MODERATOR: So once again, we have the tireless [Senior State Department Official], who will be previewing our trip to Australia and the AUSMIN meetings over the next few days. This will be attributed to a Senior State Department Official. With that, I …
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Phil. I’m glad to be in San Francisco, and with all of you here at the Commonwealth Club.
You’re here today because you understand the importance of Asia to America. This is especially evident in a Pacific Coast state like California. More than 5.5 million Asian-Pacific Americans live in California, and millions more Californians do business, study, or otherwise benefit from their ties with the region. California exported nearly $70 billion in goods to the region last year, more than any other state. And Asia matters to the entire United States – to our economy, to our security, to our families.
As a Pacific power and a trading nation, we can’t afford not to be in the Asia-Pacific. That’s why President Obama decided, before he even took office, to institute a long-term, strategic emphasis on the region. And I’m confident that strategy will extend far beyond his presidency, because we have strong bipartisan support for it – both parties understand the importance of Asia.
Now, there is a lot going on in Asia today, from the dramatic rise of China and the historic reforms in Burma, to the ongoing threat from North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, to the dangerous tensions in the South China Sea.
And while I know that as a topic, “strengthening regional institutions” probably ties for last place with “corporate tax policy” in its headline-grabbing power, it’s one of the most consequential undertakings in terms of American interests. And that’s what I’d like to discuss with you today — namely, the effort to shape a rules-based order that is stable, peaceful, open and free.
First let me say that the region I am responsible for–East Asia and the Pacific–is a diverse one. Northeast Asia, Oceania–which includes Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific island states–and then Southeast Asia, are all quite different.
Northeast Asia is home to two of our important treaty allies – Japan and the Republic of Korea. We’ve modernized defense cooperation with both countries to address the very real threat posed by North Korea. And we’ve deepened economic engagement through free trade agreements such as the one reached with South Korea.
Northeast Asia is also home, of course, to China–with which we’ve dramatically increased our engagement.
I was with Secretary Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and other Cabinet officials earlier this month for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue covering nearly every area of our relationship with China, from concrete steps to combat climate change and wildlife trafficking, to preventing nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula and in Iran, to facilitating business and investment between our two countries.
These exchanges show the conviction of both sides – as the world’s two largest economies, two of the strongest military powers, and the two largest carbon emitters – to cooperate on the world’s toughest problems whenever we can. And just as important, they show our shared commitment to tackle problem areas frankly and openly, instead of merely agreeing to disagree on issues like human rights or intellectual property protection.
Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific island states are extremely important partners. We’ve upgraded our defense cooperation with our Australian treaty ally, and we’re working to create jobs and shared prosperity with both Australia and New Zealand through the TPP trade agreement.
We’re also working with the vulnerable island states to protect the environment. Last month, Secretary Kerry hosted the “Our Ocean” conference, a first-of-its-kind diplomatic effort rallying heads of state, scientists and advocates from the Pacific Island nations and beyond to protect this shared resource.
But in many respects, the dynamic center of the region is Southeast Asia, and the ten countries that make up ASEAN.
Let me first say a few words about each.
Our ally the Philippines is a stable democracy with strong economic growth. We completed an enhanced defense cooperation agreement during President Obama’s visit in April, which enables us to better address common security challenges and provide relief for disasters, such as Typhoon Haiyan. Our economies also continue to grow closer, with two way trade reaching $24 billion last year.
We have strong partners in Indonesia and Malaysia, both pluralistic and tolerant Muslim-majority nations with growing economies. Indonesia’s recent presidential election shows the strength of their democracy. And President Obama’s recent visit to Malaysia highlighted our growing economic, people-to-people, and security ties.
Singapore is an influential and effective economic, diplomatic and security partner. Brunei is a major energy producer that, while small, has been a valuable partner for us on crucial regional issues like renewable energy and free trade.
Vietnam, of course, has a complicated history with the U.S. But our relations are now flourishing. Trade is increasing dramatically as Vietnam’s economy grows. And we’re forging closer security ties, even as we encourage greater political openness and respect for human rights.
We cooperate with Laos and Cambodia on a range of development issues, and we also push them to adhere to global standards of human rights.
With our longtime treaty ally Thailand, despite the recent setback of a military coup, we remain committed to our enduring friendship.
Perhaps no other country shows the promise of this region better than Burma, which has made a turn of historic proportions towards democracy and reform.
But that turn is by no means complete. Burma faces many challenges, and the success of its reform process is by no means certain. Burma is working to negotiate a lasting peace to end the world’s longest running civil war. It is grappling now with the key issue of constitutional reform, of military versus civilian control over its government, and of who it deems eligible to serve as head of state.
It continues to face hard choices in determining how to resolve an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State. On that issue, we have seen some positive movement in the past week, as the government announced its intent to welcome the return of assistance providers, like Doctors Without Borders, and put forth its strategy on how to bring access to livelihoods and security back to populations that have been living tenuously for many months because of ethno-religious violence and discrimination.
Secretary Kerry will be very focused on seeing how this process is proceeding, when he visits in early August. He, and then President Obama when he visits in November, will be keen to get a sense of Burma’s preparedness for its landmark elections next year. The world will be watching, and we will continue to stand with the government and people of Burma as they enter this testing period. So we will continue to press Burma’s leaders to protect and respect all of their peoples, and their human rights and fundamental freedoms. And we will continue to support that country’s transformation.
That’s the overview of Southeast Asia today. The region’s economic dynamism and strategic importance has made it a particular focus of this administration – the ‘rebalance within the rebalance,’ if you will.
These ten countries have many differences, but they are bound by the conviction that they can achieve more together than they can apart. But before we talk about where they’re headed, it’s important to know how they came together.
Today’s ASEAN began in 1967 when the Vietnam War was heating up, and the Cold War seemed never-ending. In this uncertain world, five Southeast Asian nations signed a Declaration that they would support each other as they sought to build prosperous, independent states.
Now, nearly half a century after its founding, ASEAN has doubled to 10 nations with more than 620 million people, and a GDP of $2.2 trillion.
As Southeast Asia has grown and developed, ASEAN’s relations with the U.S. have grown as well. Under our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in 2006, we have deepened our economic ties.
Since President Obama decided in 2009 to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation–a treaty that ASEAN has extended to key neighbors–we’ve deepened our political ties as well. This is shown by the President’s decision to participate annually in the East Asia Summit, as he will again this year in November. This commitment to enhanced engagement with ASEAN is a key feature of the rebalance.
And we’re strengthening our ties with ASEAN across the entire U.S. government. Take this past April, when Secretary Hagel, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Sam Locklear hosted defense ministers from the ASEAN nations in Hawai’i. This was the first-ever ASEAN meeting here in the United States–a recognition that our security and prosperity are more intertwined than ever before.
For instance, California already sells over $11.6 billion worth of goods to ASEAN. Exports to ASEAN support more than 90,000 California jobs [in 2012]. And both of those numbers can grow a lot more. Your state also stands to gain from more tourists and students from the region.
And ASEAN matters to the entire United States. We had $206 billion worth of trade in goods last year. ASEAN is our fourth-largest export market and trading partner. With a diaspora reaching across America, the region contributes to our culture. And sitting astride vital trade routes, it is important to our security.
A stable Southeast Asia that meets the aspirations of its people–for economic growth, clean air and water, education, and a voice in how they’re governed–is in America’s national interest. And one of the best, most efficient ways for America to help the region meet its aspirations is by investing in ASEAN.
Strengthening regional institutions is a long-term strategy. We pursue it because it’s essential to building the foundations for progress–from ease of trade, travel and transport, to systems for resolving legal disputes, to the ability to act together on pressing issues like environmental protection. We all benefit from a rules-based system.
Strong institutions harness a powerful force. A force you see in both daily life and in international politics–peer pressure. In fact, ASEAN shows that the best way to create positive peer pressure in the long term is through strong institutions.
ASEAN is working towards forming a cohesive economic community by next year through lower barriers and increased trade volumes with each other. For the U.S. economy, this will mean easier and more efficient market access to all 10 ASEAN countries. And in the longer term, a more prosperous ASEAN will be able to buy more American exports–from farm products to manufactured goods, to services.
Even as ASEAN pursues its ambitious agenda of internal integration, it has taken on the challenge of bringing the entire Asia-Pacific region closer together. This fills an important gap – APEC is a forum for economic cooperation, but there was no forum in the region where countries could deal with political, security, and humanitarian issues.
So in 1997, ASEAN started meetings with Japan, South Korea, and China… then with Australia, India, and New Zealand… and four years ago with the United States and Russia, bringing the number of world leaders attending what is now known as the East Asia Summit to 18.
The growth of the East Asia Summit shows ASEAN’s measured advance on the international stage as the hub that connects the region.
Less visible than the leaders’ summit, but even larger, is the ASEAN Regional Forum, an annual gathering of foreign ministers and other senior officials representing 26 countries from Pakistan to the Pacific Rim, and the EU.
This is perhaps the region’s most important ministerial meeting of the year, and it takes place in a few weeks in Burma. Secretary Kerry and his counterparts will discuss political and security issues, and begin fleshing out the agenda for the East Asia Summit, or EAS, which President Obama plans to attend in November.
Why the emphasis on EAS? In Europe, we’ve seen for decades how a region can develop effective institutions tailored to their unique needs, such as NATO and the OSCE. Those organizations have helped tackle regional, political, security and humanitarian problems. We believe the EAS can become the premier forum for addressing pressing issues in the Asia-Pacific region. But it is relatively new, and members are still trying to shape it to increase its usefulness and effectiveness.
We joined EAS because, as an Asia-Pacific nation, we want to be at the table for a strategic discussion about how we build and shape the institution over time.
Let me give you a little preview of the issues that will be at the top of Secretary Kerry’s agenda. We expect to advance collaboration on issues ranging from non-proliferation to humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Disaster response is incredibly important, since the Asia-Pacific is hit by 70 percent of all natural disasters, costing the region $68 billion annually over the past ten years.
We have worked closely with partners, including China, on improving regional responses to problems and accidents such as oil spills, for example. We are supporting the EAS declaration on Rapid Disaster Response, helping spread the lessons learned in the Philippines from the recent Super-typhoon Haiyan, and working to improve the capabilities of ASEAN’s Centre for Humanitarian Assistance and disaster relief.
We’ve also teamed up with regional partners to develop a strategic plan for exercises that will prepare us to better coordinate delivery of life-saving relief in future disasters. And we are preparing to host an ARF climate change adaptation workshop to help countries protect their people from this growing problem.
In addition to advancing these areas of collaboration, we will have frank discussions about pressing political and security challenges. In recent months, the main security challenge facing ASEAN has been tensions in the South China Sea.
This is, of course, most important to the countries with overlapping territorial and maritime claims there. Let me note up front that the U.S. is not a claimant and does not take a position on others’ claims to land features in the South China Sea. So the United States can be impartial. And we are impartial; we are not taking one claimant’s side against another.
However, peace and stability in the South China Sea is important to the international community, because the South China Sea is essential to the global economy. Up to 50 percent of the world’s oil tanker shipments, and over half of the world’s merchant tonnage, pass through the South China Sea. National interests like freedom of navigation, international law, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and unimpeded commerce are at stake.
Rival maritime and territorial claims have existed here for decades, as countries jostle over islands, shipping lanes, historically rich fisheries, and more recently, oil and gas reserves.
The claimants have, at various times, shown that cooperation in the South China Sea area is possible. They have jointly explored for and managed resources. The Philippines and Indonesia peacefully settled a 20-year maritime boundary dispute just outside the Sea earlier this year. China and Vietnam have settled similar issues in the past. And some claimants have jointly developed energy resources further away from disputed land features.
In 2002, the ASEAN nations and China signed a Declaration on Conduct in the South China Sea. The Declaration, among other things, said that the parties would resolve disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, and would refrain from actions that would escalate disputes, such as setting up new outposts on unoccupied features. And they agreed to work toward a more detailed Code of Conduct.
But tensions have flared over the years as well, and this year, they are running high. No claimant is solely responsible for the state of tensions. However, big and powerful countries have a special responsibility to show restraint. China’s recent pattern of assertive, unilateral behavior has raised serious concerns about China’s expansive claims, and its willingness to adhere to international law and standards.
Tensions spiked recently when China sent a deepwater drilling rig and armed ships into an area near the Paracel Islands that Vietnam also claims. The resulting weeks-long confrontation resulted in damaged ships, including the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel, and damaged relations, including anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.
At the same time, public evidence indicates the claimants are upgrading outposts on small land features in the South China Sea. What worries me is that China’s projects are far outpacing similar upgrades that other claimants are making. This important, resource-rich area should not be heavily militarized.
And actions off the water can raise tensions as well.
All parties should be able to bring disputes for adjudication under international law if they conclude that regular diplomatic efforts will not succeed. The Philippines has done this in a dispute with China over the validity of its claim that a 1948 Nationalist Chinese map “proves” that China owns the land and water within a “9 dash line” in the South China Sea.
But instead of engaging constructively and arguing its case as the Tribunal has proposed, China has pressured the Philippines to drop its case, and attempted to isolate the Philippines diplomatically.
