This week in Washington, sparks flew around one of those fossilized elements of US Cuba policy, designating Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. Cuba has been on the list since 1982, originally for its support of armed leftist groups in the Americas. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 20 years ago, whose patronage made such Cuban adventures abroad possible, the State Department has repeatedly admitted that Cuba was no longer providing such support. While many analysts have repeatedly called for its removal, no administration has dared take that step. And then there was this story out last week, which suggested the Obama administration might actually be preparing to take that step soon:
“There is a pretty clear case ... that they don’t really meet the standard anymore,” said a senior administration official with direct knowledge regarding US-Cuba policy who was not authorized to speak publicly. “They have neither the wherewithal nor are they doing much.”
The Boston Globe, which cited “top US diplomats” in breaking the story, emphasized that no formal decision had been taken, and noted that Kerry was reviewing US policy toward Cuba.
But State wasn’t ready to be outed, and spokeswoman Victoria Nuland tried to shut down the story. “I saw that report. Let me say firmly here it is incorrect. This department has no current plans to remove Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list.”
“We review this every year, and at the current moment we – when the last review was done in 2012 – didn’t see cause to remove them. We’ll obviously look at it again this year, but as I said, we don’t have any plans at the moment,” she added.