tv National Security Adviser on Pres. Bidens First Year in Office CSPAN December 18, 2021 2:26am-3:34am EST
china, russia, and iran, the u.s. withdraw from afghanistan, and climate change. this is about an hour. mr. sullivan: it is like old times. with slight exceptions. welcome to today's meeting at the council on foreign relations, one of the final meetings of our 100 year as an institution. for those of you i have not seen in a year or two, i'm still the president of the council and our guest today is jake sullivan, the 28th assistant to the president for national security
affairs, more commonly known as the national security advisor. you have his bio. . i want to point out one lapse on our mission that left out the most important piece of his background. for several months, over two decades ago, he interned at the council on foreign relations. [laughter] mr. haas: i'm not sure why that was scrubbed but it will come up in the q&a part. we have members here in the room in washington, d.c. and across the country. the plan this morning for mr. sullivan, who had a long commute to get here --that is also a joke, if you know your geography. didn't do as well as the previous one. jake is going to deliver some remarks -- opening remarks, then he and i -- i will join him for a conversation and he has agreed to take questions from our members in the room and in
virtual-land. we will juggle it. we are starting a little late so it may go on over if that is ok with you and others here. glad to see everybody masked up and being as safe as we can. with that, jake, the microphone is yours. mr. sullivan: thank you, richard. i will fix that oversight promptly. part of the reason i scrubbed it is because i interned for the previous president of the council on foreign relations and i would not want to detract from the glamour of the current president. [laughter] mr. sullivan: it is a genuine pleasure to be here in person
with so many friends, people i have engaged with over the years. this is still a novelty in person event we have learned not to take for granted. i am grateful for those here and those watching as part of the expended -- extended family and the public beyond. i was reflecting coming over here how remarkable it is we find ourselves nearly a full year into the biden administration and the holidays are now upon us. the days have been long. they have been very long in some cases but this year has felt incredibly short, now that we come to the end of 2021. one year ago, we were in the process of navigating our way through a challenging transition, and preparing to take the helm at an unbelievably tough moment for our country, both domestically and globally. at home, one year ago, covid-19 deaths were rising without limit seemingly. the economy was reeling.
supply chains had cracked. internationally, every region of the world was grappling with its own version of the twin health and economic crises that we face at home, while the significant juncture in american foreign policy over the previous four years -- four years left an impact crater worldwide that for my perspective we are still working today out from. it was daunting and it is daunting. it is a challenging were about their, but we face it with a sense of confidence and purchase -- purpose in our strategy and policy as we approach the end of 2021. standing before you a year later , i believe fundamentally the united states is a better strategic position than the day we took office. that is because president biden has set forth and asked us to execute a vision of america's renewed role in the world, one
measured to match our times, that really, fundamentally is about investing in ourselves at home and leveraging the force of the partnerships globally to take on the great challenges of our time. we had to make tough calls and deal with crises and tragedies. through that and everything that has been thrown at us, we have been steadily, month by month, building a foundation to effectively prevail against the full range of threats and challenges we will face in the years and decades ahead, those that arise from nationstate competitors and those like climate and covid and nuclear proliferation that confront all nationstates. in the aftermath of world war ii, dean adjutant spoke more than once as many of you know about the concept of situations of strength. simple idea, but profoundly important for the u.s. foreign policy, in his time and hours. a cornerstone of our national
security and foreign policy strategy should be working to put the united states in situations of strength for whatever particular crisis or challenge we face and for every opportunity that we seize. under difficult circuits -- circumstances over the past 11 months, that is what we have worked to do. at the beginning, that meant reclaiming america's place at the multilateral table, rejoining the paris agreement and the world health organization on day one, extending the new start agreement for five years to preserve the only remaining treaty that would safeguard nuclear stability between the united states and russia, an agreement that would have expired within weeks of our coming into office. at the same time, that we were exercising the effort to come back onto the world stage, we were putting an enormous amount of effort and emphasis. it starts with president biden
and at the center was our domestic team at the national security council was at the heart of it as well, of replenishing our reservoir strength at home, the northstar of this administration, and we in the nfc supported our colleagues over the last year to support the passage of once in a generation investments in those areas we have too long neglected, infrastructure, innovation, human capital, to make resilient the basic building blocks of our economy and society and that work is not done but we have made huge strides we are putting our shoulders to the wheel to get the remaining pieces in place. there is nothing inevitable about the united states being able to remain our core strength in innovation, talent, capital, entrepreneurship. it must be renewed and revitalized. that is a national security imperative as well as economic and social. as national security advisor, walking into an office where key
functions had atrophied across our government, it has meant building a national security council that is structured and staffed to contribute to this investment. driving issues that sit at the intersection of domestic and foreign policy like energy prices are ransomware or tax policy or supply chains or the manifold questions of technology we face as we go forward. over the past year, i am proud to be at the national security council, an outfit positioned to be not only responsive but in front of the nontraditional challenges that will become increasingly traditional in national security conversations. step one, replenish our reservoir strength at home. step two, build a latticework of alliances and partnerships that are fit for purpose for the challenges of this century. when we came into office, we were in a deep hole with our allies. to pass out of that hole has not been smooth over the past year
