tv Secretary John Kerry Testimony on State Department Fiscal Year 2017 Budget CSPAN February 25, 2016 9:30am-11:31am EST
beneficiary and the task now is how do we move that to make our world better. thank you much for coming today and with that, let's go. have a good day. [ applause ] earlier this month president obama sent to congress his proposed budget for next year. members of the cabinet have been testifying on capitol hill about the budget, and today secretary of state john kerry, just entering the room, goes before the house foreign affairs committee. he is shaking the hands there of elion engel, ranking democrat and ed rils the chairman. the state department's proposed budget is $50 billion that includes $4 billion to combat isis and $6 billion for humanitarian assistance in syria and around the world.
the president's total budget request for next year $4.1 trillion. live coverage here on c-span3. >> this hearing will come to order. this morning the committee, once again, welcomes secretary of state john kerry to consider the department's budget request. when secretary kerry last appeared before us, he was presenting the obama administration's nuclear
agreement with iran. in the seven months since, the administration got its agreement and the middle east has been transformed and not for the better. now, with access to 100 billion in unfrozen assets and sanctions wiped away, iran has instantly become the dominant country in the region. the revolutionary guards, already iran's most powerful economic actor in the words of the treasury department, will only grow more powerful with international investment. the committee has deep concerns about the way the obama administration and apparent indefinite rei indeference to it tehran has chose on it ignore a bipartisan law ending visa travel for those who visited iran and mr. secretary, the committee still awaits a detailed response to its many questions about a
surprise $1.7 billion payment to the iranian regime that coincided with the release of several americans. look no further than syria for the horrible consequences of an imboldened iran. the slaughter continues. and while the secretary does his best to broker some sort of cease-fire, the fact remains that russia, iran, and assad are calling the shots on the ground. the administration says there is no military solution to the conflict in syria, yet as far as putin and assad see it, there very much is. of course, russia's backing of assad means that isis only grows elsewhere. the isis jv team has gone global, capable of striking in europe, in asia, in africa, and here at home. some 50 isis linked groups have carried out attacks in over 20
countries. in the failed state of libya, isis has doubled in size, now it has 6,000 fighters in libya. every day that isis advances, it draws recruits to plot new attacks abroad. the committee hopes to understand just what is the department's strategy to counter violent extremism. looking toward asia, the committee met yesterday with the chinese foreign minister and reminded him that the south china sea must remain open to international shipping, and that any disputes should be resolved peacefully. even after the latest north korean nuclear test, chinese pressure on the regime in north korea is weak. fortunately, the president just signed into law this committee's north korea sanctions and policy enhancement act. it is now up to the president to enforce this law aggressively,
to cut off the funds now flowing to the kim regime in north korea. after years of congressional pressing, this budget does acknowledge the need to respond to russia's weaponization of information and to isis propaganda, but the broadcasting board of governors, the international broadcasting agency that your predecessor called defunct remains in desperate need of an overhaul and mr. secretary, working together we can, we must fix this. facing a chronic budget deficit, even good programs may not be supportable at levels we'd like, and that's why i'm proud that this committee scrutiny of the department's new diplomatic security training facility helped to save the taxpayers over $500 million. i now recognize the ranking member, mr. engel of new york, for any opening comments he may
have. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and mr. secretary. as always, well om to our committee. we work very hard on this committee to make it the most bipartisan committee in congress because when it comes to foreign policy, differences really should stop at the water's edge. i want to thank you for your distinguished service to our country. i no he that you sat on this side of the dais long enough to understand congress's important role in foreign policy and we're grateful for everything you do. i will get into a few specifics, but even if we all listed our top ten foreign policy priorities, we'd just be scratching the surface. i can never remember a time when so much was happening all at the same time, all at once, because if you threw a dart in the map of the world, wlfr herever it ld you'd finld an american foreign policy interest. it might not be a top priority today because we focus mostly on the fires already brning you out of control but what happens if we don't provide resources in sub-saharan africa to consolidate democratic gains, what happens to the asia
rebalance if we neglect u.s./india's security cooperation? what happens if we say tackling climate change and protecting the environment just need to wait? the issues we ignore today will be the fires burning out of control tomorrow and one thing certain, stopping the ongoing crisis is a much costlier business in preventing one in terms of american dollars and often american lives. so we need a robust foreign policy. we into ed to invest in diplomacy, development in foreign assistance, in order to tackle all of these challenges. we need to make the case that modest investments today just over 1% of the federal budget will pay back huge dividends for our security and prosperity tomorrow. we need to show that american leadership is always a sure thing because if we're not doing this work around the world, no one else will. so let me turn to a few particulars. i know and you know, mr. secretary, we must continue to hold iran's feet to the fire. we must make sure that they adhere to the agreement to the
letter of the law. i'm glad the administration imposed new sanctions following iran's ballistic missile test. we need to continue making sure iran again is following its nuclear deal obligations to the letter. we also need to crack down on iran's other destructive behavior. iran continues stirring up trouble throughout the region from sending irgc commanders to syria to support the houthis in yemen to spreading instability in lebanon to be the main supporter of hezbollah. we need to do what it takes to curb iran's ongoing mischief and support our allies and partners in the region especially the state of israel, which iran poses an existential threat to. in syria, even with the planned cease-fire i don't foresee a quick end to the crisis especially now that are ushia provided assad another lifeline, the millions of refugees and displaced families desperate need humanitarian assistance and we should support the
administration's $4.1 billion request. but food and supplies won't end this conflict. we need to push for a political resolution to get assad out of power and help the syrian people start rebuilding. we also need a new aumf giving the president what he needs to defeat isis while preventing another large scale open-ended commitment of american troops on the ground. turning to ukraine, as fighting intensifies we cannot take our eye off the ball. today ukraine's top priority should be rooting out corruption and pushing reform and we need to support these efforts. we need to work with the ukraine. we need to be a partner with stronger more prosperous ukraine. and speaking of putin, with he need to let him know we will never acquiesce to his illegal occupation of crimea. that's why i'm glad we're bolstering nato in eastern europe to deter further russian rah depression and any talk of
sanctions relief for russia is premature so long as ukraine doesn't control its own eastern borer it. but mr. secretary we must do more to counter russian propaganda. the chairman and i feel strong about the fact that people in the russian language sometimes only hear on the air what putin wants them to hear and they get a very unbalanced view and we need to be able to move in there and make sure they get a balanced view. here in our neighborhood, let me applaud president obama for what he's done over the last year. we should support the president's billion-dollar request for central america. if we're getting to the root causes of child migration from el salva dhar, guatemala, honduras, fewer children will attempt the dangerous trek. our top ally in the region, colombia, is nearing historic peace agreement with the revolutionary armed forces of enclosementbyia, the farc, just as we supported colombia throughout the conflict we should continue standing with colombia's people and government as they build a peaceful future.
turning to argentina, the new government's desire to work more closely with the u.s. is a good sign. chairman royce and i have urged the president to prioritize this relationship and i'm glad the president's traveling there next month. our policy on the americas in the americas brings me final will toy global health. the zika virus may soon touch every country in the hemisphere and the connection between zika and the birth defect microce creates urgency. we should prioritize efforts including the are risk of sexual transmission and meet the needs for contraception. women need the right tools and information to choose whether and when to have children particularly with this virus running wild. more generally we continue to see the importance of investing in global health. the president's budget request is strong, but we should focus on the right priorities. for example, tuberculosis is the world's number one infectious killer so i don't understand why the funding request from last year hasn't gone up.
mr. secretary, i could go on and on but i look forward to hearing from you on these and other concerns. again, thank you and i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. engel. so this morning, we are pleased to be joined by mr. john kerry, the 68th secretary of state. prior to his appointment, the secretary served as united states senator from massachusetts for 28 years, and chaired the senate foreign relations committee for the last four years. and so mr. secretary, welcome again. without objection, the witness's full prepared statement will be made part of the record. members here will have five calendar days to submit any statements or questions or any other material for the record. we want as many members as possible to have a chance to question the secretary and to accomplish that, i would just ask every member and the witness, let's try to stick to the time limit, means leaving an
adequate amount of time for the secretary to answer your questions. so if we asked our questions succinctly and get a succinct response, with he can get through the members of the committee and with that we begin with a summary of mr. secretary, your testimony. thank you again. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much, ranking member engel, all the members of the committee, i'm privileged to be here to have a chance to present the 2017 budget and answer your questions and obviously i know most are respect to policy, et cetera. i will try to be very rapid in this opening. first, our request for resources this year, $50 billion is equal as ranking member engel reminded everybody to about 1% of the entire federal budget. one penny on the dollar is everything we do with respect to diplomatic security, development security, relationship security, all of the things we do with our
embassies, a.i.d., everything, and i would suggest very respectfully the members of this committee it is a minimum, minimum price for the leadership that we offer to the world, that we are currently engaged i think as the chairman said, i can't remember a time where there were as many hot spots, as many difficult challenges because of the transformation taking place in the world right now, and as a result we are engaged in simult any time i can remember in my public life. the scope of that engagement is, frankly, essential to protect the interests of our country, to project our values, and to provide for the security of the united states. we're confronted today by perils that are as old as nationalist aggression, state actions, and as new as cyber warfare, and
non-state actors who are the principle proing aist in prota today's conflicts, as well as dictators in too many places who run rough have an shod over global national norms and violent extremists who combine modern media techniques with medieval thinking in order to wage war on civilization itself. and despite the dangers, i come to you unabashedly, ready to say that we americans, i think, have many and profound reasons for confidence. in recent years, our economy has added more jobs than all of the rest of the industrial world combined. our military, our armed forces, are second to none. my friends, it's not even close.
