US Department of State Daily Briefing #90: Monday, 6/8/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jun, 8 19926/8/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Caribbean, East Asia Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Haiti, Iraq, Peru, South Korea, North Korea, Cyprus, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Russia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Science/Technology, Security Assistance and Sales, Nuclear Nonproliferation, NATO, Arms Control, State Department 12:24 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to do today, Monday, the normal update that we normally do on our assistance to the former republics of the former Soviet Union. I do have additional information for you, as we do every Monday, in the Press Office.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update on Fighting/Food Situation/Peace Efforts]

Instead, I have a fairly lengthy statement -- not statement but update -- on the situation in Yugoslavia that I'd like to share with you. Over the weekend and last night, Serb forces used large caliber howitzers, mortars, tank cannon, and multiple rockets to bombard the city, causing numerous fires and severe damage. This morning, shells fell at the rate of three to ten per minute. Western observers in the city tell us that Sarajevo is close to becoming rubble. We also have reports that much of Sarajevo is without water or electricity. That includes water, obviously, to deal with these fires. Street fighting continues in several neighborhoods. We note that last week U.N. Special Representative Thornberry told UPI that Sarajevo is closer to starvation. Our sources confirm that many people are slowly dying of hunger. Most are reduced to a diet of flour and nettles. For those of you all who do not know, nettles are a type of plant that is just freely grown out in fields. We understand that Sarajevo citizens are organizing the rationing and distribution of remaining food supplies. In areas which remain blocked off by Serb forces, the food situation is desperate. We have reports that a small French convoy arrived near Sarajevo with some relief supplies. We do not, however, have details of this arrival. We are not aware of any other current efforts to undertake small-scale emergency relief convoys in the Sarajevo area. Private individuals in Bosnia continue to use their own cars to try to deliver small amounts of aid to Bosnian towns. As of Friday, May 22, UNHCR suspended all convoys to Bosnia because of Serbian refusal to allow deliveries through Serb-controlled areas. At this time, neither the U.N. nor the International Committee of the Red Cross are active in Bosnia. Last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross held meetings in Geneva with donors, international organizations, and representatives of the Bosnian parties to determine how best to resume aid deliveries to Bosnia. We understand they reached agreement in principle to send convoys through. This weekend's intensification of fighting in Sarajevo raises serious doubts about the implementation of such aid convoys. Serbian forces continue to control Sarajevo airport, which remains closed. Sometimes heavy Serbian shelling and fighting continues in many other towns. We are very concerned by continuing reports that Serbian leaders in Banja Luka plan to forcibly expel large numbers of non-Serb residents from that area in an "ethnic cleansing" operation. We reiterate that "ethnic cleansing" is totally abhorrent and savage. We understand that in some areas ethnic Croatians from Bosnia have mounted counteroffensives against Serbian forces. Last week, Serbian forces again heavily shelled Tuzla, a city that is north of Sarajevo. We do not know the current status of fighting in Tuzla, but we are seriously concerned that shells have fallen less than one kilometer from a particularly dangerous chemical factory. This is one of the largest chemical plants in the Balkans, containing an extensive inventory of toxic and potentially very hazardous chemicals. If a fire or explosion were to occur, the risk exists of a very serious threat to human health and the environment in the area. The Department of State has passed to plant authorities technical advice on chemical emergency safety preparedness and response. We stand ready to give further advice as requested. We are monitoring this situation carefully. We repeat our call for all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid a potential environmental catastrophe. Concerning the refugee situation: One million Bosnians have been driven from their homes in the past three months; 600,000 are refugees outside Bosnia; 260,000 are now in Croatia, and 400,000 are internally displaced, according to the United Nations. Almost 5,670 people have been reported killed or missing and 21,000 wounded -- most of them civilians. UNHCR personnel estimate that nearly one-third of Bosnia's remaining citizens are cut off from outside relief supplies. Bosnia's