Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

Note: This Electronic Research Collection (ERC) is an archive site. For the most current information, please visit the US State Department homepage.
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING 
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 1994

                                       BRIEFER:  Mike McCurry


Subject    ...                                           Page

SOUTH KOREA
Request for Deployment of Patriot 
  Missiles ...........................................1-2,4,13

NORTH KOREA
Status of Inspection Talks with IAEA ......................1-5
US Contacts with China ......................................8

UKRAINE
Tripartite Agreement/Security ...............................5

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
Update on Diplomatic Activities ...........................5-6
Forced Settlement Proposal ................................7-8
--  French Statement re:  US Policy .......................7-8

CHINA
Vice Foreign Minister's Meeting with Under
  Secretary Davis............................................8

RUSSIA
Resignations by Key Yeltsin Aides .........................8-9

HAITI
Four Friends to Meet Today in New York ......................9
Status of Sanctions 
..........................................................9-10
Reported Chamber of Commerce Call for 
  Business Shut Down .......................................11

ALGERIA
National Conference ........................................11

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
Bilateral Talks .........................................11-12

DEPARTMENT
Annual Human Rights Report ..............................12-13

(###)

DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPC #14

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 1994, 1:25 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. It's nice to back here with all of you, and nice to not have any pronouncements to begin with, so I can just go straight to questions.

Q Do you have anything on the general subject of Korea, either on the question of Patriot missiles or on North Korean-IAEA talks?

MR. McCURRY: I know there's a story in the New York Times today that has triggered some speculation regarding the Patriot missile. Let me just review -- I think you may have been hearing from some others on that.

The President sought a review from the theater commander in Korea, General Gary E. Luck, to ensure that everything necessary was being done for the security of South Korea and for defensive forces there. Obviously the United States has troops deployed there as well.

As part of that review, the U.S. theater commander requested a deployment of Patriot missiles. The Administration is now looking favorably at that request, but there has been no operational decision made on that question.

I know that some of you have heard from a senior official over at the Pentagon earlier today, and he apparently reiterated three or four times that there had been no decision on that yet, so that's where the matter stands.

As to the IAEA talks, I think they are still in discussion with North Korea. North Korea has not agreed to all the inspections that the agency is requesting. The inspections that the agency are requesting are not unlike those they request for other countries, not dissimilar at all from those that are necessary to assure the continuity of safeguards. We are concerned -- it remains that North Korea needs to conclude those discussions with the IAEA so they can proceed to the inspections that in principle North Korea has already agreed to. That's where matters stand on both of those subjects right now.

Q Assuming the Patriots do go some day, would they be under U.S. command or South Korean?

MR. McCURRY: I don't want to even speculate on command because there has no decision to go. If you speculate on that, you speculate on what type of deployment. They have been clearly requested by the U.S. theater commander, but I don't want to speculate on questions of command and control and things like that because it implies a decision which hasn't been made.

I think it's important to note we're talking about a defensive weapon system here. I think that's critical.

Q The recent studies both in Israel and in this country of the Patriot's effectiveness during the Gulf war have come to the conclusion that it was not effective, that it didn't work and in some cases may have actually compounded the damage by directing some warheads to urban areas. So what's the point in sending a weapon which is questionable on its efficiency?

MR. McCURRY: Look, I'm a State Department guy. I'm telling you about a request by a theater commander. The things that this would contribute to the defense of South Korea, I think the Pentagon is best to know the capabilities of that weapons system, and they certainly are aware of the performance of that weapons system in the past. They have commented on it in some detail, and I'm aware of different assessments of what the capabilities are. But I'm not the right guy to ask that question of. That's not my technical expertise.

Barrie and then Saul.

Q There was a published report yesterday that mentioned a specific February date by which the United States felt North Korea would have to respond to the IAEA request. Can you confirm that?

MR. McCURRY: That is probably a reference to the next meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors. I think that is February 22. Anybody -- is that right?

Q That's right.

MR. McCURRY: That may be the date they had reference to. We've made very clear here that we haven't imposed any deadline as such. Certainly our expectation -- well, I can't say it's our expectation the IAEA would address this; but it's very likely, given the Board of Governors meeting scheduled for the 22nd, that might be a date at which they would have something to say on it. I'd obviously refer that to the IAEA because they're in the best position to know that.

Q As I recall the story, it was quoting some unidentified American source, suggesting that after this meeting, if the IAEA found that the continuity could not confirmed, that would be the trigger for the United States to move in the UN.

