US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MAY 24, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, May 24, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry ANNOUNCEMENT Press Conference by Under Secretary Wirth and Japanese Counterpart Today ................... 1 HAITI UN Sanctions Monitoring ......................... 1 Penalties for Not Complying with UN Sanctions ... 4,8 -- Dominican Republic .......................... 4,8 William Gray's Plan to Visit Dominican Republic . 4,8 UN Assessing Tightening Border with Dominican Republic ...................................... 6 List of Persons Covered by Sanctions ............ 18-19 Boatpeople/Implementing US Policy/Interdictions . 19-20 -- Processing Eight Persons in Guantanamo ...... 20-22 Warning Shots Fired at Bahamian/Other Vessels.... 21 Legal Representation of Refugees ................ 22 CHINA Talks with US on VOA Broadcasts ................. 1-2 MFN/Secretary's Meetings on Hill ................ 4-5 -- Congressional/Administration Views ........... 6-8,12 -- Secretary's Recommendation .................. 8-9,11 SYRIA US Ambassador's Demarch re: Article in Syrian Times on Talks with Israel .................... 2-3 ALBANIA Arrest of American/Greek-Albanians for Spying/ Other Arrests/US Concern ...................... 3-4 ISRAEL Foreign Minister's Meets with Secretary Tomorrow 4 NORTH KOREA IAEA Inspections/Defueling of Reactor ........... 9-11,15-17 Third Round of Talks with US .................... 14-17 AZERBAIJAN US Policy on Conflict ............................ 12-13 UKRAINE Crimea/Discussions with Russia/US ............... 13-14
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, MAY 24, 1991, 1:18 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm going to start with a couple of announcements and clean up some stuff from yesterday's briefing, if you don't mind.
First, I'd like to remind you -- those of you who hadn't heard -- that Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Tim Wirth and his Japanese counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sadayuki Hayashi, will hold a press conference here at 2:00 o'clock in the briefing room right after the Daily Briefing.
As I think some of you know, Ambassador Kantor this morning has announced the resumption of economic framework talks with Japan. It's been important throughout our bilateral discussions with Japan to note that our relationship is built on more than just the economic relationship; that we also cooperate with the Government of Japan on a variety of political issues, security issues as well, and Under Secretary Wirth has had the lead here at the State Department and within our government of leading a series of very detailed and very positive discussions on a variety of global concerns. So they will give you more detail on that this afternoon and talk about the U.S.-Japan Common Agenda for Cooperation in the Global Perspective.
A couple of questions that came up yesterday that I've checked into further. One question came up about how does the U.N. enforce the current sanctions regime on Haiti, and as the U.N. does with all sanctions regimes, the Security Council established, when it established the Haiti sanctions, a Haiti Sanctions Committee, drawn from the Security Council, which oversees the implementation of sanctions resolutions and considers requests for things like humanitarian exceptions; that if someone files an exception to the sanctions regime itself, that has to be considered formally by a U.N.-directed sanctions committee. So there was a mechanical question about that came up yesterday.
On the readout, also from yesterday, there was a request for a readout on where we are in the talks that the United States is having with China on concerns about jamming of Voice of America broadcast. Those talks at the expert level begin in Beijing on May 20. Another round was held yesterday, and the talks are scheduled to continue tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25.
They are ongoing technical discussions about frequency issues that arise from looking at the radio spectrum. I understand that they have been positive talks, and of course they come out of the Secretary's trip to Beijing in March in which we raised this issue again with the Chinese Government. The Chinese Government agreed that they would receive technical data from the United States, and that later grew into a willingness on the part of the government to receive this delegation.
I don't have any further details because the talks are at this point still in progress.
And last, Sid, you raised the issue about Ambassador Chris Ross's demarche to the Syrian Government on the subject of the Syrian Times article that many of you saw while you were in Damascus recently. Ambassador Chris Ross did raise this matter with Syrian authorities, including the press spokesman for the presidency, and the Syrian Ambassador to the United States. The article was also raised by our mission with a senior official at the Ministry of Information.
Ambassador Ross pointed out that the article was full of errors of fact and analysis, reflected badly on Syria, and was written in an inflammatory tone reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The Syrian officials expressed regret about the content and tone of the article. They said that the article had not been commissioned by the government and had no official standing. We advised them that we would remain concerned about an article with that type of inflammatory language.
Q Why would you go to the government about an article in the newspaper? Would you say the obvious for us so we don't have to say it?
MR. McCURRY: The article raised certain issues about the tone of the dialogue that Syria and Israel are now conducting.
Q No, I'm just thinking it's the newspaper. Why would you go to the government? Don't they have a free press in Syria?