our alliances in europe and asia, are vigilant and strong and growing stronger with the tpp and with the rebalance and our citizens are, frankly, unmatched with any country in the world in their generosity, and their commitment to humanitarian causes to civil society and to freedom. we hear a lot of verbal hand wringing today, but i, for one, will tell you that, despite my deep respect and affection for my colleagues, that i have worked with these last three years plus, i wouldn't switch places with one foreign minister in the world. and i certainly don't want to see the united states retreat to some illusionary golden age, given the conflicts and the challenges that we face in the world today, and the need to project our values and protect our interests, and build the security of our nation.
so i, frankly, think that here and now, we have enormous opportunities that we are seizing. in the past year, with great debate here, obviously, and many people who chose to oppose it, we reached an historic multilateral accord, multilateral accord, p5+1, and the world with iran, that has cut off that country's pathways to a nuclear weapon, and it has made the world safer, because they no longer have the fissionable materiel or the capacity to build that bomb. in par this december we joined governments from more than 190 nations, that's not insignificant that 190 nations agreed on specific steps comprehensive agreement to courage greenhouse gas emissions and limit the most harmful consequences of climate change that we are witnessing to a greater degree every single day. witness the drought in california, the increase flooding, the increased numbers
of fires, the intensity of storms, the fact that we spent about $8 billion in response to the intensity of those storms over the course of the last year alone compared to the minimal cost that we are asking you to provide for the global green climate fund. in addition, we signed the transpacific partnership which will ensure a level playing field for american businesses and workers and it will reassert united states leadership in a region that is vital to our interests. in northern and eastern europe we are quadrupling support for our security reassurance initiative, giving russia a very clear choice between continued sanctions and meeting its obligations to a sovereign and democratic ukraine. in our hemisphere we're helping colombia to end the globe's longest running civil conflict though there are still hurdles in that effort. we're working at the it. we're aiding our partners in central america to implement
reforms that will reduce the pressure for illegal my fwrags. my galatian. in asia we're standing in opposition to the threats posed about i a blenlg rent north korea and we're helping pakistan and afghanistan to counter violent extremisextremism. with friends in fast growing africa, we have embarked on specific initiatives to combat hunger, to promote health, to empower women to fight back against such terrorist groups as al shabab and boko haram, and of course the administration recognizes the threat posed by violent extremism, extends far beyond any one region and will not be addressed simply by military means. so the approach we have adopted as a comprehensive and a long-term one -- diplomatically we are striving to end conflicts
that fuel extremism such as libya and yemen and as everybody here knows, we have forged a 66-nation coalition to counter da'esh and we will defeat and . i have no question about that. we just moved with troops we support, making enormous progress there. we have together with the enormous efforts of the iraqi military now liberated 40% of the territory that was held by daesh. we're moving on heat. we'll eventually move on mosul. we cut off the road that accessed raqqah and mosul and many other things we can discuss. assisting the government in baghdad as it seeks to professionalize its security forces and through the international syria support group which we formed, put together, we have helped design a plan that's resulted in the delivery of a possib
possiblpossible cresessation of hostilities. we have a team working directly with the co-chairs, the russians in an effort to try to encourage that process to take hold. i will say that for the first time in years, five or six communities have received some 114 trucks of humanitarian assistance, and some 80,000 people now have supplies for a month that didn't have it a week ago before we were able to seal that agreement. and my hope is, though i know it's very difficult, no illusions about it, my hope is that we can work out a modality. we're calling in every party to join this effort and we can talk about our vision for the political settlement itself. i close by saying, mr. chairman,
as everybody knows this is the last budget of the obama administration. the last one we will submit to this committee on behalf of the american foreign policy and the national security of our country. there's nothing that i as secretary or personally as a citizen take more seriously than protecting the security of our country. i ask for the fair consideration for your counsel, your advice, your support and backing for this budget and our initiatives. but above all i just want to say thank you to all of you for the extraordinary privilege of being able to work with you in support of an agenda that i believe not only reflects the best hopes and ovals of our country but i'm convinced when you analyze the challenges of the world today i believe this budget also reflects the best hopes of the world. and that's what america's leadership is all about. so i thank you and i look
forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. secretary. we'll move as quickly as possible, keeping all members to five minutes so we can get to as many members here as we possibly can. let me start with the observation that since just last month, mr. secretary, we've seen major foreign economic developments in terms of investment in iran, $20 billion on the part of airbus. a half a billion to modernize a car factory from puegot. companies are trying to revive the oil and gas infrastructure. these companies are government backed many of them and we have chinese and russian investment. in the face of this flood isn't snap back really just an empty threat? hasn't the dam broken? >> not at all, mr. chairman.
not in the least. every country that you just mentioned, china, russia, france, britain, germany are all agreed and signed up to and have voted for a united nations resolution that says snap back will take effect if iran were to engaging an egregious unsolvable violation of the agreement. but in the meantime, mr. chairman, they are going to do what they are permitted to do under the agreement, which is do business in terms of iran and hopefully those links will ultimately result in transformation to some degree. now i would ask all you to ask the question. why isn't it boeing? why isn't it general motors? i sat next to the chairman of general motors the other day in davos, switzerland. they are sitting there watching others go in. we can't do that. why? because we still have sanctions
regime against iran on our embargo because of our other issues. >> because of ballistic missiles and support for terrorism. >> that's correct, mr. chairman. but we can't sit here and complain about other people doing what they are allowed to do when we ourselves prevent ourselves -- >> but the major economic actor from the standpoint of members of this committee or many of us is the irgc, the iranian revolutionary guard corps and we see them northwestern and in violation of another u.n. sanction not only working on their icbm programs but carrying out terrorist activities. so given the stock you're putting in the snap back provision, are you asking congress to renew the iran sanctions act, because that's going to expire. that's going to expire at the end of this year. this is the foundation of the sanctions regime. it expires. there's nothing to snap back. >> that's not accurate, mr.
chairman. we have all the snap back power we need without the -- i'm not saying not do it. i wouldn't advise that right now for a number of reasons. we've just announced implementation day. whatever we do with respect to the iran sanction act my colleagues, friends, should be really done in the light of what we know is happening or not happening in the context of implementation, and iran's behavior going forward. now, it's too early to measure all of that. everybody here knows we can pass the iran sanctions act if we needed to because of iran's behavior in ten minutes in each house. in the senate and in the house. there's no rush here. number one. number two, the president has all the power in the world through the emergency economic powers act to be able to implement -- that's what we to implement many of the sanctions. that's the power of the presidency.
