US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #137, Wednesday, 9/18/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 1:00 PM, Washington, DC Date: Sep 18, 19919/18/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Southeast Asia, Caribbean Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), Mexico, Liberia, North Korea Subject: Travel, Human Rights, Arms Control, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry I'm late today. I'll try to make it up to you. I don't have any announcements or statements to make so I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Tell us about the bombing of Iraq? That will make it up. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that subject, Norm. Q You've been talking for -- I don't know -- a couple of weeks about the need for Iraq to comply with all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. I wonder if you have a list of the provisions of the resolutions with which they are not in compliance? MR. BOUCHER: The most recent list, I think, was done in the President's letter to the Congress. It was sent on September 16. I can give you some of the highlights of that. I believe the White House has released the full text. The letter notes that Iraq has permitted some access to facilities related to weapons of mass destruction. It says the inspectors have viewed some ballistic missiles and chemical munitions and catalogued large volumes of equipment related to Iraq's nuclear and other programs. It goes on to say, however, that Iraq continues to misrepresent the scope of its programs in these areas, to use deception and concealment to prevent inspection teams from locating equipment subject to elimination under Resolution 687 and to deny inspection teams full and unrestricted access to facilities associated with weapons of mass destruction of ballistic missiles. This pattern of behavior, as well as other Iraqi violations of the requirements of Security Council Resolution 687, resulted in the adoption on August 15 of Resolution 707, which condemns Iraq for. these actions and holds it in material breach of its obligations. In addition, the IAEA Board of Governors voted on July 18 to find Iraq in violation of its safeguards agreement and thus of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Q Have they not come clean in all of the areas -- nuclear, biological, chemical, etc.? MR. BOUCHER: There are still areas that need to be explored by the inspectors, I think, in all those areas. They have, with various teams, failed to provide full access, failed to provide full compliance with the resolution; and certainly over time -- even now -- have failed to provide full disclosure. Q Can you give us a readout on the Secretary's meeting with Prince Bandar? MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. Q Richard, were the Iraqis informed of the U.S. decision to send more planes and possibly to provide military escorts for the inspection team? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, on the question of more planes and things like that, I think you've seen Secretary Cheney's comments this morning, and certainly I'm not in a position to go anywhere beyond what he said on that. I can review the situation with you, and that is that Iraq is obligated under U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and missile capabilities. To date, it has failed to comply with this and other relevant U.N. resolutions. Moreover, Iraq continues to employ concealment and deception to evade U.N. Special Commission inspection teams in order to preserve the capability to produce and deploy these weapons illegally. Most recently, Iraq denied the U.N. Special Commission the right to use U.N. helicopters in support of its inspections. Now, Iraq is attempting to impose conditions on the use of these helicopters. This is a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 707 which permits the use of helicopters without conditions. Iraq will continue to pose a threat to countries in the region until it complies fully with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. The members of the Security Council and the head of the U.N. Special Commission have informed Iraq that it must fully comply with all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions without delay. We have told Iraq that failure to comply unconditionally with the Security Council's mandatory resolutions will have grave consequences. Q Richard, what you're saying then is that it wouldn't require a further resolution; that the Security Council has already authorized, if necessary, the use of force? Is that your position? MR. BOUCHER: What I'm saying, Jim, is that the members of the Security Council, through the Security Council President, have made very, very clear to Iraq in a series of meetings, including a meeting yesterday by the current Security Council President with the Iraqis, that these resolutions are mandatory and that they must comply with them. Q And is there the provision in those various resolutions for the use of force now? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any further readings on that subject, Jim. We've addressed it before. I don't think there's a new issue involved with that. The resolutions are very clear in requiring mandatory Iraqi compliance, and the will of the Security Council members is very clear in ensuring that that happens. Q Let me put it another way, then. In the past, 687 has been used as the basis for the use of force by the United States and its allies inside Iraq. Is that not right? MR. BOUCHER: There have been a series of resolutions of the United Nations that are mandatory. There were resolutions last Fall; there were resolutions this Spring. They have made very clear that Iraqi compliance is mandatory. Q The question -- those resolutions have already been used as a precedent for the use of force against Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to put it this way, Jim: The resolutions are mandatory. I have not heard any discussion of a requirement for further resolutions at this point. Q Richard, have we notified -- did we notify the U.N. before we took these actions? Was this part of the consultation process in New York? