Intervention at the East Asia Summit

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
August 6, 2015


Thank you, Mr. Chairman for the hospitality and hard work by you and your colleagues.

This meeting is timely, for it comes at a moment when the world is facing a series of complex and interconnected challenges. International law and standards are being tested directly by terrorists who defy them daily but also by tensions between states caused by disputes over territory and maritime boundaries. These tests underscore our shared stake in a cooperative, rules-based order that maintains regional stability and ensures that the rights of all countries are respected.

Today, I want to focus on two issues that urgently demand our attention and cooperation: Maritime security and transnational threats.

Iran

Before I do, let me say a few words about the comprehensive plan that we and our P5+1 partners including China and Russia have developed with Iran regarding the future of its nuclear program. It’s more than appropriate for me to mention this issue today because it is the anniversary of Hiroshima. Today of all days, we are reminded not just of the impact of war, but also of the importance of the agreement we reached in Vienna to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

Under its terms, Iran has agreed to remove 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, dismantle two-thirds of its installed centrifuges, and the existing core of its heavy-water reactor. Iran has agreed to refrain from producing or acquiring both highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium for at least the next 15 years. Iran has also agreed to accept the Additional Protocol, which requires extensive access and significant additional transparency measures. If Iran fails to comply, we will know it quickly and be able to respond accordingly. And many of these measures will be in place not just for 10 or 15 or 20 years but for the lifetime of Iran’s nuclear program, which will enable us to verifiably ensure it remains exclusively peaceful. I encourage all EAS members to support the proposed EAS Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Maritime Security – South China Sea

Now, let me turn to an urgent regional priority the tensions caused by territorial and maritime disputes. With great respect to my friend and colleague Foreign Minister Wang, the United States and others have expressed concern to China over the pace and scope of its land reclamation efforts. And the construction of facilities for military purposes only raises tensions and the destabilizing risk of militarization by other claimant states.

Freedom of navigation and overflight are among the essential pillars of international maritime law. Despite assurances that these freedoms will be respected, we have seen warnings issued and restrictions attempted in recent months. Let me be clear: The United States will not accept restrictions on freedom of navigation and overflight, or other lawful uses of the sea. These are intrinsic rights that we all share. It doesn’t matter whether a vessel is a large warship or a tiny fishing boat. The principle is clear: The rights of all nations must be respected.

To that end, I have urged all claimants to make a joint commitment to halt further land reclamation and construction of new facilities or militarization on disputed features. Such steps would lower tensions and create diplomatic space for a meaningful Code of Conduct to emerge by the time our leaders meet here in November.

Regional cooperation on transnational issues

This brings me to the second issue I want to focus on today: Regional cooperation on transnational threats.

Last year, our leaders made a commitment in Naypyidaw to condemn acts of violence committed by extremist organizations. We also pledged to fully implement UN Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2178, which call on the international community to suppress the flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

So we’ve made a good start, but we have much more to do domestically and internationally to make it harder for people to join groups like Daesh and harder for militants to escape detection when they’re trying to return home. To that end, the United States welcomes Australia’s proposal for a November statement on Countering Violent Extremism. And we support, in-principle, the proposed EAS Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates.

We also have a responsibility to enhance our cooperation on cyber issues. We all have an interest in preventing such incidents where we can, and in identifying and prosecuting perpetrators. And so we welcome your support for a Leaders’ statement on Transnational Cyber Issues.

The United States also supports Indonesia’s proposed Statement on Enhancing Regional Maritime Cooperation, which addresses a range of important challenges that require cooperation among EAS members.

In closing, I want to reiterate America’s support for this forum as a platform for regional cooperation on common security concerns. We face no shortage of challenges, but there is much we can accomplish by working together. This is a dynamic part of the world, with a young and vibrant population and high expectations for the future. The best way to meet those expectations is through leadership that combines our strengths and reinforces the rule of law on which shared progress depends. Thank you.