>> let me close with an observation. >> they are not dependent on the isa. >> i understand that point but when you say there's no rush here let me point in terms of the iranian behavior there is very much a rush towards the mass production of an icbm program and we're witnessing this. there's a rush on their part. there was a rush into yemen with militia. there was a rush into syria with forces and with proxies from iran. it's that that we're seeing now so if the administration isn't supportive of this renewal, not only are we preventing the possibility of a snap back, but from the standpoint of myself and many of the members of this committee we're also getting relief on missiles basically. we're giving relief on actions which we would consider terrorist activity, you know, especially the attacks by the
forces. >> mr. chairman, i respectfully beg to differ with you on that. we're not, in fact, giving them a freebie on anything which is precisely why we left the missile sanctions in place. the arms sanctions are in place. the sanctions on terrorist support are in place. the sanctions on human rights are in place. they are separate from the jcpoa and they were purposely separated in the context of these negotiations to protect our ability to be able to push iran if they engaging those activities. now, we just sanctioned iran on january 16th we sanctioned three entities and eight individuals for their support for the missile activities. and we have made it very clear to iran that if it chooses to engaging those activities going forward there will be further
activity. secondly, mr. chairman, we haven't lost our ability to put the sanctions in place or snap back as i said to you. they are not reliant. that power is not reliant on the iran sanctions act. >> my time has expired so i'm going to go now to mr. eliot engel the ranking member of this committee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary i'll throw out a few things and ask you to comment on them. first of all to continue on iran, what steps are we taking in a will we take combat iran's support for terrorism and other malign activities, what are we doing to make sure that israel will be safe as iran rearms and continues to arm hezbollah which threatens israel. with ukraine, russia is challenging our nato allies across the continent. i'm encouraged by fortunate's commitment of significant additional resources to defense of europe but i still think we need to do more. nato needs to permanently station a brigade in poland and
the baltic states and every ally needs to get above the 2% requirement for their defense spending. so i'm hoping the administration will permanently commit more troops to the defense of europe and press our allies to more adequately share the burden of their defense. i would like to ask you what the administration thinks will happen next and what we're doing vis-a-vis north korea. finally i want to talk about pakistan because i'm concerned that pakistan continues to play a double game fighting terrorism that has a direct impact inside pakistan and supporting it in places like india and afghanistan where pakistan furthers its efforts. >> mr. ranking member let me try to address those as quickly as i can. on iran, let me just inform
everybody here that the irgc has actually pulled its troops back from syria. ayatollah khomeini pulled out significant number of troops. their presence is reduced in syria. number one. number, two that doesn't mean they are still not engaged in active flow of weapons from syria through damascus to lebanon. we're concerned about that and that is an ongoing concern. the other thing is that this money, i keep hearing this figure of 100 billion, 150 billion. iran is not going to get 100 or 150 billion, certainly not in the near term and that figure is not accurate. it's more, our estimates are somewhere in the vicinity of 50 to 55 billion at some point in time but it's way below that right now. in fact, they are complaining about the slowness which there has been a process of repatriation. i urge you to go to the intel
piece, get the intel briefing on what's happened with the irgc and what's happening with the flow of money. now with respect to iran's behavior in the region, we have been deeply engaged with our gcc friends and i've had three or four meetings now with them since last summer when they came to camp david. since then. i'm meeting with them shortly. we engaged in a major plus up of our military exercise, military cooperation, military support. we are joining with them in an active effort to push back against other activities. we're part of the coalition that's been supporting the saudis and others who pushed into yemen to protect saudi arabia against -- and i believe now as a result of those effortsing find a ripeness in a political process that might be able to help resolve that. on syria, iran has come to the table together with russia to
agree to two communications in vienna and united nations security council resolution outlining the framework for the political resolution of syria. now i'm not here to vouch for the words, but i'm here to say to you there's at least a framework on paper which we are now following with hopes of getting back to the discussion in geneva in the next week with the support of iran and russia. now we're going to have to put that to the test. we're not sitting here saying it's going to happen automatically. but if there's going a political settlement the only way to get there is with the agreement and consent of all the parties. all stakeholders are at the table for the first time. so we're hopeful that we can press that forward and at least come to you with a notion in a matter of months, weeks they are either serious or not. if they are not serious then we're going to have to be
talking with you about whatever plan b is going to be. but if there's a prayer of holding syria together, unified as a whole country without further refugee migration challenges to europe and challenges to jordan and lebanon and the rest of the region we must pursue some kind of a political process. with respect to europe, we have engaged in a significant plus up, as i just mentioned. the budget goes from 700 million, 750 million up to 3.4 billion. in our support for the forward deployment of both troops rotating, support structure, and assistance to europe. i won't go into all the details now. maybe i'll submit it for the record because of the time frame. but i just want to say to you that there's a very robust effort going on the front line state, our support for ukraine, pushing on minsk.
president obama has had three or four conversations with president putin in the last months from the united nations meeting and every one of them he spends probably 50% of the time at least on the issue of ukraine and full implementation of minsk and responsibility for protecting the integrity and sovereignty of ukraine. we're deeply engaged on not fronts. >> we'll go to florida. >> thank you very much. welcome mr. secretary. i hope that we're both opposed to the schemes at the u.n. to achieve unilateral statehood recognition outside of the peace process. i remain firmly opposed to your administration's offer continually to get a waiver to the law that prohibits u.s. fund from going to yunesco a law that's been effective in
prohib getting a waiver. in legacy shopping as it tries to change off its goals of foreign policy will your administration abstain a vote on a french resolution at the u.n. supporting palestinian statehood. i would ask you definitively answer here this morning, mr. secretary. will the united states veto any resolution at the u.n. supporting palestinian statehood, yes or no? >> i don't know of any resolution by the french specifically -- >> if there were -- >> we have always opposed any one sided resolution, something that is unfair to israel or that -- >> thank you. thank you. and moving on to the administration's shameful concession policy towards cuba that has turned its back on human rights advocate, yes or no, aren't human rights in cuba
a priority for this administration? >> of course they are. >> thank you. then how do you explain this year's budget request for even less democracy funding for cuba while repression is worse than ever before and you're about to travel to cuba for your second visit. yesterday was the 20th anniversary, as you know, of the shoot down of the brothers to the rescue planes that were ordered by raul castro resulting in the murder of innocent americans. will you commit, mr. secretary, to the families of these victims today that you will seek the extradition of castro regime officials responsible for the shoot down? >> well, madam chair, let me just say that we are engaged actually more directly on human rights than we ever have been or capable of being because we now have negotiated additional
diplomatic presence in cuba. we now have negotiated the right for our diplomats to be able to travel -- >> mr. secretary, you're aware that over 8,000 people were arrested -- >> yes i'm very well aware. >> since december 17th announcement of president obama -- >> when you say arrested there were people -- >> arbitrary arrest, detaining human rights activists, whatever umd like to ca you would like to call people being held outside of their will. >> we're very much aware of that. and we have objected to that. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> we have surk seed in getting people released who previously have not. >> some have been released were actually put on the list and re-arrested so they could be released again and some who were released were -- anyway. that's very interesting about that list of freed people that
castro plays. i hope we're not silly enough to believe that. which illegally confiscated u.s. property you'll be holding a press conference while you're in havana. last year you held a press conference in the hotel, the american owner, the intercontinental hotel corporation still has a u.s. certified claim for its majority interest in the hotel. do you know which illegally confiscated property you'll stop at this time. finally will you commit to this committee that you will pressure castro to unconditionally return to the united states new jersey cop killer, human rights confiscated property, u.s. fugitives from justice. does any of it matter to this administration? >> that was hugely -- in fact, we believe we have actually created more opportunities for intervention, more opportunities to make progress. one in four people in cuba now
are beginning to work for private, private enterprise. >> how do you explain the massive exodus, 80% of kbans leaving the island. >> do you want the answer or ask the question. >> you're talking about small business owners that are just -- i would like -- those rose colored glasses are amazing. there's been massive arrest, massive exodus and we talk about the non-exist jents entreprenkel class in cuba. >> we have ngos and others who are going to cuba and engaging with cuba than ever before in the last 50 years of our policy. this is a greater chance of changing cuba than anything that happened for 50 years. nothing changed. now it's changing. >> we need
to go to mr. gregory meeks of new york.
time has expired. >> mr. secretary, first i want to thank you for the great work that you've been doing, and i just want to ask three quick questions in the spirit of what the chair has asked us to make sure that we give you and opportunity to answer those questions. first question, of course, deals with the situation in turkey as it moves tipping points specifically i'm referring to tegss and c s conflict within t. the rising tensions between kurds in turkey have deepened and particularly since the tragic events in ankara. my question is how is turkey's tensions with the kurds affected our ongoing fight against daesh and the humanitarian
tragedy and what role, if any can the united
states play in helping with the kurdish questions? secondly, different part of the world, as you've also indicated in your opening statement, i'm delighted that he was able to share the 15th anniversary of colombia with the president here and now we're talking about peace colombia which is tremendously important as we hopefully get to an end of that situation there. but i'm concerned about how we make sure that african colombians are included. and you also mentioned we have concluded the negotiations in asia on tpp. and if we do not vote here in the united states to support the administration's negotiations, what set backs, if any, will it have for us in the region whether dealing with our allies and friends that are part of the agreement, vis-a-vis china and will they have a strategic
advantage over us? >> thank you very much, congressman. i appreciate the question. let me just move quickly through them. turkey is our ally, nato ally. we work very closely with turkey, obviously. turkey has a border with syria and turkey has enormous interest in what's happening there. we are very sensitive to this challenge of their concern about the pkk, their concern about the links of the pkk and so forth. we've been talking with them considerably about it. we need to respect turkey's concerns and we will, we have, we believe going forward is very important that there not be different problem created by the short term solution of working with the kurds and then that creates a longer term challenge for all of us in the region. so we're working very, very
carefully. on the other hand we've also needed to have some people on the ground who are prepared to push back against daesh. kobani is an example of that. we were able to hold kobani and drive daesh out of kobani as a result of kurd support. and the peshmerga particularly with respect to the north component that northeast component of -- northwest component of iraq have been particularly helpful and engaged. they were essential to a number of successful military initiatives to push daesh back and, in fact, there are different kurds because some are more prepared and more comfortable working with turkey than others are, and those divisions are very complicated and need to be managed carefully. bottom the line your question
is, we are talking with the turk turks in ways that don't cross lines for them and respect the sensitivities of the region and i'm confident we can do that. with respect to peace colombia, we've committed as you know, and it's in the budget, a very important demining initiative which could take place in the aftermath of an agreement. there's still some difficult issues to resolve in the context of the agreement and we're encouraging that process. president obama has appointed bernie aaronson as an envoy to those talks. he has the respect and confidence of the president and other participants. i may be meeting with them shortly in the next days depending on how events flow. there are many countries that are supportive of this effort.
