Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 12, 2013.
- NORTH KOREA
- Nuclear Test / Secretary’s Calls / UN Security Council Consultations / Working Closely with China / Concern about Proliferation Activities
- Opposition Coalition President Open to Contact with Assad Regime
- Yesterday’s Bombing at Turkish Border
- Chemical Weapons / Dialogue with Syrian Opposition on Safety and Security
- Status of Carnival Triumph
- Camp Hurriya Attack / Resettlement
- UN Arms Embargo
- Foreign Minister Judeh’s Visit / Secretary’s Commitment to Middle East Peace
12:38 p.m. EST
MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. You will all have seen the President’s statement and the statements by Ambassador Rice in New York following the highly provocative and extremely regrettable decision by North Korea to conduct a third nuclear test. I thought I would give you a little sense of what Secretary Kerry has been up to.
As you know, there had been some reason to believe that the North Koreans might take this provocative step, so he had been briefed. He was well-prepared in advance. He was informed by senior staff last evening shortly before 11 that there was a suspected test. That was confirmed sometime thereafter. He immediately asked to be connected with counterparts, his Republic of Korea counterpart, his Japanese, his Chinese, and his Russian counterparts.
The first call he was able to get through was to R.O.K. Foreign Minister Kim and then – and that was last night, and then this morning our time he was able to talk to Foreign Minister Yang and to Foreign Minister Kishida of Japan. He has not yet connected with Foreign Minister Lavrov. Foreign Minister Lavrov is on the road, but he has put out a call for him. Also just to advise that the Secretary did arrive in the building at about 7 a.m. this morning to continue those phone calls.
So in his calls with his R.O.K., Japanese, and Chinese counterparts, the Secretary obviously stressed the need for a strong and swift response from the international community in order to send a clear message to North Korea that violations of its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions have consequences. I would add to that that in his calls with Foreign Minister Kim of Korea and Foreign Minister Kishida of Japan, the Secretary reaffirmed our defense commitments to the R.O.K. and Japan, which, as you know, include the security provided by our extended deterrence commitments, including our nuclear umbrella and our conventional forces.
Let’s go to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: Just on the calls, one just kind of an interesting thing. Funny how Foreign Minister Lavrov always seems to be traveling and unavailable when the Secretary of State of the United States wants to make an urgent phone call to him. I remember it was Secretary Clinton tried for several days unsuccessfully. Is there some expectation that that call will happen today?
MS. NULAND: We are hoping that they can connect today. Our understanding is – I believe he’s traveling in Africa. I would say, though, that he appears to have made a quite strong public statement in Pretoria at some point in the last 14 hours calling on the North Koreans to abandon their program.
QUESTION: All right. Well, more substantively, was – did the North Koreans give you any kind of an advance heads up that this was, in fact, going to happen, as they did with the – or it was the – I think they did with the missile test?
MS. NULAND: The D.P.R.K. did inform us at the State Department of their intention to conduct a nuclear test without citing any specific timing prior to the event.
QUESTION: Oh. So —
QUESTION: When did they do that prior to the event?
MS. NULAND: I’m simply going to tell you that it was prior to the event. I’m not going to get into any further details, but we were advised.
QUESTION: Well, can you say – did you – should we assume, is it correct to assume, that when they – whenever it was that they told you that they were going to do this, you said you thought it was a bad idea at that time?
MS. NULAND: Of course. Absolutely.
QUESTION: And when you say “at the State Department,” does that mean the New York channel, or was there something different used?
MS. NULAND: It was our usual channel. Let’s put it that way.
QUESTION: Was it New York, or does that mean something else?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into any further details about when they advised us, or who advised us, or any of that.
QUESTION: Can – just on the response —
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: — or your response to their notification of this, can you – at what kind of level was that at?
MS. NULAND: It was at the level that we usually deal with that channel at, which is sort of deputy desk director or manager for that account. Suffice to say that they are well aware of all of the public statements that we’ve been making at every level with regard to this, and those were reiterated in strongest terms when we got this message.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Jill.
QUESTION: So what is the United States now pushing for? What should be done, let’s say, at the United Nations or any other place?
