US Department of State Daily Briefing #106: Thursday, 7/16/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Jul, 16 19927/16/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Southeast Asia Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Iraq, Burma, Israel, Russia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, POW/MIA Issues, Human Rights, State Department, Immigration 12:18 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Burma: Fourth Anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi's House Arrest]

MR. BOUCHER: I would like to begin by reading you a statement on Burma because of an anniversary that's coming up, and I think it's important to remember some of these things. This month marks the beginning of the fourth year of house arrest of Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Her courage and indomitable spirit in defense of human rights and democracy have won the admiration of the world. Since April, the military government of Burma has taken some limited steps toward political reform and has released some political prisoners. Most recently, the government began a dialogue with certain elected parlimentarians and political party representatives. We believe that the goal of such talks of this dialogue should be a prompt establishment of a democratic, elected civilian government and national reconciliation. This should be achieved with the participation of all political figures. We once again strongly urge the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and the establishment of a democratically elected civilian government. Q Richard, do you have anything new on the repatriation of Rohingyas back to Burma? MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have anything new on that.

[Former Yugoslavia: Situation Update]

Then I'll do a Yugoslav update for you, if I can, and then we'll go to questions. Radio Sarajevo reports heavy shelling by Serbian forces overnight, particularly in the old city. The correspondent described it as one of the worst nights of the war. It was calmer in the morning, though sniper firing is continuing. The major offensives by Serbian forces continue in the three areas that we've mentioned before: the north-central Bosnian corridor, the eastern front and in Hercegovina. The fighting and shelling of Gorazde continue. We have seen press accounts of the shelling of refugees gathered in an open stadium in Slavonski Brod in Croatia at the Bosnian border. We're attempting to obtain details through our mission. Press reports indicate that there were many casualties. There was a related incident. We understand that a column that was six to seven kilometers long, consisting mostly of Muslim and Croatian refugees, was attempting yesterday to cross into Croatia into the Bosanski Brod area while Serbian forces shelled the area. The bridge they were attempting to cross links Bosanski Brod, a town on the Bosnian side, with Slavonski Brod on the Croatian side. We don't have details on the number of casualties, but evidently these two areas, the stadium and this bridge, are quite close together, so it appears to be related. Fighting continues in Croatia, particularly in Slavonia on the northern side of the Drina River across from Bosnia and in the south near Dubrovnik. EC monitors briefly visited Trebinje, which has been shelled by Croatian forces. This is also a town across the border in Hercegovina, and the Serbs have been shelling Dubrovnik from there. The EC monitors are going to report their findings to the EC. As far as Lord Carrington's talks, all three Bosnian parties were represented yesterday, and the conference continues today. Flights: On July 15 there were 20 flights. I think yesterday we described that as a record. They delivered 238 metric tons of relief supplies to Sarajevo. Among them were two U.S. Government flights that brought in 26.7 metric tons of bulk food and MREs. Twenty more flights are scheduled for today, July 16. On convoys: There is a UNHCR convoy from Split that arrived outside Zenica and plans to enter the city to offload goods at an NGO warehouse. Zenica was this convoy's last stop after humanitarian relief supplies were delivered at a number of other Bosnian towns. The ICRC in Zagreb reported that its convoy to the U.N.-protected zone in Croatia was going according to plan. There's another ICRC convoy through Bosnia that's also running smoothly, and UNHCR is attempting to negotiate a relief convoy for the besieged town of Gorazde. And that's the update, and I'd be glad to take your questions if I know who to turn to. Q (No response) MR. BOUCHER: Anybody? Carol? No. O.K. (Laughter) Anybody want to say "thank you"? Q No. Have you seen the announcement that the Israeli Housing Minister has ordered a freeze on new construction? MR. BOUCHER: I've seen that announcement, Jim. I've seen other announcements and statements in recent days. I think where we stand, as far as we're concerned, is that the Secretary will be seeing Prime Minister Rabin in about three days, and we really won't have any comment on some of these things until then. Let the Prime Minister lay out the program for the Secretary and let them have their discussions before we comment on some of these plans. Q But that is something that you have been wishing for in the past, is it not? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, you can go through the past record of what we said, but today I'm not prepared to advance that any further. Q How about the situation in Nablus? MR. BOUCHER: The situation in Nablus? Our understanding is that the standoff between the Israeli Army and Palestinian students and faculty at the Al-Najah University in Nablus continues now for the second day. We have been in touch with Palestinian leaders and senior Israeli officials. We have urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint. We're encouraging all side to defuse the situation and reach a peaceful solution, and we also understand that Prime Minister Rabin is personally involved in seeking a peaceful resolution to the situation. Q I know some members of the -- foreign diplomats in Jerusalem went to Nablus to check -- to see the situation on-site. Any member of the consulate -- American consulate went to Nablus? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. That's something I'll have to check on. I do know that we've been in touch with Palestinian leaders, and from the beginning we're in touch with people on both sides. Q Do you have anything more on the Secretary's schedule? For instance, the meeting with the Lebanese? Has that been pinned down? MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have anything more on the Secretary's schedule. I think the only thing we really left hanging was meetings with the Lebanese, and we're still working on that. Q And do you have -- do you happen to know about a Rabin-Mubarak meeting? MR. BOUCHER: No. The short answer. Q Richard, yesterday you had a rather strong statement about Iraq, and I was a little confused, because when I asked you specifically about a letter that the Iraqis had sent to the U.N. -- you know, demanding certain things from the U.N., among them the recision of U.N. resolutions -- you were not reacting to that yesterday, right? You did not seem to be aware of that yesterday. MR. BOUCHER: What we were reacting to yesterday was the standoff in Baghdad that does continue. The letter -- I think I told you that we were aware of it from wire reports, or something like that, that -- Q What I wonder is you were actually -- MR. BOUCHER: -- but I'd be glad to explain -- Q O.K. You were speaking in anticipation -- you know, before the letter came. Now you are reacting today to the letter. It was reported by some people yesterday that what you said yesterday was in reaction to the letter. That was not the case, right? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into what people might have reported. I didn't see people reporting one way or the other. I mean, yesterday we were talking about the letter and I gave some general comments on the situation with Iraqi compliance which I'd be glad to explain further what's in these various letters that the Iraqis have sent and what our views are if that's your question today. Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: First, with the standoff in Baghdad, the members of the U.N. Special Commission inspection team continue to monitor the entrances to the Ministry of Agriculture building in Baghdad. U.N. Special Commission Chairman Rolf Ekeus left New York last night for Baghdad to meet with Iraqi authorities. His goal is to underline the Security Council's commitment to see Iraq comply with its obligations under the Security Council resolutions. As you know from what I did say yesterday, the Secretary told Boutros-Ghali the other night that Ekeus' efforts had our full support. The Iraqi refusal to grant access to UNSCOM is just one part of a continuing pattern of Iraqi rejection of its obligations under the U.N. Security Council resolutions, and I'd like to talk about some others of those today. U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that Iraq end repression of the Iraqi civilian population and insisted that Iraq allow immediate access by international humanitarian organizations to all those in need of assistance. The Iraqi Government is clearly not fulfilling its obligations under this resolution. Continued repression in the north and south and interference with the work of the humanitarian workers by harassment, restriction of travel and delaying visa issuance all make this failure clear. Iraq has turned a blind eye to harassment of officials of international organizations. Such harassment has included things like a grenade attack on U.N. guards, firing at official vehicles and violent demonstrations against U.N. personnel. Iraq sent a July 11 letter to the Security Council in which the Government of Iraq appears to refuse to implement Security Council Resolutions 706 and 712. These resolutions were intended to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, to fund U.N. activities in Iraq, and to provide compensation to the victims of Iraqi aggression in Kuwait. In that letter, the Iraqi Government reiterated a false claim that it has fulfilled the requirements of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 to disclose and destroy all weapons of mass destruction and related equipment. However, Iraq's failure to allow U.N. Special Commission members access to the building in Baghdad only underscores Iraq's continuing violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 687 and 707. We do not believe that Iraq has made a full disclosure at this point of its weapons of mass destruction programs. Q What do you think is in the building? MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me? Q What do you think is in the building? MR. BOUCHER: I believe that Ekeus gave a press conference in New York last week where he explained that it was documents relating to a ballistic missile program. You have to double-check if he said anything more than that. Q And in the meantime -- MR. BOUCHER: Jim, let me finish, and go through another letter. There was another letter that was sent July 12 to the Security Council. In that letter, the Government of Iraq reneged on its commitment to participate in the work of the Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission that was established pursuant to U.N. Security Council Resolution 687, thus again raising doubt about Iraq's willingness to honor its obligation under Resolution 687 to respect the Kuwait-Iraq border. This Commission, which is currently meeting in New York, is carrying out the technical task necessary to demarcate the precise coordinates of the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait. The work of the Commission addresses one of the principal underlying causes of instability in the region. As we said yesterday, the United States is determined to see that Iraq meets all its international obligations under Security Council resolutions. We hold Iraq responsible for the safety of all U.N. personnel in Iraq, and we are consulting with key coalition partners on steps to ensure Iraqi compliance. That's where we stand. Jim. Q On the missile documents, the shredders inside that building have had a couple of weeks to be working full speed ahead. Does not that particular issue now become moot? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I'd leave that question to the U.N. inspectors. I think they've spoken to it several times. What's very important and vital is that the requirements of the U.N. resolution -- the requirements of the U.N. Security Council and the requirements that Iraq has agreed to, to allow the inspectors unimpeded access to sites that they select inside Iraq, that those requirements are respected. Q Richard, you said consultations are going on right now with other coalition partners. Is this at the U.N.? At what level is it being done? MR. BOUCHER: I think we've had a variety of discussions both at the United Nations and in capitals. Q And what exactly -- what kind of steps are you talking about? You said the United States is determined to see that they respond to the commitments made. But how can that be enforced, either by the United States or the U.N.? MR. BOUCHER: As I said yesterday, I'm not inclined at this point to go into options. Q Richard, you said the Administration does not believe Iraq has given a full accounting on weapons of mass destruction. Other than what's in this building, are there other facilities that we've not yet had access to? MR. BOUCHER: Would you like a list of them, Sid? I'm afraid that's an area I just can't get into, about what exactly we know, from our own sources, that we don't think that they've disclosed at this point. Q Well, can you say it's a little bit; can you say it's widespread? I'm not asking for names of specific types of buildings. I'm asking for a characterization of how big this problem is to the Administration. MR. BOUCHER: I would just point back to the history of this -- that we've faced situations before where Iraq claimed to have made full disclosure; where Iraq claimed, as it does periodically, that it was in full compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions, only to find out through inspections, further pressure, etc., that Iraq had much more to tell us. There were major aspects of its nuclear facilities that were revealed in that manner. There were major aspects of the chemical and the ballistic areas as well that weren't fully disclosed in the beginning. So the pattern has been this attempt to block, to claim full compliance, and then we all found out that there was much more behind it. So at this point, I don't think I'm prepared to characterize how much more there may be, but we do certainly think that Iraq has not yet fully disclosed all it has to say on these subjects. Q In the U.S. view, is the enforcement machinery contained in all of the various resolutions, starting with 686, I think it is? Are they sufficient, or would it require yet another U.N. Security Council resolution in order to take further action? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, the things that we talked about are under different U.N. resolutions, and I guess I'd just have to invite you to read each of those resolutions to determine where they stand. I don't want to lead you into speculation about further courses of action. Q Let me simplify the question. In the U.S. view, would another U.N. Security Council resolution be required in view of Iraq's non-compliance with the past resolutions? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, Jim, I think that would be speculation by me on a particular course of action. I don't want to get into that. Q Richard, a lot of the transgressions which you talked about today of Iraq have been going on for quite some time. Was there one thing they did in particular which prompted the U.S. to begin a new round of consultations with allies, or is it the continuing pattern? MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, I would point out, this has been a continuing pattern with Iraq. It's something that we've seen before. It's something that we've expressed before, our determination to see carried out; and that determination remains as firm today as it has always been. The statement that I made yesterday was expressing our particular concern about the standoff in Baghdad, about the attempts to thwart and hamper the work of the Special Commission. Q Have you had any reaction from Iraq directly or indirectly to your comments here yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. I'll check. If there is anything, we'll tell you. Q On the U.N. inspection team in Jordan, it's my understanding that they will be there for a specific period of time, or it's an open -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any details of that. That's something, I think, you'll have to get from the U.N. Q Also on Iraq -- Q Can you look at that? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we have any information for you. Q Also on Iraq and the U.N. Has the Government of Iraq asked for a visa for a replacement for their present Permanent Representative; specifically, Nizar Hamdoum? MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea. I think it's a question for the Government of Iraq. If we have anything on the subject, I'll see if we can share it with you. Q My question is, have they come to the U.S. State Department and asked for a visa for him? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Jim, I'll check and see if there's anything that we have to say on the subject. Q On another subject. Do you have anything back from the team that was looking into American MIAs in the old Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: There were -- there's been a lot of stuff. Ambassador Toon, who was sent by the President right after the summit, has reported, I think fairly publicly and spoken to the press about his visit and about what they found. We talked here about the visit to the town of Pechora. There was a joint statement a couple of weeks ago, and I think there was a statement from the Russian side of the Commission just a day or two ago on what they found in their research in the archives so far. Q I'm told that there was also a letter from the Russian side to the State Department in recent days. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there was a letter. I saw a statement by the Russian side, which I'll try to get a hold of and get to you. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:36 p.m.)