and our hope is that we can resolve the transitional justice issues and the victims issues which are two of the most critical ones outstanding at the moment. on the tpp, folks, you know, i know -- i've been part of trade debate on the hill for 28 plus years i served in the senate. i know how difficult it is. i was there when nafta passed and we went through some enormous transitions. this agreement is different from any trade agreement that i saw in any other time that i was here because labor requirements, environment requirements are boldly within the four corner of the agreement, and because this is essential, frankly to raising the business standards of the region. it eliminates 18,000 taxes on american goods that can be exported into the region. it's a benefit to american
workers. it will create jobs here in america. and it will profoundly impact the standards going forward for the protection of intellectual property, protection under cyber and for our ability to raise the transparency and accountability by which people do business. if this doesn't pass, then we're rejecting the most important economic initiative and unifying moment of i think the last, you know, 20, 30 years. and we would be turning our back on american leadership in that endeavor. and then leave to people who want to race to the bottom, the standards for doing business, the absence of transparency, the absence of efforts to counter corruption, to deal with reform. important reforms are contained in this tpp. and i simply urge you, look at it, analyze it, i believe in tend you'll agree this is not
like any prior trade agreement and i believe takes us to a much better place and reinforces american leadership in the region. >> mr. chris smith of new jersey. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, mr. secretary, for your service. a couple of questions. when i learn late last year that the administration was contemplating massive crimes against the yazidi for crimes but not christian i committed a hearing. the yazidis were on the verge of annihilation but the yazidis and christians face this genocide together. the bishop testified, christians have encountered genocide in the obama administration refuses to recognize their plight. dr. george stanton testified, failure to call isis' mass murder of christian, muslims and other groups in addition to the
yazidis by its proper name genocide an act of denial as grave as u.s. refusal to recognize the rwanda genocide in 1994. my first question is when and will christians and other minority faiths be included in a genocide designation and secondly, last year a reuters investigative report, it was a very insightful report and i ask that it be made part of the record found that tier three recommendations made by the trafficking of persons office experts in 14 incidents including malaysia, china kbarks and oman were rejected further up the chain of command that state an artificially given a clean bill of health for other political purposes. i convened a hearing. johnson testified in november. i asked a lot of pointed questions about who made these decisions, were there other political factors involved. she was very tight lipped.
very good person but did not convey information. can you assure us because the new tip report will be coming out very shortly that that won't happen again this year. credibility of the tip report in speaking truth to power and defending victims against these heinous crimes of sex and labor trafficking as you know because you were a strong supporter of it as a senator and as secretary of state. we got to get the book right. what you do with that is all up to the administration in terms of penalties and sanctions, but the book has to speak truth to power by getting it right. 14 incidents. can you respond? >> yes i can and i will respond. i'm responsible for that report. i accept responsibility for that report. i made the decision about malaysia. and i made it strictly on the merits. and, in fact, malaysia has made
improvements, increased prosecutions, increased investigations, has passed amendments on anti-trafficking. it has passed amendments on providing better law enforcement protection. it has issued regulations in consultation with ngos, and it has increased law enforcement efforts to prosecute and to convict and it had additional convictions. now, you know, you have to make a judgment in some of these cases. but i will absolutely vouch for the integrity of this process. we have a very detailed year long effort where people are measuring and i have instructed our embassies to be engaged year long in working with countries to try to give them time to make changes to respond to our needs. sometimes you are better off working with encouraging and getting people to do something than just slamming them in a report and finding that they say well the hell with them and they
walk away and they don't respond. we found in the case of malaysia and some other countries, we've actually been able to make progress. but i can assure you this report will demote somebody who deserves to be demoted and call it as we see it. >> wp cuba, china, oman, we were told because of oman they helped with neerks with iran. cuba and china when it comes to sex trafficking because of the missing girls, tens of millions ever missing girls has become the ultimate magnet for pimps turning women into commodities and selling them across board nears to china. it is i believe the worst violator in the entire world in terms of the massive numbers. so i would hope china would be looked at. again on the christian designation. >> i'll come back to that. i do want to speak to that very much. let me say to you, each of these are real judgments that we make.
that i make, ultimately. on cuba, cuba was upgraded to a tier two watch list from tier three because it did make significant efforts to address and prosecute sex driving including the conviction of 13 sex traffickers and it provided more services to sex trafficking victims. the government provided training to cuban officials to address sex trafficking, the ministry of tourism reached out to address sex tourism and reduce the demand for commercial sex and committed to reform their laws in accordance with the u.n. protocol. now if that doesn't happen then there's a measurement to try to go backwards but we felt that in each of these cases there was progress. now i would put on the record here today, we're concerned that the government of cuba has not recognized forced labor as a
problem. criminalized forced labor. or reported efforts to prevent it sponsorship there are things we need to do going forward. and that's what we'll measure. on the christian issue, i share your concern very, very much. again, this is a judgment that i have to make. i will make it. and any reports that we have made a decision to the contrary that it's not -- that decision has been made not to are incorrect. doesn't mean we made a decision to do so. this has to be done on the basis legal standard with respect to genocide and crimes against humanity. i have asked our legal department to evaluate, to re-evaluate, actually, several observations that were circulating as part of the vetting process of this issue, and i'm concerned about it and i will make a judgment. i'll also try to do so very, very soon. we know this is hanging out
there. >> we need to go to new jersey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, thank you for all your hard work. i want to go back to the topic of cuba. i know we've had this issue of 50 years but there seems to be more repression in the last ten years, in this past year than in the last ten years. i was wondering with all the people going back and forth to cuba are any efforts being made to bring -- >> i might add in connection with the chairwoman's question also we're entering into the period where we're discussing confiscated property and that's a critical component of this as well as practice addition or release of various people and all of those human rights issues are on the table. i pursued them and the president will pursue them when he's
there. >> joanne chesamar. >> yes. >> there's more repression now than in the last ten years after we made all these contacts with cuba, are we addressing those. >> yes, we're addressing the arrests. we were particularly incensed by the arrests of several people. cubans said they broke the law again. we object. one hung a sign in a window saying that i will, you know, i will only vote in an election in which i can vote and choose my president and so forth. and four year sentence. nats ridiculous. it's obscene. we believe it's obscene. we told them that's wrong. so we continues to press those issues. but we do have more ability to be able to interact with the cuban people. when i was there to raise the flag to have the marines raise the flag, the marines lowered
the flag, there were cubans amassed behind the -- >> no dicy dents. dicy dents weren't invited. >> these are people who cheered mightily at the return of the united states and the presence of our country and my speech in which i talked about democracy and talked about the need to have protection of human rights was broadcast to the entire country. and some of it a little bit of it in spanish. the president's -- >> are diplomats allowed -- >> we have more ability because of this to interact with the cuban people. and more americans are traveling there and interacting. >> even diplomats are are restricted from moving throughout the island. >> our diplomats we negotiated an ability for our diplomats a specific number as we test the, you know, expansion of this relationship more diplomats are able to proceed to travel around unannounced without people following them or engaged in any
activities. we have diplomats who are able to travel around the country. >> are they actually traveling? >> i believe they are. i've heard nothing to the contrary. >> the other thing i want to talk about is colombia. if they do come to an understanding, i hope that we do not walk away from helping colombia. >> we are deeply committed, president obama -- that was part of the reason for the celebration of the 15 year mark. we invested -- we, you, everybody here, not everybody but those of you in the upper dias made a difference. that's why we talk about peace. >> we'll reach peace. i hope we still continue to assist colombia. >> so i do. >> the other thing this morning in the news i saw russia gave afghanistan all these arms. what do we make of that? now that there's an incursion by russians into afghanistan.
