tv [untitled] March 19, 2012 11:30pm-12:00am EDT
administration doing to ensure cooperation from our allies in the hemisphere with respect to iran and to hold accountable those countries that are supporting and enabling iran's threatening activities. thank you, madam secretary. >> thank you very much. with respect to the question about the summit of americas, we do not believe there is any intention to invite cuba, we have made our views on that well known. they don't fit the definition of democratic countries and the development of democracy in the hemisphere. so at this point, we see absolutely no basis and no intention to invite them to the summit. regarding iran and the western hemisphere, you know, obviously iran, facing these very effective sanctions and their aggressive enforcement is becoming increasingly desperate, looking for friends wherever they think they can find them. and they're not getting the kind of response on that tour of
tyrants that you referenced, our analysis of what happened is that it fell very far short of what the iranians had hoped for. that said, we are concerned about the activities of iran and hezbollah in the western hemisphere. we continue to monitor the situation closely. we will take appropriate action to counter any threat that may arise. we are aware of and concerned about allegations that some latin-american drug trafficking organizations are linked with hezbollah and iran. we have not found information to verify a lot of the allegations, but of course the recent incident concerning the attempted assassination of the saudi ambassador is a very large question mark and wakeup call. we are continuing to look for direct links and we are engaged very extensively with our partners in the hemisphere.
both to educate them about the dangers posed by both iran and hezbollah and also to work with them to heighten our intelligence sharing. we did impose sanctions in 2008 and extended them last year on the venezuelan military industries company for violating a ban on technology that could assist iran in developing weapons. so if we find information we can verify, we are committed to taking action. but what we instead are seeing, much to our encouragement is that our partners in latin america are really understanding the threats. recently at the iaea, argentina, brazil, mexico and chile joined us in calling for a resolution, calling on iran to address concerns about the nuclear program. last year chile, mexico and brazil voted to create the u.n. human rights council on iran and our close coordination with
mexican authorities actually was instrumental in breaking up the assassination plot against the saudi ambassador. i think we are alert to this, we are watching it closely, we are building a very strong and hemispheric coalition against any efforts by iran and hezbollah in our area. >> thank you, madam secretary. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. berman? >> thank you very much, madam chairman and madam secretary. the obama administration is the first administration to use congre congressionally mandated, and you deserve considerable praise for that. i know that the and you and numerous officials president at state, at treasury have put in thousands of hours
trying to persuade foreign officials and foreign businessmen to respect our sanctions and to isolate iran. all for the purpose of implementing a policy intended to lead iran to abandon their weapons program. i think it would be helpful to put to rest concerns administration is resigned to iran becoming a nuclear threshold state. i think it's very important to reassure us on that point. based on my understanding of the administration's policy, i think you should be able to do that. three months ago, on december 1, secretary of state burns and israeli deputy foreign minister issued a statement and i quote preventing iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. and a pentagon publication last month says that iran seeks to, quote, prevent iran's if you can leer weapons capability, closed quote. so when senator graham yesterday asked whether the administration seeks to deny iran the ability
to become a nuclear threshold state, you responded by saying that it is the position of the administration to prevent them, meaning the iranians, from obtaining nuclear weapons. i think it's important to clarify, is it in fact administration policy to prevent iran's development of a nuclear weapons capability or is the policy merely to prevent iran from obtaining nuclear weapons? and what's the real difference between these two? does the administration have a red line beyond which it will not allow iran's nuclear program to progress, is it the administration's policy to make sure iran remains well short of the ability to produce nuclear arms. >> well, congressman, i think it's absolutely clear that the president's policy is to prevent iran from having nuclear weapons capability. that has been the stated position of this administration. it has been backed up and
reiterated so let there be no confusion in any shorthand answer to any question, the policy remains the same. and certainly in pursuance of that policy, we have worked closely with the congress to implement the most far reaching sanctions that have ever been imposed and after three years of intensive diplomatic effort, we have developed an international coalition that recognizes the importance of preventing iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability that is working with us. three years ago we didn't have that consensus in the international community. there was a lot of unwillingness and resistance even to going along with tougher sanctions. from the beginning, we have had a two-track policy, pressure and engagement. as we talk today, the pressure is ratcheting up. we're working to aggressively
implementing the sanctions, we have very strong support by the recent international atom i believe energy agency pointing out all of the suspicions and questions about iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. and we have seen finally a response from iran that they're willing to discuss their nuclear weapons program. we think that the sanctions are affecting the thinking of the iranians in the leadership. but we have to remain vigilant. we have to keep the pressure on. >> thank you very much. i got a question and answer in 44 seconds. >> or you could yield back and give others more time as i did. >> all right. well, that appeal, too. >> thank you, sir. thank you. and being the wise legislator that he is, dr. paul, elected to stay here.
