U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OCTOBER 3, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, October, 3 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry CHINA Meetings of Vice Premier and Foreign Minister and the Secretary ............................. 1-8,10 -- Compliance with MTCR ...................... 2-7 -- North Korean Nuclear Issues ............... 5-6 -- Human Rights .............................. 7-8 NORTH KOREA Talks with US in Geneva ......................... 5,12-13 Prospects for Role of Former President Carter ... 9-10 HAITI Departure of Military Leaders ................... 8-9 CZECH REPUBLIC Elections ....................................... 13-14 IRELAND Gerry Adams's Visit to US/Official Meetings ..... 14 US Lifts Ban on Contacts with Sinn Fein ......... 14-15 -- UK View ..................................... 15 BOSNIA Request to Delay Lifting Arms Embargo ........... 15-16 Russian-US Cooperation .......................... 16-17 RUSSIA Report of US Granting Small Arms Import Licenses in Exchange for No Arms Shipments to Iran ..... 17 US Study on Arms Imports ........................ 18-23 DEPARTMENT US Study on Arms Imports ........................ 18-23
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, OCTOBER 3, 1994, 1:40 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Hello everyone. This is the United States State Department, and this is the Daily Briefing, an hour later than usual, because we had a very good and interesting conversation between the Chinese Foreign Minister and Vice Premier and Secretary of State Christopher just a short while ago. That's the reason for our tardiness today.
Q When was that?
MR. McCURRY: When was that?
Q The interesting one? (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: Oh, you missed all the careful nuance. Having no prepared statements today, we can go straight to any questions that you might have today.
Q Mike, did the meeting with the Chinese change anybody's mind on any subject? And, if so, can you tell us what it is? We have human rights and missile technology. You've always said they're cooperating on North Korea, so I'm not sure. Did you --
MR. McCURRY: They are midstream in the meeting. The Chinese Foreign Minister said something -- he actually repeated something for all of you that he said during the meeting itself, which is, in his view, this relationship is at a critical juncture in which progress needs to be made on some of these issues that do divide us. That's something that Secretary Christopher also emphasized in his presentation: that we are not certainly going to brush aside the differences that exists in this relationship, that we do need to comfort them constructively and directly.
That's what you, in a sense, saw taking place. They discussed with you the subjects that they have covered so far which include North Korea, human rights, the issue of Taiwan, some of the cooperation that the Chinese have been extending to us in looking for missing-in-action from the World War II period. Those are the subjects that have been covered as of their lunch which began a short while ago.
They had not gotten into the arms proliferation issue or the issue of M-11 transfers to Pakistan. That was a subject that they were going to cover at lunch.
I guess I'd step back from that and say that in all of these issues in each of these cases, there have been a series of high-level exchanges between the Chinese and the United States. There have been a good deal of very patient diplomacy on each of them, including human rights. What you are seeing is a relationship that will continue to progress as we continue to work on those issues.
Were there any startling breakthroughs in the meetings today with the Chinese Vice Premier and Foreign Minister? Not yet. But there was evidence of a desire on both parts to address the differences that do exist in the relationship and to build on some of the success that we've had in addressing mutual concerns.
Q Mike, I know that Lynn Davis met with her Chinese counterpart on Friday and apparently they will discuss what they discussed this afternoon. Can you give us a flavor, just sort of a flavor for how those discussions on the missiles have gone? Are they in the same place they were before?
MR. McCURRY: We've never established that there are missiles there. There are component parts, Category II items that you've heard us on that subject many times before. The tone of the discussions that Under Secretary Davis held were that there should be a framework by which both sides can address their proliferation concerns and that we can have greater understanding of the commitment the Chinese do have to the guidelines that are set forth in the Missile Technology Control Regime. That is a subject that I believe they will spend some time on at lunch today, and there will be further talks at the experts level later today and most likely tomorrow as well.
Q That's where they were several months ago? She was trying to understand what they had done.
MR. McCURRY: They've had some very good exchanges on that subject in the course of the last day. We're looking forward to additional exchange of views this afternoon and tomorrow.
Q Does the United States agree with the assessment of the Foreign Minister, as he told us that -- he didn't say they're not selling arms. He just said that the transfers have not caused instability; they were for the legitimate defense of another country, and there were certain conditions laid down and they did not violate the Missile Control Regime. Does the United States agree with that?