MS. NULAND: Well, as Ambassador Rice made clear when she came out after the first urgent consultation this morning that the Republic of Korea asked for, we are calling on the Security Council to make – to deliver a swift, credible, and strong response. Obviously, consultations have just begun. As to what that would include, we’re being very clear that we want to see the commitments made in UN Security Council Resolution 2087 fulfilled, namely that there will be consequences if there was further action of this type. But I don’t want to prejudge where the Security Council’s going to come out after just one consultation this morning.
QUESTION: But basically, that would be sanctions?
MS. NULAND: Again, that was – those were the measures that were taken when we did UN Security Council Resolution 2087. We’re obviously consulting with all of our partners in the Security Council on what next, but I don’t want to get ahead of it. That’s certainly one option.
QUESTION: How closely have you worked with China on this?
MS. NULAND: We’ve been working with China extremely closely, as you know, in the context of 2087. There was intensive diplomacy to get to where we got to. We have also been consulting since then on the implementation of the sanctions that we put in place under that resolution. And we’ve been exchanging notes back and forth at all levels about the possibility that the D.P.R.K. would take another provocative step along the lines of the step that they took today. You’ll recall that Foreign Minister Yang was one of the first counterparts that Secretary Kerry spoke to when he took up his duties, and D.P.R.K. concerns did come up in that phone call as well.
QUESTION: Did Foreign Minister Yang give Secretary Kerry any reason to believe that the Chinese will be supportive of strong, credible consequences on North Korea for this?
MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t think it’s going to be helpful to the diplomacy we need to do in New York for me to characterize the views of another government, so I’ll let the Chinese speak for themselves. But I think it’s fair to say that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Yang have established a good working relationship. They understand each other very clearly. And we’re just going to have to work through this on our sides.
QUESTION: I understand the Chinese have actually been putting quite a lot of pressure on North Korea not to go ahead with this test. The fact that they did, I wonder if that speaks to the – perhaps that Beijing doesn’t have as much influence with North Korea as everybody had thought they might have?
And I also wonder if you could answer, was any of the phone calls that Secretary Kerry had a three-way phone call with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts? They sort of suggested there might be a sort of three-way telephone summit.
MS. NULAND: There was not a trilateral phone call at his level. I think at the level of our North Korean negotiator Glyn Davies, there may have been a trilateral. I’ll check on that for you, Jo.
You know that we’ve all said for quite some time that the Chinese have the most influence within the Six-Party group. That’s obvious given their well-intermeshed economic relationship with the D.P.R.K. That’s why, among other reasons, it’s so important for us to stay closely linked up with China, and why the Secretary’s made it a priority to work well with his new Chinese counterpart. But we just have to see what the days and weeks ahead bring us.
QUESTION: The Chinese Foreign Ministry on their website read out the Secretary’s conversation with Foreign Minister Yang about three hours ago, and they said – they quoted Yang as saying, “We urge relevant parties to appropriately respond with the broad circumstances in mind and avoid escalation of the situation. All parties should stick to the direction of peaceful resolution and solve the issue of denuclearization of the peninsula under the framework of Six-Party Talks.”
This does not sound like they’re champing at the bit to impose a lot of sanctions.
MS. NULAND: Again, Arshad, we are just at the beginning of the diplomacy following this incident. We’ve had one UN Security Council session; we’ve had one round of serious phone calls. I think everybody now needs to absorb and continue to work together and see what we can all agree to.
QUESTION: You pointed out just now how well intermeshed the Chinese and the North Korean economies are, and they obviously share a fairly long and fairly porous border. This is the third North Korean nuclear test, not the second, not the first.
MS. NULAND: Right.
QUESTION: Why is there any reason to think that the Chinese would be any more inclined now to restrict their trade with the North than they were in 2009 or 2006?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak for the Chinese Government. I’m going to encourage you to talk to them yourselves.
What I would simply say is that for the past year, all of us have been sending signals, including China, to the new leadership in the D.P.R.K., the leadership that’s now more than a year old, that there is another set of choices that could be made, and if they want to end their isolation, if they want to meet the needs of their people, if they want to have a different relationship with the international community, that there is a path for that, and it starts with implementing their obligations.
