U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE ________________________________________________________ The State Department does not guarantee the authenticity of documents on the Internet. If for legal or other reasons you require the original version of a document in hard copy, please contact the Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs. Note that State Department information is not copyrighted unless indicated and can be reproduced without consent. Citation of source is appreciated. Permission to reproduce any copyrighted material (including photos or graphics) must be obtained from the original source. ________________________________________________________ U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING August 15, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, August, 15 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry BOSNIA Serbian Border Closing/International Monitors ...1-4 UN Resolution on Sanctions ......................4-7 HAITI Border with Dominican Republic ..................7 Departure of Refugees Approved for Asylum in US .7-11 US Policy re: Restoration of Democracy .........11 Boat people Interdicted/Safe Havens/Returned ....12 CUBA Coast Guard Assistance to Departing Cubans ......12-13 TERRORISM Carlos the Jackal Arrested in Sudan .............13-15 NORTH KOREA Future Talks with US ............................15-16 Agreement to Safeguards Inspections .............19-20 Light-Water Reactors/Supplier ...................20 ARMS CONTROL Smuggled Nuclear Material Found by Germany ......16-19 RWANDA Prospect for New Refugee Outflow/French Departure .....................................21-22
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 1994, 12:53 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the United States State Department. This is our Daily Briefing for today, and for the first question we will call upon the Associated Press.
Q He passes.
MR. McCURRY: He passes. Anybody else have a question?
MR. McCURRY: Such unbridled enthusiasm on this Monday in August.
Q Bosnia, please.
MR. McCURRY: Bosnia.
Q Can you confirm that Milosevic has blocked the way for human rights monitors, international monitors? And if that's so, is the United States going to do anything about this?
MR. McCURRY: We've had some discussions within the Contact Group and elsewhere about the value that would arise from international monitors along that border to determine how effectively the border has been sealed. We do believe, as with any border closings, there's ample opportunity for leakage and the presence of international observers would at least help get a better understanding within the international community of what is happening on the border. But I don't know that I would characterize the current government in Belgrade as being defiant about the presence of international monitors. It's a subject that would have to be discussed and it would be consistent with their public position that they are cutting off supplies to the Bosnian Serbs to allow international observers to be present to observe the activity along that border.
MR. McCURRY: We have suggested that publicly. I'd have to check and see what type of contact we've had directly with Belgrade on that.
Q The only reason I press the point is that stories over the weekend have said everything is getting across the border except human rights monitors.
MR. McCURRY: That there is ample evidence that there is leakage across that border, and I believe that that's consistent with our understanding.
In the past, you recall, the Government in Belgrade has indicated that they would cooperate in closing that border, and it has later turned to be so much a wish rather than a reality.
Q Is what's going along the border consistent with his pledge -- Milosevic's pledge -- to --
MR. McCURRY: Some of the activity, as reported, is not consistent with the declaration by the Government in Belgrade that it is taking steps to close that border and to stop the shipment of arms and materials to the Bosnian Serbs.
Q You mean he hasn't taken the steps or the border itself is so difficult to really know what he's up to?
MR. McCURRY: That is unclear. They have taken some steps that we've reported to you in the past, but it's not clear that those steps have been effective. Why those steps have not been effective is something that, in fact, the presence of international observers could help lend answers to.
Q Mike, what impact on sanctions would the presence of international monitors along the border play?
MR. McCURRY: There wouldn't be any direct impact on sanctions. One reason why the Contact Group has suggested there should be tighter and stricter enforcement of sanctions on Serbia and on the Bosnian Serbs is that that is a form of pressure that can be brought to bear on those who are obstructing the adoption of the Contact Group proposal
The presence of monitors can help us understand better what type of activity is underway and what type of activity is occurring with or without the tacit approval of the government of Serbia.
Q So there would be no relaxation of sanctions against Serbia proper if Serbia allowed international monitors along the border?
MR. McCURRY: The question really almost goes in reverse, Mark. The Contact Group is committed and we are committed to pursuing at the United Nations a tougher regime of sanctions that would affect the government of Serbia. There has been some discussion of what would happen if there was a demonstrated commitment over time by the government in Belgrade to enforce a closing of the border and to cooperate with the international community's efforts to bring pressure to bear on the Bosnian Serbs. It has been suggested by the Secretary and others that you might, at that point, consider what type of easing of sanctions would arise.
But we seem to far from that moment today because there's ample evidence that the border itself is not effectively closed.