MR. McCURRY: We have concerns about those transfers as reflected by our decision in August of last year to impose sanctions arising from the MTCR guidelines. Those are so-called Category II sanctions. But we do believe that there is a possibility of resolving those concerns in developing a framework with China in which we can address our proliferation issues of mutual concern. That's exactly what they're talking about now.
Q But as of now, do you think -- American policy -- think that what he said today was not correct?
MR. McCURRY: As of right now, we continue to view the transfer of components that have occurred as a Category II violation of MTCR guidelines, requiring us to impose the sanctions that we imposed in August of last year under U.S. export law.
Those sanctions can be waived. There are provisions by which you can waive sanctions if you are into a dialogue that has a way of resolving such issues in a way in which there is some transparency and some agreement about how future arms transactions might occur. But those are all subjects that are part of the dialogue that we're having even at this moment with the Chinese.
Q Did Dr. Davis get into this allegation which you confirmed from the podium a couple of weeks ago that Chinese scientists or engineers had gone to Islamabad and were helping them assemble whatever it is they have?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether they covered that in their discussion.
Q Is that still our view, that those engineers or scientists did go there from China?
MR. McCURRY: It's our understanding that some Chinese engineers and technicians did go to Pakistan. Their purpose is not entirely known to us.
Q Mike you said that you are concerned about the missile components transfer. Is there a timeframe for the sanctions to be imposed? Because apparently it has made no headway and the Chinese Foreign Minister says that we are responsible vendors. Is there a timeframe, or is it just something on hold over them?
MR. McCURRY: That is an issue that we are addressing. The timeframe is an urgent one because it's exactly the subject that they're addressing today. But, again, had we had any concrete evidence that a Category I transfer had taken place -- an entire missile or missile system -- we would have had to act consistent with U.S. law.
Q (Inaudible) because sanctions have never been applied?
MR. McCURRY: The Category I sanctions has never been applied.
Q No, the four hundred or five hundred million in technology sales that the American companies would like to see resumed that they've been barred from carrying out because of the violations -- of the M-11 violations? Those sanctions --
MR. McCURRY: Those sanctions remain in effect.
Q They're in effect?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Let me ask you -- I guess it's fairly clear what you're saying. So you set up -- it looks like you're trying to point us in the direction of some arrangements will come out of this meeting that you hope will prevent future technology transfers. But there's no way you're going to get them to withdraw what they gave the Pakistanis already, is there?
MR. McCURRY: You just heard the Chinese view of what they did. They claim they didn't transfer any missile components in violation of the MTCR guidelines.
Q So that sounds like a closed issue. Whatever they transferred to Pakistan is over the damn, right?
MR. McCURRY: It's an issue under discussion, so therefore it's not a closed issue.
Q No, but is the United States trying to get them to reverse the transfers?
MR. McCURRY: We're trying to get them to satisfy our concerns --
Q In the future?
MR. McCURRY: -- that we've expressed to them on proliferation issues broadly, and on the nature of that type of transfer and the danger that type of transfer would pose to the region.
Q Has China scheduled any nuclear test soon?
MR. McCURRY: You have to ask them. They're here.
Q The Secretary said this morning that the U.S. and Chinese views on North Korea and the nuclear issue are congruent. Where does that whole complex now stand?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry, Jim.
Q This morning, the Secretary said that U.S. and Chinese views on the North Korean nuclear question are congruent. Where does that whole complex now stand?
MR. McCURRY: I guess you're asking for a status of those discussions. They are where Ambassador Gallucci left them when he departed Geneva last week. There is a brief pause in the high-level talks currently underway in Geneva for consultation that is taking place here in Washington between Ambassador Gallucci and others within the United States Government.
Secretary Christopher had an extensive meeting on the subject with Foreign Minister Han of South Korea on Friday. He covered the issue in great detail in his meeting just now with the Chinese Foreign Minister and Vice Premier.
There will be subsequent conversations that Ambassador Gallucci will have with other foreign governments prior to returning to Geneva by Wednesday, I believe, to resume the dialogue. As the Ambassador has indicated and as the Secretary has indicated, and I would tell you now, there has not been progress made -- significant progress made -- that we can report to you in the most recent round of discussions.
Q So the Secretary chooses his words with great care. "Congruent" means to me, going in the same direction but not identical views?
MR. McCURRY: That's a wonderfully, perfect definition of the Secretary's wonderfully, perfect characterization of the respective views of China and the United States on this question.
Q And where does the absence of identity of views occur?
