US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JUNE 17, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, June 17, 1994 Briefers: Robert Gallucci Christine Shelly NORTH KOREA President Carter's Discussions with Kim Il-song . 1- 5,10-11 -- Statement of US Position .................... 1- 5,10-11 US Conditions for Third Round of Talks .......... 1- 2,5,10 US Briefing of President Carter before Visit .... 5 Sanctions/UN Discussions ........................ 5- 6 Military Options ................................ 6,9-10 Defueling of Reactor ............................ 6 US Contacts ..................................... 6- 8 Prospects of Nuclear/Chemical Weapons ........... 8- 9 NATO Secretary's Trip to NAC Meeting ................. 11-12 RUSSIA Secretary's Meeting with Foreign Minister ....... 11-12 HAITI Boat People/Refugee Processing Off Jamaica/Other 12-14 POPULATION CONFERENCE Position of Holy See ............................ 14
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 1994, 2:21 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm pleased to see so many of you attending our briefing today. We are beginning a bit late in order to accommodate the schedule of our star attraction today, Mr. Robert Gallucci, the Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, and also, as you know, the Chair of the Administration's senior policy steering group on Korea. He'll start the briefing and I will take questions on other subjects at the end.
Bob, it's all yours.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I think I'll spare you an opening statement and stand for questions.
Q Could you interpret for us the remarks of former President Carter aboard President Kim's ship?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: No, I don't think I could interpret them. I've heard them reported. I'm not exactly clear on what the message is. I'm not exactly clear on either one about what's been said and what we are supposed to understand.
I think the best way for me to respond to that is ask what you understand that he said and then I could respond to that rather than me trying to interpret what he said.
Q Has there been a misunderstanding between President Carter and the Administration about the Administration's conditions for going to a third round of talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I guess I would say I don't know whether there is or not. Certainly, there is no ambiguity, I think, in the statement we made yesterday that I read. That statement has not changed. I don't think it's an ambiguous statement. We said that if the North Koreans mean to convey that they are prepared to defer reprocessing, defer refueling the reactor and maintain the continuity of safeguards, then we would be prepared to go to a third round.
What I can't speak to is what sort of transpired between the former President and President Kim Il-song. So I don't know whether there is a misunderstanding. I would say there's certainly no question about what we said yesterday. That I can speak to, definitively. But I can't speak to what they said or what they understand.
Q What have you been able to determine in the last 18 or 20 hours about what North Korea's intentions or lack of intentions are? That was the big question yesterday. Have you made any progress in trying to nail them down?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: We've made a determination or a decision that we would wait until we got a readout from President Carter after he had left North Korea so that we would have all the information we could have before us before we followed up, as we said we would yesterday, in a diplomatic channel with North Korea. So I anticipate that could be as early as Monday or Tuesday, assuming that we have good conversations, clear conversations, with President Carter tomorrow or Sunday.
Q So you've had no additional communication with the North Koreans through any of the channels to verify aspects of what President Carter allegedly heard?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: That's correct, although there's certainly a tone in your voice of incredulity of that. I don't mind the incredulity if you're simply surprised, and I don't have to wonder at the surprise. If you are surprised as to "how incompetent can they get," then I am concerned about it because I really think the prudent thing to do is for us to get a readout from President Carter before we go back to the North Koreans.
Any number of people have pointed out that there can be communications problems between anyone in North Korea. I think getting as close to a full readout before we proceed is really a prudent thing.
Q Where is Carter going after he leaves Pyongyang? And do you intend to talk to him in person or by telephone?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I may not be as definitive on this point as I'd like to be. Certainly, he's going to Seoul when he leaves Pyongyang. Where he goes from Seoul -- he comes back to the United States, I'm not exactly sure what his itinerary is.
I know the President will talk to him. I don't know what plans there are. I guess I'd have to direct you to the White House about what's the modality of the conversation. I simply don't know.
Q But in setting out your scenario as to when you might be able to sort of evaluate Pyongyang's proposals, you'll do that by talking to him by telephone and then have some sort of decision on Monday?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: Carol, I don't know how the conversations will proceed. I have high confidence that since the President said yesterday he was going to talk to President Carter after President Carter left Pyongyang, I know that will happen. I don't know exactly when it will happen. I know it will happen soon. I'm virtually certain it will happen over the weekend. Somebody certainly will be talking to President Carter over the weekend. I assume thereafter, as that conversation is completed, then we think we have a good, clear appreciation for the message that he carries, then we will ourselves follow up just as quickly as we possibly can. I anticipate that will be Monday or Tuesday.
