950228 The Administration's Foreign Policy Priorities for 1995 in the Area of Non-proliferation (by Lynn E. Davis)  Return to: Index of "Arms Control, Counter-terrorism and Military Affairs || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/02/28 BRIEFING:  LYNN DAVIS ON NON-PROLIFERATION
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN





                      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                      Office of the Spokesman
                       For Immediate Release
                         February 28, 1995


                         BRIEFING BY
                    UNDER SECRETARY LYNN E. DAVIS
                            ON
            THE ADMINISTRATION'S FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 
                  1995 IN THE AREA OF NON-PROLIFERATION


     ACTING SPOKESMAN CHRISTINE SHELLY:  Good afternoon.  We're pleased to have with us today Dr. Lynn Davis, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.  Dr. Davis is here to discuss the Administration's foreign policy priorities for l995 in the area of non-proliferation policy.

     As you know, Secretary Christopher, in his January 20 speech to the John F. Kennedy School of Government, identified combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction as one of the five key areas of opportunity in U.S. foreign policy for l995.  As the senior Administration official charged with overall policy responsibility for non-proliferation issues, Dr. Davis will discuss this policy area with you today, with particular emphasis on the U.S. Government approach to the upcoming Review and Extension Conference for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

     Due to the photo opportunity with the Secretary that we have coming up shortly, we'll finish this briefing no later than l:20, and questions on other subjects that do not come up here today or with the Secretary should be directed to the Press Office after the two briefings.

     Dr. Davis, thank you very much.

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  This is the core non-proliferation team -- the hard core (laughter) -- and it's nice to be back here.

     What I'd like to do is just provide you an overview of the Clinton Administration's overall non-proliferation policies.

     As President Clinton has clearly stated, preventing the proliferation of dangerous arms is critical to our security.  Non-proliferation is not an abstract or technical subject; it's about security for all Americans.  And Secretary Christopher has identified this as one of his top foreign policy opportunities.

     Our most urgent goal is the indefinite and unconditional extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

     We are working to achieve the ratification of the START II Treaty as the foundation for setting the arms control agenda of the 2lst century.  That agenda includes negotiating a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, achieving a fissile material cutoff convention, and designing measures for transparency in the dismantling of nuclear weapons and in the disposition of the materials from those nuclear weapons.

     We seek to bring Russian and Chinese behavior into conformity with the global non-proliferation norms and regimes, and especially to curtail their nuclear cooperation with Iran.

     We need to implement the Agreed Framework with North Korea, and sustain our effort to prevent rogue states -- such as Iran, Iraq, and Libya -- from acquiring dangerous arms and technology.

     We are expanding our efforts to track sensitive trade; and we have programs underway to improve export controls in the Newly Independent States, Central Europe, China, South Africa, and India.

     And we are also working to re-negotiate the U.S.-EURATOM nuclear cooperation agreement, which expires at the end of l995 and whose lapse would seriously affect our nuclear industrial cooperation.

     Let me review several of these policies, beginning with the most immediate and pressing goal, and that is the indefinite and unconditional extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

     The Non-Proliferation Treaty will be 25 years old this weekend.  President Clinton will speak tomorrow evening at the Nixon Center conference to underscore the U.S. commitment to that Treaty and to making it permanent when it comes up for review in mid-April of this year.

     The Non-Proliferation Treaty represents one of the great success stories in arms control and non-
proliferation.  The Treaty has helped prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promoted technical cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and served as the basis for nuclear disarmament efforts.

     We are working to achieve a majority in favor of the
indefinite extension, going into the April Review Conference, and we believe we will achieve that goal.  But this is not assured, and so we have mounted a major diplomatic effort, led by Vice President Gore and Secretary of State Christopher.  Entering the Review Conference with a majority in hand, we will build on that to achieve overwhelming support.

     To succeed, we must convince uncommitted parties that a permanent Non-Proliferation Treaty is the best way to ensure their security and global peace.

