Aug 5, 2020
Mike Pompeo Press Conference Transcript August 5: Talks Beirut, CCP, Nuclear Weapons
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a press conference on August 5. He urged Americans to “exercise increased caution” when traveling to China due to concerns about the Chinese Communist Party. Read the full transcript here.
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Secretary Mike Pompeo: (00:00)
… of the United States, I want to extend our deepest condolences to all those who were affected by the massive explosion at the Port of Beirut yesterday. We stand ready to assist the government of Lebanon and as it grapples with this horrible tragedy. You’ll see the United States announce a number of things we intend to do to assist the people of Lebanon in the coming days. A quick logistical, on Monday, I’ll leave for the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, and Poland, all great friends of America. It’ll be a very important and productive trip I expect.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (00:36)
Now turning to my remarks. I want to start as I often do with a few items on Communist China. Since I was last here, the world has witnessed more examples of CCP efforts to coerce and control its citizens. Other nations in the US have put out a number of statements. We see it in Hong Kong where authorities have delayed legislative elections, arrested pro democracy activists, issued warrants for freedom-loving foreigners, including an American. I urge US citizens to exercise increased caution while traveling to or in any place in China.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (01:12)
We see the CCP’s continuing ambition to control Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, and I commend the treasury department for using its global Magnitsky authorities against human rights violators there just this past week. We see to the CCP is lawlessness elsewhere in the world. I issued a statement on Sunday about the Chinese flagged vessels’ predatory fishing practices around the Galápagos Islands, which has alarmed our friends in Ecuador.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (01:38)
Look, these aren’t one-offs. As I said at the Nixon Library this month, freedom loving nations must come together to confront the CCP’s aggressive behavior. The good news is the tide is absolutely turning. The central idea of distrust and then verify I think the world is coming to see as the right approach to responding to these challenges. We are working in this administration, the Trump administration, hard to protect Americans from those threats. In April, I announced our team’s Clean Path initiative to keep Americans data safe from untrusted vendors. Today, I’m pleased to announce the expansion of the CLEAN Network with the launch of five new lines of effort. I’ll walk through them quickly.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (02:21)
First, clean carrier. We’re working to ensure that untrusted Chinese telecom companies don’t provide international telecommunication services between the United States and foreign destinations. I joined Attorney General Barr, Secretary Esper and acting Secretary Wolf in urging the FCC to revoke and terminate the authorizations of China telecom and three other companies providing services to and from the United States.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (02:48)
Second, we’ll call it clean store. We want to see untrusted Chinese apps removed from US app stores. President Trump has mentioned impending action on TikTok, and for good reason. With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat, and others are significant threats to personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for CCP content, censorship.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (03:13)
Third, clean apps. We’re working to prevent Huawei and other untrusted vendors from pre-installing or making available for download the most popular US apps. We don’t want companies to be complicit in Huawei human rights abuses or the CCP’s surveillance apparatus.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (03:29)
Fourth: clean cloud. We’re protecting American’s most sensitive personal information and our business’ most valuable intellectual property, including COVID vaccine research for being accessed on cloud-based systems run by companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, China Mobile, China Telecom, and Tencent. The state department will work closely with commerce and other agencies to limit the ability of Chinese cloud service providers to collect, to store, and to process vast amounts of data and sensitive information here in the United States.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (04:04)
Fifth, and finally, clean cable. We’re working to ensure that the CCP can’t compromise information carried by the undersea cables that connect our country and others to the global internet. While Huawei Marine significantly underbids other companies on multiple procurements to connect Asia, the Pacific, African, Europe using Chinese state-backed underseas technology. We can’t allow that to continue. We call on all freedom-loving nations and companies to join the CLEAN Network.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (04:33)
The Trump administration has worked to secure democracy continues in other ways as well. The Department of State’s Global Engagement Center is releasing a special report today on Russian disinformation and propaganda, focusing especially on proxy sites. Speaking of Russia and other malign actors, the state department’s rewards for justice program is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of any person who acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government interferes with US elections by engaging in certain criminal cyber activities.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (05:08)
A few comments on the Middle East. We welcome the agreement between the Republic of Yemen government and the Southern Transitional Council to advance the terms of the Riyadh agreement, which will pave the way for a unified government that can counter Houthi aggression.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (05:24)
We urge all the parties to implement the agreement’s terms and support the UN Special Envoy efforts to broker a countrywide political settlement. Of course, the conflict in Yemen is rage in large part because the Islamic Republic of Iran’s illegal arms transfers to the Houthis, and so next week, the United States will put forward a resolution in the Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (05:49)
The Security Council’s mission is to maintain international peace and security. The council would make an absolute mockery of admission if it allowed the number one state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell weapons freely. The United States has conducted now a year’s long diplomacy on this matter. We have a bipartisan consensus in Congress. We have a 13-year consensus on the council, and the proposal we put forward is eminently reasonable. One way or another, we will do the right thing. We will ensure that the arms embargo is extended.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (06:26)
Staying on the United Nations matters for just a moment, it’s outrageous that the Human Rights Council would offer to seek Cuba, a brutal dictatorship that traffic its own doctors under the guise of humanitarian missions. No country should vote Cuba onto the council.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (06:44)
Two quick items on religious freedom. First, on behalf of President Trump and the American people, I want to express our solidarity with the Yazidi people as we commemorate the sixth anniversary of the beginning of ISIS genocide. Much has been done by our administration to help Iraqis recover, but much more work remains. On a brighter note, I commend the progress that Sudan is making to protect religious freedom in its country as the country transitions away from radical Islamist rule.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (07:15)
Last month, the civilian-led transitional government abolished apostasy as a crime, a solid step forward. A global efforts too, as I close, to fight the pandemic continue. This week, the state department in USAID releasing an incremental $53 million in new humanitarian and economic assistance to help vulnerable people and partners continue to fight this deadly virus, bringing our total to more than 1.6 billion. We will also be launching a $10 million COVID-19 private sector engagement in partnership fund to invest that $10 million in promising new products, markets, and ideas for mitigating the economic impacts of the pandemic. With that, I’m happy to take some questions.
