US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #112, Tuesday, 7/9/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12: PM, Washington, DC Date: Jul 9, 19917/9/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, United Nations (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I don't have any announcements or housekeeping matters. I'll be happy to take your questions. Q Margaret, the BBC is reporting a little bit more on that Iraqi letter to the U.N., saying, in effect, that the Iraqis are saying they didn't reveal more about the nature of their program, because they feared unprovoked American aggression or assault. Maybe that's from the Arabic translation. Is that what they said, and what about that -- MS. TUTWILER: Why don't I do this, because it answers your question, is go through for you what I can say today concerning the 29-page letter. I would tell you first off that this letter was addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations. It is up to him to determine whether he chooses to make this letter public or not. As of this briefing, there's no determination on that. We, the United States, would obviously support making it public. Concerning the question that you asked me, Barry, we've had an initial -- obvious first -- translation that came to us yesterday, and in it, as you know, Iraq admitted it hid equipment from the U.N. IAEA for certain "national security reasons" and that its program was for peaceful purposes only. That is something that we find totally unacceptable. The fact is that Iraq had an unsafeguarded, covert uranium enrichment program that it hid. It failed to declare it to the U.N. / IAEA and which it hid from the inspection team. This constitutes a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 and its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Iraq's safeguards agreements. Furthermore, the extent of Iraq's program, along with information we have from numerous sources, makes us believe strongly that Iraq has a program to develop nuclear weapons. The letter is being reviewed, as I said, by the U.N. team and the IAEA. An initial look, however, reveals there are significant omissions and discrepancies. Statements Iraq makes about the extent of its capabilities do not comport with scientific data that we have about Iraq's program. Also, Iraq says it has developed levels of uranium enrichment up to 4%. Our own assessment suggests this is not an accurate accounting of Iraq's capabilities. It is imperative that Iraq fully declare all of its nuclear weapons-related activities and provide immediate, complete, and unconditional access to the U.N. / IAEA teams as the United Nations Security Council has demanded. Iraq now admits it had, among other things, 30 calutrons -- that is equipment used for uranium enrichment under a system called electromagnetic isotope separation, or EMIS -- only eight of which it claims were operable; a laboratory chemical separation program for uranium enrichment; an incomplete centrifuge process for uranium enrichment; half a kilogram of low enrichment uranium, 4%; and various quantities of other nuclear-related materials. The calutrons are the type of equipment Iraq moved from two different sites to avoid the U.N. / IAEA inspection team attempting to inspect it. This type of equipment is used to produce highly enriched uranium, which is essential to the development of nuclear weapons. Iraq admitted it did not declare this equipment to the U.N. Special Commission and to the IAEA, which is a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687, though Iraq does not admit it was developing nuclear weapons. Iraq claims that most of the equipment described on this list has been destroyed or rendered inoperable, and that obviously will be up for the teams to determine whether it has or has not. Q Margaret, I may be over my head here -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm a little bit over mine, I can assure you, and I've tried this morning. Q Speak in acronyms. MS. TUTWILER: Let's talk about calutrons. (Laughter) Q The chemical separation process and the incomplete centrifuge process are considerably more sophisticated than the calutron process, are they not? So doesn't this -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not a candidate to answer that, in all honesty. I don't know. Q But doesn't this indicate that Iraq's program was considerably more sophisticated than we believed at first blush when we discovered that they had calutrons? I realize this may not be -- you may not be -- MS. TUTWILER: My area of expertise. Q -- in your area of expertise here, but could you see if an answer could be -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Let me let one of the experts -- Q You didn't really answer the question. I mean -- MS. TUTWILER: I did answer your question. Q No. The question was -- MS. TUTWILER: Concerning national security reasons -- we think that's unacceptable. Q OK. Their argument that they didn't show what they had because they feared attack is an unacceptable -- MS. TUTWILER: That's ridiculous. Q OK. Just -- MS. TUTWILER: In my opinion -- that the United Nations Resolution 687, I believe, was passed some time in April -- there were no secrets kept from the Iraqi Government. Shortly after that, the Iraqi Government says that they signed on to this; they agreed with it; they would implement it; they would fulfill it. So I don't know how in the world they can turn around now -- what is it? -- 3 or 4 months, later and say for "national security reasons" they had to hide all this stuff from the inspection teams. Q Are you able -- MS. TUTWILER: It doesn't wash. Q Are you able today -- as you weren't yesterday, or allowed yesterday -- are you permitted today to say how close they were to having a nuclear weapon? MS. TUTWILER: No. I tried for you, and I can't. Q Margaret, does the United States believe that the Iraqis had considerably more enriched uranium that they had not declared to the IAEA? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, I believe I said that today. I said today there are still, in our opinion, discrepancies in even this 29-page letter. What I cannot do is tell you what specifically we may think they do or do not have, because it gets into an intelligence matter. But by stating what we have stated, we have definitely, in my interpretation of it, not signed on to, yes, the 29-page letter, that's all there is. We're not buying that. Q But can you say whether the United States believes they have enough to make one or two bombs? MS. TUTWILER: No. That is something I definitely cannot do, to say how much they have, what we believe they can or cannot make. We obviously want, for beginners, to see everything that's in the 29-page letter that they readily themselves admit they hid from these inspection teams. The third team is there today. They have visited a site. It's my understanding -- we've just gotten this information -- there has not been an incident. But, obviously, they're going to continue to view other sites, and I cannot, obviously, get into which sites they are or are not going to be visiting. Q One step further, if you will. MS. TUTWILER: One step further on what? Q Once the team has seen everything that's in the 29-page letter, then what does the U.S. want? MS. TUTWILER: It's not the U.S., Bill. As you remember, this is a United Nations inspection team. Q Right. MS. TUTWILER: And this is part of the aftermath of the war -- a United Nations effort. As I said yesterday, and it continues to be true today, since we've stated today, we believe and know there are discrepancies in this letter that exist today. I have fairly much indicated to you that we believe there is more to be told in this story; that they are not continuing to be forthright in full. We have said these teams -- the third team's on the ground right now -- will continue their site inspections and will continue to not only see all of this, but continue to press for whatever else it is that we may think is there -- to see it. Q Margaret, just to square -- MS. TUTWILER: And then -- excuse me -- and, as you know, under what the Iraqi Government agreed to, then this all has to be rendered inoperable or destroyed, accounted for. I mean, it is a very elaborate system that they signed up to and said that they would cooperate with. Q Just to square the record, yesterday you gave us the impression that their letter said they had a nuclear weapon program. MS. TUTWILER: That they what? Q That the Iraqis admitted they had a nuclear weapons program. As I understand from what you're saying today is they didn't admit that they had a nuclear weapons program; they did admit they had a nuclear enrichment program, which is not synonymous. MS. TUTWILER: That's my understanding also of what I have said. Q Yes. So, in other words, modifying what you said yesterday, they didn't admit that they had a nuclear weapons program. MS. TUTWILER: Yesterday, Jim -- and I don't want to get tied up like a pretzel here in a lot of this very, very technical subject matter that I'm sure you're an expert in; I readily admit I'm not -- that yesterday we said this was an initial, first glance. We did not even have an Arabic translation of it. Today I am saying we have our Arabic translation of this, but this again is an initial, preliminary observation. We have not finished, overnight, going through everything that we'd like to have the time to analyze and interpret contained in the 29-page letter. Q You talk about a nuclear enrichment program, and they said it was a 4% enrichment, which would be a very low figure. Weapons grade is above 90%. Do you believe that in addition to this 4% program that they admitted they have, that they had other more concentrated, highly enriched programs which would have reached the weapons-grade level of the high ranks? MS. TUTWILER: I can't get into weapons-grade levels with you. It's something that I'm not going to address, because, as you know, I don't have that information at my fingertips. As I've told you -- and I think what you should key off of -- I am not in a position, either from my own independent knowledge and background or from being limited in intelligence matters and the amount of time I've had to devote to this this morning in what the Department can and cannot say. It would seem to me that what you should key off of is that in the United States' view, an initial look reveals there are significant omissions and discrepancies in this 29-page letter. I've stated to you the parts of the letter that the Department is confident on, technically going out and saying what Iraq now says they have. But I'm really not in a position, for the reasons I explained, to really go into a lot more depth on this with you. Q Margaret, are you saying that yesterday you misspoke when you said they had a weapons program? That what you really meant to say is that they had a nuclear enrichment program? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe that I misspoke, but I'll be happy to correct myself and to go back and look at exactly what it is that we are trying to say that they do or do not have here. I can't clear it up for you right here. I can't remember, to be honest with you, John, exactly what phraseology I used yesterday. Q During the war, the intelligence assessment around here was that the Iraqis had enough enriched uranium to put together at least one crude nuclear weapon or crude nuclear device. Does anything in this report confirm that -- seem to confirm that? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that it was well known before the war, because the Iraqi Government, under the IAEA and the NPT, already had made known what they had. So what you're referring to, that I've read in a number of newspapers this morning, was public information. That is not what we're dealing with here. That capability for making one weapon, as you say, one bomb, was, is my understanding, well known under Iraqi Government cooperation under the NPT. What we are dealing with today is information that the Iraqi Government has given that they admit themselves they had hidden. Q Just to follow that up, you don't know whether that amounts to enough enriched uranium or to a high enough degree of enrichment to make another nuclear device. Is that correct? You don't know that yet. MS. TUTWILER: No. What we are not going to do, because it is an intelligence matter, it's intelligence information, I am not going to do an assessment or prediction for you of what we believe the Iraqi Government is capable of doing today. This was a question that I did get asked a number of times yesterday. I have asked for you all this morning, and this is where I continue to stay and come up with, and it's an intelligence matter. Q What you're saying, Margaret, is the government has seen enough to know what Iraq is capable of but cannot disclose? Or does the government not know what Iraq is capable of and also won't talk about? I think it's the former. MS. TUTWILER: Our government knows a lot, as I said yesterday. We obviously in our opinion have a very sophisticated intelligence network. We have a great deal of confidence in it. But what I'm not going to do or be able to do is tell you what our government analysis tells us and what we know about Iraq's capabilities. We are obviously, one, not satisfied with the 29-page letter. They obviously have now admitted that they were lying and misleading and, as the President has said many times, not abiding by something they said they would abide by. I've just given you a preliminary, initial list of some of what's contained in the 29-page letter that gives you an indication of what they have there that no one believes, that I'm aware of, that they are for anything other than potential misuse in the future. Q Margaret, yesterday you said that at first glance the 29-page letter was a good first step. Would you still say that today, or upon -- MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q -- looking at it, do you now think that it was just meant to obscure things further and add further confusion by the omissions and the discrepancies that you're talking about? MS. TUTWILER: I think that it is helpful, even though they readily admit now that they hid this, and that they -- they didn't say this, we say it -- misled. Obviously, I'm not going to say that giving 29 pages worth of information is irrelevant. Obviously, it helps the investigative team there. They have said the investigators are going to be allowed to go to these sites. They have said they are going to cooperate on rendering useless or destroying what they've told us about. So that all still is to the good. What we are saying is that we still find discrepancies and shortcomings, even after this 29-page letter, based on what we know through our own intelligence analysis. Q Margaret -- Q (Multiple questions) MS. TUTWILER: Alan. Q On the first night of the war, President Bush, at the time when U.S. planes were just bombing Baghdad for the first time, President Bush told the United States -- told the American people and the world -- that the Iraqi nuclear threat would be removed. Doesn't the United States -- I know the sensitivity of protecting intelligence sources, but doesn't the United States now owe it to the American people and the world, and in particular the people in the Middle East, to tell them what exactly the danger that they are living under is? MS. TUTWILER: I believe, Alan, that the United States and the United Nations are going about the business, which is indirectly and directly telling the world, by insisting on this resolution. If we had not insisted on it, there would not be three teams there on the ground. The ballistic missiles that were all destroyed yesterday would not have been destroyed. So I would say that we are very diligently pursuing this. We are very diligently going about this, and it's very public what's going on. I don't remember the exact words the President used, as you quote, from the night