>> the russians are deeply concerned about the stability of the country. they have raised the issue with us of trying to protect the region. they have concerns about countries near them. they have concerns about the flow of terrorists, that is also one of their concerns about syria. and so they are engaged -- in fact, we're discussing with the russians these issues of security for the ongoing challenges of afghanistan. >> were you aware these arms were going to afghanistan? >> we know that they are supporting the afghan -- >> this morning. it was in the news this morning. >> the afghan government or -- >> yeah, gave 10,000 rifles or whatever, you know, arms. >> yes, we support that. >> okay. thank you mr. secretary. >> thank you. >> we now go to california. >> thank you, mr. secretary. again, thank you for your
service to our country. you work very hard for us, and while we have some disagreement, policy disagreement, you have our respect and our gratitude. so, first of all, let me mention then some of these issues that we may have disagreement on. when you say that the decision will be made very, very soon to act on the idea of whether christians and yazidis are targets of genocide let me just note this has been going on, we've been seeing this now for well over a year, probably several years now slaughter of christians in the middle east and for us not to have made a decision and that we're making the decision that that decision hasn't been made yet is unacceptable. we're talking about the lives of tens of thousands of people who are brutally, being brutally slaughtered targeted for genocide. i have a bill hr 417 and the
president has commented that it would just be giving preference to christians. is it preference to give -- is it wrong to give preference to people who are targets of genocide and say we're going to save them realizing that they are the ones who are most likely to be slaughtered. >> this decision has to be made quickly. i one that. but i only -- i think i only had the first discussion come to my desk on this in terms of the legal interpretations a couple of weeks ago and that's when i immediately initiated some re-evaluation which i'm looking at and i can tell you i want to do this as quickly -- >> let me suggest -- >> i want requires, congressman it does require a lot of fact gathering. i mean you have to get the facts from the ground more than just a anecdo anecdotal. >> the whole world knows
christians are being slaughtered in the middle east. it's clear. it's time for america to act. the excuse we have to study it, we have to ask the lawyer what the wording is, is this preference or not is unacceptable. i hope your word that this will being acted on very soon, we're going to hold you to that. so second about the idea here, do you agree with some of the administration officials that claim that russia is a greater threat to our national security than is radical islamic terrorism? >> i think, you know, i don't want to get into sort of either or here. because i don't think it's necessary. i think that what the defense department and others have been saying is that they see activities that russia has engaged in which present challenges. for instance what happened with crimea, what's happened in support for the separatists, the long process back and forth on
minsk implementation is interpreted by the front line states as a threat and there's engagement by russia through its propaganda through operatives in these countries it's perceived as engaging in activities. i believe that if you wanted me to put on the table the top threat to the united states today in terms of day-to-day life and the stability of the world it is violent extremism, radical religious extremism and violence of -- >> are you onable to say radical islamic terrorism as the president is auntable to say. >> you just heard me say. >> no you didn't say. you don't want to say radical islamic. it's disheartening when a representative of our government can't say radical islamic terrorism, and at the same time can't make a decision whether
christians are being targeted for genocide. this is not acceptable. about your point on russia and whether or not we can consider them the greatest threat over radical islamic terrorism. let me just note that increasing the spending of our military spending in europe so that we'll have now have more tanks in europe could be taken as a hostile act by russia as well. so i want to get out of this cycle of well we're going to find things that they are doing that we consider hostile and vice versa. we have every reason do we not mr. secretary of trying to find a way we can work with russia combat what is the real threat which is radical islamic terrorism. >> congressman, i think you heard me say that it is predominantly, predominantly islamic and i have no hesitation in saying that. i've said that in many parts of the world. that's not the issue.
and, yes, we are trying to cooperate with russia with respect to this issue in syria right now. russia is the co-chair with us. the international syrian support group and of the cessation of hostilities tax force and we're working very closely on countering violent extremism initiatives which president obama has led. in the u.n. and elsewhere in convening people to work against violent extremism on a global basis. to me this is the greatest challenge we face because there are hundreds of millions of young people in many of they countries where you have 60 to 70% of the nation under the age of 35 and if they don't have jobs and if they are not educated and there's not opportunity or we don't keep radical religious extremists of any kind from reaching them and turning them into a suicide bomber or an extreme operative
of one kind, we have a problem. all of us. so this is, to me, the more prevalent challenge that we all face and russia shares an interest in working with us to deal with that challenge. >> we go now to mr. gerry connoly of virginia. >> obviously my colleague wants to get you to say the number one threat is islamic terrorism. but is it not also true, not to delude anything that the biggest victims of that terrorism are, in fact, islamists themselves and that many of our allies fighting this terrorist war are islamic countries, is that not true? >> they are, indeed, are very significant allies in this effort and i would say every single country of the world, they are joining in an effort to deal with the terrible distortion of one of the world's principle religions. >> i think that's a very
important point mr. secretary to put it in context because not that my friend would do that, i don't mean that. but we have heard some presidential candidates take an entire faith with something, i think grossly unfairly when, in fact, victims are muslims and many of the countries allied with us in the fight against terrorists are, in fact, muslim countries. so it's a very complex situation, but not subject to some simplification or over simplification of who are the villains between are the good guys. i thought we would get that on the record. i think this is your first visit back since the iran nuclear agreement got implemented and i just want to say for one, i think it's one -- it's going be one of the most successful things u.s. foreign diplomacy has done in a long time. despite the critics and all the
predictions we had a hearing the other week and established definitively iran is complying and if we're looking to removing a threat to israel we did it. and i just to congratulate you. if you want to disagree about compliance feel free but it's my observation that in every metric we said so far we have not seen cheating, not seen subterfuge. doesn't make iran a good guy in the international stage, but it does mean we, in fact, were able to deliver an enforceable agreement and improves everybody's security. i don't know if you want to comment on that, mr. secretary. >> i thank you, congressman, very, very much and that's, in fact, what we concurred with is that they have complied. >> thank you. real quickly i want to pivot to crimea and the ukraine.
one of the concerns i got and it's shared by friends on both sides of the aisle is with respect to soviet expansionism, soviet imperialism, whatever word we want to use for it, it all starts with crimea. if you let crimea go, now you're kw quibbling over the price. what is the united states position of the illegal annexation of crimea. >> that it's illegal and not seating crimea with anything except for the primary focus at the moment is on agreements. >> but we're not going to give up on crimea. >> no, we have no intention of doing that. >> the president, some of my friends have criticized them.
he's issued executive orders blocking property of persons and transactions related to the illegal annexation of crimea and subversion in the eastern ukraine. how is compliance going with those executive orders and is the administration seeking legislative, additional legislative relief with respect to the subject? >> we believe that russia continues to pay a real price for the annexation of crimea and crimea is physically isolated from international transport links now. from the global financial system. it's tourism sector has collapsed. remains unable to provide full significant electricity to its population. and inflation has completely
erased any potential of the russian promises of better standard of living for the people. now, it's obviously tragic for the people of crimea. we know that since the annexation, the human rights situation for the people of crimea has deteriorated. and there's been a mounting repression of minorities particularly the tartars. so we continue to press russia on this issue and i believe that the measures that are in place are having an impact. >> mr. steve shabbat of ohio. >> good morning. this is the 20th year i've had the honor to serve on the foreign affairs committee. i chaired the middle east committee, i chaired the asian/pacific committee and i've had the opportunity to listen to and to question a number of foreign, excuse me a number of our secretaries of state from
warren christopher to madeleine albright to colin powell to condoleezza rice, hillary clinton and yourself here today. now this administration has less than a year to go. so what i would like to do is to ask you to address some of the things which many would argue haven't gone so well, and what we can learn from these things and hopefully avoid repeating in the future. as you know i've got limited time and i have several questions so i ask that you keep your answers reasonably succinct. first, you've already been asked about tern deal. but i would like to go back before the deal and ask this and i realize, of course, that hillary clinton was secretary of state and not yourself so i'm not blaming you. but i would ask this question. was not aiding the students in the pro democracy reformers in the iranian movement a mistake? >> well, i think, my memory is
that president obama spoke out in support of and we suffered a lot of criticism from iran. this is one of the hurdles we had to get over in our negotiation. they believed we were not only supportive but even responsible for it. >> you know, these young pro democracy folks pleaded for our help. pleaded for it. >> when you say help. >> they got nothing from this administration. president obama essentially, if you go back and look at what he said at the time, he took the side, i would argue, of the repressive people of iran. it was shameful of what happened. let me move on. in retrosuspect was itpect was to pull all troops out of iraq. >> this is badly misinterpreted.