International law, not national power, should be the basis for pursuing maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The United States works to lower tensions and help the parties peacefully manage their disputes in several ways. We have told the claimants – including the Chinese – directly and at the highest levels, of our growing concern. And we’ve encouraged all sides to avoid provocations and make clear claims based on international law.
We’re working with ASEAN and the international community to promote regional structures and arrangements, like a meaningful Code of Conduct, to lower tensions and manage disputes.
Rules and guidelines work best when they’re agreed to by the parties, through institutions that build habits of cooperation.
The U.S. is also investing more than $156 million in the civilian maritime capabilities of allies and partners in the area over the next two years. This includes equipment, training, and infrastructure. And it augments our own security presence in the region, which has been enhanced by the rebalance.
These are steps the U.S. is taking. But the claimants are the ones who must manage and settle the disputes. They are the ones who must generate the peer pressure – who must hold themselves to high standards, and then set an example for each other.
For instance, China and ASEAN already committed under the 2002 Declaration on Conduct to avoid activities that “would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”
However, these problematic activities are not well defined. We are urging China and the other claimants to have a conversation about what activities are acceptable to each of them – both to help reduce tensions now, and manage differences in the long run.
We have called for claimant states to define and voluntarily freeze problematic activities. The exact elements of a freeze would be decided by consensus among the claimants, and would not prejudice the competing claims.
We’ve offered these ideas, in greater detail, both in public and in private. And we plan on advancing this important discussion at the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Burma.
Over time, strong institutions can influence the conduct of all their members, helping to avoid conflict and incentivize peaceful resolution of disputes. We see beneficial outcomes of positive peer pressure with environmental issues, in trade, and human rights. It doesn’t work every time, but it’s responsible for enormous progress.
The Asia-Pacific region has almost limitless potential, if it can avoid the pitfalls ahead. Strong institutions are key – not just to avoid and resolve disputes, but also to lower barriers to trade, and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The U.S., as a resident Pacific power and participant in many of the region’s institutions, will do all we can to strengthen those institutions even further.
We do this through our alliances and our security partnerships–and through our growing business and people-to-people ties, in which California plays an incredibly large role. And together, the American people and our government will continue to help provide a foundation of peace and stability on which the region can grow.
1:48 p.m. EDT
QUESTION: Good afternoon.
MS. HARF: Hello and welcome to the daily briefing. I have just a couple things at the top, and then happy to go into questions, of course.
First, I’m sure many of you have seen that today is the Dutch day of mourning. Today, we join King Willem-Alexander, Prime Minister Rutte, and all of the people of the Netherlands in mourning the loss of the 193 Dutch residents who died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed over eastern Ukraine. No words can adequately express the sorrow the world feels over this loss. On behalf of the American people, we again extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this terrible tragedy.
As the President said yesterday, we will work with the Netherlands to make sure that loved ones are recovered, that a proper investigation is conducted, and that those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 are brought to justice.
And second, a quick travel update for people. Excuse me. The Secretary, as you saw, is in Jerusalem and Ramallah having some meetings today. He’s met with President Abbas, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who I think is ongoing as well, that meeting. So has traveled there to continue discussions on the ceasefire. As we said, he’s always happy to get on the plane and travel if he wants to and needs to. So, with that.
QUESTION: All right. I’m sure we’ll get to Ukraine in a second, but I want to start with the Mideast.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Two things. One, the FAA extension of the flight ban; and second, the vote at the UN Human Rights Commission.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Why did you vote against forming a panel of inquiry? The statement that was given before the vote by the – your ambassador there said that whatever steps that the commission would take should be balanced and should not single out Israel. Was it your understanding that what was approved in the end is unfair to – would be unfair to Israel?
MS. HARF: And one-sided. So we do strongly oppose today’s special session at the Human Rights Council and the resulting resolution as the latest in a series of biased, anti-Israel actions at the Human Rights Council. We strongly oppose the creation of this kind of mechanism that you spoke about because it’s one-sided. No one’s looking here at Hamas rockets, no one proposed looking at anything else other than Israel in this case, and again, we oppose it as one-sided.
QUESTION: In her opening statement, the commissioner for human rights talked about the possibility or potential that war crimes had been committed, not just by Israel but also by Hamas. Was that not your understanding of what this commission would – your understanding of —
MS. HARF: Well, we were voting on a resolution that had certain language in it —
MS. HARF: — and that was looking at certain things, and that was one-sided in nature.
QUESTION: Can – what was it precisely about the language, do you know, that was —
MS. HARF: That it was one-sided —
MS. HARF: — in nature.
QUESTION: I mean, it talked – yeah, but what was that language? What was the offensive language?
MS. HARF: I can pull the specific language for you after the briefing, but —
QUESTION: The title of the resolution seemed to be respecting – or “A resolution on the respect for international law and norms in the Palestinian territories,” and then including East Jerusalem. Is that problematic?
MS. HARF: I haven’t seen the specific title. As I said, the resolution in general, we view as one-sided and biased, and therefore we voted against it.
QUESTION: So you were concerned that this might turn out to be Goldstone 2?
MS. HARF: Again, we were concerned about it for being one-sided and biased, and it’s something we’ve said, quite honestly, we’ve said in the past by actions this body has taken.
QUESTION: All right. Does it surprise you that you were the only country to vote against?
MS. HARF: There were a number of abstentions. That’s my understanding.
QUESTION: Yes, there were 17 – all of Europe. Do you —
MS. HARF: And other countries as well. I think there were some countries in there that weren’t in Europe, that aren’t in Europe.
QUESTION: Right. But —
MS. HARF: Look, we make clear – as we have said repeatedly, we will stand up for Israel in the international community, even if it means standing alone, and I think you saw that today.
QUESTION: Okay. But that doesn’t tell you anything, though, that you’re standing alone?
MS. HARF: I don’t have any more announcements to do on it, Matt.
QUESTION: All right. On the FAA decision —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — there’s still continually this line coming from some in Israel and some here that this is all a political decision, that it’s —
MS. HARF: Totally inaccurate.
QUESTION: — and it’s designed to push the Israeli Government into accepting a ceasefire that it otherwise would not want.
MS. HARF: It’s a totally inaccurate line, period. We – the FAA makes decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. That is the only thing they take into account. I don’t know how much more strongly I can say that. People can choose not to believe us —
MS. HARF: — but those are the facts, and people aren’t entitled to their own facts but certainly they can have their own opinions.
QUESTION: Okay. Do you know, has – were there any – aside from the call that Prime Minister Netanyahu made last night, I guess, and then his meetings today —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — I presume that he brought it up again in the meetings with the Secretary?
MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout yet.
QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speak for that, but —
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: — you’re not there. But do you – are you aware of any other interactions between the Israelis and the State Department on this issue?
MS. HARF: On this? Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I mean, we have folks on the ground, obviously. I just don’t know.
QUESTION: I understand.
MS. HARF: And look, we do understand that the Israelis want to return to normal air travel in Israel. Obviously, they want to restore a calm and normal life. We want them to be able to do as well. That’s why we’re trying to help broker a ceasefire. That’s the purpose of everything the Secretary is doing.
QUESTION: So would you – I mean, how likely – and I know you can’t speak for the FAA, so let’s talk about just the – your – the State Department’s Travel Warning which preceded this. At least —
MS. HARF: And I’m – let me make a point on the Travel Warning, though, because you asked about this yesterday, because there were some conspiracy theories that you were bringing up as well about why the timing. It takes a while to get travel updates updated and done, and travel warnings updated, but we did issue security messages from our embassy and consulate on the 8th, 9th, and 11th re: rocket attacks. So it’s not like yesterday suddenly we thought there was a security issue, which you mentioned. It’s been a consistent conversation we’ve had with American citizens.
QUESTION: Right. But —
MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on the timing issue a little bit.
QUESTION: Okay. I mean, it wasn’t me making the argument, I was —
MS. HARF: Well, it was you asking the question.
QUESTION: Well, I was asking you about the criticism that was —
MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on that criticism.
QUESTION: Got you. Okay.
MS. HARF: Yep.
QUESTION: Is it likely that either of these things, the Travel Warning or the FAA warning, are going to be lifted before a ceasefire is ordered?
MS. HARF: I have honestly no predictions to make. We constantly make decisions based on the situation on the ground. The Travel Warning obviously is under our purview. We’ll continue to look at the situation. The FAA can speak to their processes as well.
QUESTION: Right. But the —
MS. HARF: I have no way to make a judgment about likelihood on either.
QUESTION: Okay. All right. So I’ll leave that and then just go back to my UNRWA questions from the other day.
QUESTION: Well, the Secretary was – Matt —
QUESTION: Can we just – can I just go back to —
MS. HARF: Sure.
QUESTION: Because yesterday it was asked about Hamas’s capabilities of —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have anything further? And you said you would.
MS. HARF: I did. I got a little bit for you. Give me one second. So Hamas does have rockets that can reach Ben Gurion Airport. During current fighting, Hamas rockets have landed north of the airport, although the accuracy of their rockets does remain limited. Israel’s Iron Dome system, which, as you know, we worked very closely with them to develop and fund, has monitored and, with quite a high degree of success, destroyed many of the incoming rockets which could reach this area as well as other areas. Hamas’s anti-aircraft missile capabilities are still being determined. We don’t have confirmation that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile during the current conflict or that Hamas has access to the type of anti-aircraft missiles like those we saw – judge bring down Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine.
So I tried to get a little more about the capabilities for you.
QUESTION: Yeah, thank you very much for that. I mean, it’s helpful to get perspective. Was that kind of thing taken into consideration, do you know?
MS. HARF: I’m guessing all of that was taken into consideration. The FAA worked very closely with the intelligence community, with people that do analysis on these kind of things before they make these determinations. So I’m assuming it was in this case.
QUESTION: So did you – when you said Hamas has not used heat-seeking —
MS. HARF: There’s no confirmation —
MS. HARF: — that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles during the current conflict.
QUESTION: Is – do you – is it your assessment that they actually have these kinds of weapons.
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I don’t know the answer to that, Matt.
QUESTION: Marie, on the FAA ruling, I mean considering that when this conflict began, Israel had, like, seven Iron Domes. Now they have 10. And the rocket firing has really been reduced dramatically. Why is this such a – why such a —
MS. HARF: Because a rocket landed very close to the airport, and I think if you were a passenger on an airliner taking off or landing at that airport, you’d be pretty nervous about that.
MS. HARF: Iron Dome has been very successful, but security of America citizens is top priority, and that’s why the FAA made this decision.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the Human Rights Commission?
MS. HARF: Just one second. Let me say one more thing about the FAA.
QUESTION: Okay. Sure. Oh, sorry.
MS. HARF: I know you probably saw Jen’s email but – last night – that the FAA notice to airlines does not apply to military aircraft, which is why he could land.
QUESTION: Right. So, but on that —
MS. HARF: I just wanted to clarify that, that was a Taken Question —
QUESTION: But on that, you said that if you were a passenger you would be pretty nervous. Was the Secretary nervous flying into —
MS. HARF: Secretary —
QUESTION: He’s never nervous?
MS. HARF: Well, as you saw, we didn’t announce the trip until it was down.
QUESTION: No, no. I understand that.
MS. HARF: Yep.
QUESTION: But you said that if you were a passenger on a plane flying in —
MS. HARF: The Secretary’s not nervous, Matt.
QUESTION: He is not nervous.
MS. HARF: The Secretary’s very happy to be there meeting with people right now.
QUESTION: And can you speak for your other colleagues?
MS. HARF: I’m not —
QUESTION: Was anyone on the plane —
MS. HARF: This is a ridiculous line of questioning.
QUESTION: No, it’s not —
MS. HARF: Yes. Said. Wait. We’re going back to Said.
QUESTION: — because if it’s a danger, it’s a danger. And if it’s not, if the Secretary thinks it’s not a danger that’s something else.
MS. HARF: We’re going back to Said.
QUESTION: I just wanted to follow-up on the Human Rights Commission.
MS. HARF: He was very – he and our whole team were very comfortable landing at Ben Gurion.
QUESTION: Okay. Which would seem to, I don’t know, belie the FAA’s concerns, no?
MS. HARF: Take that up with the FAA.
QUESTION: I will.
QUESTION: Yeah. On the Human Rights Commission, are you opposed in principle to have any kind of commission to look into possible war crimes by either side, to go one —
MS. HARF: We’re opposed to one-sided and biased inquiries of any kind.
QUESTION: And that – if – you believe that this one —
MS. HARF: We believe this one today was.
QUESTION: — this one is one-sided?
MS. HARF: Would have been and that’s why we voted against it.
QUESTION: What would – okay. What in the language of this resolution that makes you say that it is one-sided?
MS. HARF: Well, I am happy to see if there’s specific language that we can point to. Again, it was what they were – that would be evaluated in the resolution and in this commission of inquiry, what they would be looking at was purely on one side, which by definition, I think, makes it one-sided.
QUESTION: So it’s not really a knee-jerk kind of reaction, as we have seen in the past? Every time there is an effort to look into Israel’s —
MS. HARF: Well, unfortunately the Human Rights Council has often put forward one-sided documents. The international community has often put forward one-sided documents – excuse me – and we have opposed those as well.