of the war, but I'm not aware that anyone in our government ever claimed that 100% of every single, solitary shred of material or equipment had been destroyed in "Desert Storm." And I'm not aware that anyone in our government ever misled, as you say, people in the Middle East or anywhere else. Q I didn't say "misled" -- MS. TUTWILER: I know that. But to say that they did not -- that we would not -- if Saddam Hussein was still there -- and you know that was not one of our objectives -- that Iraq could not revive its nuclear program. Q Can you restate now, today, from this podium the -- MS. TUTWILER: What the President said? I don't remember. Q No. -- the United States is still determined to remove Iraq's nuclear capability? Can you say that that is still the United States -- MS. TUTWILER: Sure. That's what we're all going about. The United Nations is very actively engaged in that right now. That is what they're doing with a special U.N. inspection team that's there on the ground in coordination with the IAEA under Resolution 687 that the United States supported, as, as I'm aware of, I believe everybody else in the Security Council. Q Long before "Desert Storm," the Israeli's took out Iraq's nuclear facility and got a lot of condemnation for their efforts. Is there a judgment now how important that was to this program that you can share with us, whether they would have been a more dangerous -- or was it just a negligible slowdown? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have an analytical statement for you, Barry. I'll be happy to -- Q Could you ask? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q Margaret, I'm still not clear with all of the talk around here -- MS. TUTWILER: It's a little confusing. Q Even though we can't say when they might be able to make a weapon, are we saying that what we were going after was potential weapons? That we were going after an Iraq capability of making a weapon at some point? I'm not sure you said that. Have you said that? MS. TUTWILER: I think what we, through the United Nations -- Q You said possible misuse. MS. TUTWILER: -- are going about is assuring ourselves, which assures the world and assures the neighborhood, that this government, which in my mind has proved itself by its actions -- we are determined, as the United Nations in this resolution, to render non-useful, to render obsolete, to destroy, to do what the resolution calls for. If we had zero concerns about this, why would we all be bothering? Why would the third team be in there now? Yes, it is a concern to us. It is a concern, (1) because of the material involved, and (2) because of the government that is in control of this material. Q But they haven't admitted, as you suggested yesterday, that they were making a weapon. And now from the podium, you won't say whether they were making a weapon. Were they making a weapon? Is that what this is all about? MS. TUTWILER: They don't have a lot of credibility, I know, with this government; I don't know anybody else. So we've not had a pattern here of having any reasons to believe much of what, if anything, they say or taking them at their word. Q So you're saying the stuff was to make weapons. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know what they were using the stuff specifically for. I know that it is bad, that it is something that the world wants destroyed and wants to know where every bit of it is, that we're not going to stop until we have assured ourselves that we have turned over every stone to know that we know where all this equipment is and that it's -- excuse me -- under either safekeeping, it has been destroyed, it is obsolete. Q OK. One final question. If the military action, that was sort of raisesd as a possibility, were taken against such stuff, do your experts tells you that it could have been disastrous for the people around there if, say, enriched uranium were hit with bombs or something? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't asked that question. Q I do not know. Have you asked that question? MS. TUTWILER: I have not. Q Could you? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Could I? You obviously can't tell us what the significant omissions and discrepancies are because of -- MS. TUTWILER: Right -- intelligence matter. Q Can you give us a quantifiable understanding of what omissions or the extent that these omissions have been left off the 29-page document? MS. TUTWILER: No, because I honestly don't know. Q Does anybody in the building know or -- MS. TUTWILER: Of course, the people in the building know; but in the, you know, 6 hours I've been here this morning, I have not had an opportunity to get to that level of detail for you. Q Will there be any -- are you going to share what you know with the Iraqis so that they can present a full accounting of what they have? MS. TUTWILER: That would get me right back into an intelligence matter, and I don't know how, to be honest with you, that will be handled. Obviously, we're not telling the Iraqi Government anything in advance of what we do or do not know. That, obviously, would compromise the people there on the ground, as I said yesterday. And so this, obviously, will be raised as the experts feel is the most intelligent way to raise it with the Iraqi Government -- just as in the past, we have said, "We'd like to see