US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #106, Wednesday, 6/26/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:39 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jun 26, 19916/26/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, Kuwait Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Trade/Economics, Military Affairs, Arms Control, United Nations, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Human Rights (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I have several things I'd like to do. Two are follow-ons to things I said yesterday, and two are fairly long statements, one concerning Iraq and one concerning Yugoslavia. The first is very simple. As I told you yesterday, Under Secretary Bartholomew would be leaving for Geneva, and they left very late last night. He arrived in Geneva this morning, and they are planning to meet this afternoon to begin to lay the groundwork for discussions on the START treaty. So they have not even yet met. Yesterday -- and I don't see that Alan is here -- yesterday he asked me was the 30% at the United Nations was our floor or our ceiling. I said that I wanted to check, but that my instincts were that it was the floor. I am correct; 30% is our floor. It is the recommendation -- 30 percent -- of the Secretary General to the Security Council. Then the Security Council votes on this ceiling. So in a way it is both, but it is definitely our floor. Let's take Iraq first. Q Margaret, just to clarify that that means it is the smallest number the United States would like to see. Is that correct? The U.S. would not like to see the percentage go below 30?

[Iraq: Oil Revenue Percentages]

MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Under any circumstances. OK. Iraq: The United States is deeply concerned by the Iraqi regime's flaunting of its obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. That resolution obliges Iraq to facilitate and cooperate with the U.N. Special Commission and the IAEA which are charged with implementing the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless of Iraq's nuclear weapons capability. Iraq has unconditionally accepted Resolution 687.

[Iraq: IAEA Inspection Team Barred]

Over the past weekend, however, Iraqi authorities denied a joint Special Commission IAEA team entry into the Abu Gharaid military complex. The team requested to visit this particular site because of specific information about storage of nuclear-related items there. Inspection team members saw heavy moving equipment, trucks, forklifts, cranes, etc., moving into the site on the day they were barred from entry and also observed urgent activity by work crews. Only after Iraq had several days to remove equipment and material did Iraqi authorities finally permit an inspection team to enter this site. That occurred today. The team found the site empty. There is ample evidence from multiple sources that Iraq has been conducting a covert nuclear weapons program that has included activities to produce nuclear weapons material. It has deceived the Special Commission and the IAEA on its nuclear program. It has also under-reported or not revealed details on ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction as required by Resolution 687. The Chairman of the U.N. Special Commission briefed the Permanent Five members of the Security Council yesterday on Iraq's obstructionism over the weekend. The United States plans to brief the Chairman of the U.N. Special Commission, the Secretary General, and the 15 members of the Security Council on further evidence we have of Iraqi attempts to conceal its nuclear weapons capabilities from the IAEA Special Commission. We strongly urge the Security Council to put the Iraqi regime on notice that this obstructionism must not happen again and that Iraq must make available for inspection all -- repeat, all -- equipment and material connected with its nuclear weapons capabilities, including items clandestinely removed from the site from which the inspection team was barred and all other sites. Some of you may have been on the Hill -- or some of your colleagues may have -- when the Secretary was asked a question by the press concerning this situation this morning, and I would refer you to what he said. He said basically that we expect Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions, just like we expected them in the period from August to January 15th to comply with resolutions. To give you a little bit more detail, if you want, of what has gone on at this site, after having made that statement: Although the team was allowed to cross the site perimeter on four occasions, they were not permitted access to that portion of the site where the activity they had to inspect was occurring. Therefore, they were not permitted access as required by U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. On the first occasion, the team proceeded by car for approximately 10 minutes before being turned back. On the second occasion, personnel were permitted