US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #108, Friday, 6/28/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:40 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jun 28, 19916/28/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, Kuwait Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Arms Control, Military Affairs, United Nations, Mideast Peace Process (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: OK. It's your call. I have a statement on Iraq, and I have a statement on Yugoslavia. We can do whichever subject you would wish to do first.

[Iraq: Situation Update]

Q Iraq. MS. TUTWILER: OK, Iraq. United Nations Security Council Perm Reps were briefed by the U.N. Special Commission Chairman this morning on the latest and serious news about continued Iraqi obstruction of the work of the Special Commission/IAEA Inspection Team. This morning, Baghdad time, Iraqi soldiers prevented the inspection team from conducting a challenge inspection of a portion of the Al Fallujah facility where suspected nuclear-related equipment was being moved and stored. As the team awaited entrance to the facility, it observed vehicles within the compound loaded with the objects the team specifically desired to inspect. These loaded vehicles departed out of the back exit of the facility. When team members moved closer to observe and photograph the departure of the vehicles, Iraqi military authorities threatened the inspection team with small arms warning shots fired in the air. The Iraqis also made efforts to seize the team's cameras. Although the team did not gain immediate access to the site, team members were able to take extensive photographs of the vehicles and their cargoes as they departed the site. We understand the team was able to identify the equipment as related to Iraq's uranium enrichment program. The Security Council will meet again later this afternoon in an informal session to consider next steps. This outrageous behavior by the Government of Iraq constitutes an unambiguous and flagrant breach of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. Only yesterday, the Security Council President -- currently it is Cote d'Ivoire -- on behalf of the whole Security Council, met with the Iraqi Perm Rep to put the Iraqi Government on notice that it must: (1) Submit to the Security Council, in writing from the highest levels of the Iraqi Government, Iraq's acceptance of and renewed commitment to abide by all provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687; (2) Cooperate with the Security Council, the Special Commission/IAEA, and the Special Commission/IAEA teams in the field, and allow inspection of any site on demand, without delay; and (3) To finally explain to the Council in writing the movement of equipment from the Abu Gharib site, and allow full inspection of the equipment that had been removed. Today's action by the Iraqi Government demonstrates its continued scorn and total disregard for the Security Council and its mandatory resolutions. Q Can you tell us anything about the equipment? Is this equipment that has come from friendly European countries or from wherever? Is it home grown? And can you be any more explicit about what kind of equipment? You say "related to." I mean, you know, a logarithm table is related to a nuclear program. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Anything more? MS. TUTWILER: I cannot at this briefing, Barry, because that falls currently under the category of an intelligence matter of what we know and how we know it, etc. And so I cannot be any more descriptive of what it is that we have seen and that we have now -- and, you know, U.S. members are on this team -- have photographed, and what we know is being moved around. Q Is it newly imported equipment? Has it come in since the war, or do you know the suppliers, whenever it was provided? MS. TUTWILER: I personally have not asked those two questions. I'll be happy to ask them for you. Q Margaret, do you have anything on when they're supposed to respond to the U.N. Security Council demand? MS. TUTWILER: A specific timetable I'm unaware of, John. Obviously, I believe that the entire Security Council and international community would want as rapid as possible response. I would also like to point out -- Marlin just called me from the airplane -- the President has in the last 10 or 15 minutes spoken to this issue on the plane. I do not have that transcript. Your colleagues are in the process of getting it out on the wires. Q Margaret, does the United Nations still have the capacity and authority under Resolution 687 to take military action? MS. TUTWILER: That's a question that I'm not going to answer today. That is something that, if they all chose to do so, would have to be looked at, and it would have to be discussed, and I'm not in a position at this briefing to say whether the United States view is, under those two resolutions, we do or do not. Q But the question is about the authority, not about whether or not they're about to take action, but whether they simply have authority under 687. Can't you answer that? MS. TUTWILER: No. I cannot at this briefing answer that type of question for you. It is something that Marlin has said that the President did not answer just 15 minutes ago. And what I'm going to do is paraphrase what Marlin has said the President said of what we are doing. As you know, the President had a meeting this morning. The Secretary of State attended that meeting. On the airplane to the press, the President has said, we are turning on diplomacy, and we are in consultation with the United Nations. Q Margaret, can I get at it another way: At one time it was the U.S. Government position that U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 authorized the use of force, right? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Did that authorization ever cease? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that the authorization has ever ceased. Q So in other words, it's still in force? MS. TUTWILER: To my knowledge, Jim. Q Margaret, the Iraqis are calling all this kind of crisis a fabrication in order to justify the sanctions continuing. MS. TUTWILER: That's ludicrous. This hardly could be a fabrication if you have actual film footage of the second incident. I think it's ludicrous to suggest that if people are firing small arms fire -- granted, into the air -- if people are before your very eyes moving equipment rapidly, frenziedly out of a site -- not the first time this week, the second time this week. I just totally reject that. Q Margaret, you may find this question ludicrous -- MS. TUTWILER: I won't. Q -- but apart from the obstructionist tactics of Iraq, what is the concern about Iraq having a nuclear program? I'd like to see if you can verbalize -- MS. TUTWILER: The concern is -- Q They're not the only people who can deliver in the Middle East, or in that area, who can deliver devastating weapons to other countries. In fact, you deal with some of those other countries. They're part of your diplomacy. MS. TUTWILER: They're the only country I'm aware of in my recent memory and certainly during the last several years that has brutally invaded a neighbor, as we spoke to yesterday; has used weapons, Scud missiles, as I recall, most recently against their neighbors. I can't say that there's any reason that anyone in the international community or with a rational mind would have any reason to want this type of regime to continue to have these types of weapons, as is clearly stated in the United Nations resolutions. That, as I recall, I believe, was unanimously voted on. It could be that one country abstained. Q Margaret, do you know where the vehicles went to after leaving this particular site today? MS. TUTWILER: I can't answer that question for you. That's an intelligence matter. Q Does the United States have that knowledge? MS. TUTWILER: It's an intelligence matter, Mark. I cannot answer it. Q Not even whether you know? Not where they went but -- MS. TUTWILER: If I answered the question, you all, this is a public briefing. That information then could very easily be transmitted, couldn't it, to whomever you might not want to know that type of information. I simply cannot answer that question. Q Margaret, the material that you saw -- that the team saw at the Al Fallujah base today, was that the same stuff that was seen earlier at Al Gharib? MS. TUTWILER: I can't answer that question. That gets right into an intelligence matter of what our country may or may not know and have the capability of may or may not knowing. Q Can you put that into a general context about Iraq's possession of nuclear materials and its nuclear weapons program, and say if this is a vital part of it; if this is the most important part of it? MS. TUTWILER: No. I can only tell you, and I think by our statements, by the statement, it is my understanding, the President has made on the airplane this morning enroute to Kennebunkport, that we -- and I'm not aware of anyone who disagrees with this -- view this as a very serious and clear violation of the United Nations resolutions. And let me once again restate; this is a resolution that the Iraqi Government themselves said they were going to abide by and implement. Q Margaret, can you be more detailed on how the Iraqis tried to grab the photos from the team, or how do you -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a lot more detail than the way I have described it this morning. And, as we described the first instance, a lot of frenzied activity, driving off. I believe earlier this week we said we saw forklifts, we saw trucks. This time, though, we have film footage. Q Is this new site near Baghdad, or where is it? MS. TUTWILER: Richard, do you remember literally where this site is? I don't. MR. BOUCHER: No. MS. TUTWILER: I don't remember. I'll be happy to ask. I will do for you afterward -- the correct spelling of this city or site. Q If it's the U.S. Government position that Iraq has already agreed to cooperate and to unconditionally follow the strictures of 687, why then in this letter handed over is a new sign of cooperation requested from the Government of Iraq at the highest level? In other words, what will a new lie contribute? MS. TUTWILER: I would hope that the Iraqi Government would get the message. You would think that the entire -- that I'm aware of -- Security Council and international community is not going to not insist that they abide by United Nations resolutions. And I can only refer you to what the Secretary of State again said last night. The entire international community -- other than, obviously, there were a few exceptions -- had insisted from August til January 15 that Iraq abide by, as I recall, it was 12 United Nations resolutions. This one has a unique difference in that Iraq itself had said it was going to abide by it. And, as we said, this is just flagrant obstruction of what they said they were going to do, and now this is the second time in one week. Q Margaret, how concerned is the United States that Iraq may be on the verge of producing some type of a crude nuclear weapon? MS. TUTWILER: We have been concerned throughout. We have stated it any number of times. And in the aftermath of the war, part of this resolution that Iraq agreed to was the rendering incapable or the destruction of chemical, biological, nuclear weapons of mass destruction. So, I mean, it is something that has, obviously, concerned an enormous amount of people in the final resolution in the aftermath of the war. Q Margaret, you said -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes, John. Q -- the Security Council is going to meet this afternoon. Does the United States have any specific proposals or requests that it plans to make to the Council at that time? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I personally have any knowledge of. Q Margaret, how is the United States Government communicating with the -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. But I will refer you back to the statement that Marlin just gave me that -- and I'm paraphrasing -- that the President has just made on the airplane, which was, we are turning on diplomacy and consultation with the United Nations. Q Speaking of diplomacy, how is the United States communicating with the Government of Iraq, apart from going through the Perm Reps in New York? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that we are. As you know, they said that they no longer recognized us -- I cannot remember the exact date -- and severed relations with the United States. As you know, they have an Iraqi representative here in this city. As I said yesterday, the Deputy Assistant Secretary, David Mack, met with him yesterday. And I forgot, to be honest with you, to check if Ambassador Watson, as you know, is in charge of our [U.N.] mission right now -- Ambassador Pickering is out of town. I'm not sure -- do you remember if you know, Richard, this morning, if they had an individual meeting yesterday with the Iraqi Perm Rep, or if it was decided yesterday to just let the President of the Security Council handle it. Q Margaret, on that point -- MS. TUTWILER: Barrie in the back has a question. Wait just one -- Q Just a follow-up point of clarification -- MS. TUTWILER: OK. Q Pickering is scheduled to be away until the 12th of July. Is there any plan for him to come back earlier in light of events? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I have any personal knowledge of or have heard about this morning. Q Margaret, in the last 24 hours, both the President and the Secretary of State have expressed very great concern about the Iraqi nuclear capability. To give us some possibility to quantify that concern, could you give us a sense of whether Iraq's nuclear capability today is greater than it was before the war? Is it as good as it was before the war? Is it less than it was before the war? MS. TUTWILER: I would be, Barrie, only venturing a guess for you. I would have to refer you, to be honest, to the Pentagon briefers who have been on the record about this, and I just don't have it all with me, and I would be venturing a guess for you. Q Margaret, the State Department and the White House both speak of turning -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. Whether it is, though, I would say, more, less, or even, it is still a very serious concern to our country and to the United Nations. Q You know, we're like a fiddle. When the White House and the State Department today speak of turning to diplomacy, is that an attempt to turn off the spigot that was opened yesterday about the possibility of military action? Both here, the Secretary of State had some ominous things to say and the Pentagon was spreading the word about contingency plans and all. Is it exclusively a diplomatic venture now, or are other options still available? MS. TUTWILER: The President was asked this type of question, according to Marlin, and his answer was that, "We do not comment on military options." Q Margaret, do you believe that the Iraqis are well aware of the repercussions that could come out of their behavior? MS. TUTWILER: It would be a real stretch of the imagination to fathom that you could not grasp that the world community is serious about the institution of the United Nations and abiding by U.N. resolutions. Q What kind of nuclear material do the Iraqis possess? MS. TUTWILER: That's something, sir, I just simply cannot get into at this briefing of what we believe that they may or may not have and the specifics of it. Q Margaret, is it just the opinion of the United States that force can be used to enforce the U.N. resolution, or is this an interpretation of the resolution agreed to by the members of the Security Council? MS. TUTWILER: I said at the beginning of this that this was something I did not want to get into in any type of depth. Jim had asked me did I believe that it was still in force. I said that was my belief. I will be happy to check with the lawyers, obviously, to find out the further amplification of that answer. At this briefing, I'm not going to answer it further than that way. Q Is that because you're not sure of the legal interpretation, or you don't want to talk about it? MS. TUTWILER: It's because I'm purposely choosing not to.

[Yugoslavia: Mounting Violence; US Concerns; Update]

Q Do you have something on Yugoslavia that you want to do? MS. TUTWILER: Yugoslavia? Yes. Let me begin by restating what the Secretary said yesterday: "We really hope that the Yugoslav people, that the republics, and the central government of Yugoslavia can find a way to give vent to the national aspirations of the various elements within Yugoslavia in a peaceful way, through dialogue and negotiation. "We hope that they can find a way to create a new basis for unity for Yugoslavia." Having said that, let me state today that we are strongly opposed to violence and bloodshed. We are deeply concerned and condemn the mounting violence in Yugoslavia and urge all parties to cease the use of force immediately. We particularly call upon the central government and the Yugoslav Army to end the bloodshed, to exercise restraint, and to commence negotiations immediately. The United States Government remains in close contact with Yugoslavia's neighbors, the European Community, and other interested governments. We understand the European Community has dispatched a mission at the foreign minister level to Yugoslavia to promote renewed dialogue among the parties concerned. We strongly support this step. We also support the convening of an emergency meeting of all members of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in order to address the situation in Yugoslavia. In light of the escalating violence in Slovenia and the danger of violence in Croatia, we are authorizing the voluntary departure of U.S. Government dependents from these regions. We will be issuing an updated travel advisory later today, taking account of the increasing violence in Yugoslavia. Q Is -- MS. TUTWILER: Wait a minute, please. In