U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JANUARY 4, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, January 4, 1995 Briefer: Michael McCurry STATEMENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS U.S./Ukraine Communications Link ...............1,18 Tribute to State Department Operations Center ...1-2 Tribute to Bureau of Public Affairs Retirees ....2 RUSSIA Chechnya Conflict Status of Airstrikes on Grozny ................2 European Union suggestion to Russia-- OSCE Invitation for Presence/Monitoring .....3-4 U.S. Contacts with leadership in Chechnya .....4 Vice President Gore/President Yeltsin Meeting ...5 HAITI Haitians in Guantanamo/Voluntary Repatriation ...6 BOSNIA Arms Embargo--Unilateral/Multilateral Lift ......7-12 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement ..............8-9 Consultations with Congress .....................8-9,18 Arms Transshipments .............................10 Status of Fighting ..............................11 Contact Group Meeting ...........................11 MIDDLE EAST Secretary of Defense Perry trip to Region .......12-13 Talks on Proposed Middle East Development Bank ..16 ALGERIA Security Situation ..............................13-14 Letter of Warning to U.S. Embassy ...............13-14 Number of U.S. Citizens in Algeria ..............14 TURKEY Killing of 19 Civilians .........................14-15 NORTH KOREA Meetings in January: Light Water Reactor ........15,17 Spent Fuel Rods in Storage/Exchange of Liaison Offices ...............................15 Talks on Proposed Korean Energy Development .....15 Shipment of Oil .................................16-17 ISRAEL Investigation of Reports of Military Technology Transfer with China............................18-21
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 1995, 12:46 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Hello. Good to see you all today. Nice to have you here.
I've got one thing I want to start with. We are going to put a statement out right after the briefing on a new communications link that has been inaugurated by Secretary Perry between the United States and Ukraine. It is essentially a hot-line type communications link that uses equipment that's virtually identical to the equipment now used to support the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers. The presence of that link with Ukraine at the time that they are following through on their denuclearization commitments will make the world a safer place. We've got a longer statement to it.
Q (Inaudible) I think those of us who were here then went upstairs and saw the Russian link.
MR. McCURRY: I don't see the answer to that in this statement.
Q I wonder if it's something you can look at, like reporters?
MR. McCURRY: We can find out. Let's find that out. Probably not, because every time you go up there they act like --
MR. McCURRY: They cover everything up. It's located in a very secure, sensitive part of the U.S. State Department, our nerve center, the Operation Center, where day and night they do great work.
By the way, from time to time, I do an "Ode to the Op- Center." I point out that in the period right before the holidays when we had a lot of people in different parts of the country, including the Secretary, the Operations Center did an absolutely spectacular job keeping everyone very well connected through multiple time zones as we dealt with the return of Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall and the remains of David Hilemon. It's a tribute to them, as a result of the really splendid work they did, we didn't stand up a Task Force, which saved the taxpayers some money. They did an awfully good job and sometimes it's nice to point that kind of thing out.
Q Mike, by the way, we forgot to say good-bye yesterday to Marty Judge. We reporters will wish him well.
MR. McCURRY: It is duly here in the record that Martin Judge, who served our Press Office extraordinarily well, enjoyed his retirement yesterday. I'd point out, actually, we had three career retirees from other parts of the Bureau of Public Affairs yesterday. They had a combined service to the United States Government going back 120 years total, including a gentleman, Mr. Kemp, whom some of you know, who has kept track of our dispatches and other public documents going back almost 51 years; a very able group of public servants who are now enjoying a deserved retirement.
Q Could we ask you about the bombing pause? Can you confirm it? Also, what is the U.S.'s knowledge or even hunch of why he's doing it? Is it for negotiations, or is he responding to appeals for taking it a little easier on the people of Chechnya?
MR. McCURRY: It is not clear to us at this point, Barry. We have seen reports indicating that President Yeltsin has ordered a halt to air strikes on Grozny. Obviously, the announcement of that is something that we welcome although we would be anxious to see that that order, in fact, be implemented. So we'll be monitoring the situation carefully.
I'm not sure if there has been additional contact through the Embassy in Moscow. We'll learn more about that directive by President Yeltsin, but I assume there will be follow-up just so we learn more about the assessment that we received from the Russian Federation about the situation in Chechnya.