MR. McCURRY: You don't need a unnamed figure for that. I'll say it right here and plain as day that if the IAEA determines that there is a break in the continuity of safeguards, as we've indicated all along we would have to refer the matter back to the U.N. Security Council. That has been our position.

I'm not going to say that any individual event or meeting is the trigger for that, but it's quite clear that we would have no recourse but to go back to the U.N. Security Council if the IAEA establishes a break in continuity.

Saul?

Q There appears to be some suspicion, though, that the situation with regard to North Korea getting nuclear weapons is more serious than (inaudible.)

Yesterday, the CIA Director testified that indeed there may be enough plutonium to make a bomb and they could possibility make a bomb even though the bomb would be of the sort that had to be carried on an airplane because they haven't yet achieved the engineering bit that would make it light enough for a missile. But he also suggested that the CIA and the DIA have some differences of opinion on just how close the North Koreans are.

Now I read, just before coming here, of a report in a Tokyo newspaper that the North Koreans may indeed have weapons. I wonder if you could shed some light on these reports and tell us just how serious do you think -- does the State Department think -- this situation is and how close they may be, or whether any of these reports that they have enough plutonium to make bombs and maybe have made bombs can be true?

MR. McCURRY: We share the assessments, as participants in intelligence community discussions. We share the assessments of the community as broadly defined. You're discussing about some disagreements on some aspects within the community. I'm not going to be in a position to comment on that. I'd have to refer you back to the CIA for comment on what Mr. Woolsey said.

I think that we assess that situation. You've heard us before; you heard the Secretary describe what we know and what we can say publicly about the status of the North Korean nuclear program. There's no change in our understanding of that.

Q Mike, is there any possibility that the situation has gone way beyond where even the IAEA or the United States sort of has suspected that it might be, that they might be trying to get enough plutonium?

MR. McCURRY: We are pursuing a path of diplomacy that's consistent with our best understanding of the situation.

Q Does the possible deployment of Patriots in South Korea indicate a heighten state of alert from -- there's a heighten risk to American troops there?

MR. McCURRY: No. I think it's a request that came from the theater commander, consistent with the theater commander's responsibility to think about the defensive deployment of forces there and the safety of South Korea. That doesn't imply any change in status. It's a request related to the commander's understanding of the defensive --

Q I'm sorry. I may have said that wrong. Not our troops' state of alert, but the danger posed to them by North Korea. Is it still as safe now as it was two years ago or so?

MR. McCURRY: I really don't want to get into that. I don't know by what basis General Luck came to that conclusion. I think it would be more appropriate to direct that over to the Pentagon. They're in a position of talking about how they evaluate what the defensive needs are on the Korean Peninsula. They can tell you how they arrived at that determination.

The important thing is that the President would have to make a decision in advance of deployment, and that hasn't happened yet although it's being favorably considered, obviously.

Betsy?

Q Can you give us some indication of how this review is going? Should we expect some kind of decision on deployment of Patriots and possible other things to beef up security in that region sooner rather than later? Are we waiting for the IAEA? Must this be linked to --

MR. McCURRY: I don't want to link the questions. I think our evaluation of the security needs on the peninsula is something that is done by the Commander in Chief with the assistance of his commanders in the theater. This is a separate question from the status of these discussions between the IAEA and North Korea and the nuclear program and, indeed, the discussions that we've had with North Korea.

Those are obviously two separate questions, and they are not related.

Q How are discussions going, though? Can we expect that separate set, then, of decisions to be made as to whether to beef up security in that region? Can we expect a decision --

MR. McCURRY: I don't have anything as to the timing. I'd have to leave it up to the White House folks to tell you more about the review that they're making, consistent with the request that has come from the commander in the theater.

As I say, that is a separate question. It's more appropriate, I guess, for me to comment on the status of the discussions with the IAEA going on with North Korea and with our own conversations that we've had. I told you pretty much where those matters stand.

Q Mike, there's a somewhat confusing story out of Kiev about an hour or hour and a half ago that Britain, the United States, and Russia are issuing guarantees to Ukraine for ratification of START I and joining the non-proliferation process. Is that all part of that tripartite agreement, or is this something separate, or can you --

MR. McCURRY: That is part of the tripartite agreement. I think that both France and the United Kingdom joined the United States in the explicit security guarantees extended to Ukraine as a result of that agreement to dismantle and return the warheads to Russia.

I think it also described the much improved condition for economic assistance that would be available to Ukraine once they complete the commitments that have been made under this tripartite agreement. But I think that was probably an effort to clarify the many advantages that exists to Ukraine both in terms of security guarantees and economic assistance once the provisions of this tripartite agreement are followed through.