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I would have to say, "What actions?" -- because I'm not prepared to go beyond the Pentagon in terms of the kind of planning that they might be doing, or what they have to say now, or eventually in terms of actions that they might be taking to support that planning. The point, I think, has been that we've been in close consultation with other members of the Security Council, with friends and allies; that we are all agreed on the need for Iraq to comply with these resolutions, and that point has been made very clear to the Iraqis. Q Some reports indicate that the military action might be limited to providing protection for inspection aircraft. But you talked today or warned today about grave consequences. That sounds like something far greater? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I'm not in a position to discuss anything that's really the Pentagon's business, and the Pentagon chief -- Secretary Cheney -- has said he's not going to discuss the plans. Obviously, it's prudent to have contingency plans. At this point, the efforts that we are making, along with other members of the United Nations, is to ensure that Iraq understands that it must comply with these resolutions and to tell Iraq that it should do so without delay. Q You just said that you haven't heard discussion on the need for further resolutions. Could you take the question as to what the opinion here is on that? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we have a more legalistic reading than the one I was able to give you. Q Some think we should have dealt with Saddam Hussein the first time. Is he in peril of being dealt with this time if he doesn't very quickly comply? MR. BOUCHER: Pat, the issue here is compliance with mandatory resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. It's a process that was established by the Security Council after the war to ensure the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It's a process, which I just said, until it's completed, as long as Iraq has not complied fully with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, we believe that Iraq will continue to pose a threat to the region. I would go back to what the President said in his letter to Congress, and that's that the United States will not tolerate the continuation of this situation -- that is, Iraqi non-compliance in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and, if necessary, will take action to ensure Iraqi compliance with the Council's decisions. Q Is this a broader problem than aerial inspection? Is that the principal difficulty, the aerial inspection, or is it wider than that? MR. BOUCHER: There has been a pattern of obstruction by Iraq and non-compliance with various aspects of the U.N. Security Council resolutions. The most immediate problem that we're dealing with now is its refusal to allow the inspectors to carry out their mandates under Resolution 687 and 707, which stipulate that the inspectors can use helicopters to carry out their inspections without any conditions being attached. Q Richard, also at issue is who enforces Iraq's compliance with the U.N. resolutions. Is it assumed that this is the role of the United States, or is this something that the United Nations has asked the United States to take the lead in, or is it part of the consultations you talked about? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can go beyond saying at this point that we have discussed this with the other countries in the Security Council. I think everybody is in complete agreement that Iraq must comply with the resolutions. Q Well, in the text of that letter that you just read, doesn't the President say that the United States will not tolerate? MR. BOUCHER: It's exactly what it says. Q Doesn't that imply the possibility of unilateral action rather than going to the Security Council for multilateral action? MR. BOUCHER: But I'm not going to try to speculate at this point on actions that the Pentagon and the President have not announced or confirmed. The President said, if necessary, we'll take action to ensure Iraqi compliance. I think that speaks for itself. Q You would agree that does imply the possibility of unilateral American action? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to choose between various options at this point. Q Have we gotten any kind of response from Iraq yet? MR. BOUCHER: The most recent response that I'm aware of was the one from the Iraqis where they tried to impose conditions on the deployment of helicopters. Q How long ago was that? MR. BOUCHER: It was yesterday or the day before. I said the Security Council President has been back in touch with the Iraqis since then -- I believe it was yesterday -- to tell them that they must comply without conditions and without delay. Q Richard, just to pin down Jim's question, the contingency planning that is underway is a unilateral, United States action and not planning by the coalition; is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to say anything more on contingency planning than what Secretary Cheney was unwilling to say this morning. Q What can you tell us about allied cooperation here? Are they with us on this matter? MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that we've been working very closely with members of the Security Council and with other countries. We've been discussing this issue, and we're all united in the view that these are mandatory resolutions that Iraq must comply with. Q Have you been in touch with the Iraqis? MR. BOUCHER: I believe Ambassador Pickering, over the course of the last several days, has been in touch with the Iraqis. Most of the discussions that I'm aware of were conducted by the Security Council President -- I think that's the Ambassador from France at this point -- to deliver the message from the entire Security Council. Q Could you figure out what amount of the Desert Storm force remained that you may use for another operation? MR. BOUCHER: As far as what forces remain in the region, you'll have to check with the Pentagon. I don't know that. Q Is there any bilateral contacts, outside the United Nations -- what I mean is, between the United States and Iraq directly -- to impress upon the Iraqis the seriousness of the situation? And, by the way, would you consider this situation a crisis at this point in time? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to use any new adjectives on this one, Frank. We have said very clearly that Iraq's non-compliance could have grave consequences. I think that message is very clear. It's the message that we've been conveying in our public statements. It's the message that, as I said, I believe Ambassador Pickering has conveyed to the Iraqis in New York. But more importantly, it's the message that's coming out of the U.N. Security Council and, on behalf of the Council, the President. Q And the first part of the question about -- MR. BOUCHER: The message. Q -- possible consultations directly. Perhaps the appointment of a special envoy to resolve this crisis? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard any discussion of that. Q Is there any time frame involved, for example, in the gathering in New York next week when the Foreign Ministers presumably will have a chance to talk with each other face-to-face on this issue? Is that sort of the decision point? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any specific decision points. And since these are not decisions made by me, but rather they are made by the President, I wouldn't predict when he might make further decisions in this regard. I think Secretary Cheney was asked if we had set a deadline. He said pretty much that we hadn't. But I think I made clear today that Iraq's compliance is mandatory and that Iraq should comply without delay. That message has been communicated to the Iraqis. Q What immediately must Iraq do to demonstrate its compliance? MR. BOUCHER: Permit full access by the inspectors, fully disclose what it has, and most importantly, allow the inspectors to use their helicopters without any conditions being attached. Q They have to say that or just allow it to happen? MR. BOUCHER: In the end it is action, not words, that count. But, certainly, the first step might be their saying that. Q On a new area, Richard. On Yugoslavia, do you have any new situation update there? And also, anything to report on Americans maybe being evacuated or moved out? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Let me try to run through pretty much everything I've got on this. As far as the fighting goes, fighting intensified in the Zagreb area following the signature of the cease-fire agreement yesterday. That's two facts noted in the same sentence. It's not necessarily linked. There were several air-to-ground attacks by Yugoslav air force planes in and around Zagreb. The level of fighting in the Zagreb area has declined this morning. Yesterday's cease-fire agreement went into effect at noon today, Yugoslav time, but it's still too early to assess whether it's holding. Here in the Department, we established a monitoring group in the Department's Operation Center early this morning -- I think it was about 3:00 a.m. -- to consider the security situation in Croatia, including U.S. personnel and other Americans in Zagreb. All official American personnel in Croatia are safe and accounted for. The Department decided early this morning to order the departure of non-essential personnel from the U.S. Consulate in Zagreb. This will reduce the staff from 15 to 5 persons as of today. The situation of American officials in Belgrade remains under review. American citizens in Croatia have been advised of this development by the Consulate's warden system and via Croatian radio. The Department's long-standing travel advisory, of course, is being revised to reflect the drawdown in the Consulate's staff. The Consulate has sought today to notify Americans of the drawdown and to offer them assistance in leaving Croatia along with the U.S. official personnel. We understand that several American citizens took advantage of this offer and went with our people today. The Consulate will continue to render all possible assistance to American citizens. Q Where are these people going when they leave Zagreb? MR. BOUCHER: They left this morning -- I understand it was our ten people plus six private citizens that went with them. They were going by motorcade through Slovenia and on to Austria. Q Was there any discussions of military intervention with the EC? MR. BOUCHER: The EC, I believe, is having meetings. I'm not exactly sure where we are in terms of WEU meetings. I said yesterday that the issue of peacekeeping was one that we felt they could properly examine at this point. Q Richard, are there any plans for any sort of American intervention or peacekeeping efforts, or is this something that's being strictly left to the EC and the WEU? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I'm not aware that they have made any decisions on their intentions with regard to peacekeeping. Certainly, the focus of our efforts has been to support, through the CSCE, the mandate that was given to the European Community to try to work out this problem and to support the efforts of Lord Carrington -- who has been trying to work out a peaceful solution involving all the parties -- and who yesterday sought and obtained a cease-fire agreement from various parties. We've urged, and we will continue to urge, both sides to commit themselves publicly and by their actions to an effective cease-fire. Q There was, at one point, talk about an arms embargo if the fighting didn't stop. It turned out there wasn't a whole lot of arms that we were sending there anyway. Is there any embargoes, any trade embargoes that are being planned? Anything of that sort? MR. BOUCHER: I think the embargo on shipments of arms was announced and carried out by us. I believe the Secretary had some meetings with EC presidency representatives and announced it, and it was put into effect immediately. Q Yes, I understand. I'm just asking if there's any way to go beyond that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything new beyond that. Q Richard, in another area. I know you hate to talk about the Middle East. But, just for the record, just in terms of what U.S. policy is or is not, could you state for us what the U.S. Government's view is regarding Israeli settlements in the occupied territories? MR. BOUCHER: Our basic view on settlements, I think, is very well-known. It has not changed. Are you asking about how this relates to loan guarantees? MR. BOUCHER: No. I was just asking, for the record, so that we can have it as a marker from which we will move