QUESTION: Okay. Now I asked you yesterday on the hospitals – the bombing of hospitals, and so on.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Both ABC News and NBC News, they followed – they accompanied medics and ambulances and so on and went to the hospitals and house and so on, and they saw no evidence of firing rockets from there. So what makes you think that these hospitals have been used to launch rockets or to hide rockets or to hide fighters and so on?
MS. HARF: Well, we have evidence —
QUESTION: Do you have solid evidence?
MS. HARF: Generally speaking – not speaking about any specific hospital, Said, or any specific target of Israeli activity, we have evidence throughout many years of Hamas using hospitals and schools, ambulances, other civilian places to hide rockets, to hide fighters. We’ve seen that throughout this conflict. Again, I’m not making a commentary on any one specific hospital or location, but we have seen that. We have seen Hamas do that in the past and have done that in this conflict.
QUESTION: Now I just want to go —
MS. HARF: And that’s not acceptable. I think if you are a Palestinian living in Gaza who just wants to go use a hospital or a school, you would not want Hamas using them to store rockets in.
QUESTION: Okay. Now let me ask you about the ceasefire points.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: It seems that the Egyptians, at least for now, are not flexible or are unwilling to sort of introduce any new element.
MS. HARF: I have no idea how you could even make that assessment. Everybody who is in these negotiations is not talking about them publicly. We’re talking about them privately.
QUESTION: The Egyptians are talking about their proposal publicly.
MS. HARF: Well, you’re making one assessment, and I think that we are —
QUESTION: I am not making it. They are. They’re saying —
MS. HARF: You called them inflexible.
QUESTION: No, I said inflexible. They said that they —
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: — what they submitted or what they proposed last week stands, that they’re —
MS. HARF: Well, we’re in discussions about what a ceasefire might look like. That’s why the Secretary is shuttling back and forth between Cairo and Jerusalem and Ramallah so he can see if we can get a ceasefire here. What the eventual contours of that looks like are being discussed right now.
QUESTION: And my last question on this: Today the Palestinian Authority submitted to Secretary Kerry their own version of what a ceasefire agreement should look like. Do you have any reaction to that —
MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that. I can’t confirm that report, Said.
QUESTION: You cannot confirm that report.
MS. HARF: I cannot confirm that report. I’m not going to comment on any of the rumors out there about what these negotiations look like, a line that should be familiar to everyone in this room.
QUESTION: Although you won’t comment on the specifics —
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: — there was something that Tony Blinken said earlier today about demilitarization of Gaza. Are you more concerned with getting an immediate – just an end to the fighting right now, or is – and is demilitarization something that would be later on? In other words, that’s not necessarily a part of the negotiations going on now?
MS. HARF: So obviously, our top priority is getting a ceasefire and achieving a ceasefire. What the contours of that ceasefire will look like, I’m obviously not going to outline. But longer term, the issue of rocket fire does need to be addressed. We’re very serious about that. Again, how that looks like, what that looks like, I’m not going to get into the details of that either.
QUESTION: Okay, so it’s – but it’s fair to say that some kind of demilitarization or some kind of dealing with the rocket fire in the future is not necessarily on the table right now. What you’re more —
MS. HARF: I’m not telling you what or what is not on the table right now. What I’m saying is we need a ceasefire. What that ceasefire looks like, I’m not going to detail. But longer term, we do need to deal with the rocket fire.
QUESTION: On my UNRWA question from yesterday, do you know if the – so there was this – they confirmed a second – finding a second batch – cache of rockets in a school. Do you know how those were handled? And more broadly, had your discussions with the UN, with UNRWA, with the PA and Israel come to a better option for dealing with things like this?
MS. HARF: We’re still having those discussions. I’d refer you to UNRWA to discuss the second batch. I don’t have all of the details on that. I think there’s been some confusing information out there. They could probably speak better to what happened to that other batch of rockets. But the conversations continue, and I think hopefully we’ll get to a better path forward.
QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not exactly sure what they did —
MS. HARF: I think it’s probably best for UNRWA to speak to this. They have the most up-to-date information.
MS. HARF: Yes, Nicole.
QUESTION: Is there any discussion about structuring this ceasefire through a UN Security Council resolution or working through the Security Council instead of trying to put together something on a bilateral or multilateral basis?
MS. HARF: I haven’t heard of that. Obviously I’m not going to talk about specifics that are being discussed in the room, but what we’re focused on is working with Egypt and other regional partners – of course, with Israel and the Palestinians – to see if we can get something here.
QUESTION: One more on the flight cancellations.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: It’s not just Matt that’s been critical and conspiratorial. Senator Cruz – (laughter) –
QUESTION: I haven’t been critical or conspiratorial.
MS. HARF: You’re being put in a category with Senator Cruz, so let’s see where this one goes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Senator —
MS. HARF: I can’t wait for this.
QUESTION: Yeah. Thanks a lot, Lucas. That’s not —
MS. HARF: You’re welcome, Matt. Thank Lucas later.
QUESTION: Senator Cruz just released a statement saying that the FAA’s flight suspension to Israel is economic blackmail and that the Obama Administration is —
MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous.
QUESTION: — doing this to punish Israel.
MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous and offensive, quite frankly. The FAA takes its responsibilities very seriously. I will speak for them in that case. They make these decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. For anyone to suggest otherwise, it’s just ridiculous, Lucas.
QUESTION: His argument is that tourism is an $11 billion industry for Israel and that while these flights are cancelled and Israel is losing money, the aid to Hamas continues.
MS. HARF: Well, we certainly care about Israel’s tourism industry as well, but we care more about the rockets being stopped from coming into Israel to kill innocent civilians in Israel. We care more about getting a ceasefire, and we care more about protecting American citizens. So clearly, I think Senator Cruz is completely wrong on this. We make decisions about security based solely on what’s in the best interest of American citizens. And look, one of the reasons – the main reason, if not, that Secretary Kerry is investing so much energy into getting a ceasefire is so Israel can return to normalcy, so they can return flights, so we can move past the Travel Warning, so Israelis and visitors and anyone don’t have to run to bomb shelters because Hamas is firing rockets at them. So I’d urge him to take another look at his comments on this.
QUESTION: But you can still fly to Beirut, can’t you, and other hotspots around the country?
MS. HARF: The FAA has a full list of places that we don’t fly. Someone asked about North Korea the other day. You cannot fly, I think, places in North Korea as well. So I would take a look at that. But there are times – in parts of Ukraine, Crimea we have warnings out as well. And these are all designed to protect American citizens here. And again, this is a temporary notice. The 24-hour notice has been renewed for another 24 hours. Our goal is to get this ceasefire in place as soon as possible so we don’t have to take these steps.
QUESTION: Marie, if I may follow – just to follow up on Nicole’s question. The sort of – what format this ceasefire should take? Back in 2009, there was a resolution – a UN Security Council Resolution 1860, and then in 2012 or just an agreement. Is it your feeling or this Department’s feeling that if you frame it in a United Nations Security Council resolution, would be more robust and would have to be – have better chance of being sustainable?
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked about 2012 as sort of —
QUESTION: Right, right.
MS. HARF: — one of the standards that we’re looking at here. I don’t have anything beyond that on what the discussions look like.
QUESTION: Same topic, real quick.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The Secretary said he was going to Cairo, back to Cairo. Any confirmation or details of when?
MS. HARF: I’m sure he will. I don’t know when. I’m not sure we know when.
QUESTION: He said immediately after the – or not immediately, but after the (inaudible).
MS. HARF: I don’t have details on timing, but he will eventually return to Cairo and could possibly return to Jerusalem and Ramallah.
QUESTION: There have been some riots in Paris over the issue of Gaza. I’m wondering if you see that as indicative of any larger international feelings towards either side.
MS. HARF: Well, let me say first that we obviously have seen some of the horrific anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments that have come up during some of these protests; not all of them, but some, which we would of course strongly condemn as we always do. But I’ve been asked about these for three days and I don’t think my line’s changed that people have a right to freely express themselves. That’s something that is important to us, but we do want people to remember that Israel has a right to defend itself and that its citizens are living under constant threat of rockets from Hamas that are the responsibility of Hamas to end. And I would just caution people to keep that in mind.
QUESTION: Last thing for me, and it sets a perfect segue of – because we’ve heard —
MS. HARF: Great.
QUESTION: — that phraseology any number of times from the White House, from this podium as well.
MS. HARF: We are remarkably consistent.
QUESTION: Yes, I know. How do we square that no country would tolerate rocket fire with things like Pakistan and Yemen and rocket fire that has killed civilians from the U.S.?
MS. HARF: Well, they’re wholly different, and I’ll tell you why.
MS. HARF: Hamas is a terrorist organization firing rockets indiscriminately with the purpose to kill civilians. Our counterterrorism operations, wherever they are, are taken with a great degree of care to protect civilian life. The President has spoken about this several times in speeches, and they are in fact designed to go after terrorists who are trying to kill more civilians. So any equivalency is just – I guess the word of the day – ridiculous and offensive.
QUESTION: And so when mistakes are made, it’s a mistake, it’s – you take every care –
MS. HARF: Right. The President has been very clear that we take extraordinary care to prevent civilian causalities, which is the exact opposite of what Hamas does, who tries to kill as many civilians as they can. We take extraordinary care when conducting counterterrorism operations.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Can we go to Ukraine?
MS. HARF: Anything else on this?
QUESTION: On (inaudible).
MS. HARF: No. If your hand —
MS. HARF: No? Then don’t keep your hand up if it’s not about Gaza. (Laughter.) You’re trying to play a trick here. Let’s go to Ukraine.
MS. HARF: Yes, we have seen those reports. We are still looking into them. We have, of course, seen a history of the separatists shooting down planes in the past, I think about a dozen before MH17. And look, if true – and we hopefully will be able to confirm whether it’s true soon – it would only be further evidence that Russian-backed separatists are using advanced surface-to-air weaponry less than a week after shooting down a civilian airliner and killing 298 people. Again, it’s hard to imagine any of this happening without Russian support.
QUESTION: Dovetailing off that, I mean, you said to me yesterday that the fighting is by and large outside of the 25-mile radius of the crash site.
MS. HARF: Forty kilometer —
QUESTION: Yeah. Or whatever.
MS. HARF: — or whatever. But numbers matter.
QUESTION: At this point, I think it was three miles outside of the crash site. I mean —
MS. HARF: No. I think you have wrong information there. There hasn’t been – they have maintained – the Ukrainians have maintained a ceasefire. The 40-kilometer ceasefire they have declared around the crash site, the Ukrainians have maintained it.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you concerned that a break in ceasefire could impede the investigation?
MS. HARF: Well, obviously, we would be concerned about the separatists not upholding a ceasefire. The Ukrainians have repeatedly shown their willingness and ability to do so.
QUESTION: Wait. Can I continue on Ukraine?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: You’re kidding, right?
QUESTION: Well, yesterday – this is sort of related Ukraine, I guess, and Russia. Yesterday the intel community said they were going to lay out evidence sort of backing their assertions about who brought down Malaysia Airlines 17. They did lay out a bunch of different things, but they didn’t actually lay out the real documentation that supports those assertions. Why haven’t we seen —
MS. HARF: I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for. Well, they did a couple things yesterday. They showed – they walked through an intelligence assessment case and they talked about some additional pieces of declassified information that I can walk through today that bolsters our case that we know what happened here. They also showed imagery of training facilities; they showed imageries of the site, including a trajectory based on classified information that they were able to provide that showed the trajectory of the SA-11. So those are important, and let’s get – let me finish —
QUESTION: Yeah, go ahead.
MS. HARF: — and then you can keep following up.
So a couple things they said yesterday, which I think are significant which we had not set before, that the audio data provided to the press – and we talked a lot about these open source reports, right, these audio messages that people have said are certain people or that prove things – they were provided to the press by the Ukrainians. It was evaluated by the intelligence community analysts, who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders.
And then another key point they talked about yesterday, and we can talk more about the rest of this, is the – this notion the Russians have put out there about a Ukrainian fighter jet. They’ve argued that an Su-25 fighter might have shot down the aircraft with an air-to-air missile. They have judged that engagement would be implausible for the following reasons: The Su-25 is a ground attack aircraft. The only missiles it carries are short-range – excuse me – are short-range, infrared-guided missiles. Ground photography from the crash site is consistent with the expected damage from a surface-to-air missile, but it is – does not correspond, in fact is inconsistent with what we would expect to see for an air-to-air missile, as Russia claims.
Third, Russia – this is a little separately here – has also released a map with the alleged locations of Ukrainian SA-11 units within range of the crash. This is another red herring they’ve put out there. We are confident that this information is incorrect. The nearest Ukrainian operational SA-11 unit is located well out of the range from both the launch and the crash site. So part of their case yesterday was not only giving more information about what we know, but giving our professional, technical assessment of some of the Russian claims that, I think, we have tried to increasingly knock down.
QUESTION: When you said – when they – when you said they showed evidence of this, what do you mean by that, “they showed”? They – I mean, did they have a presentation? I —
MS. HARF: Well, they – they did. They did. They showed some imagery, they showed a number of images; they showed some maps, they showed some graphics. I’m happy for you to get in touch with DNI Public Affairs, who can probably give you that packet that they showed. They showed some – one of the maps that we actually have posted on our Facebook page and our Kyiv Embassy that shows the trajectory of the SA-11 missile. That trajectory is based on classified information. I can’t detail all of what that information is, but that is based on the information we have.
