Riyadh Daily
Nathan Sales: US sanctions aims to prevent Iran from resources supporting terrorism around the world

Nathan Sales: US sanctions aims to prevent Iran from resources supporting terrorism around the world
Iran provides Hezbollah with USD 700 million a year
It's intolerable that Saudi Arabia has to suffer the threat of Iran supplied ballistic missiles launched from Yemen
We expect Iranian regime's behavior to change fundamentally to stop bloodshed around the world


Nathan Sales, Ambassador-at-Large and US Department of State Counterterrorism Coordinator said that US President Donald Trump approved sanctions on terrorism-sponsoring Iran, pointing out that the US aggressively seeks to bring Tehran back to negotiating table to get a better deal, one that addresses the full range of Iran's destructive behavior in the region and around the world, support for terrorism around the world, destabilizing activities in Syria, Yemen and another vile activity.
Nathan added during his visit to Riyadh that the US government focuses on the counterterrorism aspects of the sanctions and others in the US government focus on the energy aspects of the sanctions.

He said that the entire sanctions are designed to deny Iran, the resources that it needs to support terrorism around the world. Iran provides seven hundred million dollars a year to Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group. These seven-hundred million dollars could be used to improve the economy in Iran for the benefit of a long suffering people of Iran. That's not what Tehran's priority is. These seven-hundred million dollars could be used to address unemployment, to address inflation, to address infrastructure. But that's not where the money is going. It's going to support terrorism around the world. That's what the sanctions are designed to correct, to get a deal in which Iran agrees to behave like a normal nation, one that doesn't fire missiles into its neighbors, one that doesn't destabilize to cause revolts or civil wars, and that's our hope that would be joined by other nations in taking concrete and decisive actions to get a better deal.

Nathan asserted: "The Iranian support for terrorist proxies, for militias around the world is one of our key asks, is one of our key demands. There are lists of twelve expectations and conditions from any normal nation. We expect France will not arm militias to launch missiles into Germany. We expect that Indonesia or any other country is not going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year for terrorism."

He added: "Whether Iran corrects that misbehavior through constitutional change, legislative change, through action, what really important is the action, the behavior, stop the militias, lives up to the expectations that the world has for any normal nation."

He said that President Trump has called for the toughest sanctions ever and the administration is going to be in position to deliver exactly what the President has asked for. I think it's important to recognize that private companies also have a say in who do they do business with. Private companies have been fleeing the Iranian market, even before the sanctions were put into force. This was more valuable to them to do business in the Unites States than to do business in Iran. The private sector has self-interest in avoiding sanctions that the United States has now imposed. It's not that our sanctions package going to be perfect. The President has not called for perfection. He has called for the toughest set of sanctions ever. I think there are going to be the most comprehensive strict sanctions the world has ever seen.

He noted that Secretary of State Michael Pompeo gave a speech several months ago which he led up twelve expectations that we have for Iran, one of which was stop the support for regional militias, terror groups and militias. It's no secret that Iran has been one of the sponsoring backers for the rebels in Yemen which is fueling instability in the region. It's intolerable that Saudi Arabia has to suffer the threat of Iran supplied ballistic missiles launched in the southern territory. It's an unacceptable that the United Arab Emirates has to face similar threat or other nations. Our expectation for Iran is the same as our expectation for any normal nation to abide by the standard rules of the international order that governs our conduct.  Don't destabilize your neighbors. Don't arm proxies to launch missiles at them.

Nathan said: "I'm here to talk about the character and dimensions of the sanctions. We are very capable at the State Department to read you chapter and verse the energy portion of yesterday's developments. But for my purposes today, I think I'd like to focus on the character and dimensions of the sanctions imposed."

He added: "We guard against the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. We don't distinguish between a peaceful political wing on one hand and a military wing on the other. To the United States, Hezbollah is thoroughly a terrorist organization. In our engagements with the Lebanese government, our approach has been to strengthen the elements of the Lebanese state. They are independent at Hezbollah to enable them to restore control over their territory and to provide the services that the Lebanese people require, such there's no focal need for Hezbollah to exist. But our policy on this question has been clear from day one when we first designated Hezbollah group as a terrorist organization to its core.

Yemen has been a counterterrorism priority for a number of years. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been one of Al-Qaeda networks most capable franchises.  We saw its capabilities in the print cartridge plot several years ago when AQAP elements nearly executed a plan to attack cargo planes heading for the west by detonating bombs in print cartridges. It's essential for the United States and its partners to bring pressures on AQAP to deny resources, to deny safe haven, to deny the material that could be used to create bombs. That is part of the reasons why the United States wants to see a durable and sustainable political settlement in Yemen, a strong government that is at peace with its neighbors and it's capable of restoring control over its territory and thereby denying AQAP other terrorist organizations, the space they need, the oxygen they need, to conduct extra operations."

He asserted that the United States is a friend to the people of Iran. "We share the aspirations of Iranian people to live under a government that responds to their needs, that protects their human rights, that pursues their material welfare, that is not the regime they have today. Our sanctions are designed to impose costs on Tehran. It's Tehran that chooses to spend seven billion dollar a year on Hezbollah. It's Tehran that chooses to spend the Iranian people's money, supporting ballistic missiles launching out of Yemen into Saudi Arabia. The United States has no quarrel with the Iranian people. We are friends of the Iranian people. We wish the Iranian people the best. We also expect the behavior of the Iranian regime to change fundamentally to stop exporting bloodshed around the world and to look after the best interests of its citizens."

Nathan wrapped up saying: "The factors that lead a given person to become radicalized are very different in very different circumstances. Some poor impoverished people become radicalized and become terrorists. Some wealthy and powerful people become radicalized and become terrorists. Osama bin laden was not impoverished. So, what's important I think in preventing radicalization is confronting ideology that gives rise to tourist recruitment and tourist radicalization. It's important to send messages that we embrace pluralism and that we have respect for people of different backgrounds that are alternatives to bloodshed. They are very important messengers who deliver that message today here in Saudi Arabia, in the west in the south of Asia and around the world, and it's important for these voices to be amplified, so that the radicalizers about Al-Qaeda and ISIS are overwhelmed by the positive messages of pluralism and respect for difference."



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