Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Haiti, Iran, and Somalia, at the Security Council Stakeout
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ambassador Rice: Good Morning you all. We’re looking forward to an important discussion in the Council today on the situation in Haiti. We are pleased that the outpouring of international support to Haiti has been so extraordinary. It’s a historic and heroic effort that has brought critical assistance to the people of Haiti. The United States is proud of the contributions it has made, including as the largest governmental donor to the UN Flash Appeal now at $1.4 billion and the U.S. contribution at $131.5 million. This is part of $600 million overall expenditure on behalf of the United States thus far in this process. We are also pleased that a number of countries, over 30, have made offers of police or military to augment MINUSTAH and the United States is among those countries to have done so.
This is all indicative of the importance that the United States, the Security Council, indeed the entire international community, attach to supporting the people and government of Haiti as they work to rebuild and recover in the wake of this devastating earthquake. And while the needs remain enormous and our commitment is enduring and we look to addressing the urgent challenges of shelter and sanitation, I think it goes without saying that in terms of delivery of food, medical supplies, engineering logistical support, the international community, MINUSTAH, the many countries that have contributed including the United States in support of the people and government of Haiti have thus far made a very important contribution.Reporter:
Question about Iran, I just wanted to know if the latest report from IAEA speeds up the sanctions track here at the UN somehow?Ambassador Rice
: Well, the latest report from the IAEA quite plainly underscores that Iran continues to flout its international obligations and has demonstrated absolutely no readiness to take the steps that it could to try to demonstrate that it intends, as it claims, a peaceful nuclear program. On the contrary, what we see are more and more indications that this is indeed a nuclear weapons program with the purpose of evasion. And the IAEA report is an important element that underscores to the international community and the Security Council the urgency of making the choice real to Iran that it could engage and uphold its international obligations or, on the contrary, face increased international pressure. And as you well know, we and others are working on the beginnings of what might constitute appropriate pressure.Reporter:
On Somalia, the U.N. has said that the U.S. is politicizing aid, and has made restrictions that make it impossible to feed people in southern Somalia. Could you say what the restrictions are and what the reasons for them are?Ambassador Rice
: Well, first of all we utterly reject that claim; we think it's false and unfounded. The reason why aid is not now proceeding to the people of southern Somalia is one reason alone and it's quite clear: it’s Al Shabaab’s attacks on WFP and other U.N. agencies, its kidnapping of innocent relief workers, its extortion of funds which prompted WFP on January 5th
to take the decision that it could not and would not continue to deliver life saving assistance in southern Somalia. That’s an unfortunate development but it is a direct consequence of Al Shabaab’s attacks and efforts. The U.S. is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, we have been consistently over many years, and in 2009 we contributed $150 million in humanitarian assistance to Somalia. So, as I said we reject that claim as false and unfounded.Reporter:
One follow up, Mark Bowden of the UN had said when he traveled to Washington and met with USAID officials they said to him that the decision was above their pay-grade and was being made by the State Department on a political basis.Ambassador Rice
: He’s conflating and misconstruing two different things. The reason why the people of Somalia in the South are not able to receive the assistance that we and others have traditionally provided at present is because WFP took a decision, a decision they felt compelled to take and we understand why they had to take it, that they could no longer continue to provide assistance safely, given Al Shabaab’s harassment, attacks, and terrorist activities. The question of how the U.S. government has responded, and we have been in discussions with humanitarian delivery agencies about the fact that we have grave concerns about the diversion of resources to Al Shabaab and other terrorist organizations in contravention of U.S. law. And we have had those discussions, they have been ongoing but nonetheless, the U.S. provided $150 million of humanitarian assistance to Somalia last year. We remain, as we have been for many years, the largest donor, and what is precluding the delivery of assistance to people in southern Somalia is Al Shabaab.Reporter:
I have a follow up on Iran. You said that you are working on the beginnings of what might constitute additional pressure, where are you in that process? Are you working bi-laterally with China? And when do you expect to bring it to the entire Council?Ambassador Rice
: Well I’m not prepared to put a timeline on it and I'm not going to get into the details of our private diplomatic exchanges. But suffice it to say that we are internally and with partners beginning the process of thinking through what are the appropriate elements of pressure. And that will be a process that will continue over a period of time and I think we should be realistic about the pace, and I think some of the stories I have read suggest a pace that is not consistent with what I understand to be the case.