and so he gets to ask his question. congressman paul of texas is recognized. i learned not to say anything negative about ron paul. >> welcome madam secretary. i do want to get your comments on a bit of the stir that was caused by the apology over the koran. the administration has received a lot of criticism about this and i think you expressed a point this doesn't help your job any by stirring up the rece resentment. excuse me. the whole issue of an apology is an interesting one from a national level. i recall what happened after mcnamara wrote his memoirs and was apologetic about what happened and why he orchestrated the vietnam war. a reporter asked if he should apologize. he says what good is an apology? he says, the policies are wrong, you have to learn something from
it and change the policy. so a lot of emotions come out on this issue of apology. i keep thinking those that criticized him, i don't think they criticized the last administration when the president apologized for using the koran as a target. so sometimes they're not -- apologies aren't always all equal. but even that said, there's -- there were torture photographs before. they were very aggravating. recently there was urinating on bodies, on corpses. we didn't particularly apologize for those, did we? i mean, there weren't apologies there. but some of these things are emotional. but what about the whole idea of invading a country and occupying a country and disturbing their country? creating hundreds of thousands
of refugees and suffering? does it ever get to a point where apologizing about the koran is rather minor to some of the other problems that we have created in this country? could you comment on that? >> congressman, first, i appreciate the very measured comments you made about our presidents, not only this one but prior presidents offering apologies when we are deeply sorry for unfortunate incidents that occurred that were not intentional and which we know have emotional resonance with people. and the larger question you ask, i think it's also important to put into context president obama promised to wind down the iraq war. he has done so. he's in the process of transitioning out of afghanistan
in a manner that is done appropriately in keeping with the very large decisions that have to be made about helping the afghans defend themselves, working with partners and allies in that effort. and i think the underlying premise is certainly one that can be debated among americans of good faith. i believe that we were justified in going through afghanistan which is -- >> i want to apologize. i don't want to get on that subject. >> sure. i accept your apology. thank you, sir. >> i do want to touch on something else to get a different perspective on the nuclear enrichment in iran. you know, we hear different stories. even in israel there are different debates. they say if they get a weapon, it's not an existential threat to israel. so i'm sure there's a more
nuanced debate in israel than there is here sometimes. but isn't it true that iran has the right to enrich up to 20% for peaceful purposes? most people -- the way we talk and hear the discussion, they have no right to enrich. and don't they have that protection under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty? but it never seems to have a balanced approach to that. the best i can tell from what i read, there is no evidence that they have a bond. there's no evidence that they're on the verge of getting it. and even the administration whether it's panetta or clapper or general dempsey, they're saying it wouldn't make any sense to have a preemptive attack on there. could you give us a sense of a proper balance here? because a lot of people are convinced it's syria and then iran. and i'm personally concerned about that. the last thing the american people need is another war. we don't have the money.