Q Are you saying we weren't told -- the U.S. wasn't told -- in advance?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether we received any advance notice or not, Barry, through the Embassy in Moscow. I haven't seen reporting back in through our Embassy yet. I will check on that point, but I'm not aware of any. I think the first word we received were carried ably on the wire services.
Q The French Foreign Minister suggested today that Russian behavior in Chechnya might be a violation of the pledges that they've made as a member of the CSCE, and has asked Europe to join in asking for Russia to report on its conduct. I wonder if the United States would go along with that?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is that the European Union has suggested that Russia invite what used to be called the CSCE, and now the OSCE, to help seek a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
We do believe that activities of that type could help resolve the issues at hand within a framework that preserves the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and addresses the clear humanitarian aspects of the situation. We privately encouraged exactly that type of thinking among the concerned parties, but we will wait and see what type of response there is from Moscow.
Clearly operating within the boundaries of the OSCE, there would have to be Russian participation or invitation for any type of monitoring mission or presence by the OSCE. So we'll have to see what type of response is forthcoming from Moscow on that.
As to the concerns expressed by the French Minister, they echo in some ways some of the concerns we've expressed here concerning some aspects of the use of force by the Russian Federation. As you know, and as we've said in the past several days, we urge both sides to fully respect the Geneva Conventions on the protection of victims of armed conflict and, specifically, Protocol II, the 1977 Protocol on armed conflicts that govern the use of force by armed parties within territorial boundaries.
Q Mike, although it's clearly an internal matter and the world sees it that way, nevertheless, could the possibility of some outside mediation be offered to see whether that might be accepted?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't speculate on that at this point. We're at a point where there are reports coming from Moscow that there has been some change -- what's described, I think, in fact, as a drastic change - - in the prosecution of the conflict by the Russian Federation. We'll see how that develops, and see, in fact, that leads to the type of peace negotiations that we've suggested already publicly as the correct way to resolve this conflict.
We have repeatedly said that both sides should take steps to avoid bloodshed, to exercise restraint, and to do something to peacefully end the conflict that we think ought to be addressed peacefully.
Q Mike, you say you privately urged both parties to go through the CSCE. You all are in contact with the Chechens?
MR. McCURRY: We encouraged thinking -- I think in this case we mean the parties that would deliberate within the OSCE. I'd have to check and see whether we've actually communicated directly to any aspect of the Chechen leadership. I don't have a good account of that.
Q Can you take that question --
MR. McCURRY: I will, I will. That has come up -- one or two points. The question several days ago, which I think is a good one, too, is what level of political reporting Embassy Moscow can do in Chechnya, and what contact, if any, have we had with either Dudayev or other aspects of Chechen leadership, whether in Chechnya or perhaps elsewhere.
Q Do you have any information at all about whether there is a new ground assault or whether they are poised for a new ground assault?
MR. McCURRY: No. We have heard a lot of conflicting reports abut the status of finding -- we have heard reports that there was bombing on Grozny as early as this morning.
Also, we've got reports that the Presidential Palace in Grozny remains in the hands of Chechen forces. Beyond that, I'm not sure that we've got fully accurate, instantaneous information coming about the status of the military conflict.
Q I believe Yelena Bonner is going to be in Washington tomorrow. Do you know, has she requested any appointments in this building? Are there any plans for anybody here to meet with her?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know given her status. I imagine she would be received should she request a meeting. In fact, maybe there have been attempts to arrange one. I can check on that. I'm not aware of any.
Q You'll let us know one way or the other if something is set up or if something is not set up?
MR. McCURRY: We will.
Q Can we do Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Haiti. One more, Bill.
Q Regarding, Mike, this article in the Times today by Mr. Gertz alleging, from a CIA report of December 22, that Yeltsin is still in control but not exercising leadership and that he is doomed by ill health. The CIA has not received any confirmation from them about this. Can you tell me anything? I understand it's been distributed in this building.
MR. McCURRY: I'm not going to comment on intelligence reports that may or may not be distributed. That's a long- standing practice that we don't publicly share our assessments regarding foreign leaders, foreign governments.
Q Without going into any intelligence reports, just an unclassified comment on Yeltsin's health? What's your understanding of --
MR. McCURRY: I guess our best understanding comes from the recent meeting that the Vice President of the United States had with President Yeltsin, which was a vibrant meeting in which the President participated and had a full range of issues that he discussed with the Vice President under the general heading of the Gore-Chernomyrdin visit.