And in the face of that open door, which the President, our President, has reiterated not too long ago, instead, the D.P.R.K. has just chosen one provocative action after another. So the question now for all of us is how we can get their attention, and that’s what we’re going to be working on together.
QUESTION: Can I – one more on this?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, it is now more than six years since the first test. Is it fair to say that over the last six years, three months, four months, however many days, that the United States has had to learn how to live with a nuclear North Korea?
MS. NULAND: That’s not the way I would characterize it, Arshad. I think the President spoke very clearly in his message last night about our concerns about all of this.
QUESTION: Toria, on the timing, there has been speculation about a number of things that are going on: State of the Union, the anniversary of the birthday of his father on Saturday, et cetera, et cetera. Up on the Hill, a senior Defense Department official mentioned that he believed that it was connected to the State of the Union. Is there any indication that you have that that timing actually was to send a message to President Obama?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think it would be folly for me to try to get inside the heads of the D.P.R.K. leadership when they’re making these bad decisions.
MS. NULAND: Please, Margaret.
QUESTION: The U.S. and the UN Security Council have also been very focused on the nuclear threat posed by Iran. Is there anything at this point that suggests any sharing between Iran and North Korea linked to these tasks or the development of this technology?
MS. NULAND: Well, over time on the medium horizon, we have been concerned about proliferation of technology, proliferation of knowhow, particularly from North Korea to Iran and to others who might seek a nuclear weapon, including non-state actors. So we’ve been concerned not only about the D.P.R.K. program itself, but also about its proliferation activities. So that’s something we continue to watch, and again, another reason why we have to stay vigilant about this, because it’s not just what they can do off their own territory, but what they can do around the world.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. Government itself looking at additional sanctions, whether bilateral sanctions or secondary sanctions, that would seek to affect the influence of other countries and their dealings on North Korea outside of the Security Council process?
MS. NULAND: Without getting ahead of policy, I would simply say that it is fair to say that we are looking at the full suite of options to try to get the D.P.R.K. to change course.
QUESTION: Toria, just two very brief ones. On a scale of none, a little, or a lot, or you can —
MS. NULAND: I always love these kind of math questions.
QUESTION: — or you can make your own scale, invent your own scale, how much more isolated can you make North Korea?
MS. NULAND: Well, Matt, you and I have had that conversation before when we did UN Security Council Resolution 2087. If you go back and read that, and as we’ve talked about here, we actually found, working together as an international community, quite a bit more that we could squeeze in terms of the D.P.R.K.’s access to international finance, in terms of cutting off its proliferation activities, et cetera. So we will continue to look for more in this context, and we we’ll see what our consultations in New York lead to. But a lot of it goes to not simply what the U.S. has been willing to do, which is dry them up pretty thoroughly, but what other countries around the world are willing to do.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the second thing is: In terms of what came out of the Security Council, would you have preferred to see something stronger than just a press statement? Would you have liked a presidential statement?
MS. NULAND: I think our expectation today was that we would have a first consultation, and then it’ll take quite a bit more work among countries to come forward with the consequences that we plan –
QUESTION: No, no, no. I know, but the consequences would come in a resolution, though.
MS. NULAND: No, of course.
QUESTION: That was clearly not – but would you not have preferred something stronger? I mean, what came out of the Council was the weakest thing that they could have done; correct?
MS. NULAND: Frankly –
QUESTION: Short of saying nothing?
MS. NULAND: Frankly, Matt, I’m going to send you to USUN. I don’t know whether it was realistic that we would have had a presidential statement on the timeline that you’re talking about, which would have been after a two-hour meeting, but USUN will have more to say on that.
QUESTION: You might not be able to speak to this yet, because it’s only a few hours since the test happened, but are you in a position to say whether the North Koreans used uranium or plutonium in their test?
MS. NULAND: I’m not. I think if we have anything to say on that one way or another, the ODNI will say it. As you saw, they issued a couple of statements with regard to our assessment.
QUESTION: If it turns out that it is uranium, I mean, that’s obviously going to move the whole nuclear program in North Korea into a different sphere. What would you have to say about that?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speculate at this moment, Jo. Let’s let the analysis continue.