MR. McCURRY: The Syrian Times, when I last checked, the Government of Syria has a substantial control and say over things that do appear in the media, and it seemed appropriate for us to raise those concerns with the government, given the fact that in that society there's not anything you could call a free press as we know it here.
Q Was that mentioned, too, by the way. While we're all thinking of human rights in China, did Mr. Ross mention that the Syrian press is not a free press, or is it sort of understood?
MR. McCURRY: I have given you what I have of the readout of the meeting that they had.
Q Given what you've just said about the Syrian press, does the United States accept the explanation that this article was not commissioned by the government and has no official standing?
MR. McCURRY: Our understanding is that they do from time to time commission official articles or articles that reflect the government's position. They have told us that this does not represent that. We have, frankly, no way of knowing what they commission and what they don't, given the way that news is presented in Syria.
Q Other things?
MR. McCURRY: Other subjects.
Q Can you tell us if the Secretary --
MR. McCURRY: Hold on for a second.
Q Yesterday's question.
MR. McCURRY: Yes, I do have something on that. This is on the question about concerns about a number of arrests that have occurred of Greek-Albanians in the wake of a shooting on April 10.
We have been also concerned about recent news that six ethnic Greek-Albanians, including one American citizen, have been accused by Albanian authorities of working with the Greek security service and have been charged with espionage.
I would say that in respect to those arrests, we call upon Albania scrupulously to adhere to the rule of law and to ensure that the accused receive a fair public trial. But I would indicate that we have no credible evidence to indicate it is the policy of the Albanian Government to repress the Greek minority. And that is an allegation that's been raised from time to time -- Greek charges of systematic intimidation of ethnic churchgoers and clerics and mass dismissals of ethnic Greeks from public employment based on ethnicity. Those charges appear to us to be unfounded. I think that was the outstanding items I had from yesterday.
Mark, you had another one?
Q One more, and that is what possible consequences does the Dominican Republic face if it fails to enforce the sanctions regime?
MR. McCURRY: I asked about that, Mark. As with all U.N. sanctions regimes, a member state that is found to be willfully or flagrantly denying its -- or not living up to its responsibility as a member state of the United Nations, to enforce the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions, can be subject to political pressure and can be subject to what amounts to an official reprimand from the Sanctions Committee itself.
The process is for a member state to raise an issue in front of the Sanctions Committee. That is then considered. Sometimes it is referred to the Security Council itself or to the Security Council President. I'd say that that's hypothetically the way it works under any U.N. Sanctions Regime in this case. Since we are talking specifically about the Dominican Republic and the enforcement of Haiti sanctions, that is an issue that we will continue to raise -- the United States will continue to raise in bilateral discussions with the Dominican Republic. I think some of you may have seen our special adviser, Mr. Gray, indicate last night that he does plan some time in the near future to go to Haiti* and perhaps to meet at the highest level for a discussion of these and related issues.
* Mr. Gray currently plans only to visit the Dominican Republic.
Q Can I ask in the best traditions of question time in the House of Commons, what the Secretary is doing this afternoon at 3:30?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not sure I know.
Q Do you want to explain why you're asking?
Q Well --
MR. McCURRY: You mean Shimon Peres?
Q The meeting was apparently cancelled or postponed, and I'm wondering what he's doing instead.
MR. McCURRY: He will continue to be on Capitol Hill. He has rearranged his schedule, as he indicated to some of you earlier at the photo opportunity, so that he could continue very close consultations with members of Congress about the pending decision on extension of Most-Favored- Nation status for China.
He has already been on the Hill today. He plans to continue to work on the Hill later today. We have a very close working relationship with Foreign Minister Peres of Israel. Obviously, we see him very frequently. We saw him recently in Israel, and the Foreign Minister, I believe -- or they were contacting him or he has already agreed to reschedule his meeting with the Secretary for some time tomorrow, I understand. They haven't set the exact time yet, but I know that the Secretary was looking forward to seeing his good friend and his colleague, Foreign Minister Peres.
Q Will you open that up for a photo opportunity when he does meet him?
MR. McCURRY: When he does meet him?
MR. McCURRY: We'll check and see on the timing. They might be planning to have dinner, but I'll just have to check and see what the schedule is for tomorrow. It has been shifted to tomorrow.
Q (Inaudible) being on the Hill this afternoon?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have the full list. I know he told you earlier that he had seen a group that was put together by Congresswoman Pelosi and by Senator Baucus. I believe he planned to see Majority Leader Gephardt at some point. That may be scheduled for this afternoon, but I think there are others that he will either be seeing or talking to.