Q Was President Carter authorized to make concessions to the North Koreans on behalf of the United States such as we would call off the dogs at the U.N. if (inaudible)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: You recall that President Carter went in a private capacity. You recall he was invited by Kim Il- song. You also recall, I know, that we briefed President Carter.
President Carter's own statements and our statements have repeatedly emphasized that it was a private visit. In the course of saying that, everybody is aware this is a former President of the United States and with that standing, if the North Koreans decided to convey a message to him, we certainly are going to listen to that message very carefully and evaluate it.
President Carter carried no message from us, no message from the President to convey -- either concessions nor threats; no message. So I hope that is a clear answer to that question.
Q Have there been any consultations with President Carter since he has been there? In other words, he made one statement the day before yesterday -- or yesterday, rather. Then he comes around and he says something indicating, at least, that he's had some sort of consultations or some sort of discussions, or whatever. Has anybody from the Administration been in contact with him?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: Before President Carter spoke in this context, which I'm not fully whiting about -- whatever exactly that context is -- and immediately before, in fact, I read the statement that I did yesterday -- the Administration's position yesterday -- we talked to former President Carter on the telephone so that he would know what it is we were saying with regard to the message that he had passed to us earlier in the day.
After that I, myself, am unaware of any other contacts he had with any member of the Administration.
Q It must have been a phone connection, I guess. I'm sort of curious to know how he got so badly wrong the message that you read out yesterday; if you have any theory about that.
I'm also wondering sort of who briefed him before he left, and how many people briefed him, at least, on the State Department side and for how long and how he seemed to misunderstand what you said this morning was still our position and what you said yesterday our position was?
And then, secondly, the South Koreans have said today, according to wire accounts, anyway - -
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: You're asking me to keep a lot in my head.
Q This will be short.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: Okay, it's your problem.
Q That high-level talks -- as a condition for high-level talks, we are insisting that North Korea go back into the IAEA. I'm wondering if that's correct? Or was there a bad phone conversation there, too?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I'm not aware of a bad phone conversation. I myself do not believe I can say that I have an authoritative account of what President Carter has said until I hear it from President Carter outside of North Korea. Then, I think I will have to say it's an authoritative position of the former President about what he understands to be true or what he said to Kim Il-song. I really want to wait for that.
This is kind of an extended version of sort of a maximum of operational affairs. When you're in government or other large organizations, first reports are always wrong. What I want to do is just wait until we can find out exactly what he said.
Probably the question, as you put it, would have to best be put to President Carter. I don't believe what we said yesterday was ambiguous. I'm not sure that I know what President Carter has said. So I really can't, on that point, go any further.
With respect to the briefing of President Carter, I was involved in that but so were a lot of other experts. What we wanted to do was to make sure that, as a former President of the United States, he was aware of the issues involved, at least, as the Administration understands them.
As you know, President Carter is extremely active and was well aware of many of the issues, had a good base of knowledge. Some of the details of the discussions, perhaps, we were able to fill in for him, but we think we provided him a good briefing. I don't think I want to go into how many people, how many hours.
I do want to say that we did our best to provide a good briefing for him. Questions about how good, I think are best addressed to him rather than those of us who are responsible for providing the briefing.
There was a third question. The third question had to do with whether or not there was a condition for a third round that related to the North Korean membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency. No, that is not correct.
Q Could you lay out for us what is happening on the sanctions front while you're waiting to hear from former President Carter?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: What I understand is happening -- and I haven't talked to Ambassador Albright today -- but what I understand is happening is that she is consulting now with the non-permanent members of the Security Council. I don't mean to the exclusion of the permanent members, but the circle has widened so that those discussions about the substance of the resolution can proceed.
I remind you, please, that we anticipate that those discussions are going to go on for some time, and we anticipated many states would have their own views about what ought to be in such a resolution, so there's nothing at all unusual about that.
Q There was a reference in your briefing yesterday to both the President and his advisers discussing recommendations from the Pentagon for possible military options, I believe, or perhaps it was in a President's statement. But at any rate what is the state of that and does that go on hold as well until after you and President Carter have talked after he leaves Pyongyang?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I'm pretty sure I didn't talk about possible military options yesterday, and I can't exclude that the President didn't make reference to a review which goes on virtually every day of the security situation in South Korea, and the President wanting to be sure that he is aware of the requirements that General Luck has conveyed through General Shalikashvili and Secretary of Defense Perry. And certainly the military situation was discussed, and beyond that I just cannot go.
Q Can I follow up on the sanctions question? Various State Department officials, I think including you, have said that the degree and kind and timing of the sanctions will depend largely on North Korean behavior.