QUESTION: And some of the evidence U.S. is relying on are social media postings and videos made public by the Ukrainian Government. Have those all been authenticated?
MS. HARF: Again, that’s why I said the audio data, which is part of the social media, has been authenticated by the intelligence community analysts. Social media is obviously only one part of the puzzle here. It’s something we look at, but obviously, we back everything up to the extent that we can when we can with other intelligence as well.
MS. HARF: Matt.
QUESTION: On your three things that you say were new: one, on the audio data being analyzed and being authenticated. That was not new yesterday. That was actually in the statement that the Embassy in Kyiv put out on Sunday morning —
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: — before Secretary Kerry appeared on those —
MS. HARF: That the intelligence community had authenticated all of it? I – it’s my understanding that that was not all out there on Sunday, but I’m happy to check.
QUESTION: Well, I believe it was. But I mean, there’s no – it doesn’t —
MS. HARF: Okay. Well, I disagree with you, but I’m happy to check.
What’s the next thing?
QUESTION: Well, you can look at the statement. I mean, it says that they’ve been authenticated. So I would say that that wasn’t new.
MS. HARF: Okay. Happy to check.
QUESTION: Secondly, I’m not sure that – I know that there were some suggestions that the Ukrainian fighter plane shot down this – with a missile, but the —
MS. HARF: So the Russians have basically had a couple of alternative explanations.
MS. HARF: There was the Ukrainian fighter jet. I think we – the intelligence community went to great lengths yesterday to show why that’s not the case.
The other – one of the other things they said was that it was a Ukrainian SA-11 system that the Ukrainians had fired. Again, I think they made very clear why that’s not also the case.
QUESTION: But the theory that – or the – I don’t know what you would – the suggestion isn’t necessarily that the Ukrainian jet – I mean, you have – you’ve discovered that the Ukrainian jet was in the vicinity, but it was not capable of shooting (inaudible) down —
MS. HARF: No, I can’t confirm that there was even a Ukrainian – we have no confirmation that I have seen that there was a Ukrainian jet.
QUESTION: Oh, that there was even —
MS. HARF: I’m not saying there wasn’t. I just can’t confirm it.
MS. HARF: But regardless, the notion that this kind of Ukrainian jet the Russians are talking about could have done this with the kind of missile and the kind of debris we’ve seen – it just doesn’t match up.
QUESTION: Because I think the suggestion is that whoever fired this missile may have been shooting for that plane, like what we saw today in terms of a shoot-down.
MS. HARF: Which in no way makes it better.
QUESTION: Well, I’m not saying it does. I’m not saying it does at all, but it’s not —
MS. HARF: And I don’t know what the intentions are of whoever was on the ground pushing the button. I don’t.
QUESTION: And the last thing about this —
MS. HARF: Clearly – well clearly, I know the intentions were to launch a sophisticated missile and to kill people. Whether those – they were trying to kill Ukrainian military officers or civilians, we’re still waiting to find out.
QUESTION: I – yeah, okay. I’m not arguing that one is better than the other.
MS. HARF: Okay. I know.
QUESTION: I’m not saying that.
MS. HARF: Just responding to your question.
QUESTION: I’m just saying – and then on the – this trajectory thing that you said was put out by the Embassy —
MS. HARF: I didn’t say that was new yesterday. We posted that a few days ago.
QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you just look at that – a lay person looking at it, it’s a line drawn on a satellite photo with no – nothing to back it up.
MS. HARF: Well, as I said, it’s based on a series of classified information —
QUESTION: Which we have to —
MS. HARF: — which we are —
QUESTION: — we have to take the leap of faith to believe that – right?
MS. HARF: Well, Matt, we are trying to put as much out of this out —
MS. HARF: — information out about this as possible. We are trying very hard to do so. It is a process that takes, I think, more time than any of us, certainly you or I, would like.
MS. HARF: But I think I would make the point that it’s much more time-consuming to declassify real evidence than to make it up, which is what the Russians have been doing for days now.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, be that as it may, are you saying that at some point, the IC is hopeful to —
MS. HARF: We are working to —
QUESTION: — that they will be able to put —
MS. HARF: We’re working to get more information declassified and put out there as quickly as we can. It’s just a difficult process (inaudible).
QUESTION: Okay. But do you understand that given the conflicting claims, no matter how ridiculous you say the other side’s version is and no matter how implausible it might be – but saying that you’ve put together the imagery showing the root of this —
MS. HARF: Trajectory.
QUESTION: — trajectory showing imagery.
MS. HARF: Just one piece. It’s one piece of evidence.
QUESTION: Well, I know, but anyone can draw a line on a map. They can. I mean, I’m not saying that —
MS. HARF: That’s not what our intelligence community does. That’s not what the U.S. Government does when we go out there and present a case to the world. We have —
QUESTION: So —
QUESTION: Can I just —
MS. HARF: Wait. We have to protect sensitive sources and methods. We have to, because if we don’t, we won’t be able to get this kind of information in the future if they’re compromised because of a declassification. Believe me, I want to be able to declassify more.
QUESTION: Right, okay.
MS. HARF: They want to be able to declassify more. And it’s not about a leap of faith. We are laying out a very comprehensive argument based on a number of different pieces, right. So if you look at all of them in totality —
MS. HARF: — look at the entire picture, it presents a very compelling case about the kind of missile, where it was fired from. Those are the two key pieces, right. The kind of missile that took down this plane we are very confident is an SA-11, we are very confident it was fired from Russian-controlled territory. We are very confident that the two alternate stories the Russians put forward aren’t plausible.
Who put their finger on the trigger? We still need to find that out.
MS. HARF: But suffice to say, the Russian separatists we believe fired this, in general, could not be doing what they’re doing without the Russians. And responsibility lays at the feet of President Putin, not just for this but for every incident that we have seen throughout this conflict, period.
QUESTION: All right. So Putin is – it’s Putin whose fault this is; that’s what you’re saying?
MS. HARF: I think I was just pretty clear.
QUESTION: What you’re saying – okay. So you said that – you say it’s a very compelling case, but you – it is a circumstantial case, is it not?
MS. HARF: It is a case based on a number of different pieces of evidence, Matt – across the board, a number of different pieces. Whether you’re looking at what we talked about yesterday, whether you’re looking at what we’ve seen on social media, whether you’re looking at the kind of SA-11 which is a missile that essentially gets fired straight up does what it does, and that’s exactly what we saw in this case as well.
So we’ve laid out a very detailed case. We will continue to declassify as much as we can. But again, we’ve been very open about our assessments here. The Russians have repeatedly lied about what’s happening on the ground. They said there weren’t troops in Crimea when there were troops all over Crimea. So there’s just no credibility on their side. And I understand the need to put out more information, but look, the notion that they’ve shot down dozens – over a dozen planes now – and this is just the one that wasn’t them – also just doesn’t pass the common sense test.
QUESTION: Marie —
QUESTION: Okay. Hold on a second. So – but – and I understand the – your desire to protect sources and methods, but we have here an incredible tragedy where almost 300 people died.
MS. HARF: I agree.
QUESTION: Is that – protecting sources and methods are more important than getting —
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: — to the bottom of who —
MS. HARF: Well, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive here. A, if we think an investigation can go forward, then we’ll get to the bottom of what happened here. We believe we do have a good assessment about the things I’ve talked about. The investigation about who did it specifically to a person is ongoing. But look, part of the reason we protect sources and methods is because we want to be able to see these things in the future if they tragically – something like this were to happen again in the same area, the way we found out information this time. So —
QUESTION: So you’re saying that – but just to be clear, that the imagery, the trajectory imagery that you have that —
MS. HARF: In that one sheet, mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Right, right, right, exactly.
MS. HARF: I think it’s the green line.
QUESTION: That is – yes, that there are sources and methods for how you know that trajectory —
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: — that people are concerned are going to be somehow —
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: — tainted if —
MS. HARF: Correct. Not just tainted, but compromised.
QUESTION: That are going to be compromised if you —
MS. HARF: Yes, correct.
QUESTION: I mean —
MS. HARF: Well —
QUESTION: Okay. I guess —
MS. HARF: Having spent six years in the intelligence community —
QUESTION: I know. That’s what I – I know that’s what —
MS. HARF: — I know there are a variety of ways we can figure these things out, many of which are quite sensitive and many of which I think we don’t want to lose.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: So look, believe me, I’m pushing my colleagues at the DNI —
MS. HARF: — as much as I love these —
QUESTION: Do you – but I —
MS. HARF: — conversations with you about this. We are pushing and they’re pushing, and we’ll see if we can get more.
QUESTION: Okay. But do you – I mean, would you expect —
MS. HARF: I have no prediction.
QUESTION: — or you don’t know? You don’t expect more or you —
MS. HARF: I have no idea.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: Look, I think there will be. I think we’re just working through it.
QUESTION: Okay. One other thing that’s unrelated to the intel.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports that several journalists have been detained or kidnapped – one a Ukrainian, the other one a Brit? Do you know anything about this?
MS. HARF: I saw some reports about some journalists. I think we’re still trying to track down the facts there. I’ll see if there’s more after I get off the podium.
QUESTION: Okay. Ambassador Pyatt had tweeted something about —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — one of the —
MS. HARF: Yeah. Obviously, we are concerned about these reports. Let me see if there’s more details.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you – you said the blame lays at Mr. Putin’s feet just now.
MS. HARF: Yes, yes.
QUESTION: Does that mean that they are involved in issuing the orders issued down there?
MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I said that these Russian separatists who we strongly believe fired this missile would not be there operating without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not have been trained without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not be armed without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. They would not be there doing what they’re doing, period, so they could fire an SA-11 without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. Yes, direct responsibility lays there.
QUESTION: And also – okay. I wanted to ask you also on integrity of the crash site.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Who’s in control now? I mean —
MS. HARF: Let me see if I – the Dutch are leading – give me one second – the investigation.
Just a couple quick updates. The black boxes are now in the United Kingdom. The reason for doing so is that the British have a specific kind of aircraft forensics laboratory needed, and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch is a highly respected and capable investigation authority.
Let me answer a few more taken questions from yesterday, and then I’ll get to your question, Said.
MS. HARF: Not all of the remains were, tragically, handed over yesterday. Potentially, the remains of some 100 people are still missing. We don’t have exact numbers. Obviously, it is critical that international investigators, led by the Dutch, receive immediate and full access to the crash site.
In terms of access to the site, we – they have on the ground in Ukraine begun the difficult work of piecing together exactly what happened here. Today, we understand that they do have better access than they’ve had in the past days. We are, though, troubled by reports of looting, evidence tampering, and the failure to transport, as I just said, all of the remains of all of the victims to Kharkiv and into Dutch custody. So that is the latest I have in terms of the situation and the investigation.
QUESTION: On Ukraine itself?
MS. HARF: On Ukraine?
QUESTION: Hold on.
MS. HARF: Yeah, on Ukraine.
QUESTION: Based on the intelligence information that you released yesterday and what you have been saying today, it looks like it was a case of mistaken identity by the Ukraine separatists that hit the Malaysian plane.
MS. HARF: That’s not what they said at all.
QUESTION: That’s what you are concluding, right?
MS. HARF: No. That’s not what I said either. I said we don’t know yet the intentions of the people who fired the SA-11 from the pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory. We just don’t know what their intentions are.
QUESTION: So my question is —
MS. HARF: It may – they may have been targeting a civilian airliner; they may have been targeting a Ukrainian fighter jet, which they’ve done over a dozen times now. Either way, they’re clearly trying to kill people with an SA-11.
QUESTION: So when the Malaysian Airlines was passing through that part, there were some other passenger planes which was crossing that area, including one of Air India, which was under 25 miles away from the Malaysian planes. And then plane carrying Indian prime minister was passed around one hour before that.
MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that.
QUESTION: Do you know from intelligence information that any of these planes were – could have been a target or could have been hit by these missiles here?
MS. HARF: I haven’t heard – I haven’t heard that.
QUESTION: Can you check?
MS. HARF: I can check. I haven’t heard it, though.
QUESTION: One more?
MS. HARF: Ukraine?
QUESTION: Staying on India?
QUESTION: One more?
MS. HARF: No, let’s stay on Ukraine.
QUESTION: Ukraine, one more.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
Madam, what message do you have for the grieving families from this terrible incident? What they are asking the United Nations and the United States and the global community: Are we safe to fly in the future, and what steps are you going to take in the future that such incident doesn’t happen? Because many families believe not only these terrorists here in this area, but many other terrorists may have access also to the similar weapons, including in Pakistan or Afghanistan, and anybody could be the next target.
MS. HARF: Well look, I think you heard the President speak about this. I spoke about it at the beginning of the briefing, that one of the reasons, if not the most important reason, that we are so committed to finding out what happened here is so we can hold the people who did it accountable, that people cannot get away with shooting civilian airliners out of the sky. That’s just wholly unacceptable, and that countries that support these kind of separatists, like we’ve seen Russia do, also need to be held accountable. And that’s why you’ve seen additional sanctions; that’s why we’ve said there could be further steps, because that’s just not something that we will allow, that we will stand by and watch, and we do need to get to the bottom of what happened here.
