State Dept Tells Cruz Iran Negotiations Has ‘Nothing To Do’ with Human Rights Report Delay

By Meredith Dake
Posted June 19, 2015 at 1:09pm
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Following a report at Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is asking for a fine on the State Department for the delay of semi-annual human rights report, which was due in February of this year, the department defended the tardiness and blamed travel and resource burdens. “We recognize that the — that the report is late by several months. We’re working very hard on that, and I — and I expect that you will see that report, at least in the very near future,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. “The delay has nothing to do with the Iran negotiations whatsoever. That is a completely false notion. Absolutely no truth to it at all.” Read a transcript of the exchange below, via CQ.com: QUESTION: All right. Two more very brief ones on this. One, you may have seen a report coming from the Hill saying — noting — pointing out that the administration — that the State Department every six months is supposed to report to Congress on the Iran-North Korea-Syria Nonproliferation Act findings. The last one was in December 2014, which would mean six months from now — oh, sorry — six months from then is now, given that we’re in June. I’m wondering if that is going to come out soon. And if it is, do you expect that it will cover anything more than just 2011 to 2012. It doesn’t appear that since the negotiations have begun, that the administration has filed a report that covers any of the time — any of the time period of the negotiations. KIRBY: To your second question, I wouldn’t expect it to cover more than 2012. I can tell you that there’s certainly no disputing the fact that it’s late. Also, no disputing the fact that we’re working very diligently on that. I don’t have a calendar to give you in terms of — in — in terms of the timing of it. QUESTION: Alright. And then another report, you may have seen that Senator Cruz is proposing the fine the State Department for a percentage of its — of its budget for every 30 days that the human-rights reports are — are late. These were due out in February. He — I don’t think he is particularly — well, he’s — I won’t speak for him. He’s most interested in the Iran report, which, of course, was one, a very small part of the overall report. But can you — well, one, I presume that you’re opposed to his proposal, and if you are, could you say it or even if you’re not? And number two, can you assure Senator Cruz and others who are suggesting that this is — that the delay is designed to protect Iran from criticism of its human-rights record because of the negotiations, the nuclear negotiations? Can you assure them that they are wrong? KIRBY: Yes, I can. The delay has nothing to do with the Iran negotiations whatsoever. That is a completely false notion. Absolutely no truth to it at all. We recognize that the — that the report is late by several months. We’re working very hard on that, and I — and I expect that you will see that report, at least in the very near future. QUESTION: OK. But would one of the — the reason that it’s been late has to do with the secretary’s travel? Is that one reason? KIRBY: There’s been a — there’s been a host of reasons. One of them is a very intense travel schedule by the secretary the last few months but also just the routine staffing and administrative delays. QUESTION: Fair enough. But one — one of the reasons that he’s been travelling so much or had been travelling so much was for the Iran negotiations. So to say that it has nothing at all to do with Iran is not entirely correctly, right? I mean, what I’m looking for… KIRBY: Some of the travel – some of the travel, yes. QUESTION: … this is — this is why I just wanted to nail this down, because you open yourself up to people on the Hill and elsewhere saying, “You’re playing fast and loose (ph) (inaudible).” This has nothing to do with protecting Iran — does this have anything to do with protecting Iran from criticism on its human-rights record while the negotiations are underway? KIRBY: No. And I appreciate the opportunity to clarify. No. It