Speaker 2: (07:58)
Okay. For our first question, we’ll go to the phone lines. If we could go to the line of Matt Lee, please.
Matt Lee: (08:07)
Secretary, can you hear me?
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (08:10)
Matt? I can barely hear you.
Matt Lee: (08:12)
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (08:12)
There you go.
Matt Lee: (08:14)
Let me take you off speaker and… How’s that? Better now?
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (08:18)
Yes. Much better, Matt.
Matt Lee: (08:19)
Yep. Okay. Thank you. Two real quick ones. One on Iran. You said, “One way or another, we will ensure the [inaudible 00:08:28].” Does that mean that in the highly [inaudible 00:08:33] that your resolution fails, you will move to invoke snapback. Secondly, on the acting [inaudible 00:08:45] concerned at all that his departure [inaudible 00:08:49] work of the inspector general office? Thank you.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (08:59)
Matt, let me try take the second one. You broke up a little bit. You asked a question, I think, about the departure of Acting IG Steve Akard. He left to go back home. This happens. I don’t have anything more to add to that. As for Iran, we’ve made clear, and I don’t want to be too cute by half, our mission set is unambiguous. Presence guidance is very, very clear. We’re not going to let the arms embargo expire on October 18th of this year. It’s one of the central failings of the JCPOA and a bad thing for the world to allow Iran to buy and sell.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (09:31)
You’ve seen you see in the comments in the press about a deal between Iran and China. There are nations lining up to sell weapons that will destabilize the Middle East, put Israel at risk, put Europe at risk, risk American lives as well. We’re not going to let it happen, and so we’re using every diplomatic tool we have in the toolkit. As I said, I want to be too cute. We’re deeply aware that snapback is an option. It’s available to the United States, and we’re going to do everything within America’s power to ensure that that arms embargo is extended. I’m confident that we will be successful.
Speaker 2: (10:05)
Let’s go in the back to Christina.
Great. Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary. Can you talk a little bit about the decision to send Secretary Azar to Taiwan, what the message is behind this trip. As you probably know, the Chinese communist government says that visit in dangerous peace and stability, and it’s sending the wrong signals and is urging for the trip not to proceed. What is your response to that?
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (10:29)
I won’t say anything about the decision other than the Cabinet members have traveled to Taiwan previously. This is consistent with policies of previous times. He’s going there with a deep and important purpose. We’re still in a global pandemic. He’s going to go there and talk. Taiwan has had some significant success in how they’ve handled this. We have wanted them to be part of the conversations at the World Health Assembly that China has prevented that from happening, and so he’ll go there and talk to them about public health issues as they relate to how we all move forward with respect to how we handle COVID and opportunity for therapeutics and a vaccine is moved forward. We welcome the expertise that Taiwan brings to that and have I think important conversations with them about that.
Speaker 2: (11:13)
Last question. [Takashi 00:11:14].
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (11:15)
Tomorrow and August 9th marks 75 years since the United States unleashed the first atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m curious your opinion on nuclear arms control, including the [inaudible 00:11:35] New START Treaty between US and Russia.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (11:41)
President Trump, literally, since I first met him, first at my role as CIA director, now as secretary of state, has made clear one of his top priorities is ensuring that we don’t have a really bad day in the world as a result of a nuclear weapon being used. We have worked on multiple fronts. For example, we left the INF Treaty because the Russians weren’t complying with that, and that was threat that had the risk of being destabilized because when you have an arms control agreement and only one of the two parties is complying, you have created strategic risk.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (12:14)
But in the last handful of months, we’ve been working diligently to get the three nations that have the largest nuclear capabilities, the United States, Russia, and China, to have strategic dialogue about how we move forward together to decrease the rest of the world that these massive weapons are used, and we’ve made progress through the Russians. We’ve had two good gatherings. I hope we’ll have one before too long.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (12:41)
We are hopeful that the Chinese will choose to participate. We think it’s in their best interest. We know it’s in the best interest of the world, and for nations that assert they want win-win solutions, that they want a good outcomes, that they want to be a player on a global stage, they now have moved to point where they need to, like the United States and Russia, be prepared to engage in conversations about how you create a strategic situation that reduces the risk that nuclear weapons will be used at any time or any place anywhere in the world.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (13:12)
I hope they’ll participate in that. We hope the Russians will urge them to participate in that. We hope the whole world will come to understand that it’s very important that those three nuclear powers with significant resources and capabilities will all come together to create a more robust, more stable strategic situation with respect to the risk, not only of the use of nuclear weapons, but on their proliferation as well. Great. Thank you, everyone. Have a great day.
Secretary Mike Pompeo: (13:36)