He clearly had had some type of nasal surgery, which is consistent with the public reports that had been indicated, but I'm not aware of any other extensive medical analysis that the Vice President was able to make in that encounter.
Q But nothing since? We haven't seen him since.
MR. McCURRY: I'm not --
Q Or spoken to him?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any contact that we've had through our Embassy, which would be the only way we would have had such contact in the time since the Vice President's meeting.
Q On Haiti, I believe you said tomorrow was the deadline by which Haitians at Guantanamo had to sign up for your repatriation grant. Can you bring us up to date on that?
MR. McCURRY: I can. As of the end of the day yesterday, some 540 Haitians had signed up to return voluntarily to Haiti in response to the statement that we delivered to them in Creole on December 29. Most of those, I believe, have already returned to Port-au-Prince by a Coast Guard cutter. Some are scheduled, I believe, to depart later today.
They continue to have until midnight tonight, under the voluntary program that we enunciated, to get a repatriation grant of $200 Haitian dollars, which is about $80 U.S. dollars. They also will get some access to the jobs programs that have been established in Haiti through AID and others in the international community that have been working to try to get the Haitian economy going again with working closely, obviously, with President Aristide and his government.
We will see, as of the expiration of the deadline tonight, what happens. Obviously, there's only a fraction of the 4,500 or so Haitians who have been at Guantanamo. Clearly, most of them have not yet accepted the offer. We'll see how that develops during the course of the day today because we obviously are encouraging these folks to go home. We think the conditions in Haiti now are sufficient that most of them could safely return to their homes and start participating in the renewal of the Haitian political and economic life.
I'll have to report to you tomorrow on how many actually take it. Clearly, if they don't take it, we begin the process by which we conduct case-by-case discussions with each individual about involuntary repatriation. So they're going to go back home one way or another, and we think we've figured out a way to make it ease their transition back into the economic and political life of their homeland.
Q Are we getting any reasons why they would not take the money and be involuntarily repatriated?
MR. McCURRY: On a case-by-case basis, I don't have an answer, Sid, but the presumption is a lot of them would like to believe that they have some way of getting to the United States. They would like to be here, and who wouldn't want to be here. But their home is in Haiti, and that's where they belong, and that's where we think they can safely return.
Q Another subject. Bob Dole says he's going to introduce legislation today to lift the arms embargo.
MR. McCURRY: Unfortunately so. I believe that's right. He is going to do that. What we believe -- continue to believe -- is that it is just the wrong thing to do at this very important point in the crisis in Bosnia to suggest that somehow or other this very fragile cessation of hostilities agreement -- which we hope will turn into a full-scale discussion about a peace settlement based on the Contact Group proposal. To introduce into that moment a discussion about unilaterally lifting the arms embargo, we think, is not a wise course of action.
It is very likely, as we've said here repeatedly, that if you take on the unilateral responsibility of lifting the arms embargo, the United States would also unilaterally take on the consequences of that action, and that would include, in our view as a moral responsibility, the arming, training, and equipping the Bosnian Muslims who would have to defend themselves in the interim against a Bosnian-Serb military force that would likely try to take advantage of the situation.
How that could be achieved without a massive use of U.S. force unilaterally and very, very likely, the introduction of U.S. ground troops is a question that someone, I hope, will pose to Senator Dole.
Q Even if the Congress were to mandate a lifting of the embargo, it would still be within the discretion of the executive branch not to sell arms, is that not right?
MR. McCURRY: The United States Government could take the view that lifting the arms embargo, that we, in effect unilaterally abrogate our obligations to the world community, but then somewhat hypocritically fail to do anything about that. I suppose that is correct.
I'm not sure what the logic of that would be. If you're lifting the arms embargo for the purpose of trying to get arms to the Muslims, to the Bosnian Government, you do so, I think, with some moral responsibility to follow through on that and to engage in arming the warring party.
The answer might be, "Well, gee, there are all these other people in the world who would be more than happy to arm the Muslims." I would suggest then if it's Senator Dole's intent to allow Iran to aggressively arm and support the Bosnian Muslims, that's an interesting proposition. Probably ought to debate it in some greater detail, I would imagine.