forward. MR. BOUCHER: Our position on settlements, I think, has been restated many times by ourselves and by the President, and that is that they're an obstacle to peace. Q And nothing more than that -- just an obstacle to peace? MR. BOUCHER: That's pretty much the essence of the statement. Q And since you've raised it, what is the connection between them and the housing loan guarantees? MR. BOUCHER: Maybe I shouldn't have. I looked back at a lot of things that were said this morning. Let me try to make this a little clearer for you. There certainly has been, first of all, no change in our position on loan guarantees. What the Secretary and the President have said on numerous occasions is that they're asking for a 120-day delay to avoid adverse consequences for the peace process, a request that we see as quite reasonable in our view. The Secretary, during the course of his visit, has given the six points to the Israelis. You know the White House as well has laid these out publicly. These are six points that describe the position of the Administration in detail and that include our intention to consider loan guarantees in January without any further delay. As the President said on September 6, "We don't want to engage in a debate on the issue of guarantees now." He said, further, on September 12, that "This postponement is not meant to prejudice in any way what we would do come January." The Secretary of State, I believe, has made the same point. That is our position. We will discuss loan guarantees and the issues surrounding those guarantees in January. Q Richard, to follow up on that. An official who briefed reporters in the Secretary's party yesterday said that, "I think that what they" -- meaning the Israelis -- "want us to do is agree that come January we would not ask for any conditions on this aid respecting their continued settlement practices." Can't that fairly be interpreted as linking a freeze on settlements with the loan guarantees? MR. BOUCHER: Mark, our position on settlements is well-known. It has not changed. It's not new information that the Administration believes that when the Congress debates the issue of the $10 billion in loan guarantees to Israel, we have a right to know how those guarantees will be used. I'm not going to go beyond this at this point. These are all issues which will be discussed in January. Q A different subject. Amnesty International has released a report today on Mexico saying that up to 99 percent of criminal suspects are tortured or mistreated. Do you have anything on that? MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen the report, and I can't comment on specific items that may be in it. In general, our view is that the Mexican Government is strongly committed to improving human rights performance. Mexico's Attorney General recently announced that 12 federal police officers accused of torture and murder would be prosecuted. Further, he has promised to study the Amnesty report "very seriously and with great interest." Last year, President Salinas formed a National Human Rights Commission. That Commission sponsored important human rights reforms, such as a law specifying that confessions can only be made in the presence of an attorney for the accused. The Commission is also investigating hundreds of allegations of human rights abuses. We fully support the Mexican Government's continuing efforts to ensure respect for human rights. Q Have we been in touch with the Mexican Government on this? It seems that their track record has not been terrific in this area. MR. BOUCHER: As I said, they've made many efforts, which I'm trying to point out to you, to improve the situation on human rights. We see the establishment of the Commission last year and the activities of that Commission after it's establishment as being very important. Obviously, we've discussed all these issues with the Commission, but I don't think we've discussed the Amnesty report since we don't have it yet -- sorry, discussed all these issues with the Mexicans, including the Commission, but not the Amnesty report which we don't have. Q Anything on reports that another hostage may be released and that it may be Jack Mann? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. We've seen the reports, but I don't have anything specific for you. Q Do you have something on Liberia there? MR. BOUCHER: Do you have a question on Liberia there? Q Well, that's a question. I believe there are some peace talks in Liberia. MR. BOUCHER: I try to deal with the substance of the issue rather than pieces of paper, George. There was a communique that was issued at the close of the meeting at Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire. The communique states that agreement was reached on disarmament and the establishment of an elections commission, which are vital steps in preparing the way for free and fair elections in Liberia. The U.S. is encouraged by Charles Taylor's commitments to disarm. We applaud the very positive efforts to resolve the conflict in Liberia. We would urge all regional leaders to support the decisions reached at Yamoussoukro and to participate fully in the peace process. Q Concerning North Korea. North Korea yesterday became a member of the United Nations, and the U.N. with the resolution power or the resolution process, could press North Korea to comply with the safeguards agreement or MIA/KIA problem, clarification or something like that? Could you expect that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of any plans at this point. I just don't have any information on that. Q You have no policy change with North Korean interest in the United Nations towards North Korea? MR. BOUCHER: Just what I think we've made clear before, that we were pleased to have sponsored the admission of our long-standing friend and ally, the Republic of Korea, as well as the Democratic Republic of Korea, as new members of the United Nations this year. We believe that the admission of both Koreas to the United Nations will contribute to stability, and we hope it will foster continued dialogue between North and South. Q Richard, do you have anything on the health of Mr. Yeltsin? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. We've seen the same kind of reports that you're seeing. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:25 p.m.)