Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press

REMARKS
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
PRESS BRIEFING ROOM
WASHINGTON, D.C.
MARCH 31, 2020

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QUESTION:
But I’m wondering, if people are dying and sanctions relief would help, regardless of whether or not it empowers the regime, would it ever come to a point where you would reconsider your position?  Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, of course, we evaluate all of our policies constantly.  So the answer is would we ever rethink it – of course, we’re constantly trying to make sure we have our policies right.  When it comes to humanitarian assistance, medical devices, equipment, pharmaceuticals, things that people need in these difficult times, those are not sanctioned anywhere at any time that I’m aware of.  I mean, just read that whether it’s – it’s not always an American sanction.  In North Korea there are UN Security Council resolutions.  In other places they are, in fact, American provisions.  But in each of those, if you read them, it’s quite on its face that these items aren’t sanctioned.  There’s no prohibition on moving humanitarian assistance into these difficult and challenging places.

You rightfully point out some of these countries continue to build bombs and missiles and nuclear capability, all the while their people are starving.  So when they make the claim that, boy, they just don’t have the money to feed their people, these are decisions that these people, leaders have often made, not in the best interest of those peoples.  It’s, indeed, quite sad to see those governments make those decisions which harm their own people.

The last thing I’ll say is not only do we not sanction any of those, nor does any global entity sanction humanitarian assistance, the United States has worked in every one of those places to provide assistance.  We’ve worked to try and get assistance into North Korea.  We’ve made offers of assistance to Iran.  You’ll recall when we first began we’ve worked diligently in Venezuela to get humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people well.

No, the United States understands this is a humanitarian challenge, a humanitarian crisis, and we are deeply committed to ensuring that humanitarian assistance gets to the people of those countries.  We care more often about the people in those countries than their own leaders do.  That’s sad.  That’s a reflection of those regimes too often.  It’s the reason, in fact, that we’re working to help those people raise up in their countries, so that they can get a better outcome for themselves as well. [Full Text]