US Department of State Daily Briefing #108: Friday, 7/24/92

Snyder Source: State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Jul, 24 19927/24/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Southeast Asia Country: Iraq, Cambodia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations 12:50 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the delay. I do not have anything to announce particularly. I'll be happy to take your questions.

[Iraq: Situation Update]

Q Do you have any update on the situation concerning Iraq? MR. SNYDER: Yes, George, I do. As you know, of course, Marlin was just on and spoke to that question, as well. Let me give you what I've got, particularly on this question of consultations and so forth. There has been a great deal of press speculation. Let me put the issue into context. Iraq is steadily expanding its confrontation with the U.N. It has refused to comply with Security Council obligations, including U.N. Security Council Resolutions 687 and 707, by denying the U.N. Special Commission team access to the Agricultural Ministry building. But it should be emphasized that Baghdad's defiance is not limited to its obstruction of the U.N. Special Commission. The Baghdad regime continues to try to starve the Iraqi people in the north and to attack those in the south in flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 688. A new military offensive against its own people is now underway in the south. The Baghdad regime is steadily increasing its harassment of U.N. officials, humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations in Iraq. It has formally withdrawn from the deliberations of the Boundary Commission, and has sent a letter of July l3 to the Secretary General calling into question its willingness to honor its commitment to the U.N. to respect the Iraq-Kuwait border. It has formally refused to implement Security Council Resolution 706 and 7l2, which allow an exemption of the embargo on the sale of Iraqi oil, facilitate the purchase of food and humanitarian supplies, finance U.N. operations and require the equitable distribution of food and medicine throughout the country under U.N. supervision. All of these actions constitute a clear, systematic policy of defying the range of U.N. Security Council resolutions imposed upon Iraq since its invasion of Kuwait. These challenges to the U.N. and international community cannot be allowed to stand. The United States and other members of the Council have warned Iraq that it risks serious consequences if it does not live up to its obligations under relevant U.N. resolutions. Q Are you finished? MR. SNYDER: Sure. Q The other day I asked, and I still haven't had an answer back, do you consider the existing U.N. Security Council resolutions sufficient authority for the members of the United Nations to use force? MR. SNYDER: The answer is yes, and we did post that question. Q So there is no need to apply another U.N. resolution to use force toward Iraq? MR. SNYDER: Yes. The simple answer is yes. I would refer you, though, to the answer to that question that we posted earlier in the week. Q Joe, are there meetings going on in this building with our allies on this subject, and have we called anyone in from the Iraqi Interests Section here, or do we intend to? MR. SNYDER: I am not aware of any meetings with our allies, nor am I aware of our having called anyone in. On meetings with our allies in this building, I am just not aware of them, but Marlin, I believe, addressed the general question. Q Could I parse my earlier question down a bit further? You say that there is sufficient legal authority, or authority. That's the legal answer. Do you consider that the existing resolutions give you sufficient political authority in the context of maintaining a coalition to act? MR. SNYDER: Well, I think that the most relevant question is the legal question. In terms of the political question, again, I think other people outside this building, particularly at the White House, have addressed that question. Q There is no intention, then, to go back to the United Nations? MR. SNYDER: We are continuing our consultations at the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council is certainly seized with the question. I'm not going to predict what might happen at the United Nations. Q Well, Marlin said that he thought that the United Nations was working on another resolution regarding Iraq. Do you have anything on that? MR. SNYDER: No. Q Do you know -- are you -- MR. SNYDER: I know that the United Nations Security Council is certainly very much seized with this issue and informal consultations are going on there. I'm sorry, I do not know whether specifically a new resolution is in the works. I must say, I didn't catch Marlin saying that, but if he said that, I am sure he is absolutely right. Q When is the Secretary returning? Maybe you told people here. When is he due back? MR. SNYDER: He is due back, as originally scheduled, which is at the end of the weekend, on Sunday night. Q Sunday night? I heard that he might be returning Saturday evening. You don't know anything about that? MR. SNYDER: I have not heard that. Q Could you tell me the present situation of the American forces in the Middle East area? MR. SNYDER: I can refer you to the briefing that was given by Pete Williams yesterday at the Pentagon. I am sure it hasn't changed much since then. Q Going back to your statement, when did this pattern of defiance that you've listed begin with Saddam Husayn? MR. SNYDER: When did the pattern begin? Q Yes. MR. SNYDER: Each one of the various elements that I mentioned have been going on, some of them longer than others, but for many, many months. I don't know -- you're getting into a kind of a definitional question when it became a pattern, but officials have certainly spoken from this podium and elsewhere of a pattern of "cheat and retreat" by the Iraqi Government which extends back from the beginning, from the time when the various resolutions were passed. Q And so what has made it critical now? MR. SNYDER: Well, Jim, quite clearly this standoff is a part of that element; but it's the whole general pattern which is prompting our position at this moment. Q Do you know -- the Iraqi radio at least said that the Iraqi Government would consent to having "neutral country