MR. McCURRY: They didn't explore those differences, but the concern is raised once the issue approaches -- once it begins to approach the dynamic which would result in a return to the Security Council for the questions of sanctions -- North Korean nuclear issue. That is one in which there has been divergent views between the United States and China. That is the reason why there are congruent views at the moment is we don't face that prospect. But again there has not been significant progress made in the talks to date.
Q Mike, can I go back to the missile thing for a minute? Under Secretary Lynn Davis, when she spoke to some people at the Overseas Writers Club earlier this year, she said that the non-proliferation talks were deadlocked because the Chinese wanted those sanctions to be removed -- the sanctions that were imposed last year.
Now, if these new sanctions are imposed, (1) will they be over and above the earlier sanctions; and --
MR. McCURRY: No, no. There would only be new sanctions imposed were we to establish through concrete evidence that there had been a different type of transaction or violation than the ones that we have detected to date, and that would be a so- called Category I violation; and we have no evidence of such a development.
Q Mike, do the Chinese deny that they transferred components for missiles to Pakistan, or do they just say, "We did it, but it was not in violation of the treaty."
MR. McCURRY: They deny that any of their export activity was in contravention of MTCR guidelines, if I understand their position correctly.
Q I mean, I'm not asking you about their position, but since you all just talked, and they don't talk much to us. Do they deny having sent components? Do they deny the basic allegation that they have sent components to Pakistan for missiles -- M-11 missiles?
MR. McCURRY: I don't believe they dispute that. I believe that they suggest that there's nothing about -- they're not entirely forthcoming in describing the nature of the transfer. They steadfastly assure us that nothing about any of their export activities contravenes MTCR guidelines or represent problems in terms of the MTCR annex.
Q And has the U.S. been --
MR. McCURRY: We have sought for some time to gain greater understanding of the nature of the transfer so we could verify that information and determine whether that is consistent with the view that we have.
Q And the view that you all have is that they do violate? Have you already told them about it?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. The view that we have is reflected in the fact that we imposed Category II sanctions in August of last year.
Q Mike, this congruence that the Secretary spoke of, is that the same congruence that's been there all along? In other words, you're saying that just because there are sanctions before the Security Council, that issues doesn't lead to incongruence.
MR. McCURRY: No. I was reflecting the areas at which there sometimes is a divergence of views. At the moment we see a great deal of harmony in the approach that we have to the issue and their understanding of the issue.
Q At the time of granting MFN, the United States said it was going to really press hard with China on human rights, and I wonder if you can report to us the improvement in human rights that the Chinese brought to the table this time?
MR. McCURRY: They did not cover that subject in that type of detail. The Secretary did consistent with the President's view press the issue. The concern expressed by the Secretary was acknowledged by the Chinese Foreign Minister and Vice Premier, and the Chinese Foreign Minister and Vice Premier indicated that there would be extensive conversations to be held tomorrow, I believe, by Assistant Secretary Shattuck with Assistant Foreign Minister Qian Huasun, and the Secretary affirmed from the U.S. point of view that that would be an important dialogue, and that these questions were very central in our ability to have an unencumbered relationship that could prosper in the future.
Q Mike, has the Administration considered a victory that they're willing to talk about it during this visit?
MR. McCURRY: We consider it important that we have a dialogue on human rights issues that is substantive and detailed, and we welcome the fact that we apparently will have that type of discussion.
Q Were we given to understand that there would be something forthcoming from the Chinese on the improvements that they've made in human rights?
MR. McCURRY: Not in the session that I'm aware of so far.
Q But does Shattuck -- I mean, you've got to know something ahead of time about what has been going on and whether the Chinese are going to come to Shattuck with something --
MR. McCURRY: Let me divide the question. We have some sense of where things stand, and we don't think there have been significant changes in human rights climates since President Clinton's decision last May. Neither has there been any deterioration. But we can't report that there's been any significant improvement in the conditions that we discussed publicly in the spring.
What will be the result of the outcome of the dialogue that assistant Secretary Shattuck will have, we don't know at this point. That's going to occur tomorrow.
Q What sort of (inaudible) do you hope for?
MR. McCURRY: We hope there would be significant overall progress on many of these issues that we've got substantial concerns about.
Q How would you measure that progress since you don't measure it anymore?
MR. McCURRY: It's not true that we don't measure it anymore, Sid. We do continue to measure, and we have a variety of ways that we do it through our own Embassy reporting, through the type of dialogue we have, through our contact with other groups and organizations that are concerned about human rights.