there was no contemplation -- first of all the agreement was made by president bush to draw the troops out. what president obama tried to do was negotiate with maliki, the prime minister maliki, the remainder that would stay and they were noncombat troops. everybody needs to focus on that. there were no combat troops that were going to stay there. so even if they had stayed, that would not have made a difference with respect to what was happening because prime minister maliki was turning the army into his own personal private sectarian enterprise. and that's -- let me just finish. >> next to tern deal, i would argue that it was this administration's greatest mistake and it led, i think, directly to the rise of isis. how did thiszaaa
time a number of other things happened which had an impact on putin's perception of what was going on. >> let me just -- i'm almost out of time. let me comment on your comment. i want seems to me that from the start of this administration, from hillary's famous pressing of the reset button, that we've been played like chumps by putin. this administration scrapped the
missile defense program with our allies, poland and the czech republic to placate putin and what did we get? he invaded and annexed crimea, started war in eastern ukraine which is ongoing. shoots down a civilian airliner and of course denies it. his allies did that. threatens the nato alliance, props up assad in sir area harbors the treasonous edward snowden and on and on. i would argue this administration's policy with respect to russia has been feckless and unfortunately i'm out of time. >> can i respond very quickly, congressman. there was an agreement which yankovich was to honor but putin
thought there was a deal and the deal was broken and he thought and perceived certain things opinion people respond in certain ways and perceptions. i don't believe -- also the european association agreement and the way that had been maneuver hydrogen a lot to do with perceptions. now we are building a missile defense. the administration came to a conclusion they could do a more effective one and that is currently being deployed. russia still obtuse what is happening but it's happening. so nobody pulled back from doing something as a consequence. nobody has been played as a chump. we went in and put sanctions in place that have profoundly negatively impacted russia's economy, profoundly impacted russia's ability to move and maneuver in the rourj and resulted in the minsk agreement which we hope can be implemented fully. if it is our policy would be successful because russia would not have taken over all of
ukraine, not even the eastern part where the separatists will then still be part of ukraine and in an arrangement with the government in kiev. i just don't agree with your conclusion there. i also think that if you look, russia has kwooptd the united states on the iran agreement. russia cooperated with the united states in getting the chemical weapons out of syria. russia has cooperated with the united states and syrian international support group and vienna process and now in an effort to try to fight against daesh and -- >> we need to go to the congressman from florida. >> the point i'm trying to make is it doesn't lend itself to just one judgment. this is more complicated for better or worse more nuance than some of these conclusions allowed for. >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. secretary thanks for being here.
thanks for your stofrs our country. mr. serks i had the pleasure this morning of spending some time with mr. ahmady and as you know, bob levinson is my constituent and wonderful to see amir and i'm thrilled for the families but i just want to urge you to continue to press with at any time most greatest sense of commitment and urgency to bring him back home to his family. i'm grateful to you raising this issue. i urge you to continue to push. i would like to talk about tern agreement. without making judgments about whether it's the greatest achievement ever or the worst ever done this is 15 year term, we're five months since it was signed. we just had the implementation day. a lot of us whatever side we were on before want to see this succeed. so it focus specifically on the snap back provisions which came
up earlier. both the international snap back international sanctions and snap back of domestic sanctions. on international, the tests of the ballistic missiles by iran iran clearly violate security council resolution. ambassador power took this to the security council. security council kicked it to the sanctions committee. as i understand it. the question is what is in this case a clear violation can't be sanctioned at the international level. i commend you and the administration for taking action as the united states against these three entities and individuals, but at the international level, if the security council can't act when there's a clear violation like this over the term of this agreement, why shouldn't we have conce concerns? that's with respect to international. on the domestic front, you talked about the iran sanctions act and the reauthorization.
i just wanted to go back to a story that was in politico last summer in august, in the midst of the heated discussions about the jcpoa. senior official told politico, and inquote, we absolutely support renewal of the iran sanctions act. it's an important piece of legislation. now is not the time. as the isa doesn't expire until next year and because we're focused on implementation. in the deliberate and focused communications with congress. implementation day has now come and passed. it is 2016 the year in which this is going to expire. mr. secretary, if not now, when, when will we have these discussions that the administration was committed to having last summer? >> well, congressman, first of
all, on bob levenson, i understand completely. i just met with the family recently. i completely understand the tension, the feelings and the disappointment they feel. they see people come back and bob not among them and they don't have answers yet. we have put a process in place as part of the actual agreement that we reached whereby he's very much front and center in terms of our following through to trace every lead there is and to be personally engaged. i don't want to go in greater detail but i shared with the family some of the things we plan to do and we will, in fact, we are doing them. >> thank you. >> with respect to the unsec. the answer to that is no. the missiles were left out of
the jcpoa. jcpoa stands by itself. the missiles are a separate track. the arms are a separate track. we purposefully did not want to confuse the implementation and accountability for the implementation with these other things. so that's why we put additional sanctions on because of missile launch. on three entities and eight individuals. now, you raised the question about 2016, if not now, when? well, now is the good time to have the discussion. we're having it here today. i'm saying to you that we should be informed in whatever we choose to do on the isa by how well the implementation goes. by how necessary it is to be thinking about the concern about the application of the sanctions. we don't need -- excuse me, we don't need the isa.
>> is one of the reasons there's a hesitation to go forward now even after implementation day is that iran is going to view this, interpret this as some sort of violation of the agreement, which clearly it's not. >> i think it's on its face, exactly what i just described to you. there's no rush. we know we can pass whatever we would need to very quickly number one. number two, we want to be -- in whatever we decide to do, it might s ought to be advised by the efficiency and effectiveness of the way this has been implemented so whatever we're putting in it is, in fact, rational and related to the process itself. as you yourself just said, we're only a few months into it. let's get into it. there's plenty of time here. and see where we are. >> we go now to mr. joe wilson,
south carolina. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you mr. secretary for being here. i'm very grate fol that speaker ryan has provided shocking admissions of how iran will use sanctions relief to fund terrorism which i believe the american people needs to know puts families at risk. on january 21, mr. secretary, you admitted i think some of the funds from the sanctions relief will end up in the hands of the irgc or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists. this is sad, mr. secretary. iran is widely recognized as world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. hamas and hezbollah. that are responsible for murdering hundreds of americans. therefore should come as no surprise at least some of them, $100 billion in sanctions relief granted under the nuclear agreement will be used to finance terrorists. you're not alone in this assertion. in fact, several key obama administration officials including the president himself
have made the exact same admission. quote, do we think some of the sanctions coming down, that iran will have additional resources for its military. for some of the activities in the region that are a threat to us and a threat to our allies? i think it is a likelihood they've got some additional resources. end of quote, president obama. also, quote, we should expect some of the portion of the money will go to iranian military that could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior we've seen in the region until now. end of quote. from national security adviser susan rice. also quote as iran's behavior the united states is under no illusions. this agreement was never based on the expectations it would transform the iranian regime or cause iran to cease contributing to cease sectarian violence and terrorism in the middle east. end of quote. wendy sherman.
