"FY2020 Retrospective on Security Cooperation Activities Worldwide with a look ahead to FY2021"

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MODERATOR: Okay. So let’s get started. Good  afternoon, everyone, and welcome. My name is   Melissa Waheibi. I’m the deputy director of the  New York Foreign Press Center and the moderator   for today’s briefing. We’re happy to host the  assistant secretary for the Bureau of Political   Military Affairs, R. Clark Cooper, who will  speak about the United States as the security   partner of choice and who will offer highlights  of the year 2020 and a look ahead to 2021. Now, for the ground rules, this briefing  is on the record. If you have a question,  

you can go to the participant list and virtually  raise your hand. When you’re called on, please   unmute your microphone and ask your question.  You may also type your question into he chat box,   and I will ask that on your behalf. If you’ve  not already done so, please take the time to  

rename your Zoom profile with your full name  and the name of your media outlet. Thank you,   sir, for giving us your time today. I’d pass  it over to you for your opening remarks. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Great. Thank you,  Melissa. It is really a pleasure to have the   opportunity to be with you all again  today albeit in another virtual format,   this time from a very snowy place – my residence  of Guard Hill House. A lot of snow coming down   so happy to be with you all  in this comfortable space. There are several political-military developments  since my last briefing to the Foreign Press Center   and would certainly like to update you on those  latest developments, not only in the security   cooperation space, but also in defense trade. To  open, I would like to note that on December 14th,  

the United States Government imposed sanctions on  Turkey pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering   America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions  Act, or as you all commonly know it, CAATSA. Why we did this – this was for their knowingly  engaging in transactions of a significant nature   with Russia. This is particularly with the  Rosoboronexport, Russian main arms export entity.   This is for the procurement of the S-400.  It’s a surface-to-air missile system. The   Defense Industry Presidency or SSB is a Turkish  Government procurement entity that purchases   defense equipment and has the responsibilities  for the defense industrial development of Turkey.   This was the – the target of he CAATSA sanctions.  This was a very hard but necessary choice.   And because Turkey has status not only as a  bilateral ally with us but as a NATO member   and an ally, the United States undertook  exhaustive efforts to engage diplomatically   with the Turkish Government at every level to  provide an offramp from the S-400 acquisition.

The United States made very clear to Turkey at  the highest levels and on numerous occasions that   its purchase and pursuit of the S-400 system would  endanger the security of U.S. military technology   and personnel and provide substantial  funds to Russia’s defense sector.   This is to get even more granular about this, this  – this is also in the frame of Russia’s access   to Turkish armed forces and defense industry.  Nevertheless, Turkey did decide to move ahead   with procurement and the testing of the S-400  system. And this decision resulted in both   Turkey’s suspension from the F-35 Joint Strike  Fighter program and now sanctions under CAATSA. Turkey procured and tested the S-400 despite  the availability of the alternative. And  

that alternative which many of you and I have  discussed in the past was the NATO interoperable   systems that are available, particularly the  Patriot battery system. This was made available   to meet Turkey’s defense requirements. Further,  this step should send a clear message globally:   CAATSA is designed to impose costs on Russia  in response to its malicious cyber activities,   its unacceptable behavior in Ukraine,  and other malign activities worldwide. We would caution other U.S. partners against  making major purchases of Russian defense   equipment in the future that would  also put them at risk of sanctions.  

We recognize many partners still operate  historic legacy Russian systems – again   something we’ve discussed in the past. And our  intent is not to deprive them of spare parts   and maintenance to sustain this equipment –  and we understand that that has to occur as   a – as a bridge until it can be replaced with  non-Russian alternatives. We therefore do not   focus our CAATSA enforcement on such sustainment  transactions and have repeatedly made that clear. Lastly, our CAATSA implementation is not  tied to U.S. arms sales or transfers.  