     At the same time, we approach the Conference with the United States and Russia having taken significant steps towards nuclear disarmament, making good on their part of the bargain under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Significant reductions in nuclear weapons have occurred and will continue.  Four of the five nuclear powers are observing a nuclear test moratorium, and we are making real progress toward a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

     Central to our overall arms control efforts is the START II Treaty, which stands as an historic achievement in the scope of its reductions and in its measures to promote strategic stability.  We are on track to its ratification in the United States, and our ratification will help the process along in Russia.  Following START, we will turn to the Chemical Weapons Convention and seek its ratification as our priority.

     Let me now turn just briefly to our policies with Russia, where we have an extensive non-proliferation agenda and a set of shared common goals.  These shared common goals include working together to promote the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and also to put in place the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

     I would also like to announce that bilateral negotiations with the Russians will begin shortly on ways of ensuring that the process of dismantling nuclear weapons and the disposition of their nuclear materials will be transparent and irreversible.  This was a goal that we set for ourselves at the Summit in September, and we've now agreed with the Russians to begin these negotiations.  Ambassador Jim Goodby will lead the U.S. delegation.

     One of the most significant, and perhaps least reported, non-proliferation achievements is the contract we negotiated for the U.S. purchase by the United States Enrichment Corporation of 500 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium over the next 20 years.  Highly enriched uranium extracted from nuclear weapons coming out of the warheads from the countries of the former Soviet Union will be converted to low-enriched uranium suitable for commercial power reactor fuel.

     And beginning next month -- starting in March -- the first deliveries will occur.  By purchasing low-
enriched uranium, the U.S. can ensure that the weapons material will be used solely for peaceful purposes.

     But the Russians and the United States have a serious disagreement over our non-proliferation policies towards Iran.  We have conveyed our strong opposition to their proposed sale of nuclear reactors to Iran.  From the first days of this Administration, we have sought to prevent any nuclear cooperation with Iran by any country around the world; and we were successful in preventing the sale of a heavy-water reactor.

     Now the Russians are going ahead with light-water reactor sales, which will provide Iran with nuclear expertise and a nuclear infrastructure that will aid their crash program already underway to acquire nuclear weapons.  Russia's security interests are not served by Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and we are seeking to convince Russia's leaders to forego any nuclear cooperation with Iran.

     We are also pressing the People's Republic of China for more responsible behavior in trade in nuclear and chemical weapons technologies, following on from the important step the Chinese took last October to ban exports globally of ground-to-ground missiles with the characteristics controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime.  But the Chinese too are seeking to sell nuclear reactors and conventional arms to Iran.

     Again, our goal is to convince the Chinese that their security depends on preventing the spread of dangerous arms to these countries.  Moreover, we will not be able to pursue our own peaceful nuclear cooperation with the Chinese unless the Chinese are willing to accept the guidelines for trade that are carried out by the other nuclear suppliers.

     Let me finish by returning to the U.S.-EURATOM Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

     We are fast approaching the time when the agreement between the United States and EURATOM will lapse, with serious commercial costs for our nuclear industries.  Under United States law, a necessary element of an agreement is that the United States have "consent rights" over reprocessing and similar nuclear activities under this agreement.  We have emphasized to the Europeans that the United States will not use consent rights to interfere in EURATOM's civil nuclear program.  But these need to be part of our agreement.

     We would be sending a most unfortunate signal were our countries not able to find a way to continue nuclear cooperation, especially as we approach the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

     So, in conclusion, the Clinton Administration's non-proliferation agenda is wide-ranging and involves both a global approach to reinforcing the international norms against the proliferation of dangerous weapons and technologies and a regional approach to root out the causes of insecurity which produce incentives for acquiring such weapons and technology.

     That's my introductory presentation.

     Carol?

     Q     Lynn, can you talk a little bit about Egypt and Israel and their disagreement over the NPT -- how serious you think it is and what, if anything, the United States is trying to do to defuse this volatile situation?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  With both Israel and Egypt and all the countries around the world, we've made clear that our goal is universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Moreover, in the Middle East we are looking toward a time in which the Middle East would be a nuclear-free zone and peace would be brought to that part of the world.

     I think we need to be realistic as to how soon we'll be able to accomplish that goal; but we are working, as you know, intensively and Secretary Christopher is going back to the region to pursue that next week.

