US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #142, Wednesday, 9/25/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:29 PM, Washington, DC Date: Sep 25, 19919/25/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Subsaharan Africa, East Asia Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), Zaire, Pakistan, North Korea, South Korea Subject: Military Affairs, Travel, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Arms Control, Human Rights, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, United Nations (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have no statements or announcements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Anything you can say about the inspectors in Baghdad? MR. BOUCHER: We've just checked. They remain where they were --in the parking lot. I think they have expressed themselves rather fully on their situation. Let me note a little bit about what the Security Council did last night. They met last night to discuss the issue. Following the meeting, the Council President issued a statement that expressed support for the Special Commission and the inspection team which is now in Baghdad; expressed strong condemnation of Iraqi obstruction and demanded that the inspection team be allowed to depart from the site and to take documents that they deem appropriate. We, of course, fully support this position. We expect Iraq to comply with the Council President's demand without delay. My understanding was that the Security Council President was going to talk to the Iraqis again and convey that message directly to them. Q Do you have any information on the two Americans who are in Pakistan, under sentence apparently? MR. BOUCHER: I don't. I just saw that report this morning. I'll have to try to get you something on that. Q Do you have an update on the situation in Zaire? MR. BOUCHER: Today the capital is quiet. Kinshasa's city center and residential areas are calm. Zairian troops have secured the road to the airport and they're patrolling the city. French troops are positioned throughout the city and protecting French and other foreign nationals. We are proceeding with the evacuation of Americans, because we believe the situation could quickly deteriorate. Food and other necessities are increasingly scarce as a result of the last 2 days of looting. Personal security is not assured. The first evacuation flight will depart Brazzaville tomorrow. Other flights are planned for Friday and Saturday. Groups of Americans have gathered at primary staging sites in Kinshasa, and the Embassy is issuing them the required documentation. Q Do you have details on that evacuation flight tomorrow? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we're planning on three charter flights. The first one for Thursday is 22l seats; they would go to Frankfurt. The ones being planned for Friday are 459 seats to Andrews and Saturday 454 seats to Andrews. Of course, all this can be extended or cut back, depending on the demand. Q You don't know what the demand will be? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't have a firmed-up estimate, no. Q What's your estimate of Americans in the country? MR. BOUCHER: There are about 3,500 U.S. citizens in Zaire. Many of these are missionaries. Among the 3,500 American citizens, there are about l,000 people working for the U.S. Government, including their dependents. The other 2,500 are mostly missionaries and their dependents; they're scattered throughout Zaire. Q Who has the right to decide? Did the documents belong to a nuclear development plan or not? MR. BOUCHER: That's at the sole discretion of the inspectors. That's the way it's been stated by the United Nations. That's the way it's been stated by the Security Council President. In a statement yesterday, he said: "The Special Commission, acting under the authority of the [Security] Council, is the sole judge of the definition of the documents, sites, or materials subject to inspection." Resolutions 687 and 707 require that these inspections root out Iraq's entire program, that they are to be intrusive. All information relating to that program, including information on foreign procurement and Iraq's design team, are key elements for the Special Commission. U.N. Special Commission Chairman Ekeus pointed out last night that personnel documents discovered by the inspectors are pertinent to the organizational structure of Iraq's nuclear weapons development, including it's top-level management and the internal workings of the Iraqi program. I'd remind you what I read to you -- I think it was yesterday or the day before -- that, in addition to the Security Council resolutions, that on May l7th, Iraq accepted an agreement with the Special Commission. This agreement provides specifically for unrestricted freedom of movement, without advance notice, of the personnel of the Special Commission; the right to unimpeded access to any site or facility; and the right to request, receive, examine, and copy any record, data, or information, or examine, retain, move, or photograph -- including videotape -- any item relevant to the Special Commission's activities and to conduct interviews. Q How do you understand that the Iraqi Government has neglected so many documents which are allegedly related to the nuclear development program to await the inspection team? MR. BOUCHER: I don't understand the question, I'm sorry. Q I mean -- how can I say it? The Iraqi Government is not so foolish to neglect so many documents to await the U.N. inspection team. Why? You mean there are too many documents related to the nuclear development program, or they are so foolish not to conceal the top secret documents? MR. BOUCHER: I can't speculate on Iraqi motivations. They've been attempting all along to conceal and hide things from the inspectors. Maybe they thought they could get away with it. I think it's that the amount of documentation that is available is another evidence of the scope of the program. Q Now, what kind of proof did the U.N. inspection team give that the documents solely belonged to the nuclear development program that they wanted to detain or confiscate? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I'd have to say that that is not an issue. The discretion, the authority, to decide what's relevant to the program lies with the inspectors. If they find something that they deem relevant, they're authorized by the resolutions and by the agreement that the Iraqis signed in May to use that information and take that information. As far as the kind of information that they're finding, obviously they haven't been able to really study the documents that have been discovered in the current nuclear inspection. Preliminary reports from the inspection team indicate that the documents so far gathered, some of which the Iraqis have prevented them from removing, are related to the following things: - The undisclosed development of Iraqi nuclear weapons; - The identity of foreign purchasing and procurement patterns; - Iraqi ministries involved in the nuclear program and their organizational structure; and - Design information on related facilities. Q The Iraqi Government said all the activities of the inspection team behavior was a clear infringement of their sovereignty. What is your comment concerning that? MR. BOUCHER: My comment is the activities of the inspectors are clearly designed to implement the United Nations