Is there a de facto slowing down of the actual consultation process now while this government waits to see whether the North Koreans are sincere, are acting in good will?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: The first part of the question is about the relationship of North Korean behavior to the sanctions resolution. The structure of the resolution is such that it is in two phases, and after the first phase of sanctions become operative, the second phase would be triggered by specific acts the North might take which would further jeopardize peace and security in Asia. The objective here clearly is to deter the North Koreans from causing the situation to further deteriorate. That's the sense or the way in which these two things are linked.
The answer to the second part is no, they're not linked in such a way so that our consultations are in any way affected as a result of yesterday's events. Consultations are proceeding.
Q Can you tell us the status of -- as far as you understand it of the defueling of the reactor at this point? Are they completed with that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I think I'm going to have to say I think they have completed defueling and they are cleaning up around the reactor area. Let me look over at one of my experts.
(TO STAFF) Is that correct? They have. What they are doing now, we understand, is the normal cleanup when one has a defueling operation of a reactor and it is proceeding but the fuel is all out of the reactor and in the pond.
Q Two questions. Thank you, Ambassador Gallucci. The first question has to do with Mr. Selig Harrison and Donald Gregg, who were on the MacNeil/Lehrer report on Monday, and a reported -- somewhat what Mr. Carter has been reporting, some very optimistic news from Kim Il-sung. Have you had occasion to speak with either of those gentlemen, and do you think there's a correspondence here between what Mr. Carter has garnered?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I have spoken to both in the past, if you mean subsequent to Sig's return from North Korea. No, I was to see him at lunch, I thought, today, but he had a media obligation and missed lunch. I was at Carnegie for the lunch, so I missed him, and I was looking forward in fact to talking to him and asking him, I think, the kinds of questions you'd expect I'd want to.
I've made it a point to try and speak to people who have been in North Korea and to get as much insight, not only from official sources but also from unofficial sources.
Q But I had another question.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: Okay, go ahead.
Q Thank you. This is for Mr. Lee who couldn't be here today. The working group -- Mr. Christopher said last night on MacNeil/Lehrer that the working group would initiate within 48 hours in New York. Do you know if indeed have they made arrangements, have they met, are they going to meet? When and where? This is the North Korean-U.S. working group, I believe.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: You're going to have to help me a little more here.
Q Can anybody else help me?
Q Working level.
Q He said that you would be making a contact with the person that -- with whom you spoke in July. At least that was my impression.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: Let me tell you what I anticipate will happen, and I can't speak to what the Secretary said, but you can be sure after this briefing I'll go find out, and then I'm sure we'll get on with doing it.
But what I anticipated we would do is, as I said, wait for the former President to come back, talk to him and then immediately get into a diplomatic channel. And while I can't say that we have definitively decided the mode, I would anticipate that given the New York channel has been used in the past and is available to us, that we would use that channel to try to follow up on the message that we received from the North Koreans.
Q But just to clarify, not at your level but at the level that's been pursued in the past?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: So that there's no ambiguity about this, or less ambiguity anyway, that channel is used to pass messages almost of all kinds, and I have in the past communicated by letter with Vice Foreign Minister Kang and he has written to me. But not all communications are letters from me to Kang, so we haven't decided on, as we love to say in diplomatic circles, the modality here just yet.
Q Bob, given the fact that you've been dealing with the North Koreans off and on for the last year or so, did the events in the last few days in North Korea between President Carter and the North Koreans surprise you, not surprise you? Can you characterize your reaction to it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I'm getting harder and harder to surprise, I think, as time goes by. I guess at one level I am not surprised that the North Koreans took the opportunity of the visit of a former President of the United States to -- I guess the right words are "send a message." What we don't know, really, is the meaning of that message, and particularly what we don't know is whether the message they intend to send is really one in which one can see a desire, in fact, to re- establish a dialogue; but that something came out of this, that a meeting between Kim Il-sung and President Carter came out of it, no, of course, we're not surprised by that.
Q I'd like to ask for an update. What is your latest estimate on how many nuclear bombs the North Koreans might have, if any, and do you have any statistics you can give to us on the number that perhaps has been exported, or any nuclear material exported by them or biological material, chemical material, over the past year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: What we know about the North Korean nuclear program is that there's a very good chance that the North Koreans have separated more plutonium than they have declared, and they may have separated enough material for one or possibly two nuclear weapons. It is possible that they have not only separated that plutonium, but then went on to fabricate the implosion system and make nuclear devices or nuclear weapons. We don't know that that that's happened. It is possible that it's happened.