     The United States and Russia are also co-chairmen of one of the working groups associated with the Middle East Peace Process, an Arms Control Working Group that is trying to put in place confidence-building measures to reinforce that peace.

     So that's our vision and that's our goal for the Middle East and for the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  And we are impressing upon Egypt our desire to have them support an indefinite extension of that treaty.  We think, for their long-term peace and stability and security in the region, that they should support such a permanent treaty; and we are very much hoping that we can gain their support in the context of our overall approach to peace and security in the Middle East.

     Q     Realistically, do you expect Egypt to support indefinite extension, and what happens if they don't?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  We are moving to build the majority that I described in my presentation, and then to build as large a majority for the permanent extension as possible.  We very much hope that at the end of the day the Egyptians can join us in that and that they will see, in their own interests and their own security, that that's the best way to assure stability in the Middle East.

     Q     Would you say the same thing for the Israelis?  What are you pressing on the Israelis on the issue, since they are the reason why the Egyptians and the others in the region are refusing to sign?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  As I said, we hold the goal for a universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that, of course, includes Israel.  We also are working with the Israelis towards a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf area where there are threats to the security of that part of the world and to Israel directly.

     So our vision for where we would wish this to be is clear, but we're also very realistic and we would not expect the Israelis to take steps inconsistent with how they see their security today.

     Q     Do you expect that your relationship with Egypt, especially aid, will be affected if they do not -- if they're not convinced by your argument on the Treaty in April?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  Fundamentally, why states join the Treaty and why states will support the extension of that Treaty will be (determined by) how they see their own security; and that's our task:  to ensure that they understand why their own security is met by these steps, not what the United States or others say to them.

     Q     Lynn, you say that we are attempting to convince the Russians and the Chinese not to sell to Iran; but they are in fact going full tilt toward Silkworm missiles, fast-attack craft, kilo-class submarines, etc.  Now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells us they are deploying those as well as more men around the Straits of Hormuz and on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa.

     Do you think that they are doing that to threaten tanker traffic in and out of the Straits and into the Persian Gulf or to defend their territorial claim over the three islands in the mouth of the Gulf?  What is your assessment?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  No Administration has worked harder to try to stop the flow of arms and technologies into Iran than this Administration.  We have a global effort, as I've described; and we've focused not only on those who supply these technologies, but also upon those in the region who would wish to build support for these particular goals.

     We've done this with the Russians.  We've done this with the Chinese.  We've had some considerable success with the other nuclear suppliers in terms of their foregoing peaceful nuclear cooperation with the Iranians.  This is not an easy task.  We haven't succeeded as far as we would wish.

     One of the reasons that we are trying to do what we're trying to do is so that the kinds of steps that Iran is taking today would be far less dangerous if they hadn't acquired these kinds of conventional armaments which I understand is what is in play here.

     I haven't gone into the details of this, so I can't get behind the objectives of the Iranians.  I can say it only reinforces the need for us to be vigilant in trying to keep these kinds of transfers from continuing to go to Iran.

     Q     A follow-up.  This didn't just happen today -- it's been going on for weeks -- and yet you say you can't draw any sort of conclusions.  There are some in Washington who present those two possible scenarios and point to the defense of the islands as the more likely of the two.  You're saying that you have no -- the State Department has no real assessment of the Iranian rationale?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  Without going into the deep intentions of Iran, what it is that they're doing poses a potential threat to stability, not only to their neighbors but also over time to the flow of trade in that part of the world.  So it makes us ever, as I said earlier, more vigilant in trying to keep further kinds of transfers to this part of the world from happening.

     Q     You mentioned sending signals and how such actions do transmit signals.  Most wars -- most people are killed these days with weapons which are not weapons of mass destruction -- conventional arms.  Yet it took this Administration something like two years to put out a conventional arms control statement.

     One, do you think that sent out a signal -- the delay itself?  And two, why did it take so long?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  We had an arms transfer policy from the very beginning days of this Administration, and over the course of the first two years we worked through how it was that we would set criteria and objectives and goals for those transfers, really building on how we were approaching regional security and how we were approaching our own trade and conventional arms to various parts of the world.

