US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #116, Monday, 7/22/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:15 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jul 22, 19917/22/91 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) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Have you heard from the Israelis yet? (Laughter) Seriously, the deadline for the Iraqis is 3 days away; is that right? Do you have any update? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any update. As you know, we have asked them for a full and complete disclosure of their weapons of mass destruction by the 25th. At this point, I'm not aware of anything new. Q A follow-up on that? Is Safire correct when he says we're going to bomb them? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't read Safire. Q That's what he says, that we're 3 days away from bombing Iraq. MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't hazard any guesses or speculations on decisions like that. Q How would you characterize how forthcoming they have been to this point, because there seemed to be varying interpretations of that? MR. BOUCHER: I'd characterize it the way I did on Friday, I think; that they haven't come clean yet. They provided more information on the EMIS program, but we are still very skeptical about their disclosures and believe they have more to tell us. Q Could you give us a reading on what our legal position is about whether or not we are legally free and able to engage in military action if we want to? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's been addressed by the President in the past. I don't have anything new to say on that. Q Richard, you've referred to not just nuclear weapons but weapons of mass destruction. We know there is a nuclear team going to follow up there, disclosure 2 days after the deadline. Are there some other teams going in to follow? MR. BOUCHER: I think we've put up a list on Thursday or Friday. The other teams are going in early August -- early to mid-August, I think, were their arrival times. Q And those teams will be looking at what? MR. BOUCHER: The other teams will look at biological, chemical, and ballistic missiles. Q Another country. Do you have any reaction to the revelations in South Africa, that the government was financing Inkatha, and Monsignor Tutu's call for de Klerk's resignation? MR. BOUCHER: I think we'd say that so far we do not have independent information beyond that which has been reported in the South African media. Nevertheless, we would call upon the Government of South Africa to take action to terminate all activities which undermine the open political system created by the reforms initiated since February 1990 and to take appropriate action against all persons found responsible for illegal acts. I believe that the integrity of the negotiating process requires nothing less. Q Does that change your view of the sincerity of President de Klerk in his approach? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. Q Do you think crimes have been committed here? That this act of giving money to Inkatha was, in fact, a crime? MR. BOUCHER: That's not really for me to determine. As I said, we think that the government should take appropriate action against all persons found to have committed illegal acts. Q You have raised the question in your statement about the question of crimes. MR. BOUCHER: I can't make a determination as to specific crimes, Pat. Q Do you have anything on the rupture of the talks on the constitution because of the crisis? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Q Back on Iraq for a second. Would you give us the latest on what's happening in the south in the marshes? Are they letting U.N. relief workers get in? And also, what's the latest on any further clashes, or is it all calm in the north? MR. BOUCHER: OK. First, on the south and the marshes. To our knowledge, the U.N. relief workers have not been allowed back. Iraq has not informed us, nor has the office of the executive delegate. We find this to be one more example of Sadruddin's complete disregard for his obligations under the cease-fire agreement and the MOU which his government -- Q (Chorus of voices) Saddam Hussein. MR. BOUCHER: Saddam Hussein's -- excuse me. If I'm allowed to revise and extend my remarks. This is simply one more example of Saddam Hussein's complete disregard for his obligations under the cease-fire agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding which his government signed. We consider this action impeding the work of U.N. relief workers who are attempting to alleviate the suffering of Iraqi civilians to be violations of Resolution 688. You asked about the north as well. The reports we have are that journalists and ICRC officials both report that the city was calm -- the city of Suleimaniyah -- was calm over the weekend, with mainly Kurdish fighters patrolling the city. Both ICRC and U.N. officials in the city have reported a number of deaths and wounded from last week's fighting among Iraqi soldiers and the Kurdish population, but the numbers we have still vary widely. The Red Cross reported visiting a large number of Iraqi prisoners held by Kurdish fighters. These numbers are in the hundreds. But at this point the Red Cross has not been able to verify an accurate count. We're continuing to follow the situation closely. Q A different country? Given Jordan's willingness to sign onto this peace process, is the United States prepared to unfreeze the 55 million bucks that it gives Jordan? MR. BOUCHER: Let me check on that and see what I can give you on that. It's a somewhat complicated issue regarding aid. Q Richard, do you know of any possible discussions the Secretary had about returning to the Middle East after the Moscow summit? MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave you with whatever he said out on the road. I don't have anything new to say. Q Back to Jordan. There are reports that the international coalition is tightening the controls on ships going in and out of Aqaba. Do we suspect Jordan of more violations -- not more, but of violations of the embargo? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen anything new like that, Patrick. I think I'd have to leave, though, the status of the interdiction effort to the Defense Department. I think they can report to you on that. Q Richard, Senator Moynihan says the United States is about to impose sanctions on Burma. Do you have anything about that? MR. BOUCHER: We have done some new things. Let me go through that and then go through what already exists there. The background is that Section 138 of the Customs and Trade Act of 1990, which is called the "Moynihan amendment," calls on the President to impose appropriate economic sanctions on Burma if the President could not certify that Burma has taken certain political reforms and improved its performance on narcotics suppression. Burma cannot meet these requirements, and we have so informed the Congress. The Administration has decided to implement the sanctions legislation by declining to renew the bilateral textile agreement with Burma which lapsed December 31, 1990. The agreement, which Burma has asked several times to renew, was the foundation for that country's largest single category of exports to the United States. In 1990, textiles accounted for just over $9 million of the total Burmese exports to the U.S. of $22 million. In just the first 5 months of 1991, Burma's textile exports to the United States had decreased by 26% in volume and 21% in value, compared with the same period in 1990. I'd also like to point out that