consultation with the European Community and other interested governments, we will be reviewing U.S. assistance programs for Yugoslavia. As we have repeatedly noted, the willingness and ability of the international community to assist Yugoslavia depends fundamentally on the ability of the Yugoslav people to overcome their differences peacefully through dialogue. The United States calls on all parties in Yugoslavia to step back from the brink, to cease the use of force, and to halt the implementation of all unilateral moves to alter Yugoslavia's external or internal borders. The United States fully supports the efforts of the European Community to bring the parties in Yugoslavia together. We continue to believe that human rights, democracy, and peace in this region can best be assured on the basis of new constitutional arrangements among all the parties. Based upon our consultations with the Yugoslav federal government and with the leaders of all the Yugoslav republics, we believe that a basis for agreement could be found if the parties themselves have the will to seek it. Can I just do a general update, Barry, and I'll take your question. Q Was that you or the Secretary is speaking? MS. TUTWILER: I stopped on him when I said "having said that and now today." OK. For an update: Events, as you all know, are changing very rapidly in Yugoslavia, both at the federal government level in Belgrade and in the republics. I'm going to try to do the best that I can to give you an update, but I'm stopping the clock -- while we're sitting here and freezing time, things could be going on at this moment while I'm speaking. For example, we have just seen before I came to the briefing a press report, which I cannot confirm yet, that the Yugoslav Army has offered a cease-fire effective immediately. Obviously, if this is true, we would welcome it. However, as you know, we remain deeply concerned about the situation in Yugoslavia, as I have just stated; and once again we appeal to all parties to halt the violence and begin a process of dialogue and negotiation. The situation in Slovenia: During the past 24 hours, incidents involving Yugoslav Army and the Slovenian military have continued along the Slovenian-Austrian border. According to press reports, earlier today the Yugoslav Air Force bombed the airports at Ljubljana and in the Slovenian city of Maribor. Observers from our Consulate in Zagreb witnessed a firefight involving Yugoslav Army tanks and the Slovene militia near the Austrian border. The Yugoslav authorities now claim the Yugoslav Army has complete control of Yugoslavia's international border in Slovenia. On Croatia: We have no reports of violence in Croatia. And on casualties: We do not have any independent confirmation of casualties or military losses. According to press reports, the Slovenian Defense Minister claimed that his forces have shot down six Yugoslav helicopters. The Yugoslav Defense Ministry has acknowledged the loss of two helicopters in Slovenia, with a pilot and one crewman confirmed as killed. We have no reports of any violent incidents involving United States citizens. The federal government: At a meeting of the federal cabinet yesterday, the Yugoslav Government called for an end to the violence, a 3-month moritorium on the implementation of the declarations of independence, and negotiation with Slovenia. Slovenia has welcomed the offer of negotiation but has demanded that the Yugoslav army withdraw to its barracks. Today Secretary of State Baker has placed a call to our United States Ambassador in Belgrade. He has been unable to complete that call yet. When he returns from the White House, I'm sure that he will do so. And Ambassador Zimmerman spoke today with the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia about the situation and reiterated what he had said -- I believe it was yesterday -- to the Prime Minister. Q And you don't speak today of -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm sorry. Q -- the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. Does the United States Government think the Yugoslavians -- I mean you're tilting more and more every day. Does the United States Government think that the central government of Yugoslavia has the right to maintain the borders of that country and keep one republic from tearing another one apart and maintaining the territories, the borders between these republics -- or is it just you don't want them to bomb people? What do you want the Yugoslav Government to do, apart from them to negotiate? Do they have any right to maintain order? MS. TUTWILER: Of course, every sovereign state has a right to maintain order, Barry. But what we are doing, as I mentioned to you -- the EC troika has, I believe at l2 noon today, arrived in Belgrade. I know that you follow this closely and have seen any number of foreign ministers and heads of state, all of whom are saying, stop the violence and have a dialogue; negotiate this. No one, that I'm aware of, has addressed themselves to demanding to superimpose what the Yugoslav people may themselves peacefully determine that they would like to do. As you know, we were there last week. We and many others predicted what is going on on the ground right now would go on if you made a unilateral declaration of independence. And what we are most concerned about today, when you say, "we are tilting" -- I would disagree with that -- is the escalation of this violence that is going on, and excessive violence in some instances. Q Margaret, what does the Embassy tell us about who's in charge of the so-called central government at the moment? Is it the President? Is the Foreign Minister in charge? He originally said that Yugoslavia was not going to use force. Does the central government have control of the military? Did the central government order the military to move or did the military move on its own? MS. TUTWILER: I cannot answer categorically that we have a clear picture on whether the central government does or does not have control of