Q Last week on the airplane the Secretary was somewhat optimistic, saying that there were early indications that the Serbs were enforcing Milosevic's pledge. Are we right to think that today's report is definitely less optimistic?
MR. McCURRY: Those are not necessarily contradictory. There is evidence that there has been efforts at border crossings to stop certain types of traffic, to require certain types of documentation for shipments that are allowed; for example, humanitarian goods, medicine, foodstuffs. But there is also evidence -- anecdotal evidence mostly, and a lot of it arising from press reports that you are familiar with -- that there has been leakage across that border.
Again, I would make the point, we have discussed this in the context of the Dominican Republic-Haitian border. It sometimes difficult to seal borders entirely. Just as is in the case of the Haiti sanctions regime, we're looking for ways to try to strengthen the enforcement when we've got a cooperative government.
The issue we face in the case of Serbia -- the border between the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia itself -- is the degree to which the government in Belgrade is committed to carrying through those things that it has publicly pledged to do.
Q You said some things are being stopped and others aren't. Do they fall in categories, or is it haphazard? Are weapons getting across?
MR. McCURRY: No, no. Really, the information comes, Barry, more from -- there was some trouble within the last 10 days of getting humanitarian goods across. It was probably an administrative issue more than anything else that those who had been instructed to close the border were asking for certain types of paperwork. In order to get humanitarian shipments across, you had to have the right kind of paperwork.
Whether or not there are arm shipments and what type of material might be crossing that border going to the Bosnian Serbs is something that there's been great speculation about. I don't know that we have a solid enough information to present a complete picture of what is crossing the border.
Q What's the status of writing the sanctions resolution at the U.N. right now?
MR. McCURRY: There's continued to be a lot of consultation within the Security Council on the issue. Part of the question they were looking at was how you factor in Milosevic's public statements and what we actually are seeing on the ground. How do you weigh that as you structure a sanctions regime. That is still under discussion, although I think there's a strong determination on our part and on the part of other members of the Security Council to proceed quickly to adopt the types of measures foreseen in the Contact Group Ministers' communiquU issued in Geneva when they met recently.
Q No thought is being given to tying that with the lifting of the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims? They might not be linked because of the distance in times at this point?
MR. McCURRY: No. The intent of the Contact Group Ministers was to proceed sequentially on those. The tightening of the sanctions regime would be the first step; and a last resort that might be unavoidable at a future point would be lifting the arms embargo multilaterally.
Q Would the current situation on the border with Serbia at an impetus to moving this resolution along?
MR. McCURRY: It could as more facts are developed and there's a clear understanding of what's happening along that border becomes transparent.
Q But as things stand now, the deadline was two weeks after the meeting of the Foreign Ministers; that's five weeks ago. It still looks like, all things being equal, the Administration hasn't done anything to --
MR. McCURRY: The deadline for beginning to implement those measures foreseen by the Contact Group was two weeks. That is two weeks past, and the measures are now in the process of being implemented by the Contact Group working through the United Nations.
Q Do you have any idea when that resolution, which has taken an awful long time to put together --
MR. McCURRY: We did this same question -- the line of question -- last week.
Q But time is passing.
MR. McCURRY: It's taken long because -- you started this briefing today asking what do we know about what's going on on the border and what is Milosevic doing. That's something we're trying to understand so you can structure a sanctions regime that takes into account what's really happening and what Belgrade is doing or not doing.
In fairness, I think that structuring a sanctions regime that reflects that understanding is well worth the time spent and the type of deliberations we're having in New York.
Q Will Milosevic be up -- could it be that this is his aim and he's succeeded? That he's hamstrung you now, that you don't know what he's up to exactly and you're not moving on the sanctions?
MR. McCURRY: We're not hamstrung. Mark.
Q Is this the bottom line that the sanctions will be more lenient on Serbia if Milosevic tightens up the border?
MR. McCURRY: I think within the Contact Group there's some sentiment for that point of view, yes.
Q Is that the American position?
MR. McCURRY: We're willing to discuss that within the context of the Contact Group and then proceeding into discussions at the Security Council on how you structure the resolution. But again, as Secretary Christopher emphasizes, the importance is performance, and the reality, as opposed to public statements and rhetoric, about what intentions are.
Q Well, could I just ask you -- I mean, I'm a little unclear on what you've just talked about. I mean, either you do or you don't. I mean, if Milosevic is genuine, you wouldn't move on sanctions, would you? And, if he's not, you do. So how could you structure it?