We encourage all our partners to avoid Russian  arms purchases. They do not have to buy American,   though our options provide a much better preferred  choice. Other NATO allies and partners also offer   capable systems without using proceeds of  defense sales to finance malign behavior. So moving over into some other things of interest  that I know many of you will be asking about   and one I will start with that’s a little bit  of a retrospective looking into the next year.   The Trump administration’s pursuit of the  transformative Abraham Accords have provided   uniquely successful, and I am very happy to  see these enforced to provide further peace,   stability, and growth in the Middle  East. I would like to particularly note  

the recent announcement of Morocco  normalizing relations with Israel   under the Abraham Accords. This achievement  between the United States, Israel, and Morocco   continues to transform the region’s security  architecture and again is yet just another   state to recognize Israel’s sovereignty and  Israel’s membership in the community of states. So speaking of the Abraham Accords, regarding our  efforts to provide the United Arab Emirates with   advanced defense capabilities, I would also  like to provide some updates in that space.  

Just last month the Department of  State and the Department of Defense   formally notified Congress of our intent  to authorize the UAE’s proposed purchase   of several advanced capabilities that  are worth a total of $23.37 billion. The ones of course that have been of the most  interest by many parties are the 50 F-35 Lightning   II aircraft – those are valued at $10.4 billion  – and up to about 18 MQ-9Bs or as commonly called   MQ-9 Bravos. These are UASes, unmanned aerial  systems. And those are valued at $2.97 billion.   This also – and if we look at the total package of  the cases that have been proposed are inclusive of   air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions, and those  munitions are valued about $10 billion. This is   in recognition of our deepening relationship with  the UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities   to deter and defend itself against the  heightened threats emanating from Iran. Now, when we look at the defense cooperation  not just with the UAE but the defense   cooperation that comes in the wake of the  historic Abraham Accords, this provides us   with the opportunity to positively transform the  region’s strategic landscape. Our adversaries,  

especially those in Iran, know that this will  – this – and it will not stop at anything   to disrupt the shared success that we are enjoying  with our partners in the region. The proposed sale   will make the UAE even more capable and  more interoperable with the United States   and our partners in a manner that is fully  consistent with America’s longstanding commitment,   ironclad commitment I may – I may add,  to Israel’s qualitative military edge. The formal period on congressional review for  these sales actually just concluded on December   11th. We continue to work with the UAE on what’s  called the letters of offer and acceptance or   the LOAs. And those if concluded would certainly  finalize any of these deals. We also continue to  

engage in a very healthy and productive dialogue  with our Congress. You saw this debate play out   last week as several resolutions were voted on  in the Senate. This is a sign of the process   playing out as it was designed, as it should,  amongst the different branches of government. And then looking a little bit into the –  into the first quarter of 2021, I want to   take some opportunity that as we approach  the end of this quarter and the end of 2020   to give an opportunity to  acknowledge accomplishments   that have been made in the security  cooperation and defense trade space.   Despite a difficult and challenging year, I am  very proud to say that we were still able to adapt   and to overcome challenges to meet our mission  and actually expand total defense sales for   fiscal year 2020. This rose by 2.8 percent from  170.9 – $170.09 billion up to $175.08 billion.

This added additional amount of jobs – thousands  of jobs into the U.S. economy and is sustaining   thousands more of jobs that could have been  at risk had we not been able to proceed   with these sales. The three-year rolling average  – and I – I emphasize three-year rolling average   because this helps paint a more accurate  picture on projections on State Department   authorized government-to-government foreign  military sales implemented through our defense   partner, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency,  rose to $54-point billion in Fiscal Year 2020   from $51-point billion in Fiscal Year 2019. Now  also, I want to note that the dollar value of   potential FMS sales formally notified to Congress  this past year rose by more than 50 percent from   $58.33 billion up to $87.64 billion. So  that’s on government-to-government cases.

Now I will turn to the commercial  side or the commercial sector. The   value of department-authorized commercial export  licenses via our Direct Commercial Sales, or DCS,   totaled $124.3 billion in Fiscal Year ’20. Now  this was up from $114.7 billion in Fiscal Year   ’19. This represented an overall 8.4 percent  increase. This included – and as to why,  

this included several multibillion-dollar  sales to partners like Australia,   Japan, the United Kingdom, and other NATO allies.  This increase in demand certainly addresses   our partners’ longstanding national security  requirements. Many of these requirements are   long built out and identified before coming to  fruition, and also is an amplifying point as to   America remains the security and defense partner  of choice for nations around the world, and very   much being able to overcome the competition, the  authoritarian competitors of China and Russia.