In fact, in working with the Secretary today, he actually interrupted him several times to take some calls from members of Congress. So I know that he's been very actively pursuing the issue of Most Favored Nation Status for China and measuring the sentiment on the Hill that exists and telling the Hill a little bit about the decision-making that we are nearing within the United States Government.
Q Has the U.N. group that was down looking and monitoring along the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, have they filed a report yet?
MR. McCURRY: Not to my knowledge. This is the 3-person experts group that has been in the Dominican Republic looking at sanctions enforcement issues. They, to my knowledge, have not filed a report with the United Nations yet, but we will be awaiting that report and looking forward to seeing what recommendations they might have for practical steps that could be taken to make the enforcement of the embargo against Haiti more effective.
Q Mike, who (inaudible) -- to China for just a second.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Think of a good question.
Q No, no, I had a question.
Q Haiti? Let me ask about Korea.
MR. McCURRY: China, on hold. Korea. Alan, when are you leaving? (Laughter)
Q Any time now. I have a special question.
MR. McCURRY: I mean that genuinely. We will miss you.
Q I know you do, Mike. I'm going to make my accent even more snotty and British.
MR. McCURRY: I'm shocked.
Q Did Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy clear with the Secretary or with the White House his comments yesterday in which he called for MFN to be maintained?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware that he cleared them with the Secretary. As to whether he had discussions with the White House about those remarks, I think you'd have to check at the White House.
I understand that they told people yesterday that they were not cleared as far as they knew, but I think he was reflecting the sentiment that certainly exists within elements of the U.S. agricultural community.
Q Mike, on Korea, can I just ask about Gallucci meeting --
Q A very quick follow-up, and then I'll be quiet.
MR. McCURRY: Don't be quiet. You can ask more questions.
Q What's your opinion of this situation where you're nearing a very sensitive, a very important decision? There's quiet discussions and consultations going on and then you have a member of the Cabinet who comes out and adds to the public debate before the Administration can reach a decision and announce it.
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary had a very good meeting with a lot of members of the Cabinet. I don't believe that Secretary Espy was there yesterday, but he's had a good opportunity to work this issue with the President and others. I think he understands that there are a wide variety of sentiments within the Government, a wide variety of sentiments within the community as it interacts with the U.S. Government. I don't think he took any particular offense at Secretary Espy's remarks.
Q Mike, isn't it a sensitive -- a last minute thing right now? Isn't it time for the Cabinet to be closing ranks around the issue and not spouting off, as they see fit for their own constituents?
MR. McCURRY: No.
MR. McCURRY: Good. Thank you for that correction. I've got to keep my mind on one thing at a time here.
Q Closing ranks; not spouting off.
MR. McCURRY: I think that the Cabinet is very -- based on the discussions held at the White House yesterday, I think the Cabinet is very much together on this decision-making. I think they understand very clearly the Secretary's thinking. The Secretary of State is the one that's charged under the Executive Order with making this recommendation to the President.
I think other members of the Cabinet who were present yesterday now are very familiar with the Secretary's thinking. I think there will be a very united position by this Administration as we move to a decision by the President.
Q (Inaudible) does he get on the phone and hear their plaintive pleas for putting business ahead of human rights?
MR. McCURRY: He has, as you know, Barry, heard exactly some of those pleas when he was in Beijing. I know that we've had a good deal of correspondence from the business community. We've had certainly a good deal of correspondence from the human rights community. We've had a good exchange of views with the American public on this subject. There's substantial interest in this. There are jobs at stake here in the United States, people whose livelihoods depend on the types of decisions made here. I think all of those views are considered very carefully by the Secretary and by those responsible for policy-making within our government.
I want to correct something I said earlier. I indicated that Mr. Gray would be going to -- I said inadvertently Haiti to have discussions there. He's not, to my knowledge, planning to go to Haiti. As he indicated last night, he plans sometime in the near future to go to the Dominican Republic. I misspoke. Did you get that or did someone catch it. One my listeners. Ears in the building heard that.
Q Randall Robinson said yesterday that in his conversations with Mr. Gray, that Gray had said he specifically ruled out putting pressure on the Dominican Republic by things limiting their sugar quota or any other measures. Essentially that Gray had told him explicitly, no, we're not going to do any of those things, to make sure that the Dominican Republic seals its border.
MR. McCURRY: I believe that Mr. Gray indicated, as he indicated in an interview last night, that he intends to have a discussion of these issues with the Dominican Republic. I think he declined to speculate on other steps that might be taken to further our interests in an effective enforcement of the sanctions regime.
I think he indicated properly that this was something that we want to discuss with President Balaguer because, among other things, there's never been any indication from the Dominican Republic that they oppose the sanctions regime or would do anything but help and assist in the enforcement of the sanctions.