MR. McCURRY: Barry, either he is or he isn't. Either he is serious or he's not serious, and so that's what we're attempting to determine now.
Q What I'm trying to say is there's no way of factoring it in. If you come to a conclusion, you'll either go for tighter sanctions or you won't, right?
MR. McCURRY: If we come to the conclusion that it's myth and not reality, the proposition that Serbia will cooperate in shutting down that border so that the Bosnian Serbs cannot be rearmed, then the course determined by the Contact Group is clear and the tightening of sanctions on both Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs is suggested by the communiquU of the Contact Group Ministers.
Q Is there a way to apply tighter sanctions to the Bosnian Serbs without doing it to the Serbs themselves? I wonder how you would do that?
MR. McCURRY: Part of it is how do you enforce the existing sanctions regime. There are ways that you can be stricter and tighter on how you enforce the sanctions regime currently in place as it relates to material transiting into Bosnia. I'm not the expert on how that is done, but there are ways in which you could do it on the ground effectively.
Charlie and then Steve.
Q Can we switch to the Haitian-Dominican border, or are there still more Bosnian questions?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Are you sensing any frustration that you can talk about on the part of the Bosnian Government which felt the deal was if you accept this peace agreement and the Bosnian Serbs don't, then we will tighten sanctions and lift the arms embargo. I mean, it's now been more than a month since they bought into that and nothing has happened.
MR. McCURRY: We are not sensing frustration, nor would their public comments to date suggest that either.
Q A couple weeks ago Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili were on the Hill, and they talked about the border not yet sealed between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Since then, certain U.S. assets and others have gone in. Can you talk about the degree to which that border is now sealed or believed to be sealed?
MR. McCURRY: I can't. I'll have to take that on and maybe I can do that either tomorrow or Wednesday and get a better assessment of it. You're right that there is an effort to transfer certain types of resources to a multinational observer group -- the MOG -- which was going to be doing patrolling along the Haitian-Dominican Republic Border. I'm not sure what the status of that is. I'll see if I can find that or maybe suggest to the Pentagon it's something they might want to deal with tomorrow since they have been principally involved in moving some of those resources around.
Q More on Haiti. Can we have an update on how we're going to get out those people who applied and have received approval for asylum in this country? Also, what's the count now? How many are there who are there, and you were talking about chartering a plane, and then there are other reports that they are going out through the Dominican Republic. I'd love to know how those are going.
MR. McCURRY: Sure. You've seen some press accounts suggesting around 800. There are 794 refugees who are what we call "travel ready" at this time. That is, that they have been approved through our screening process for refugee status and are awaiting transit here to the United States.
We are obviously making every effort possible to get them to the United States as quickly as possible. Charter flights have been the suggested possibility. We work with the international organization of migrants to schedule those charters. The problem in this case is, as they have in so many other areas, the de facto regime has proven entirely intractable in that they have not granted authorization for the charters to land.
That has led us to investigate some other possibilities, including overland routes, possibly onward to the Dominican Republic. We are working to get the kinds of clearances that would be necessary to make that happen, and I wouldn't suggest that we are anything less than hopeful, but it's clearly going to take some work to get these people out.
It is something that we meanwhile address with a fair amount of urgency, because these are folks who have worked through our in-country processing capacity, which is what we encourage Haitians to do if they feel they have a bona fide claim to refugee status. So having done that, we feel an obligation to do everything we can to ensure that they can come here for refuge in the United States.
Based on some of the reporting you may have seen over the weekend, we do have a lot of concern about what happens to these folks as they're waiting for departure here to the United States. Most of them are working with either churches or human rights groups that operate in Haiti, and we have, through our Embassy, very close contact with those groups so that we can keep track of what's going on with individual cases or individuals who have been approved for refugee status.
One of the real consequences of the de facto regime booting out of the country the international human rights observers is that our Embassy has had to take on a lot of that work now, so we've got Embassy teams that go around looking for instances or reports that people have been hassled or harassed or roughed up by de facto regime supported elements. If we find those cases, we investigate them, look into them, and see what kind of documentation we can develop on it.
So we have got an active effort to try to monitor especially these cases of people who we believe have got a claim for refugee status here in the United States.
Q What instances or cases do you know of in which people have fallen into harms way or actually been harmed? Weren't some people taken away from the line of asylum-seekers and haven't been seen since?