refugees boost the total number made homeless to nearly two million people, 375,000 of whom have fled to neighboring European countries. Q Did you see the recommendation by the U.N. Secretary General this morning to the effect that he thinks that a thousand international peacekeeping forces should be deployed to open Sarajevo airport to permit relief supplies to arrive there? MS. TUTWILER: We are aware of this proposal. It's a proposal that they are examining in New York. We obviously are examining here also. Those discussions are going on right now as of this briefing. I would assume -- I don't know for a fact -- they will continue through this afternoon, so I really do not have anything at this time that I can contribute to that proposal that is currently being debated up there. Q Can we get a copy of your statement? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q What does the U.S. think ought to be done about all the travesties you listed in your opening statement? MS. TUTWILER: What the United States has been continuing to do. We've acted alone, as you know -- the five or six things that we've done that were unilateral -- and we have been working closely with the EC and the United Nations. This obviously is and has been a deteriorating situation. The Secretary said to you this morning, in response to a question, that there were additional things that the United States would be looking at unilaterally. He did not elaborate, and I won't be able to either. And that we are obviously -- just as an example, this United Nations proposal this morning -- we are there, obviously, in that meeting and discussing this proposal. I think, Ralph, that any number of countries, including our own, simply cannot comprehend -- if you pay close note to the amount of shelling that our reports tell us -- three to ten per minute -- it's next to impossible for anyone to be able to comprehend what type of devastation you are wreaking on an already devastated city. Q Is there any thought of trying to remove the weaponry or disable the weaponry that's in use in this conflict somehow, in a manner, for example, similar to the way the international community is doing so in Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know of a specific proposal by anyone either as a solo government or in concert with others that is being looked at along those lines. As you can well imagine, that would be equally as nightmarish as the situation that is being inflicted on civilians. I'm not aware of any proposal at present, that I know anything about, concerning trying to seize or take away these weapons that are up in these hills. Q Is there any way to prevent the Serbian- controlled air force from operating? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know how, Ralph. I'm sure there are any number of options that people may be -- may or may not be looking at, but I'm aware of one that is a current one. Concerning one thing that I did have -- for lack of better words -- which is a little bit encouraging concerning the effects in Belgrade, obviously, these sanctions have only been on -- for what? -- a little over a week. We still maintain, and I think correctly so, that it is impossible at this time to know what types of effects they will ultimately take. There was a small group this weekend of students that participated in a protest sit-in in Belgrade. We also have reports of increased panic-buying in Belgrade of food and fuel. The price of gasoline has doubled. The Belgrade regime is preparing ration coupons for gasoline and eventually, it's our understanding, basic food and supplies. The regime may freeze wages and prices. Q Margaret, would you encourage those students and other opposition groups to become more active in Belgrade? MS. TUTWILER: No. This is something that would be highly, in my opinion, irresponsible of me to encourage, standing here in Washington, D.C., to make any kind of judgment like that. Q As a short-term measure, is the United States Government considering air drops of food into places like Sarajevo? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I have any knowledge of. That question has been posed to me several times, and each time the experts look into it, their response at an expert level is that that is not an efficient means in this particular situation and not something that is currently being looked at. Q Margaret, even the Boutros Ghali plan that was submitted this morning envisaged four stages of deployment which would take ten days. You said that many people are slowly dying of hunger. Even if that plan were accepted today, would the food get there in time to save these people? MS. TUTWILER: Number one, I'm not aware of the level of detail that you are that's in the proposal. I'm seriously not, so I can't comment on something that I don't know. I'm not questioning whether your information is correct or not, since they're up there discussing it. And, secondly, Alan, I don't know that I could -- even if that