US Department of State Daily Briefing #35: Monday, 3/9/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Mar, 9 19923/9/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, East Asia, South Asia Country: Iraq, Israel, USSR (former), North Korea, Lebanon, Pakistan, Georgia, Syria Subject: Military Affairs, Mideast Peace Process, NATO, United Nations, Democratization, Security Assistance and Sales, Regional/Civil Unrest, State Department 12:36 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Announcement: Secretary to Hold Press Conference at NATO]

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to start out with a housekeeping announcement: Secretary Baker will be giving a press conference at NATO tomorrow. As is usual when the Secretary gives press conferences, we won't be doing a briefing from here. Go out and have a nice lunch. That's my only announcement or statement today. I'd be glad to take your questions. George?

[North Korea: Ship Bound for Syria/Iran with Possible Missile Cargo/ US Concerns]

Q Do you have anything to say about the North Korean vessel or vessels heading for the Middle East, supposedly with lots of lethal weapons? MR. BOUCHER: The answer, George, is no, I don't. The President addressed it this morning and said that he wasn't going to have any comment publicly, and I don't either. Q Let me approach it from a different way, if I may, Richard. Iran says that any move to inspect this vessel would be contrary to international law. I realize you don't want to speculate, but can you tell me if the government believes that inspecting a vessel that is believed to be carrying missiles would or would not be contrary to international law? MR. BOUCHER: Frank, I'm afraid I don't want to speculate, and I don't want to lead you into any speculation on things -- Q But I'm asking it theoretically -- MR. BOUCHER: Marlin, I think, made that clear as well this morning. I don't want to try to address theoretical possibilities or speculate on what the possible courses of action might be. Q A follow up on the same thing, Richard. In a statement attributed to a Pentagon official, or a U.S. Navy official, it is said that there is no pretext for the United States -- or legal pretext for the United States -- to intervene with the ships of North Korea. Why are you more tight-lipped than the military? MR. BOUCHER: We have not been in the practice of commenting on unnamed officials, be they in the Pentagon, the Navy, or elsewhere. The President said he would have nothing to say publicly on that, and I'm not going to get into it either. Q Richard, could we try it just as a statement of fact, then? How far outward does the quarantine zone exist -- the quarantine against Iraq? And would it include vessels attempting to enter the Persian Gulf, for example, with deliveries to any area such as Iran? MR. BOUCHER: John, that gets me back to sort of the same sort of question. Q But that's a question of fact. It's not a question -- MR. BOUCHER: It's not a question I'm in a position to deal with. I'm sorry. Q Can you take the question? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's a question I'm in a position to deal with. It's something that would lead us to speculating on possible courses of action, and I'm not in a position to do that. Q Is there a kind of NC/ND policy regarding the North Korean ship? MR. BOUCHER: No, there's not. We have expressed ourselves before on our concern about the transfer of missiles to the Middle East. We've expressed our concerns about the -- well, the great concern that we would have on the transfer of missiles by North Korea in this case. We've said that very clearly from here, and we said it again in an answer that we put up last Friday. But as far as the specifics of a particular vessel and the specifics of courses of action that we might take and what the possibilities are, that's just not something I can get into. Q Is the U.S. Government -- MR. BOUCHER: Let's go over here. Q Does the United States have any intention of seeking U.N. authorization -- not necessarily for this specific situation? But in the past, you sought and got U.N. authorization for boarding and inspecting ships. Do you have any intention of doing that again? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Chris, I'm not going to speculate on possible courses of action. Q Did the U.S. Government try in any way to convince the North Koreans to join the arms suppliers in their agreement not to send missiles or arms to the area? MR. BOUCHER: You mean the Missile Technology Control Regime or the arms control initiative to the Middle East? Q Yes. That's exactly right. MR. BOUCHER: I guess I would just say, in general, that we have stated both publicly and privately our concerns about missile transfers to this region; our concerns about possible North Korean missile transfers. We have encouraged all countries to act prudently and to abide by international understandings on this subject. We have said that we would view with great concern any transfer of this type. We've also said that we're particularly opposed to the proliferation of surface-to-surface missiles to the Middle East. So those views are well known to the North Korean Government, I'm sure.