MR. McCURRY: There was one case several weeks back now of some people being roughed up in that line. I'm not sure I now the status. There were four that were detained. I don't know whether they have been released, and I think we reported on that maybe a couple weeks back.
I'm told there have not been any further incidents of that nature -- people who have been waiting at some of our in-country centers for processing. But the point I was addressing earlier are people who have actually been through that process and who have been approved for refugee status who are clearly a very great concern to us.
Q Isn't the U.S. putting these people at risk? You're encouraging them to apply in-country. You can't really get them out of the country, and here they are basically following your instructions, and they're in trouble.
MR. McCURRY: We have not been able to get them out of the country yet. We are doing everything we can to get them out. I wouldn't say we are not able to get them out.
Q Can you explain the clearances? What's the difficulty? I'm sorry. Is it just getting another government's permission, or is it case-by-case or --
MR. McCURRY: We are taking them to a third country and most likely Dominican Republic, so there are some things that we have got to do to affect their transit. I guess I'll leave it at that.
Q I just don't know what it means. I mean, if there is some security angle here that -- I don't know what you mean.
MR. McCURRY: We --
Q I mean, they're refugees. They're permitted. You have a friendly government next door. You want to bring these people here. They're not Cubans, but still they have a chance to get here, and how are you going to do this? What's the problem?
MR. McCURRY: We need to get them there safely and soundly, so you take certain steps in order to make sure that that happens.
Q Mike, when there's an ordered departure, U.S. Embassies seem to have an enormous capacity for putting together convoys and moving sometimes large numbers of people on dangerous roads and across borders. Is the problem here with the Dominican Republic, with getting transportation, with fuel? Can you go into a little more detail about just what the hangup is? It's been quite some time.
MR. McCURRY: The preferred means, in the case of Haiti -- which is what we're talking about -- is to get them out by air charter. We have not been able to do that, so we're looking at other ways of doing it, and that's about all I want to say on it.
Q Is the idea of using the Coast Guard cutters that have been taking the voluntary repatriates back -- is that idea being explored at all of taking these people (inaudible) and bringing them up from there?
MR. McCURRY: That has been suggested, but I think given where we are right now, I just don't want to speculate on the means that we would use to try to get some of these people out.
Q Can we go back a little bit? Talking about the Embassy looking after -- international monitors are gone -- in there looking after these folks if they run into any episodes of mistreatment. We're not talking about the people applying. We're talking about the people cleared.
MR. McCURRY: Let me get a more thorough reporting on what they find when they look into some of these cases. I've seen some anecdotal things, but I'd rather get a more thorough answer from our Embassy staff, see if I can work that up for later in the week.
Q How many people at the U.S. Embassy are in charge of monitoring these types of abuses on the whole on Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: I am told that a substantial portion of those who remain -- remember, we're in a drawdown status there, so we have a limited, fewer number of diplomats who are at the Embassy there. But I'm told that a substantial number of those in the political section do that type of work from time to time.
Clearly, a lot of them have got other duties and assignments as well, but I think they're covering and trying to fill that function.
Q It would probably be less than ten.
MR. McCURRY: There's probably an exact number, so I can see if I can get it.
Q Are those people allowed to go out without a Marine guard?
MR. McCURRY: We make sure that they are secure as they do their duties.
Q It sounds as if it's quite difficult for them to get to some of the remote places where these people are, and a lot of them, as I understand, are in hiding, so it's not like they can pick up the phone and call them. How much actual work in the field are the people at the U.S. Embassy doing?
MR. McCURRY: They're able to get around, and they do get around.
Q The Administration has said it's against any further negotiations with Cedras and the other generals. In light of this, does the Administration support Caputo's plans for a new mission to Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that the United Nations has confirmed that they've got any individual in mind, although they have suggested that it might be timely to have some mission that could pursue the possibility of peaceful implementation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 940. We would support a well prepared international effort to achieve exactly those things that are sought in resolution 940, which is a return of democracy and a return of the duly elected President to Haiti.
Q So the Administration supports the idea of reopening negotiations with Cedras?
MR. McCURRY: We support a well prepared international effort to achieve the peaceful restoration of democracy in Haiti. That might include some things that Secretary General Boutros-Ghali has discussed, some efforts they might undertake under U.N. auspices to secure a peaceful implementation of Resolution 940.
Again, though, I would make it clear that the intent of any mission of that nature would be identical to the goals outlined in 940, which is the immediate departure of the current high command in Haiti and the return of President Aristide.