So when we’re also looking at policies that  moved in a direction to help support our position   globally, I do want to talk about some updates  on licensing and what we were able to do   in that space. In addition to the potential  Emirati MQ-9B sale that I mentioned, in June,   the department approved a potential sale of MQ-9Bs  – this is the UAS, the Unmanned Aerial System – to   Taiwan. This is for an estimated cost of $600  million. These sales marked the first MQ-9B sold   under the updated UAS policy, and you can expect  additional sales to follow in fullness of time. As you may note from some  previous conversations we have had   back in July – this is when President Trump  updated our policy governing the sale,   transfer, and then of course the subsequent  use of U.S. origin unmanned aerial systems.   The U.S. government’s going to now be able  to take – invoke our national discretion  

in that space on where we can implement the  MTCR, the Missile Technology Control Regime.   That’s the MTCR’s strong presumption of denial for  transfers of Category I systems to treat carefully   selected subset of this category, so a subset of  Category I. And that would be those systems that   have a maximum air speed of less than 800  kilometers per hour, as with Category II. The United States remains a committed member of  MTCR, and I think that’s something some of you   may have asked in the past. And we certainly  complied with those regimes and encourage  

states that seek to procure the MQ-9 Bravo  to be in compliance with MTCR. We certainly   see the regime as an important nonproliferation  tool to curb the spread of high-end missile use   technologies to countries such as North Korea  and Iran. We remain very laser-focused on these   and other nonproliferation concerns, and future  sales will certainly continue to bear this out. Now, I had mentioned earlier about our ability as  a bureau, as a department – frankly, as a society,   to adapt and overcome some of the conditions  that we’ve all had to face regarding COVID. And   I do want to talk about how we’ve adapted to the  impacts on the global pandemic – the global COVID   pandemic. Everything in the Political-Military  Affairs Bureau portfolio – defense trade,  

security assistance, peacekeeping, demining, et  cetera, you name it – it continues to be impacted   by the pandemic. But what has not changed are  those programmatic needs that are serviced by   the portfolio. The U.S. Government and industries  do continue to honor our commitments to partners,   and we’ve been able to do so despite some  significant logistical challenges. Our defense  

industry is fulfilling contracts and timely  deliveries continue despite the challenges. This year, PM worked across various bureaus to  proactively authorize partner countries to utilize   PM-funded equipment originally provided for  peacekeeping, or in some cases, counterterrorism   purposes and temporarily apply it for domestic  COVID-19 responses. This equipment, including   field hospitals or in some  cases including ambulances,   were able to be reapplied in Chad, Ghana,  Mauritania, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda, and Mongolia   to help boost global response to treat the  infected and to slow the spread of the pandemic.

In addition, the Department of State worked  to maximize social distancing and teleworking   flexibilities for our employees across not only  our bureau, but of course, State and Defense   industry. It certainly helped; I would say a  silver lining put forth some IT or communications   modernization efforts in place for us to be  able to be more expedient and responsive in   our work. We bulked up measures to safeguard  national security and protect our technical data   from spoilers abroad, and doing so while keeping  our thousands of employees safe and healthy. And then some other things that we’ve also talked  about in the past I’d like to revisit today,   highlight some of the recent accomplishments of  the interagency Targeting Working Group, the TWG   that was established by State and our partners at  the Pentagon. The TWG works to ensure appropriate  

targeting infrastructure capabilities for  certain munitions, notably the PGMs or the   precision-guided munitions, which account for  wherever munitions are sold or transferred   via our Foreign Military Sales program or other  U.S. Government security cooperation activities. This program works to mitigate civilian casualties  as a top issue. I’m happy to further talk about   that during the Q&A, but I would offer that  one of the things that have come out of the TWG   has been the pursuit of the program and  training elements that we provide through the   FMS program to over now 10 partners to  date who have voluntarily sought out   the capabilities and resources  to mitigate civilian casualties.