QUESTION: Toria, one more. You said that you thought it would be fair to say that the U.S. Government was looking at the full suite of things that it could do in response to this. You were talking there about sanctions; correct? Or you mean absolutely everything?
MS. NULAND: I think I’m just going to leave that statement where I put it.
QUESTION: Did you say “suite” or “sweep?”
MS. NULAND: I said “suite” in terms of suite of measures, but perhaps I should have said “sweep.”
QUESTION: Well, I just – I heard “sweep.” So thank you, Arshad, for –
MS. NULAND: Please. Paul.
QUESTION: Can you say anything specifically about how the Administration views the merit of ideas like trying to disengage the North Koreans from the SWIFT system or going back to what the U.S. did with the BDA a few years ago? They worked pretty well in the past with – on this.
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speculate where we’re going to go either, in terms of our national posture or in terms of our multilateral posture. But some of the things that you’ve talked about have obviously been effective in other circumstances, so let’s just see where this goes.
QUESTION: Toria, this is kind of a broader question, but at this very moment, the Administration now – in fact, President Obama was going to talk about it tonight, we understand, in his speech to a certain extent, arms control, arms control with Russia. Should there – do you perceive that there would be any blowback from this dealing with North Korea on that issue of arms control cutting nuclear arms with Russia?
MS. NULAND: You mean does the D.P.R.K. test affect the President’s larger pledge that he thinks we have more nuclear weapons than we need?
MS. NULAND: That’s obviously a question for the White House, but we’re obviously talking about apples and oranges in the context of the U.S. having almost 1,700 nuclear weapons and are working to prevent the D.P.R.K. from having the effective ability to launch a far smaller amount. But that’s a question for the White House in terms of whether it’s going to affect the speech tonight. But I think the overall posture of the Administration remains that we have more weapons than we need for our own deterrence, including deterrence in a North Korean context. But – so these are sort of apples and oranges, if you will.
QUESTION: I have one more.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: It’s very easy. Other than the as-yet unfulfilled call to Lavrov, does the Secretary plan any other calls on the North Korea issue today that you’re aware of?
MS. NULAND: Well, he’s continuing his calls to new counterparts around the world, and I think the D.P.R.K. thing will – the issue will come up in virtually every call that he makes today. But in terms of being sure to talk to all of the Six-Party colleagues, this would complete that list.
QUESTION: But, well – yes, I guess it would.
MS. NULAND: Right?
QUESTION: But I mean, would he talk to Ban Ki-moon? Would he talk to —
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Ambassador Rice spent the morning working on this and the Secretary General will be here on Thursday, so I’m sure this will be a subject when they meet.
QUESTION: Toria, Pyongyang had threatened publicly that they would go through with another test, not just the one.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is the fact that they haven’t acted so far, in your view – or in the view of this building, a bluff or perhaps the result of successful intervention on the diplomatic side?
MS. NULAND: You mean another launch or another test? I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Another test either of a missile or of other missile technology.
MS. NULAND: Look, I am not going to speculate on where they are in their planning, what their motives may be. We just remain concerned that despite the strong messages and the strong action, frankly, from the international community, that they haven’t changed course.
QUESTION: Can we go to Syria? But I wanted to ask a quick question on North Korea. Do you perceive the current leader to be far more belligerent and hostile than his predecessor, his father, and grandfather?
MS. NULAND: Again, Said, you have this way of asking me to give grades, if X was an A, then Y is a C. I don’t – I’m not sure that’s terribly useful.
QUESTION: Okay, I want to go Syria.
MS. NULAND: Did you want to go to Syria? Yeah.
QUESTION: Yes, ma’am.
QUESTION: One more on Korea?
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: One more on Korea. Can I follow up on previous question? The Japanese Defense Minister today in an interview is calling China for more economic sanctions. I understand that someone raised that question. On the other hand, Deputy Secretary of State Burns met with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui yesterday. Do you have any – is there any indication that China will consider more sanction economically against Pyongyang?