Q Mike, can I ask you why -- I want to try to find out why Gallucci didn't see the Japanese in New York this afternoon as scheduled. He saw them this morning. There were to be two sessions. I don't know that you know. They're sure not saying up there.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know, Barry. I'm sorry. I knew that he planned to see the Japanese today. I didn't know he had two meetings planned, but I'll check into that.
Q One more on China, please. The Secretary said he had not made a recommendation. The way he talked, it sounds to me like he has reached his own conclusions on what ought to happen; if not, a recommendation. Can you fill us in on - - has he given his conclusions to the President as we --
MR. McCURRY: He has not. There will be a point at which he's going to send a formal recommendation to the President. He continues, as you can tell from what he said earlier, continues to discuss this issue with others in the United States Government and with leaders on Capitol Hill.
I think this is aimed at shaping a decision that will be meticulously drawn and that will be presented to the President in due course. So the Secretary, when he indicates to you that he has not forwarded his proposal to the President, it is exactly right. That has not occurred. I don't know when it will occur.
As he clearly indicated as well, the President has not made a decision based on that recommendation since it has not been received.
Q Has he not reached a conclusion on, say, the two mandatory conditions?
MR. McCURRY: He is beginning to draw some conclusions and beginning to shape the decision that he believes is the one warranted based on the facts and the review of the human rights conditions in China.
You asked specifically about a review of the two mandatory categories. That's because, I believe, there are some newspaper articles today that quote senior Administration officials saying that he's made a presentation related to the two mandatory categories. That caught people's attention, I think, because it was all said on Background.
I said that, as you recall at a briefing last week, and I don't think anyone paid much attention to it because I said it here, but it was on Background and it took on new meaning. I don't think there was anything particularly startling about this.
The Secretary has indicated, as I indicated last week, too, that the conditions in the two mandatory areas had been largely satisfied.
Q Thank you, Mike. I raised a question yesterday about a Reuters dispatch from the IAEA which looked to be contradictory to Ambassador Gallucci's testimony here on Friday. So I was able to reach him this morning. There has been quite a bit of confusion.
The IAEA Spokesman, Luther Wedekind informed me that -- he said this: that the IAEA could completely confirm Ambassador Gallucci's statement as of Friday, May 20, made at the DOS news briefing.
My question to you -- and I have a follow up, if I might. My question to you is, have you encountered confusion regarding the various aspects of the IAEA's inspection? And have you gotten to the source of this problem?
MR. McCURRY: I think there is a great deal of confusion because it is a very technical discussion. You very often hear me here say that we have to defer some of these questions that you ask of us here to the IAEA. The simple reason is that things like this, charging a nuclear reactor, withdrawing rods from channels and the technical aspects of that, are something that frankly are a very important part of the diplomacy -- the policy issues surrounding that. But they're not technical aspects that we are expert enough to comment on here.
I'm glad to hear that the IAEA fully confirms the account delivered by Ambassador Gallucci. As I think he indicated -- and we feel it very important to note -- there has been no diversion of that material in a way that would prevent the ability of the world community to analyze the spent fuel from that reactor at some future date. That's very important to us and very important to a discussion of the third round of talks that might be held between the United States and the DPRK.
I'm glad to hear there was a confirmation from that from the IAEA.
You had a follow up?
Q Yes, I did. Thank you, and I'm glad to bring that news. It gives me confidence, too.
The gentleman -- Luther Wedekind -- when I tried to pin him down and ask him if he could tell us for sure -- a hundred percent certainly -- that the rods had not been diverted either before his people got on the ground there or while they were not there at the facility, he said that there was no way they could tell that for certain until they sampled the rods. There is no for certain about diversion. That's kind of the way he put it to me.
MR. McCURRY: We would echo the importance of being able, at some later date, to take measurements from a sample of those rods.
Q Let's go back to China for a quick clarification. The Secretary will be sending a piece of paper, a formal analysis of how China's record over the past year compared to the Executive Order and that paper will contain a recommendation for what to do about MFN?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not certain I'd describe it exactly that way. I'd describe it as a report that fulfills the Secretary's obligations under the Executive Order to analyze the areas identified in the Executive Order. That will be accompanied by an analysis of what steps the United States can take to continue to advance its human rights concerns.
Q Not a recommendation?
MR. McCURRY: I'd call it a recommendation on steps that the United States might take.
Q You said the decision would be meticulously drawn. That sounds like it will be somewhat creative, coupling that with your statement last week that it doesn't have to be a thumbs up or down decision.
MR. McCURRY: When I said "meticulously drawn," I was thinking, that would be a way of describing the way a Warren Christopher would approach that issue.