Q By departure, do you mean the physical departure from the country? Is Governors Island now all off, or is there a case in which Cedras could stick around? I mean, as unlikely as that might be?
MR. McCURRY: Governors Island principles and framework have been codified in a series of U.N. resolutions reaffirmed most recently in U.N. Resolution 940.
Q (inaudible) Guantanamo at the moment. Do you have the latest figures? How many of them are still in Guantanamo?
MR. McCURRY: Of Haitians?
Q Haitians, yes.
MR. McCURRY: At Guantanamo, at present, there are 14,677 Haitians at Guantanamo who have safehaven status. I'm sorry, that's the wrong number. There are 15,325 Haitians currently at Guantanamo. That includes 14,677 who have been approved for safehaven status. It includes 484 who have requested repatriation to Haiti, and it includes 163 approved refugees who had been processed aboard the Comfort and transferred over to Gitmo, and they're now awaiting departure for the United States.
Apparently there's one case -- that doesn't add up - - there's one who is awaiting processing. They have been able to catch up on the backload of processing a lot of these, obviously, because the refugee outflow has been minimal, which is to say over this past weekend, nonexistent. There were no interdictions over the weekend. The last interdiction was August 8.
Q If we could switch to Cuba when we finish with Haiti --
MR. McCURRY: Anything more on Haiti? Cuba.
Q Do you have anything on this boat that was boarded yesterday?
MR. McCURRY: No. I heard about this coming in, and I don't have anything. There was also a -- not what you were referring to. We were checking with the Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, to see about a press report that there had been a fishing vessel that had been diverted to Jamaica. Then I heard a report on another, possibly a tugboat, coming in earlier, but I didn't have any information on that. We are tracking those reports that I think are largely press reports at this point.
Q Because there are two reports more today. One like 149 people retained instead of being paroled?
MR. McCURRY: No. I can tell you since Friday what's happened, the Coast Guard has been working in the straits, obviously. They have assisted 371 Cuban migrants in the straits over the weekend. Most of the cases -- they were not handling any large ships or large groupings; they were mostly handling rafts and people who were attempting to leave on rafts. The numbers, if you want them: 45 on Friday, 156 on Saturday and 170 on Sunday.
Q In the other stories there are like 15 Cuban boats that smuggled people from Cuba to the Keys? These are all rumors going on in Miami today.
MR. McCURRY: Do you mean boats going from Miami to --
Q From Cuba. That there are smugglers going from Cuba to the Keys and going back to Cuba, and there are like 15 boats.
MR. McCURRY: That would be the province of the Coast Guard. They would have picked up activity of that nature. That sounds like so many rumors that often do swirl in Miami.
Q Were all those Cubans who were picked up -- were they taken to the States, brought to the States?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. I think they've all been taken - - I'll have to find out where they've been taken. It doesn't say here where they've been taken. I assume they've been taken to Florida, but I'll check that.
Q So, Mike, what does that bring the total of Cuban immigrants this year to? Is it something over 5,000 or so?
MR. McCURRY: 5,786.
Q Carlos. Any reaction to his arrest?
MR. McCURRY: Carlos. Every once in a while there's some good news in the world. A couple of things on that. Obviously, we applaud the Government of France for its resolute efforts to bring to justice one of the most notorious terrorists of the past 20 years. The arrest of Carlos serves notice to all terrorists that their crimes will not go unpunished or forgotten by the international community.
I would say his apprehension and the details of that does reflect what international cooperation can sometimes bring, in understanding the movements of international terrorists. Again, I would say that we certainly applaud the Government of France for its determined effort to bring this fugitive to justice.
Q Do you also applaud the Government of Sudan?
MR. McCURRY: We appreciate Sudan's actions. I think the international community would hope that the action by the Sudanese Government marks the beginning of its efforts to distance itself from international terrorists.
Q Do you know where he came from? I know recent terror reports had his suspected whereabouts as Syria. I don't remember if the most recent still had it that way. Does Syria deserve any applause for anything? (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: I think he was obviously apprehended in Sudan. I believe he had been there for some time, but we'll have to develop more on that as the French develop their prosecution. Again, we're restricted somewhat in what we can say, because they hopefully will bring Carlos to the justice that he deserves.
Q Does the U.S. want Carlos for anything? Is there anything --
MR. McCURRY: No. There are no pending U.S. charges against him.
Q If I might follow, what brought him to France? Can you say how he was -- was he lured to France?