but as we stand here, i believe that our core alliances are in fundamentally good shape and in the shape we need to be in to deal with the great power competitors and with significant transnational challenges of our time. europe and the united states are fundamentally aligned on the biggest challenges we face. you look at what the european union came out and said today with respect to the threat posed by russia to ukraine. you look at the european union and the e3 sitting with the united states in vienna on the jcpoa on both iran and russia and growing alignment, the challenge posed by china. we are on the same page when it comes to trade, technology, and climate to an increasing degree in ways that produce results. this is important because much of what we think of as power will be measured and exercised in the 21st century in economic
terms, according to trade and technology. our focus has been on bringing democracy and market economies to the world together to set the rules of the road in these areas. from a global methane pledged to the commitment to the global minimum tax to the launch of the trade and technology council, this is a work in progress but we have significant progress under our belt. a year ago, they e.u. was finalizing a wide-ranging investment agreement with china, to speak out on dangerous economic and human rights abuses. today, that deal is on ice. nations came together with the most productive g-7 to condemned forced labor. a year ago, the u.s. and eu levied new damaging tariffs on one another. today, we have resolved trade disputes on airplanes, steel, and aluminum to protect our workers and rise to the nonmarket economic challenges china poses.
i year ago, we were isolated from our closest partners on how to deal with the new -- nuclear threat from iran. today, we stand shoulder to shoulder, just as we do on russia, speaking with one voice on the severe consequences russia will face if it further invades ukraine and on the diplomatic path forward we seek in concert with our allies to safeguard stability and security in europe. just as we revitalized the transatlantic relationship, we have done so in every region of the world, lodging and innovative ants far-reaching security partnership, restoring the agreement with the philippines, re-engaging on a as cornerstones of our engagement in the indo pacific, hosting leaders of japan and korea for substantive and successful visits. in our hemisphere, we have revived north american leaders summits to consult with our neighbors and launched an effort to build a regional gratian
framework that will tackle what has become a hemispheric-wide challenge. we have focused on deterrence, diplomacy, and de-escalation in the middle east. we reengage with africa through four years of neglect. operating from position of strength, building this latticework of a flexible partnerships, institutions, alliances, groups of countries to tackle problems, does not mean we do not face real challenges and we haven't faced setbacks. the dprk has not halted its forward progress, unrestrained because of the catastrophic decision on the jcpoa, iran is driving forward. ethiopia remains a deeply challenging conflict that resists active diplomacy for now, although we continue day in and day out. their world is anything but calm.
we will have to make hard choices going forward, just as we had to make hard choices today. afghanistan was one of those hard choices. it seems over the course of august, afghanistan were harrowing. the human cross heartbreaking for afghans, the people who serve their. president biden also had to think about the human cost of the alternative path as well, remaining in the middle of a civil conflict in afghanistan. when you conclude 20 years of military action in a civil war with the impact of 20 years of decisions piled up, you have to make hard calls, none of them with clean outcomes. what you can do is plan for contingencies to slow thousands of troops to an airport to rescue tens of thousands and get them out of harm's way. standing here in december, that strategic decision remains the right decision. for the first time in 20 years, there are no u.s. troops in
harm's way in afghanistan this holiday season. we safely and effectively drew down our diplomatic presence. we lifted tens of thousands of afghans to safety, an american example of capacity, commitment, and sheer logistics. there are diplomacy and deterrence, we have been able to operate to every american who wanted to leave afghanistan and we continue to fly siv's out regularly and we will continue to do that in the months ahead as we follow through on the commitment president biden made. we also believe the end to the conflict in afghanistan has better positioned us to take a full-scale, comprehensive, integrated approach to the changing nature of terrorism across continents, geographies, groups, and tactics. as president biden had said, we have had to deal with terrorism not as it existed in two -- 2001
but as it exists in 2022 and across-the-board, we believe we are better able to focus on the challenges that will define the next 20 years, not being brought down or dragged back by the past. under president biden, we think, based on the painstaking war, a lot of which is not glamorous or does not grab headlines, we are in the position to leverage international strength to win what i believe will be a decisive decade between now and the early 20 30's. a couple of other points and in closing, we will talk more when we get into the queue and day -- q&a on big questions relating to russia and china but part of what we have tried to set up for is to put the united states in a position to deal both with those challenges from the
nationstates, to be able to rally effective coalitions, to address the climate crisis, to beat covid and build back better for future pandemics, to set the rules of the road in critical areas like trade and technology. that requires one form of diplomacy, but it fundamentally rests on the same two things, that dealing with china rests on -investing-we have maximum capacity embedding those alliances so we can solve those problems and deal with a china or a russia, when they pose a threat or challenge to our interests and values. whatever the particular nature of the issue we have to confront, we believe the fundamental recipes found -- recipe is sound and we are relentless in executing against that and it has only been one year. the administration has a great deal of work ahead of it.