were true -- make that determination here. I don't know -- I don't think any of us sitting in this room do -- how much food individual families have hoarded. Yes, we know, and we've been saying for weeks -- in fact, I recall some people questioned whether we were being alarmists at the time and what was our evidence of growing death by starvation and hunger. Obviously, it is a very dire situation, and something that the world community is trying to do something about. Q Mr. Kozyrev spoke pretty forcefully in favor of deploying these peacekeeping troops to Sarajevo airport. Secretary Baker was somewhat less, let's say, non-committal. He wasn't asked directly. What is the U.S. position on this? MS. TUTWILER: I'll give you the U.S. position when there is a proposal that the United States takes a vote on. This is no different -- even as tragic and horrifying as this situation is in many instances, there is no change in our policy of commenting in advance on proposals before we have a final proposal. You know that we are very much on the record of supporting United Nations efforts. Marlin (Fitzwater) continued that today at his briefing just about an hour ago. Obviously, we support the United Nations efforts. I just don't know how this particular proposal is going to evolve the rest of this afternoon. Q Do you have any information if there are any U.S. citizens on either side of the lines between the Serbians and the Slovenians? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. I'll be happy to ask. Q Can you tell us a little more about this chemical factory -- what kind of chemicals, and just a little bit more about it? MS. TUTWILER: I really don't have any more on it, Pat. This is something that came to our attention last week. It's something we raised in Belgrade, and we have now raised it here publicly today. I don't have a lot more specifics on it. I'll be happy to see if the experts can try to get some more for you. Q Are these chemical weapons? MS. TUTWILER: No, they're not chemical weapons. Q Not that sort of thing? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Just dangerous toxic chemicals? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Do you have any new figures on the amount of Yugoslav assets frozen in the States? MS. TUTWILER: No. Where I left this last Thursday, I believe, was that the Treasury Department thought it might take them two weeks to have a final number for them, but that they were quite confident that it would be at least $400 million. Q Any new indication of more transfers of funds towards Cyprus? MS. TUTWILER: No. That's a story that has been out in the press. As we've said every time -- and I would refer you to the Cypriot Government which also, it's my understanding, has made public statements saying that they, obviously, support the United Nations resolutions. So our view is, no matter where the money is, we don't know of anyone who is not doing what the United Nations resolution calls for, including Cyprus. Q Margaret, going back to Alan's question for just a second, Foreign Minister Kozyrev talked about Russia supporting decisive U.S. -- U.N., I'm sorry -- U.N. action to put the situation down, was his phrase, in former Yugoslavia. Does the U.S. call on the U.N. to take decisive action to put the situation down? What is meant by "putting the situation down?" MS. TUTWILER: The Foreign Minister of Russia was here, as a courtesy, answering questions in English. So I'm not going to try to reinterpret for him what he was here saying in response to questions. He's upstairs meeting with the Secretary of State. You will have another opportunity, if not this afternoon then certainly tomorrow, to pose that question to him. Q Does the U.S. agree with him on that -- in that statement? MS. TUTWILER: Since I'm not in the business of interpreting what he meant, then it might be irresponsible of me to say what I think he meant and make that interpretation. It is quite clear -- what I heard this morning was the Secretary of State of the United States and the Foreign Minister of Russia quite clearly both saying that they are very much cooperating in this effort; they are both very concerned about this effort; and that they are going to continue to work to see what they can do to alleviate the situation. Q Does the Secretary think that the U.N. should take decisive action to end the starvation of the people of Sarajevo? MS. TUTWILER: I think that the United Nations Security Council, which the United States is a member, is addressing that question right now. And what I'm refraining from doing at this briefing is to interject myself in an ongoing dialogue that's going on currently up in New York. I don't know how that's going to come out. I don't know if it's -- Alan has heard that it's a four-phased plan that takes ten days. We've all heard that it's a thousand U.N. peacekeeping troops. I can't comment on something until we know what we're working with. Q What are your expectations for today's meeting