QUESTION: Do you believe, Madam, that other terrorists like al-Qaida in Pakistan or Abu Baghdadi in Iraq, who have challenged already India, U.S., and other countries – that they may have similar weapons?
MS. HARF: I can check and see who else we think has these weapons. I just don’t know that off the top of my head.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam
MS. HARF: Thank you.
QUESTION: Marie, Senator —
MS. HARF: Yes – no, let’s stay on Ukraine.
QUESTION: One more on Ukraine.
Senator Carl Levin called this an act of war. What is your response?
MS. HARF: Well, look, we’ve been very clear about what’s happening in eastern Ukraine. You have separatists backed by a foreign country who have invaded and been killing people with impunity, who’ve been shooting down Ukrainian military jets, who’ve been – who’ve now taken down a civilian airliner, who’ve been terrorizing populations in eastern Ukraine.
I would also note, just for balance here, that there have been some areas liberated by Ukrainian forces, where people are able to go about their lives without the fear of separatist violence. The Ukrainian Government is providing food and water and hope, I would say, to the residents in those liberated areas. And one of the main places they have restored electricity, water, and train service is to Slovyansk, which we’ve talked about. It was on July 9th, so it was a little while ago. But we have seen steady progress in terms of them regaining territory.
QUESTION: But is this alleged act by the separatists, or by Russia, an act of war?
MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any more terminology to put around it, Lucas. I’m happy to check and see.
QUESTION: An act of terror?
MS. HARF: I’m happy to check and see if there’s more terminology I’d like to put around it.
QUESTION: Your – when you say that the blame for this lies directly at President Putin’s feet, does that also mean that you think that his call – some – seemingly more conciliatory call yesterday for – to support a full and open investigation, do you think that’s duplicitous? Is that —
MS. HARF: Well, I just think that the words need to be backed up by actions, which, unfortunately, we haven’t seen very much of from the Russians lately.
QUESTION: Got you. I had one question semi-related to this.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: That is yesterday you talked about the French going ahead with their transfer of this Mistral ship to the Russians. It turns out today that the Brits have also been continuing to —
MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s actually —
QUESTION: Is that not correct?
MS. HARF: — accurate. No. And I’m not sure it’s in my book here. I have – they put out a statement very strongly denying this.
QUESTION: Denying it, okay.
MS. HARF: I will send it to you as soon as I get off the podium. I’m not sure I stuck it in my book here, but —
MS. HARF: — they have gone on the record.
QUESTION: And denied the earlier reports. Okay.
MS. HARF: Yes, so —
QUESTION: So in other words —
MS. HARF: — I’m sorry I don’t have it.
QUESTION: No, no, it’s okay.
MS. HARF: Apologies to my British colleagues who may be watching.
QUESTION: You don’t need to – I’m not asking you to respond on behalf the British Government. But I’m just saying —
MS. HARF: No, no, no, but they – no, but I did have that and I wanted to – we’ll get it to you.
QUESTION: But you accept their denial and you don’t have any questions about their —
MS. HARF: We don’t have any questions about the British.
QUESTION: What about French?
MS. HARF: Period, sort of full stop. Well, we have big questions —
MS. HARF: — about whether they would go through with something like that, yes.
QUESTION: So what is the latest? How long ago, how many days has it been that you raised it?
MS. HARF: Well, we raise it consistently with the French. The Secretary has spoken again today to French Foreign Minister Fabius. I don’t have a full readout of that call, but needless to say, I think it’s been raised recently.
QUESTION: And is it that the U.S. wants to just cancel that transaction, or just not to ship it until they start behaving properly?
MS. HARF: I don’t think we think it’s appropriate to provide that kind of material to the Russians at this time. I’m not sure what form that would look like, but we just don’t think they should do it. However they don’t do it, they shouldn’t do it.
MS. HARF: Ukraine. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: In your statement last night, Marie, at 9:58, you congratulated the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, and you said, quote, “Today the Council agreed to accelerate preparation of additional sanctions.”
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But no new additional sanctions were taken. Was that really a disappointment to the West, to the United States?
MS. HARF: Well, they talked about a number of additional things they could do. No, I mean, I put out a statement saying quite positive things and I don’t have much more to add beyond that.
QUESTION: But wouldn’t you like to see
Arms Control and International Security: Statement to the Seventy-Sixth Session of the Executive Council
On June 23, the international effort to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal achieved an important milestone, but as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has cautioned, “It should not be lost on anyone that our work is not yet finished.” Of course, we should begin today by acknowledging the extraordinary effort and commitment of all international partners who enabled the removal effort to occur. Over a thousand tons of declared chemical weapons agent, precursors, and associated chemicals are no longer a threat to the Syrian people.
Last September, Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov achieved a diplomatic breakthrough toward ensuring Syrian chemical weapons would no longer threaten anyone. Fully cognizant of the dangerous conflict in Syria, the diplomatic framework achieved in Geneva envisioned an unprecedented removal operation – one far beyond anything ever conceived by the framers of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It was the international community that turned the promise of the Kerry-Lavrov framework into a reality. Recognizing the threat that these weapons posed to the Syrian people, the international community quickly undertook extraordinary actions in this Council and in the UN Security Council to establish a special mandate for Syria. These decisions set into motion a complex removal operation founded on the cooperation, commitment, expertise, and financial support of a broad swath of States Parties to the Convention, as well as the OPCW and the UN-OPCW Joint Mission.
The United States expresses its deep gratitude to the many partners who contributed to this effort, namely:
- Denmark and Norway for providing vessels to transport over 1000 metric tons of chemicals from Syria to destruction facilities around the globe; and to Finland for deploying a CBRN defense unit to support this effort.
- China, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United Kingdom for providing naval escorts to the transportation vessels.
- Italy for hosting the transloading of the highest priority chemicals to the U.S. vessel, the MV CAPE RAY.
- The United Kingdom, Germany, and Finland for facilitating the final destruction of priority one and two chemicals effluent at their commercial and government facilities.
- Austria, Belarus, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Union, Italy, Russia, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom for a variety of in-kind contributions of equipment and services to the elimination effort.
- Cyprus for hosting Joint Mission support offices as well as cargo and naval vessels; and Lebanon and Jordan for enabling the transit of essential material and personnel through their territories.
- Spain for providing the MV CAPE RAY port facilities while awaiting the removal of all declared chemicals from Syria.
- Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey for offering security support for the MV CAPE RAY while it conducts neutralization in international waters.
- Finally, I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge and express our sincere appreciation for the generous financial contributions that have been provided to support this effort from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, the European Union, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
For our part, the United States began yesterday, aboard the Cape Ray, the neutralization of mustard agent and DF binary precursor from Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. It is expected that destruction will be completed within several months. The United States will keep the Technical Secretariat and the Executive Council periodically informed of progress.
It is unfortunate that Syria consistently disregarded removal dates set by this Council and as a result of successive missed deadlines, the costs of the removal operation were substantially increased: these additional costs were paid by the international partners, not Syria, which has refused to fund its own destruction obligations under the Convention.
Despite the overall success of completion of the removal effort for declared chemicals, Secretary Kerry has made it very clear that “very serious issues remain to be resolved.” Syria continues to drag its feet in complying with its obligation to destroy chemical weapons production facilities. The international community has questions that must be adequately answered by Syria regarding the declaration of its entire chemical weapons program. Finally, the United States remains deeply concerned by the reports of systematic use of chlorine gas and other chemicals in opposition areas by Syrian Government forces. Let me address each of these concerns in detail.
As is well known to this Council, Syria failed to comply with the March 15 destruction date set by this Council for destruction of its twelve chemical weapons production facilities. It also failed to meet the general deadline set by UN Security Council Resolution 2118. Syria has not undertaken any destruction actions whatsoever and all of the twelve facilities remain structurally intact.
From the start, Syria has engaged in a concerted effort to retain these twelve former chemical weapons production facilities. Delegations should recall that Syria originally proposed to convert these former production facilities for military purposes. The Executive Council responsibly refused to approve that conversion request. Syria then sought, in effect, to retain these CW facilities by proposing “inactivation” rather than the physical destruction required by the Convention. When this cosmetic proposal encountered opposition within the Council, Syria attempted to minimize the area subject to destruction, allowing it to largely retain use of its underground facilities.
Due to the efforts of the Technical Secretariat, Syria made some revisions to this proposal in March, but continued to seek a substantially lower destruction standard than is mandated by the Convention and has been imposed on other countries. Since then, Syria’s position has hardened and it refused to engage in meaningful negotiations. Syria’s position on what must be destroyed has not changed since March. In effect, Syria continues to seek especially lenient treatment.
At a meeting in Moscow on June 27 and 28 that was attended by Syria, the United States, Russia, and the Joint Mission, the Technical Secretariat presented a compromise proposal based on further Technical Secretariat analysis and historical information provided by Syria. That compromise proposal would involve acceptance by all parties of revised tunnel perimeters and would also entail more effective monitoring measures.
The United States appreciates the continued efforts of the Director-General and the EC Chair to help end the impasse.
Washington has carefully reviewed the Technical Secretariat’s proposal for a compromise solution to the chemical weapons production facility destruction issue. While this proposal requires serious compromises and is not entirely in keeping with the extraordinary decision this Council took in September, the United States is prepared to support that compromise solution in the interests of reaching a Council decision this week, as long as Syria also accepts it. We are not, however, prepared to go further or engage in further haggling. It is our hope that Syria will support this compromise, including the TS’ proposal for destruction of the seven hangars. In that case, the Council could take a decision and destruction would finally begin.
Let me be clear, however, that if Syria rejects this compromise proposal and continues its intransigence, there must be consequences. Syria cannot be allowed to stall every attempt at resolution and continue to defy its obligations and this Council by indefinitely keeping its former CW production facilities.
The singular purpose of the Geneva Framework, the decisions of this Council, UN Security Council Resolution 2118, and the Convention itself is the total elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and program. The Syrian declaration on its very face contains gaps, discrepancies, and inconsistencies, giving rise to important questions and concerns about the accuracy and completeness of that declaration. Syria’s accession to the Convention took place under exceptional circumstances and Syria is subject to a special mandate established by the September 27 decision of this Council and UN Security Council Resolution 2118. After gassing its own people three weeks before announcing its accession, Syria’s good faith cannot be assumed; its declaration must be fully corroborated and carefully scrutinized by the Technical Secretariat and States Parties. Therefore, Syria must respond to all outstanding questions and requests for information and demonstrate that it has fully declared all aspects of its chemical weapons arsenal and program. It is incumbent upon Syria to build international confidence that it will comply with the CWC, EC decisions, and UN Security Council Resolution 2118. The United States strongly supports the need for intensive efforts by the Technical Secretariat to clarify Syria’s declaration and we expect Syria to fully cooperate. In the report of this session, the Council should underscore the importance of verifying the accuracy and completeness of Syria’s declaration and continue its diligent oversight until the international community achieves the necessary confidence that Syria has fully declared and dismantled its chemical weapons program.
The United States remains deeply concerned with credible indications that Syria is again using chemical weapons, as it did last August and in prior incidents, this time reportedly involving chlorine and other chemicals in attacks against the opposition. The preliminary findings of the fact-finding mission seriously heighten these concerns. The systematic nature of the attacks, the intended targets and publicly available video evidence – which U.S. information supports – that a helicopter was over the alleged attack site during at least one incident all point to one perpetrator – the Syrian Government.
We commend the courage and dedication of the fact-finding mission to get at the truth. It is most unfortunate that the OPCW team came under attack and was forced to abandon its attempt to examine the alleged attack site in Kafr Zayta. Given the gravity of these allegations and the serious implications for Syrian compliance with the Convention, we urge the Director-General to continue the efforts of the fact-finding mission to examine all credible allegations of CW use in Syria. There is no greater threat to the purpose and integrity of the Convention than use of chemical weapons. The Council must remain seized of this matter until all of the facts are uncovered and appropriate actions are taken.
Progress has been made since September 27 in eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons. However, despite the hopes and best efforts of the international community, the goal of completely eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons program was not achieved by June 30. Regrettably, this Council will need to acknowledge that Syria has fallen short of that deadline and failed to meet key obligations to destroy all of its chemical weapons facilities; that Syria has failed to engender international confidence that its declaration is fully accurate and complete; and that the specter of CW use by the Assad regime continues to threaten the Syrian people. It its report of this session, the Council will need to face the facts and hold Syria fully responsible and accountable for the unfinished international effort to disarm it of all chemical weapons and the means to ever make them again. The Council will need to take steps to ensure Syrian compliance with all of its international obligations.
Last September, this Council took a historic decision on the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons. This decision constituted an unstated promise on our part to the region and to the people of Syria for complete elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons threat. Our work is not yet done, our promise is not yet fulfilled. Let us summon the resolve to fulfill that promise and not falter in our efforts to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons program.
In addition to the urgent and important discussions that this Council is rightly holding about Syria, there are other important issues before us. I will address those under the corresponding agenda items.