And then also I wanted to go back and just a  refresh on where we have moved forward with   partners and allies in the case of burden sharing,  and some of that we’ve already even touched upon   today. But in August, the United States and  Poland came together for the U.S.-Poland   Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. This  was signed by Secretary Pompeo in Warsaw,   and it provides a mechanism for the sharing  of logistical and infrastructure costs   for U.S. forces that will – that are present in  Poland. Now by creating this durable framework   for even closer defense cooperation  and security cooperation,   it’s not only through a crucial NATO ally, but it  also strengthens the Eastern Flank’s security and   deterrence. So there is a much broader regional  context here and a NATO alliance context here.

And then looking over to the East, Donna  Welton, who I’ve introduced to some of you,   our senior negotiator, she continues to  meet with her Republic of Korea counterpart,   Ambassador Jeong Eun-bo, and working on  negotiating an updated special measures agreement.   And those consultations are ongoing. And  then looking further over into the East,   consultations just as recently as  October moving into the next steps   this month between the United States and Japan for  renewal or the – I would say the new arrangements   regarding host nation support, those are in  train in the discussion as we look into 2021.

And then – and again, finally,  as I mentioned earlier, despite   the challenges that no one is immune  to – everyone here has had their own   challenges regarding the pandemic – we  have been able to execute successfully –   on travel, I, amazingly, was still able  to execute a number of successful trips   this year, including ones to the Middle East, the  Maghreb, the Gulf, Central Europe, Eastern Europe,   and also to the Asia-Pacific region.  I visited a number of your countries. And at this point, I’m certainly happy to   open the floor, handing back over to Melissa  in New York to start the Q&A. Thank you. MODERATOR: Thank you, sir. That was really  helpful. So we will open this time now for   Q&A. Again, you can go to the participant  list and raise your digital hand   or offer up a remark in the comments  section. We will start off with James   Reinl from The National. James, you  can unmute yourself and go ahead.

QUESTION: Thanks, Melissa, and thank  you for the briefing, Mr. Cooper,   today and also for making yourself so  available over the last few weeks during this   F-35 to the UAE deal, which has been really useful  for us, and that’s what my question is on today. Obviously, the deal made it through Congress,  but can you give us an update as to where we   are now on two points: Are you guys working to ink  the actual contracts for the deal before the end   of the Trump administration? And from where  we are now, is this deal locked in or could   there be changes, modifications to it under  the subsequent administration of Joe Biden? ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: So I’ll start with  your first – the first part of the question,   which was where we are today. So yeah, as  I noted and you re-noted, we cleared the   congressional process, and where we are now is the  letters of offer and acceptance space or period.   That’s a bilateral consideration, so this is –  this is – on any Foreign Military Sales case,   the United States Government and the  partner government go through line by line,   make sure the parameters are  understood before proceeding. This is not a new process for even the UAE. I  mean, they are a significant partner already,  

as I had mentioned earlier. And the Secretary  has said they have proven themselves over and   over again in their ability to be interoperable  with the United States, their capability to   operate already advanced systems. They’ve had this  experience on working through the LOA process, so   that is moving at a very deliberate pace, as  we would at any time of the year regardless of   the calendar, so yes. And our intent is to  have those done as soon as able. But again,   that’s a bilateral process; that isn’t unilateral.  That is both governments working together   on the line by lines for the LOAs,  but moving at a deliberate pace.

And to your question about change of government  and will there be any potential change,   certainly the U.S. Government has the  prerogative on addressing any kind of   commitments in the security cooperation space with  a partner and ally. But when we make a decision   or a commitment as a government, that holds.  I would certainly put it in the space of   any other commitments that have been  made bilaterally with partners. And  

today we’re just happy to talk about the  United Arab Emirates. Commitments like that   certainly would be – would hold in place and are  transcendent of any kind of change of government. MODERATOR: Thank you. We have a  question from Islam Dogru from   Anadolu Agency. Islam, you can unmute yourself. QUESTION:   Thank you very much for the  opportunity. I would like to ask  

three question. Maybe we can quickly  – can combine all of them quickly. First of all, in contrary your statement,  Turkish side claims that – they argue that   the U.S. missile system was their first option  and they did their all capacity to purchase,   but U.S. refused at that time,  so they didn’t have a choice  