we agree on implementation day in january speaker paul ryan noted himself the president of iran has acknowledged iran is likely to use this cash infus n infusion, more than $100 billion in total to finance terrorists, end of quote. the house voted to reject the nuclear deal. sanctions should be only lifted when iran ceases its litany of illicit activities and ends its support for terrorism. until that day comes, we should not be complicit in fueling a regime that has a long history of hostility towards the united states and its allies. i'm particularly grateful for the bipartisan conduct of this committee. with chairman royce of california and ranking member engel of new york. i believe iran promotes a tax on american families with its pledge of death to america and death to israel. as proven by the intercontinental ballistic
development cited by royce. secretary kerry, from your response to chairman royce's questions, what i heard you say is the administration wants to let the sanctions act expire. the administration, extending it through the international emergency economic powers act is simply a power grab. allowing isa to expire statutorily is unacceptable. with this background, how have iran's terrorist activities been affected by the deal and the subsequent lifting of sanctions. has iran's support for terrorism increased or decreased? >> well, congressman, you raise a lot of questions in all of that and you make some assumptions that i don't share or agree with. we never suggested that the goal is to let it expire. it's take our time and be
thoughtful about it. secondly, this goes back to the sort of argument about the iran deal itself. you say we shouldn't lift sanctions until they have given up their sponsorship for terror. the problem is what they judge, you know, they just have a different interpretation about some of those things that would have lasted a lifetime and they would have then had a nuclear weapon. iran with a nuclear weapon would have been far more dangerous than an iran without one. so if you're worried about terror, the first objective is make sure they don't have a nuclear weapon. now, we've been very honest. i'm not going to sit here and suggest that some portion of the money might not find its way to one of those groups. what they do is not dependent on money, congressman, never has been. they're going to do it anyway. if we hadn't gotten rid of the nuclear weapon, they were still supporting the hoouty. they've still been supporting
hezbollah. >> finance terrorists in this country, mr. secretary, this is not right. i yield. >> okay, we're going to go to rhode island. >> thank you for your extraordinary service to our country. i have four questions i'm going to run through quickly to give you as much time as possible to answer. i'm concerned about the deteriorating state of rule of law and adherence to human rights in egypt. long been rife with corruption and political agendas. reports yesterday exemplify how bad the situation has become. when a cairo military court handed down a mass life sentence to 116 defendants that mistakenly included a 3-year-old boy. this is incredibly outrageous and really does exemplify how little the judiciary care for the rule of law. in appendix to this year's budget request, you asked congress to remove egypt's
partial aid conditions. and the reporting requirement entirely. what's the justification for proposing the removal of this language and what kind of signal will this send? >> the removal of which language? >> the language related to partial aid conditioíd nationl security waiver and reporting requirement. the second question is you, you know, there are tremendous challenges. you've outlined them in your testimony. the budget, the international affairs budget which funds programs designed to confront these challenges continues to shrink. the overall funding for the international affairs that's the base budget plus oco has been reduced. request is slightly down from last year. what is your most serious concern about the resources being necessary to confront the many challenges facing our country and does this budget really provide the resources that you think we need? third and finally, the u.s./israeli memorandum
understanding i know is going to expire in 2018. i understand we've begun to discuss a new set of terms. what's the status of those negotiations and what kind of training and equipment assistant will israel need in light of increased instability in the region and threats to their security? tried to do those fast. >> okay. no, i appreciate it. congratulations on moving up to the upper dais there. >> thank you. >> the -- let me just begin about you question about egypt itself. look, these sentences obviously are of enormous concern to all of us. we've expressed that very straight forwardly. and we've seen a deterioration over the course of this last -- these last months i guess is a
fair way to say it. with the rest of journalists and the rest of civil society personalities. we understand that egypt is going through a very difficult challenge right now. there are terrorists in the sinai. there are the challenges of extremism that has played out in bombings in cairo, sharm el sheikh, elsewhere. so it's difficult. nobody's suggesting otherwise. but we believe deeply countries that protect freedom of speech and assembly and encourage civil society will ultimately do better and be stronger in their ability to be able to defeat extremism. we work very closely. i have a good working relationship with my counterpart. we talk frequently. we are working on these issues on a regular basis. we have succeeded in getting some people released. we've succeeded in getting some progress on a number of human
rights issues. but it is a concern. their judicial system, which operates separately, makes some moves that i think sometimes, you know, the leadership itself finds difficult to deal with. and our hope is that over the course of these next weeks and months we can make some progress moving back on these. i do, i think egypt said something about the 3-year-old if i recall -- i don't want to dwell on it right now. on the resources, we are cannibalizing a lot of programs within the budget. bottom line is everybody's dealing with difficulties in governance today as a result of our budget challenges. it's no secret to any of you because these are the fights you've all been engaged in on the floor.
i think we're making a mistake. i mean, i try not to get into the politics in this position at all. i do think the united states is -- is not responding in ways that we ought to be to our global responsibility as reflected in the budget overall. i think we handicap ourselves. i think we're behaving to some degree for the richest nation on the face of the planet. we're choosing to behave more like a country that actually doesn't have resources available to it. it's a question of which choices we make, where we want to make the overall trades in the budget and we are where we are. so we have had to can bnibalize considerably to make things work. it really in my judgment
diminishes the ability of the most powerful nation on the planet to affect things more. we see a frustration on the part of our people that the world is in turmoil and we're not responding adequately here and there. fairly significant amount of that is a reflection of resources. sometimes it's a reflection of policy judgments. i understand that. a lot of it is driven by the resource allocation. with respect to israel and the mou, we will -- we're working on it now. we're in negotiations. we have never, ever put any of israel's security needs or challenges on the table with regard to other issues between us. israel's security comes first and foremost. president obama has i think unprecedently addressed those
concerns with iron dome, with assistance, with our efforts in global institutions to not see israel singled out, and we will do what is necessary to provide israel with all the assistance necessary so it can provide for its own security. i'm confident we'll get an mou at some point in time. the sooner the better, because it allows everybody to plan appropriately. >> thank you, mr. secretary, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. secretary, for being here today. i'm suffering from a major head cold so i may go a little easy on you today. >> it's good, i don't wish a cold on you, but i'll take the benefit. last december, we passed a visa waiver program bill. out of my committee. it passed overwhelmingly. it was designed to keep foreign fighters from exploiting the visa waiver program from certain
countries like iraq, syria, sudan and iran. in the negotiations, i was in the middle of those, i was one of the security involved with the back and forth between homeland, state department and the white house. we carved out the two exceptions. one was national security. the other was law enforcement. in the exchange between homeland security, they mentioned what we consider humanitarian, business purposes, cultural journalistic, i was in the room with the majority leader. those exceptions were rejected. dp dhs came back again. the final e-mail from the white house was the administration supports this legislation. my thanks to all. then finally, i spoke to the department. they did not request any additional edits.
we're good with the text as drafted. reopening the bill requires to look at it again. yet the day after it passed, you wrote a letter to the iranian foreign minister stating that parts of this law could be waived to accommodate iranian business interest. in my judgment, having played a part in that negotiation, it was in direct contradiction with the intent and the clear definition of the statute and the law. it seeps to me you're putting the interest, business interest of iran over the security interests of the united states and quite frankly either misconstruing or rewriting the very law that we passed overwhelmingly by the congress. i want to give you the opportunity to respond to that. >> i appreciate that. thank you very much. appreciate the work we've done to try to work through this. look, we respect obviously the
congressional intent. we respect the purpose of this. we all share that goal. we have to protect the country. we have to have adequate control over who's coming into the country. and we learned obviously in the course of the k visa situation that there's more that can be done conceivably to be able to analyze and dig into background. the bottom line is this. the letter that i wrote to the iranian foreign minister was not an excuse for anything. it simply said that they were arguing that we had violated jcpoa. i wrote a letter saying no, it does not violate jcpoa. i explained and defended the law and made clear to them we were going to keep our jcpoa commitments. now, the, what we're doing is
actually following the letter of the law, but you have to -- please, would like you to understand that our friends, our allies, french, germans, british, others, are deeply concerned about the impact of this law inadvertent on their citizens. they have dual nationals. if one of those dual nationals just travels to iran, all of a sudden, and they're in a visa waiver program and they're a very legitimate business person's -- >> if i could just use my time, look, i wrote the law -- >> let me just finish -- >> i'm the author of the bill. i understand the intent of the law. we had conversations with the white house. you tried to get this business exemption written into the law. that was rejected by the leadership and the congress. and the time to have changed that was prior to the president
signing it into law. once you sign it, the president signed it into law, you can't just go back and change -- either violate or rewrite it. >> i know the law. i marked it up on my committee. you're talking to the author of the bill. >> yes. that was not the intent of congress to carve out a business exemption. i understand the french and iranians and all this stuff. that was not the intent of the congress. >> we're not carving out a wholesale waiver intent. it's a case-by-case basis. very carefully and narrowly tailored, number one. number two, the text of the law is clear. the secretary of homeland security -- >> i agree with you. >> -- can waive the travel on dual national restrictions if he deems that it is in the law enforcement or national security interest of the country to do so. now, we believe the full and fair implementation of the law
is, in fact, in our national security interest. we have a very thorough systemic -- >> i guess it depends how you define national security interest. i will commend that jay johnson called me to add libya, somalia and yemen to this list. and i -- >> and i concur to that. >> and i commend that decision. i'm sure you're going to construe the law and your interpretation. i do think adding those three countries with a positive step. just one last question. on the designation of iran as a jurisdiction, primary money launders concern. do you have -- are we going to keep that designation or is there any attempt by you to lift that designation? >> we've had no such determination. i haven't contemplated it. >> do you intend to consider additional measures to provide economic relief to iran to lift any other designations?