Q It said that the French had not joined and the Chinese have not.

MR. McCURRY: I can't comment on the French. We put out the text of the tripartite agreement. I know that it mentioned the United Kingdom. I'll have to go back and check the text and see. It was publicly available.

The securities guarantees, in any case, discussed are the ones that are reflected in the documents that were issued in Kiev.

Q Speaking of the French, I wanted to ask you if any negotiations are continuing in Paris following Monday's talks on U.S., French, and allied policy towards Bosnia?

MR. McCURRY: Not any discussions that we were a part of. There were some discussions that occurred while the Secretary was in Paris at the experts level to review some of the questions about reinvigorating the diplomatic track on Bosnia that I think you heard described at the time that we were in Paris.

There have been subsequent conversations, I think, mostly by telephone between the allies because we did agree that we would remain in contact about how to pursue a reinvigorated diplomatic effort relating to bringing the parties together for a settlement.

Q Could you comment on the reinvigoration or some of the content that you've had since then? Have you heard from the British, for instance?

MR. McCURRY: We've been in discussion with them about how best to go about encouraging the parties to get down to the issues that would lead to a settlement. I think we've made clear some of our own views about what is proper and not proper in that context. But beyond that, I don't know that there is a lot more to report.

The allies, certainly at this point, are reviewing the situation on the ground in the context of the NATO summit declarations. Those are the things that reflect the current thinking and policy of the alliance.

Carol?

Q Mike, the Russians have apparently made a call for a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council. What's the U.S. position on that?

MR. McCURRY: We appreciate Russia's interest in exploring ways to bring this conflict to an end. We have been in discussion with them throughout a review of what's happening in Bosnia to see ways that we might cooperate with them in a common approach.

But I'd point out that over the last two months the European Union's Foreign Ministers have tried to mediate this conflict, apparently without much success. It seems to us, at this point, very doubtful that a meeting called by the Security Council Foreign Ministers would have any greater success than the efforts that the European Union has attempted.

It remains our view that the parties themselves have to determine what type of settlement is proper and then go about implementing that. You cannot impose some type of settlement on parties that are clearly determined to continue the fighting and the slaughter.

Q In an interview with The New York Times Monday, late Monday, the French Foreign Minister was pretty critical of the United States and warned that if the United States didn't, in fact, put pressure on the Muslims to make some sort of peace agreement, it would be the U.S. -- there would be a catastrophe and the U.S. would be responsible. What do you say about that?

MR. McCURRY: I think that his unusual comments did not take into account the presentation made to him by the Secretary. I think the Secretary made it very clear to him that going to the aggrieved party, which has been the victim of aggression by the Bosnian Serbs, and, in a sense, forcing a settlement on that aggrieved party, requires a very strange moral calculus.

The Secretary, I think, had a discussion with the Foreign Minister on this. We had chosen to keep most of those discussions private, but I see that he has decided to comment at some length on it.

Q What about his point that the U.S. -- that there would be a catastrophe, and that the United States would be responsible?

MR. McCURRY: It is hard to understand that logic. I think the Secretary made clear that imposing a political settlement on the parties, who continue to fight and who don't want to reach that settlement, leads you to a logic that states quite clearly that it would require a massive intervention of ground troops by the West to, in effect, force a settlement upon unwilling parties. That just doesn't logically make much sense to the United States at this point.

I will say that the French Foreign Minister seemed to accept quite easily and understandably the proposition we have made to them over and over again that the United States is not in a position to make that type of deployment of ground forces. He seemed to accept that without registering any objection whatsoever. So I'm not certain if there's any change there or not.

Sid.

Q Would you observe that a lot of what the French may be saying is a result of upcoming elections?

MR. McCURRY: I would observe that it seems to be a political season. I did observe in Paris that it seems to be a season of politics, but I don't want to comment on their domestic internal politics.

Q Are you saying also that he violated some understanding by going public with --

MR. McCURRY: No, no. I just said it was unusual, but things happen.

Q Do you have anything to say about the talks today between Under Secretary Davis and the Chinese?

MR. McCURRY: I checked into them as best I could. They started this morning. They are now in a working lunch, and I understand there will be a brief recess this afternoon. They will return later today. At this point I don't have a lot that I can tell you.