Q Of course, in your position as making a transition, perhaps you could speak a little bit for the White House. If it's the wrong thing to do --
MR. McCURRY: I will not do that. I won't entertain that question. Next question.
Q If it's the wrong thing --
MR. McCURRY: Anybody else have a question?
Q Speaking then for the State Department --
MR. McCURRY: What does it say right here? (Laughter)
Q If it's the wrong thing to do, one of the things that the President has is the veto. Can you tell us that if it passes, rather than disturb this fragile ceasefire, that the President will veto it?
MR. McCURRY: You'll have to ask the White House about that.
Q Mike, it seems timely to ask about --
MR. McCURRY: Look, among other things, one thing that I think we would say here is that having just nurtured this cessation of hostilities accord, which is fragile -- (a) I will not take credit for having done it, although I think the United States through its diplomatic efforts has contributed to the environment in which that agreement was reached, but it was reached principally by the hard work of U.N. officials, as you know.
But having done that, it provides a period of time now that we might actually be able to get some progress towards a peace settlement that would bring the conflict to an end, if we start, as you know, from the premise that the Contact Group proposal is the basis for any such negotiations.
That needs time to develop. It is obviously by no means a guaranteed course of action that there would be any successful result of that type of negotiation, but it is worth giving that a try. Perhaps Congress, as it considers Senator Dole's resolution, might want to think about what that four-month period offers by way of an opportunity for negotiations. But that's the kind of thing that in the course of our very close consultations with Congress we will develop. We obviously will work closely with the Majority Leader and others in Congress to address the question. We think we can argue effectively that we're at a point in the diplomacy based on the work the Contact Group has done that we need to see if we can't use this new diplomatic opportunity to build on the opportunity for peace.
Q But you're unable to say or unwilling to say at this point then that if Congress does drive this through, that --
MR. McCURRY: I'm not in a position to say.
Q -- the President would veto it.
MR. McCURRY: I'm not in a position to say. I can't speak for the White House on that point, and I'm not aware that the White House has developed a thinking on specifically that point. I think they're interested. We are very interested, and I think the entire Administration is very interested, in working closely with Congress to get them to understand what we believe is the dynamic at work now, as the warring parties have some limited amount of time in which they might make progress on a peace settlement.
Q Does the Administration still favor a multilateral lift?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, we do, because the rationale for this is important. There is no question that the effect of the arms embargo did an injustice to the Bosnian Government. But lifting that arms embargo unilaterally means the United States takes on unilateral responsibility, as I just suggested, for all the things that happen, not to mention the consequences of a major power in the United Nations unilaterally abrogating a U.N. Security Council resolution.
What about all the other resolutions where we are encouraging others to kind of hang tough, whether it's the Iraq sanctions regime or others. But for all of those reasons unilateral lift is a very, very bad idea.
Lifting multilaterally, which would require the action of the U.N. Security Council, is something that would address that injustice that's been done. It is just practically and in reality an impossibility because of the positions that you know of in the Security Council that have been very well articulated by other governments within the Security Council.
Q What's the State Department's latest reading of the arms shipments across the border, that border that Milosevic claims he has closed.
MR. McCURRY: Arms trafficking in the nether world of arms trafficking -- there's clearly transactions that continue to take place, but both along the Bosnian-Serbia border -- that is, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia-Bosnia border -- there have been effective measures to control transshipments across that border and now in what's called the back door along the Krajina; there have also been more effective measures to halt and cut off the shipment or flow of arms across that border.
So there is some evidence that Milosevic and the Belgrade authorities have followed through on some of their commitments to close down that border. By no means is it sealed. There clearly continues to be trafficking across there, but we believe we've seen in recent weeks some evidence that shipments across both of those borders had been curtailed.
Q Still on that, isn't there a deadline approaching for continuing the current status of partial lifting of sanctions?
MR. McCURRY: That is correct, and we will have to make a judgment as we see that deadline approaches. I believe it's January 12, January 15? It's something like that. It's coming up within a period of a week.
Q -- report to Congress that the border is effectively closed - -
MR. McCURRY: This is subject to a U.N. action, Andrea. I think that the monitoring is done collectively by the monitoring mission that was put in place along that border, a judgment that they then render to the Security Council. As I say, we'll be interested in really seeing what the situation is as they make that review.
There is some evidence that would suggest that there has been measures to close that border off, which would suggest that the limited sanctions release that was applied to Serbia might then be continued. But we'll need to wait and see exactly how things unfold in the coming days.
