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________________________________________________________
 
 
 
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
August 12, 1994
 
 
 
                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                       DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
 
                            I N D E X
 
                    Friday, August, 12 1994
 
 
                        Briefers:  John Holum
                                   David Johnson
 
 
ARMS CONTROL
   Opening Remarks of ACDA Director John Holum .....1-2
   Conference on Disarmament/Membership ............2-5
   Nuclear Tests/China/UK/US .......................2-5
   Russian Detargeting .............................5
   Iranian Nuclear Program .........................6
   Diversion of Nuclear Material ...................7
 
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
   Israeli-Syrian Discussions ......................7
 
CUBA
   Reason for Flight of Citizens ...................7-8
   Hijacking of Government Boat/Investigation ......8-9
   US Immigration Policy/In-Country Processing .....10-13
   Relations with US ...............................13-14
 
NORTH KOREA
   Talks in Geneva .................................14-15
 
 

DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPC #117

FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 1994, 12:47 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Before we begin our regular State Department briefing today, we have a guest briefer, John Holum, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Mr. Holum is the Administration's point man for negotiating a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and an extension to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Last week he traveled to Geneva to urge the delegates negotiating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament to move ahead quickly upon reaching agreement.

Mr. Holum was an attorney at the Washington office of O'Malveney and Myers before joining the Administration. He was a defense and foreign policy adviser to President Clinton's 1992 campaign, and he served in the Department's Policy Planning Staff from 1979 to 1981.

Mr. Holum.

MR. HOLUM: Thank you, David. Let me just open with a few remarks, reporting on my trip. President Clinton has what I consider to be an ambitious arms control agenda. Last July in particular he determined that the United States should take the lead in pursuing a comprehensive test-ban, which the U.S. had resisted for a number of years. At that time in July he embraced and renewed the U.S. moratorium on our own testing, and he extended that again in March, suggesting that if we can negotiate a comprehensive test ban in Geneva, the United States in fact will be finished with nuclear testing for all time.

The test ban has been under negotiation in Geneva since January in the Conference on Disarmament, and I was privileged to address the opening session in January. At that time, I expressed the President's view that this should be achieved -- that the results should be achieved at the earliest possible time.

I went back to Geneva last week at the request of the President and addressed the plenary session, further confirming our interest in rapid progress and confirming also that the earliest possible time means take only the time necessary, negotiating in good faith to conclude a sound treaty. I met and had extensive briefings with our delegation to the Conference on Disarmament and also met with all the other nuclear weapons states, with a wide variety of additional delegations -- probably half of the 38 member countries to the Conference on Disarmament.

I met also with the Ambassador who chairs the ad hoc committee that is in charge of the test ban -- Miguel Marin Bosch, the Ambassador from Mexico.

I concluded and reported to the President on the basis of that trip that work is proceeding very intensively. We obviously want dramatic progress in the next few months. No one now is preventing progress in the Conference on Disarmament. The U.S. delegation is aggressively carrying out the President's instructions and trying to push the process forward.

I expect that there will be a considerable amount of work done in the intercessional period -- the period after the Conference on Disarmament adjourns September 7 and before it reconvenes again next January. I also anticipate that by the end of this current session on September 7, there will be a Chairman's working draft that will focus work during the period after the conference adjourns.

I am convinced, based on these discussions, that we can have substantial progress by next spring, and the United States will do all it can to advance that effort. I'd be happy to take your questions.

Q Ambassador Holum, you say that everybody is cooperating. Can one infer that the Chinese are now actively cooperating with this?

MR. HOLUM: I would not characterize the Chinese participation that way. What I said was -- and I think it's a fair characterization, that no one is now preventing progress that would otherwise be made. The working groups are addressing the issues of verification, which is a very difficult issue; entry into force; scope; and a variety of other treaty terms; and at this point no political decision by any single country is holding up progress.

I'm not saying that will prove to be the case indefinitely, but that's the case now.

Q In other words, the Chinese could put a spoke through -- put a stick through the spokes so that we'll stumble sometime later.