we do believe we have a stronger foundation for america to capture opportunities, to face down crises, and confidently and effectively prevail against anything the world throws at us and we will be prepared to throw against these problems in the months and years ahead. i thank you for giving me the opportunity to get these opening remarks. i now look forward to really being able to get into a back-and-forth, first with richard and then with all of you. thank you very much. [applause] mr. haas: you alluded to big questions about russia and china. let's begin with big questions about russia and china. let's start with russia and ukraine, the immediate crisis. the president has taken off the
table the idea of a direct u.s. military response in ukraine and the emphasis has been on sanctions and support for ukraine. what can you say about the diplomatic side, essentially the russians as we read in the paper today had said they don't simply want ukraine out of nato but one nato out of eastern europe. what is our sense of the conversation we are prepared to hold with the russians about european security? mr. sullivan: we have been clear as the united states just yesterday, 30 nations of the nato alliance were prepared for dialogue with russia. we had dialogue with russia on security issues for the last 20 years. we had it with the soviet union for decades before that. that had sometimes produced progress, some signs produced deadlock but we are fundamentally prepared for dialogue. russia has put on the table its
concerns. with american and nato activities. we will put on the table are concerns with russian activities. that is reciprocity upon which we pursue any dialogue. we can make progress in some areas and other areas we will have to disagree in the nature of dialogue. fundamentally, our strategy will be to have allied unity and be prepared to stick with russia and respond positively to the idea we can have a discussion in the appropriate format on the principal of nothing without you and see where it takes us. mr. haas: i want to follow up. let me get a few other issues off the table before we put things up. we have had interesting public comments in recent days and weeks by the leadership of australia and japan about
taiwan and how seriously they took their security predicament, how they were prepared. here we are after afghanistan, after what the obama administration didn't do, after hong kong and crimea, what the previous administration did to the kurds, now ukraine, where we have ruled out direct offense. why not be clear about our willingness to come to taiwan's aid, if china acts aggressively against it? , particularly given what we have done in ukraine, how do we explain why we would be prepared to help taiwan if not ukraine mr. sullivan: the u.s. position is clear because it is a position rooted in the one china policy, the taiwan relation, and the taiwan relations act is a
unique instrument. we don't have it with other countries or ukraine. it talks about american commitments to support taiwan in various ways. the whole purpose of american policy toward taiwan is fundamentally designed to ensure we never face of circumstance in which we need to directly answer the question we posed. that is how we have approached things in the biden administration and to the extent we see china diverging from the policies that could maintain peace and stability, that they are keeping actions that undermine peace and stability across the taiwan straight, we will call them out and we have called them out because we believe there is a formula that works to maintain the status quo, to not have unilateral changes to the status quo. that is what the biden administration is pursuing. we think that is well understood
by our partner ands should be understood in beijing. i will hopscotch around the world and count on our members for follow-ups as i cannot resist. you mentioned afghanistan. you emphasized what you thought was the correct decision. as you know, that is not a unanimous view up on the stage here. you talked a lot about the efforts you made to get out of latin america. let's talk about what seems the biggest immediate issue, you brought millions of people from afghanistan on the precipice. i don't think it is too dramatic to say, death. winter, masturbation, lack of access to medical care, a nonfunctioning economy -- medical -- many would say it is less the
taliban than international institutions. it will get extraordinary difficult if not impossible or the afghanistan economy ceases to function. can you say something about the conversations about -with the taliban--? are we prepared to provide certain amount of help? >> we have and we are providing. the united states is the largest donor to afghanistan. we have allocated over half $1 billion over the last few months for humanitarian purposes in afghanistan, through the u.n. and ngo's. the treasury department issued general licenses to make clear to united nations, international institutions, and ngos they can operate on the ground in afghanistan and provide humanitarian assistance including food assistance, a major part of the emphasis of
u.s. aid. we have worked with united nations and other institutions to dramatically accelerate the provision of liquidity as well as resources to ensure that the basic human needs the people of afghanistan are being met. we are talking to the taliban and telling them to the extent they would like direct assistance from any country, including the united states, they need to live up to their basic obligations, there international humanitarian obligations, human rights obligations, and commitments on top as counterterrorism. we have had that conversation clearly with them and our view is at the moment, given what we have seen so far, the u.s. and international community should be routing aid not through the taliban government but through international institutions and ngos. mr. haas: if this situation