resolutions, resolutions which Iraq has accepted. They are completely in accordance with the understandings that Iraq reached with the Special Commission in May, and there is no question of infringement at this point. Q How long is the United States prepared to wait for those poor souls to be stranded in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Frank, I think that's really a question for the poor souls and for their team leaders and the IAEA and the Special Commission who helped them design their program. Q Some of them are Americans, is that right? MR. BOUCHER: Some of them are Americans, but this is an IAEA team, an IAEA/Special Commission team, and that's where they get their instructions. Q Richard, the potential escort mission the President talked about last week, has that now been made moot by the Iraqi acceptance of helicopter flights, or has this ongoing incident in Baghdad, does that relate to it? MR. BOUCHER: Chris, as far as the military planning that was going on, I have to keep referring you to the Pentagon on that. I think as recently as yesterday, Pete said that none of that equipment had moved, although they have announced the Patriots. As far as the helicopter issue, I can review that for you. On Tuesday afternoon, the Iraqi Permanent Representative delivered a letter to the Security Council President in which Iraq agreed to the U.N. Special Commission's use of its own helicopters, as provided for by U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 and other pertinent U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Security Council met last evening. They concluded that the Council interprets the Iraqi letter as full acceptance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 707, and as an unconditional recognition of the Special Commission's right to deploy its helicopters in a manner that the Special Commission chooses, and they will so inform the Iraqi Permanent Representative today. The U.N. Special Commission Executive Director Ekeus will subsequently inform the Iraqis of the operating modalities for the flights. The helicopters and crews are prepared to fly once those arrangements have been established. The Special Commission inspection teams will then proceed to carry out their previously established program of inspections. I must note that Iraq has made a number of unconditional pledges in the past. We will reserve judgment on this unconditional pledge until we see that the Special Commission is flying its aircraft without further obstruction by Iraq. Q The Iraqi Foreign Minister today, after a meeting with the Secretary General, again expressed the concern that the documents that the inspection team has, personnel records, could be used by Israeli intelligence or the CIA to carry out assassinations. Is this something the U.S. deems ludicrous or ridiculous? MR. BOUCHER: It's something the U.S. deems not worthy of any comment, really. The inspectors, the IAEA, the U.N. Security Council, and even the Iraqis in their acceptance of the activities of the Special Commission have all recognized that it is important that these inspectors be able to fully explore all aspects of the Iraqi nuclear programs. As we have gone through this over the past many months, we've found that at each stage, Iraq has failed to disclose or tried to obstruct the work of the inspectors. That is work that must proceed with any information that they deem appropriate. Q Richard, do you know the results of the meeting that you referred to between, I believe it was, Ekeus and the Iraqi official at the U.N.? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that that one has taken place yet. That was that Ekeus would subsequently inform the Iraqis of the operating modalities. The other meeting that I referred to was the President of the Security Council, which this month is France, where the French Representative would talk to the Iraqi Permanent Representative today. I don't even know for sure that that has taken place at this point. Chris? Q When you were describing the stand-off in Baghdad earlier, you said that they had some but not all of the documents that they had been looking at when they were expelled from the building on Tuesday, right? MR. BOUCHER: My reference to the fact that they didn't have all the documents, that some had been retained by the Iraqis, was a reference to the Monday situation, where the Iraqis promised to send the documents along, and when they sent them along, they had taken out some of the key items. Q So the incident that began on Tuesday, they do have all those documents? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is that they still have with them all the documents from the second site, and the Iraqis are not permitting them to leave. Q They have a satellite telephone, do they have a fax machine? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Chris. Mark? Q Richard, would the word "hostages" apply to these detainees and, if not, can you explain why? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't really thought about it, Mark. I think the key word to apply to them is "inspectors." They are inspectors who are authorized by U.N. Security Council resolutions, who have certain rights and responsibilities, rights granted by the Iraqis and responsibilities to the United Nations Security Council and to the international community. Q Their well-being is a matter for the U.N. and the IAEA and not specifically for the United States, is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: It's obviously a matter of concern to us all. Q Are there other inspection teams going about their business in Baghdad at the moment? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't checked recently on the Biological Team that went in late last week. That's the only one that I know of that is there now, that may be there now. Q Yesterday, South Korean President, President Roh, made a free step of unifying the Korean Peninsula in his U.N. General Assembly speech. Do you have some comment concerning that matter, please? MR. BOUCHER: His speech on the occasion of the Republic of Korea's long-overdue entry into the United Nations was a statesmanlike address which will create a firm foundation for his nation's active participation in that organization. In addition, we hope that it will enhance the atmosphere for a continued dialogue between North and South Korea and help promote a process leading to the peaceful unification of Korea on terms agreeable to all Koreans. Q And do you have any changed attitude concerning the North Korean nuclear developments? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. In fact, I'd note that the President, in his speech at the General Assembly yesterday, stressed the importance of the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. North Korea's quest for a capability to produce nuclear weapons is a serious threat to the security of the Northeast Asian region, and I remind you that the international community, most recently at the IAEA meetings in Vienna, has consistently called on North Korea to promptly conclude and fully implement an IAEA safeguards agreement. Q Richard, did any other nations besides the Saudis ask for Patriots or other help from the U.S.? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I think that's something you would have to check at the Pentagon. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:45 p.m.)