to go with the S-400 after. And  what would be your respond on that? And second, do we have any concern that these   actions may push Turkey toward  – more to the Russian side? And thirdly, and maybe more important  one, these sanctions were on the table or   was such a thorn between two countries for past  three years. Now they are on the table. And do   you think this may provide sort of solid ground  to solve the problem between two countries, and   if I may say, have a better relation  in coming years? Thank you very much. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Thank you. Now, I’ll  start with your question/observation about does  

this provide an additional dialogue platform. So  the concern and the consideration about sanctions   with Turkey are not new. And we can go back three  years ago when Turkey sought to pursue the S-400,   and we certainly as allies in a bilateral  fashion certainly worked to dissuade that.   And that contract pursuit, of course,  there were many opportunities for it to   not be realized or delivered or made  operable. And we certainly sought to  

encourage an alternative. I mentioned one of  them in my brief regarding the Patriot battery. Where are we at today? Well, the sanctions  are certainly designed to actually go   target a set of individuals, and I mentioned  the SSB entity. It certainly – the whole idea   of sanctions is they don’t stay on infinitum.  They do provide opportunity for reconciliation.   They do provide an opportunity to identify  pathways. It is in Turkey’s best interest,   it’s in the United States best interest,  and it’s in the NATO alliance best interest   for us to be together, and it is in our best  interest to seek reconciliation in this space. That said, that’s going to take some effort on  the part of our counterparts, our colleagues in   Ankara. They know that. But looking at it from a  long-term aspect, we want Turkey to remain in the  

NATO alliance. The United States wants to remain  in a close bilateral relationship. It is – again,   it is – it would be not to our benefit for  us not to seek reconciliation of this space. That said, there remains work to  be done. And there are solutions   from an interoperable standpoint and an  alliance standpoint that would address   not only from an air defense perspective, but an  integrated air defense perspective for Turkey. MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go  to Yashwant Raj from the Hindustan Times in India.  

Mr. Raj, you can unmute  yourself and ask your question. QUESTION:   Hello, can you hear me? MODERATOR: Yes. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Yeah. QUESTION: Okay, thanks so much for doing this,  Secretary Cooper. I’d like to ask you about CAATSA   sanctions, sir. Could you speak a little bit  about impending actions that you may be taking   in the near future? And I ask this in the context  of India, which has purchased the same S-400s.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Yeah. Thank you,  Raj. As I mentioned in the briefing portion,   a reminder essentially to our  counterparts abroad on several things. One, the CAATSA sanctions are not designed  to be punitive to a partner and ally that   has got a sustainment issue or an operation or  maintenance issue. We’re certainly not looking to  

disrupt that. Why? Well, we don’t want a  partner’s sovereign defense capabilities   to be degraded to put their readiness at risk.  However, CAATSA the statute is designed to address   new significant acquisitions, procurements  of Russian systems that would put at risk   anything that would be interoperable  with U.S. systems or NATO systems.

I would say that one thing, too, from an Indian  perspective in particular, which is why I raised   the legacy issue, CAATSA’s not, again, designed  to take a punitive action in that space. It’s to   mitigate and prevent the significant addition  of high-level, high-tech Russian systems. Also, another thing to remind is that CAATSA  sanctions are of a global nature. They’re  

not limited to a particular state or region, and  there is no timeline. I know that there had been   questions posed to me and to other colleagues as  to we thought sanctions weren’t going to be issued   to Turkey because nothing had been done in the  last few months. And that’s to just remind that   there’s no clock on the United States Government  applying them, and there’s also no blanket waiver   either. I know some states have thought or sought  that either Congress or the Executive Branch   would apply a waiver on sanctions, and I just  would offer that is definitely not the case.