to proceed by foot approximately a hundred feet before being stopped, and on the third occasion, the team proceeded an unspecified distance but were turned back before reaching the area of interest to them. Only today, after it had several days to remove equipment from the site, did the Iraqi Government grant full access to the team. By that time, as I stated earlier, all of the previously observed activity, including movement of heavy equipment and work crew activity, had been completely removed, and no material or activity was observed. The inspectors characterized the operations on site as "frenzied activity," involving trucks transporting large, draped objects, cranes, forklifts, and other heavy equipment. The team that observed all of this is still in Iraq, and as of right now, I do not have a time for you that the Security Council will meet. We're hopeful that they're going to meet today. That will be followed probably by a full briefing and then a formal meeting of the Security Council. Q Margaret, does that mean that the United States might have to delay its withdrawal from Iraq because of the, I think what you called, "deception" by the Iraqi Government in this case? Would that affect U.S. trust in the Iraqi commitments on other aspects of the northern Iraq situation? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure, Ralph, that the two are necessarily linked. Obviously, the question of reliability on a nation's word is at stake. But, as I believe Pete Williams briefed yesterday at the Pentagon, the number of American personnel -- if you're speaking in northern Iraq -- is basically, as I remember, he stated around 1,200. You might want to check those figures with him at the Pentagon. Q What recourse does the United States have? MS. TUTWILER: I'll leave it at Secretary Baker's statement this morning to your colleagues who stopped him on the Hill that we expect Iraq to abide by U.N. resolutions, as we did in the period from August to January 15. Q Were we aware of this location at the time the aerial bombardment began early this year? MS. TUTWILER: That I don't know, and I cannot address what other potential sites the inspection team may or may not be wishing to visit, because, obviously, that would tip our hands on what it is that we suspect and would like to see. Q Would you take the question of whether the U.S. was aware of the location of that site? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Is this one of the sites that the high-level defector had mentioned in his debriefings with American officials in southern Iraq some weeks ago? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding -- (TO STAFF) and correct me if I'm wrong, Richard (Boucher) -- the last time I was briefing on this subject concerning that, we neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such a person who was discussing such type of information. I'm aware that it's widely out there. Unless we've changed in the week I was out of town last week, that's where we were on that. It's an intelligence matter. Q You said in your statement -- I'm paraphrasing -- MS. TUTWILER: Multiple sources. Q Yes. And there's ample information. Is this ample information in part built on debriefing of people like that? MS. TUTWILER: I just cannot discuss, for intelligence reasons, anything concerning the question that you're asking me. Q And since this was apparently a fairly large-scale operation and fairly frenzied, doesn't the United States have intelligence reconnaissance capabilities to find out where this stuff went? MS. TUTWILER: I can't get into intelligence matters, Jim. As you know, we have to refrain from answering those types of questions. I have, I think, been very forthright in stating what was observed at this site -- we've named the site -- what the U.N. team and the IAEA team has observed. But I cannot discuss, obviously, what the United States may or may not know through other means. Q Did the inspection team go to that site unannounced? Was that one of the surprise visits that they're allowed under the resolution? MS. TUTWILER: Since they attempted this four times, I don't know if the original time -- I don't know if the first time was a surprise visit or not. I'll take your question and find out for you. Q What does the United States think the U.N. Security Council should do about this deception? MS. TUTWILER: That is something that will obviously be discussed at the Security Council, which has not yet met, and the United States' position on that is reflected, I believe, in our strong statement today. And as far as "what ifs," I don't have anything for you at this moment in a briefing other than to refer you to Secretary Baker's strong statement on the Hill today, when asked, and the strong statement that we have made here as far as what, if anything, is the United States going to do about this. After all, Ralph, we have just learned about this yesterday and gotten all the details and gotten it all together. I can't tell you that I am in a position today to tell