MS. NULAND: I think I spoke to this earlier when I said that we have been in close consultation with the Chinese side. As you say, the meeting that Deputy Secretary Burns had before the test but also the second phone call in a week between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Yang, we’ve made clear that we think there need to be swift consequences. We have to continue to work with China and see what’s possible in a multilateral context.
MS. NULAND: Said, yeah.
QUESTION: Yesterday in Cairo, Moaz al-Khatib, the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, issued a really conflicting statement. The first statement was that the regime missed an opportunity for a dialogue, then he came back and says we are still open for a dialogue. Then he again almost contradicted himself by saying that any negotiation should take place in quote-unquote, “liberated area.” Do you have —
MS. NULAND: I’m sorry, the last part? That any negotiations —
QUESTION: That any negotiations with the regime should take place in liberated area, what you call liberated area. Do you have any comment on this, or do you have a better understanding of the situation than we do?
MS. NULAND: I’m not sure what you’re asking. But as far as we can tell from our own intersections with President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition Mr. al-Khatib, he remains open to contact with appropriate representatives of the Assad regime. He said he would do it under certain conditions. Those are obviously conditions that have to be taken to account, security and other factors. And we support his call for the kind of dialogue that would lead to Assad stepping down and a real political transition in Syria.
QUESTION: Okay. So the idea of it was floated around last week, that Vice President Farouk al-Shara is an acceptable entity to negotiate with. Is it still palatable? Is it still looked upon as a —
MS. NULAND: Again, this is a decision for Syrians to make. You’ll recall that in the Geneva framework, which is the touchstone that we’ve been using in our conversations with the Syrian Opposition Coalition, it’s very clear that what we’re talking about is a transitional governing body with full executive powers that has to be agreed on by mutual consent. So similarly, who negotiates with whom has to be agreed on by mutual consent if we’re actually going to effect a transition that’s going to work here.
QUESTION: Okay. And lastly, on the issue of where the venue for conducting the negotiation, he’s saying liberated area versus, let’s say, Istanbul or many other places. Do you have a position on this?
MS. NULAND: Again, this is for the Syrian side to put forward. We’re confident that they’re thinking about all kinds of considerations, including the question of their personal security.
QUESTION: The Syrian National Council’s apparently accusing the Assad regime now of targeting its leaders in that bombing yesterday at the Turkey-Syria border.
MS. NULAND: The Syrian Opposition Coalition, or the old SNC, Cami?
QUESTION: The Syrian National Council.
MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you have – first of all, do you have an update on what happened from the government in Turkey? Have they given you any more clarification of what happened? And secondly, are you considered that the Assad regime is targeting these opposition leaders now?
MS. NULAND: What I have in terms of update has more to do with casualties. We understand from the Turkish side that we have a total of 12 killed and 28 injured. Our understanding is that the Government of Turkey continues to investigate. But as I said yesterday, there is no excuse for violence of the kind that we saw yesterday at a peaceful border crossing. Again, we’re not in a position right now to confirm responsibility. That said, whether it was this incident or some of the mass incidents of violence we’ve seen inside Syria, it’s very clear that the Assad regime is trying to target opposition leaders, whether they’re fighters or whether they’re political opposition.
QUESTION: Is the United States in a position to help try and secure this border? Because it’s one which takes a lot of humanitarian aid through into Syria. Obviously that would affect some of the groups that you have been trying to work with to get humanitarian aid into the country.
MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, we’ve not been asked for security support at the border from our Turkish ally. But obviously, were we to have that request bilaterally or through NATO, we would want to do what we could. But we have not had a request, to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Change in subject?
MS. NULAND: Jill, yeah.
QUESTION: Still on Syria.
MS. NULAND: Still, Tolga, on Syria?
MS. NULAND: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: On Syria, yes. The Syrian opposition group is also is preparing to ask help of U.S. Government or Turkish Government to get training for some chemical weapon protection issues, et cetera. So not only the weapon aid but the training program, they will ask the training program from U.S. or from Turkish Government. Can I have your – I mean your comment on this? What is your position to supply such a training to opposition group to Syrian support group based in Washington?