MR. McCURRY: No, no. He was apprehended in Sudan and is now in French custody, but we'll leave it up to the French to describe more about that.
Q Do you have any sort of assessment as to why the Sudanese may have done this? Any sort of off-the- cuff --
MR. McCURRY: No. You know that Sudan was listed last year on the U.S. terrorism list. There's a range of activity that goes far beyond this case that arose for that listing, and there's no plan at present to rescind the terrorism listing of Sudan. But it might very well be that they have seen some merit in the arguments made by the international community that the government should disassociate itself from terrorist activity, and, if they pursue this step now with further steps that would break the linkages between their tacit support of terrorist groups and their safehavening and sanctioning of terrorist activities within Sudan, that would be a welcome development.
Q The fact that Carlos had received safehaven there, was that one of the reasons they were listed in the first place?
MR. McCURRY: The original listing of Sudan on the terrorism list referred more directly to the use of territory within Sudan as sanctuary for terrorist organizations, including Abu Nidal, Hizbollah and Palestine Islamic Jihad.
We also think there are other safe houses and facilities that terrorist have used with either acquiescence or knowledge of Sudanese officials. I can't recall at the time -- maybe someone here does. I can't recall at the time that we cited the case of Carlos specifically, because I think in fact at that point we were tracking what we knew about his movements and doing so in a somewhat less than public way.
Q Did we have reason to believe that Carlos was or had been or was in and out of Sudan, and was there some effort to approach them to take this --
MR. McCURRY: I think I will leave it at this. I'd say over the last 20 years there's been an extensive effort within the international community to know what could be known about his movements in and out of country.
Q Was this a subject that Melissa Wells had raised when -- the President's envoy to Sudan -- when she went there, do you know?
MR. McCURRY: She's due back, by the way, very shortly and might be interested in talking to you more. I don't know that that did come up. Her primary purpose there was to look at humanitarian efforts underway and principally in southern Sudan. But I will ask someone to check and see whether that subject came up. To my knowledge it did not, but we will ask.
Q Were American officials working at all with the French to track down Carlos?
MR. McCURRY: There have been international efforts to cooperate in combating counter-terrorism. I think I'll just leave it at that.
Q Does this effort by Sudan make -- improve their case for getting off the terrorism list and having those various Commerce bans taken off?
MR. McCURRY: I'd say it's a step that would be noted, but it, in and of itself, is not sufficient action to cause us to rescind their listing.
Q On North Korea, do you have any information on when the working level group will get together and start?
MR. McCURRY: I don't. They talked to Ambassador Gallucci when they issued their statement on Saturday -- talked about beginning very soon to exchange these expert-level discussions. But I don't have anything further on when that might happen.
Q Will Dr. Gallucci come here and brief us?
MR. McCURRY: Not this week, because he's on leave. The request was made and denied. I think, as you all know, he's put in a lot of very good and very hard work there, because he describes it himself as being a work in progress that will need to be resumed. We gave him a little bit of time off. He did -- and except for those of you who did not get it from any of your colleagues, who didn't have access to it, he did an extensive briefing and press conference in Geneva before departing, and we've got a rough transcript of that for anyone who would like it just for background purposes.
But I'd encourage you to check with your correspondents who were actually there and covered the press conference and the briefing that he then gave to get a more complete readout. It was actually pretty thorough.
Q I've been asked to ask if you believe the Russians when they say they're not missing any plutonium. (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: We believe the Germans when they say that they are going to investigate very vigorously incidents that they were reviewing over this past weekend. They indicate that they indicate that they are going to send an envoy to Russia to work on this very directly, and we certainly think close cooperation between Germany and Russia is warranted to determine what the facts are in this case.
There's no evidence that we have got or that we're aware of at this point that suggest that the amount of plutonium that has been seized by the German Government represents a weapon capable quantity. These seem to be small amounts of weapons-grade plutonium or highly enriched uranium that are not in and of themselves of the quantity necessary to make weapons.
But, nonetheless, the reports themselves are very troubling and ones that we hope will be pursued vigorously by the German Government; and, if the German Government sees cause based on their own work to send an envoy to Russia, we think that reflects the type of multilateral approach to combating arms smuggling. That is the best way to address what is a very serious and real problem.
Q Two follow-ups. Can you speculate, or has anyone speculated why somebody wants to buy grams of plutonium other than to maybe accumulate grams until you've got 22 pounds of it?