Q Another subject?
MR. McCURRY: One more on that.
Q Just finally, Mike, what progress has been made in the cease- fire? What is the Department's assessment? And what -- I understand there's some fighting going on in the -- still going on in the pocket -- in the Bihac pocket. But, secondly, what has been done by the powers involved in trying to make peace? What progress has been made? Is this a good cease-fire?
MR. McCURRY: I'll provide what we've got. The cease- fire does appear to be holding well in most parts of the country. There continues to be fighting in the Bihac pocket. There are some reports of fighting up in the northwestern corner of the Bihac pocket. I assume that is near Velika Kladusha where a lot of fighting has been occurring in recent days.
The Sarajevo airport reopened yesterday after having been closed due to bad weather. There are now humanitarian supplies that are flowing relatively smoothly to most parts of the country, with the important exception of Bihac where obviously there continues to be consequences of fighting that again involved a very complicated set of combatants, including the Muslim separatists who were receiving support from a variety of sources there. The fighting there in the Bihac pocket does not resemble necessarily a lot of the fighting occurring elsewhere.
The U.N. reports that the Bosnian Government troops are prepared today to withdraw from their positions around Mount Igman which was one aspect of the agreement that they reached. General Rose has started discussions today on the establishment of those joint commissions that were envisioned as part of the cessation of hostilities agreement.
Q Is the Contact Group following up on this --
MR. McCURRY: The Contact Group is expected to meet tomorrow in Bonn, and again they will be exploring those steps that we can take from this point that will get the parties back into a discussion based on the Contact Group proposal of last July that we hoped could lead to a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
Q Before we go to Saul, one more on Bosnia, please. On the arms embargo as it affects the Bosnian Government, some weeks ago before Bihac blew up again, the Bosnian Government seemed to be fielding a lot of new uniforms, light arms, and so on.
Is the arms embargo -- they weren't getting heavy arms, but is the arms embargo in fact pretty porous, and aren't they getting a lot of things anyway?
MR. McCURRY: It is a fact of long duration that arms embargo over time people figure out ways to run an embargo. That has been one reason why we have from time to time called up for stepped enforcement of various types of embargoes around the world, because people just figure out over time how to elude them.
There has been some evidence that people have figured out in a variety of ways how to elude the arms embargo on Bosnia. There is some evidence that there is resupply going on, but it's clearly curtailed or not as significant as it would be in the absence of some measures to enforce the arms embargo.
Saul, do you have another one?
Q I was just curious to know whether anybody from the State Department here or the peace team is accompanying Secretary Perry on his trip to the Middle East?
MR. McCURRY: That is a good question. They work together as a group so tightly that I suspect they will or some combination will, but I would have to check and see who all would be in that delegation. Secretary Perry -- some of you may know that they had a couple of senior officials who briefed a little bit on his trip earlier today at the Pentagon and talked about his stops in Egypt and Israel.
I think it reflects some of what I said yesterday about the nature of the trip. He's clearly going to be there looking mostly at some of the military aspects of our military cooperation and our security interests, both in Egypt and Israel.
Q It was a little unclear, as it was described to me -- they said that Secretary Perry would not be getting into the Middle East peace process, and then at the same time he will discuss any future arrangements whereby U.S. peacekeepers might be stationed on the Golan Heights (inaudible) the Syrians -- I mean, is he --
MR. McCURRY: Sid, I've talked to the Pentagon, but my understanding is contrary, that Secretary Perry has a good understanding of the status of the peace process, and I think understands that we're not in a position at this point that the question of a U.S. presence as part of the peacekeeping force or a potential peacekeeping force in the Golan is a real issue in front of either of the parties or the United States.
We are a long ways away from the point at which that would be contemplated, because they're a long ways away from the point that we could foresee an agreement between the two parties.
Q But that's the point that the two parties are discussing, security arrangements, and, you know, they sort of peeled it off --
MR. McCURRY: It is one aspect of a very complicated negotiation, by no means the most contentious aspect.
Another subject or another one. Betsy.
MR. McCURRY: Then we'll come back.
