U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING APRIL 10, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, April 10, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly NORTH KOREA Report of Refueling of Nuclear Reactor ................1 PAKISTAN Report of Construction of Nuclear Reactor .............2-3 NON-PROLIFERATION Report of U.S. Discussions on ABM Treaty ..............3-4 TURKEY Withdrawal of Troops from Northern Iraq ...............5 Secretary Christopher Comment re: Possibility of OSCE Involvement ...............5,8 IRAQ Reports of Iraqi Nuclear Program ......................5,8-9 UNSCOM Report on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction ....5 U.S. Position on Independent Kurdish State ............7 RUSSIA Possible Nuclear Cooperation with Iran ................6-7 IRAN Reported Shipment of Oil Rigs to Serbia ................8 Report of U.S. Pressure re: Re-routing of Pipeline .....8 BURMA Burmese Army Offensive .................................9-10 Status of Political Prisoner Aung Sung Suu Kyi .........11-12 Recent Release of 132 Political Prisoners ..............10 MIDDLE EAST Gaza Strip--Suicide Bomb Attacks .......................11-12 Ambassador Dennis Ross' Trip to Region .................13-14 CUBA Status of UN Mission Diplomats .........................12-13 SYRIA Support for Terrorist Groups ...........................13 INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS & LAW ENFORCEMENT Mexico--Report of Drug Cartel Responsibility for Assassinations .......................................13-14 Reports of Threats Against UN/SG Bhoutros Gali .........14 GREECE Ambassador Holbrooke Discussions w/Gov't of Turkey .....14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, APRIL 10, 1995, 12:43 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: I have no announcements or special pieces of paper I want to read from today, so let me just proceed directly to take your questions.
Q Are there any developments that you're worried about at Yongbyon, the North Korean reactor?
MS. SHELLY: I assume you're referring to at least one press report that suggested that the DPRK might be about to refuel their nuclear reactor. I'm told that the IAEA has not made any such report, although they have reported that the DPRK did maintenance and checks on some equipment related to refueling, but that it has not concluded that those checks indicate any intention to refuel the reactors.
I'm also told, based on the same information, that the South Korean statement on this -- also denying that they're about to refuel -- that they seem to have drawn the same conclusion from the IAEA information.
As you know, I gave a little readout on Friday on what was happening up in New York, just the fact that there was a meeting with the representatives of the three governments from the U.S., South Korea and Japan, and that then there was also a meeting of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization. Those meetings took place. I don't have anything in particular to report on those meetings.
As you know, the talks in Berlin will resume on Wednesday of this week on April 12 and, of course, the purpose of those talks is to discuss the issues related to the light-water reactor project, and our delegation will be headed by Gary Seymour who was our delegation head the last time.
Q When you responded, you gave what the South Koreans think and what the IAEA thinks. Does the Clinton Administration have an analysis to offer on what this maintenance work suggests, if anything?
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that there has been some maintenance work which I believe that the IAEA has deemed legitimate maintenance work. I'm not aware that we have any particular view that is different from that which is in the IAEA at this point, which is simply to note that it has been done. But I don't think that we're reading anything in particular into that.
Q Was this anticipated that reactors periodically would be maintained in some way?
MS. SHELLY: It is my understanding that that is technically required, so I don't think that it was anything that set off big alarm bells back here.
Q Aren't they supposed to be dismantling it, though, not retaining it?
MS. SHELLY: Over the longer term. That was not anything they were required to do in the short term under the terms of the Agreed Framework.
Q Could we do Pakistan?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q The Post had a story on Saturday that said that Clinton Administration officials are dismayed because Pakistan is quietly constructing a nuclear reactor that would eventually give the country access to substantial quantities of plutonium.
MS. SHELLY: So, comment. Do you want me to comment, is that right?
Q That's not a bad idea.
MS. SHELLY: First of all, on this, as you know, the discussions of proliferation, as well as a broad range of topics, are on the agenda for meetings of the Prime Minister for tomorrow, so I'm not going to be able to do a lot of specifics, but I do have some points in response to that.