I can tell you a little bit about what they are focused on, what our interests are in those talks. We again welcome the opportunity to meet with the Chinese to explore some of our concerns arising from the sanctions that we imposed under U.S. law relating to violations or perceived violations of the Missile Technology Control Regime Category II safeguards. They were imposed in regards to the M-11 related transfer to Pakistan. This was an opportunity for us to explore those issues, but beyond that, a wider range of proliferation concerns that we have and other issues that were on the Chinese agenda.

These are talks that had been agreed to -- first raised in Seattle, discussed again at the time of the Secretary's meeting with the Foreign Minister in Paris two days ago, and we hope to be productive and useful talks on a range of proliferation issues.

Q Can you talk about China's attitude toward the possibility of U.N. sanctions against North Korea?

MR. McCURRY: I think that as the Secretary indicated in his discussion with Foreign Minister Qian, we remain intensely interested in the Chinese views on the North Korea issue, and we have engaged them both in Paris and I'm sure will be a subject of these talks here.

Q Are you in a position to characterize the Chinese position?

MR. McCURRY: No, I'm not.

Q Different subject: Do you have any reaction to Yeltsin's acceptance of Federov's resignation and what it means for continuation of economic reforms?

MR. McCURRY: Not a large reaction, because again it is less the personalities at issue and more the policy that is of utmost concern to the United States. We acknowledge that those reformers who most associated with the policies of reform that are key to the commitments given to President Clinton by President Yeltsin might have been in the best position to carry out those policies, but that's speculative on our part.

I think the key thing is what policies are implemented and followed by this government that's now been formed. Apparently, the President has now appointed an acting finance minister, so we will wait to see whether this government, this new Russian administration, follows policies that will continue to fight against inflation, that will find ways to ease the economic transition going on in the lives of average Russians. Those will remain our concerns -- the policy.

Q When the President was there, a lot of what the Secretary said and the Treasury Secretary said seemed to depend upon the team that they talked with, and they were impressed by the economic team --

MR. McCURRY: Right. I think --

Q And that economic team is gone now.

MR. McCURRY: Secretary Bentsen, I believe, made that point at a briefing he gave. We discovered later that night, I think, that there might be changes in that team, and I think that's one of the reasons among many why the President went to great lengths and took great care to reaffirm with President Yeltsin the direction and commitments of the policy of economic reform, which is why I say now that we will be watching and seeing carefully whether or not the path and the direction of reform remains focused on the types of economic and political reform that can make a difference in the future of Russia.

I think I'm not saying anything any different, I believe, than what Ambassador Talbott has covered fairly extensively over the last couple of days, too.

Mark.

Q New subject. Does anybody mind?

MR. McCURRY: New subject.

Q Do you have a decision on supporting tighter sanctions on Haiti?

MR. McCURRY: We don't have anything new on that. The Four Friends, I think, are meeting again in New York this afternoon. They certainly are there to discuss specifically what steps they're now going to take by way of expanding sanctions against Haiti. But those conversations, I believe, are scheduled to occur later today.

Q Is there an American reluctance to go along with tighter sanctions because of the hardships?

MR. McCURRY: No. There's an American desire to take expanded sanctions and focus them as directly as possible on those responsible for the impediments in implementing the Governors Island process. What we are anxious to do is find the best way to focus those sanctions tightly and effectively on those who are most responsible for the current impasse in bringing about the restoration of democracy and the return of President Aristide.

It's not a foregone conclusion that you would have to follow any certain steps or certain specific sets of sanctions to make that happen, and it is indeed true that economic sanctions are a blunt instrument. But remember that the thrust of our policy has been, (1) to focus the effect of the sanctions on those who are responsible, and then (2) understanding that sanctions are a blunt instrument, to ameliorate the effect of those sanctions on the poorest and the most needy of Haitian citizens who might be impacted, and we have been effective in doing that.

We continue to feed close to a million people daily. We continue to provide fuel to humanitarian organizations so they can carry out the delivery of food and medicine to those who are in need. So offsetting the effects of those sanctions has been a very central part of our policy.

Q A month ago you were saying that you wanted to apply the OAS trade sanctions against Haiti worldwide. Do you still think that's a good idea?

MR. McCURRY: One of those things was recommended in December in the aide memoire that was issued by the Four Friends after their attempted meeting with the Haitian military. It is one of the things that remains under review. Whether or not it is something that we will now recommend to the international community remains to be seen.

Q Mike, are you aware of a problem with Senator Helms, or a problem Senator Helms has with U.N. programs? I could be a little more explicit. He finds certain projects morally reprehensible and is threatening the budget. I mean, if you're not aware of this, it's just happening on the Hill.