Q Islamic Fundamentalists have said that Embassies -- all foreign Embassies must be out of Algeria and have broken off relations by January 7. What does all this --
MR. McCURRY: We don't have any indication of the authenticity of this alleged letter, but obviously we take threats like that seriously, and we have for some time been very concerned about the security situation in Algeria. We've reduced our Embassy staff to a letter that we consider appropriate under the current circumstances.
We've got in place, obviously, an active security program which we constantly review, update as need be, and we take very strict precaution to ensure the safety of personnel in Algeria and to provide other resident Americans with a very accurate picture of the security situation and how to deal with it.
We've been updating our travel warning on Algeria fairly consistently, including just at the end of the year on the 30th, to take into account the recent air hijacking episode; and we continue to warn Americans it is a very dangerous situation in Algeria, and they need to be taking maximum precautions as they consider their own security needs.
Q But they did get a letter in Algiers. The U.S. Embassy in Algiers did get that letter, whether it's authentic or not.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. The U.S. and several other Embassies in Bern, in Switzerland, received similar letters, warning that foreigners would be killed if the diplomatic missions in Algiers were not closed by January 7. Again, we have not established the authenticity of the letter or related it to any specific security threat. Given our very real concerns about security for U.S. personnel and U.S. citizens in Algeria, we are going to proceed accordingly.
Q And it was the same letter that the others received?
MR. McCURRY: Described as similar letters. That's all I have. I don't know whether they were identical.
Q Could you clarify, did the letter go to the Embassy in Bern or Algiers?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. U.S. Embassy Bern.
Q Can you attribute it to a source?
MR. McCURRY: I cannot.
Q Is this coming from the GIA?
MR. McCURRY: I cannot. We have, as I said, haven't established either the authenticity of the letter or the identity of the sender.
Q Wasn't it postmarked in Paris?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have that information here.
Q Mike, what are the numbers at the Embassy and the numbers of Americans in Algeria? Have you done that recently?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't done that. I don't have it here, Chris. I haven't done that recently. (To Staff) Anyone recall offhand?
We can see whatever. I think we did that in one of our most recent guidances on it.
Q Turkish terrorists, they killed two days ago 19 civilians in (inaudible) in Turkey. The first part of the question is do you have any reaction? The second part, before the New Year I asked a question, the PKK is planning to establish a government-in-exile in the northern Iraq, which the --
MR. McCURRY: I think you followed up with someone on that.
Q Yes, I got the answer, but yesterday the PKK leader, he officially make a statement that they are making a government-in-exile in the northern Iraq and planning to dismember it in Turkey. Do you have any comment?
MR. McCURRY: I am not aware of that statement. I'd have to look into that and see if I can get some kind of reaction to it. Obviously, on the killings involved, as we do with all killings, we condemn and deplore them, but we'll find out more about the circumstances of that.
Q Another subject. Is the so-called KEDO, the Korean Energy Development Organization, is that meeting here on Monday, deputy level, as reported elsewhere?
MR. McCURRY: No. I don't know that they've nailed down any of the meetings. I know that there are three sets of meetings that are going to happen in January. One is on light-water reactor technology. One is on spent fuel -- the spent fuel rods currently in storage in Yongbyon, and my recollection is that the spent fuel talks are going to take place in North Korea as well as there will also be talks on the exchange of liaison offices.
I think the spent fuel talks and the liaison talks are in Pyongyang, and then there will be discussions on the light-water reactor talks. There have been a lot of discussions -- including some in San Francisco just prior to the end of the year -- about the consortium that would be set up called the Korean Energy Development Organization that would encourage participation by other governments in the funding of some aspects of this light-water reactor technology.
It's obviously not the intent of the United States Government to foot any but some fraction of the cost of this agreed framework, and the bulk of the costs of the light- water reactor technology to be provided will be borne by other governments. We've been in active consultation, as you know, with the South Koreans, the Japanese, among others, about how to foot that bill and how to actually arrange for the organization that would supervise the provision of this technology.
Those talks have been ongoing. I was not aware that they had another round scheduled for Monday. I can check on that and see if that is in fact the case. The most recent, as I say, were in San Francisco at the end of the year.
Q You said there were three rounds of talks in January. You mentioned two.
MR. McCURRY: The spent fuel talks, and the liaison talks in North Korea, and the light-water reactor talks. They have not selected a venue for those yet. The other two sets of talks will be in North Korea, but we don't have any firm dates for those yet.