In closing, I would like to request that the full text of this statement be circulated as an official document of the Seventy-Sixth Session of the Council, and posted in the OPCW external server and public website.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I’m going for the whole thing. Sorry about that, folks. Well, good evening, everybody. How are you all? Everybody good? What a fantastic evening, and it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be able to come over here and share Pacific Day. Tonight, we celebrate – obviously or this evening, I can still say – the critical relationships that unites all of the nations of the Pacific. And believe me, in the last few days at our conference, we’ve seen the power of how united the Pacific region is.
So we thank you because these partnerships were born out of a world that put us together geographically because we border on the Pacific, but it has also put us together because we have weathered wars and we have developed together and built a shared prosperity.
So I want to thank Palau’s ambassador, Hersey Kyota, who invited me to come speak. I particularly want to thank New Zealand’s Ambassador, Michael Moore, for hosting us. I think we all want to join together in saying thank you for his willingness us to do that. (Applause.) Oh, where is he? Hiding? (Applause.)
I want to recognize New Zealand’s prime minister who is here – he’s hiding over here, right here – John Key. Thank you so much, Mr. Prime Minister. It’s an honor to be here. (Applause.) And I’m going to be meeting with him tomorrow, where we can discuss some of the issues that we’ll talk about here.
I also am honored to be here with the president of Palau, Tommy Remengesau. And we also met. We had a wonderful opportunity to talk about a host of issues, but most importantly the way in which island nations are deeply threatened by climate change, rising sea levels, acidification, overfishing. And all of these were the topics of the conference that we just had in the last few days.
I want to just emphasize to everybody, America thinks of itself as a Pacific nation and is a Pacific nation proudly. We don’t just border it and have an extraordinary coastline framing the Pacific, but we have been in the Pacific and in its far reaches for centuries. We also obviously went through an extraordinarily difficult period during World War II. We shed a lot of blood in the Pacific and fought hard for the ability of Pacific nations to be free to determine their own future and certainly to be able to associate and come together to protect the freedom of navigation, the freedom of commerce, and our rights as human beings.
And one of those rights is the right to be free from pollution that literally threatens nations. That is why President Obama made the strategic decision in the first term, to do what has become known as a rebalance or pivot, but I prefer a rebalance, because pivot implies we’re somehow turning away from something else and we’re not. But we’re rebalancing so that we make certain that some people in the Pacific understand our commitment and can rely on the presence of the United States with respect to many of those issues that I just talked about.
President Obama is absolutely committed to continuing to make certain that everybody understands this rebalance is not a passing fancy, it’s not a momentary thing, and in fact it has grown. We recently renegotiated a long-term defense pact with Japan. We have reaffirmed our relationship with South Korea. We have, obviously, with ASEAN and our presence in Southeast Asia as well as throughout the islands and the nations southwards to New Zealand and Australia, we’ve strengthened our presence there. And we are continuing and we will continue, I can guarantee you, to work to impress on people that the values that bring us together don’t belong to one country. They don’t belong to one nation. I would tell you that I think they are genuinely universal values, and they certainly don’t belong to any ideology.
There are a huge number of issues that Pacific nations have to wrestle with as a community now, and we all have a stake in regional stability and security. The right to choose one’s own government, as I said, we believe is a birthright. Economic growth is imperative for all of us. But one thing above all looms as a threat, literally, to existence, and that is the connective tissue that holds – that connects all of us with respect to the environment and our responsibility to the ocean itself.
We just had two days of a conference in which speaker after speaker, film after film, expert after expert, scientist after scientist documented the degree to which we, mankind, are threatening ourselves as a consequence of the amount of carbon dioxide we are releasing into the atmosphere, as a result of too much money chasing too few fish, as a result of the devastating impact of pollution, run-off from development that streams out of rivers and down into the ocean so that we have over 500 dead zones. And we can unfortunately boast a big one in the Gulf of Mexico where, coming out of the Mississippi River, from the various rivers that feed into it along the way, all the way from the northern part of our country down into the south. We have runoff from agriculture, which overloads nitrates which kills the ecosystem.
This is happening, unfortunately, everywhere. The numbers of birds and fish that are found imbibing plastic, which has a 450-year life, therefore, obviously, a killer for many fowl and fish. We face an extraordinary challenge to our fishing stocks almost everywhere: some depleted, some stocks so low that they’re almost extinct, and in some places fisheries that are fished to the level that they’re near the possibility of collapse.
So all of what I’ve just said is obviously an enormous challenge and probably some of you could walk away tonight and say, “Boy, I hate to hear all those facts because I don’t know what I can do about it.” Well, the problem is solvable. What is shocking to me, and I think to many of us who are engaged in this effort, is the fact that it’s not something we can’t do something about. The solutions are staring us in the face. The solution to climate change, which we have to embrace rapidly because of the rate and pace at which coal-fired power plants are still being built – the solution is energy policy.
And we have brave innovators and entrepreneurs who are on the cutting edge of producing alternative and renewable capacity to produce the energy that we need. Whether it’s solar or wind or biomass or other forms, or even – some people say God perish the thought because of what happened in Japan, but if you don’t build on an earthquake fault and right next to the ocean, nuclear does have the ability, as we’ve seen in so many places, from France to the United States Navy, where we haven’t lost one sailor in more than 70 years of the use of nuclear power, or had one accident on a ship. It is, because it is zero emissions, one of the alternatives we’re going to have to use. And I’m confident that our scientists, as we do, will find the ways to create a fuel cycle that is unified and we can deal with the waste, and clearly we have safer and greater capacity in fourth-generation modular units.
So the solutions are there. And I just want to – I want to leave you with just one thought, a big thought about this, which is what excites me and why I’m banging away at this. We’ve got to move rapidly if we’re going to save some of those island. We have to be able to turn this around, and that means we’re going to have to embrace very forward-leaning policies very quickly. And next year in Paris, in December, we will meet – all of our nations of the world – in order to try to set targets in order to be able to do what I just talked about.
But let me just tell you something. We could produce – we’re not about to, but we could produce three times the entire electricity needs of the United States of America well into the future from 100 square miles down in the New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona region. You could do it if you decided to. We could do solar-thermal, we could do other things, but we have to build the infrastructure to do these kinds of things. We have to invest in it. And that is true all around the world where people have yet to embrace the simplest forms of energy efficiency, where we could be making a different set of choices about how you price carbon and what you do.
The bottom line is this: The marketplace that made America richer than it ever imagined in the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with four – with what, 1 billion users. One and one; $1 trillion market, 1 billion users. Every single income earner in America, every quintile of our percentage of taxpayers, from the bottom 20 percent to the top, saw their incomes go up during the course of the 1990s. We created more wealth in America because of one sector of our economy, the technology sector, that boomed, and it provided goods to those 1 billion people and became a $1 trillion market.
Well, guess what? The energy market that I am talking about today, as you look at it, is a $6 trillion market with 4 to 5 billion users, and it’s going to go up to 9 billion users by 2050. It’s the mother of all markets. It’s the greatest opportunity to build infrastructure, build power plants that are clean, build windmills, build alternatives, to have a whole new restructuring of the goods and services that are provided to people that provide the energy of the world. And given the fact that almost half of the world still lives on about $2 a day and a huge percentage on $1 a day, the capacity for this development to change lives, save lives, reduce conflict, have an impact on security, change our ability to dream about a different kind of future is absolutely extraordinary.
So it’s a beautiful evening, you came here to have fun, I don’t want to go on and on tonight, but I’m just telling you, there is a solution staring us in the face, and the Pacific region, the Pacific islands can help to underscore to people what is really at stake. It’s called life itself. And the irony, the horrible fact is those nations most threatened are those nations least contributing to this problem. So the developed world has an obligation to make this happen, and I look forward to working with our Kiwi friends and others and all of the Pacific islands. We’re going to get this job done. Thank you for Pacific Day. Thank you for welcoming me here today. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. HARF: Hi everybody. Thank you to everyone for coming today. For those of you who I haven’t met, I’m Marie Harf. I’m the deputy spokesperson here. We’ll be moderating today’s discussion. We have several very distinguished speakers with us: Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Cathy Novelli will kick us of today. We also have the OES Deputy Assistant Secretary David Balton with us. This is all on the record, no embargo in any way for any of this.
As you know, the Secretary will be dropping by at some point during this conversation to make a few remarks and just take a couple of questions because his schedule is pretty tight, but he wanted to come have a discussion with you as well.
So with that, I’m going to turn it over the Under Secretary, I think will have some remarks, and then we’ll open it up to your questions and we will just go around the room when we do so.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Okay, great. Well, thank you all for being here. And I thought I could start by just giving you a little bit of a picture of what we’re expecting to have happen on Monday and Tuesday, which is that – the days that the Secretary is hosting the Our
Ocean conference. And when we started to look at this question, this was really the very first thing the Secretary talked to me about working on when he and I talked about me coming to the State Department. And I was absolutely delighted to be able to lead on this, because these are critical issues and they’re becoming more critical as time goes on.
And so when we looked at this conference and what we could do, we decided to focus it so that we could also focus results. And so we focused it on three areas, which are overfishing and illegal fishing, pollution of the ocean, and ocean acidification. And those three areas were areas that we arrived at in consultation with a number of eminent oceans experts, including our own oceans experts internally here at the State Department, but also in the NGO and the scientific community.
And the idea behind this conference is a slightly different one than all of the other very excellent conferences that have gone on, and that is that we wanted to look at the fact that we can’t solve these problems simply by government-to-government action; that all layers of society need to play a role here, and that includes individuals, it includes scientists, governments, the NGO community, and the private sector. And so we’ve designed a conference that actually gets all of those layers of society in one place to work on concrete solutions to these problems.
And the other thing that has struck me about working on this conference is that it is – obviously the ocean is vast and these problems are large and they are things that actually threaten our wellbeing, our livelihood, our environment, but there are people solving these issues around the world. And so one of the other things that we did is went out through our embassies to every space in the world to try to find the most credible people who are solving some of these problems in their own communities, in their own ways, to bring them to this conference so that we can have a conference that is looking at what is the path to solutions on this. And then sort of build from that at the end of the conference a list of policy direction that we can all take and that we can all agree is what we need to be doing at these various layers, so that we’re not just having a conference where everybody comes and talks; we’re having a conference where concrete things are occurring, where we’re setting up a path for more concrete things to occur through other conferences, other fora, and through a set of principles that governments, the private sector, NGOs, and regular people are going to be able to focus on.
And so the first thing that we’ve done in preparation for this is to do a social media campaign. You may have seen the Secretary’s call to action that he’s put out, and we’re getting a great response on that. And the idea behind that was to figure out, okay, what are the things, simple things, that individuals can do that are going to make a difference. So we asked them to do three things: only eat sustainably-caught seafood, not pollute the waterways and the oceans, and volunteer one day a year to clean up the waterways or the beaches.
And we’re getting – we’re putting that out there. We’re expecting a response. That’s obviously the layer, the individuals. There’s deeply scientific layers that look at things like ocean acidification, what does that mean, and how do we mitigate it. There are technical layers about how do we track fish so that we know whether they’ve been caught legally or illegally so that people can know whether their seafood has actually been caught sustainably or not. And all of these different things are what we’re going to be discussing at the conference.
So that is the idea that we’re going to have concrete results, that we’re building towards more concrete results in the future, with a pathway of how to get from point A to point B. And I don’t mean to suggest this is simple; it’s not. It’s very complicated. But it is also solvable, and that’s what we want to put the emphasis on, that we actually really can change the environment and change the way that these things are being addressed so that we do have sustainable fish for a huge percentage of the population that relies on it as its main source of protein, so that we have something that is economically sound and is creating and sustaining jobs, and so that we are also sustaining our environment.
So I’ll stop there and just – I’m happy to take questions.
MS. HARF: Great. Any opening thoughts, or do you just want to go right into questions? We’ll go right into questions. (Laughter.)
PARTICIPANT: Couldn’t have said it better myself.
MS. HARF: Great. Well, let’s just open it up. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Michele Kelemen, NPR —
MS. HARF: Yes, and please do identify yourself.
QUESTION: Can you just talk about any – what sort of – is there money involved here, are there specific projects you’re funding, announcements that you’re expecting to make. Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah. We’re going to make very specific announcements. Those are going to be made at the conference, so I’m not going to go into those now. But there is money involved, there are specific actions involved, and there is going to also be sort of a path for the future. So we’re doing things today that are very tangible, and we’re also looking at technology and what can that do on some of these questions. So there’s some pretty cool technological things that we’re going to have developed and we’re going to be able to roll out at the conference. And there will be a concrete list of things that people are bringing to the table for this conference, and then a path for future things.
MR. BALTON: Not just the United States Government —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.
MR. BALTON: — there will be announcements by other governments, other organizations we fully expect.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right. And – right. And not just by governments, so —
QUESTION: And how many countries involved? How many —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Over 80 countries will be here, and we’re going to have foreign ministers, we’re going to have environment ministers from those countries. And as I said we’re going to have NGOs from all over the world as well as business community. So – and then this will be livestreamed, so we’re hoping that all the people who have made these pledges to action, or a number of them, will be able to follow this live. And we’ve got this in an interactive way, so they’ll be able to actually feed questions in as the discussion goes on. We have put a premium on people showing rather than telling what the problems are, visually. So we expect this to be a very visually engaging conference as well, so that – I think it’s sometimes easier if you can just see the dead zone in the sea instead of just trying to imagine, for example, what that looks like.