There's nothing changed in the way we go about evaluating human rights conditions. The only change in the policy sense is that it's not related directly to the question of extending Most-Favored-Nation status. That's the only change.
Q Could I ask a Haiti question. With the more aggressive disarming that the United States military is conducting, and the fact that the Parliament seems to be stalled on the question of amnesty, would you expect a more accelerated timetable for the departure from office of Cedras and the return of President Aristide?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any change in the prospects for an early departure. The October 15 deadline is out there and reasonably close enough at this point. We've made clear all along, the sooner that they leave, the better; and we would prefer that it be sooner.
The sooner for the departure of the de facto regime, the sooner for the return of President Aristide, the sooner for the return of democracy, but it's very hard for us to predict at this point what type of timetable will exist.
Q Mike, could I go back to North Korea for a second and ask you if it's time to call Atlanta and ask for Jimmy Carter's help?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry. Say again.
Q The L.A. Times thinks that the Administration -- well, they think something that's fairly obvious that former President Carter would like to help again on North Korea, maybe go to North Korea, and the Administration doesn't think it's such a great idea.
Where does that stand now? Has the Administration tried to dissuade President Carter from returning to Pyongyang?
MR. McCURRY: I think Secretary Christopher has had very good and direct conversations with former President Carter on the subject. Former President Carter has played an important and helpful role in this dialogue, and Secretary Christopher made clear in a very general sense that he believes former President Carter's diplomatic efforts can be very important in advancing the goals and objectives of U.S. foreign policy when they are carefully calibrated with the goals and objectives of U.S. foreign policy.
Whether or not there is a role that lies in the future as it relates to Korea is something we just don't know at this point.
Q But did you tell him that this isn't a good time to go? It sounds like it.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that there was any need to say that. My understanding is that former President Carter certainly understands that with high-level discussions underway in Geneva on the very sensitive issue of the nuclear issue, I'm not aware of any anxiousness on his part to make any journey. But again you'd have to ask him. He is a private citizen, even though he is a former President. He keeps his own schedule, obviously.
Q To follow, if I might, to follow up this particular matter. Ambassador Han of South Korea on Friday at a luncheon did -- how do you say -- verify that he had been to Atlanta, spoke with Mr. Carter the week before. President Carter said he was available; interested to go back on the scene in Korea if he was asked or when he was called. He did not specify who would call him.
MR. McCURRY: I believe he has said publicly that he would like to accept an invitation to go to South Korea and would like to return to North Korea at the invitation of the DPRK, and that is conceivable such a trip might happen. It's conceivable if it did happen, it might be helpful in encouraging North and South to resume the dialogue that they suspended following the death of Kim Il-Sung.
But again that's highly speculative at this point. What I would say is, as we've said in the past, that as we make progress or attempt to make progress in our own bilateral discussions with the DPRK on the nuclear issue, we feel it's also important simultaneously for there to be progress in the discussions between North and South; and, as former President Carter can contribute to that end, it surely would be welcome.
Q On the sanctions, did the Secretary indicate to the Chinese today that the United States would pursue sanctions before the Security Council if these current talks collapse; if there's a point at which progress just clearly isn't going to be made?
MR. McCURRY: He did not indicate that. He reviewed where things are at this point. He didn't rule that out, but I don't think his assessment of the situation is that we are at a point at which that prospect comes into play.
Q But, in other words, the idea of doing that, the idea of taking up a sanctions proposal before the Security Council is still out there. You said it's not ruled out.
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to speculate that in the midst of a high-level dialogue. We have a high-level dialogue underway with the DPRK which is designed to resolve the issues once and for all, thus obviating any need for other measures.
Q I'm not trying to put you on the spot, but, I mean --
MR. McCURRY: What do you mean? That's what you do every day. (Laughter) That's why I stand here. That's why you sit there.
Q The reason is because President Carter said that he was convinced when he went to North Korea that the North Koreans would have viewed sanctions as an act of war. He came away convinced that they would have gone to war over it.
I'm trying to get at whether as a result of President Carter's assessment that whole possibility has now been back- burnered or whether it's still a live option in the absence of progress on these talks.
MR. McCURRY: Certainly not as a result of anything about the views of former President Carter. It is not immediately before us at this point, because we have a dialogue underway with the DPRK that is aimed at resolving the issue, and we have an agreed statement dating back to August that pointed a way to making some progress on that issue.
We have not made sufficient progress at this point but we're not at any point where other measures are before the world community.