Q Mike, do you (inaudible) talks coming up? Remember, that idea -- reports varied, but you guys held out hope for it. I'm hearing just kind of preliminary that the people are coming here -- the Casablanca bank idea. If you don't have it off the top of your head.
MR. McCURRY: No, they were coming the 10th. I should check on that, Barry. I believe the talks were coming on the 10th, and there have been a lot of preparatory talks going into it to build support for what we felt was a significant achievement at Casablanca, which was the commitment to some type of funding mechanism to nurture the peace process in the Middle East.
Q (Inaudible) And how many countries --
MR. McCURRY: There's a lot of work to do, because I think a lot of governments correctly want to know exactly what arrangements are going to be made to handle the financing, and that's one of the purposes of these upcoming talks. We don't think we're going to resolve all the issues that would allow for the creation of the bank, but we hope to make some headway.
Q Your office can get a list of the countries, so we'll know if Saudi Arabia's going to be here.
Q Where is it going to be in (inaudible)
MR. McCURRY: I believe here in Washington. I don't know. I think they're somewhere here in town. We'll work that up and see if we can do something tomorrow. We'll take that one for tomorrow and do a little fact sheet on what they're going to do.
Q Can I go back to Korea and energy. The oil shipment that's due. Is it due to be shipped by the 21st or due to arrive there on the 21st? Do you have any nuts, bolts on where it's coming from?
MR. McCURRY: It was scheduled for delivery January 21. The process by which, presumably, a tanker would make its way to North Korea is one that I'm not familiar enough to comment upon. The Pentagon, I think, plans to do a little bit of backgrounding on aspects of the delivery of that shipment sometime later this week, if not tomorrow.
Q Have we ever figured out yet whether you all have to get Congressional approval for that shipment or not?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is it's coming under the Defense Emergency -- Emergency or Contingency Funding. We had that yesterday. There goes David (Johnson) dutifully to get it.
There's some provision within Defense funding that can allow them to provide that on an emergency or contingency basis. I'm not sure. We can dig up the exact provision. That is available to the Pentagon for uses like this.
Obviously, we expect there to be very close oversight by Congress of the entire agreed framework. As I've said on several occasions, we look forward to it because we think making the case that this agreed framework is in our interest and the interest of the United States is one that we are looking for opportunities to develop.
Q With respect to this consortium, you and Ambassador Gallucci have both said that the United States does not intend to be a large contributor to this. The Japanese Government has also said it intends to do just the absolute minimum. Is this essentially going to be financed entirely by South Korea?
MR. McCURRY: There will be participation by the Japanese. We expect the South Koreans; perhaps others within the consortium. How they will apportion or divide the costs of the estimated $4 billion is not entirely clarified at this point. As I say, it is certainly the understanding by all the parties going into it that the United States would not foot the disproportionate size of that bill; that obviously most of the costs would be borne by the Japanese and the South Koreans. The exact ways in which those costs will be divided is one aspect of the discussions being held about how do you create and establish the Korean Energy Development Organization, to begin with. So that's still on- going.
I thought I had a specific provision. The Defense Department has just described it as a "Defense Department emergency and extraordinary expenses account." That's how they would pay for it.
By the way, the figure I've seen -- some of you have used the figure $4.7 million. I think that that's accurate. I'm told that it's just 50,000 metric tons of oil, or whatever the price is. I assume that works out to $4.7 million. It would make sense, right?
Q On this issue and other related Foreign Relation matters -- liaison with the Congress -- let me ask specifically on the Dole plan, is there going to be a consultation by the Department of State with the leadership of the Senate? And what plan is there in the House to follow up, and will it be a bill like they passed last year -- a resolution or a binding piece of legislation?
MR. McCURRY: As Congress reconvenes today, we begin a cycle of both formal and informal consultations that will include appearances of the Secretary of State before the relevant committees and subcommittees in Congress, including appearances by senior Administration officials from here in the Department on various aspects of both budget and policy.
I can assure you that the work the Administration is doing to try to bring the conflict in Bosnia to an end will be a subject of a great deal of consultation with the leadership -- with the bipartisan leadership -- and we hope that we can achieve bipartisan support for the work we are doing to try to bring this tragic conflict to an end.
Q Mr. Dole, I take it, has made a commitment to consult first before?
MR. McCURRY: I can't cite a specific commitment, but I think he's indicated a genuine desire to work on matters not only in foreign policy but other matters in a spirit of bipartisanship. We welcome that opportunity.