MR. McCURRY: No. There's no indication that we have that there are small quantities loose and available from which you could accumulate the quantity necessary for a weapon. But exactly why you would be having what amounts to a sampler platter, or something, is what we want to know.
MR. McCURRY: We don't know. We don't know whether they are samples of a larger quantity. That's something that the Germans would like the answer to. We think cooperation within the international community can help resolve some of those issues.
That's one reason among many why the Director of the FBI from the United States, when he visited Russia, recently set up an office to assist in combating smuggling of this type of material.
If I'm not mistaken, those of you who were in Naples will recall the G-7 leaders also said that the question of proliferation of weapons-grade material, fissile material, was something that ought to be addressed with some urgency by the international community.
Q Mike, on this issue, this is the third time now in about four weeks that we've had an announcement coming out of Germany. First, of the seizure of two small samples -- one, super high grade plutonium, and then a super high grade 235, I believe -- fissionable U- 235. But this is very different.
This material was seized coming directly on flight out of Moscow, and it was an amount, according to Der Spiegel "In Focus" who broke this story, and forced the authorities to confirm the arrest had been made. Seven point five ounces is not a sample, Mike. It's fissionable, it's bomb-grade; it's about half of what it takes to make a very sophisticated little plutonium bomb, from what I understand. It's getting up there.
It was mentioned in the article that it was getting to be a sizable amount. The State Department has said time and again -- and you just stated -- there's no evidence, we have no evidence.
Secretary Lynn Davis said that we don't have direct evidence that it's actually out there at the moment, referring to plutonium. She says it doesn't meant that guard isn't up in this case. Shouldn't our guard be way up on this particular matter.
MR. McCURRY: Let me separate out a couple of things in your statement there. We have said that our guard certainly is up. It's one of the reasons why, within the international community, with a great deal of urgency, we have been addressing the question of proliferation of fissile material. We'll continue to do. We'll continue to applaud steps like those that are being taken by Germany at the direction, I believe, of Chancellor Kohl who was very outspoken about this over the weekend; that they would pursue and investigate the seizures you're talking about.
We have said -- and to correct your statement -- we don't have evidence that there have been seizures of quantities of this fissile material that would be necessary to produce a weapon. It doesn't make us any less vigilant or concerned about reports of any such material falling outside the safeguards that exist within the international community for the control and handling and disposal of this type of material.
So the fact that there would be any that would be outside the system of international protections is the cause of great concern. We just said that there's not -- we want to make sure that people are not overly alarmed about the type of seizures we're talking about here. That people are not, to date, as far as we are aware, accumulating, through the evidence of these seizures that we have, materials sufficient to produce a bomb.
Nor as I believe you indicated, it's not clear that they're halfway there either in the amount that has been seized so far. We're talking about fractions of the amount necessary to produce a weapon.
Q But over a pound of fissionable plutonium does indicate that there are deliveries of the amounts that could easily add up and accumulate to be enough for a bomb; is that correct?
MR. McCURRY: If you're certain of that and have evidence to confirm that, we'd appreciate your getting in contact with the FBI.
Q Mike, you minimize the risk of this being put together for a bomb, but what other risk does this material pose if it got into the hands of Carlos' buddies? Could they lace a water supply, or place a (inaudible) by putting it into a car bomb?
MR. McCURRY: There are other ways that it might be used in a way, when it's associated with terrorism or some other criminal act, it would a source of very real concern to us. That's why we will continue to pursue it as we can, working bilaterally with other governments and also encourage those who want to do it within a multilateral context.
Q Back to North Korea. The Deputy Foreign Minister of North Korea told a certain American newspaper yesterday that his country still opposes any special inspections of the waste sites. Do we view that as a backing-off of the commitment they made early Saturday?
MR. McCURRY: No. We believe that that is an issue that will be among those that they will continue to discuss. But the DPRK, in the agreed statement that they issued in Geneva, indicated that it was prepared to remain a party to the treaty -- the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to allow implementation of its safeguards agreement under that treaty. That safeguards agreement, as it is described by those familiar with it, is a full-scope safeguards agreement. It would include within it special inspections. How those might occur and when is something that I think will probably continue to be a subject of discussion between our negotiators.
But the agreed statement is very clear on that point. We consider it very clear on that point.
Q So you say, when they say they're not going to drop out of the NPT, that means they're willing to have those two sites that the U.S. wasn't even asking about, initially figuring it had enough ground to cover?