X-site, take us to this site." There're surprise visits, as you know. There's not a lot of notice prior to saying, "We'd like to go here." Q Margaret, are you saying there is more to be told by the Iraqis, that they've been misleading up to this point? For months after the war, they haven't fully disclosed what they have. MS. TUTWILER: Uh-huh. Q At this point, is the U.S. Administration content to let the U.N. procedures -- MS. TUTWILER: Uh-huh. Q -- handle this, or are you afraid or planning that in case the Iraqis never are forthcoming with everything, they should be about their power? MS. TUTWILER: That's a wildly hypothetical for me and speculative question. I can't say forever. I know of absolutely no complaints that our government or other governments have about the way the U.N. inspection teams are going about their business in coordination with the IAEA. I haven't heard any complaints at all. Q So the United States at this point doesn't have any recommendation that it's considering to make to the U.N. about more aggressively seeking any information from the Iraqis? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm personally aware of. Q Can we go on into the intelligence matters of how much enriched uranium you think they've made or how highly enriched it is? Is it fair to say that one of the omissions might be that the amount that they have stated -- only half a kilogram, not enough to do anything -- is a low estimate of how much they have enriched? MS. TUTWILER: I would happily answer that question for you if I could. I have been specifically asked -- because it falls into an intelligence matter of what we know and what we believe that the Iraqi Government has. I've tried, to the best of my ability, to say within the confines of not breaking any confidences -- and, obviously, American intelligence -- we, obviously, think that this letter falls short, that it has discrepancies, that there is more to be told here. That's the only way I know how to continue to answer it and stay faithful to the place I work. Q All right. One other follow-up. We've talked about three different technologies for enriching uranium. You talked about an incomplete centrifuge process, so I'm assuming you're saying that wasn't functioning. You talked about a laboratory chemical-separation process, so that sounds like it's functioning but at a small scale. And then you talked about the calutrons, 30 calutrons which were functioning. Is that what you've alluded to? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll be more than happy to ask for you and let an expert answer that question for you. Q That's what the Iraqis said -- the Iraqis. MS. TUTWILER: That's what the Iraqis said. Q Margaret, can we have a copy of your response? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q So we can have it translated. MS. TUTWILER: Yes. You need the calutrons, and I think you need some of this technical language in here. (Laughter) Q Margaret, do you -- Q Do you want to do that? MS. TUTWILER: It would suit me just fine. Q I wonder if you've heard anything new -- if the government has heard anything new from Moscow on the upcoming visit of Mr. Bessmertnykh and General Moiseyev, and is the schedule as you said yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: We haven't heard anything. The schedule is as we said yesterday. The two Foreign Ministers and their teams will begin meeting here Thursday at 3:00 p.m., and the ministers and their teams, as you know, are prepared, if need be, to work all through Friday. Q But will Bessmertnykh be seeing the President while he's here? MS. TUTWILER: That would be a White House announcement for them to make -- Q Margaret -- MS. TUTWILER: -- not for me to announce. Q -- only if he comes across with what's wanted. MS. TUTWILER: Only if he's what? Q Comes across with what's wanted. Q Margaret, Marlin said this morning that the State Department would make the determination on South Africa. Has the State Department made that determination yet? MS. TUTWILER: Uh-huh. The Department has completed a very thorough analysis, both here and by our Embassy in Pretoria. The conclusions from that analysis were forwarded to Secretary Baker, who has in turn forwarded them to the President. That was done last Friday. Our study was conducted over a period of several weeks. The State Department and the White House, as many of you know, have been consulting throughout with the Congress. All prisoner lists provided by political and human rights organizations were reviewed in detail. The South African Government cooperated by allowing access to the prisoners' records. I would like to remind you that the definition of "political prisoners" used in the legislation conforms to internationally recognized standards which the Department uses in its annual human rights reports. Section 3ll(a) requires the South African Government to release "all persons persecuted for their political beliefs or detained unduly without trial." The Embassy's study indicated that approximately l,050 prisoners had been released. My understanding is that is since the spring of l990. This figure includes a substantial number who were convicted under due process for crimes of violence against persons or property, a category not covered by the standard definition. The final decision, of course, rests with