MR. HOLUM: We're hoping that that won't happen, but we can't predict what will happen, particularly among the P-5 countries. We're negotiating among ourselves or discussing among ourselves the various issues before they're aired openly in the Conference on Disarmament, and that process is also going well.

The countries -- all five of the nuclear powers -- I think are actively engaged in the negotiations.

Q Can you say the Chinese have indicated a willingness to participate in a comprehensive test-ban and not to test anymore until that is passed?

MR. HOLUM: I can say yes to the first and no to the second. We are anticipating, and we deplore it, that the Chinese will conduct some additional tests. I would expect that they would, and we are strongly encouraging them not to do that.

At the same time, the Chinese did join in a consensus at the United Nations last year in favor of negotiating a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and they have said separately from that that they are prepared to join a comprehensive test-ban in 1996.

Q Are there any strings attached with this? Is it unconditional?

MR. HOLUM: Yes, it is unconditional.

Q Dr. Holum, what is the objective of the Chinese nuclear weapons program, specifically in their testing? And, secondly, this latest test that they did earlier this year, we never got any information regarding the yield or the type of device or any feedback at all from them. What are they about?

MR. HOLUM: There's not much I can tell you on that, based on open sources. But it appears that they are engaged in a continuous program that has a finite duration by 1996. What the specific purpose of it is, I guess you'd have to ask the Chinese.

Q (Inaudible) What makes you think they'll stop in 1996?

MR. HOLUM: They've said they would. They said they're prepared to join a comprehensive test ban in 1996.

Q Are you coming under any pressure in this country or from Britain to have a few last-gasp tests, even mini-tests, to prove weapons and such?

MR. HOLUM: The United States is committed, based on the President's decision last July to continue the moratorium and negotiate a test ban. At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that within that framework and under a test ban, we would expect -- and I assume the other nuclear weapon states will as well -- to maintain the right to maintain our existing stockpiles; not to develop new weapons but to make sure that our existing stockpiles are safe and reliable until such time as there is a separate decision, if that ever comes, to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely.

So there will be a stockpile maintenance program that will include a number of activities, but no one is proposing that we conduct a continuous series of nuclear tests.

The United Kingdom, since they test in the United States, is pretty much bound to the same rules that we establish for ourselves, and I have not seen any indication or heard any in discussions with them that they are resistant to that.

Q Can you maintain and verify the U.S. stock without tests?

MR. HOLUM: Yes. And that's not necessarily my expertise. We rely on the Department of Energy for that conclusion. Secretary O'Leary has made it quite clear that we do not need tests to ensure the safety and reliability of our stockpile.

Q The 12 years during that Reagan-Bush period we listened to -- some of us who were here listened to government official after government official unanimously tell us how important it was to keep testing; that the weapons would be dangerous. I mean, they're not going to be any more dangerous than to make them available for use.

But on reflection now you've had this ban for a year. Have you lost anything by having a moratorium? Has there been any downside to this, any negative fallout fall out? (Laughter)

MR. HOLUM: I --

Q I mean, we listened for 12 years of a relentless -- it was theology. I mean, it was theology without commentary. It was just thundering declamations that the U.S. had to test for the good of mankind.

MR. HOLUM: There were a variety of arguments. One of those arguments that continues to have salience -- and you hear quite frequently -- is assuming that things turn sour some years out and that the test ban doesn't work or the non-proliferation treaty regimes disintegrate, and there becomes a time when we might want to resume testing and develop new systems -- we have to maintain the level of effort, the scientific and technical base, for being able to do that.

So there is a genuine concern in terms of how do you keep up your capability. But I think there are ways to do that, including the stockpile maintenance program, that don't involve testing. Obviously, we don't need the same level of scientific and industrial capability that we had during the height of the arms race, but we will maintain a sufficient level of effort to responsibly maintain our stockpiles.

Q To what extent are new nuclear nations like the Ukraine involved in the talks in this process?