     I didn't bring my charts for this briefing to provide you with all of the statistics of what happened in the course of those two years; but our overall arms sales have dropped rather dramatically, even though our proportion of the arms sales deliveries is higher by others having dropped out.

     So what we did was after two years of actually putting in practice how we saw our arms transfer policy, the President codified that in the document and statement that he made approximately two weeks ago.

     Q     The question is, why did it take two years?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  First of all, we've had an arms transfer policy for those two years, and that was reflected in the ways that we've gone about these sales.  Some 80-85 percent of our arms sales now go to our allies and our major coalition partners.  So we have been able to focus our arms sales to the legitimate needs of our friends and our allies and our major coalition partners in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

     So we carried out this policy, and then we codified that policy and articulated that policy.  And that's what we did about two weeks ago.

     Q     Dr. Davis, over a month ago we had an NPT Conference here that Carnegie put on, and the lead Russian official at that conference told me when I asked him about the cooperation -- how it was going between Germany and Russia on controlling fissile materials, investigating some of these interceptions, these fissile intercepts and such -- he told me that there was no cooperation; that it had not proceeded.

     And speaking on the issue of transparency, can you tell me, there is an another element in this town that says fissile materials are out of control and could have reached the North Koreans, Iranians, etc., could very well have.  Can you deny that Russian fissile materials are not in the hands of terrorist nations?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  What I can tell you is that we're working very closely and very hard with the Russians in a variety of different programs to ensure that the security and accounting for those fissile materials is in place, through helping them put in place a storage facility, by helping them secure the facilities where some of these fissile materials are being stored.

     Indeed, a major part of the Nunn-Lugar funding goes to that particular goal in our own programs with Russia, and that's why it's so important that that funding and those programs go ahead.

     We have also a variety of different activities with the Russians in cooperation with our law enforcement agencies, with our intelligence agencies, to make sure that we are working together to ensure that any illicit trade in these kinds of materials is stopped and to make sure that those out there trying to find those materials which we believe are out there, including, among others, the Iranians who are seeking to acquire these kinds of materials, that this is thwarted by our efforts.

     I know that we're working very closely with the Russians.  I also understand that the Germans are working closely as well.

     Q     Okay, but what about -- you mentioned the materials.  The horse is already out of the barn -- those particular fissile materials.  And you said that you knew Iran was looking for such material.

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  But I didn't say that there are any materials that were "out of the barn," by the way you described it.  What I did suggest was that I was trying, by every way that I knew how, to keep it so that those materials were safely secured.

     We follow up every report that we have, and these have been continuing.  But one of the things that we're seeking to do is keep the sellers and the buyers from linking up; and at least so far today, as of the moment I'm making this presentation, that's still the case.

     Q     How can the U.S. and Russia continue to co-chair this commission in the Middle East when Moscow and Washington have such a fundamental disagreement on providing technology to Iran?  Doesn't that dampen the atmosphere?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  The working group is focused as an adjunct to the overall peace process.  It's one of the multilateral working groups.  And it's seeking to build up from the bottom a set of confidence-building measures, communications links, ways of acting together to reinforce confidence -- not identical to how we began to build confidence in Europe under the CSCE, but the same concept that confidence-building measures can help support that.  And for bringing peace to the Middle East, the United States and Russia share that common goal in that particular aspect.

     Indeed, the Russians say that they share the goal of Iran not being a nuclear power.  Indeed, it's based on that common goal that leads us to believe that we need to work through the possibility that they would not transfer any nuclear reactors because fundamentally, if they share the goal that there should be no nuclear weapons in Iran, then they ought to, as the rest of the world, take steps to ensure that none of our technologies, knowledge and expertise contributes to that goal which Iran is very much seeking to accomplish.

     Q     But if the countries that are supposed to benefit from this commission know that the two co-chairs are in a very pronounced dispute, doesn't it sort of dilute the overall effectiveness of what this commission can achieve?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  This is a commission that is really working on some very important but very specific kinds of confidence-building steps in which both the Russians and the United States share a common interest in making possible and providing a bit the umbrella for this to happen.

     So there's no difference in that goal, and there's no difference in the kinds of steps we would wish to see as part of that process.