we don't have the resources. and the military is not ready for another war. >> nine seconds. >> congressman, i would direct your attention to the most recent director general's report from the atomic energy agency which outlines the concerns of nonpeaceful use of civilian nuclear power. there's increasing evidence that what the iranians do is not consistent with, you're right, their right to have the peaceful use of nuclear power. i'll be happy to get you a copy of that. i think you ask important questions. >> thank you madam secretary. mr. ackerman. >> thank you. welcome, madam secretary. always great to have you here. it's exceptional to me, sometimes you can't win for winning even with unprecedented
v victories you have had in the foreign policy area, some people continue to look at it. i guess i would call it the goldilocks game. were with the three bears. the porridge is too hot or cold. i think you got it just right. i think instead of goldilocks you're more like the guy on the ed sullivan show up there with the bowling pins, balancing the balls, sticks on the knees, nothing sticks with the plates on top that he's twirling in the air and nothing ever falls to the ground. it's more difficult, because you're really twirling somebody else's dirty dishes. nonetheless, you seem to have everything pretty much together. i don't want to jinx it, with all the unprecedented problems in the world we're facing all at the same time. i want to thank you and congratulate you and the administration. three areas, north korea, egypt
and iran, hot spots. first on egypt, congratulations, we just received that the flight restrictions on the americans has been lifted. i think that's miraculous. i know the great effort and work you've put into this behind the scenes as well as publicly and how delicate this negotiation has been. does this indicate to us some sense of where power shifting and shuffling in egypt is going and who is exercising it at least at this very sensitive moment, or don't we want to speculate on that? >> well, congressman, we do not have confirmation that the travel ban has been lifted. we hope it will be. we will continue to work toward that. the reporting is encouraging, but we have no confirmation. >> we always get stuff from the
ap first before we hear that. north korea, congratulations on that as well. i know there's never any nexus between humanitarian aid and shifting policies. congratulations on the great coincidence of 240 metric tons of humanitarian aid and it's happening coincidentally at the same time the north koreans have at least apparently agreed to a lot more transparency than they have had before and cessation of their nuclear program. were other countries parties or observers with this bilateral discussions that we had. did the north koreans or chinese play any role or was that just us? >> the meeting was held in beijing. the japanese and south koreans are intimately involved in the
back-and-forth negotiations. we also kept them informed but no one else was a direct participant besides the united states and north korea. >> in reading all the reports of that, it says they will allow inspection at pyongyang. do we have access to other sites? other sites or is that clear? >> that's not clear yet. that was our principle objective. obviously we have to keep building on what was achieved. >> like others you deal with more than others, they are masters at the shell game. lastly iran. congratulations on the biting effect that the sanctions are finally grabbing them and taking
effect to a tremendous extent. there seems to be a lot of indication that some of our allies one in particular interested in laying down markers rather than saying all options are on the table. i suppose that's going to get more play in coming days. what are the red lines the iranians cannot cross? are we going to make that public or are we going to continue to do quiet negotiations on that? >> i think it's probably smarter for us to be pressing on the sanctions and negotiations while we keep our objective of no new nuclear capability absolutely clear instead of other benchmarks at this time publicly. >> i want to thank you not concentrating on strutting your stuff and delivering on the steak and not worrying about the sizzle.
>> my colleague for florida, mr. rivera, wise man, staying around. >> thank you very much, madam chair. i learned from the best, you. madam secretary, thank you so much for being here today. as you know, recently we marked the 14th anniversary of the fib february 24th, 199, shootdown of the brothers to the rescue airplanes. as you know four americans were murdered over international airspace by the castro dictatorship. subsequent to those murders, the u.s. congress and then president clinton signed and passed into law the helms burton bill, which has never been fully implemented as you well know because of a provision that allows a waiver or suspension every six months
to that law for implementation of that law. and that suspension i believe takes place around every january or february and midyear as well. we probably have just recently seen the obama administration suspend the helms burton law as it has been done twice a year since 1996. the rationale allowed in the law for suspending implementation of the law is two-fold. number one, that it serves u.s. interest. and number two, that it would expedite a transition to democracy in cuba. given what we've seen during the last few years during the obama administration and what's occurring in cuba in terms of the wave of repression against human rights activists and dissidents. given the deaths of several hunger strikers, given the recent persecution against the ladies in white, peaceful activists in cuba that have been
calling for democratic reform, given the stern rebuff that former secretary richardson received in cuba to his recent overtures or negotiations, can you tell us just in the last few years of the obama administration that the helms burton law has been suspended, how has that expedited a transition to democracy in cuba. >> congressman, we take a back seat to no one in our condemnation of human rights that is a continuing feature of the castro regime. the particular instances that you mentioned are ones of great concern to us. we do think increasing people to people contact, supporting civil society in cuba, enhancing the free flow of information, promoting the capacity for more independence economically and
politically from the cuban authorities is in the interest of the cuban people and is in the interest of the united states. >> we may agree to disagree on that. i'm just wondering if there's any evidence of results as a result of that policy that the obama administration has been pursuing. do we have any evidence at all of any inkling of democratic reform or a movement towards democracy? is there anything positive that has resulted from the obama administration policy toward cuba that we have evidence, tangible evidence? >> well, in the last three years there have been considerable changes in cuba's economic policies, which we see as a positive development. we think having cuban people give more economic rights to open businesses, have an opportunity to pursue their own economic futures goes hand in hand with the promotion of democracy.