MR. HOLUM: They aren't members. They can be observers in the Conference on Disarmament and have been supportive of the program -- of the comprehensive test ban.

Q They were there and participating?

MR. HOLUM: I'm not sure if the Ukrainians are on the scene. I'd have to check. The Conference on Disarmament is made up of 38 member countries, and then other countries who wish to participate as observers, and they can do everything but join in consensus. I'll have to check and get back to you.

Q I can I ask a related -- maybe it's not even a related question, but the detargeting pledge that was taken at the Moscow summit. Is there evidence that it is being observed. Are you satisfied that the U.S. isn't targeted any more by weapons on Ukrainian or Russian or Kazakh, whatever?

MR. HOLUM: Yes. There's no reason to believe that it's not being observed, but nobody also ever suggested that the detargeting pledge was verifiable or irreversible. It was a confidence-building measure for both sides to make clear that if what is exceedingly unlikely now and has always been quite unlikely -- an accidental launch -- wouldn't damage anyone.

But it's not arms control per se. It's really confidence-building.

Q Dr. Holum, earlier this week a leading Iranian dissident spoke to the press here in Washington and claimed that the Iranian Government, which he says includes Hezbollah as a part of their operations, is on a two-track program to achieve a fission device. He says that they're looking for fissionable material anywhere they can get it, and they're getting, I think he said, some technical help from the Chinese and other places. Can you comment at all about the Iranian nuclear program.

MR. HOLUM: I can comment on it to this extent, and I can't confirm the specifics of that particular individual. But we have been convinced for some time that the Iranians are pursuing a nuclear weapons program. It's difficult to deal with because the Iranians are members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They have invited the IAEA in to inspect whatever facilities the IAEA wants to inspect in Iran on at least two occasions. Those inspections have not turned up any evidence of the nuclear program.

But in terms of their procurement activities -- the kinds of reactors they're interested in acquiring -- there's a great deal of evidence suggesting that they are, in fact, maintaining nuclear ambitions.

Q On that, does the discovery of a second small sample of highly enriched uranium in the hands of some black market gang in Germany give you cause for alarm?

MR. HOLUM: Any time there is an appearance of fissile material -- particularly weapons-grade material - - anywhere in the world, when you don't know where it came from, and regardless of the quality, we investigate it very ambitiously because we take it very seriously.

Q Can you trace it by its composition to any manufacturer?

MR. HOLUM: As far as I know at this point, no. The most current instance, I haven't looked into very far. I've just gotten the reports.

Q Thank you very much.

(Following Mr. Holum's briefing, the Daily Briefing was resumed by David Johnson at 1:0l p.m.)

MR. JOHNSON: I don't have any prepared statements, but would be pleased to try to answer whatever you questions you have.

Q (Inaudible) all our questions.

MR. JOHNSON: Shall we depart?

Q Yeah.

Q Foreign Minister Rabin is reacting to reports out of the Middle East that Christopher took to Syria a plan for a phased withdrawal from the Golan. What can you tell us about that? Was this done? Did he happen?

The Israelis are sort of soft-peddling it and saying that they're very content with the way the United States is handling the Middle East and they're not really happy that such a deal might have been offered.

MR. JOHNSON: It's been our practice not to comment on the substance of our exchanges with the parties, and we're not going to be changing that practice now.

To make a few general points, first, as the Secretary indicated earlier in the week, both parties in these talks are seriously engaged through the United States in a more probing discussion of the needs of the other.

Second, it wouldn't be appropriate for the United States publicly to characterize the parties positions on the issues under discussion.

And, finally, it's ultimately going to be up to the parties themselves to sort through the issues directly and lay the groundwork for an agreement. We want to be helpful in that process, but it's ultimately up to them.

Q What do the Syrians need?

MR. JOHNSON: Excuse me?

Q What do the Syrians need that the U.S. is so acutely attuned to? What are these needs?

MR. JOHNSON: I just said we're not going to go into our exchanges with the parties. That would be exactly that.