here? Do you expect it to go on for several more hours? MS. TUTWILER: I have no way of knowing. The Secretary was asked that earlier this morning, and he said he, too, had no way of knowing. I don't know. They were just beginning to meet this morning when they were answering questions from you all. Q If there's a U.N. resolution of this matter up in New York, is it likely that the Secretary would then weigh in on that matter down here? MS. TUTWILER: Well, our representative, our Ambassador, Ambassador Perkins, of course, is staying in close contact with the Department and the Secretary of State in matters such as this -- I can't say whether they're going to him on this or not -- obviously is involved in the Department. I mean, that's how it works. So, I don't know what you mean by "weigh in." Q Well, have a statement about it some time later today. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard anyone suggest such a thing. Ambassador Perkins may well have a statement in New York. Q Is everybody honoring the sanctions against Yugoslavia -- against Belgrade? MS. TUTWILER: To our knowledge, but I'm really -- also since it's only been something like seven days, I'm not really in a position to tell you categorically that we emphatically know. It's something we're obviously watching -- the United Nations is, I mean -- and we are on part of that system, and so I don't have anything one way or the other really. Q You don't know of anybody that's violating, though? MS. TUTWILER: No, so far, no. Q Margaret, do you have anything on the shooting of the PLO official today in Europe? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Or anything on continuing violence in the Middle East or anything you want to say on the Middle East? MS. TUTWILER: No.

[Czechoslovakia: Election Update]

Q Do you have anything on the Czechoslovak election? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. On June 5 and 6, Czechs and Slovaks voted for representatives to the two houses of the Federal Assembly and to the respective national councils. Voter turnout was extremely high -- about 85 percent in each republic. Official results, it's our understanding, should be available on June 10. Is that helpful? Q She said with a sigh of relief. Q May I follow up -- Q It is clear that the communists came in second in both Slovakia and the Czech lands, and a Slovak was elected who favors leaving the federation. Do you have any comment on this? MS. TUTWILER: I have no comment on that. Overall, our comment would be, not unlike any other situation, that the question you're really asking me is a question which must be determined by the Czechs and Slovaks themselves. We will respect their decision so long as it is made peacefully, democratically and with respect for minorities in both republics. Q Would the United States be prepared to recognize an independent Slovakia? MS. TUTWILER: That's a total hypothetical. Q Margaret, over the weekend the State Department released a series of documents which indicate -- show that Iraq during the years 1984 to 1988 at least was continuing to harbor terrorists, was continuing to deal with terrorism, was continuing to manufacture weapons of mass destruction and seek weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless, in November of 1989, the Secretary pushed rather hard for the $1 billion in CCC credits for Iraq. As far as I know, the Secretary has never been asked directly why he did that and whether there was -- whether that in view of the events that happened nine months later, after he pushed for that, whether that might have been a mistake. MS. TUTWILER: I believe he has been asked that. He's been asked it a number of times, as I recall, either by some of your colleagues or in public testimony, if you're referring to his call to Clayton Yeutter. Q I was referring to not only his call to Clayton Yeutter, but the State Department's rather aggressive activity in November -- October and November and even on up into April of 1989. I know Eagleburger's testified about that, but -- MS. TUTWILER: For, I think, six hours and 45 minutes. Q -- I don't recall I've heard the Secretary asked about that. MS. TUTWILER: He has been. I'll get you his transcript. The President was most recently asked about this in his press conference -- when was that? -- last Wednesday night or Thursday night. I know that you are very familiar with -- throughout this, as the Secretary and the President have both said, with 20/20 hindsight would they have made some decisions differently? Of course, they've acknowledged that. You are correct. It's my understanding that we have made available not only to the appropriate committees, but I believe to the members of the press, the relevant documents that were requested and I don't really have anything to add to this story. Q Margaret, could you give us an update on the ongoing discussions on Haiti and -- MS. TUTWILER: Discussions on Haiti? Q Well, evidently there are some discussions taking place