persists another couple of months, do you think that a humanitarian crisis could be averted or do we need to consider if the taliban are not going to do what we would like them to do, are we prepared to consider unfreezing afghan funds in the united states? mr. sullivan: the afghan funds frozen in the united states are subject to litigation and that needs to be worked through. that is not the proximate issue. the proximate issue is actually getting the relief to people across the country as winter approaches. we will do everything financially, logistically, operationally to help an intrepid and remarkable group of people trying to solve this problem, to help them solve it. this is a problem of immense human significance, as you said. it is a life-or-death issue and
it matters to us in that respect. it as a matter of strategic significance because of course the collapse of afghanistan in a fool and fundamental way will have impacts. we are attuned to this. we are engaged and working intensively with international partners. we are also calling on other countries in the region to do their part. the united states has a responsibility here to be sure. countries in the region, neighboring countries, also have a responsibility. they should be asked to do their part as well. mr. haas: speaking of one neighboring country, pakistan, was playing a damaging role for two decades in providing sanctuary to the taliban. do you see evidence pakistan is being more responsible now? mr. sullivan: you know, there is a lot in terms of the engagement between islamabad and the taliban and the haqqani network we do not see.
it is difficult for me to characterize the nature of their role. i would say form the point of view of allowing humanitarian access, allowing other forms of relief, the pakistani government has been worried about the crisis there and has blunted to be forward beating and engaging with the united states on trying to address these fundamental elements of the humanitarian situation. on the broader politics of afghanistan, it is difficult for me to characterize. mr. haas: you mentioned iran and your comment was you and your colleagues -- we in the united states and iran get back the 2015 jcpoa. 2 questions. how is it going? [laughter] mr. haas: on the off chance not so well, what is the limits to our power?
iran is already in the zip code of what you might call a threshold of nuclear weapons. and the amount of meantime we would have if they decided to make a system, because we have seen the unraveling of the jcpoa, initiated by us with the unilateral exit by the previous administration in 2018. what are the limits to our powers? does iran understand that? today understand there are limits to american power? mr. sullivan: we have communicated both through europe and directly to iran our view on their continued progress on the program, our alarm, and i will not say more publicly about what those messages are because i believe iran understands them. i do not want to negotiate in public.
to your broader question, how is it going? it is not going well in the sense that we do not yet have a pathway back into the jcpoa. the last few days have brought some progress at the bargaining table. in the meantime, since we walked away from a deal that had fundamentally put a lid on iran's nuclear program, they have raced forward and getting the program back through a return to mutual compliance with the jcpoa has proven more difficult this year and we would have liked to see. we are paying the wages of the disastrous decision to leave the deal. back in. 2018. that being said, what is going well his unity with europe, greater alignment with china and russia, and increasing recognition iran needs to come to the table and a constructive way and our patients is by no means unlimited. i will not circle a calendar
date, next week or next month, but i will say that as they continue to move their program forward, it does in parable -- i mperil the viability of the jcpoa. mr. haas: neither china nor russia is wildly enthusiastic about iran having nuclear weapons. to their assessment there -- mr. sullivan: it is interesting back in 2013 to 2015, the iran nuclear deal was being negotiated. russia played an important role in bringing it home. all of the p5 plus one had a role to play but the united states and russia, through difficult times, this was the same time period crimea and ukraine were unfolding. we are able to work together constructively. i believe we have constructive engagement in vienna with russia
. china, over the last week, has leaned forward to try to press the urgency of getting to a deal. i think there is a shared view among the world powers that we have to prevent and doing so through diplomacy is the best way and if we don't get a diplomatic outcome, the alternatives are problematic from those countries' perspective so they have motivation to try to push for a resolution at the bargaining table. mr. haas: do you think there is some danger in continuing that it is essential iran not acquire nuclear weapons? mr. sullivan: i guess in some sense, you could calculate what kind of exact impact it has on iran's thinking with respect to the advance of its program but i would say two things.