     Q     This sale is important to the Russians.  It's a very big sale for them, and our aid money is somewhat paltry by comparison.  What leverage does the United States have right now in trying to convince the Russians not to go ahead and make the sale of those reactors?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  Fundamentally, the argument has to go to how the Russians see their security and whether or not their security is improved or hurt by the fact that this kind of nuclear cooperation would be underway between their two countries.

     So it's fundamentally about their security and how they see their own goals.  All the other nuclear suppliers have decided not to go ahead with peaceful nuclear cooperation in order to keep this from happening, sharing that common goal and the belief that the Iranians are out to acquire technology and expertise to go forward with their programs.  So that's the first line of argument.

     The second line of argument is that there are differences of view within Russia itself; and we would like to reinforce those who would see that, as they balance out their commercial interests and their security interests, they would find the same balance that we do.

     We don't have peaceful nuclear cooperation with the Iranians.  Our businesses don't have those commercial activities as part of their activities, and so it's important for the Russians to see that balance and come to the same view of that balance that we have.  That's our long-term goal.

     Q     As you know, North Korea has not completely come back to NPT.  It just suspended the effectiveness of the withdrawal declaration from the NPT.  If North Korea supports the extension of NPT, can you regard it as a complete come-back to NPT?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  Of course, what the North Koreans have done is frozen their nuclear program and undertaken steps that go beyond the formal requirements within the Non-Proliferation Treaty, so in that respect they've done more than some of the others who are parties to the Treaty.

     I'm not sure I know precisely where the North Koreans are coming out on this issue of its permanency.  Clearly, we would wish them to support it, as other countries as well.  Right now, though, we're focused on keeping the freeze and making the Framework Agreement work.

     Carol?

     Q     Your intent or the Administration's intent to try to get a five-power nuclear statement in advance of the NPT Conference on fissile material -- banning production of fissile material -- is it fair to say that you've put that goal aside because of objections from China and France?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  We haven't put the goal aside, but let's say that we're not there yet, because there have been some objections from both France and China and we are trying very hard to get them to make that public declaration, which we believe is consistent with how they see their security and therefore it would be a useful next step for the nuclear powers to do.

     Q     Can you talk about the nature of their objections, particularly France?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  No.  I think it would be up to you to ask the French how they see this from their point of view.

     Q     Could you please give us your assessment of the Iranian nuclear program?  What (inaudible) did they have?  How close are they to being a nuclear power?  Are they in the dangerous zone of having a nuclear bomb, or which stage are they in?  And do you have enough information about their program to assess that it's in a dangerous area now?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  What we know that the Iranian nuclear program is that they are out in every way that they can to expand their expertise, expand their cooperation with those who have this expertise, out looking for technologies, items that would help them put together a nuclear weapons program -- really, as the Secretary has described, a crash program to develop nuclear weapons.

     They are also going out and about to see where they could actually acquire materials which would shorten the period of time which they would take to otherwise develop their own nuclear weapons capabilities indigenously.

     They are some number of years away -- up to ten years away -- from having a nuclear weapon, assuming that they have to go through this long process of development.  But one of the reasons that we see this as such an urgent problem is so that we don't find ourselves ten years from now or eight or five years from now, whatever the time is, in a situation where we could have done something about it but that we didn't; that we won't find ourselves in the situation of an Iraq or even in a situation of a North Korea where they had gone a very long way towards developing their nuclear programs before the international community did what they could to stop it.

     Q     Israel is the only power in the area now that has a nuclear bomb.  Is this your assessment?  There is nobody else in the area that has --

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  I don't make any comments on any sort of intelligence issues.  But what we do know is that the Israelis have gone some considerable distance in their own expertise and knowledge about this.  That's why it is urgent that as our long-term goal we would wish to bring Israel as well as others in the Middle East into the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

     Q     How do you deal with South Asia, particularly India and Pakistan, regarding the nuclear capabilities?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  We, again, would wish as a longer-term goal for India and Pakistan to both become parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  In the near term, what we've been seeking to do is place a cap on their production of fissile materials and move from a cap to reductions and elimination, (and) also to bring the Indians and Pakistanis into a global convention of banning the testing of nuclear weapons as well as a global convention cutting out the production of fissile materials.