observers" enter the Agricultural Ministry building to check it out. One, have you seen that, and would that be some sort of acceptable solution? MR. SNYDER: I've seen it, and Ambassador Ekeus has already dismissed the idea. It's not acceptable to the U.N. Q Is there anything in the past 24 hours you can point to that has further heightened the tensions? I mean, the standoff has been, as you know, going on for several days, or longer than several days -- weeks. But is there anything that in your mind or the State Department's view has severely heightened tensions in the last 24 hours? MR. SNYDER: In the last 24 hours particularly? No. I wouldn't think so. It's been a gradually developing pattern. Q Is that list that you read at the outset intended to be a comprehensive list of the areas in which you claim the Iraqis are not in compliance, or is that a partial list? MR. SNYDER: It's a partial list. It's not comprehensive. Q Are there other areas in which you -- MR. SNYDER: I do not have a comprehensive list. I can offer, for instance, the missing Kuwaitis who have not been returned, but there are other things as well, I'm sure. Q Do you have any details on this offensive that you say is underway in the south? MR. SNYDER: A little bit, Jim. Iraqi forces, using attack jet aircraft and helicopters to support elements of several divisions, have been attacking Shi'as in the marsh areas north of Basra. The Baghdad regime stepped up attacks in the Shi'a area in the south and its continued economic boycott of the northern Kurdish areas are flagrant violations of Security Council Resolution 688. Q Isn't use of fixed-wing aircraft, combat aircraft, against the cease-fire agreement? MR. SNYDER: We consider the whole of their action in the south to be in violation of the relevant Security Council Resolution, number 688. This question of this cease-fire agreement is one that's -- well, what's important is that they are in violation of the Security Council resolution. That's the most important issue. Q And weren't they warned that the coalition forces would shoot down any fixed-wing combat aircraft? MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry, I don't remember specifically. I can look into that and find out if there was warning to that effect. I don't remember. Q I thought that was the doctrine of, "If you fly, you die." MR. SNYDER: I'll see what I can get for you. Q One question about Cambodia, please: Yesterday the Heritage Foundation released a policy recommendation, saying that the United States should activate more -- how can I say? -- by the way, United States, who failed to give the past aid to the UNTAC [U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia], you are losing some friends with the Asian countries. So you have to -- he said that you have to seek full funding from Congress for U.N. peacekeeping forces in Cambodia, and also you have to re-evaluate your policy toward the Cambodian situation very positively. Without that kind of reconsideration of the Cambodian policy, you are losing many friends of the Asian nations, something like that. Do you have any comment for that report? MR. SNYDER: No, I'm sorry, I don't. The Secretary of State is right now flying to meet with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers and other Asian Foreign Ministers, and this is one of the subjects on the agenda. I really am not going to comment, as is the normal practice from this podium when the Secretary is traveling. I won't get into an issue that he's going to be dealing with himself. Q And how many United States personnel are involved in UNTAC at the moment? MR. SNYDER: I don't know. Q He said that you should increase the number of the U.N. personnel to the adviser of the UNTAC in Cambodia. MR. SNYDER: I'll try to find out how many we have for you. Q Going back to Iraq, could you give us your legal characterization or interpretation of current U.N. resolution in terms of using force against Iraq? I mean, to what extent, I mean, can you or we, you know, use our forces against Iraq? I mean, aiming at some specific, you know, facility like the Agricultural Ministry, or we can use force against entire Iraq facilities? MR. SNYDER: I'm not going to get into details of how force might be used. Our legal position is, as I said earlier, outlined in a piece of paper we put out earlier this week, and I really would like to leave it at that and not get into speculation on details or contingencies or hypothetical questions. Q Joe, you say that this defiance cannot be allowed to stand. Is there any time limit to the patience of this government? MR. SNYDER: I'm just not going to get into that. We've spoken, I think, fairly clearly, both here and at the White House, at the Defense Department. I'm just not going to get into any time limit. Q Joe, you mentioned questions of the border with Iraq and Kuwait. Have there been instances recently where Iraqi forces have crossed that, or are we still in the situation of trying to iron out where the exact border is? MR. SNYDER: The problem, as I understand it, that we've had with Iraq over the borders is the whole question of demarcating the border in accordance with U.N. -- the relevant U.N. resolution and their failure to cooperate in that operation. That's our concern. Q Not that any forces have crossed that border in recent days or -- MR. SNYDER: Recently, I haven't heard of any. Certainly, that has happened in the past, but I'm not aware of any recent incidents. Q Does today's warning constitute an ultimatum? MR. SNYDER: I don't want to get into definitions. Q Do you have any more details of the coup or the assassination attempt against Saddam that has been widely reported? MR. SNYDER: No, not really. As we said at the time and it remains the same, we have no further independent information that would confirm those reports, and we've got nothing more to say about it. Q But you think something happened? MR. SNYDER: We had no information to confirm that there was an incident, so I really can't go any further than that. Q Didn't Margaret [Tutwiler] say that something happened? MR. SNYDER: Not in relation to this most recent question. Q The earlier one. MR. SNYDER: The earlier coup. Oh, yes. I'm sorry, yes, she did. But I've got nothing additional on that. Sorry. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:06 p.m.)