MR. McCURRY: There may be something developing in the context of the State Department authorization bill, perhaps a suggested amendment. I'll check with our congressional folks.

Q If you could get something specific later on about what it is -- the programs that the U.S. is supporting that he finds reprehensible.

MR. McCURRY: If he has a specific amendment that will be considered while the bill is on the floor, my guess is we'll have a specific response from our congressional folks. I'll check on that.

Betsy.

Q I have two questions, one a Haiti-related question. The Chamber of Commerce of Haiti has called for a business shutdown for about nine or ten days. Do you think this would be helpful?

MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of that call. In the context of doing what?

Q Forcing new talks.

MR. McCURRY: Forcing new talks.

Q Protesting the sanctions and to force something to happen.

MR. McCURRY: I don't have a specific comment on that call. I think we've said all along if there are things that happen that help convince those in authority in Haiti that it's time to move into direct discussions on the future of Haiti's political life, that can be positive. I'm just not aware of this latest call. We'll check into that further and find out more about it.

Q Do you have anything on the conference that's going on, but not going very well, in Algeria?

MR. McCURRY: I do, if you can hold on. I know it's been covered in my absence while I've been overseas, but I'll tell you what we do have on it.

The two-day national conference which has been underway is concluding today. Its purpose was to plan a transition from the High State Committee, which is currently the governing authority in Algiers, and that committee's mandate expires at the end of the month. Most Algerian parties, including all the major ones, did not participate in the conference.

It's been our view that the broader the level of participation in a dialogue on Algeria's future, the better the result. We have consistently pressed the Government of Algeria to undertake political and structural economic reforms which we believe are necessary to satisfy the needs of the Algerian people.

Obviously, we continue to deplore the violence in Algeria. You're aware of the fighting that has occurred there. Beyond that, I don't have much further characterization of the talks or the situation.

Sid.

Q On the Middle East peace talks, Mike. Who met today, if you can tell us that, and have any of the parties met with any U.S. officials yet?

MR. McCURRY: I think the parties have met with U.S. officials on a fairly regular basis. We tend to talk to them prior to their own discussions. We tend to meet with them afterwards and get good information by way of follow-ups so we understand the progress they're making.

I don't know about today. I do know that yesterday they had meetings on all four tracks. They had, I am told, serious and substantive exchanges. They plan to continue their discussions today. I just don't know whether that's, in fact, occurred.

Separately, I think in Egypt the talks between the PLO and Israeli negotiators also continue today.

I think you've been through this drill before, while they are underway, under discussion, especially now in this new, less formal structure we have, we tend not to provide much detail about our understanding of their discussions.

Q The Secretary indicated upstairs that we shouldn't expect this informal phase to end any time soon. Can you elaborate or explain that?

MR. McCURRY: I can't. It's just it's informal. They're talking. They will decide among themselves how best to proceed and whether or not they need to bring other people into the picture. That's really up to the parties to address.

Q A logistical question: What plans are you making for the release of the human rights report?

MR. McCURRY: Extensive plans, and none of them at this point satisfactory to either you or me. But I'll tell you more about that when I've got --

Q Have you learned lessons from last year's fiasco?

MR. McCURRY: Unfortunately, there's not -- we've learned the lessons, but we haven't figured out how to take the test any differently. It's a complication involved with getting mass distribution of a very lengthy document very quickly. Our interest is to make it available to you as fast as we can upon its arrival to Congress, and that involves a complicated task of mass production. We are investigating ways of maybe doing it this year electronically, but, when we've got that sorted out, we'll try to help you.

Q Is it going to be this week?

MR. McCURRY: I don't think so. I think statutorily it's not due until midnight on January 31. My understanding is because of some of the complications due to the weather closings that we had last week, it may, in fact, be right up against the deadline, if not a need for an extension. So when we know more about the exact timing, we'll let you know. Probably not until Tuesday at the earliest, I would think.

Mark.

Q Mike, do you have any decision on a visa waiver for Gerry Adams?

MR. McCURRY: No. It's still under review. Still same posture.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCURRY: Wait, just one. Did you have one?

Q Back on Korea for a second. Is there any concern that this possible deployment of the Patriots might be seen as a provocation in any way and end up making things worse on the peninsula?

MR. McCURRY: No, I mean its capabilities are very well-known and understood, I'm sure, by North Korea. This is a defensive weapon, so in no way can that be considered provocative to North Korea.

As to whether it impacts the talks themselves, as I say, it doesn't. It's an unrelated question. Any deployment or any discussion of deployment is related to the security needs of South Korea.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.

(###)

To the top of this page