>> none at this point in time that i know of. >> okay. i appreciate that. chair now recognizes brad sherman of california. >> as to your bill, you point out that most isis fighters go into turkey where perhaps their passports are stamped and then they sneak into isis-controlled areas where isis has a shoddy record of stamping passports and we may have to look at every europe passport stamped in turkey that would obviously be an issue -- >> actually what is now an issue is daesh's ability to actually produce phony passports -- >> that -- that would be another issue. mr. secretary, i've got so many issues. most of them i think you'll choose to respond for the record. first on the budget. this committee has urged and
voted that you spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting in the language to reach a huge part of southern pakistan in the sindi language. now the request for additional million dollars for broadcasting efforts. if we get you a substantial increase, maybe not the full 35 million, but the first additional dollars will be to broadcast in the language of southern pakistan -- >> i think it's worth 35 million, congressman. >> it only takes $1.5 million. the rest is for whatever else you choose to spend the money on. i want to compliment your general counsel in ckarachi for looking into the assassination of anwar agari who was a protector of sindi culture. during world war ii, we had
bombing rules of engagement. because we were serious. general de gaulle never urged us not to bomb an electric facility because it would inconvenience french civilians. he never asked dwight eisenhower not to hit a tanker truck because the civilian might be driving it. yet i'm told in bombing isis, we will not hit a moving truck and we will not hit electric power lines because not only do we not want to kill any civilians, even those working for isis, but we don't want to inconvenience those living under isis. the major inconvenience, living without electricity. iran. north korea provided the nuclear technology that was used at al kabar which the israelis destroyed in syria a few years ago. now north korea has a dozen
nuclear weapons. that's about what they need. perhaps the next one goes on ebay. not quite that flippantly but you get the point. i spoke to the chinese foreign minister yesterday. i will urge you to urge him, as i did, that china prevent any nonstop flight over its territory from north korea to tehran. such a nonstop flight could easily export one or several nuclear weapons. if on the other hand, that flight stops for fuel, as of course it should, if china requires, they will -- i'm sure the chinese will take a look at what's on the plane. it's natural that you're here defending the nuclear deal. i didn't vote for it but there are very good aspects of that deal. but i'm concerned that the administration now is just in a roll of defending iran. as if any comment about iran is an attack on the deal. i would -- during rouhani's tenure, we've seen a lot more executions in iran, and i hope
that you would personally issue a statement condemning iran's violation of human rights, particularly when they kill people for the so-called crime of waging war on god. you mention -- as to the missile sanctions, you indicate we sanctioned a few companies. we sanctioned a few individuals. those companies don't do business in the united states. those individuals do not want to visit disneyland. and i hope that you would sanction the iranian government for its violation with sanctions that actually affect the iranian economy. otherwise, to say certain individuals who have no intention of coming to the united states, will not be allowed in the united states, indicates an acceptance of violations. and under the u.n. security council resolution 2231, russia can't sell fighter planes to iran unless the security council
specifically approves that. i'll ask you will we use our veto to prevent fighter planes being sold to iran from russia? >> i don't think you have to use a veto. i think it's a matter of a committee. there's a committee and it's in approval in the committee, but we would not approve it. >> and would we -- would we use our veto if necessary to prevent -- >> best of my knowledge, congressman, i haven't looked at the specifics of the transaction, et cetera. in principle, we are very concerned about the transfer of weapons. so, you know, we would approach it with great skepticism. i haven't seen the specific transfer, what the request is.
i assure you, we'll stay in touch with you. >> chair recognizes mr. poe from texas. >> thank you, gentlemen. i want to say amen to what our friend from california has said regarding the folks in iran that have been murdered by the regime. 2,300 have been executed. in my opinion, mostly for religious reasons or political reasons. i would hope the state department would condemn this action by rouhani and the iranian government. couple questions, dealing with georgia and ukraine. the russians okay ccupy a third georgian territory. they occupy crimea and they occupy parts of ukraine's eastern property territory. is it the u.s. position or not -- tell me what the u.s. position is, that the georgia occupation is unlawful, crimea
occupation unlawful and the eastern ukraine possession unlawful or not? >> that's correct, they are. >> it's our possession russians are unlawfully holding territory belonging to somebody else in those specific instances? >> in one case, not holding but engaged in intrusions which are assisting in the holding. >> that would be in eastern ukraine? >> correct. >> also, a predecessor, if you have time this year, it would be great for our relationship if you could go to georgia. >> i'm hoping to. >> specifically, i'd like to talk about piece of legislation that has passed the house, unanimously. and that's the foreign aid transparency accountability act that i have authored along with mr. connolly from virginia. basically requires accountability for foreign
assistance. whether transparency and also evaluations of our aid to other countries. i think transparency and evaluations are good. american public needs to know how american money is being spent and if it's being spent well. maybe we should stop it. the state department though has resisted this legislation, even though it's passed the house. it's passed your former committee unanimously over in the senate. and rashau, when he testified in this committee, he supported it when he was usaid director. do you support this type of legislation or this specific legislation of transparency and accountability, evaluations of our foreign assistance? >> congressman, of course. we share the goal completely. yes, we support transparency and accountability. we have huge transparency and accountability.
it's one of our problems. i think -- i don't -- i'm trying to get the numbers pinned down. the person hours and the numbers of people assigned just to provide the transparency and accountability to all of you and to others is staggering. we lose an enormous amount of our implementing productivity to simply providing the transparency, accountability. we have 51 investigations going on. with an unprecedented number, hundreds of thousands of pages of foa we're responding to. i've had to cannibalize bureaus to ask capable lawyers to come out of one and work on this so we can meet the demands. we're overburdened. i've appointed -- actually appointed a senior ambassador.
to make sure we're able to do this. so our concern is, you know, doing this in a way that is smart, efficient, efficient for you, efficient for us. we don't assist the go in the least. the american people have a right to absolute accountability and transparency. we think there's a lot of ways in which it's already provided. there are ways we may be able to streamline some of that. we'd like to work with you on this legislation so it isn't, you know, another moment where we're having to transfer a lot people away from doing what we're supposed to do. you can't to give us the budget enough. >> this makes it simpler for all of us -- >> right, but we want to have a little more say -- >> it's passed the house unanimously. it's passed the senate -- foreign relations committee unanimously. we're getting pushed back from
the state department on the legislation. just a side note, just a side note -- >> we want to make sure it worked for us in terms of our process. who can resist a piece of legislation, foreign aid accountability transparency act? >> we want it to work for the american people. as you know, reclaiming my time, if i have one last comment, you and i and many -- most of the members of the congress, you mentioned the concept of foreign aid out there in the country to citizens. they kind of get their backed bowed because people have been cynical for years. even though it's a little bit of money, about foreign aid. and this legislation i think tells folks in the community, citizens, taxpayers, who send this aid all over the world, that it's working. and we can have transparency evaluation for it so they can feel better about sending that
aid. >> i'm with you, i support that 100%. president obama does and he has instructed all of us to try to make sure we're streamlining, as transparent as we can be. >> we're moving on. mr. grayson from florida. >> mr. secretary. yes or no with an explanation. has iran adhered to the nuclear deal? >> i'm sorry, has what? >> has iran adhered to the nuclear deal? yes or no. >> yes, best of our judgment. >> okay, thank you for that. now, there was concern iran's money would be used to increase terrorism in the region after the deal was entered into. has iran's support for terrorism increased, decreased or remained the same since the deal was enacted? >> i think the best of our judgment would be it has remained the same. >> all right. is there any evidence that the money that iran received as a result of the deal has been
diverted to use to support terrorism? >> we need to get into classified session to discuss that. >> all right. >> a little more complicated. >> we heard the phrase used at the time the deal was under negotiation, discussion, that iran would become a nuclear threshold state and that it would push the limits of the agreement and get as close as it could to developing the nuclear weapon during the term of the agreement so in 8 or 10 or 12 years it would actually have a weapon. is there any evidence to support that at this point? >> no. >> what is your inference regarding that? >> well, the fact is, iran was a threshold nation when we began this discussion. iran had 12,000 kilograms of 5% enriched. it had i forget how much, 20% enriched uranian. it was one stepway from being able to produce highly enriched uranium for bomb manufacturing.
it had enough enriched uranium to make 10 tore 12 beco 12 bomb. it has already mastered the fuel cycle. in effect it already was at the threshold. that's one of the reasons why we felt such urgency to try to close off these paths for actual movement to that. and iran has accepted increased transparency and bltability beyond anything anybody else is engaged in. they've accepted the additional protocol. they accepted higher standards for 25 years of tracking all urani urani uranian. they accepted 20 years of television intrusion on their centrifu centrifuge. so they don't have the ability to be able to make one today. just don't have it physically in
that regard. we're confident in their ability to know what they're doing. >> has the administration tried to interdict iranian shipments? >> we have successfully interdicted. >> is it likely that effort will continue? >> not likely, it is for certain. >> can you give us one example? >> recently we turned around the convoy. we didn't know exactly what was on it. we made sure it went back to iran. >> i'd like to ask you a couple questions about isis. what is your own personal or agency assessment regarding the necessitscessity to have ground? >> american ground troops in the sense -- american special forces are engaged as enablers on the ground in syria today and in iraq. i am 100% supporter of that.
i strongly advocate that is a powerful way to have an impact. i am for trying to get rid of daesh as fast as is feasible without a major american, quote, invasion. by enabling, by using our special forces. by augmenting the syrian arab and other presence on the ground. i believe it is imperative for us to try to terminate this threat as rapidly as we can. >> has america, has the american government had discussions with saudi arabia, uae, amman or jordan? >> we are engaged in discussions with them regarding their offers to do so at this time. >> can you tell us anything about that? >> no. i think it's in a preliminary stage. it's in discussion. they've indicated a willingness to be helpful. this is in the fight against daesh. let me