Q I thought that was a good, same inference. That it's not a yes/no decision; that it's a mixed decision. Isn't that fair? It isn't hard to say, strip them of MFN or give them MFN. That's not very meticulous. But to try to thread a way between those two options would call for some meticulous lawyer-like care, particularly when it's impossible to separate government contracts from private contracts.
Are you foretelling a mixed decision?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not foretelling. I think I said last week, I didn't know that it would necessarily be a thumbs-up or thumbs-down decision. I thought that was a way of saying it a week ago.
Q Oh, I wasn't here. I was on the other end of the --
MR. McCURRY: OK. That's what I said.
Q Another subject. Can you confirm that Secretary Christopher has sent a letter to Mr. Kozyrev concerning peacekeeping operations in Azerbaijan? In fact, warning him not to send additional troops to Azerbaijan?
MR. McCURRY: We've had a very regular contact with the Russian Federation on that matter. I don't know whether we have recently sent him a letter. I know there have been exchanges with the Russian Federation on peacekeeping as it relates to Nagorno-Karabakh.
We have reiterated our own strong desire to see the CSCE sponsored process under the auspices of the so-called Minsk Group. We've reiterated our interest in seeing that process advanced, but I will have to check and maybe report to you tomorrow on a specific exchange of that nature.
Q Back to China. Could you characterize the Congressional sentiment or mood in these meetings that the Secretary had this morning?
MR. McCURRY: I think it would be best for members of Congress to reflect the sentiment. As you can imagine, given the two meetings that the Secretary described to you, there is a diversity of opinion on the issue. It ranges from those who are insistent on decoupling the question of human rights from trade issues all together and those who are equally adamant that we must continue to press very hard on human rights and continue to link it to the question of Most Favored Nation status.
It reflects, I think, the sentiment within the American public. There is a diversity of opinion. The predominant opinion within Congress has been, dating back to the Executive Order itself, very strongly in favor of continuing to use trade as a way of advancing our human rights concerns.
There's been, I would say, an overwhelming majority in Congress that reflects that sentiment. I don't know of any change in that.
The Secretary is assessing those sentiments himself, asking members of Congress exactly that same question: What is the sentiment on the Hill? We hear reported by you sometimes that there has been a change in the sentiment on the Hill. I think one of the Secretary's aims is to really have a good dialogue with members of Congress about exactly that point.
Q Mike, a follow up on an earlier question. Do you have a position -- does this Department have a position -- on whether Russia should be sending peacekeeping troops into Azerbaijan?
MR. McCURRY: We do have a position. It's the one I just stated. We believe that the activities of the Minsk Group and the process sponsored by the CSCE is the one that has the best promise of leading to a long-term solution of that conflict.
We prefer that that discussion, within the context of the CSCE, move forward.
Q Do you oppose Russia sending peacekeeping troops to Azerbaijan?
MR. McCURRY: I didn't say that. I said, we favor the CSCE process.
Q May I ask about Crimea, which is sort of related? There are a couple of leftovers from yesterday.
MR. McCURRY: On Crimea?
Q You left a couple of questions open, actually. What the security assurances are; whether the U.S. wants this in the U.N. And Kozyrev is making, apparently public statements, that Russia has no designs on Crimea. I wonder if he had communicated that officially to the Secretary?
MR. McCURRY: The conversations that we've had with the Russian Federation which have been conducted through the Embassy in Moscow reflect a lot of the things that you've alluded to that have been said publicly by senior officials from the Russian Government.
There are also discussions that are underway between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on this issue. The Acting Prime Minister from Ukraine has been in Moscow, I think since yesterday. We continue to follow very carefully, through both the Embassy in Kiev and the Embassy in Moscow, the situation on the ground as it exists.
There has been some monitoring activity by military units. We follow that. We are aware of the reports that exist. But according to the Embassy in Kiev, we have not seen any unusual military activity.
I'm told that I was largely right in the way I described the security issue yesterday. They are as reflected in the trilateral agreements signed back in January.
The U.N. --
Q Can you describe the security guarantees the United States is giving the Ukraine?
MR. McCURRY: They are just as exactly as they're stated in the trilateral statement. It consists of a mutual pledge to take action and a right of consultation.
Q Does the U.S. want this put in the U.N.? If you don't have an answer --
MR. McCURRY: I don't have on the U.N. I'll have to check further on that, Barry. I thought I had something on the U.N. but I don't see it here. I'll pursue it.
Q Anything yet on the third round of high level talks with the North Koreans? Anything out of the New York meetings?
MR. McCURRY: Other than that they met; that they will continue to discuss some of the issues related to the third round in light of the visit by the IAEA officials to North Korea. There's not anything new today.
