US Department of State Daily Briefing #70: Thursday, 5/7/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: May, 7 19925/7/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, East Asia, E/C Europe, South Asia, South America Country: Israel, USSR (former), Angola, Russia, India, Iran, Argentina, Chile, Lebanon, Serbia-Montenegro, North Korea Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Human Rights, Refugees, Security Assistance and Sales, Arms Control, Terrorism, CSCE, State Department, Nuclear Nonproliferation 12:49 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I don't have any statements. I'll be happy to try to answer your questions. Q Margaret, Senator Boren is asking that Secretary Baker support an international investigation of the murder or assassination, whatever, of two former Savimbi associates. Do you have -- does the Secretary have any response to that request, please? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not even aware, Barry -- this is the first I've heard of this request -- if the Secretary himself is aware of the request. I'll be happy to check with the Secretary's office and also with our Congressional office. It's the first I've ever heard of it. Q Margaret, can you confirm that you've been now informed by Israel of its intentions with regard to the multilateral talks next week? MS. TUTWILER: No, I can't confirm that, because we haven't. And we checked again this morning at our Embassy, we've checked here, and we do not have a formal Israeli response. As I've said every day here, we have had any number of discussions since January at any number of different levels -- both here and in Israel -- concerning this subject. So we are well aware of the Israeli view. I would also note that I have seen myself this morning Israeli officials in different news reports saying that they have not -- the government has not reached a decision and has not informed us. I can only tell you that we do not have an official Israeli response. Q Margaret, I have one more on the Middle East which I don't expect you to have an answer to, but maybe I can pose the question, and you can take it, and then we could raise it again tomorrow. Does the United States support United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948 which talks about the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or get compensation? I don't expect you to have an answer -- MS. TUTWILER: Thank you. Q -- but if you could take the -- MS. TUTWILER: Because I don't. Q Margaret, here's another one that will blind-side you. Mr. Armitage was on "Worldnet" this morning and some of us who got up early to hear him heard him say that this one booster rocket deal between Russia and India was not a cause for punitive action; that one -- MS. TUTWILER: Who said this? Q Mr. Armitage -- Richard Armitage. That one such deal was not a cause, and you just a couple of days ago suggested the opposite -- that if the deal went through, the U.S. might apply sanctions, I suppose to both India and Russia. Could you, number one -- again like Alan's question you may not have an answer right here, but could you find out, is the deal as a Russian official said the other day, definitely on, and what is the policy? Are you about to try to punish these two friendly governments for this deal, or has Mr. Armitage got it right that it would take a pattern of such behavior for the U.S. -- he called it unfortunate, but he didn't say it was a basis for sanctions. MS. TUTWILER: I was up early, but I did not see Ambassador Armitage's remarks on Worldnet, so I'm going to refrain from addressing that part of your question, because I don't -- I'm not doubting it, but I don't know what he said. Concerning what we have consistently said every day here from the podium, that has not changed today, but I don't have anything new to announce for you today on that subject. Q Well, are you aware that the deal -- I mean, is it so? Is the deal a fait accompli as the Russian official says? MS. TUTWILER: We have seen reports, as we mentioned the other day, that various Russian officials have said they are going ahead with this, as have the Indians. What I've got to refrain from doing -- if it's okay, for just today, sticking with that; I don't have anything new for you on this today. I'll refer you to three days this week -- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday -- I said very soon you should expect something; that, yes, there would be penalties/sanctions if this indeed went forward, and we haven't changed our policy overnight concerning this subject. Q Margaret, on that subject -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Excuse me if this has been answered in the last three days -- MS. TUTWILER: That's O.K. Q -- but I don't think it has. Press reports from India quote Indian officials as saying that the United States offered to sell a very similar rocket to the Indian Government but that the price was too high. Is this true and, if so, how does the U.S. distinguish between what it wished to sell and what the Russians may wish to sell? MS. TUTWILER: It's not true. No United States firm has made a formal bid or submitted