QUESTION: Under Secretary, Juliet Eilperin with The Washington Post, can you both say first of all how many world leaders – have you now a final count of how many are coming? I know it’s a handful. And then the second question is: Clearly, the international community has tried to deal with climate change and had a number of problems in reaching it. And when you look at the oceans, more than half of it is on the high seas which isn’t in anyone’s exclusive economic zone. How do you think this can be different in terms of producing concrete results or a meaningful difference in a way we might not have seen through UN efforts on climate?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, I think – for example, for fish, I think there is already the capability, technologically, for example, to trace where boats are. And so whether they’re in the high seas or not, you can know where they are, and that allows you then to figure out how they – are they fishing in a place where they’re supposed to fish or not? So I think there are some —
QUESTION: But that’s not in place, that technology.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: The technology is not in place everywhere.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: It exists. And some folks are using it and some aren’t, and that’s one of the things we want to try to push forward here, and we want to try to push forward how other countries can make sure that these things are used. There is a new treaty that – out there called the Port-State Measures Agreement that sort of exhorts countries and gives them tools to actually implement this type of thing. So we’re looking at trying to get more signatories to that through this conference and also to get the technology pushed out and have a discussion about how that works – also on the U.S. side.
So I think – I guess what I would say is – maybe slightly different – is that there are actual solutions that people are putting in place in this realm today that can serve as catalysts to do it on a wider basis. And so we have the tools, and I think that that makes this in some ways very granular, and that means that you can attack it more easily. And I don’t know if “attack” is the right word, but solve these issues more easily.
So – and I will say, I mean, there has been a groundswell of support from the NGO community about this, and they also have a number of very tangible initiatives that they have been working on with foreign governments, which we hope to bring to fruition and we expect we will at this conference. So it’s a real partnership at many levels. And I haven’t honestly heard, as I’ve traveled around talking to governments about this, anybody who says this is an insoluble problem. There’s no one throwing up their hands saying this is just impossible and the politics of this are such that we can’t do it. I’ve heard people saying, okay, we can march forward here and we can figure out this path, and that we want to be on that frame. And that’s why we’re doing it this way.
In terms of world leaders, we expect to have many heads of state here, many are from the smaller island countries where this is vital to their health. But as I said, we’re also going to have quite a cadre of environment ministers and foreign ministers here, too.
QUESTION: But when you say “many,” can you give a range?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I think in terms of – a hand of heads of state. I think it’s less than a dozen. I don’t have the final count.
MS. HARF: We can get some of those final numbers for you as well.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah, yeah.
MR. BALTON: Can I add one point to that? Would it be okay?
MS. HARF: Go for it.
MR. BALTON: So as someone who’s worked in this field for a long time, it is true, the solutions are out there. Often the missing ingredient has been political will, and what I see this conference as is a perfect opportunity to catalyze that will. That’s why we invited the types of people we did to this conference. We’re hoping to build political will towards these solutions.
QUESTION: I’m Suzanne Goldenberg from The Guardian. I know a few months ago there was talk with people from the Global Oceans Summit, David Miliband and (inaudible) – it was some of the ideas they were putting forward and there was consensus behind included a special police force of – a blue police force, sort of a water-borne version of blue helmets that would actually police the high seas – not necessarily boarding boats themselves, but using these kind of technologies that you mentioned. Is that something that the State Department would get behind?
And also would the State Department get behind a separate international organization for ocean how?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I think – I guess what I would say is we think there is an awful lot already that’s out there in terms of organizations that are regulating fishing in particular. So I’m very aware of the great work that’s been done by David Miliband and that group of folks, and we expect several of the people who were the authors of that study to be at the conference. I – this – I have not, to be honest, heard of a police force of the high seas. That’s the first time I’m hearing of that. I think we’re – there are many mechanisms that are already in place, and I think the question is how do we get those to be optimal? And that’s what we’re looking at.
There can be also new things that if there’s a consensus around and we – that’s what we want to develop is a consensus. So I think that’s the best answer I can give you on that.
MS. HARF: Jo.
QUESTION: Jo Biddle from Agence France Presse. Hi, nice to meet you.
MR. BALTON: Nice to meet you too.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about the possibility of expanding marine parks, particularly in U.S. borders. I believe some of the NGOs are saying this could be a major way that the United States could show leadership in this area. At the moment, about only – they estimate that – conservationists estimate that at least 30 percent of the oceans need to be covered by marine-protected areas. They’ve actually identified three specific areas of the United States – I’m sure, obviously, the Pacific atolls, the Marianas Trench, and the northwest Hawaiian Islands.
Do you anticipate that you will be making some announcements on this? Is this something that you would consider would be a good thing, and – or what are the problems of doing something like that? Does it impact with fishing, locals who are fishing, potentially, or something like that?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: So we absolutely believe that marine-protected areas are an important tool in conservation. And it’s – conservation’s important because you want to make sure that you have not just preservation of the environment, which is vital, but also you want to preserve fish so that the next generation of people who need to eat can do that. So marine-protected areas are important for many things; those are just two of them. We fully support marine-protected areas. We expect some announcements to come out of this conference, but we’re going to hold that until the conference. So —
QUESTION: And are you – kind of just to follow up, then, are you also pushing your partners around the world to do similar things on expanding marine parks?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.
MR. BALTON: Yes.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: We absolutely are.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Matt Viser with The Boston Globe. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the Law of the Seas Treaty. And Secretary Kerry in the Senate was pushing for that in 2012 and it did not pass. How does any of this relate to what’s in that treaty? Should the U.S. still be pushing to sign that? Can you just —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, you know that the President at his West Point speech talked about the Law of the Sea Treaty and the need to move that forward. We have been leading on – particularly in the fisheries – conservation area despite the fact that we have not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty. And we’re looking at these other areas – ocean acidification – where there’s a lot of technology, et cetera.
So we are continuing to lead whether that treaty is ratified or isn’t ratified. That said, it is a very important treaty and the President has already said we need to look at getting to a place where we can ratify this. And so we will be taking that up.
QUESTION: Do you know when? I mean, is there a time element to that and when that treaty could be taken up, or when efforts to push the Senate to take it up again might —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: People are talking about that internally and how we – it’s very important for economics, not just for conservation. It’s important for both things. And I think we need to make sure that that message is properly communicated to those who have to take the decision on whether they’re going to give their advice and consent. In terms of timing, I don’t have an answer for you on specific timing, but it is going to be something we’re going to work on.
QUESTION: Ian Urbina with The New York Times. Two questions: One, the UN agreement on biodiversity – will we hear much discussion of that and where the U.S. stands on it? And two, I know there are calls to expand the category of ships that are required to have AIS, especially fishing vessels more. Will that be an issue that gets discussed?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: So on the biodiversity, there is actually going to be a meeting going on in the UN at the same time as the conference, which the U.S. will be participating in. And I think this conference is really focusing on these kind of practical solutions, so I don’t expect we’re going to have a huge discussion of that, and that’s going to be going on in the UN, which is the proper forum for it to be going on. And your second question I’m going to defer to David, so —
MR. BALTON: So you’re right. There are requirements for many large vessels to have a variety of things, including AIS, and there is a – there are proposals out there in the – at the International Maritime Organization to expand the category of vessels that will be covered by these requirements, including more fishing vessels. And we do support that, yes. Whether it will happen anytime soon, I don’t know, but I expect it will come up at the conference as a step that we need to take.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.
QUESTION: Neela Bannerjee with The Los Angeles Times. I wanted to return to something that Mr. Balton said about this being an opportunity to catalyze political will. Where are the areas specifically that you feel like political will is most lacking and that needs an extra push? That’s the first thing. And then the second question is: We’ve talked a lot about fishing and pollution, but what are some of the ideas that would be put forward to deal with the ocean acidification?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Mm-hmm. So I think political will is needed in all three of these areas. That’s why we picked them. So each area – overfishing, pollution of the ocean, which – a lot of the pollution of the ocean comes from runoff of fertilizer overuse as well as from plastics that don’t biodegrade, and so that is absolutely going to be discussed. And the third thing, ocean acidification, is obviously related to climate change. And in terms of that, one of the things that is true is that we don’t know everything about where – oh, the Secretary’s coming, so I will finish that after.
SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, folks. How are you all?
MR. BALTON: Morning.
SECRETARY KERRY: Hey, Marie, how are you?
MS. HARF: Good.
SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, Cathy.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Hi.
SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, everybody.
SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning to you.
QUESTION: Good morning.
SECRETARY KERRY: I’ll run around and say hi to everybody.
(Introductions are made.)
MS. HARF: So everyone, as I said, this is all on the record. The Secretary will make some remarks, and then I think he probably has time for just a few questions. So no embargo.
SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely. Great.
MS. HARF: I’ll turn it over to you, sir.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Marie. Thank you very much. Thanks, Cathy.
Well, let me begin by saying I am really excited by this conference which has been long in the making, since the moment I arrived here. In fact, I had wanted to do this when I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and we began to plan some original efforts and then we ran out of time because they appointed me to something else. (Laughter.) So we just brought it over here and a few people like Marie and others to work on it.
The oceans are a passion of mine and always have been, from the time I was three years old or whatever and dipped my toes into Buzzard’s Bay and watched a lot of people from Woods Hole Oceanographic mucking around in the seaweed in the shallows getting specimens and doing research, and I began to wonder, sort of what is this all about? And for years and years, needless to say, have appreciated our oceans and have traveled many of them in the United States Navy across the Pacific on a ship, and went through Leyte Gulf and into the Philippines, and down to the Coral Sea and down to New Zealand and back through Samoa, and saw a lot of detritus and impacts of civilization, as we call it, on the ocean.
And then as chairman of the fisheries subcommittee in the United States Senate on the commerce committee, became deeply involved in protecting migratory species, dealing with tuna, with salmon, the Columbia River; with various laws that are supposed to regulate growth and development along the ocean border, like the Marine Mammal Protection Act or the Coastal Zone Management Act, the flood insurance, et cetera, which I rewrote as a senator. And I think I rewrote the Magnuson fisheries acts on several different occasions – not think, I know I did. (Laughter.) And then we rewrote them and changed them, working with Ted Stevens, who was a great collaborator with me on this when we were either chair or ranking member, et cetera. And we constantly were fighting to get additional science done, research money, and monitoring and other things, but I’m jumping ahead. Ted and I took the driftnet fishing to the United Nations. We managed to get driftnet fishing banned, ultimately, at the UN in the international process, though there are still some pirates out there who illegally fish and strip-mine the oceans, which is what they were doing.
So I learned during all of this process that a huge percentage of what fishermen fish is called bycatch and it’s just thrown overboard. Sometimes 50 percent or two thirds of a particular catch could actually be bycatch and thrown overboard. And through this process over the years, I became aware of this body of water we call the world’s oceans – ocean, which is actually 75 percent of Earth. The vast majority of Earth is not earth at all, it’s ocean. And some people have pointed out occasionally you could’ve called the planet Ocean rather than Earth. But we actually – according to some, and evolution – once spent a fair amount of time in the ocean. The – and much of the Earth’s surface was covered by the ocean that isn’t covered even today, as we all know from geology.
But what’s important to us today is that the ocean is the essential ingredient of life itself on the planet. In terms of oxygen, carbon dioxide, ecosystem, ocean currents, temperatures, life itself on Earth – if we did not have a 57 degree average temperature, which is what we had up until recent years, you wouldn’t have life the way we have it on the planet. And it is interacting deeply with the oceans and flow of the oceans. We depend on the oceans not just for oxygen and nutrients and protein, fish; there are – maybe 13 percent of the world’s population is completely dependent on the ocean for its input. But it also is essential to regulating climate around the planet, as well as major ecosystems. For instance, the Gulf Stream is an example of that.
Increasingly the ocean is threatened. The reason for this conference is very simple: The world’s oceans, as vast as they are, as much as they elicit a sense of awe for size and kind of power – they are under siege from a combination of acidification that takes place through the CO2 that falls into the ocean, which is changing ocean species and environment; it is under threat from pollution, a vast amount of pollution that spews off of land, flows down from places like the heartland of America, where farming practices wind up putting a certain amount of nutrients into the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi River – or any other river out of there, Ohio or otherwise – down into the Mississippi, out into the dead zone, which is now famous. Well, there are a bunch of dead zones around the world as a result of these things.
And ultimately, the third great danger is overfishing. Most of the world’s major fisheries are being overfished. Not all, but most. And some have a better process of regulation than others, but the problem with it is there’s a great debate over the science. There’s a great battle for who’s right and how do you base a regulatory rule on something if you don’t really know. And so there’s been always – I learned this firsthand in Massachusetts in our relationship with fishermen, that there’s this violent sense of injustice done when the regulators regulate, because the captains don’t believe the science on which the regulation is based. And so you have this disrespect, to some degree, and even flaunting in other instances, of the regulations. And most profoundly, you have a lack of monitoring and a lack of enforcement. So it’s all well and good to have some rule or regulation, but if it doesn’t get – if it’s not enforced, it’s like not having it at all.