you what, if anything, the United States is planning to do in the future concerning this. Q I guess I was getting at whether the U.S. is going to ask the Security Council in the meeting this afternoon to continue the sanctions, to increase the sanctions, to take other steps, military or otherwise. MS. TUTWILER: I don't think there was even before this -- and this certainly will reinforce it -- any question about lifting sanctions at this moment in time. Concerning additional sanctions, as of this morning, I have not heard someone address themselves to that. Q Margaret, originally when the Iraqis reported on the missiles and CW, you said it was unsatisfactory, and then they re-reported. But you're now saying -- MS. TUTWILER: "They gave a more realistic report," is how I recall characterizing the second report. Q Right. And then now what you're saying -- that they've misrepresented or under-reported -- is that that same second report, or have you gotten information since then that indicates further under-reporting? MS. TUTWILER: Let me check with the experts on exactly which part we believe they're continuing to under-report on -- OK -- because, to be honest with you, Ruth, I can't remember if there's been, indeed, a third or a fourth report. Q Last week, Mr. Kelly on the Hill mentioned the IAEA team of about 20 people, eight of whom were Americans. Is this the team you were talking about? MS. TUTWILER: (TO STAFF) Do you know if it's the same? I only am aware of one team that's gone in there. MR. BOUCHER: (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: Me either. And I remember, Jim, that -- remember, originally the first team in, as I recall, was an IAEA team. Then you had a U.N. Special Commission under the resolution team go in, and I believe the current team that is there concerning this situation is a combination U.N. Special Commission/IAEA delegation. Right? I believe I'm correct in that, but I'll check it for you. Q Margaret, you've been fairly detailed in your description of activities that have gone on at the site -- presumably reported by the team that reported this alleged deception. Are you able to give us any kind of description of what the U.S. believes that equipment and supplies, or whatever it is, to be at that site? What is it that was moved? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Do you believe it was weapons? Do you believe it was machinery for making weapons? Do you believe it was chemicals or other components of nuclear weapons? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know of my own knowledge, Ralph, what we may believe was being moved around there, and what was the frenzied activity that they saw being moved. I just don't know. I'll be happy to -- Q See what might be said about that. MS. TUTWILER: -- see if we can be more forthcoming on that. To be honest with you, in the cable traffic that I read this morning, this is very forthcoming information on the information that we have at this date. But I will definitely ask. Q Margaret, was there any thought to putting this out earlier when it might have impacted the ability of the Iraqis to hide all this or move it or -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure I'm following what you're asking. Q I'm wondering why it took four inspections and 3 days for the State Department to acknowledge this when an earlier disclosure might have caught them red-handed, as it were. MS. TUTWILER: We were there on the ground. This is a U.N. Special Commission, trying to deal with a particular situation. I'm not sure that maybe their recommendation was, the first or second time, we're not really sure; let us keep working this on the ground. I'm just not sure, Johanna. Obviously, if we're being as forthcoming, as I believe this statement and information is, we certainly do not have anything to hide. It once again, in my mind, shows the type of regime you are dealing with there in Iraq. We have said they are obviously continuing this pattern of deception. So there is no reason that I can fathom, other than you don't want to compromise any type of security, that we have any reasons of our own that would be in our benefit to keep this type of behavior secret. Q Can you tell us whether this is physical evidence you about nuclear material or just reports? I know you don't want to get into intelligence matters, but is this physical evidence you have? MS. TUTWILER: I'll have to take your question. Q Margaret, just to sort of complete the circle. Has the United States or the U.N. asked for or received any kind of explanation from the Iraqi Government as to what the activity was at the site and what the purpose of it was? Is there an explanation from the Iraqis? Do they deny doing it, or do they just say -- MS. TUTWILER: Not any explanation that I am aware of or that I have seen. It's a fair question. I'll be happy to re-ask if they have some type of plausible explanation of why they are not cooperating. And I would remind everyone, they agreed to Resolution 687 unconditionally.