an export license application for such a sale to India. Many months ago the Indian Government suggested informally that a U.S. aerospace company provide an upper rocket stage to be mated to the lower stages of the Indian space launch vehicle to launch Indian satellites. But the United States firm concluded that the deal was undesirable to pursue. The United States Government has not licensed and will not license exports of MTCR class rocket engines or other MTCR category items to countries of proliferation concern. Under the MTCR guidelines, there is a strong presumption that licenses to export such items will be denied, and exports of specialized production technology for such items will not be authorized. Q Do you know why they decided -- MS. TUTWILER: So there was a discussion, Don, with an American company, and the American company decided not to pursue it. Q When you use the word "undesirable," did they decide it's undesirable because it wasn't profitable enough for them, or do you think they didn't want to run afoul of the regime? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Since it's private sector and they made this decision, that was a decision that they came to is my understanding this morning on their own -- the American company. Q Yes. You know, the central thing would be not their profits and losses, but whether the U.S. helped persuade them for good non-proliferation reasons not to go ahead, and they took your advice. MS. TUTWILER: That was not my brief understanding this morning by one of the experts, but I did not delve into this part of the story in great detail. But my impressions left from the gentleman was this was a -- my impressions -- unilateral decision based on private sector reasons by this American company. I'll re-check if my perceptions are right or wrong and ask in more depth. Q Also on that question, another press report from New Delhi suggests that the Indian Government -- possibly the Russian Government -- would be willing to submit this case to some kind of a panel in which the United States had a hand to determine whether something can be worked out and what the facts are. Is the U.S. interested in having it submitted to a panel of some kind? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of. Q Margaret, does the United States officially have any comment on the reports that the United States believes that Iran had a hand in the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires? MS. TUTWILER: Wait just one second. Just to refresh your memory, when this tragedy originally happened, as you all will recall, there was one, as I remember, radio report out of Beirut that said that said that Hizballah or Islamic Jihad was claiming responsibility for this. On that first day we said we'd seen the report, but we could not substantiate it. On the second day after the tragedy, we came out and said that that would be a likely suspect. Islamic Jihad, which we all know is sponsored by Iran, was an early suspect in this bombing, and the group did issue a claim of responsibility for the attack. When its claim was questioned, it released a videotape of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires taken prior to the bombing. Such photographic evidence is often used by Islamic Jihad to, in their words, "authenticate its claims." Information gathered to date supports this claim. As the bombing is still under investigation, I really do not have any more details or specifics that I'm going to be able to provide you. But I would, in general, say that at the time of the attack, I said that it was a likely suspect, and our view about that has not changed since then. And I would refer you to our 1991 terrorism report we issued two weeks ago where we have an explanation of the connection between Islamic Jihad and the Iranian Government. Q Beyond the photographic evidence, is there any other evidence that you can tell us about? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I can go into. No. Q Margaret, in that same report -- MS. TUTWILER: Which report? Q The report that my colleague was referring to -- MS. TUTWILER: The author of which may be sitting in this room, that had us all scrambling for the last 15 minutes. [Laughter] Q I'm very sorry. MS. TUTWILER: No problem. Q An official said that Iran had resupplied Hizballah in south Lebanon by shipping arms, including Katyusha rockets, through Damascus from where they were trucked to south Lebanon. Do you have anything on that? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't. Q You were asked about the further evidence, whether you could provide it. You said you couldn't. MS. TUTWILER: I don't think so. Q All right. MS. TUTWILER: At this time. Q All right. But a two-part question, as I look at it. Does the U.S. have further evidence? MS. TUTWILER: I would rather, on that, check with the -- I'm not conducting this investigation. As you know, the United States is assisting in this with the Argentinian Government. I'd rather take that question for you if we have specific evidence. Q Margaret, can I go back to -- MS. TUTWILER: Because -- excuse me -- I'm positive, Barry, that it's in a classified manner. Q Could I go back to the multilateral talks? MS. TUTWILER: Multilateral? Q Yes. When Mr. Levy met with Mr. Baker here, there was no agreement, according to Israeli reports, about the participation of the diaspora Palestinians, and you mentioned that you support this, and the Russians are supportive of that. Wasn't this enough to give you the idea that Israel was threatening to boycott this before, or are you waiting for a letter that they will boycott the talks if the diaspora Palestinians will come to these talks? MS. TUTWILER: Just as I've said almost every day here, it comes as no surprise to us, the views of the Israeli Government. Those are well known. They have said them publicly. There have been discussions with our Government and their government about this since January. But that addresses one part of this. As far as an official Israeli response concerning these two meetings, the United States Government as of 1:00 o'clock today -- we simply do not have one. Q And about the bilateral talks, there are reports today that July 20 will be the date for the bilateral talks in Rome after the Israeli elections. Do you have any comment on this date? MS. TUTWILER: Number one, I haven't seen that report. Number two, I've never heard that date mentioned. And, number three, I'm not aware that there's any kind of agreement that's been reached on the date. My understanding is that those discussions are still going on. Q Margaret, is there agreement on the formation on the composition of the Palestinian delegation -- the delegations to Brussels and Ottawa particularly, which the United States has said could include diaspora Palestinians? MS. TUTWILER: Agreement? Q Agreement on the personnel. Do you -- have they given you a list? Have you accepted it? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Let me ask. Q That may not be your function, because you're not the host. So I wondered -- MS. TUTWILER: We're still co-sponsors. Q In fact -- all right. But I have the same question, when you say the Israelis haven't told you -- MS. TUTWILER: Officially. Q I hear you. What the Israelis are saying is that they notified the two host countries, and that as a courtesy they were also about to tell the U.S. Government. MS. TUTWILER: Right. I'd rather refrain from addressing myself, because I would really be -- you'd put me in an awkward position of addressing myself to the Israeli Government or the Canadian or the Belgian, which I don't want to do. I can only answer factually for the United States Government. And it may be a fine nuance, but officially, which is what started yesterday afternoon -- granted, by unnamed Israeli officials -- that they had officially notified the United States Government. I got a number of calls from many of you, and I checked. I have really checked, and we checked this thoroughly this morning. We have no evidence of such. And, in fact, just this morning there are again unnamed Israeli officials saying that they have not. So, you know, that's all I can deal with. Q All right. I hear you, but could we get a little bit into the substance, because the United States, by virtue -- MS. TUTWILER: The substance of it? Q Well, yes. Now, let's go back a little bit. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. Q You're the sponsor, but you're not the host, so you can use either -- I mean, you can stand under Column A or Column B, depending on how you feel about a particular issue in this case. But Israel came forward with a proposal that's on the record. They offered a compromise, or at least it's well known, and the U.S. said something to the effect you were glad to hear that they have some ideas or something. And then you, the State Department, would not take a position on that proposition and said it was up to the parties. O.K.? Now, what we're hearing is that the parties -- meaning the Arabs -- have rejected the proposal. To date, does the U.S. have a position on whether Israel's compromise is acceptable to the U.S.? MS. TUTWILER: I know that we have a position. I'm not positive that we've ever stated it publicly. So let me -- Q I know you haven't publicly. MS. TUTWILER: I didn't think so. When you were saying what our position had been, that was -- Q On whether it's O.K. or not O.K. No, no. You have stated publicly -- at least State Department officials have said they were, you know, happy to see that the Israelis had come forward with something. MS. TUTWILER: Right. But I don't believe we ever gave an opinion of it. Q What you haven't said publicly is whether -- right -- whether it's an acceptable proposal or not. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q And I'm trying to figure out if you're in that game, because you're not the host; you're the co-sponsors. I don't know where you fit into this puzzle. MS. TUTWILER: You don't? Q On this one. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Well, we are co-sponsors, as we were for Madrid, as we have been for all the bilaterals, and as we are going to be for the multilaterals. Yes, there are going to be five different working groups that other nations have agreed to host, and they'll be hosting those. But the co-sponsors are still very involved. In fact, the arms control working group meeting here, which is a working group we're doing, will be on the United States -- Ambassador Dennis Ross and Assistant Secretary Richard Clarke will be co-chairing that working group. Q Can you give us -- Q By the way, we're being asked who -- are you going to ask the same thing or -- MS. TUTWILER: The participants? The participants we're not going to do today. Q No, we're being asked about the U.S. -- you know, the various other groups -- we're being asked who the U.S. is sending, if you can supply that at some point. MS. TUTWILER: I'll get that for you. Let me tell you, what I can tell you is that Dennis Ross and Dick Clarke will not be doing a press briefing prior to May 11. There are, as you know, going to be no special press arrangements, as there weren't for the bilaterals, meaning credentialing, etc. We're not yet, today, ready to make the list public of all the participants. And, as Richard explained yesterday, concerning the agenda, these first meetings will be seminar-type meetings. We expect a general exchange of ideas and sharing of experience at this initial session. We do not expect this working group to be a formal negotiation, nor will parties table formal position papers at this session. The purpose of this initial working group session will be to organize the working group on arms control. Such topics as agenda, follow-on meetings, etc., will be discussed by the participants. Tomorrow, I will be able, I hope, to have additional organizational details for you. Q Margaret, can I go back to the same issue, about multilaterals? If Israel did not tell you officially -- and now we are not dealing with a hypothetical situation -- Israel, officially, from the reports, said that they will not participate. So what's the strategy of you, as the United States, which is a co-sponsor -- and at times you were a host of these meetings -- what will you be doing in dealing with this situation? Will the peace process completely collapse? MS. TUTWILER: Well, heavens no. Q Excuse me. MS. TUTWILER: I said, "well, heavens no." As you will recall, in Moscow, the Palestinians did not attend. The peace process did not collapse. As you will recall, the Syrians and the Lebanese, as I believe, did not attend. The peace process did not collapse. So, no, that is not our view whatsoever. Q Margaret, another subject? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q As I'm sure you're aware, the confirmation from the podium yesterday that the United States was discussing the sale of aircraft to Argentina has caused some considerable concern in the Falkland Islands. The islanders want to remind people that they were, in fact, attacked by Sky Hawk planes in 1982. Can you confirm that British officials have asked the United States not to make this sale because of the threat to the Falkland Islanders? MS. TUTWILER: No, I can't, because, to be honest with you, it's a subject that I have not had an opportunity to look into at all. Richard [Boucher], in depth, yesterday, briefed on this. No, I don't have anything to add to what he said yesterday. Q Can you find out? Could you ask whether or not the U.K. has asked? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Be happy to. Q After the briefing, late -- in fact, most of us didn't see it until this morning -- you put out the statement -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, you were up early. Q Yeah, right. You know, those things tend to come out around 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 at night. But one of the latest of those pieces of paper, there was a tribute -- I can't call it anything else -- but a tribute to Argentina's policies, but you never quite dropped the other shoe and said that because of changed behavior, it's like selling arms to Belgium or to Britain. MS. TUTWILER: Let me just see if we have anything additional for you before 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. tonight, or first thing in the morning, and see if we can try to help out some more. Q Margaret, on another subject, please. Do you have any reaction to former President Gorbachev's speech yesterday? Specifically, some of the suggestions that he made, like expanding the U.N. Security Council or ceasing sales of conventional weapons in particularly dangerous areas of the world? MS. TUTWILER: No, we don't. The question of the U.N. has been addressed before to the President and the Secretary of State, so they've both addressed this. I don't have anything specific today on any aspect or parts of his speech. Q More generally, does the U.S. have a view on Gorbachev's visit here? Specifically, his attempt to raise funds from American philanthropic organizations? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard the United States Government express a view on this. I think that President Bush and Secretary of State Baker are very much looking forward to seeing him. I believe he's here either later -- this week or is it next week? -- next week. The President, I believe, has a meeting with him at the White House and I believe followed by a dinner. You'd have to check at the White House. But we are very, as a government, pleased that he is in our country and are looking forward to seeing him here in Washington. Q There is a report from Lebanon that the PKK, the Kurdish group that's based in Bekaa, is disbanding and surrendering its arms -- or giving its arms to a Palestinian group, according to an agreement with the Syrians to disband. Do you have any confirmation of that, or any -- MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't. Let us look into it. Q Margaret, how is the campaign to have the Belgrade government expelled from the CSCE coming? MS. TUTWILER: The CSCE senior officials are still meeting today, and they had not concluded their meeting. So as of this briefing, I didn't have a conclusion yet. Q Margaret, there are so many agreements signed with Ukraine everyday, it's hard to keep track. Could we have today's. You haven't given it to us. MS. TUTWILER: They were supposed to be handed out -- Q I can't separate today from yesterday. Do we have today's? MS. TUTWILER: There were three yesterday at the White House. They had "White House" on the top. Q Yeah, I was there for those. MS. TUTWILER: And there are three here for the State Department today that say "State Department." They were supposed to be ready and available the moment the Secretary and the President [Kravchuk] cleared the room. So they're here -- Q Those agreements tend to look alike. Q Back on the question of the CSCE. Margaret, yesterday, when Ambassador Kornblum spoke, he said that the time had now come for sanctions. He then went on to mention suspension of Serbia from the CSCE. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Was that what he meant by "sanctions," or is there something broader or more extensive in the works? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of anything broader or more extensive in the works. That is our United States view at this emergency meeting of CSCE. As you know, CSCE operates by consensus, and I can't predict for you what the other countries are going to decide today on what their instructions will be from their government. But that's the only, if you want to call it "sanctions," sanctions that I am aware of. As you know, they already are in effect -- economic sanctions that have been in effect for a long time. Q He used the specific word "sanctions." MS. TUTWILER: I don't know why he chose to use that word. I'm not personally aware of other potential steps that follow right behind this particular one. Q He did mention drastic actions if there wasn't an improvement in the Serbian position. Presumably, there are other thoughts about it. MS. TUTWILER: We think it's a seriously grave situation that -- in our limited ability, as I have explained before, economic sanctions -- we only had, before this tragedy began, about $5 million worth of aid to Yugoslavia. So we readily acknowledged, in the economic area, we didn't have a whole lot of leverage. We have thought consistently, without trying to speak for Serbia-Montenegro, that questions such as successor state to the former Yugoslavia, such as legitimacy, are important to some governments. Maybe this government doesn't care. Maybe they do care. At different, various times, we've had reasons to believe that, indeed, they do care. Q Margaret, can you bring us up to date now that Ukraine and the United States have reached agreement on a protocol for Ukraine to adhere to the START treaty? What is happening and what is your outlook to get this adopted by the other states so that the START treaty can go ahead toward ratification? MS. TUTWILER: Just this morning, the Secretary has had another phone call -- conversation with the Foreign Minister of Russia. To my knowledge, he does not have any other ones scheduled for today. He will continue to work this issue with the other three, as he has been. He will continue, right now, working that by telephone and by messages through cables to capitals. Q You say right now. As you know, Mr. Bush said yesterday he expected Secretary Baker would go "soon," I think was the word he said, out there. Do you anticipate that before Nazarbayev comes here? MS. TUTWILER: There's no way for me to predict that since the Secretary was, just this morning, in another conversation with the Russians. I have said here almost every day from this podium that one of the options that has been discussed, is the Secretary meeting with these gentlemen at some place. But there has never been a time set. There has never been an agreement that, yes, we would, indeed, do this. So there's really nothing to announce. The President, obviously, is very well aware of this option, and that's what he meant yesterday, where we are prepared to do this. But prepared to do it, to be honest with you, once you have more of the substance put to bed. Q He didn't say "go there," by the way. Today, for instance, Armitage pointed out that all 15 Republics will be sending people to Lisbon for the Aid Conference. MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. Q Is that another possible options -- MS. TUTWILER: It's one of the options. Q -- for Mr. Baker to get into this subject? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q Could you -- recently, you or Richard (Boucher), or maybe both, when asked about the North Korean nuclear program, have said that you wanted to see what the report was to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This has now been -- they've issued press releases on it, and I presume -- in fact, I'm pretty sure by now the U.S. Government has taken a fairly good look at what they submitted. Do you now have some response as to what the U.S. thinks of what the North Koreans have presented? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a U.S. response. I have U.S. views of the IAEA press release of the other day. As you know, the rules are that the IAEA issues to everyone through a press release. They do not deal directly with governments. So our experts, I'm sure, will be continuing to review this. But I don't have anything other than our initial response to that press release. I believe it was two days ago. Q Did you ever make this response? MS. TUTWILER: I thought we've done all this. We didn't? Q I think you said you didn't have enough information. MS. TUTWILER: As you know, they have submitted their initial inventory and design information, although the details of the information provided, beyond that contained in the IAEA press release, are held in confidence by the agency. IAEA's press release indicated it had received an extensive initial report which we, of course, welcome. The promptness of the report is also encouraging. Under the terms of its safeguards agreement, the DPRK is required to provide to the IAEA by May 30 a complete inventory of all nuclear material and all of its nuclear activities along with a list of the facilities containing nuclear material. The DPRK is also required to provide design information on all existing facilities so that arrangements for safeguarding the facilities can be finalized by July 9. Design information on new facilities is required as early as possible before the introduction of nuclear material. Does that help you? Q Do you see anything encouraging in a pattern of this and the agreement signed between North and South Korea? Is there some changing pattern of behavior that you see in the case of North Korea? MS. TUTWILER: I don't think, Jim, that I'm in a position today to take a guess at that for you. We obviously have all seen changes over the last 18 months in various patterns of behavior. But I'd rather, if you don't mind, defer and let someone who is an expert in this area give you a more analytical analysis of their interpretation of what's going on. Q On that point, the U.S. Government -- certainly, Mr. Gates and I believe Secretary Baker -- have made a good deal of the belief that the North Koreans are building a reprocessing plant, making it possible for them to produce plutonium. One of the things mentioned in the press release and in the North Korean submissions is, indeed, a plant or a laboratory, as they call it, to separate out uranium into plutonium. You probably can't do it now, but could someone either verbally or on paper give us some idea of what the U.S. Government thinks of the North Korean report that they, indeed, do have a facility which, at least on an experimental basis, is doing this and whether inspection of that facility would alleviate the U.S. concern about it? MS. TUTWILER: What I'd rather do -- I have something here on a reprocessing plant, but I'd rather get you a fuller answer that more directly answers what you're asking, if that's okay. Q Margaret, does the State Department have any reaction to the amended rules of firing or engagement by Israeli forces and the Palestinians (inaudible)? MS. TUTWILER: We don't have anything specific for you. We have inquired previously concerning the rules of engagement. It is something that we have raised and that we have discussed with the Israeli Government. But, no, I don't have a specific reaction for you. As you know, we condemn the violence, any violence that is there -- not this specifically -- and that we have looked into it, is basically where we are. I don't have anything specific for you. Q Can you possibly take the question -- MS. TUTWILER: Can I what? Q Can you take possibly the question and expand on it? One officer insists that there will be killing or firing to kill before any questions will be asked. MS. TUTWILER: I know the question and -- Q There is mention of the story in the New York Times today. MS. TUTWILER: I did ask this morning. To be honest with you, I do not have any more for you. I'm positive I won't this afternoon. It's something that, as I said, we have asked and inquired about. It is something that we have raised, and there's really nothing else that I'm going to have for you. Q Margaret, one question on Lebanon: Do you have anything on the situation in Lebanon after the resignation of the government and fear of a power vacuum in the country? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that President Harawi has not yet accepted the Prime Minister's resignation. Our reports from Beirut indicate that public demonstrations are decreasing. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:20 p.m.)