Obviously, we think in the case of Bosnia we can substantially affect the thinking of members of Congress, if we do have that type of opportunity to consult in a bipartisan way.
One thing before we wrap up. The Ukraine Link is in the Department's Nuclear Risk Reduction Center. Whether or not you can get access to that, it's something I would doubt.
Q (Inaudible) see photos or whatever?
MR. McCURRY: Something like that. We'll look into that. After I buttered up the Op-Center earlier, maybe they'll let us in.
Q Israel has acknowledged on the record that it's helped China develop a new jet fighter. They can't say for sure whether some technology from previous cooperation with the United States was transferred illegally. Is the Administration investigating that? Have we asked for Israel's cooperation?
MR. McCURRY: Absolutely. Obviously, we've seen some of the press accounts about measures of cooperation that have occurred between Israel and China. We take credible reports of any unauthorized transfer of U.S. military technology enormously seriously.
The Arms Export Control Acts require us under our own law to look into those types of reports, to monitor what type of technology transfers may be occurring without specific U.S. authorization.
We do have extensive procedures for monitoring that type of transfer. When we see what we deem to be some action that requires a response, we take the appropriate action; we inform members of Congress; we proceed under the law as we are required to do.
I'm not going to be able to go into any specifics involving this case, but I can tell you that when issues like this arise regarding Israel, we share the information we have with them. They provide responses. We have an on-going method of dealing with those of types of questions. We do follow up, and we will follow up.
Q On the Pan case -- on the Patriot missile aero- case -- it went to the Inspector General's office here. Would it probably be handled in the same manner as the Patriot?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't suggest that. There is a way under law in which we are required to proceed. The Secretary has designated the Under Secretary for International Arms Control. (TO STAFF) What is Lynn Davis' full title -- Under Secretary for International Security Affairs.
She is the proper authority under the designation of the Secretary to deal with those types of proliferation questions that arise on the munitions list under the Arms Export Control Act. So she is the designated official who looks into this type of thing. I know that she has had substantive discussions with the Government of Israel on a range of these types of issues. Without getting into any of the specifics of anything that might involve the Lavi fighter, I can say that those types of reports are those that concern us greatly. We pursue them and pursue them diligently.
Q So to put it simply, you're investigating the report?
MR. McCURRY: I think that's more than accurate.
Q What can you say? There have been technology transfers but you don't know if they were legal?
MR. McCURRY: I can't --
Q Or you're not saying if there have been any transfers at all?
MR. McCURRY: If I stood here and said that there had been technology transfers, we would actually be in the process of taking the necessary remedies required under law. So I'm specifically not saying that.
I'm not aware of any specific authorization for the transfer of that type of technology that has been referred to in some of these reports.
Q For how long has the U.S. been looking at this particular case?
MR. McCURRY: This has been going around.
Q Right, that's why I'm asking.
MR. McCURRY: Jim Mann had a good story in the L.A. Times last week, I think, on it. When I checked into last week, people said, "Gee, these reports have been around for some time." So this has been item on our agenda for these consultations that we have for some length of time.
Q (Inaudible) hearings get into?
MR. McCURRY: It is possible that you would, but that by no means would define the agenda. It would be something that could conceivably be raised. I refer you to competent authority at the Pentagon.
Q What are the remedies you mentioned -- sanctions, or --
MR. McCURRY: There are a full-range of things that are available under the Arms Export Control Act. There are different types of sanction provisions that are available. We've dealt with those here from time to time. You've got some sense of how we proceed.
We find a sanctionable act has occurred and we proceed under law. We do formal notifications to Congress, and I think we publish in the Federal Register simultaneously, if I'm not mistaken.
Q Did I just hear you say that you didn't specifically want to exclude the fact that you had already found a transfer of technology?
MR. McCURRY: No. I said I would exclude that. Because if we had, that's a sanctionable event at which there would have been an action that we would have reported to you.
Q I thought you excluded that there had been a legal transfer because you knew there had been no authorization?
MR. McCURRY: Transfers can occur when there is specific U.S. authorization. I'm not aware of any that involves that type of technology. I was just ruling out the possibility that we had found a sanctionable offense and had failed to take action. We obviously would not be able to do that under the law.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:31 p.m.)
(###)To the top of this page