QUESTION: Thank you. MODERATOR: Thank you. I’m going to read a question  from the chat function. It’s from China Review   News Agency of Hong Kong. “Could you please talk  a little more about the arms sales to Taiwan?   Will the Trump administration have any more  arms sales to Taiwan to announce? Thank you.” ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Well, under the  standard line, we don’t preview sales that we   have not yet notified to Congress. So I won’t talk  about what’s in the future. What I can talk about,   which applies to the past, present, and the  future, is that anything that we approve   and work with our partners in the interagency to  meet the defense needs of Taiwan are certainly   within the frame and parameters of the Taiwan  Relations Act, and we are going to as a government   across administrations – are going to keep that  commitment. I mean, it’s worth noting that there  

have been a number of administrations over the  past four decades that have kept that commitment   to Taiwan’s defense needs, and I can assure  you that from administration to administration,   regardless of political affiliation,  that commitment will remain. MODERATOR: We’ll move over to NHK with  Ben Marks. Ben, you can unmute yourself. QUESTION: Thank you, Assistant Secretary Cooper,  for doing this briefing. I have two quick   questions on Japan. The topic of today’s briefing  is looking ahead to 2021. I know the Secretary  

has mentioned that countries are now awakening  to the threat of China. Do you expect we’ll see   any increase of military sales to Japan next  year to help counter malign Chinese influence? Then, on host nation support, I’m not going  to ask for a timeline but would you say   that we are likely to get an agreement  during the Trump administration or is   it likely that this will carry on into  the Biden administration? Thank you. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Sure. I’ll start  with the host nation agreement with Japan.   The expiry on that is March of 2021, so it is  in both Japan and the United States interest   to continue that work at a diligent pace. I am  not going to put a clock on that. I know that  

both parties in Tokyo and Washington – I mentioned  our senior negotiator, Donna Welton and her team   are seeking to identify where  we need to have shared points,   areas that might need to be readdressed  at higher ministerial levels,   but that continues. So I would just say if  one’s looking at a calendar, the date that   both negotiators in Tokyo are working from,  are looking at backwards, is March of ’21. To your question about China’s defense needs, of  course there are – there are significant efforts   there in the modernization space for Japan.  And I would say if you look retrospectively  

at 2020, some of the more significant sales –  and I mentioned Japan in my briefing at the top   – are tied to sales for that state. In fact, in  July of this year – maybe it was August but it was   definitely summer – the second-largest sale ever  notified in the history of the Department of State   were for F-35s for Japan, and that was this  year. That was 2020. When we’re looking at   their capabilities and requirements,  certainly needs haven’t changed. I   mentioned earlier in the brief about  while the pandemic has impacted   some operational and logistical challenges for  all governments and for all arms of industry,   requirements have not changed; our  programmatic needs have not changed.

So if one looks at Japan’s modernization  trajectory from what’s been reported in the past   few years and looking into the future, I would  just offer that the requirements have not changed,   so one could imagine a constancy and focus there.  I certainly can’t speak to their management   of other items in that space, but again, the  requirements remain of great importance to Tokyo. MODERATOR: All right. We have a question from  Alex from Turan News Agency in Azerbaijan.  

Alex, please ask your question. QUESTION: Yes, thank you very much, Melissa.  Great to see you. Couple of questions here,   but I do want to start with Turkey since that  was the first country in your opening statement,   and I really appreciate for the statement. You  mentioned testing, but I do remember on previous   conversations that the redline you drew on S-400s  was about operating, like, to make sure it’s not   being operationalized. Has anything changed in  that front? Because given where I am coming from,  

there is this conventional wisdom in our part of  the world that Turkey is being punished right now   for other actions such as its presence  in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.   Was that the case, or if there is any other  reason given the timing behind the sanctions? And my next question: Is there any concern at all  on your end that Russia is militarily increasing   – increasingly inserting itself in the South  Caucasus, most recently in Nagorno-Karabakh?   If so, is there anything that you could do  to help the regional countries – Azerbaijan,   Armenia, Georgia – to stand up against  Russian influence? Thank you so much. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Yeah. I’ll start  with Nagorno-Karabakh, the work that’s being   done there, the need for a peaceful negotiation,  the application of the Minsk Group, and where   efforts there from a multinational, multilateral  space are required. You made the observation,   and I would certainly concur, is that where there  is Russian presence in these cases there’s risk   of disruption, and certainly one that would be a  challenge to all the states and parties involved   there. It is why the United States has taken some  additional focus and attention in the humanitarian   space. Some of that Secretary Pompeo announced  back in November for the – for that region.