[Yugoslavia: Secession Movements, Situation Update]

You want to turn to Yugoslavia? I have a lengthy statement on it also and a lot of information for you, and then I'll be happy to take your questions. Tuesday evening, as many of you all know, the Croatian and Slovenian Assemblies passed declarations formally asserting their independence. We regret that the Croatian and Slovenian Republics made unilateral assertions of independence from Yugoslavia. These unilateral steps by Croatia and Slovenia will not alter the way the United States deals with the two republics as constituent parts of Yugoslavia. As Secretary Baker made clear last Friday in Belgrade, we will neither encourage nor reward secession. The United States continues to recognize and support the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, including Croatia and Slovenia. The United States strongly opposes the use or threat of force to resolve the political differences in Yugoslavia and calls on all parties to avoid unilateral acts and to continue dialogue. Following Secretary Baker's visit to Yugoslavia, the United States still believes that there are opportunities for compromise within Yugoslavia acceptable to all six republics. We urge Croatia and all Yugoslavs to continue dialogue toward a new and democratic basis that satisfies national aspirations in a common Yugoslav state. After their declaration, the Croatians have said that they do not consider their action to be an act of secession and are prepared to continue negotiations regarding the future of Yugoslavia. The Slovenians have also reiterated their commitment to negotiations. The leaders of all six Yugoslav republics have accepted that a basis exists for further dialogue. Various compromise plans have been proposed and are still being discussed. The international community is ready to support Yugoslavia's efforts to transform itself economically and politically. We, therefore, urge Croatia, Slovenia, and all Yugoslavs to continue dialogue toward a new and democratic basis for a common Yugoslav state. We will be reviewing, along with the EC and other members of the international community, how we can act to promote dialogue and prevent violence in Yugoslavia. As Secretary Baker said in Belgrade on June 21, "Instability and the break-up of Yugoslavia could have some very tragic consequences not only in Yugoslavia but more broadly in Europe as well." On June 19, the CSCE community of 35 states expressed its collective support for unity, democracy, and human rights in Yugoslavia. The CSCE community called for continued dialogue among all parties looking for a new democratic basis for unity; stressed that it is only for the peoples of Yugoslavia to decide their country's future; rejected the view that the possibilities for dialogue had been exhausted; cautioned against unilateral steps or the use of force; and urged that the constitutional impasse over the rotation of the Yugoslav presidency be resolved. We call on the leaders of Serbia and Montenegro to stop blocking that rotation. To give you an update of many things that have appeared this morning in the wires and in various news reports, I'm not in a position for us to independently confirm. As you know, there has been some outbreak of violence. To explain the best we know about the current situation, legislation implementing the Slovenian declaration specifically called upon Slovenian officials to take over border crossing points with Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. Slovenians have taken over some points and have tried to replace Yugoslav signs with Slovenian ones. There has been some disruption of border traffic due to jurisdictional disputes between republic and federal military officials. The Croatians, on the other hand, have not taken parallel action. Both Croatia and Slovenia have republic police forces, including special, well-armed units. In addition, Slovenia has a substantial territorial defense force, similar to our own National Guard. The Serb minority in Croatia has also established and armed a uniformed militia. Some of these units may have been involved in the Glina action, which has been reported in Croatia. The Yugoslav Federal Assembly has authorized Prime Minister Markovic to use the military as necessary to maintain order. The army deployed this morning to separate battling Serb and Croat groups in the Croatian town of Glina, some 30 miles south of Zagreb. The army restored peace, although there are unconfirmed reports of casualties. The army also has constitutional responsibility for security of border points. The Federal Assembly has requested the Interior and Defense Ministries to secure border points. The Slovenian and federal Interior Ministers have met to discuss control of external border points. We see this as a hopeful sign. This is an example of the cooperation we would like to see continuing. The Department of State is considering issuing an updated travel advisory for Yugoslavia in light of the events of the past 24 hours. The advisory would supercede the advisory of March 14. That advisory urged Americans to defer all non-essential travel to Yugoslavia. Obviously, if we have a new advisory this afternoon, we will post it for you in the Press Room. The U.S. Government is represented in Yugoslavia by a Consulate General in Zagreb and an Embassy in Belgrade. A total of 253 U.S. Government employees and their dependents are assigned to Yugoslavia. In addition, the United States Information Agency operates cultural centers in three republics. At each one of those centers, there is one United States official. A total of 4,564 American citizens reside in Yugoslavia. To the best of our ability, to keep these types of records of people who register with our Embassy. I would also like to note that our Ambassador in Belgrade this morning -- Ambassador Zimmerman -- met in the last 24 hours with the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia to discuss the situation and to convey our concerns. Q Does the U.S. endorse the deployment of the army to Glina, as you reported? You said that they had restored peace but with unconfirmed casualties. Does the U.S. endorse the deployment by the federal government of federal forces? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know whether it's up to us to endorse it or to condemn it, Ralph. Our policy is that we would like to see this very explosive, sensitive situation handled through dialogue, negotiations, and through peaceful means. Q But would the deployment of military forces at the federal level comply with the desire to handle these things through peaceful means? MS. TUTWILER: Since I do not have first-hand information from any of our Embassies of exactly what took place at these points, I don't want to start casting blame or responsibility for who may have been involved and who may not have. Obviously, Yugoslavia is a sovereign nation. They have got a very delicate situation on their hands. As I pointed out, two examples of hopeful signs to us concerning the discussion of how they're going to handle exterior border points, etc. is that we continue, as the Secretary said last Friday, that his day-long visit there to Yugoslavia and his, I think it was 8 or 9 different meetings, did not put aside his fears, but that he still hoped that somehow this could be resolved in a peaceful manner that is for the best for everyone, obviously, we believe, there in Yugoslavia. Q Margaret, are you considering withdrawing dependents? MS. TUTWILER: I have not heard of any such decision like that. I'm not aware of any type of danger as of this briefing that any American citizens are in or any of our official Embassy family are in, or any threats that have been made against any Americans at all. Q You spoke of possibly broader tragic consequences for Europe. Can you say exactly what you mean by that, or give us your idea of what sort of consequences you're worried about? MS. TUTWILER: The Secretary addressed himself to this when he was in Yugoslavia. I answered the question yesterday, and it is something that is not only of concern to the United States but is of concern to many of the countries that neighbor Yugoslavia. It is a concern to the EC. It is of concern to a number of countries of the international community. Q Is the United States concerned that other minorities such as Slovakias or Moldavians in the Soviet Union might feel encouraged by this? MS. TUTWILER: We have a number of concerns concerning this situation. As Secretary Baker has himself characterized it, it is a very potentially explosive situation. Q I know we want to see this solved peacefully without violence. But as a matter of principle, do we recognize Yugoslavia's right to repel secession and to protect its sovereignty? MS. TUTWILER: As I've stated, Yugoslavia is a sovereign nation. Secretary Baker, I believe, met well over 4 hours with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of that country. The Prime Minister himself, yesterday, had said that he did not intend to use force. I have no reason to believe that the leadership of the country of Yugoslavia are not making every honest effort to try to resolve this situation in a way that is satisfactory to all but more importantly is peacefully handled through dialogue. Q So it doesn't go to my question. MS. TUTWILER: I understand that. Q Apropos of dangers, do you have anything on the Lithuanian situation? This morning, apparently, Soviet troops have taken over the phone exchange in Lithuania, cutting off all communications. MS. TUTWILER: I just heard about it on the way here to the briefing. My understanding is that we had checked with our European Bureau here. They have only heard the report. We did not have anything one way or the other on it, and we'll continue to check into it. Q Margaret, do you have anything on the reports that the sentences in Kuwait have been commuted? MS. TUTWILER: Those were the two things that were brought to my attention on the elevator ride down from my office to come here, neither of which have we had an opportunity to verify ourselves. Q (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q This is a completely different subject. It's about the Cuban reactor plant. MS. TUTWILER: I've just been told that the briefing of the Security Council by the United States has now begun. Q Just a follow-up on a question that was raised yesterday about the Cuban reactor plant being built, and some of the concerns that U.S. officials may have on the safety of that plant. MS. TUTWILER: I believe that we put in the Press Office last night the response that we've been consistently giving over the last -- I believe it's about 6 weeks here. I don't have anything to add to what the Department continues to say about the situation. Q Is the United States fearing that when this plant is finished that in case there is an accident that it could pose tremendous damage to the eastern seaboard? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not trying to not be helpful, but I have to just refer you to the record. We did, again, answer the question yesterday, and if it's okay, I'd refer you to that record. Q Do you have copies of the first two -- are there partial copies -- MS. TUTWILER: Sure. We'll give both of them to you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:08 p.m.)