[DoD: Reported Working Document on New World Order]

Q Could I change the subject for a second? The story, which was front page in yesterday's New York Times, about the one superpower world, was there any input from the State Department into the document by the Pentagon? If not, would you care to comment at all on this document and in which way, for example, this document corresponds to the idea of the new world order? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything about this document, frankly. It's, I think, described in the article as some sort of internal Defense Department document. I'm not aware that we've had any role in it. As far as the view of the new world order and the U.S. role in the world, I think I'd refer you to the Secretary's six testimonies now over the past several weeks about the U.S. role and our goals in the world. Q So this article -- or, rather, this document didn't break any new ground, as far as your conception of the new world order is concerned? MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea what's in this document. I haven't seen it, and I'm not aware that we had any role in it. Q Are you familiar with the story from the Times yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: I'm familiar with the story, yes. Q Well, are you saying that this document was a Pentagon document in which the State Department had no role, no input? MR. BOUCHER: It's described as a Pentagon document -- some sort of internal document in the Pentagon -- in the story. That's what I know about it. I'm not aware that we've had any role in the drafting of it. Q Is such a document, or a similar document, circulating in this building? MR. BOUCHER: Such a document or a similar document? That's a pretty broad range there, John. Again, I'm not aware that we've had any role in the preparation of what is described in the story as an internal Pentagon document. Q Well, does that mean that you reject it? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't really have anything to say on it because I haven't seen it. Q Accept? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything to say on it because I haven't seen it.

[Lebanon: Ambassador.Djerejian's Meeting With Ambassador.Shammas]

Q Do you have anything to say about Secretary Baker's meeting with Ambassador Shammas, the head of the Lebanese delegation, today? Is it the second time that he's meeting with him in about four or five days? And, if so, why? MR. BOUCHER: Secretary Baker is on an airplane headed to Brussels. I think that meeting was with Ed Djerejian. He has kept in touch with various parties. Q Oh. Is there a reason for that? MR. BOUCHER: It's not something I checked on. I don't know anything really about that specific meeting. Ed Djerejian has kept in close touch with the various parties to the peace talks; and of course we have frequent discussions with the Lebanese Government about other issues as well.

[Iraq: Security Council Meeting with Aziz Delegation]

Q Maybe we'll have better luck with this one. Iraq: Anything new to report about Iraq's acceptance or rejection of efforts to dismantle weapons of mass destruction? MR. BOUCHER: Well, certainly not on the issue of acceptance. We expect that there will be a formal session at the United Nations with the Iraqi delegation, that that would take place on Wednesday. Our goal remains full Iraqi compliance with all of its mandatory obligations under the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions. We expect the Council to focus on all aspects of Iraqi non-compliance since April of last year, including most notably Iraq's failure to declare the full extent of its nuclear and weapons of mass destruction programs, its refusal to begin destruction of missile equipment and facilities identified by the U.N. Special Commission, its repression of the Iraqi population, its blocking of humanitarian aid, and its refusal to return all detainees to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

[United Nations: Request for Information on US Treatment of Lyndon LaRouche]

Q Richard, with regard to the U.N., on February 26 I asked you a question about the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Commission who inquired a response from the U.S. Government on the case of Lyndon LaRouche, and whether or not it violated the Declaration of Discrimination on the basis of religion or beliefs. I got a response on that the same day, which I think was during the time of Richard Schifter's period at the Human Rights Office here, which did not refer to the report of the Special Rapporteur at all but refers to another procedure called the 1503 procedure which has nothing to do with the function of a special rapporteur making a request to a specific country. Now, I wonder if this is kind of an artful dodge on the question that I raised, whether it is continued stonewalling, or whether it was a result of Mr. Schifter's time at the Human Rights division; and whether I can get a response on the request of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. d'Almeida Ribeiro. I can give you the -- you know, the paperwork on this thing if this will clarify this in any way, but this was an entirely different issue. This is something much more significant. MR. BOUCHER: O.K. Let me stop you there. That was a forthright and a complete response, of course, as all our responses are. My understanding is that the procedure that we described is the procedure under which these questions have been raised and the procedure under which we have responded to these questions. If you think that there is some other procedure that's been used, we'll be glad to look into it. Q 1503 is specific. There was a 1503 made by the wife of Mr. LaRouche already when he was incarcerated, but since then this is something different. On February 7 was the result of the work of a special rapporteur who himself is making the request. It's not a person appealing to the U.N. It is a member of the U.N. making a request to the United States Government, on which the U.S. Government has not up until now responded. MR. BOUCHER: Once again, my understanding is that these questions have always been raised in the past under that procedure that we described. If there's some other procedure you believe has been used, I will be glad to look into it. Q Do you have any response to press reports that Israeli leaders are looking to withdraw the request for the $10 billion in loan guarantees? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. The issue of loan guarantees was discussed last week by the Secretary and by Margaret [Tutwiler]. I don't have anything new to add to that.