i wouldn't claim our movements were a direct cause but they were incident with. very often in oppressive regimes like cuba, economic freedom precedes political freedom. >> you would agree if there has been economic freedom, and i dispute that, i don't believe there has really been genuine economic reforms in cuba, if you can agree there have been, we can disagree on that, there certainly have been no political reforms or move toward democracy notwithstanding the economic movement. >> despite our very strong objection to the treatment of alan gross, the, in our view totally unjustified charge and detentions from a great number of political prisoners have been released. again, that in and of itself is not final evidence of anything. the fact that so many political prisoners have been released in the last few years -- >> are you aware those releases
were required by expulsions from the country? you are aware of that. they weren't released into the country. they were expelled from the country. >> i am aware of that, congressman. as i look out over the world and take a historic perspective, i see sometimes political prisoners are released and expelled where they continue to pursue their democracy work and advocacy on behalf of human rights outside the country. the fact is letting political prisoners go is a positive development. i wish they were inside cuba continuing to agitate and advocate for freedom and democracy, but their voices are still being heard especially in the new communications environment in which bloggers and others exist. >> i hope -- >> thank you, mr. rivera. >> thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, madam secretary. >> thank you, madam chair and madam secretary.
i have a couple of written questions i want to submit for your consideration. madam secretary, this may be one of the last times together, so i want to publicly thank you for re-establishing america's influence abroad, especially toward the asia pacific region. as you aptly stated, and i quote, the future of politics will be decided in asia, not in afghanistan or iraq. and the united states will be right at the center of the action. thanks to your efforts, madam secretary, i believe the united states will be front and center, so i thank you for bucking tradition for your first trip overseas. on your first trip overseas you visited asia to convey a strong message that america's relationship across the asia pacific region are in dispensable, and in your many trips since then, cambodia, myanmar, south korea, japan and beyond you have been about the business of making and keeping
economic and strategic commitments that will pay dividends many times over. i applaud you for recognizing the importance of pacific island nations in this multifaceted undertaking and in the context of this hearing with the foreign relations budget hearing i reiterate what you stated and i quote, those who say we can no longer afford to engage with the world have it exactly backward. we cannot afford not to. from opening new markets for american businesses, to nuclear proliferation to keep sea lanes free from commerce and navigation, our work abroad holds the key to our prosperity and security at home, end of quote. i want to also note for the record, madam secretary, that when american samoa and the independent samoa were hit by the most powerful earthquake in 2009 and that set off waves of
tsunami and to this day have not fully recovered, yet your office was among the first to stand with us. you fought to make sure supplies were airlifted to us and tireless efforts on behalf of those do not go unnoticed. i thank assistant secretary dave adams for his help in this regard. at my request, madam secretary, you personally made it a point to visit my little district. on behalf of samoan men and women who proudly serve in the armed forces of our country, we are grateful for your recognition of their services. my people thank you for remembering us and things you have done for the the many people of our nation. madam secretary, it has been a honor to serve with you. i commend you for the initiatives you have taken outlined in this budget submission for east asia and pacific region.
i'm glad i still have a couple of seconds to ask you a couple of questions, madam secretary. can you reiterate for the record our fundamental policy of engagement with the peoples republic of china especially in reference to the crisis we're faced with at the south china seas? >> well, first, thank you for those very kind comments. it's a great honor to represent the people of your district and to reach out to the south pacific region on behalf of our government. we are working to further a positive cooperative and comprehensive relationship with china. we think that is in the interest of the american people both economically and strategically. we have welcomed the peaceful rise of china, and we expect as china continues to develop that it will assume more responsibilities globally. with respect to the south china sea, it has been our position
that although we do not take any stand on the rights attached to any territorial claim, we strongly support the peaceful resolution of such claims in accordance with international law. that has been the position we have taken at asean at the east asia summit. because it's not only about the south china sea, which is as you know so well, a very important part of the world's oceans through which more than 40% of the world's trade passes. it's also about how we resolve disputes concerning territories in or near bodies of water, whether it's the arctic or south china sea. it's very important we stand for the rule of law and we stand for the peaceful resolution of any disputes. we've made that known to our friends in the region as well as china. >> thank you.