the U.S. already has taken several economic measures against Burma in an effort to improve the situation in that country. First of all, we've long since terminated all forms of non-humanitarian assistance to Burma, and we've actively urged others to do so. We have suspended Burma's GSP benefits. We've decertified Burma on narcotics. This requires us to oppose loans to Burma by the World Bank, the IMF and other international financial institutions. We've blocked the sale of arms to Burma from the United States, and we have attempted to dissuade others from selling arms to Burma. The EC has recently also imposed an arms embargo on Burma. We have consulted with other industrial democracies to search for further methods to increase pressure on the Burmese regime. You'll note in the chairman's statement from the summit, that the summit countries expressed their desire to see a return to full democracy in Burma. I'd also like to note Under Secretary Zoellick's opening statement at the ASEAN post-ministerial meeting where he said that, "We expect direct, further collective attention toward Burma at that meeting." Q Could you post that statement, please? MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q It's kind of long. Q On ASEAN, do you have a list of the bilateral meetings that the Secretary will be holding with the Foreign Ministers? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we do at this point. I haven't seen that come in. I'll check for you. Q On Asia also, apparently you haven't seen it yet, but there was another photo today on MIAs in USA Today. Do you have anything on that --? MR. BOUCHER: No. I haven't seen that yet. Q -- whether that photo is authentic? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen that yet, and whether it's authentic or not, I think is the Defense Department's determination. Q Whether you've received a copy of that photo from the families. Can you take it? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that. I wasn't aware of that. Q Richard, is Ken Quinn going to Vietnam? MR. BOUCHER: I can't say for sure at this point. He has raised this issue. Let me try to give you the rundown. As you know, shortly after we learned of the families' identification of the people in the photograph, we provided the Vietnamese Government with a copy the photograph and requested in writing Vietnam's urgent assistance. The letter noted that should the investigation locate the missing Americans, the U.S. Government is prepared to repatriate them immediately. The Secretary of State wrote to Foreign Minister Thach, requesting that he personally ensure his government's complete and urgent attention to this matter. The U.S. POW/MIA office in Hanoi has followed up with Vietnamese officials there. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Quinn proposed to the Vietnamese Government that he travel to Hanoi to pursue the matter. We hope for a positive response from the Vietnamese Government. Q Do you have anything further on the Guadalajara meeting of last week, especially in view of the various meetings that Castro had with heads of state and the calls by some of them for action by the United States to ease tension with Cuba? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything further on that. I think we expressed our views in a number of ways last week. Q (Inaudible) Richard, anything on another Baker-Bessmertnykh meeting before the Moscow summit? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have anything more than what the party has already said, and I don't think they've said anything definitive, but -- well, they have said that after he goes to Ulaanbaator, he'll be traveling to Moscow. They haven't announced any specific meetings there, but he'll be in Moscow on the 29th, I think they put out. Q Is the implication then that he does not come back here in between those two? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. They've put out an announcement, saying that he'll go from the ASEAN meeting to Mongolia for a few days and then on to Moscow. Q But he will not see Bessmertnykh before he gets to Moscow? Is that -- MR. BOUCHER: All I have is what I have from the party. They have not announced any specific meeting with Bessmertnykh, although I assume he will see him in Moscow. Q Who is he going to Mongolia with? MR. BOUCHER: With? With everybody else on the airplane. (Laughter) Q Do you have anything on a Soviet defector, possibly a merchant marine, in Jacksonville, over the weekend? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. As all of you have followed people who come to the United States and decide to stay here, you know that what we're allowed to say on these is very limited. But I can tell you that a Soviet seaman left his ship in Jacksonville, Floria, late last week. He requested that he be allowed to remain in the United States. The request falls within the purview of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They are reviewing the matter at this time, and I'd have to refer you to INS for any further information. Q Does the South African Government's secret contributions to Inkhata raise any second thoughts with the Administration about the wisdom of lifting the sanctions? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is that there is no impact on the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act sanctions. Q Richard, can you confirm a report that the United States is blocking a sale of airplanes to Iran by the British Aerospace Company? MR. BOUCHER: Those of you who follow export control issues also know there are limits to what we can say about that. Specifically, we're enjoined by the act itself from talking about specific cases. I can tell you that we have recently decided some cases involving aircraft re-exports to Iran, and I can give you the policy. That is, that foreign-made aircraft with over 10% controlled U.S.-origin parts and components require U.S. re-export authorization to a number of destinations which are subject to U.S. export controls. Iran is subject to U.S. export controls as a country in the list of state supporters of terrorism. The policy is not to authorize the export of aircraft or re-export of controlled aircraft parts and components to Iran. And, as I said, we can't comment on specific export licensing cases that may have come before the Commerce Department. Q To follow that up, Richard, do you know whether -- in The Hague, where we're conducting these claims, assets claims, discussions with the Iranians -- there's been a decision to accelerate or intensify the discussions on the weapons -- the Iranian weapons claims? I understand that there's been an agreement now for a couple of months that they break into working groups and meet for several days a week, as opposed to the previous schedule, in an effort to try to resolve this issue. MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see where that stands. It's been a subject of regular discussion in The Hague. We've had periodic meetings with our legal adviser who's gone out there. Some of these issues, like the military claims, have been under discussion for a long, long time. Q Can you just take the question about whether they're intensifying the effort to -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there's anything new to say on it. Yes. Q On Cyprus, the Nicosia government has rejected President Bush's proposal for a conference. Do you have any reaction to that? MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point I'll leave that for the White House to get back and respond to. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:40 p.m.)