We -- or at least I should be more careful -- I at least am unaware of any cooperation between North Korea and any other country in the nuclear area of any kind, never mind any significant kind.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: Of any kind. Let me back up just slightly and say I'm excluding, of course, the research reactor and associated facilities supplied by Russia a long time ago, then the Soviet Union. But I am unaware of anything in anything like the recent past certainly being exported. But let me take the opportunity of that question to say that what we are aware of is North Korean cooperation with other countries in the area of ballistic missiles, and that is a real concern to us and something we would like to see stopped.
Q What about chemical and biological? There's been talk about that, too.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I am unaware of any cooperation between North Korea and other countries in the chemical or biological area. In saying that, I don't mean to exclude the possibility. It is possible that it's happened. It's a possibility from the fact that we have known about it and even spoken to it on the record. It's just simply at this moment I am unaware of it.
Q Mr. Gallucci, three senior members of the Bush Administration have now in editorial comments urged the Administration to basically bomb the reprocessing plant in North Korea. I was wondering if you could tell us what you see as the down side of that policy option? (Laughter)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I served in the Bush Administration with those individuals, actually in my current capacity. One could say that there was the opportunity to do it then, too, if one regards that as an opportunity. What I would say about this is that -- let me just be very careful here -- this Administration has said that it is not ruling in or ruling out any option for the future.
Our policy, however, has been clear, and that is that we are seeking to resolve the nuclear issue through negotiations in the first instance. If we cannot directly do that, then we are going to proceed to sanctions. We would hope those sanctions would convince North Korea to come into compliance with its treaty obligations or move them back to the table to talk about that. That's the policy. It doesn't exclude other possibilities in the future.
Since you ask about the possible down side, as you put it, of military strikes, it is certainly quite possible that a military confrontation of any kind -- never mind a strike -- could escalate, and that that escalation could lead to a general war on the Korean peninsula. And we have gone to a great deal of trouble to try to deter war on the Korean peninsula by not only the deployment of our troops and equipment but also the South Koreans have gone to a great deal of trouble to have their forces ready and equipped to deter a conflict.
And then moreover, we have gone to a great deal of trouble to have both our forces in a position to defend South Korea, should a conflict erupt. That said, I don't know any analyst who looks at the Korean situation and could see anything other than a situation if a war were to erupt in which there would be many, many casualties. And while I may be belaboring the obvious here, if one were looking at the down side of doing something like that, it is undoubtedly the first one that should come to mind -- the potential cost in human life.
Q Bob, as a political matter, if North Korea meets your conditions for a third round, will you suspend consultations in New York on sanctions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I think that we said yesterday that if we do go to a third round, if the bases for a third round is re- established, then, of course, we would, in New York, suspend the activity and not be actively consulting on the sanctions resolution.
The sanctions resolution would always be a possibility if such discussions did not produce results, but of course we'd do that.
Q Did you make that clear to President Carter yesterday?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: I would like to say obviously yes, but I'm afraid I can't remember everything that was said yesterday. I really don't recall. I'm sorry.
Q Did the Administration in anyway, regardless of what was said to President Carter, give him the authority to make a statement about the United States' position on sanctions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: Again, President Carter is on a private visit. We don't give him the authority to make statements, and it's just not the nature of the relationship.
MS. SHELLY: Last question.
Q Has President Carter's mission been helpful to the Administration?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GALLUCCI: What I think I can say clearly about this is that we welcome President Carter's effort. It was an effort aimed at peace. We applaud that effort. Whether in substance he has come out with a message on which we can build, all we can say is we hope so. We'll look at it very closely, and, if it is something on which we can build, we'll try to build.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.
(Asst Secretary Gallucci's briefing concluded at 2:45 p.m.)
Q Filing break?
MS SHELLY: I don't know. What do you guys think? You're going anyway? (Laughter)
I have a really important announcement that Carol Giacomo of Reuters is going to miss.
I will begin with one announcement actually. Secretary of State Warren Christopher will depart Washington on Tuesday, June 21, to attend the North Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22. The Secretary will also have a bilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev prior to the NAC meeting on a range of issues of mutual concern.
For the moment, Brussels is the only scheduled stop. There is a signup sheet posted in the Press Office for correspondents who wish to accompany the Secretary on this trip. The signup sheet will come down at close of business -- that's 5:00 o'clock -- today. So you have exactly two hours and 15 minutes for those of you who need a filing break to sign up for the trip.
Those of you who have signed up will be notified by phone whether or not a seat is available for you to travel as soon as possible.
Q What are the possibilities of other stops?
MS. SHELLY: That is a question that I am absolutely not in a position to answer. We'll keep you informed as developments unroll.
