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U.S. Policy on Zimbabwe

U.S. Disagrees with Zimbabwe Foreign Minister's Comments on Iran Sanctions

March 8, 2011

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC

Mr. Crowley: Well, it’s really about the future and the autonomy and effectiveness of the bank.

Secretary Clinton this morning met with Australian Prime Minister Gillard. They talked about a number of issues, but in detail about the situation in Afghanistan and the fact that Australia continues to be an important partner in the NATO-led mission. They also talked about ongoing developments in the Middle East as well as Australia’s recovery from recent devastating floods.

Turning to Cote d’Ivoire, on Monday evening, the television controlled by former President Gbagbo announced that the purchase and sale of coffee and cocoa will be undertaken exclusively by the Gbagbo regime. His plan to nationalize the cocoa industry of Cote d’Ivoire, which is the world’s largest supplier of cocoa beans, amounts to theft. It is another desperate act on his campaign to cling to power. You’ll recall that President Ouattara imposed a ban on cocoa exports in January. He renewed that ban in February, and we continue to be gratified that leading U.S. importers continue to respect the ban as established by President Ouattara.

Staying in the region, we noticed yesterday that Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Mumbengegwi indicated that in his view, the existing sanctions regime against Iran is, as he called it, unfair and hypocritical. We disagree. Working with Iran on uranium extraction violates international nonproliferation obligations as well as the threat posed by – to the international – to national security by the assistance to Iran’s nuclear program. Such activity violates obligations contained in U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1929.

But this is all part of an ongoing effort by Iran to escape its growing isolation by offering to bolster trade and other economic ties with receptive governments, such as Zimbabwe. The foreign minister of Zimbabwe is entitled to his opinion, but the Government of Zimbabwe is still bound by its commitments to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Question: Is there anything you can do to stop that?

Mr. Crowley:  Well --

Question: Does it stop it, or is there any penalty for Zimbabwe?

Mr. Crowley:  Well, there are potential international penalties, although obviously, Zimbabwe has its own issues with the international community, including the United States.

Question: (inaudible)

Mr. Crowley: Well, there are ramifications for countries that decline to observe their international obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. I mean, what we’re indicating here is that it’s incumbent upon Zimbabwe to heed its own obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Question: (Inaudible) I’m trying to get a sense of what they might face if they go ahead with it.

Mr. Crowley:  Well, I don’t have a catalog for you other than we are indicating our concern about the statements that suggest that Zimbabwe would be open to cooperating with Iran in ways that violate UN Security Council resolutions.

Question: Does the U.S. have any evidence that they are doing this already?

Mr. Crowley: I don’t know that we have any evidence that there are any operational uranium mines in Zimbabwe. But certainly, we have ongoing concerns about the behavior of Zimbabwe, its own human rights abuses. This is a – it would be quite a match for Iran and Zimbabwe to cooperate.

A complete transcript of the Daily Press Briefing is available at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2011/03/157870.htm

Issued by the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section, Harare. Enquiries and comments should be directed to Sharon Hudson Dean, Public Affairs Officer, hararepas@state.gov Url: http://harare.usembassy.gov