which seem to be aimed at resolving the problem politically, and there have been some reports over the weekend that there's a possibility of an OAS peacekeeping force? MS. TUTWILER: We continue to discuss the situation in Haiti with other OAS member states. We will not go into the specifics of those discussions at this time. OAS member states authorized a large civilian mission for Haiti in the resolution passed at the Foreign Ministers' meeting last October. That mission would only be part of a broader settlement of Haiti's crisis. It would help monitor human rights, professionalize the armed forces, strengthen the judiciary and democratic institutions and foster economic recovery. The makeup of that international mission, including any security component, is still subject to further discussions. Q Would the United -- MS. TUTWILER: Are those the discussions you're referring to? Q Well, yes. And would the United States participate, or can we assume that the United States would participate in that mission? MS. TUTWILER: That is something that I believe the President got asked yesterday with Prime Minister Major. Q He said we wouldn't be sending troops, but that's not the same. MS. TUTWILER: In any type of civilian mission? I don't have the answer for that. I'll be happy to ask Bernie Aronson who's been, obviously, working this for us and see if we have made a commitment in an OAS meeting along those lines. I don't know. [TO STAFF) Do you know, Richard [Boucher], if we've ever said we'd do that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not either. I'm not sure. Q Could you at this time categorize the role that President Aristide is presently playing? Is he playing a helpful role in resolving the political issues, or is he seen as being somewhat of a stumbling block? MS. TUTWILER: The only way that I know to answer that for you is that I'm not aware of a non-helpful role he is playing. But this is not something, to be honest with you, that I have been totally up to speed on. So my understanding is that -- I'll put it this way: I don't know of anything that is, to use your words, a "stumbling block" or a non-helpful role, etc. Q Margaret, I think the civilian mission that you're talking about is somewhat different from the international peacekeeping force which was referred to in the news reports over the weekend. Could you confirm that they are two different concepts? Barrie's asking about an actual peacekeeping force. You responded by talking about the civilian mission. MS. TUTWILER: And I believe I answered that the makeup of that international mission, including any security component, is still subject to further discussions. Q Would a security component be made up of civilians? I mean, could there be a civilian security component? MS. TUTWILER: What I'm going to refrain from doing, which I believe all officials of our Government continued to do last week, is not get into any detailed discussions concerning any future proposals or future -- proposals, I guess is the best word, that may or may not be looked at for Haiti. Q Margaret, we've put up the money toward that civilian mission, haven't we? About a million or so dollars? Have we put -- MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, I don't remember. [TO STAFF] Do you remember, Richard [Boucher]? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't. MS. TUTWILER: I don't remember. John and George say we have. Q Are they on the record? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, but they're nodding that, yes, we have. Sorry. I just don't have it at my fingertips. Q Just a status report: What is the status of the Rome Middle East talks? Have you heard anything about a date or -- MS. TUTWILER: No, I hadn't heard a thing about -- Q -- a time for convening those talks? MS. TUTWILER: No. Not a thing. Q Have there been any further discussions of that issue, or is it just sort of on hold? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Since we haven't dealt with this subject, as you know, for weeks, I don't know. I haven't even heard. I'll be happy to ask. Q The last I think we all heard publicly about it was the Israelis were hot to trot to have that session before the elections. That doesn't appear to be on the horizon, although you can always announce something at any minute. MS. TUTWILER: Well, the last thing I remember doing from this podium, which has been several weeks, is to say on any subject, no matter how generic, even as simple as restating United States policy, that I was shut down. So I don't know and have not inquired. I am well aware -- you bring up, you say the Israeli position. I'm well aware of any number of people's views on this, but I honestly don't believe anything is currently going on on that subject right this second. Q Margaret, do you have a reaction to this report from Japan, accusing the United States of unfair trade practices? MS. TUTWILER: No. It's my understanding that USTR was going to respond to that this morning.