Now, when you’re talking about the  timing on Turkey and the sanctions,   again, the imposition and the application  of the CAATSA sanctions are directly tied to   Turkey procuring and turning on the S-400 system,  full stop. Now, as to why, remember, I’ve said   before there’s no clock on these. And it – and  because Turkey is a bilateral ally, is a NATO   member state, we took very careful measures and a  deliberate approach on addressing it. We actually   tried to find a pathway to avoid sanctions. We  actually tried to find a pathway, if you remember   a year ago, to keep Turkey in the F-35 program.  But at each point or each juncture where we could  

have sought a reconciliation or an alternative  measure, that was not met. And so the first   step we took was removing Turkey from the Joint  Strike Fighter program, which, again, was not   an easy decision and not an easy process for the  United States or other partners in the consortium. And then on the imposition of sanctions, again,  from a timing standpoint, had they – they could   have been issued at any time. So I would say we’re  really looking at the issue at hand is the S-400   and why that’s problematic, and the  need for us to find a pathway forward. QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: We’ll take a question from  Majeed from Rudaw Media Network in Iraq. QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you,  Melissa, and thank you for this briefing. My   question is again about Turkey, about the recent  sanctions. I just want to understand, do you think   this will – this sanction will impact your work  with Turkey in a more broader sense? As you just   mentioned, Turkey is a NATO ally. Do you think it  will impact that, and has your Turkish counterpart  

indicated that as a response to the sanction they  will decrease cooperation with – coordination with   the United States on other levels, especially  when it comes to the Mediterranean? Thank you. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Sure. Well,  let’s – I’ll go to the number of lines   of communication and interlocutors that  exist between the United States and Turkey.   Remember, the sanctions are on this particular  entity, they’re on SSB. The sanctions are not   on the Turkish Armed Forces. If anything,  we of course have a relationship there  

with them again bilaterally, and of  course through the NATO Alliance. So no, I mean, the intent of the  sanctions is to actually get to   what one would call in the military a course  correction in this space. The intent is to   fix the situation. How can we do that? Of  course, I already mentioned that having a   system that is not only interoperable with U.S.  systems but also with NATO systems would certainly   get us back into that clarification,  that reconciliation space.

But no, when one’s looking  at the broader relationship,   again, it’s to Turkey’s benefit, it’s to  the alliance’s benefit, it’s to our benefit   that we remain not only in communication but  in coordination and working with each other.   Because as I said, there are definitely  shared interests, and again, the sanctions,   while not limited to a particular timeframe, they  are definitely a vehicle for course correction. MODERATOR:   Okay. Thank you, Majeed. We’re going to – we  have time for a couple more questions. We’ll   move to the chat function. I’ll read one from you,  sir, from Manik Mehta. He’s an internationally   syndicated journalist. The question is: “India  expressed an interest to buy sophisticated drones   from the U.S. during the last 2+2 meetings in  Delhi. India would also like to have technology  

transferred to this equipment. What is the U.S.  position on technology transferred to a non-NATO   partner, which, although not a former ally,  has a strategic partnership with the U.S.?” ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Yeah. So again, with  anything regarding tech access and transfers – and   those are very – two very different things –  there are a number of factors that come into play.  

It is always case by case, and what  do I mean by that? I mean case by case   for the state, the partner, the ally; case  by case for the particular capability or the   technology. And some of those things are based  on the partner’s capability to operate, maintain,   actually be a contributor in that space.  This is a part of the conversations that are   currently ongoing with the United States and India  on a number of platforms. But again, not a unique   conversation between these two states.  It’s one that we have with other states. Having certain things addressed, I  would say mechanisms or rigor that help   provide a framework to do more detailed, deeper  work, things like information-sharing agreements,   security agreements – again, much of this  already being pursued bilaterally between   the United States and India. I mention that mostly  for others on this call who may not be familiar,   is that when one looks at a maturation or the  evolution in a security cooperation relationship,   or in a strategic defense relationship, this is  where there are, I would say, like building blocks   on top of each other that allow  for the partners to get into a more   interoperable space – not just from  operating together or training together   or conducting exercises together, but  actually being able to be integrated.