Q Mike, as I understand it, those rods are taken out, they're put in cooling ponds and they cool for six months before they can be used to reprocess to divert, if they're going to do that reprocessing.
You seem to indicate that third round of talks could come before that. What must the North Koreans agree to in order to get that third round of talks? I'm not clear -- it seems to me that they can give assurances which they've done in the past; then you have the third round of talks and then six months from now when those rods are cool enough to go to the reprocessing plant, they can begin reprocessing the plutonium?
MR. McCURRY: No. That would suspend any dialogue. Remember, as you heard Ambassador Gallucci say here, the third round is an opportunity in a short duration of time to raise issues that are on the bilateral agenda. We have, with the DPRK -- any reprocessing of spent fuel from the rods would automatically dismiss the premise of the dialogue, to begin with, and cause the matter to return to the Security Council.
Specifically, on the third round, the IAEA has got activities that it will deem necessary in order to monitor the discharge of the spent fuels. So long as the IAEA is able to carry out those activities, we would see no obstacle to proceeding to a third round. But we would not be able to continue the dialogue if there were any indications that North Korea had taken steps that precluded the possibility of the fuel being removed from the reactor at some later date and analyzed.
That is the essence of the ability to understand the historical record of some of those fuel rods and that's instrumental in understanding the history of the program.
Q But at some point we said if they -- earlier, we had said, and Secretary Perry said and others said, if they remove the -- first, they should shut down the reactor and keep it shut down and don't take the rods out. They shouldn't take the rods out because that -- they were warned not to take the rods out by the United States and by the IAEA. They took the rods --
MR. McCURRY: You shut down the reactor in order to discharge the core so that you can technically do what the DPRK says is necessary to do for reasons of safety, which is that you've got to discharge the core that has spent fuel that is in a state of decomposition.
Those are IAEA-related issues. I'm not aware that we said, "Don't shut down the reactor." In fact, to the contrary.
Q When they shut down the reactor, our position was, they should not remove the rods; that they could keep the reactor safely shut down and not remove the rods. Because removing the rods, which is what they did in 1989, means they have plutonium to process.
So now they've taken out the rods --
MR. McCURRY: No, no, no, no. I don't believe that's accurate. You don't automatically reprocess just because you've removed the fuel rods.
Q I'm saying that they have about six months before they can work on these rods, and what will -- what kind of assurances would we have --
MR. McCURRY: By the way, I'd double-check that fact. I have seen different --
Q Well, that's what the IAEA says.
MR. McCURRY: I've seen a different time-line.
Q It takes about that long to cool.
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q And I'm trying to find out why then are we willing to hold a third round of talks if we're not yet sure that those rods, which hold plutonium, are not going to be reprocessed? How can we be sure?
MR. McCURRY: The reason is because we would like to be able to conduct a certain type of analysis of a sample of those rods to better understand the history of the reactor and the history of what happened in 1989.
If there is any indication at all that they are moving those rods away from the storage ponds they are in and into one of the reprocessing lines that exist just raises a much different issue and much different set of issues that we would have to deal with accordingly at the time. But amongst them there would be no grounds at that point to have any third round.
Q So that's the next marker on whether the IAEA can inspect those rods, see what their history is, so that they can monitor what happened in the past as well as what happens in the future.
MR. McCURRY: Even before that, Saul, the IAEA has activities that they want to conduct in order to monitor the spent fuel that has now been discharged from the reactor, and again we say that their ability to conduct those activities is instrumental in the question of the third round. As long as they can do that, there's no obstacle to a third round.
Q Awaiting their word on whether they can do that before the United States commits to that third round.
MR. McCURRY: We're waiting for two things: One, what's the status of the discussions between the IAEA and the DPRK which are occurring, I believe, today in North Korea; and then, secondly, there cannot be in that time any activity that prevents the world community from understanding at a later date some of the history of a representative sample of those rods, because that then eliminates the ability to analyze the fuel, and that would remove a premise that we have for conducting a third round.
Q So what you're saying is that --
MR. McCURRY: You can see by the nature of this, it's a highly technical set of issues related to the manner in which a reactor is discharged, and that they are instrumental in our ability to understand what is preserved -- what record is preserved in the sample of the fuel rods that exist. It becomes a very technical discussion, but it's important because they underlie some of the basic premises we have about having this dialogue.
We want to have the dialogue, because in the context of having the third round, we hope to reach certain agreements about how the world community could then better understand the history of the reactor, the history of North Korea's program and resolve certain unsettled issues about the history of the North Korean nuclear program.
Q I just wanted to find the marker beyond which they cannot go, because it seems that the marker has been moved.
