On October 15, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that “Iran is under more pressure than ever before” thanks to new E.U. sanctions on its financial, trade, energy and transport sectors. At a separate press briefing, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland clarified that the United States “is not looking to hurt the Iranian people.” She said that the combination of sanctions and Tehran’s internal mismanagement have caused Iran’s economic crisis. The following are excerpts from their statements.
Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney in Williamsburg, VA
MR. CARNEY: I wanted to say that the United States welcomes the adoption today by the European Union of significant new sanctions against the Iranian government in response to the Iranian government’s continued violation of its international obligations regarding its nuclear program.
This action, which includes additional sanctions in the financial, trade, energy and transport sectors, as well as additional designations on entities in the oil and gas industry, further strengthens international efforts to pressure and isolate the Iranian government for its continued refusal to comply with its international obligations and fully cooperate with the IAEA.
As you know, rallying the world to isolate Iran and increase the pressure on its leadership so that they stop pursuing a nuclear weapon has been a top priority for the President since the day he took office. Thanks to that leadership, Iran is under more pressure than ever before. The Iranian government is responsible for the state of Iran’s economy and the isolation of the country. Iran’s leaders have made conscious choices about how they manage their economy, how they prioritize their budget and how they respond to the concerns of their people. The regime has chosen to spend money to pursue nuclear activities in violation of its international obligations, to support Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime, to enable terrorist acts around the world, and to undertake destabilizing activities around the region.
Iran knows the kind of concrete steps we are looking for to bring it back into full compliance with its international nuclear obligations, to address the proposal tabled by the P5-plus-1, and to cooperate fully and transparently with the International Atomic Energy Agency…
Daily Press Briefing by U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland
MS. NULAND: Well, we saw those reports today, reports that everything from shoes and clothing to foreign-imported wallpaper, the Iranian regime is now trying to restrict in terms of the way their citizens use their foreign exchange. Again, from our perspective, this just speaks to the extreme economic mismanagement, the extreme political mismanagement of the Iranian regime and the fact that the Iranian people are now feeling the full effects of the bad decision that their government has made. And these sanctions are designed to continue to pressure the regime to make another choice. And from our perspective, the onus remains on the regime. The door is open, the table is set; they have to just make better choices if they truly care about their people.
QUESTION: So you think this has nothing to do ultimately with the sanctions themselves? You think that the fact that they have less foreign exchange to spend on shoes or whatever is in no way related to the sanctions?
MS. NULAND: Obviously it’s [the crisis] a function of both their own internal mismanagement, but also the fact that the sanctions are biting into their ability to export, other countries’ willingness to trade with them, et cetera. So it’s obviously having an economic impact, but so is their own internal mismanagement.
QUESTION: …Do you feel any responsibility or – for what presumably will eventually become hardship if it is not already hardship for ordinary people who can’t – can no longer get ordinary consumer goods?
MS. NULAND: Well, let’s start with reminding that under the sanctions policy – U.S. sanctions policy, international sanctions policy – we grant exceptions for medicine and for foodstuffs, and the United States still exports foodstuffs and medicine to Iran, and we don’t preclude or ask anybody else to stop those kinds of imports. So we are not looking to hurt the Iranian people.
Second, I will say what we have said all the way along: We do not have any beef with the Iranian people. We do have serious concerns about the choices that their government has made, and the Iranian people have to understand that the choices their government has made have consequences. In this case, they’re seeing it in the decision by the government not to allow them to import foreign shoes and clothes and wallpaper.