the President at the White House. I have nothing to say concerning his decision nor concerning timing. To implement a decision to terminate sanctions -- if that is what the President, indeed, decides -- the President would issue an executive order. No report or notification to Congress is required by the law. Sanctions would be terminated immediately upon issuance of the executive order. Q Does -- Q Margaret, is that report available? Can we see it? (Laughter) MS. TUTWILER: Not today. Q Do you mean sometime soon? MS. TUTWILER: I doubt it, Mary. It's a correspondence between the Secretary of State and the President, but I'll see if there's any prohibition to making that public. I just don't know. Q Did it say that all the political prisoners have been released, Margaret? You said that it said l,050. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to answer that question today. Q Why not? MS. TUTWILER: Because that, obviously, is something that is a presidential determination. What I've answered for you today is that the Department has completed its review in conjunction with the Embassy in Pretoria; that that review was forwarded on, as the legislation calls for, to the President on Friday. The President has it before him to review. When he makes a determination, based on the information in that, he, I assume, will be announcing -- or Marlin will -- his decision concerning this. But I am not today -- Q Then it has not yet been made, Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me? Q You mean the determination has not yet been made? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, it has; and it's been forwarded to the White House. Q You said "when he makes a decision." MS. TUTWILER: When the President makes a decision on the information that has been forwarded to him from this Department in the form of the Secretary of State. Q My question is: Has he made the decision yet? Has the President made the determination yet as to whether or not to -- MS. TUTWILER: That's a White House -- Q -- lift the sanctions? MS. TUTWILER: That's a White House question, not a State Department. Q The President said he would lift the sanctions when he got the word. MS. TUTWILER: I havn't said what the word is. All I've said is that it's been forwarded. We've completed our review; it's been forwarded to the White House. The President will make the determination. I haven't said what is in that report. Q Margaret, about Mary's question, if you say approximately l,050 have been released and you don't say what proportion that is of political prisoners, it loses its meaning. MS. TUTWILER: That's how many people have been released since last spring. Q But, Margaret, how do you -- Q Of how many? It's like saying 400 German Jews were released in Germany during World War II. MS. TUTWILER: The Department, to my knowledge, has never had a number of every prisoner in South Africa. As you know, there are many people who are in prison for heinous crimes -- for murder, for other things -- and we've never had, it's my understanding, an all-encompassing number. Q Anybody could be in prison for fictitious crimes. MS. TUTWILER: That's right, and that's what this review has been about. Q No, no, no. I'm saying what you're doing is you're crediting them with releasing over l,000 prisoners, and in the next sentence -- MS. TUTWILER: That's a fact. They have. Q Indeed. And in your next sentence you're saying a lot of those people were held under other than normal standards of justice. So the fair question is: Are there other people being held under -- MS. TUTWILER: That is what -- Q -- bad circumstances -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- and about how many? Ten, a thousand, l0,000? MS. TUTWILER: If I answer that, I am answering what is contained in the Secretary's review -- recommendation that he sent to the White House. I cannot do that today. Q You're crediting what you find favorable. You're -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm stating a fact, Barry. Q You're revealing what you find -- I don't mean you. The State Department is disclosing what it finds favorable and not disclosing what might be unfavorable. MS. TUTWILER: I'm stating a fact, anticipating that I would have been asked. Every time this comes up, I am asked. And we are stating a fact -- not giving editorial analysis to it -- of how many people who were in that category have been released since the spring of l990. Q Margaret, the ANC uses a figure of l,500 political prisoners. Do you accept their figure? MS. TUTWILER: We have a different definition, as you know, of a "political prisoner" from the ANC. Our definition, as I stated under our laws, is used universally and is contained in our human rights report every year concerning various countries around the world. It's the definition that is contained in our legislation, and it is the definition that is used most often internationally. Q So -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm well aware the ANC has a different interpretation. Q So your figure is less than l,500 then? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe that we have ever given a total figure of the number of political prisoners we believed were in South Africa. Q Margaret -- MS. TUTWILER: I've told you today the ones that have been released by the South African Government since last spring. Q Margaret, do you -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes, Mary. Q -- do you basically believe that the South African Government's assessment of how many political prisoners it has is accurate? MS. TUTWILER: This gets me right back into what is the recommendation, what are the conclusions drawn by the study that the State Department has just done. I cannot do that for you today. Q Margaret -- and just to follow up -- you say this was prepared by the Embassy and the State Department. Was there a special team that was sent to South Africa? MS. TUTWILER: There was -- Q And when did that go and how long was it there? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know when they went. It was several weeks ago we talked about it. There was a lawyer from here, from the Department, that went to Pretoria; and I can't remember, Mary -- it wasn't many weeks ago when we talked about it. Lawyers go there routinely. But while he was there, yes, he did. And it was no secret; this was all under review. He took the occasion as the lawyer to be there to discuss this with Embassy personnel. Q Margaret -- Q No team. It was just one lawyer. MS. TUTWILER: I know of no such team that went down there. I know of one lawyer. Q Margaret, have you heard that the South African Ambassador is coming here to this building tomorrow to present the instruments of accession of South Africa to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. As you know -- I haven't heard if Ambassador Swing is here or not or is flying here tomorrow. Q No. The South African Ambassador to Washington. MS. TUTWILER: Oh, I'm sorry. I haven't heard about that. Q One question. MS. TUTWILER: As you know, on June 27th, we and the White House welcomed the statement by the South African Government that they were going to sign this. It's my understanding, as of this morning -- you'd have to check with their government -- that we do not have a specific date of when they're going to do this, but our -- Q No, you can't find it; but the United States -- MS. TUTWILER: No, apparently not. We checked this morning, because I thought that I'd be asked. And we cannot get whether they have or have not; and, in fact, we were told it may be today, it may be tomorrow. Q Margaret, is Henry Cohen going to South Africa tomorrow? Herman -- I'm sorry. MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know anything about. Q Margaret, can you take my question? MS. TUTWILER: If he's coming here tomorrow? Q To hand over the instruments of accession to that treaty. MS. TUTWILER: I'd be happy to, and is government might be able to answer that also. Q Margaret, has the Secretary -- or, if you know, the President -- consulted with members of Congress on the lifting of sanctions, or is the fact that the South African Government is going along with all five provisions make that unnecessary? MS. TUTWILER: As I said, throughout this process, the President, the Secretary of State, and I know others in this Administration have consulted all along with Congress. And the President, as I remember last week, I believe, just had the Black Caucus in. The Secretary of State, over the last 3 weeks, has been on the Hill four times at policy lunches, et cetera, where this is one subject that was brought up and discussed. Q Margaret, could I request a filing break, please, at this point? MS. TUTWILER: Do you want to? Q Thank you. Q Margaret, have the Syrians responded to President Bush's letter? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q I have another question on Iraq, if I may. MS. TUTWILER: On what? Q On Iraq. MS. TUTWILER: Uh-huh. Q Does the U.S. Government see, in the behavior of Saddam Hussein with regard to the nuclear weapons an added reason for the inevitability of his removal? MS. TUTWILER: The United States has made clear, through our President, what our views are on any type of normalized future relations with the Iraqi Government as long as Saddam Hussein is in power. I believe the President's direct quote is "It'd be next to impossible." And, as you know, Saddam Hussein's removal was never part of any United Nations resolution or objective or goal. Q Margaret, in Lebanon the Prime Minister of Lebanon has said that he asked Ryan Crocker, our Ambassador there, to see if the United States could put any kind of pressure on Israel to withdraw or redeploy its troops in southern Lebanon to help the Lebanese Government and Army extend its sovereignty. Can you confirm that -- that there has been a request to the United States to intervene with Israel? MS. TUTWILER: No, I can't confirm a specific request to the United States, to our Ambassador there on the ground. I don't know anything about it. Q You don't know. Could you take the question? MS. TUTWILER: I'll look into it. Q Thank you. Q On the Middle East, do you have any reason to believe that you may be hearing from Syria finally in the next few days? MS. TUTWILER: We always hear different things. Q I mean can you be a little more specific then? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Congessman Hollings was there yesterday, was received by President Assad. Have you heard from him? MS. TUTWILER: Congessman who? Q Hollings? MS. TUTWILER: If we have, I don't know anything about it. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at l2:54 p.m.)