MR. McCURRY: I think that any activities that prevent the IAEA from being able to monitor the spent fuel or any activities that eliminate the ability of the world community to understand some of the -- do the historical analysis of the rods themselves -- would remove some of the premise for the dialogue. They would instantly present an obstacle to that dialogue. But beyond that, it's already stated and I would hope apparent that any reprocessing activity or anything that attempts to add capacity to the program is something that would for us remove a premise for the dialogue and cause the matter to go back to the Security Council.
Q Mike, is it requisite that we should have this dialogue, this third-round dialogue, before we can get all of the arrangements in place, to get all the answers we want from North Korea?
MR. McCURRY: One purpose of the third round is to seek additional answers to the questions that we have. That's been the case all along here.
Q New subject. Middle East.
MR. McCURRY: Middle East.
Q Yasser Arafat's apparently signed an order, wiping out Israeli laws and regulations that have been applied since 1967. The Israelis say you can't do that unless we approve. What does the U.S. think?
MR. McCURRY: Haven't had a chance to look at it yet. I wasn't aware of that, and I'll look into it for tomorrow.
Q You mean you didn't know ahead of time that he was going to do this? I mean, the U.S. didn't know.
MR. McCURRY: I didn't know. I don't know whether we had advance knowledge of that or not.
Q Mike, I wonder if you can comment on the agreement with Cairo which says that Israeli law remains in Gaza and Jericho?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't looked at the issue. I don't want to get into it without looking into it further.
Q Take the question?
MR. McCURRY: I'll look into it, yes.
Q It's plain as day in that document.
MR. McCURRY: It's covered. You're right. I mean, there are aspects about the applicability of law that are addressed both in the Declaration and the implementation agreement. But I don't want to wing an answer until I look at exactly what's happened.
Q Could we do a couple more on Haiti, please? Randall Robinson said that a number of families are being exempted from the personal sanctions, meaning that their visas will not be revoked and their assets will not be frozen.
MR. McCURRY: George, I didn't have an opportunity to see a full transcript of what Mr. Robinson said, but he may have been reacting to an article that had appeared several days ago in the Los Angeles Times that suggested that. I checked into that, and I'm not aware of anything that prevents the United States from adding to the named individuals who are covered by the sanctions as we enforce the U.N.-ordered sanctions. This is specifically on travel restrictions and assets freeze.
I think we are monitoring ways in which we can make that device or that pressure more effective, including the question of how do you add additional people into the list of those who are covered. That technically is an issue the Treasury Department deals with most frequently, because they administer issues related to assets freezes and that type of sanction -- the application of sanction in that case.
But, if I'm not mistaken, I do believe that we have been looking at the issue of adding additional named individuals to the sanctions regime. So Mr. Robinson may have been reacting to that report that was in the L.A. Times that I was prepared to say is not necessarily reflecting where we are.
As near as I can tell, the article reflected what it was in fact the case prior to the imposition of the new sanctions. That was an accurate reflection of where we were several months ago, but I think the policy has changed in a fairly major way since then, and we are looking for ways to apply specific pressure, especially on those who can be in a position to convince the Haitian military that they've got to get out and live up to their obligations.
Q Do you have anything more on refugee repatriations or on your quest for countries to cooperate in refugee reprocessing?
MR. McCURRY: You probably saw we put out a statement on some of the conversations with Turks and Caicos last night. That was the latest update on that. I think there are other discussions that continue, and we've got on interdiction information just more numbers which I can run through what the latest is on that. Is that useful?
MR. McCURRY: Okay. This will be since May 8, 1,353 Haitians have been repatriated. These include 93 Haitians interdicted on Friday, of whom 85 were repatriated on Saturday. There were two boats with 157 and 27 Haitians respectively that were interdicted over the weekend and repatriated yesterday.
There were 59 Haitians interdicted yesterday who will be repatriated this morning.
Q The bottom line is that there's been a substantial increase in the number of interceptions or interdictions since the new policy was announced, although it's not yet been implemented.
MR. McCURRY: There has been an increase in the number of boat departures from Haiti in the last ten days. The aspects of how you process individuals who are interdicted have not been put in place, and again I would emphasize that in the interim it makes no sense for anyone to attempt to leave Haiti illegally by a craft that is going to run into danger on the high seas and most likely, if apprehended, will be repatriated. It makes much more sense to go through the process that exists on land and to give us the time that it is going to take and that we said it would take to put new procedures into place.
Q And those words in the interim -- are those words that you would wish to reconsider in the cold light of day?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry, say again.
Q You said in the interim it makes no sense for them to flee. Are those words that you want to think again about?