first, we defined the parameters in the jcpoa so let's get back to that because that sets the bars and limits well short. second, and equally importantly, sometimes you need to speak in english and say what is true. it is true that we have as the object of our policy to prevent iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. it is straightforward, simple, clear, and helps organize diplomacy and deterrence. mr. haas: there is another country. we will discuss this in a minute. there is another country that has nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles --north korea. is missing and certain ways publicly from the foreign policy agenda the administration, as you noted, almost 11 months. is this like an iceberg? there is something going on underneath the surface? is there simply, in the first
love letter h, have you basically -- had trouble figuring out how to approach north korea? mr. sullivan: our approach with north korea when we came in was to look at the last two administrations and the obama administration, especially as the policy evolved over eight years, adopted a view of strategic patients, which was assembly -- essentially none for none. let things go, then the trump administration in hanoi pitched offer all, the grand bargain. essentially, the thrust and purpose of our policy was to come in between those two. to make step-by-step progress toward deals and the goal of denuclearization on the korean peninsula. we have not gotten traction with north korea over the course of the year.
we have committed our willingness to engage and we continue to enforce our sanctions and align closely with our allies, south korea nad japan, and the north koreans have continued to test certain capabilities, have refrained from other forms of provocation. we continue to indicate to them directly and publicly,, as i'm doing that we are prepared to engage, to try to make progress against the basic points that were laid down in the singapore summit in 2018. mr. haas: when you say we have not gained traction, does that mean they have or have not specifically rejected something for something? mr. sullivan: when i say we have not gained traction's, we have not sat down at the table with north korea to have that conversation at the table. mr. haas: i will open it up. you just had a democracy summit. i would be curious what you
think was accomplished. more broadly, what impact is january 6 have on the ability of the united states to operate in the world? when you go about your business, meeting with your foreign counterparts, how do you see it having changed the way people see the united states and as a result, recalibrate to the extent of their relationship with us? mr. sullivan: january 6 has had a material impact on the view of the united states from the rest of the world. i believe from allies and adversaries alike. allies look at it with concern and worry about the future of your american -- american democracy. adversaries look at it rubbing their hands together and thinking, how do we take advantage of this? what president biden has done over the course of this year is projected a deep sense of confidence in what america can be and will be, if we make the
right investments and pursue the right course in terms of the strength and health of our democracy going forward, but he has acknowledged as he did at the democracy summit these pressures on our democracy as evidence on january 6, or pressures democracies are feeling the world over, and that was the fundamental purpose of pulling countries together, not to test a form of government. we also like to do that because we do meet -- believe democracy is the best form of government. at this took moment of challenge, emma dave? from within and without? -- m&a from within and without, let's learn from one another and let's prove that democracy will bear out over autocracy as a form of government that can best deliver in our time. if the topic january 6 comes up, it comes up in conversation and is brought up by countries that wish us well and comes out by countries that wish us ill. i think political cohesion,
political stability, a common commitment across party lines to the basic institutions of american and values of american democracy, those are the things that would actually provide the kind of national security proposed an we really need to be able to serve our interests abroad. mr. haas: bear with me. we will have time. we are not stopping. we will have plenty of time. what is our captive audience? [laughter] mr. haas: what is on climate change? whatever -- whatever you you thought about what cop 26 and glasgow accomplished. are you thinking about a more ambitious policy? with china and india saying the fact that the world is turning more than ever at least in the short run against cole, we are not closing the gap between where the word should be and where it is headed.