So that certainly continues at a pace. To your  question specifically about UAS capabilities, as   I mentioned earlier, the Trump administration this  year, we worked mightily with the MTCR states. We   worked mightily through the multilateral  channels to get – to further address   and update policies on UAS Category 1 capability  and transfers. We sought to do that on our own,   and did so successfully, and it has certainly  opened up the opportunities for states to pursue. So in a – just speaking in a  general sense without previewing   any sales, I already mentioned Taiwan today, and  I mentioned UAE. Those are the first states that  

have sought to acquire an MQ-9 UAS capability with  the new policy that we, the Trump administration,   put out this year. I definitely anticipate there  being other states seeking a similar capability.   And these are states who are seeking it for  very similar reasons. It’s to be able to have   domain awareness on their borders, their  ability to have domain awareness from the   seaport and seashore aspects. Again, it’s being  able to have what many who do ISR collection   and I would say visibility, a better “soak”  on what is out there and to be able to see   further for their defense capabilities  and sovereign border protection needs. So I do see, again, broadly a pursuit of  those capabilities by a number of states.

MODERATOR:   Okay, thank you. And we will end looking  at Africa. We’ve a question from Mouctar   from Guineenews. So I’ll read the question  directly: “My question would be how the U.S.   sees conventional arms sales to sub-Saharan Africa  from China, Turkey, Ukraine. I’m thinking mostly   from a representative – on repressive armed  forces in Guinea, for instance.” Sorry about that.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Wait,  could you just say it (inaudible)? MODERATOR: Yeah, certainly. “My question  would be how the U.S. sees conventional   arms sales to sub-Saharan Africa from China,  Turkey, Ukraine. I’m thinking mostly on repressive   armed forces in Guinea, for instance.” So  any comments on arm sales to Africa, sir. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER: Yeah. So this goes  back to the – some things that we’ve covered   in other sessions, some of the challenges that  come with the transfer or the sale of weapon   systems from Moscow or Beijing, is that there’s  the quality standpoint, but the question that was   asked is less about that and more about the end  use or the applicability or the interoperability   with states for their sovereign defense  needs, but not factoring in to humanitarian   concerns, and not factoring in mitigating civilian  casualties, not factoring in human rights.

So I – since that question’s been asked, I will  re-emphasize the benefits of the very transparent,   the very accountable processes that occur in our  arm transfers, be it in a sale fashion or through   excess defense transfer, is done in a way that  is not only accountable to U.S. taxpayers but   it also accountable to the recipient states as to  how much they cost, what they’re being used for,   how they are meeting security interests for  the partner and for the United States, and also   how they are going to be applied in a context  that matters to the average citizen in that state. That is what we have also framed as  a total package approach. We often  

I think in some circles say “total package  approach,” we’re including sustainment,   we’re including training, we’re including  O&M, operation and maintenance on systems.   But the total package approach is also applicable  when one’s talking about the transparency   and the accountability in the whole arms  transfer process. That is lacking when   one is looking at the competition. From a  mechanical standpoint, Moscow and Beijing,   once it’s sold, it’s out the door. There is no  current concern or care or effort to really ensure  

that the systems are being either workable or  being applied in a fashion that is consistent with   the law of armed conflict, or being applied in a  fashion that is consistent with international law. So to the question, is there a concern?  Absolutely. And it’s why when the United States   advocates our work and our efforts as a partner  of choice, it’s done in the aspect of not only the   bilateral incumbencies and responsibilities  that we have as security partners,   but the incumbency and responsibilities  that we have to protect our citizens. So yes, there are risks with sales in  certain states, some that you mentioned   that may not be worth the  money that they’re spent on,   but also may not be applied in the way  that they were designed for security needs. MODERATOR: That’s been very informative.  Thank you, sir. We’ve reached the end   of our briefing today. Assistant Secretary Cooper,  thank you so much for virtually meeting with us.  

To our participants, the transcript and  video will be posted on our website,   at fpc.state.gov. And if you publish  a story as a result of this briefing,   please send it to us. You can email  that directly at nyfpc@state.gov. So this concludes today’s event. I wish you all  a good afternoon, and thank you for joining us. ASSISTANT SECRETARY COOPER:  Thank you all very much. QUESTION: Thank you.

2020-12-24 14:07

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