We've seen the reports, of course, that Pakistan is building a small research reactor at Khushab. Pakistan, like India, is not an NPT member, and it continues unsafeguarded nuclear research.
We have consulted with both countries on how to limit nuclear weapons capabilities to ensure stability in the region. As far as we know, Pakistan does not have the capability to reprocess plutonium.
We're going to continue our dialogue with Pakistan on non- proliferation in South Asia. As you're aware from things we said last week, we're also working with the Congress to try to find ways to improve our relations with Pakistan while meeting our non-proliferation concerns, and this effort will certainly take into account all relevant proliferation issues.
Q So the Post says that you're dismayed. Are you saying by your answer that you're not dismayed by this?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any particular reaction to report beyond that which I've just said.
Q So it's not new. I mean, it takes a long time to build a reactor. This thing is near completion. You all must have known about it for years.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything to add to what I've said.
Q Do you have a view on whether they should get the F-16s?
MS. SHELLY: We addressed that last week.
Q If there were a meeting at the White House today which, of course, you can't confirm because you don't confirm those types of meetings at the White House, who then theoretically at least would be representing the State Department since I think the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary and -- I'm not asking about ACDA; that was Mr. Holum who was in town -- who would be representing the State Department if there were such a theoretical meeting, do you know?
MS. SHELLY: Peter Tarnoff is the Acting Secretary.
Q He's the Acting, so let's see if we can move a little ahead. Would he be at the White House?
MS. SHELLY: That's sort of taking me a little bit beyond --
Q If meetings are held, would it be part of Peter Tarnoff's portfolio to attend those meetings?
MS. SHELLY: We're talking about theoretical meetings?
Q Yes. About breaking the ABM Treaty --
MS. SHELLY: This is sort of hypothetical meetings.
Q -- either solidly or only partially. Would Peter Tarnoff be there to represent the State Department?
MS. SHELLY: Peter Tarnoff in his capacity as Acting Secretary would attend any such meetings that required principal level participation from the State Department.
Q Does Mr. Tarnoff have travel plans this afternoon?
MS. SHELLY: Does Mr. Tarnoff have travel plans?
Q Do you have anything to say about the ABM Treaty, since this subject has come up?
MS. SHELLY: I can rehearse the chapter and verse of the ABM Treaty. I've seen, obviously, the report of discussions which are expected to take place in the context of internal U.S. policy deliberations which have not yet transpired, so, therefore, I can't get into a discussion of what is alleged in those articles.
I can just say that the ABM Treaty remains vital to U.S. national security interests, and in pursuing defenses against non-strategic ballistic missiles which are not constrained by the Treaty, it is consistent with U.S. national security interests to maintain the integrity of the Treaty.
Q Even if it has to be bent a little bit.
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I don't think that we considered that it is an issue of having to bend it, as you well know, because I think in fact you've walked me through this several times.
In the context of the Gulf War, we saw the danger that was posed by theater ballistic missiles, and that is an issue that we have been grappling with in the context of the ABM Treaty.
We have discussions, as you know, on theater missile defenses and on dividing lines between strategic and theater missiles. You know all about that. I think as a matter of fact you could probably teach the course on that.
Q Can I ask you if the speed of a missile has any relevance -- of an interceptor missile has any relevance to the validity of the ABM Treaty in the State Department's view?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a specific answer to that question. I'll be happy to look into that.
Q Of the interceptor missile, not of the target.
MS. SHELLY: I know. I understand the question, but I don't have anything on that.
Q The situation in Iraq. As you know, Turks have pulled back 3,000 troops and the major Kurdish factions, as you know, signed a cease-fire agreement. How do you evaluate these recent developments in the area?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a broad assessment to give you. Regarding the reports of the cease-fire, we've seen those reports, and we'll certainly continue to look into it. I'm not in a position to give any sort of independent confirmation to that.
Turkey did, of course, announce the withdrawal of some 3,500 troops from northern Iraq. We welcome this news. It's a step in the right direction, but we continue to stress, as we have in private as well as public, that the Turkish authorities need to limit the scope and duration of this operation and to safeguard human rights.