Q Mike, are you in a position to discuss in terms of a congruency of positions what the Chinese position is regarding South Korea playing a principal role in providing the light- water reactor for the North and also what their position is on having the North Korean spent fuel rods transferred to China for reprocessing?
MR. McCURRY: I only can say, Barrie, that we've reviewed both subjects in great detail with them -- not at the meeting just now. Those have been explored by Ambassador Gallucci in his consultations and discussions with the People's Republic. But the Secretary's statement today that we see a great deal of congruence in our approach to the issue is a well informed one based on those detailed conversations that we have had.
Q I'd just like to follow up on that. Is there some reason to hope or to suspect that the result of the talks today between the Chinese and the Americans will have an effect on the negotiations when and if they resume with the North?
MR. McCURRY: It would be impossible to speculate on that, Saul. We do know that the PRC has its own independent contact and relationship with the DPRK. We certainly encourage them to stress the importance of making progress in resolving the nuclear issue, and we do expect that they've discussed that issue in the past in their own bilateral discussions, government-to-government. But whether that plays any significant role in the thinking or positioning of the DPRK as it approaches the nuclear issue is something we don't know a lot about.
Q But what I'm saying in response -- in following up on the earlier question, if the Chinese are willing to take the rods, for example, or if the Chinese are willing for the South Koreans to be one of the suppliers of the light-water reactor and told that to the North Koreans, would that be part of the congruence on the American and Chinese position?
MR. McCURRY: It might be, but that requires me to speculate to a degree I just can't about the nature of the conversations those two governments have had.
Q I'm trying to figure out how the Chinese are helping the United States vis-a-vis the North Koreans, if at all?
MR. McCURRY: I think I just answered that. We believe that they have their own independent discussions. We believe that those discussions have stressed the importance of resolving the issue, and we believe that's helpful.
Q Mike, anything on elections in Slovakia?
MR. McCURRY: I do. Switch around the subject.
Q Just one more, Mike, if I might. Mr. Han on Friday also mentioned the date of the 16th of October as the end of the 100 days' mourning period and said very clearly that South Korea would pursue -- would reach out to the North and to try to make the arrangements for the bilateral talks. Do you have anything --
MR. McCURRY: The 16th or the 18th?
Q The 16th is what he told me. Do you have any information as to what South Korea will be doing around or about the 16th?
MR. McCURRY: Not anything specifically about any change in their own plans, other than to continue to work very closely with us, to continue to consult closely with us, as we shape our views and as our views are shaped by the understanding we gained from our dialogue with the RK. They have a very good understanding of the political situation on the peninsula that they have shared with us, and that does inform the thinking that we have on the subject.
Q Could I do just one more on that, Mike? Did the Chinese share with the Secretary their assessment of the leadership transition in Pyongyang, and, if so, what was it?
MR. McCURRY: Very briefly, and it was private.
Q Unlike everything else?
MR. McCURRY: No. I mean, they have their own assessment of where things stand, and we exchanged views on that subject and found our views to be similar and certainly leading to no other analysis than that there is a succession underway and the succession could very well -- we might very well come up in a period shortly in which there is some change in the formal structure of that succession. No other dissimilarity of view there.
MR. McCURRY: I was trying to avoid saying that word. (Laughter) Congruent -- we've like been congruent all over the place today.
MR. McCURRY: Okay, on Slovakia, I think some of you know that there were elections September 30 and October 1 in Slovakia, which successfully elected its first parliament since gaining independence in 1993. The international observers who watched the elections most closely were from the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and a CSCE representative has now announced that they found the elections to be free and fair.
We are pleased that the democratic process functioned successfully and also by the large voter turnout. Seventy-five percent of eligible voters participated in these elections. There's some detail we've got on our understanding of the breakdown of how the vote came out, but it's consistent with, I think, what a lot of you have seen reported already.
We look forward to working with the democratically elected leaders of Slovakia, and we think that the movement for a democratic Slovakia, indicated by the major parties that contested in the parliamentary elections, indicates that the plan is for a full integration with Western institutions such as NATO and the European Union. We believe that those are commendable goals reflected in the election results themselves.
Q China has conducted a series of large-scale military exercises in the last several months, and Taiwan considers it as a threat to use force against Taiwan. Did the Secretary and Foreign Minister Qian talk about (inaudible) in that area or express any concern?
MR. McCURRY: They did not discuss military exercises up to the point of the meeting that I attended. I, of course, had to leave as lunch was still underway, so I don't know whether they came back to that issue or not. But we can find out more as we look at it later in the day.