Q But you were referring to "needs." You're saying that both sides have needs. The Israelis say they need a peace treaty. What do the Syrians need vis-a-vis the Golan, as far as the U.S. is concerned?

MR. JOHNSON: Barry, I'm just not in a position to go into the substance of our discussions with the parties.

Q Can I ask a question on Cuba?

MR. JOHNSON: You may.

Q What is your reaction to Fidel Castro's speech last night, and to his remarks that U.S. policy and not Cuban policy would be responsible if there is a Mariel- like exodus?

MR. JOHNSON: Castro's insistence that United States policy is responsible for the rising number of Cubans fleeing their homeland is simply untrue. The key factor is the Cuban Government's failure to implement meaningful and significant political and economic reforms.

Q A key factor. All right, that leaves you a little room. But the U.S. has, for decades, organized a painful economic boycott of Cuba which is bound to affect the people and their living conditions.

Hasn't the U.S. in any way contributed to the discomfort of the Cuban people?

MR. JOHNSON: We believe that the policies that we have pursued have been in our best interests and in the best interests of fostering the kind of economic and political change that are required.

Q But you mean they've got to suffer for maybe 30 or 40 years and then the next generation will have a democracy. When you apply sanctions to a country for a limited period of time like you do in Serbia -- but this thing has been going on for decades. You don't think the U.S. has had anything to do with the awful poverty in Cuba?

MR. JOHNSON: We believe that the economic system and the political system in Cuba is the reason for the problems there.

Q On Castro, do you have any views about his alleged evidence that, in fact, somebody had been killed during that hijacking on Monday?

MR. JOHNSON: I would note that the issues surrounding that hijacking remain under discussion. The Department of Justice continues to detain one of the persons from that vessel in south Florida in connection with that incident. They are continuing to review that to determine if any foul play did, in fact, occur.

Q That individual who is being retained, he is being retained for suspicion of having something to do with --

MR. JOHNSON: He's being detained for questioning in connection with the hijacking of the vessel.

Q Specifically, what part of that?

MR. JOHNSON: The investigation is on-going, and I don't have any details for you.

Q Would we request evidence from the Cuban Government that would --

MR. JOHNSON: I think that question at this point is premature. The investigation in the United States continues. And unless and until such time the investigators believe that would be helpful, I don't think we're going to be addressing that.

Q Have they offered (inaudible) David?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of such, but I haven't looked into that question.

Q Do you have any particular analysis of the Castro performance? On a scale of one to ten, is it a --

MR. JOHNSON: He's not as good as you, Barrie.

Q I'm sorry, what?

MR. JOHNSON: He's not as good as you.

Q Was last night's performance as threatening, did you think, as the one of a week or so ago in terms of the threat to open up the borders?

MR. JOHNSON: I would say it was a continuation of what happened before. We've made ourselves very clear, beginning last Friday night. I would also refer you to the Attorney General's remarks of last night where she made our position clear that the solution to immigration pressures from Cuba is rapid, fundamental, and far- reaching political and economic reform, and that uncontrolled exodus from Cuba does nothing to address Cuba's internal problems and places large numbers of persons at risk on the high seas.

Q Any conclusions yet, or tentative conclusions about whether crimes were committed by people getting out -- in the course of getting out?

MR. JOHNSON: I only know that the investigation is on-going, so there are no conclusions that I'm aware of.

Mark.

Q David, yours and the Attorney General's statement seem to blur the question of whether those fleeing Cuba are political or economic refugees. How do you classify them?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't know that the issue is one that we've tried to address. I believe that we consider anyone that's fleeing from Cuba under long-standing U.S. policy, dating from the Kennedy Administration, to be eligible parole into the United States. That policy continues, and there are no plans to review it or change it.

Q (Inaudible) like yesterday, with those three people who were detained for going to Cuba and bringing other Cubans from the island, do you intend to detain the people who go from here but to keep on giving asylum to the Cubans who flee?

MR. JOHNSON: We plan to take necessary measures to prevent persons from going south with their vessels to Cuba. I think the Attorney General said that administrative or judicial forfeiture action will be instituted in appropriate cases to forfeit any vessels used to the United States Government.

