Psaki Refuses to Say U.S. Navy Will Actually Intercept Iranian Ships Heading to Yemen

‘We’re not going to predict what will happen’

[rush transcript]
HASSELBECK: “Joining us now is White House Communications Director Jen Psaki. Good morning to you, Jen.”
PSAKI: “Good morning.”
HASSELBECK: “Thanks for being here this morning.”
PSAKI: “My pleasure.” 
HASSELBECK: “We just like to straighten out the signal here in terms of why our ships are there and do they have orders that if in fact, they’re concerned about these weapons in transfer can they take action?”
PSAKI: “Well, let me not – let’s not get ahead of where we are at this moment in time. We have ships in the region for a purpose. Obviously there’s a troubling history that we’ve seen in terms of Iranian support for the Houthis in Yemen. That’s something that we’re closely monitoring with the international community. I don’t have a new assessment for you today. Obviously that’s something we work behind the scenes. But, we don’t frequently talk about publicly.”
DOOCY: “Sure. Jen, we’re just confused because over the last couple of days people in the Pentagon, senior defense military officials have said that the warships were sent there to prepare the intercept the Iranian ships. And then you have got Marie Harf, who is got the job you used over at the State Department saying they are not there to intercept the Iranian ships. So, which one is it?”
PSAKI: “Well, listen, we always have contingency plans, that’s what the United States does. We have the best military in the world. But we also don’t get ahead of predicting or laying out what we may or may not do.” [Crosstalk]
DOOCY: “Right. But if the Iranians –“
PSAKI: “We are watching this closely, we are monitoring this closely, we have a range of abilities. But we’re not going to predict what will happen. Our hope is that this will de-escalate.”
HASSELBECK: “Are there restrictions on our ships or are they able to do what they need to do.”
PSAKI: “Well again, this is a case where not just the United States but the international community’s has made clear that Iranian support to the Houthis is unacceptable, they passed an arms embargo through the U.N. earlier this week. But I’m not going to lay out what actions may or may not be taken. That would be irresponsible from here.”
DOOCY: “So, all the options are on the table?”
PSAKI: “I think you’ll have to just wait and see. Obviously our focus here is on moving towards the diplomatic discussion –“
DOOCY: “But all the options are out there, they’re open?”
PSAKI: “Again, I’ll let my DOD colleagues speak to that. I understand what the interest is. We’re all watching this very closely I can assure you.”

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