Q Do you know who Gerry Adams will be seeing here tomorrow?
MR. McCURRY: From the Department he'll be seeing John Kornblum who's the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs. There's a long statement that I believe the White House has issued, because Vice President Gore had a telephone conversation with Gerry Adams today to advise him that the formal ban on contact with Sinn Fein has been lifted by the United States Government, so there's a White House workup on that.
But in addition to Ambassador Kornblum, Mr. Adams will meet here with Leon Fuerth who's the Assistant to Vice President Gore for National Security Affairs and Nancy Soderberg who's the staff director of the National Security Council. There will probably be some other department and NSC officials at a working level who will be present for those discussions as well.
Q Here in the State Department?
MR. McCURRY: It will be here at the Department, yes.
Q To your understanding, he will not at all go to the White House?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any meetings that are scheduled for the White House.
Q Will they have lunch in the Ben Franklin room or --
MR. McCURRY: I think they're meeting later in the afternoon.
Q Did the U.S. discuss this decision with the British Government, by the way?
MR. McCURRY: Extensively. (Laughter)
Q Given the fact that if Mrs. Thatcher were dead, she'd probably be turning over in her grave right now -- (laughter) -- what was their reaction?
MR. McCURRY: I think their reaction was very similar to the one that they've indicated publicly. They've had some concerns and expressed those concerns, and they have moved on and so have we.
Q Do you have a time for the meeting?
MR. McCURRY: For those who want to stay. Someone told me two o'clock. I actually don't know. But we'll pin that down for you tomorrow.
Q Did the Administration lift its ban on contacts with the IRA solely because of the temporary cease-fire and their apparent efforts to enforce peace agreements?
MR. McCURRY: They made a very important historic announcement that pledged to a cessation of violence -- a cessation that we certainly expect to be a permanent cessation of violence in the hostilities -- and the purpose of the type of contact that we will have with this representative of Sinn Fein is to nurture the peace process that is embodied in the Downing declaration and the joint declaration between the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland.
We think that there is a framework there for peace. Our goal is to nurture that framework, that process, to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Q Can I ask one quick one on Bosnia? Less than two weeks away from the October 15 date, can you tell us anything about how the resolution is shaping up? Is there going to be a resolution asking for --
MR. McCURRY: Yes. There will be a resolution, the New York Times notwithstanding, since they don't seem to believe this. The Bosnian Government is determined to delay the effect of the lifting of the arms embargo until this spring, I think for very, good, sensible, practical and humanitarian reasons -- probably military reasons as well.
So at their request, we will be tabling a resolution that would lift the arms embargo with an effective date later in the spring, and we will continue exactly as the President indicated in his letter to Senators Mitchell and Nunn and proceeding on that.
Q There will be a date certain in the resolution?
MR. McCURRY: There will be a date that we would say the lifting of this arms embargo should take effect at some point. I know drafting the exact text of the resolution is something we're now working with other members of the Security Council on.
Q Is that going to be an automatic date, or is that a time when the Security Council would need to re-look at the issue?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know, Norm. We won't know until we can properly assess the views within the Security Council with an idea of getting a resolution that will pass. Apparently, there are some editorial writers nearby the U.N. that want us to fall on our sword, because they want us to make superhuman efforts in pursuit of the unachievable.
What we're interested in doing is addressing this issue consistent with the policy the President has outlined in a way that can get some action at the Security Council that will make a difference. And that's going to take some work, some consultation. We'll have to see how that develops.
Q The Foreign Ministries of two countries with Security Council vetoes have both said that they would be opposed to anything that had a firm date.
MR. McCURRY: We've been working on those two governments. I'm assuming that I am thinking of the same two that you are. We've been working on them pretty directly in consultations that we've had with them, and we'll continue to do so as we shape a resolution that we hope can gain the support of the Security Council itself.
Q Mike, what do you see as a result of the bilateral meetings with the Russians last week on the issue of Bosnia -- specifically the arms embargo matter? And then I have a little follow-up concerning Russia and the Iran matter.
MR. McCURRY: They addressed it and the two Presidents discussed Bosnia, I believe publicly, in a sense that they reaffirmed the importance of working together within the Contact Group to bring pressure to bear on the Bosnian Serbs to accept the Contact Group proposal. There was certainly not any divergence of views there.