So these are the problems we face, and we’re going to talk about this at a very well-attended, broadly represented conference that will have the prime minister* of Norway, the – Prince Albert of Monaco, the foreign minister of Chile, a number of government officials, a number of private sector entities, heads of major fishery corporations and Roger Berkowitz of Legal Sea Foods, an example – I mean, people who are stakeholders. We will have environmental and oceans experts, ocean scientists, a lot of visual presentation, a lot of presentation that people can really grab onto and understand. National Geographic, Cousteau Society, all these players are going to be involved in this conference that’s going to take place. It will be highly interactive and really give people an opportunity to be able to understand this.
I mean, part of it is an educational awareness-creating initiative, but it’s also – and this is very important – we didn’t want to just have a conference for the sake of it and have everybody talk and go away and not feel as if something can happen. And so building on other conferences – and there have been a lot of good conferences. I’ll give you an example. Jim Kim of the World Bank will be here and the World Bank’s been involved in this a little bit, and they’re making new policies in terms of how they can also help to protect the oceans and so forth. And we want to come out of it with an action agenda, and that’s our goal – is to set up a set of principles, declarations if you will, coming out of Washington, out of the Washington conference that can guide and impact choices on a global basis and build as we go into other conferences, which inevitably we’ll take in other meetings where we try to coalesce global action around this effort to protect the oceans.
That’s why I did that event when I was down in Bali with the fishermen down there. A huge percentage of fishermen – of Indonesians are fishermen. A huge percentage of the population there relies on the fish, and many of those fish come straight to Boston restaurants and New York restaurants and California. They’re huge suppliers to us, so it’s a global network. We’re all involved in it, and that’s the bottom line.
MS. HARF: Great, thank you. I think we have just time for two quick questions if folks are interested in typing.
SECRETARY KERRY: Anybody have a question?
MS. HARF: He answered everything.
SECRETARY KERRY: I answered everything. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: So quite a —
SECRETARY KERRY: Cathy will do in my absence. She’ll fill you all in, Marie, everybody.
MS. HARF: Let’s just do – did anyone – yeah, Juliet. Did you have one?
QUESTION: Well, I’m just wondering if you could say – just broadly, the U.S. traditionally has been a leader on this issue. There’s been plenty of people who would say in the last few years, whether you’re looking at whaling or climate or a number of things that other countries, including even small ones, have done things much more aggressively on the ocean than the United States. What do you think it would take beyond holding this conference to make the U.S. a leader in this? And given that much of this is going to be done through the President’s executive authority, what do you see are the possibilities and the limits to that given congressional resistance to some of it?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I would contest the notion that the U.S. hasn’t been a leader in this. I think we have been in our Magnuson Fisheries Act, in other efforts we’ve taken – I mean, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the flood insurance – we’ve done a lot of things to curb building, which other countries haven’t done. We’ve done a lot of things in terms of certain fisheries – manage them that other countries haven’t done. We do boast both Woods Hole Oceanographic and Scripps, two of the world’s premier research entities. So I think I’m not going to back off on our role, but we can do more. We can do better science, we can do better monitoring, we can do – we certainly could do better on climate change and emissions and so forth which have a profound impact on fishing.
But look, we’ve done a lot. We’ve done a lot with HFCs; we did a lot with acid rain. And there are other countries in Asia particularly that haven’t done enough on something like acid rain, and that has a profound impact on fisheries and so forth. So it’s a mixed bag and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about here – who needs to do what, how, and what we can all do.
MS. HARF: Great.
SECRETARY KERRY: Okay.
QUESTION: Can you just talk – can you just give a couple —
MS. HARF: One more from Michele.
QUESTION: — maybe just a couple examples of what you hope to come out of this? I mean, I understand the action agenda, but how much money do you expect —
SECRETARY KERRY: We have a very solid action agenda. I think you’ve gotten some sense when I talk about monitoring or I talk about science. We obviously need to do more of both. There are other things we need to do, and we need to agree on fishing practice. I mean, there are a lot of things we need to do, and let’s let the conference sort of develop that, and it’ll unfold in the course of it, and that’ll make you have to come and pay attention to all of it. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Great. Thank you all so much and we’ll stay and answer some more questions.
SECRETARY KERRY: Great, all right. Thanks, everybody.
QUESTION: Thank you. Great.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: So you want me to finish?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I was just on a separate vacation. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, I don’t even —
QUESTION: You kind of – you sort of talked about this too and I guess – I think what all of us are sort of getting at are the specifics within these three main priorities, right?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.
QUESTION: Like he mentioned, for example, runoff issues, right?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.
QUESTION: So – and you mentioned that too as well. So what are – if political will is lacking, then what are – like, what would you really like – like, say under each of these categories, right – the three categories – can you name two things that you would like to see action on, right? Is it runoff, is it pollution? What is it exactly?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, so on ocean acidification, one of the things that is really important there is, while we know the ocean is acidifying more, we don’t know – it’s not, like, uniformly doing that and it’s not doing that in a constant way. So we would like to see, for example, much more monitoring in a more thorough way so that, for example, shellfish farmers can have some early warning, if a big wave of acidification’s coming their way, that they could actually take some measures to mitigate that with their farms.
So that’s – those are some concrete things, and we actually have a shellfish farmer who is partnered with the state of Washington in this very – it’s a high-tech and low-tech way to be able to do just that. So part of that is figuring out mitigation, part of that is figuring out – as the Secretary said – what is the science and trying to set a baseline. So those are some concrete things in that space. Clearly there’s a whole climate change piece that’s going on in a separate place, and we’re not going to tackle that here because it’s already going on someplace else, but we’re sort of tackling what we can tackle at this moment.
On the fisheries side, I think that several of the issues – we’ve already highlighted what they are. How do you credibly trace where things are coming? What are the right regimes to have in place so that if your population says, “Is my seafood sustainably caught,” they can get a reliable answer – yes, that is? So we’re looking at that.
On the pollution side, I think there’s two aspects to it. One is: What are the scientific/technical things that need to be done to address this question of runoff? Are there things that can be done about how fertilizer is used, how it’s formulated, so that it is creating less of a problem when there’s some runoff into the waterways. Are there things that can be done on the science of plastic to make it more biodegradable? What can be done on recycling so that you’re actually having less things go into the ocean? So those are some specific things, and we’re trying to look at it that way.
QUESTION: So but, I mean, for example, with runoff, you’re having to deal with other federal agencies, right?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I mean, don’t you have to deal with EPA, USDA?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.
QUESTION: And I mean, as somebody who covers the environment, we have people who are really reluctant to go after Big Ag on anything. So how do you resolve that?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right. Well, there’s all of the U.S. Government agencies that are involved in that are going to be here. We are also having folks involved in the industry here. And I don’t think we’re going to solve that as a huge problem and we’re not going to completely solve it at this conference. I think the idea though is that we can point the way to what we need to be doing very concretely so that things can progress and can be followed up on and can be measured. And that’s what we’re looking at trying to do.
QUESTION: Okay. I had one thing.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah.
MR. BALTON: So just following up from what Secretary Kerry said in further answer to your question on fishing, which is clearly what I think he’s – thinks about most when he thinks about the oceans. Anybody who is looking at world fisheries would say there’s two big problems we need to find solutions. We need to end overfishing – and there are a lot of steps to take to do that. We’re actually doing a pretty good job in the United States on that, by the way. And while we may not be able to end illegal fishing totally, there are a lot of things we can do to stop illegally harvested fish from entering the stream of commerce. Those are two big things we really hope to drive forward in this agenda for fisheries at our conference.
QUESTION: What about whaling, since you mentioned that the prime minister of Norway is coming?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, we – there are lots of issues about whaling. We aren’t planning on having the conference focus on whaling per se, but we obviously oppose whaling that is not scientifically justified. And we urge countries to not engage in those practices.
QUESTION: Two questions. One I doubt you’ll answer. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I love when I get those in the briefing. (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Boy, that’s nice of you to —
MS. HARF: I know.
QUESTION: My favorite color is blue. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Those are my favorite.
QUESTION: I hear a lot of griping within NOAA about enforcement cutbacks and budget cutbacks (inaudible). So that’s the one that – (laughter). The question, I guess, is will NOAA be there.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: NOAA will absolutely be there.
QUESTION: Is there any discussion of reversing the trend of funding cutbacks or enforcement cutbacks?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, NOAA will be there and they are fully supportive of this agenda. In fact, they’ve been very enthusiastic of working with us on this. So I guess that’s about as far as I can go.
QUESTION: Yeah. And then the other question, I guess, is magic pipe cases. And DOJ – over the last decade DOJ’s really been effective and aggressive in going after intentional polluting. So will there be a panel or something – some presentation that DOJ is going to put on about intentional dumping or magic pipe cases?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I don’t – that wasn’t – no.
MR. BALTON: There’s nobody from DOJ presenting.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah.
MR. BALTON: That topic is likely to be touched on. It’s not a problem only in the United States, right? So a lot of the speakers who are coming from other countries will describe their version of this issue.
QUESTION: Can I ask a Legal Seafoods question given that the Secretary brought that up?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Their CEO is legendary for backpedaling on this and saying that he does not serve consistently sustainable seafood. It’s widely known he’s boycotted basically anyone who upholds sustainable seafood does not go to Legal Seafoods. So I guess obviously he could be giving a policy announcement that would change that, but I was just wondering if you could explain why someone who’s actually made his mark by questioning the value of only serving sustainable seafood would come to a conference on the oceans.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, we have to have everybody come here. I mean, we have to get everybody on the bandwagon to go in the right direction. And he’s well aware of the purpose of the conference, and so I think the fact that he’s chosen to come is – I have no understanding that he’s coming here to preach everybody should eat unsustainable seafood. (Laughter.) So I think actually we have been pretty clear about wanting folks who are coming with solutions to be here and to be speaking. And —
QUESTION: Does he have a speaking role?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: No.
MR. BALTON: No. But there are a lot of people in the – who are promoting sustainable seafood —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: — who are coming.
MR. BALTON: — who are coming. Monterrey Bay has their card. The Marine Stewardship Council has – their processor, actually a proliferation of these, and virtually all of them are represented in our conference.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: And the CEO of Bumble Bee Tuna is going to be speaking. So —
QUESTION: And will Roger Berkowitz be listening to those people who are coming? (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, if he didn’t want to listen to them, then I assume he wouldn’t have showed – I can’t speak for him, right? So you’ll have to ask them.
QUESTION: So is he just an attendee? I mean, he’s attending?
MR. BALTON: So there are almost 400 people coming to the conference. There are speaking roles for maybe 20 or 30, right? Just the way these conferences work.
QUESTION: Are there people you wish were coming who are – who couldn’t, who are either major violators or potentially good partners or both on some of these issues who are not coming?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I think we’ve tried —
QUESTION: I mean representatives of countries or —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: We tried to invite a very broad swath of folks. And when you have over 80 countries represented, that’s – I think we think that’s a pretty good swath of people. I don’t think we had anybody turn us down who we asked to come.
QUESTION: Really? So there’s not – there’s somebody – there aren’t certain empty places at the —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: From countries.
QUESTION: Yeah. At the table that you wish were – if there’s somebody you – some country that you wish or some entity that you wish were represented and is not?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: No. Actually, no. I mean, this is a pretty robust group of attendees. And we – like I said, nobody turned us down. I mean, some individual people had scheduling conflicts, but in terms of the countries we are extremely represented across the whole globe.
MR. BALTON: India had an election just a few weeks ago.
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.
MR. BALTON: And so their new foreign minister was not – couldn’t make it on the schedule, but there will be Indians at the conference, just to give you an example.
QUESTION: As well as Chinese —
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.
MR. BALTON: Yes. In fact, the head of the State Oceanographic Administration, Administrator Liu, will have a speaking role at our conference.
QUESTION: And Southeast Asia – are there people from there?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes, absolutely.
MS. HARF: A few more. Anyone? A few more last questions?
QUESTION: This is a novice question that’s not really important. But my understanding is that the European Union is on the cusp of deciding whether to impose some sort of ban on South Korean fish and that next year sometime the U.S. will be engaging in a similar analysis. That – so will that topic be part of next week’s discussion?
UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Do you want to take that?
MR. BALTON: Yeah. So Maria Damanaki, who is the commissioner for the EU who does Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is coming. She actually also has a speaking role at our conference. And she’ll be talking about the – I assume – the EU’s approach to trying to prevent illegally harvested fish from entering their market.
We have our own approach to doing that that’s not entirely similar to the EU’s but maybe growing more similar over time. Yes, the EU is looking at Korea among other countries and maybe headed to a decision. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask her when she’s here. And we have our own process of going through fishing practices by other countries under the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, and countries who are having vessels engage in these practices are put on notice by us and it can ultimately lead to trade sanctions against them.
MS. HARF: I think that’s all the time we have today. We will be doing a transcript of this, so I know you all took very good notes, but we will get you that as soon as it’s done. Any follow-ups, of course you know how to find me or anyone else in the Press Office. And we’re looking forward to next week. Thanks for coming today.