forces has been well known. And I’d point out that Assistant Secretary Nuland is in Kyiv today. So we routinely talk to them about this.

QUESTION: Yeah, the spotlight has been on the Right Sector now, and it just – the question is, from the U.S. interests, we’re going to be there – or we’re there training these troops; are you worried about this Right Sector? They seem to be fighting right alongside.

MR KIRBY: We are --

QUESTION: They boast 10,000 fighters and --

MR KIRBY: We’re not – the U.S. is not training any members of Right Sector. And we continue to look forward to working with Ukraine to identify the best candidates for the U.S.-provided training.

Okay, I can take a couple more. Yeah, David.

QUESTION: Thank you. I have a China-related question about Micron Technologies and the potential for a takeover by a firm backed by the Chinese state. Does the United States see any national security issue with such a takeover of a major technology firm by a company backed by the Chinese state?

MR KIRBY: I – well, I’m not sure I understand or I’m familiar with the case you’re talking about. So without addressing that specifically, we’ve long made our concerns over cyberspace with China – we’ve long made those concerns well known. When they were here a few weeks ago for the Strategic & Economic Dialogue, cyber was certainly on the agenda. This is an area where we don’t always agree with the Chinese. But certainly, with respect to both the security and the economic sectors, cyber activity was very much a part of the discussion. And we’re going to continue, as we said we would at the end of those couple of days, continue to engage the Chinese on our concerns. But I don’t have anything specific with respect to this case you’re talking about.

QUESTION: Maybe I can repeat the question and for follow-up later.

MR KIRBY: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR KIRBY: Sure, yeah.

Pam.

QUESTION: Venezuela. The foreign minister of Venezuela, referencing dialogue with the U.S., said there had been no discussion about releasing opposition activists who had been arrested during demonstrations. He said it would set a dangerous precedent of what he called apologizing for terrorism. What’s your reaction? And also, is this in line with the U.S. position concerning detained opposition activists?

MR KIRBY: I would say, look, writ large, we’re still deeply concerned by the Venezuela Government’s continuing efforts to intimidate political opponents, in some cases through the abuse of the legal process. And eliminating opposition candidates weakens the electoral process, undermines the principle of democratic pluralism. Unfortunately, this is not a new occurrence. As you rightly noted in your question, the Venezuela Government regularly targets individuals who speak out against it, whether it be opposition politicians, journalists, or members of civil society.

So this is something that we – our positions remain consistent and clear on, and we routinely raise with Venezuelan leaders.

Yes.

QUESTION: All right. On China, we have witnessed some incidents of human rights abuse in the past few days. There are so many arrested lawyers and activists, and also there’s the death of the Tibetan monk in a Chinese prison. Did you express the concern over these incidents directly through the diplomatic channel to the Chinese Government?

MR KIRBY: We routinely discuss our concerns about human rights abuses in China – routinely. And I put out a statement myself about the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. So this is not – the concern is not new, and it’s not new that we continue to raise it. We urge Chinese authorities to continue to work better to improve their human rights record.

QUESTION: All right. Do you have a new concern over the overuse of the national security law to kind of justify their human rights abuse?

MR KIRBY: Yeah. I mean, look, we have talked about this before, the concern that we have that the law could be applied liberally for this particular – in this particular way. We’re concerned that provisions in the national security law could impede rather than expand links between the China – between China and the rest of the world. And we don’t think that actions used under this new law to impede those links are going to do anything to strengthen China or to support the development and the growth of U.S.-China relations.

I can take a couple more. Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. Earlier this week, a renowned Japanese filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki, spoke out against the Futenma relocation facility and noted that most – a majority of Okinawans oppose it. Do you agree with the assessment that most Okinawans oppose the Futenma relocation?

MR KIRBY: I’m not qualified to speak to Okinawan public opinion.

QUESTION: But is that not a concern of the State Department, that a majority of Okinawans oppose the Futenma relocation facility?

MR KIRBY: Construction of the facility is the meaningful result of many years of sustained work between the United States and Japan, and our understanding is that construction’s going to continue. This is something we’ve talked at length about with the Government of Japan. Certainly I’ve seen the reports and understand some of the angst by people in Okinawa, but nothing’s changed about our approach or our policies with respect to that facility.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you plan on doing anything to address those concerns?

MR KIRBY: We have, through many different fora, consistently talked about the importance of this relocation and the degrees to which it helps strengthen our alliance with Japan.

QUESTION: You may have spoken to this before. If so, I apologize, but today it – Chris Christie, who is running for president, accused the President of lying and said that the President is falsely claiming that the U.S. will have anytime, anywhere access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran gets advanced notice in the deal and up to 24 days to – of arbitration before a decision. I think you spoke to that, but why is that false, if it is?

MR KIRBY: Well, I’m not going to engage in --

QUESTION: But is he wrong in saying that 24 days’ arbitration?

MR KIRBY: I’m not going to engage in political debates with people that may or may not be running for office. The – you can look at the document yourself and see the facts right there. The IAEA will have the access it needs where it needs it and when it needs it to verify Iranian compliance. And nobody – none of the experts, the technical experts – have blanched one bit about these 24 days. And 24 days, I might add, is the maximum. Doesn’t mean that every dispute’s going to take that long to resolve. And as the President said just a little bit ago, the P5+1 partners can override – eventually override if they had to, if it got to that point – Iranian objections. So Secretary Kerry is more than comfortable with the provisions in this deal for verifying compliance by Iran through the IAEA.

Yes.

QUESTION: Anything on – to announce on Cuba? The embassies opening anytime soon?

MR KIRBY: Actually, I think you know very well that on the 20th, the embassies will become embassies.

QUESTION: Okay. And any – do we know who is attending those events and that kind of thing?

MR KIRBY: I don’t have anything on the schedule to read out specifically here today, but we look forward to next Monday, obviously. That’s when the Cuban embassy will formally open here in Washington, D.C. At some point in the near future you can expect that Secretary Kerry will travel to Havana to formally open our embassy there. But on the 20th, as agreed to by both presidents, both interests sections will become embassies. Okay?

QUESTION: Okay. But it’s not formal until he goes down to Havana, that’s what you’re saying. Okay. Thanks.

MR KIRBY: Okay. Thank you, everybody.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:22 p.m.)

DPB # 123