Both Presidents stressed the importance of that. I think both recognize that lifting the arms embargo which has been, for the Russian Federation, a very troublesome prospect. The fact that that is something that is now, in effect, delayed until the Spring was something that was welcome on both sides. Both Presidents having addressed that, I don't have a lot to add beyond that other than that there seemed to be agreement in the discussions and on the margins of the summit, that this was a point -- that we needed to press for adherence to that Contact Group proposal as quickly as possible by the Bosnian Serbs.
Q On the general subject of bilateral relations with the Russians, there was an article brought to my attention recently from the Los Angeles Times, Thursday, September 29. This specifically had to do with -- the trade-off for Russia stopping arm sales to Iran was suggested by the U.S. Government. The State Department was mentioned here. It suggested that we allow the Russians to market small arms in this country as a trade-off for their withholding arms from Iran. It seems rather preposterous, but is there any validity to it?
MR. McCURRY: No. There was not any validity to that. There was a lot of speculation that went on in the press about some type of linkage between these two questions, but that was way off base. At no point in these discussions did we offer to compensate Russia for arms transfers to Iran by -- in exchange, allowing some licenses to go through involving small arms. That sort of linkage was not discussed.
In fact, to my knowledge, the issue of arms transfers to Iran was discussed by those officials in the United States Government that were working on security-related issues, whereas this issue of pending munitions licenses really fell within the province of some of the commercial discussions.
It was not an issue addressed by the two Presidents, although it has been under discussion between the two governments.
While you brought that up, there is a little bit new that I want to do on that. I'll give a little bit of background on this because not everyone has followed this.
The Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms -- the ATF -- has the statutory responsibility to grant or deny licenses for the imports of munitions. When they carry out that function, the ATF is guided by the views of the Secretary of State on matters that affect world peace, external security, and foreign policy of the United States.
In connection with this issue that we've been discussing, ATF regulations that have been issued with a concurrence from the State Department, now include the former Soviet Union on a list of proscribed countries for purposes of arms importation. The ATF has sought our advice as to whether the current prohibition should be weighed with respect to some pending applications.
By "pending applications," I mean over 250 pending license requests from American firms that want to import munitions from the states of the former Soviet Union into the United States. These requests are valued at over $1 billion in potential sales, including 7 billion rounds of ammunition and 7.6 million rifles and pistols.
That represents a very dramatic increase in the volume of potential imports from the former Soviet Union over what we have seen in recent years. Because of that, the Secretary of State has ordered the Department to undertake a thorough study of the foreign policy and national security considerations involved in these munitions trade issues, prior to approving any waiver or adopting any change in policy.
This study will also examine existing statutory and regulatory authorities for managing the importation of guns into the United States with a view to determining whether any changes are needed to manage such imports in a more orderly manner, consistent with our foreign policy and national security interests.
The Secretary has asked that this study, which will be directed by Under Secretary Davis, to be completed expeditiously. Until these issues can be addressed, we will not recommend approval of any munitions import licenses from the former Soviet Union.
In connection with that, then, I would announce that the Department is sending to the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms our recommendation that the ATF adhere to its current regulations and deny approval to pending license requests from American firms wishing to import firearms and ammunition from Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union.
We anticipate that many of the license applicants will resubmit the applications that they now have on file. That will, in a sense, wipe the slate clean and clear the way for these license applications to be reviewed by the Department in a context in which we have a more accurate understanding of the current magnitude of the potential problems we face as we conduct the review underway.
Thanks for letting me take a second to do that. This is a highly technical area of munitions list regulation. It's one which the Department has been following closely for some time but it's one in which we do have some significant national security and foreign policy concerns that the Secretary wants to see addressed in a more detailed and substantive way prior to making any further decisions on that extraordinary volume of license applications that now exists.
Q Mike, on two points. So the Secretary has recommended against approval until Lynn Davis has a chance to study it? Why (inaudible) actually rejected it?
MR. McCURRY: We said that we will recommend to ATF that they deny all of these existing applications.
MR. McCURRY: It would be a denial -- straight denial -- of these over 250 pending license requests with the expectation that some firms are going to reapply in an environment in which we have a better handle on what's actually happening with this type of traffic.
Q I don't understand. Maybe this is simple, but I don't get it. Is it drug wars?
MR. McCURRY: It's commercial transactions. There are a lot of firms in the Ex-Im business that do transactions.
Q Maybe the U.S. could go other places. It's for transshipment?
MR. McCURRY: No, no, no. There are foreign manufacturers. There are a number of foreign countries that export this type of munitions and firearms to the United States.
Q For what purpose? I'm sorry. Why would American manufacturers want to import Russian weapons?