the army. And on the other part of your question of who is in charge, as you know, part of the problem is, it's either two or three republics are blocking the normal rotation and election of the presidency in that country. And, obviously, the Prime Minister, to my knowledge, is in charge of that country; and he is operating with -- it's either called a parliament or an assembly -- correct -- without a presidency -- which, as you know, is exacerbating part of this problem. Q But does the United States believe that the military is under the central government's control or could it be acting on its own? MS. TUTWILER: I've answered it the best and only way that I can at this briefing, which is to acknowledge to you that, as of this moment in time, we are not in a position to categorically say to you one way or the other whether they do or do not. Q Have you received any indication of whether the Croatian representative to the collective presidency in still interested in becoming the President, since Croatia claims no longer to be part of Yugoslavia? MS. TUTWILER: That's a really good question, Norm. I don't know. It has not come up in the situation that exists there on the ground right now, as far as our briefing preparation, and to be honest, I haven't heard anybody even address themselves to that. I have seen, as I know that you have seen, any number of officials who were serving in the federal government who were called back to their republics. I don't know if that affects this gentleman or not. Q Margaret, the central government, as you refer to it, was a government made up of Yugoslavia which existed before the republics declared independence. It was made up largely of Serbs. Now that Slovenia and Croatia are gone, isn't what you refer to as the "central government," really the Serbian government? MS. TUTWILER: It's not my understanding. I would obviously stand to be corrected on the facts. My understanding is that there is -- I believe it's three republics that are blocking or forbidding the vote on the presidency of this country. I know from my own meetings, when Secretary of State Baker was there, many of the republic presidents we met with -- as I recall, not all were Serb at all. Many of them were for, "Please help up find a way to work this out peacefully, to have a dialogue, to resolve this without the bloodshed that we fear is about to happen in our country." And they were presidents of other republics. But I will stand to be corrected, if every republic has a Serbian president. I don't believe that's the case. Right, Maggie [Pearson]? Q No, I don't mean -- it's just that the central goverment has been predominantly Serb anyway, as I understand it. MS. TUTWILER: I'm aware of that. Q Now that Slovenia and Croatia are gone, two provinces which previously served as a balance wheel -- isn't this what you call the "central government," in fact, greatly titled now toward the Serbian point of view? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure that I'm in a knowledgeable position, as I stand here at this briefing, to do a breakout of it. I'll check it for you and do some research and look into it for you. Q Margaret, does the Secretary of State ever find himself nostalgic for the Cold War (laughter) when the central communist governments at least exercised a certain amount of control and stability in that part of the world? MS. TUTWILER: I've never heard him pine away for it. (Laughter.) Q You didn't say it from the podium and I just want to give you an opportunity. You still support the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, I gather. MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q OK. Is the United States position that the Yugoslav Army withdraw to its barracks? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to step into that. As we avoided yesterday doing, we are not going to make those types of statements from the State Department for the very reasons that I stated yesterday. We do not want somehow a statement that we make from this podium to be used for a purpose that it was not intended there inside that country there on the ground. Q But they, for the first time, I believe, singled out the responsibility for the central goverment and the Yugoslav Army and their responsibility to avoid violence -- MS. TUTWILER: Of excessive force. Q -- violence. Right. MS. TUTWILER: -- and excessive violence, which we have all, I believe, would be in agreement on. We have seen visuals [on TV] overnight, and what we are calling for -- and that's why we were naming, specifically by name, the central government and the Yugoslav Army -- about excessive use of force and violence. Q Margaret, are you detecting any signs outside of Yugoslavia in the neighboring countries that may confirm your fears that the conflict inside Yugoslavia will spread out to other countries of the area? MS. TUTWILER: As of this briefing, no. But that does not diminish the concern, not only of our country but of other countries. Q Margaret, if a CSCE meeting is called, at what level would it be called? Do you know what they're talking about now? MS. TUTWILER: They determined that, it is my understanding, John, that the meeting would be in Prague, where the Executive Secretariat is located and that there is no determination on (l) if the meeting will be called and (2) at what level it would be called. Q Thank you, Margaret. Q All right? MS. TUTWILER: That's it? Q Any other subjects? Q One more question.

[Jordan: Joint PLO Delegation]

Q Do you have any reaction to the report that the PLO has agreed to take part in a joint delegation with Jordan? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't have a reaction. Our policy on this is, as you know, well known. We have always said -- and I will state for you again -- that the delegation would include Palestinians from the occupied territories, not PLO members. The PLO would not be a part of any joint delegation. Q Anything on a Syrian response? MS. TUTWILER: No. (The briefing concluded at l:ll p.m.)