Q Thank you, Christine. On the subject of Kozyrev, Kozyrev's comments concerning the sanctions. The Russians are saying they're being left out. They're unhappy about this. They're feathers are ruffled again. Is this for real, or is this something he's doing for local consumption or are we going to remedy this?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not doing Korea. As I said, the news I have to impart on Kozyrev is what I've just mentioned, which is a bilateral meeting is coming up, and I'm not doing the Korea issue since Bob Gallucci was out here.
Q Specifically on Haiti -- new numbers, more processing going on?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I've got a little bit more on that. Also, I'm not sure that we were able to give you a complete picture yesterday about trends. I've been trying to pull together some information on that to share with you as well.
What I can tell you in terms of updates on interdictions, there were no interdictions yesterday, June 16. The last interdiction was June 15, when 35 Haitian boat people were interdicted in the international waters off the coast of Haiti.
As you know, these were transferred to the USNS Comfort located in the Kingston Harbor. This was the first group of boat people to be processed at the newly established facility.
Of the 35, six were found to be refugees and 29 were determined not to be refugees. Those who have been denied refugee status will be repatriated in the next couple of days.
You asked about trends on this. I've had to try to go back and get a picture of the last few weeks on this because I was trying to determine if we could really say something about the trend. It's still very difficult, certainly in terms of the -- since the processing centers have been up and running, we cannot make any evaluation of trends. It's simply too soon for that.
But in terms of the more recent timeframe, particularly since the President's May 8 announcement, the interdictions of boat people have really fluctuated rather considerably, and I don't think we can develop a trend.
What I can tell you -- just to give you some illustrations of this -- between May 8 and June 16, 1,980 Haitian boat people were interdicted. So that's the total picture between May 8 and June 16.
One thousand three hundred and seventy-two were interdicted between May 11 and May 23. Then there was a period of no interdictions between May 24 through May 30. Then between May 30 and June 2, there were another 177. Then there were no Haitians interdicted between June 3 and June 7. Then, again, on June 8, 396 were interdicted and there were no interdictions from June 9 through June 14. As I mentioned already 35 were interdicted on June 15.
Just in terms of the last few weeks, I don't think you really can come up with a trend. There are some departures, there are some waves, and then there are periods of time where no interdictions are occurring.
Q No trend would be the seven weeks preceding May 8 compared with the 7 weeks which have transpired since May 8?
MS. SHELLY: I can go back and get you a pre-May 8 figures, if you think that would be useful. Again, I was trying to get a picture of what the timeframe, since the announcement, has been. As you know, there is no change in the criteria which are being used to assess whether or not someone qualifies for refugee status, so that part has not changed. I'll have to go back and see, prior to the May 8 announcement, whether there was any discernible trend at that time.
The only other thing I can really add to this, I guess is, I did pull together a figure on the approval rate because I think there was a question on that as well. Between February 1992 and June 4, 1994, INS officers interviewed 16,374 Haitians. Of this number, 3,636 were approved for refugee status with the remainder of 12,000 and some being denied. So that period -- sorry?
Q Could you do those numbers again, please?
MS. SHELLY: This is between February 1992 and June 4, 1994. There were 16,374 Haitians who were interviewed. Of this number, 3,636 were approved for refugee status and the balance being denied. What this constitutes is a 22 percent approval rating for those who were interviewed for refugee status.
Q Concerning a matter I asked about last week, that being the meeting of the Population Conference in September. All the Cardinals present in Rome earlier this week concurred with Pope John Paul II to ask basically that the population agenda be altered significantly.
Q (inaudible) I had a choice not to attend, I expect. They all went along with the Pope. So there's solidarity in the church about this -- about this matter.
I have seen an article by Tim Wirth, or at least some quotes by Tim Wirth in yesterday's Post about there being a gross misunderstanding about what the U.S. program is, what the State Department is going to propose and what the Catholic church thinks they're going to propose.
My question to you, Christine, is, is the State Department -- is the Clinton Administration aware that the Catholic church has been informed by dozens and dozens of sources and hundreds and hundreds of messages that allegedly heaven is saying that abortion and abortion -- yes -- and the birth control methods are anathema to heaven and many serious warnings have been brought forward?
MS. SHELLY: The people who work the population issue here are certainly aware of all sides of the issue. We have put out the Administration's position on this in several different places, several different times. I don't have anything new to report to you. The people who work the issue clearly stay in touch with the whole range of views on the issues.
Q Is the State Department aware of these warnings that the church has been receiving on the issue?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sure that it is.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Before we completely close, may I also send our best wishes to Alan Elsner whose last briefing is with us today. We wish him every success in his new endeavors, and we appreciate your interest in the State Department press briefing process. Good luck, Alan.
(Press briefing concluded 2:55 p.m.)
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