MR. McCURRY: There are export firms. There are export/import firms that import the stuff into the United States.
Q Mike, you did say a billion rounds?
MR. McCURRY: I said one billion dollars in potential sales that includes over seven billion - "b" as in billion -- rounds of ammunition and 7.6 million -- "m" as in million -- rifles and pistols.
Q That sounds a lot.
Q (Inaudible) allowing those weapons into this country?
MR. McCURRY: What?
Q What interest could we have in allowing those weapons and ammunition into this country?
MR. McCURRY: We may have significant foreign policy and national security concerns that we are going to be examining here at the State Department as we look at that backlog of pending requests.
Q What are those concerns?
MR. McCURRY: There's clearly something -- this is a huge increase in the volume of license applications that we've seen.
Just to give you an idea, the number of imported weapons from the former Soviet Union was just over 1,000 in 1992. It went to 18,000 in 1993, and now all of a sudden we have pending license applications for, as I said, 7.6 million guns. So there's something that's occurring in the nature of the arms production business in Russia and in the interest of U.S. importers/exporters to get that kind of volume up in terms of applications. We think it's a good idea to know a lot more about this before any of those applications are approved.
Q You gave us figures of contracts that were fulfilled?
MR. McCURRY: Those were fulfilled.
Q How many were denied? Do you have any idea?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that. These are ATF numbers, I assume.
Q Mike, can you clarify for me the status of the over 250 applications now pending? It seems to me you've just said that they're going to be denied.
MR. McCURRY: We will recommend using our authority -- under law -- recommend to ATF that they deny applications.
MR. McCURRY: I believe they've indicated to some of you publicly that that would be sufficient for them to make a denial, but I can't speak for them on that. As I indicated very carefully in my statement, we can only provide to them advice on whether the current prohibition that exists should be applied to the pending applications. We will recommend, consistent with current regulations, they should be applied and that ATF ought to use its authority to deny. They have the statutory responsibility to grant or deny the licenses over there.
Q But you're saying deny the same kind of applications that have been approved in the last year?
MR. McCURRY: There are hundreds and --
Q Is that true?
MR. McCURRY: -- hundreds of applications --
Q The volume is way up.
MR. McCURRY: -- not only from the former Soviet Union but from other countries consistent with the relevant U.S. law that restricts those types of imports.
Q I'm trying to understand. Sid has one reading of this. I seem to have the opposite. Why would you order a review if you like the way things were going? It would seem you ought to review as a rationale for changing things in another direction.
MR. McCURRY: We're ordering a review in this case because we've seen a very dramatic increase in the number of applications. That indicates that there is something that's going on in the context of reliance upon that particular economic activity in the former Soviet Union. We want to understand that more. We want to understand what implications that has for our own foreign policy and our own national security.
Q Aren't you going to look into the demand side, too?
MR. McCURRY: The demand side would relate to things that the State Department does not study here. Clearly, it is a subject that will be looked at in interagency terms. I suspect that the Justice Department -- not only the Treasury Department -- but the Justice Department and others will have strong points of view on the question as well.
MR. McCURRY: It did not come up in discussions with President Yeltsin -- between President Yeltsin and President Clinton, to my knowledge. Obviously, I did not participate. Those were largely one-on-one discussions, but I haven't heard anything that indicated that this particular subject came up. It has been a subject that has been discussed by government officials at other levels. Again, as I say, not in connection with Iran.
The one thing I really want to blow back pretty hard is some notion that the idea was that these licenses were under consideration as a lure to them to do something on Iran. That was never the case. It was not the case and never was the case.
Q Not with Iran at all?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q Did they (inaudible).
MR. McCURRY: They did. On the overall question of their posture towards sales to Iran, it's very much as President Yeltsin and President Clinton addressed that publicly at their press conference. The Russian Federation indicated that they would not write any new contracts for such arms sales but they would continue to "service existing contracts," and that we're going to have to, at an experts level, understand in greater detail what exactly that means.
Q Mike --
MR. McCURRY: Yes, last one.
Q How many weapons are already approved for import this year, '94? Have you got a number on that?
MR. McCURRY: From the former Soviet Union?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer. I don't believe any, because I think they are all in this category of license applications that were pending. I will double-check that and see if we've got anything else. But, again, these are ATF numbers that we're working off here.
Q Is this the entire former Soviet Union -- all the countries there?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that's correct.
(Press Briefing concluded at 2:30 p.m.)
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