MS. NULAND: Tolga, I think I’m going to be relatively restrained in what I say with regard to this extremely sensitive issue, except to say that we are in dialogue with the Syrian opposition both inside and outside of the country with regard to the extreme danger that these weapons pose, with regard to issues of their safety and security, consequence management, all those kinds of things. And it would be, obviously, irresponsible for us and other members of the international community not to be having that dialogue with them, given how dangerous these weapons are.
QUESTION: Toria, (inaudible) refugees will probably be a topic that Foreign Minister Judeh will discuss with Secretary Kerry tomorrow. Jordan claims that they have 300,000 Syrian refugees. I spoke with someone at the UNHCR, and they told me that their figures are 150,000, which is almost half that. Do you – can you independently verify how many Syrian refugees in Jordan?
MS. NULAND: I can’t, Said, and here’s why: As you know and as I’m sure Foreign Minister Judeh will speak to tomorrow, there are those refugees who have ended up in established camps, but there are also a huge number of Syrians with family members, friends, in Jordan who have been taken in to personal homes. So when we talk to our Jordanian counterparts, it’s not only a matter of managing the refugees on the border and the flow; it’s also all of those refugees who are now showing up in communities across Jordan needing medical care, needing education for children, et cetera. So this is – when we look at supporting governments like Jordan in their own generosity toward Syrians, there are a lot of factors to consider here.
QUESTION: For the record, the UNHCR said that they only talk about registered refugees on lists.
MS. NULAND: Well, UNHCR, as you know, has responsibility for supporting governments that have camps, whereas the government itself has to also look at the burden of lots of guests on the system more broadly.
QUESTION: Do you know if there are governments that promised to contribute money for refugees at the Kuwait conference, did they deliver on the promises in Kuwait?
MS. NULAND: You mean in terms of support for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey —
QUESTION: For refugees.
MS. NULAND: I’m going to send you to UNHCR for that. My understanding is that some of the pledges have come in, but it’s been uneven, to say the least.
MS. NULAND: The Mexican —
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Let me see what I have here. Our understanding from Carnival Cruise Lines is that the Carnival Triumph will now return directly to the United States. I’ll refer you to the Carnival and to the Department of Homeland Security for further questions. Carnival itself has established a hotline for family members of passengers. I can shout that out here or let you get it from Carnival.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Okay. Jo.
MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I saw you put out a statement condemning the attack.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: And I wondered if you had any update from the Iraqi authorities about who they might consider was behind it. And there’s also been some calls, notably from Representative Ros-Lehtinen, for the residents who are in Camp Liberty to be moved back to Camp Ashraf, and I wondered what the United States position was on that.
MS. NULAND: Well, first let just reiterate what we said in our statement at the weekend – you got me speaking British here – over the weekend. The United States condemns in strongest terms the vicious and senseless terror attack that took place at Camp Hurriya which killed seven people and has injured dozens more. We offer our condolences to the family.
Our understanding is that the Government of Iraq has now undertaken to promptly investigate the attack. We call on the Iraqi Government to do so earnestly and to fully carry out this investigation and to take all appropriate measures to enhance the security of the camp, consistent with its commitments and obligations to the safety and security of the residents. The terrorists responsible for this attack must also be brought to justice.
The answer for the individuals at Hurriya is not to relocate back to Ashraf, in our view. The only peaceful and durable solution for these individuals is resettlement outside Iraq, and that should continue to be the focus of everybody involved in this effort. As you know, we are continuing to support the work that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq and the UNHCR are undertaking to try to work on resettlement of these people.
QUESTION: How much progress is actually being made? Because it has been going on for quite some time now – in resettlement, sorry.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I mean, I think there are a number of issues here. There are questions of working through the individual dossiers and matching those who are willing to be resettled with recipient countries. So that process is going on, and UNHCR is doing that work now. But there is also the question of continuing to encourage those inhabitants of the camp that resettlement outside of Iraq is the best option, and that’s a message we all need to continue to send.
QUESTION: Toria, are the not still some residents still at Camp Ashraf?
MS. NULAND: I need to check up on that. The last time I checked up into that we still had some 50 to 100 who had declined to move. But I’ll check on that for you, Arshad.