MR. McCURRY: They have agreed to implementation of its safeguards agreement under the treaty. They say they are prepared to remain a party to the treaty. The activities required under that safeguards agreement are clear. It's a question of how and when they occur. It's something that I believe the DPRK has indicated it would continue to negotiate upon.
Q But, in fact, if they remained a member, it would obligate them to inspection of the two special sites should the IAEA ask for it?
MR. McCURRY: There are requirements that you have for adherence to the NPT that include those types of activities. But in this case, there's also a specific safeguards agreement that the IAEA would consider it be in force.
Again, our suggestion and Ambassador Gallucci's suggestion is that will continue to be a subject upon which there will be discussion as the third round of high level talks resumes in September.
Q Mike, the agreed statement has language in it about the United States not using, or nuclear weapons against North Korea, or threatening to use them. Is there anything in the agreed statement or in any additional understanding that goes beyond pledges that have been made in the past to North Korea?
MR. McCURRY: No. You mean in the sense of the security assurance that was offered -- it's part of that statement? No, there's nothing beyond what was included in the agreed statement. It is a subject, by the way, that -- the Secretary had a very good conversation Saturday morning with Foreign Minister Han of South Korea on the agreed statement. The Republic of Korea, through the Foreign Minister, said they were very pleased with the development and pleased that the discussions would be continuing as they move into a technical phase and then resume the high level round next month.
Q If I understand correctly, the United States had first supported the idea of having Russia build the light-water reactors because that would be a way to kill two birds with one stone -- help Russia's economy and resolve the North Korea dispute.
Now, the South Koreans apparently are saying that they want to build a reactor. Have we then abandoned the idea of having Russia build the reactors?
MR. McCURRY: We welcome South Korea's offer. President Kim had a very forward-looking and statesmanlike address that he rendered yesterday in which, among other things, they offered to help provide light-water reactor technology. But that is something that we will have to discuss further with South Korea and with other countries in coming weeks.
How the technology itself is to be provided to the DPRK as they make the transition away from graphite moderated technology into light-water reactor technology is an issue that they left both for the technical discussions that are about to occur, and presumably for additional discussions as they continue with a third round.
Q Has anyone figured out, should this agreement change from principle to fact, how much this would cost the United States to buy them out?
MR. McCURRY: There have been estimates placed on it. I don't know that I've seen all of the estimates about how much it would take to replace that capacity and to replace the capacity that they have agreed to forego by freezing the construction on the additional reactors. I'll check and see if that's been costed out. It's in the billions. It's been reliably reported as in the billions.
Q Is the U.S. trying to draw Iraq into Mideast peace-making?
MR. McCURRY: Say again?
Q Is the U.S. trying to draw Iraq into its diplomacy in the Middle East?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of.
Q You don't know of special inducements, pledges, promises, olive branches?
MR. McCURRY: You're probably referring to some reports that there have been high level contacts between Iraq and the Government of Israel. But we have been assured by the Government of Israel that Israel's policy is not to have contacts with the Government of Iraq and that there have been no authorized Israeli contacts with Iraq.
Q I wasn't referring to that, but that would be part of the picture. Rabin has already dismissed that. We're talking about a report that the U.S. has offered to remove or ease the sanctions against Iraq if it would join Mideast peace-making --
MR. McCURRY: That sounds like news that I'm not sure was made in fact, but I will find out more about that. That doesn't resemble anything I've seen discussed.
Q Mike, there were reports on Rwanda over the weekend that there was possibly another big surge of refugees being stirred up by propaganda broadcasts and so on. Do you have reaction to that?
MR. McCURRY: The concern has been that within the now currently French-protected safe area, there might be a refugee outflow south to Bukavu as a result of the French timetable for departure sometime later this month. That is something that we are very concerned about.
Through the United Nations, we've been working to try to assure people that there are conditions favorable to their return. We've been also working diplomatically through the United Nations and other organizations to press upon the Rwanda Patriotic Front the need to make clear to those who are remaining behind that they don't suffer, or don't face threats which would cause them or encourage them to depart the country.
There are very real concerns about what type of humanitarian situation would develop in the Bukavu area should there be a large scale refugee outflow away. We've been doing a great deal of work within the region and within the relief organizations and the United Nations to address precisely that possibility.
Q A quick one in the region. Nigeria shut down apparently its most popular paper in Lagos, The Guardian. Any response to that?
MR. McCURRY: I'll look into that. That would be something that we'd consider very troubling, but I'll find out more about that.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:43 p.m.)
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