the new york times released images about climate change this week. are you contemplating as an administration? is cop 27 more of the same? are you prepared to think about something more ambitious? mr. sullivan: first, i think by definition, we have to be more ambitious because ambition is required to get where we want to do -- go, forming below 1.5 degrees celsius. i would not sell short cop 26. the tangible outcomes on methane, deforestation, innovation are real and will make an impact. i believe the fact that two thirds of the world's economy has come in with commitments at cop 26 to stay below 1.5 degrees, and that a big focus of the next year will have to be on the remaining third. yes, china is a big part of that as the world's largest emitter. i think, as the months came in the cop 26, there was a lot of
questions about what is the developed world doing? including whether we will follow through on our financing commitments, indicating we will double our international finance commitments. we intend to follow through on that. coming out of cop 26, i think the focus will shift and the pressure will grow on china to come to the table with something fundamentally more ambitious in what they have put on the table. i don't say that in a competitive or challenging or threatening way. the reality is the only way to solve this problem, for china and the rest of the world, is further countries to step up. other countries will have to as well. one of the interesting things heading into cop 26 that will be an important tool is the u.s. and the eu reached agreements to negotiate the first ever sector-based agreement on carbon
relating to steel, which is 10%. accounts for 10% of emissions. the basic idea of -- is carbon intensity should be a factor in trade agreements. i think that intersection, that tool will become increasingly relevant going forward and should have an impact on those countries that are still calculating whether they are prepared to put forward a nationally determined contribution that meets the needs of planet faces. mr. haas: before regime change cons to the council, i will not ask any more questions. the subjects i haven't got into like latin america, africa, and covid, they aren't unimportant but i want to keep my job. i apologize. let us know who you are. identify yourself, what you do.
this is all on the record. >> i met usaid. -- i am at usaid. you mentioned reengage with africa. senator blinken outlined a partnership approach to africa but with the goal of having a smaller impact compared to early years. how is the administration engaging economically with africa beyond vaccine diplomacy? how is the administration planning to work with the continent to build back better and in light of covid, grow the economy? mr. sullivan: one of the side ship initiatives that came out of the g7 earlier this year, which we spent the rest of the year building and will launch in 2022, is build back better world. what it is fundamentally is the mobilization of significant amount of government resources. they will be refracted -- refl
ected in the budget. it leverages hundreds of billions of dollars of investment for three forms of infrastructure -- physical, health, and digital. think everything from ports and dams and electricity projects and grades, to new vaccine manufacturing and distribution facilities, to the form of digital infrastructure we believe protects values and provides an effective alternative to what is currently offered to african countries. we have had delegations go out to meet with heads of state in african countries, in multiple regions of africa, to talk about their needs in these areas, that we can match up there needs to this investment. there is not just a u.s. effort. is an effort across the g7 leveraging resources from countries beyond. that is one of the major ways we
want to build an economic relationship going forward and give a high standard, climate-friendly, transparent, partner-based alternative that is effective, ambitious, and real and we will rollout not just the vision but specific progress -- projects so people can see the concept. mr. haas: let's go to a virtual customer. >> we will take the next question for michael gordon. michael: jake, it was about a week ago that you pointed out that it was important that russia de-escalate to create a can -- conducive environment for negotiations over ukraine and european security. that has not happened. for some weeks, there have been proposals to the administration and congress to strengthen deterrence by sending military support to ukraine that would go
beyond the $450 million package underway. some of the specific ideas have been included repurchasing aid for afghanistan and sending helicopters and missiles. why are you not taking those additional steps? are you worried the russians might deem them provocative and you don't think they will sufficiently change the dynamic? do you think it is time to go beyond $450 million to bolster deterrence and complement the threat of financial sanctions? mr. sullivan: as we speak, we continue to deliver defensive assistance to ukraine. last week, another package of that assistance arrived. more will arrive. we have a pipeline. there is an absorptive capacity
question but we are constantly assessing additional needs ukraine has, putting together potential packages, and those packages are actively under consideration. of course, it will ultimately the up to the president to make a determination about the next steps in this regard. this is not an issue of saying "yes or no" to one piece of equipment or package. we are moving the pipeline. as we do so, we look at more things to move, and more and so forth. that is the nature of the way we are looking at defensive assistance. we do not move into our calculus a particular perspective on russia's attitude. it is about our assessment of needs and the pipeline and the steps that are being taken currently to deliver assistance. that is how we are approaching that question. we are approaching the broader question of diplomacy with russia, from the point of view
that, you know, meaningful progress at the negotiating table, of course,, will have to take place in de-escalation rather than de-escalation context. it is difficult to see agreements consummated if we see an escalatory cycle continued. in my view, that should not stop us from raising our concerns with the russians or having the russians go ahead and raise concerns with us, as they have done. we should fundamentally pursue a combination of deterrence and diplomacy in an effort to see if we can produce the de-escalation we seek. >> trudy rubin from the philadelphia inquirer. you mentioned in your remarks, we continue to try to get siv's out of afghanistan. that refers to the afghans who
worked with our military or civilian officials. congress has appropriated 18,000 siv visas. most of them did not get out. many of them are being sought by -- the state department has made clear they will not let them out unless they already have visas. many of them are getting out on private charters. why are we blocking siv applicants and only letting out those who have visas? thank you. mr. sullivan: i dispute that characterization. in fact, since august 31, we have evacuated afghans at risk in a range of categories, including those who are siv-eligible but don't have siv's, those who help the u.s. government in other ways, or
those who are at unique risks. we had planes come out by private charter. we have worked closely ourselves with qataris to have planes with american citizens and afghans come out and we will continue to do so. the premise of your question was a policy that is not our policy. >> we will take the next question from bill weld. mr. weld: i didn't have a question, as much as i would love to put one. you're off the hook, jake. mr. sullivan: thank you, governor. >> i feel strange with the mask. i want to follow up a little bit on iran. barbara from the atlantic council. i'm sorry.