[North Korea: US Meetings/US Policy on Plutonium Repreocessing Facilities]

Q There are reports that in the 23rd meeting -- (inaudible) meeting between the United States and North Korea, the United States -- North Korea has -- it is known that North Korea has offered to give up the plutonium reprocessing facility on the condition that U.S. could install a light-water nuclear reactor. Do you have any comment on that report, or is it -- could you confirm that kind of offer of the North Korean side to the United States? MS. TUTWILER: I think I understand your question. Correct me, if I do not. The first part of your question concerns our meetings that we have in Beijing, which you know we do not ever discuss what was discussed at those meetings. The second part of your question, I believe, has to do with plutonium production in North Korea. Is that correct? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: It is our position that North Korea has no legitimate need for plutonium reprocessing facilities, possession of which is prohibited by the Joint Agreement on a Non-Nuclear Korea between North and South Korea. As North Korea brings its nuclear policies and practices in line with international norms and treaty obligations, there is the potential for better access to more advanced energy technologies. It should be noted that North Korea contracted with the Soviet Union for four modern reactors in 1985, but the Soviets held up the deal because North Korea had not implemented an IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Q So you are denying the report that North Korea offered to give up the plutonium facilities on the condition that United States could give light-water nuclear reactor in Beijing talks? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of the report that you're referring to. If it's a report about a meeting that we attended in Beijing, we do not discuss the substance of those talks, and I really have nothing else on our views of North Korea's plutonium production.

[Former Soviet Union: Azaerbaijan Elections/US Views on New Independent States/Russian Foreign Minister's Meeting with Secretary]

Q Margaret, do you have anything on the Azerbaijan elections? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. The U.S. Government welcomes yesterday's Presidential election in Azerbaijan. The election is a significant step in the development of democracy in Azerbaijan. Preliminary reports indicate that the leader of the Azerbaijani Popular Front has a wide lead over other candidates. Final results will not be released until Friday. The United States Embassy in Baku reports that there were no significant civil disturbances in connection with the election. American election observers from several private groups, including the International Republican Institute, were in Azerbaijan to monitor the election. Q Do you think in any way it signals, if not the demise, the lessening of the CIS? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know that I am in a position to make that determination for you today, but I can restate for you -- which has come at us in a number of questions as things evolve in the former Soviet Union -- which is basically the viability in our opinion, posing the question of Commonwealth of Independent States. The United States would like to see continuing cooperation among the new states of the former U.S.S.R., but the extent of that cooperation is up to those nations to determine. And how the New Independent States pursue cooperative policies is also for them to determine. But competition and conflict over military issues, political issues or economic issues will serve no one's interest and only prevent these states from moving forward with their overriding imperative: building democracy and free markets. That's not new policy; that's what we have consistently been saying. Q Margaret, do you think the new government will have any impact on the conflict with Armenia? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know how to make that judgment call here. Number one, we don't even have the final results. And, number two, obviously, we support -- no matter who is the new government -- a resolution, peaceful resolution, to that particular conflict. So we would call on whoever the new leadership is to certainly use their influence along those lines. Q Margaret, do you plan any kind of readout at the conclusion of the Secretary's talks with Kozyrev? MS. TUTWILER: Today? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: No. The Secretary said that he, himself, was not sure whether he would be speaking again with you today or whether it might be -- I think he said we might have something for you tomorrow. I was just handed a note that says they have just finished meeting at 12:25, and that the Foreign Minister will return today at 3:00 p.m. Q One more on that -- those talks. Do you happen to know if on the agenda -- included among many things on the agenda -- is a discussion of the U.S. trade sanctions against the former Soviet space agency over the India rocket deal? Is that even being discussed any further, and is it something that's likely to be discussed at the summit next week? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, on both accounts. I'll be happy to ask for you and see if it was on the agenda. Q Another one on Eastern Europe: Do you have anything about the latest development in Warsaw, Poland? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't. Q Since we're all over the globe, anything on South Africa on threats of strikes or violence or on CODESA talks? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at 12:54 p.m.)