US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #120, Friday, 7/26/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:30 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jul 26, 19917/26/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Southeast Asia, Caribbean Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), Vietnam, Estonia, Laos, Lithuania, China, Grenada Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, United Nations, POW/MIA Issues, Development/Relief Aid, Environment, Arms Control (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Do you have anything to say about the reports from Israel that Secretary Baker might be returning to the region after Moscow? MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave that with what the Secretary said when he was in Jerusalem. He talked about the subject. I'll leave it where he said it. Q Could you address Ken Quinn's trip to Vietnam? What are the purposes, and what was said between him and which ever officials he met with today? MR. BOUCHER: I can, to some extent. I have to stress that this is a preliminary readout from when we talked to him on the phone this morning, but I don't have a full and complete report of his conversations. Deputy Assistant Secretary Quinn held two meetings on Friday with Vietnamese officials. He met in the morning with the Deputy Director of the Americans Department of Vietnam's Foreign Ministry and then with officials from the Defense and Interior Ministries, as well as from the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons. He met in the afternoon with Vice Foreign Minister Le Mai. He requested their urgent assistance in investigating the photographs in which family members have identified their relatives. The two sides exchanged specific information about the cases, and the Vietnamese agreed to follow-up actions. At this point, as I said, our readout is preliminary, but we're pleased with the cooperation so far. Q What kind of specific information? Can you characterize that any more? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that detailed a readout of how the conversations went and what kind of specific information he may have gotten in return. He was there. You asked, sort of, why did he go there. He was there specifically to pursue these MIA issues and the photographs of the people who have been identified by their relatives. So he was going to provide the information that we could on those cases and those specific individuals and to seek their assistance. As I said, they have agreed to follow-up actions to investigate this further. Q Let me just follow up one more point. This morning, the family members were saying that the DIA analysis that was released last night is undercutting Quinn's diplomacy, being that it came out just as he was leaving for Vietnam. Does the State Department feel that this DIA analysis undercuts Quinn's trip? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I would say that. The information that the Defense Department has put out is a reflection of how much that they've done to collect information on these cases and the origin of the photograph. It's an example, I think, at this point only, of preliminary conclusions. We've been cooperating with the Defense Department. We work together on these things. Our consistent policy has been to investigate thoroughly any information we receive on this. As I said, the DoD information shows that they've done that. As long as there's any glimmer of hope, we're determined to investigate thoroughly questions involving our men. The Defense Department information at this point is preliminary. You have to know such information as you investigate these things, and they've done a job so far in collecting a lot of information. I'm sure, together, we will do more to investigate. Q Richard, since that photo that Mr. Quinn took with him to Hanoi emerged, at least three others have come out as well. Do you know, is he taking any other photographs with him for possible information from the Vietnamese? MR. BOUCHER: Let me check on that. I'm not sure if he had any others. Q And, second, have the Vietnamese given any indication that they'll permit the reopening of the MIA office in Hanoi that was closed before the Party Congress? MR. BOUCHER: I think the office has reopened. I think Defense has notified on that. I'm pretty sure it reopened in July. Q And one more MIA. Does the State Department take any position on whether there should or should not be a Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA affairs? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we've taken a position on that, Jim. That's something I'd have to check. Q Could you find out, please? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Was Quinn told by the Vietnamese that they believe the photograph is a fake? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't have that detailed a readout yet from his talks. Q It's what we heard. MR. BOUCHER: But that's not what I've heard. I haven't heard that yet. Let's put it that way. Q Richard, any comments on the statement made by Mr. Levy, the Foreign Minister of Israel, to the effect that if the United States will give a list of participants from the Palestinian side, not including the East Jerusalem inhabitants, they will accept the U.S. move? MR. BOUCHER: I have to stick where we were and where the President, I think, put us yesterday. He said that the Israelis are studying our proposal seriously. We hope that they will respond favorably. On the specific question of a Palestinian delegation, the Secretary has said that we're still having on-going discussions with the Israelis, the Jordanians, and with the Palestinians. That's as far as he wanted to go and as far as I will go on this question. Q Back on Quinn. Is his agenda limited to the MIA issue? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. That's a summary of four lines of guidance. But, yes. Q You've got four lines of guidance? MR. BOUCHER: The sole focus of Quinn's visit was to seek Vietnam's urgent cooperation on the POW/MIA issue and assistance in investigating the photographs in which family members have identified their relatives. In other words, yes. Q Back on the Middle East. An Israeli paper, Hadashot, has come out with an expose saying that the Israeli Housing Ministry has taken funds systematically, and those funds, which were destined for use inside Israel, have, in fact, been spent on settlement in the occupied territories. Is the State Department aware of that? MR. BOUCHER: We're aware that there have been those press reports, Jim. But at this point, as far as reactions go, I think I'd just stick with what we said before on settlements. I don't have anything new on this particular question. Q And since it may, at some level of disbursement, involve some of the $1.2 billion that the United States gives Israel every year, is this something that concerns the U.S. Government? MR. BOUCHER: Our views on settlements, in general, I think are very well known. It's a subject that we do follow closely. I don't have any conclusions like that to draw at this point. Q Specifically, have you any assurance that funds given by the United States may not have been diverted to such projects? MR. BOUCHER: It's something I'll have to check on. I think we've made public the understandings involving the use of our funds, and we expect those to be respected. Q Will the U.S. be ready to offer the Soviets MFN status at the summit in Moscow? MR. BOUCHER: Marlin (Fitzwater) has addressed that this morning. General Scowcroft briefs in about 20 minutes on the summit. I'll leave it to them. Q Do you have any kind of general statement as to what else will be discussed in Moscow, besides the signing of the START treaty? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's the purpose of General Scowcroft's on-the-record briefing at the White House. I'm happy to leave it to him. Q Back to the Middle East. Is it the position of the United States Government that in order for the Soviets to co-sponsor a Middle East peace conference, it should recognize formally Israel? MR. BOUCHER: We have always encouraged Soviet recognition of Israel. I guess I'd have to check on your specific question and see if we've said something on that. Q The Estonian President said this morning that the United States had a trade agreement with Estonia in 1925, before the annexation by the Soviet Union. What is the current status -- and he believes that it is still binding. What is the current status of that treaty agreement, from the U.S. point of view? MR. BOUCHER: You'll excuse me if I say I don't know. I'll have to check on that and see if there's anything we can say on that. I think these issues of trade agreements and MFN, as well as issues of the Baltics, are best addressed by the White House at their briefings today. Q Richard, back to Grenada. Apparently some of the people who were involved in the coup and killing of the leaders have been tried and they've been sentenced to execution, which apparently is going to happen in the next few days. Does the State Department have any position on that -- opposed to an execution of these people? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that we've taken any position. I'll double-check to make sure. Q What does the State Department know about the Cambodian link who supposedly had produced this picture? Is there any information on that? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the Defense Department has put out a lot of information that they've been able to collect on the origins of the picture -- at least the origins of some of the people involved in the process. We have met with Cambodian representatives. Ken Quinn talked to some people in Beijing, and I think we've done it in Vientiane, Laos, as well. We had our Charge out there do it. I'm not aware that they've provided us with any information back at this point. Q Has the State Department completed its assessment of the flood disasters in China and come up with a conclusion as to whether it should respond to China's request to the international world for relief -- I mean, in addition to the 25,000 U.S. dollars you have already contributed through your Embassy in Beijing? MR. BOUCHER: It's something I haven't checked on for awhile. When I last checked on it, the Ambassador had authorized the $25,000 of disaster funds that he has available to him. The Pentagon has notified the Congress that we're shipping in a flight of blankets, I think it was, that was due to go August 9th. And the Agency for International Development was working with other agencies to try to identify things that we could do to provide the assistance that China has requested of other governments and international organizations. I'll see if there's anything more to say today. I'm not sure if I have any more detail today. Q Any response from the Soviets on the SS-23 issue? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new that I'm aware of. Q Do you have anything at all today concerning Iraq and the discussions at the U.N.? MR. BOUCHER: Iraq has not provided the full disclosure that was requested. Once again Saddam Hussein has demonstrated his contempt for the international community and for the requirements of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 which Iraq has said that it accepts. Since April, when Iraq submitted what was supposed to be the full declaration, Iraqi authorities have conducted a campaign of deceit intended to evade the requirements of Resolution 687 in order to conceal its nuclear-weapons-related and weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. By directing and continuing this campaign of deceit, Saddam Hussein harms his own interests and those of his own people. The Special Commission and the IAEA will continue their comprehensive inspections throughout Iraq until we and the other members of the Security Council are completely assured that Iraq has been brought into full compliance with Resolution 687, and we will continue to provide to the inspectors all available assistance so that they can fulfill their complex mission. Q Copy of the statement? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Richard, I'm still not clear. Supposing, hypothetically, Iraq does fulfill all of its obligations under Resolution 687. What happens then? MR. BOUCHER: I would say, Jim, that you're supposing a pretty big hypothetical at this point. They will eventually do that because we're determined to see the process succeed, but I don't want to predict at this point where we'll be at that point. Q The point I was getting at was that since the U.S. position is that sanctions will remain in place as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power, what incentive would a Saddam Hussein-led government have to comply with Resolution 687? MR. BOUCHER: Their first incentive should be to bring themselves into accord with the promises and the acceptance of the resolution that they, themselves, have stated. The second incentive should be to bring themselves into accord with the international community, which is very, very concerned about this issue. As you know, under the sanctions resolution, the policies and practices of the Iraqi Government are part and parcel of the question of reviewing sanctions. Q But there will be no change in the application of the sanctions so long as Saddam Hussein is there? MR. BOUCHER: That's our view. Yes. Q Richard, have the Iraqis moved any closer in the last, say, 3 or 4 weeks toward meeting the conditions set out by the resolution? MR. BOUCHER: In the last 3 or 4 weeks, some things have happened. You know that the last inspection team that was out there, during those inspections they provided some more information on the EMIS program. They did provide some more information to the inspectors. I point out to you in a press release from the International Atomic Energy Agency -- I think they put it out on Wednesday -- they described the third team that was in there, noting that they have gotten supplementary information. But they say that the team felt that there may be more that should be declared. They said that it was premature to draw conclusions as to the full extent of the Iraqi program. Then they went on to say that there are further sites that may be investigated. There were a number of follow-up actions identified by the third team which future inspection teams will perform. They cited specifically the area of centrifuge enrichment as an area that needs to be clarified. They said that it also needs to be investigated whether more locations exist where sensitive equipment or material might be installed, used, or stored. And they said that they were interested in the industrial and technological infrastructure which has been built in connection with the nuclear program. Q Is it a question of knowing what they have but they haven't shown their hand, or not being sure of what they might have but not having access to the sites in general? MR. BOUCHER: Both questions have existed. They have provided more information on some parts of their programs than they have on others. There are definitely more places that we want to visit. But I think for me to go any farther would get me into the point of flagging for the Iraqis where we might go and what we might want to see on suspect-site investigations, and I'm not going to do that. Q I'm just trying to get a sense of the progress -- whether progress continues to be made, or if they're just putting up obstacles at this point and saying, "No more." MR. BOUCHER: They have been putting up obstacles all along. I think we've described it as a very begrudging willingness to provide information when they were caught trying to stop people from getting information. The investigators have been able to identify things that Iraq did not disclose, and then force the Iraqis into disclosure. That's been the pattern all along. We've offered the Iraqis another opportunity to come clean and to give full disclosure. They have not done so. We said that was a marker for the Council members to evaluate their performance. I'd say their performance is basically unchanged at this point, and we'll see what happens during the next inspection. Q One other question: Is it possible to quantify how far away they are from complete disclosure? Are they 90%, 95%? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't want to quantify it. Q When does the next team go in? MR. BOUCHER: Saturday.

[Iraq: UN Discussion on Food Situation]

Q Do you have any -- same general subject -- anything on the oil for food proposal? MR. BOUCHER: There's nothing specifically new. There was a meeting of the Security Council yesterday to review Sadruddin's report. They didn't make any recommendation that Sadruddin or the Secretary General should prepare a plan, as has been reported in some places. There is no draft resolution before the Council at this point. The situation remains that we are continuing our consultations with other members. Q Richard, about the Iraqi nuclear program, it sounds like you have a kind of inventory list of things which you'd like the Iraqis to come out and confess they have the whole list you are referring to. Is that a correct characterization of the situation? MR. BOUCHER: There are two things involved here. The first is that they have provided some information in their disclosures on various aspects of their own program. When they finally admitted to uranium enrichment activities, they admitted to three different types of uranium enrichment activities. The IAEA inspectors, for example, in what they're saying about the next visit, is they identified the centrifuge enrichment program as one that needs to be clarified. So there is both the question of following up on insufficient information that Iraq has provided about things that they have admitted something on. And then there's the question of going to suspect sites and looking for other things that we believe might exist. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:49 p.m.)