you called the trump decision to quit the deal catastrophic, as it has proven to be. the iranians have consistently demanded some kind of sweetener, some kind of acknowledgment from the united states that they have suffered great harm as a result of that decision. south korea has $7 billion of frozen iranian assets. it would like to unfreeze those assets and let iranians use that money for humanitarian goods. food, medicine, covid vaccines. you could send it through the swift channel, which has already been approved by oh fact. is the united states willing to do something for the iranian people as a gesture of goodwill, to help get these negotiations moving? thank you. mr. sullivan: we have had exceptions in our sanctions for humanitarian goods, for food and medicine and the like, going back many years.
we continue to have them and that is an important feature of our policy. fundamentally, the choice about access to iranian government reserves held overseas, to the kind of accounts you have just described, fundamentally comes down to iran preparing to do what they should have done a year ago, be prepared to rejoin the joint comprehensive plan of action on a compliance basis, instead of a reasonable, clear posture we have taken and we believe that it's the best way to produce a positive, diplomatic outcome. mr. haas: is it a question of sequencing and patients, that we know what the end goal is if we were to do that, in the two sides cannot agree --we might want other things upfront.
mr. sullivan: there are disagreements of what compliance means beyond sequencing. there is a sequencing issue as well. mr. haas: get a virtual question? >> we will take the next question. please accept the "unmute now" prompt. we are having difficulty. we will take the next question. >> thank you. i want to commend you and president biden for seeing through -- i want to commend you for president biden's decision to end america's longest war and providing humanitarian aid. many experts say it is not enough to stave off the famine. hundreds of thousands of people are trying to flee or have fled.
there is a growing threat of isis and instability. is your assessment isolating the taliban is in the u.s. interests given the developments and given what has happened leading up to 9/11, and if not can you be clear about what specific actions the taliban need to take and how afghanistan can get to a recognized government? mr. sullivan: in our engagements with the taliban in doha, are diplomats who deal with them have been very clear and concrete about our expectations. i don't want to recite all of them on the table here because i actually believe the best way to get them to make progress and what we believe are their commitments is to do so across the negotiating table in doha. we have been clear and they do relate to basic human rights issues. access to education for girls. counterterrorism commitments and things of the like.
without going into the painstaking detail on it. fundamentally, i think the question should be put to the taliban government. what are they prepared to do to show the world that they are going to operate in a fundamentally different way, and if they are not, then the provision of large amounts of money to the taliban government should give us no confidence or comfort that it is going to improve the welfare and livelihood of the afghan people. are focused, right now, is to work across the table with them, to see what progress can be made, and in the meantime, to put significant resources, as rapidly and efficiently as possible, through every channel outside the government, including international institutions and ngos. mr. haas: when the taliban are doing things, are they unwilling or unable? mr. sullivan: governing is hard. [laughter]
mr. sullivan: in any country. it is particularly hard for an insurgent group that has come to power in this way. i do believe they are having fundamental, practical difficulties but they also have an ideology, which is at play as well here. i think it is a combination. mr. haas: yes sir, in the back. fifth row. i can't recognize people. >> mark jacobson. i really appreciate what you said about america trying to reclaim its leadership role and there are a lot of challenges. the president said at the democracy summit u.s. is a champion of human rights. i wonder how you address the skeptics who might say, well, in addition to afghanistan and the plight of women and children,
you have a failure to condemn the israelis for naming palestinian human rights groups terrorist organizations. you have a diplomatic boycott but still put international athletic competition ahead of the human rights of the uighurs. there is no action taken on the saudis anchovy. i am curious how to address that in terms of perception and the reality of where human rights falls in the biden administration's agenda. mr. sullivan: it is interesting. i have thought a lot over the years about version of this question which could be posed to any national security advisor going back decades, which is somewhere in the world, something is happening, where it is a gap between our stated values and outcomes exists. i guess what i have come around to, and i wrote about this a few years ago, --it was the atlantic. [laughter] mr. sullivan: send my workaround