QUESTION: Is it – just on this –
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: — calls for people to go back to Liberty from wherever they come from, are those kind of calls helpful at all? This – I mean —
MS. NULAND: To go back to Ashraf, you mean?
QUESTION: Well, yeah, exactly. For an elected member – for a member of Congress – or for anyone in a position of some kind of authority to suggest that MEK people go back to a camp that you went to considerable lengths to get closed down, does that – is that helpful at all in terms of the – your policy and the idea of resettlement, which you’re actively working on, even though you no longer have a point person?
MS. NULAND: Well, we do have point people; they’re just inside the NEA Bureau and the Legal Bureau, rather than in a special office now. But I would simply say that we make the same point privately as I just made publicly to both Americans and Iraqis and international —
QUESTION: Yeah, but it seems to me that this is raising – it’s going to – it makes it more difficult. The MEK leadership has been recalcitrant, to say the least. It took a lot of teeth pulling to get them out and —
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just for the record, as far as I know, they’re still not out of Camp Ashraf.
QUESTION: Well, there’s still that residual group, but for the majority of the residents, it took a lot of painstaking work to get that done. And it seems to me that for people now to be saying that they should go back, somehow Ashraf should be reopened, is just completely unhelpful to what you’re trying to do in terms of resettlement.
MS. NULAND: Well, again, the point that I made here is the same point that we make in our private meetings with those who advocate for the MEK, that if they want to see them safe, if they want to see them have a better life, the answer is outside of Iraq.
QUESTION: How long —
MS. NULAND: Said.
QUESTION: On Camp Liberty, I mean when the site was chosen, everybody knew that it was within range of mortars from Sadr City, probably everybody knows the source of these mortars, without the benefits of the C-RAM that the Americans had there before. So why not resettlement, or in fact, why not urge the Europeans to take many of these residents – I have spoken to them personally – to go back? Some of them are European citizens – to go back to their countries.
MS. NULAND: Well, this is precisely what UNHCR is working on, what we are working on with UNHCR, is to offer as much resettlement opportunity as possible, including in certain cases where there are ties to other countries as well.
QUESTION: Are any of them eligible for resettlement to the United States?
MS. NULAND: In principle, they could be. We are now in the process of evaluating some of the referrals that UNHCR has sent our way, and we’re strongly, as I said, encouraging others to do the same. As UNHCR looks at these individual cases, they make recommendations to resettlement countries. We’re looking at ours.
QUESTION: Have you accepted any?
MS. NULAND: We have not made any decisions yet, Arshad.
QUESTION: Do you think it would be easier for – do you think it might help your argument that other countries should take some if you might take some?
MS. NULAND: Again, this is – usually works best when there is burden sharing. We’re looking at what we can do.
All right, everybody? Oh, sorry, Dana.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just to follow-up on the questioning from yesterday: If the United States is considering supporting lifting the UN arms embargo or a partial embargo, are there discussions about specific benchmarks for governance within the country in order for that to happen?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, we talked about this a little bit yesterday, Dana. We’re really just at the beginning of a review that the UN has to do. So traditionally when these reviews are done, the kind of issues that you’re raising come up. Whether this is a partial lifting, whether it’s a lifting with conditions or phased, et cetera, all of those things are on the table and being looked at.
Yesterday, we had a discussion here about whether this had been done before. And just to give you a little more info than I had yesterday, there are a number of countries where partial lifting of arms embargos have been done by the UN. Specifically, the UN has imposed varying forms of partial arms embargos on the DRC, Liberia, Sudan, and Libya, i.e., these were territorially based or they were based on bans on non-state actors, et cetera. So there are a lot of different ways this could be done, and we’re really just at the beginning of the conversation in the UN.
QUESTION: I have a quick question on the visit of Foreign Minister Judeh. He is the second foreign minister that Secretary Kerry will meet with. Does that have any significance in terms of timing or in terms of substance?
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we have a Secretary who has a strong commitment to Middle East peace. The Government of Jordan, as you know, has played a key role. My understanding – and I need to check this – but that Nasser Judeh and Senator Kerry had a close relationship and that Nasser Judeh and Secretary Kerry intend to also have a close relationship.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Thank you, all.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m.)