[Pakistan: US Licensing of Commercial Military Exports]

Q Richard, on another subject: On Wednesday we talked about the U.S. policy of selling commercial spare parts -- or spare parts on a commercial basis to Pakistan. There seems to be a continuing difference between the State Department's interpretation of what is permissible under Pressler and what the Senate believes. You or Margaret seemed to say that it would apply only to government-to-government transfers. However, as I read it, the Pressler Amendment doesn't make any such distinction. Q Jim, the understanding that I have from our lawyers is that they have looked carefully into this. Margaret, I think, gave some of this explanation on Friday. I'm not sure how much of this she explained then, but let me explain to you the understanding that we have of the Amendment. First of all, Secretary Baker has noted that the policy does not contravene either the letter or the spirit of the Pressler Amendment which we are implementing fully. The Pressler Amendment does not contain the language commonly used by Congress when it intends to enact a total embargo and to prohibit the sale and export of all defense articles and services. The Pressler Amendment prohibits only the sale and delivery of military equipment and technology by the U.S. Government. I would note, for example, that the provisions of law relating to countries such as Iraq and violators of human rights make clear that both government-to-government sales and commercial/military exports of all defense articles and services are to be terminated. And I'd remind you of what Margaret said on Friday: We're dealing here with the licensing of commercial sales of spare parts and maintenance items to Pakistan, not the sale of new military equipment, new technology or upgrades. Q And from your language, I gather that it is a State Department position that not only was it in keeping with Pressler in the past, but that you intend to continue that policy since it doesn't violate the spirit? MR. BOUCHER: That would be my expectation, yes, Jim. I can't predict any specific licenses or deliveries. Those are done on a case-by-case basis. But this question of law has been looked into carefully, and we're on solid ground. Q Well, according to your interpretation now, or the language that you read, it wouldn't then prohibit commercial sales of a full airplane, for example. MR. BOUCHER: I guess that would depend in some ways on how sales of full airplanes are handled. I think those are usually done on a government-to-government basis. But, in any case, in addition to the question of law -- and we feel we are following both the spirit and the letter of the law -- you have our statement of what we've done in terms of policy, in terms of the case-by-case review, and the fact that we've licensed spare parts and maintenance items, not new technologies or new military equipment.

[Israel: US Offers Condolences on Death of Menachem Begin]

Q Do you have any reaction -- does the State Department have any reaction to the death of Prime Minister Begin -- former Prime Minister Begin of Israel? MR. BOUCHER: The President spoke to that this morning. As you know, he has offered his condolences to the people of Israel and to the family of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. He praised former Prime Minister Begin for his historic role in the peace process and his very courageous and far-sighted role at Camp David. Obviously the President has expressed our government's reaction. The Secretary this morning, when we reached the party on the airplane, said he was saddened to hear of the passing of former Prime Minister Begin. The Secretary believes that former Prime Minister Begin will always be remembered as a man of conviction and as the Israeli leader who took an historic and courageous step for peace. Q Do you have anything on a request from the Lebanese Government for a kind of emergency economic assistance to Lebanon from the United States? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of that. It's something I'd have to look into.

[Georgia: US View of Civil Unrest]

Q Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union and a great friend of Secretary Baker, is back in Georgia and is getting himself very much involved in the local politics. Would this fact in any way change the current perception by the State Department of the political situation in Georgia and facilitate the full diplomatic relationship between the United States and Georgia? MR. BOUCHER: I think that would be speculative at this point. The Secretary has laid out for us the U.S. view of what is going on in Georgia and our desire to see the questions there resolved. I'd just have to stick to that as the policy. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:52 p.m.)