to everybody. what i have come to --i say this as a private citizen and national security advisor -- america doesn't claim the only consideration in foreign policy is human rights. it does make the claimant human rights matters. it is a factor in our few best foreign policy and that is different from any other significant power in most of human history. that, in my so you sit at the table, and you take a given circumstance, the issue with the olympics is a good one and you weigh the question of the regrettable -- reprehensible treatment of the uighurs, and how to respond to that. and you weigh the fact that
athletes have trained for years to compete, as part of team usa. and you try to come up with a good approach. and the approach that this administration has adopted is that we will not be sending an official delegation to beijing. but we will not tell our athletes that they can't compete. we have to do that in circumstances around the world. and on the one hand, you can say, well, you haven't sufficiently taken human rights into account -- that is a perfectly debatable point. on the other hand, you can't say human rights were not a real, live, legitimate factor at the decision-making table. that we are not just there for lipservice were to be waived away, but it was actually factored into the decision. that is what we can stand behind in all circumstances. because otherwise, administrations, democrat and republican alike, no one would
be able to say that they have a 100% scorecard on this, and i'm not going to claim that we could. joe biden has made human right rights a central part -- we are carrying that out in many different circumstances with many different countries, taking actions that have not been taken before, including with the withholding of aid to certain countries on human rights grounds. but that is i guess how i would unfortunately you're getting me in meditative mode. that is how i would respond to what anyone in the u.s. government has to grapple with. >> we are going to take two more -- squeeze into more questions. >> we will take the next question from danny russell. >> danny russell, east policy institute. taiwan, i was glad to hear you
from the administration's priorities. ensuring that we don't wind up facing military contingency across the street. could you clarify that you are not making the case, in light of the growing strategic rivalry with beijing, that u.s. policy now is to block unification under any circumstances? i realize peaceful resolution is pretty improbable today, i realize. but i would like you to make clear the u.s. government is in -- doesn't closing the door on the possibility of unification. as much as you would expect the chinese in those circumstances to take a hard look at the alternative. >> correct, danny. you are absolutely right. thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify that point. which is, when i talk about the status quo, we have not moved off that position, as you just
articulated it. that is the fundamental point i was making before. we are not departing from decades of bipartisan policy that served the united states well in respect to the issue of cross strait relations. rooted in the one china policy, the three joint communiques. i'm not signaling or suggesting any meaningful or material adjustment to that. certainly not of the kind that lies at the heart of the question you just posed. >> i apologize in advance for the 17 people i haven't gotten to. thank you so much. >> kayla, cnbc. thank you for doing this event. my question is about ukraine. the administration said last week that there was no concrete view on whether vladimir putin had made a decision to invade ukraine.
has that assessment become any clearer in the last couple of weeks? and what level of confidence do you have in u.s. intelligence after how flawed the information was about the fall of kabul? thank you. >> so, the current assessment of the u.s. government is that he has not yet made a decision. so no change from last week to this week, in that regard. i have high confidence in our capacity to see what has been a significant russian military buildup in the vicinity of ukraine, and in ukraine itself, and crimea and other places. i also think that the analysis that the intelligence committee has laid out, to indicate that the russian government is giving serious consideration and operational planning to such an exercise, is well validated. it is something we have shared
with allies and partners. and it has motivated them to join us in a very strong chorus of clear messaging around the massive consequences that would befall russia should it choose to further invade ukraine. that is where things stand today. of course, we can't inhabit the mind of any world leader, there are always limitations a we can know and not know and we can make our best assessments. that is where the assessment stands as of today. >> i need to and. we tried to begin and end on time. i do want to thank you for being with us. i want to thank you for this latest round of public service. for those of you haven't served in government, it is hard and it has gotten harder, i could argue come over the years.
thank you for that. i want to say the video and transcript of this meeting will be posted on cfr.org. just to prove that we are not partisan, next week we will have a former national security advisor, henry kissinger, appear at the council on foreign relations virtually with eric schmitt, talking about their new book on artificial intelligence and its implications for foreign policy and world order. jake, thank you for coming here. thank you again for the long hours and days you put in. >> thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]