MR. McCURRY: If there are people who have got a well- founded fear of persecution at this very minute, who fear for their lives or their safety in light of an ongoing pattern of human rights abuses, then they should immediately make contact with the processing centers or with an official of the U.S. Embassy; and we have a process in place in Haiti to immediately process that type of concern -- to address that type of concern.
That would be the way to do it. To run out and get on a boat that probably won't make it to any destination that counts doesn't seem to me to be a sensible thing to do.
Q Yesterday I asked a couple of questions but you didn't have concrete answers for about the eight Haitians who were taken to "Gitmo," and also about the report of shots being fired you had heard about but didn't know a lot about. Anything on that?
MR. McCURRY: On the eight cases that are being processed at Guantanamo, there was a repatriation incident on Saturday that involved -- I've heard two different numbers -- somewhere between 70 and 90 Haitians that were interdicted. Those I referred to earlier.
Of those, there were some individuals cases of particular individuals that we determined might be in immediate and exceptionally grave physical danger if they were returned to Haiti. Under those circumstances and pursuant to the policy guidelines that are now in place, those persons are not immediately repatriated, and in that case the eight individuals -- because it worked out logistically at the time, they were taken to Guantanamo Bay. Final decisions on their disposition have not been made. They are now in contact with U.S. authorities who are processing their individual cases.
On the issue of the warning shots fired at a -- this is a Bahamian-flag vessel. I'll tell you a little more. I've learned a little more about that.
On May 19, a Bahamian-flag vessel was stopped actually by one of the Canadian participants in the maritime interception force. It was diverted from Haiti, as they frequently do with these vessels when they are interdicted and they're suspected of carrying contraband, they are diverted away from Haiti. That in most cases is what happens.
In this particular case, the vessel continued towards Haiti. It was then observed on May 21 by a U.S. Naval ship. The vessel at this point was sort of hugging the coast, looking for a place to port, and the U.S. ship radioed the vessel, requested it to stop and prepare to receive an inspection team. The ship ignored the request. The Navy vessel fired warning shots over the bow of the ship. The ship still did not stop. At that point the ship was roughly 800 yards away, and I gather that the commander of the naval vessel decided that any further action at that point to try to stop the vessel or disable the vessel might endanger those on shore.
We know where this ship is. When the ship leaves the port, it will be intercepted, and we are also discussing the issue with the Government of the Bahamas, since it's a Bahamian-flag vessel.
Q Can you give us the name of the U.S. naval ship involved and the date that the shots were fired?
MR. McCURRY: Charlie, I don't have that. I suspect they've got -- I think they were prepared to address this same question over at the Pentagon, so they may have already gotten into that over there. By the way, I think this is maybe the second incident in which there have been warning shots fired just in recent days, or since the new sanctions regime went into effect.
There was another incident, I am told, more recently than that. I just don't have the latest information on that. Betsy says last night, and I think that's one that I heard about from the Pentagon this morning, so my guess is that they addressed that. There were two prior incidents before the most recent package of sanctions went into effect.
Q Back on Guantanamo, does the processing of these eight people represent a reopening of the Guantanamo processing center?
MR. McCURRY: No, not at all. That action is authorized and is considered appropriate already under the long-standing guidance that we've got concerning repatriation. It does not represent a change of policy.
Q If I could just follow that up. A number of American immigration lawyers who are interested in the Haitian refugee problem and have volunteered their services, say that as long as processing is done on ships, whether it - - as they say, whether it's the QE-2 or the Ukrainian love boat, it is inherently unfair, because they can't represent people -- these people cannot have legal representation while on the ship just for logistical reasons, and they say the only way to get around that is, obviously, to find a land- based place. And they say the obvious place that the U.S. could use is Guantanamo. They've done it before, and, when they did it before, actually these same sorts of lawyers were shuttling down there and providing services, and they would like to do it again.
MR. McCURRY: We share many of those concerns. As you know, that's exactly why we are looking for on-shore facilities to conduct this type of processing and why we would prefer to do it in a -- preferably in a third country where we can have facilities on land. So we're pursuing that option now. I believe I understand the concerns of the attorneys that you cite, and I'll look in to see if there's any other explanation we have. But I know in the past they've been encouraged to help those maintain their rights under U.S. law when they are going through the processing itself.
Q One follow-up. They would actually -- these attorneys would like a commitment from the U.S. Government to basically allow them to represent these people, however this works out. They think that without that, this is rather a hollow offer.
MR. McCURRY: I'll look into it. These are people who obviously are donating their own time or volunteering their own time and willing to take on pro bono, representing some of these folks. And I think that's a very sensible area for me to make some inquiries into and see if I can get an answer on whether or not there's a possibility of extending that type of offer.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:08 p.m.) (###)
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