Q But the people they have brought?

MR. JOHNSON: The people they have brought have interviews pending with INS, potentially to be paroled in.

Q When can they can expect to be given asylum -- the people who come from Cuba?

MR. JOHNSON: They can expect to be interviewed by INS. If their intentions are consistent with U.S. policy, they will be admitted to the United States.

Q And if they have political reasons for fleeing, they'll be admitted? Or if they have economic reasons, or what? (Inaudible) what is the policy?

MR. JOHNSON: The policy is to parole-in those departing Cuba.

Q Whatever their reasons for leaving, unlike people fleeing other countries; right?

MR. JOHNSON: I believe that anyone that's departing from Cuba due to the laws of Cuba is subject to arrest and imprisonment upon return for departing Cuba "unlawfully," and therefore would be a political refugee.

Q By definition, they would become a political refugee. And this statement you're making, which I know will be reported, do you think this will have any impact on the people wanting to leave Cuba? Wouldn't you expect that this would be an incentive to try to get out?

MR. JOHNSON: I would only say that I've repeated what long-standing United States policy is. I would repeat what this Attorney General said last night about our stated intentions and our willingness and ability to prevent any type of Mariel incident from recurring.

Q If there is a Mariel-type incident in Cuba, would the United States be prepared to repatriate Cubans?

MR. JOHNSON: That question is quite hypothetical. We have no intention at this point -- we have no intention of repatriating any Cubans. We believe that the way to address this question, as the Attorney General outlined last night, is to take action against those who might take vessels south.

Q David, last night Castro made a big thing of the point that the United States encourages illegal immigration but doesn't encourage legal immigration. It's been noted that while there is an agreement to allow 20,000 Cubans in, that the annual rate seems to be more like 5,000. How do you account for that fact?

MR. JOHNSON: I'd make a couple of sets of points on that. First, the notion of illegal immigration. I'd point out, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, "Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to that country."

In terms of the legal immigration program from Cuba, it is, in fact, two-fold. There is a program of immigrant visas, immigrant visa issuance that takes place through our Interests Section in Cuba. It's based on family reunification, as is most all immigration to the United States.

For the past several years, the immigrant visa issuances have varied somewhat from a high in 1988 of 4,604; 1993, there were 2,091. There are a variety of ways that Cubans in America can petition for their relatives to come to the United States, consistent with U.S. law and some of them have petitioned to do so.

But I'd also note that most of these opportunities to immigrate are based on family reunification of citizens and it requires that Cubans in the United States pursue naturalization in order to have access to those immigrant visa programs.

In addition to that, we also have under our bilateral migration agreement between the United States and Cuba the prospect for up to 3,000 refugees from Cuba each year to be granted refugee status. That program focuses on specific groups identified as being of compelling concern to the United States. They include former political prisoners, human rights activists, members of persecuted religious minorities, dissidents, forced labor conscripts for the 1965-68 period, and persons deprived of professional credentials or otherwise subjected to disproportionately harsh or discriminatory treatment.

Our Interests Section in Havana reviews inquiries about the refugee program and prepares cases which appear to meet the program's criteria for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to review and adjudicate when they come to Cuba, approximately quarterly.

The Interests Section in Havana reports that the number of inquiries about the refugee program has been steadily rising. Nearly 600 completed questionnaires are now received per month, compared with 500 per month in 1993 and 300 in 1992. However, many of these do not meet the program's criteria and are not processed further.

Q David, I understand -- and you can correct me if I'm incorrect -- that about 80 percent of Cubans resident in Cuba have no relatives in the United States. If that is correct -- and correct me if I'm incorrect -- is there any consideration being given to changing the requirements for legal emigration?

MR. JOHNSON: The programs which we have are somewhat under-subscribed at present. I don't know of any review of the law to change it. There's no change that I'm aware of that's being contemplated, because the programs that we currently have continue to be under- subscribed.

Q Do you have anything there about --

Q That's why it may be under-subscribed.