     So we have a strategy, a long-term strategy, but fundamentally again it is the case that states move to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty when their own security is served by that.  So it's our task to help find the right path towards India and Pakistan coming to that conclusion.

     Q     To the PRC for a moment.  With regard to their nuclear testing program, they say they will end it, I believe next year.  Is that good enough?  What is our policy about their continuing to test their hydrogen devices?  And, secondly, about them, they have complained about our putting a missile shield around Japan and North Korea because it would take away their deterrent.  Is there any validity to that, or can you comment?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  Four of the five nuclear powers are currently observing a nuclear testing moratorium.  The United States is one of those, and we've wished that the Chinese would also join in that moratorium.  They have stated quite clearly that they are prepared to move ahead to negotiate a comprehensive test-ban treaty in 1996, but that they still need to do some further testing.

     So we take the goal of 1996 and their statement to that and would wish to hold them to that as we negotiate this Treaty.

     There are beginnings of some cooperation between the United States and Japan on missile defenses, but it's very far from having anything that could be called a "missile shield" at this time.

     Q     I'd like to go back to an earlier question.  While I understand you're working with the Russians to try and assure accountability and accounting procedures and safeguard procedures of what's there, can you state again your view of what you think may have gotten out and how big a problem that is?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  We don't believe that there have been any sort of major losses of materials.  We are most certain that the nuclear weapons are under secure control.

     There are very large amounts of these materials scattered in different facilities around Russia and the other Newly Independent States, so we're working to try to help upgrade and make sure those security arrangements are as good as they can be, sharing our own information and expertise on that, using Nunn-Lugar funds as I said for quick-fix kinds of efforts if we see some problems.

     We also know that this is a very high priority on the part of the Russian Government and their whole intelligence services and counter-intelligence services are working on all of this and cooperating with our law-enforcement people.

     That's a long way of saying that I would never, in a statement like this, be absolutely confident; but what I can say is that we give this a very high priority and work day-to-day to try to be sure that nothing dangerous emerges from all of that.

     Q     One of the arguments that this Administration is using for selling or giving light-water reactors to North Korea is that they are not particularly suited for producing highly enriched radioactive fuel.  But this kind of reactor that the Russians are selling to the Iranians -- do I deduce from this that what you're really worried about is that they get the nuclear technology and then they buy some black-market fissile material and put together a weapon without the aid of the light-water reactors?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  Well, I'm most worried, as you suggest, by the expertise -- the nuclear infrastructure that will be part of the cooperation that Russia intends to have with the Iranians in the course of selling them these nuclear reactors.  And so because we know that they're out to try to acquire nuclear weapons, it's the expertise that will be most useful.

     On the other hand, it's still a problem that even light-water nuclear reactors produce some nuclear fuels that could have some dangerous purposes under certain kinds of circumstances.

     But just remember that in the case of the North Koreans, the basis for our going ahead with the light-water reactors is a freeze -- a complete nuclear freeze on their nuclear activities so that there's no construction of other reactors, there's no construction of reprocessing lines, there's no refueling of the rods, there's no refueling in the reactors -- the rods that have already come out the spent fuel is not being reprocessed.

     All of that convinces us that there's no nuclear program going ahead in North Korea, which makes it a very different case from Iran and from the fact that a nuclear program is going ahead and now nuclear reactors are also going to Iran.

     One last question.

     Q     This is back to the Iranian question.  For the Clinton Administration, protecting the world's oil supply is one of its top strategic priorities.  Is that a fair statement?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  I'd say that's a fair statement.

     Q     Okay.  So would it be a fair conclusion to come to that the United States would take military action against Iran if it attempted to disrupt tanker traffic or manipulate prices through such an effort in the Persian Gulf?

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  That's a leading question which I'll leave to others to answer.  (Laughter)

     And I thank you all for coming.  I know it's a fairly esoteric subject, but it's nice to have a few of you pay attention to all this.

     Thanks very much.

     Q     Thank you.

     UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS:  Thanks.

     (The briefing concluded at l:22 p.m.)

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