MR. JOHNSON: No. That's not the only -- there are a number of people who are eligible who have been petitioned for and have elected not to emigrate as well.

Q I just wondered if you have any figures on the number of people who have applied as opposed to the number of people who have actually been given that status. I mean, you do have those numbers on Haiti, so - -

MR. JOHNSON: We have not been able to accumulate those for you. We're working on that because of various locations of that data. It's been a little harder to accumulate than it has in Haiti where our program of data for you has been going on over several months.

Q David, how does Cuba get out from under this 30-year-old policy? I mean, what changes does the United States want to see in Cuba before there will be any sort of rapprochement?

MR. JOHNSON: We're looking for significant economic and political reform.

Q That's a pretty broad statement. Do you want Castro out? Do you want --

MR. JOHNSON: I'd refer you to the Cuban Democracy Act for a fuller outline.

Q Well, how old is the Cuban Democracy Act?

MR. JOHNSON: About a year.

Q Can you say from the podium -- this is a current crisis. Can you say from the podium what you'd like to see happen in Cuba before we can normalize relations with them?

MR. JOHNSON: No. I've stated very clearly, and so has the Attorney General last night, that we're looking for significant political and economic reform, and that's the key to progress there.

Q And how will progress be translated (inaudible).

MR. JOHNSON: Excuse me?

Q How is that progress -- what will be progress? What will we do to exhibit progress?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm not prepared to give you an exegesis of how we might grade this as it goes on. We're looking for that type of progress. I think it will be clear --

Q I'm not looking for an exegesis. I'm asking for a statement of policy.

MR. JOHNSON: I think you're asking for me to answer a hypothetical question. When we see some significant political and economic reform, we'd be willing to engage.

Q But you have seen a change. He's not a client of the Soviet Union anymore. I mean, what do you want from Castro particularly? You've had discourse with Ceausescu, with Stalin, with Arafat. Why do you -- except possibly for the Cuban lobby, why do you make such a huge distinction between the way you deal with Cuba, with the way you deal with other states that might not be called democracies? That's a bigger question.

MR. JOHNSON: It's a question of long-standing U.S. policy since the Kennedy Administration that's been reviewed and reaffirmed by Administrations since, and I'm not prepared here to --

Q It really is an unfair question. I withdraw it.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.

Q Could I ask -- I mean, do you think that the level of political repression is worse in Cuba than it is in Haiti?

MR. JOHNSON: We don't do country comparisons.

Q On Haiti, how are your negotiations going on to get a charter aircraft in there to get the accepted political asylees out?

MR. JOHNSON: We're continuing to pursue various options, including charters, including some other options. I don't have any progress to report for you, but we're hopeful of some soon.

Q Do you have any progress to report on the border -- how tight the border is now sealed between the Dominican Republic and Haiti?

MR. JOHNSON: I know that more than a week ago we had some folks begin to arrive on the ground. I'll see if I can get you an update on exactly what sort of things -- activities they've undertaken since they've arrived.

Q Has there been any news out of Geneva regarding the North Korean talks?

MR. JOHNSON: Barrie, I'd tell you that we've been in touch with Ambassador Gallucci this morning. It appears to us that the talks are going to adjourn this afternoon. We could have a statement at that time, but I don't have anything for you on that right now.

Q Has he met with the North Koreans yet?

MR. JOHNSON: That I can't confirm for you. I don't know.

Q David, there was a pessimistic report yesterday that there was a snag, that the talks might be -- go to technical level, and at this time I take it you have no information as to whether there will be full- scale talks between Mr. Gallucci and the North Korean representative resuming next week or any time, is that correct?

MR. JOHNSON: I think I said yesterday that we thought that report had missed the mark, and that the talks continued yesterday and today. We expect that the talks will adjourn this afternoon, and I don't have a prediction for you when they're going to resume. I'd suggest that you look to your colleagues in Geneva for a report on that; that when they do adjourn this afternoon, there's likely to be a statement.

Q Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:19 p.m.)

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