Q In that area, remember last week the Secretary, based on what he called a preview of a report on inspections in Iraq, said they would not be very reassuring so far as Iraq's activities in biological weapons development -- I suppose other weapons of mass destruction. Can you advance that at all? I don't know that the report has come out yet. It may be -- I suppose the -- he said this week, he thought.
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to be able to advance this story very much at this point. There have been a number of recent press reports about an Iraqi nuclear program, but we have seen no independent corroborative information on these reports.
We know, of course, that Iraq was working on the development of weapons of mass destruction prior to the Gulf War, and, as you know, we have frequently said we believe that Iraq is continuing to withhold information on its weapons of mass destruction programs.
UNSCOM Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus is to report on the findings of UMSCOM's recent inspection in Iraq today. I think that will take place this afternoon. The report will deal with weapons of mass destruction other than nuclear weapons, which is the responsibility of the IAEA. At this point it would be, I think, engaging in a little bit of pre-emptive speculation to get into the details of the report, but we may have some more we can say on this later in the week.
Q I want to jump in next door -- Iran. Does State want to jump into the question about cooperation agreements with Russia, or is the Vice President's statement yesterday sufficient?
MS. SHELLY: I think the Vice President's statement is certainly definitive. Our views on this are well known, and they have not changed with respect to the risks inherent in going down that kind of a cooperation track.
Q But you're don't going to disrupt your cooperation with Russia on nuclear problems, right?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, this Administration has said that we do not support the notion of linking specific other types of assistance programs to Russia's going ahead with that cooperation deal. All of the reasons why we think Russia should not go forward with that, I think, are very well known and have been articulated, obviously, most recently by the Vice President.
However, we certainly are aware of the fact that there are sentiments up on Capitol Hill that have a different view of linkage, and other than acknowledge that those sentiments are there, I don't think there's much else that I can do with that.
Q Isn't the Administration concerned that nuclear projects in which we cooperate with Russia -- U.S. nuclear technology essentially acquired by Russia -- could be passed on to Iran?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think that's a specific concern of ours. The Russians themselves have said in the context of their proceeding with this that they would, of course, apply all the usual safeguards in the context of their own relationship. But we have other types of cooperation with Russia that proceed on their own track, including all the steps and agreements that we make with them regarding safeguarding of any types of technology provisions that might be relevant.
Q Yes, but if they're willing to deal with Iran -- they offer the impression that they would sell anything to the highest bidder. What's to keep them from selling U.S. nuclear technology to Iran?
MS. SHELLY: That's --
Q Are you taking their word for it?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, that's getting very speculative. We get assurances before we proceed with cooperation with Russia on specific projects, and we would expect the Russians to keep to those assurances.
Q You'll take their word for it?
MS. SHELLY: We would expect the Russian authorities to keep to assurances that they make in the context of any agreements of that kind.
Q Could you please clarify the U.S. position vis-a-vis to the political future of the Kurdish people in northern Iraq, protected by your operation, "Provide Comfort," but occupied by Turkish invasion forces?
MS. SHELLY: I've been addressing Turkey virtually every single day that I've briefed, I think, in the last several weeks. I have nothing new regarding our overall position. What are you getting at?
Q As U.S. policy, would you accept the creation of an independent homeland in that crucial area for the national culture of the survival of the Kurdish people? What is the position -- the political --
MS. SHELLY: No, we do not support the creation of an independent Kurdish state.
Q What about autonomy?
MS. SHELLY: Autonomy is something that has to be worked out in the context of the regions where there are Kurdish populations, in the context of the states in whose borders they fall and within the territorial integrity.
Q One more question: The Turkish Foreign Minister the other day stated to the Washington Post that he would like to see gradually Baghdad's political authority over northern Iraq. What is the U.S. position to this effect?
MS. SHELLY: If that was a Turkish statement, the appropriate place to get an interpretation or reflection of that is the Turkish authorities.
Q But there was a discussion here at the State Department. So the question is directed to the State Department or to the --
MS. SHELLY: As a longer-term proposition, if the Iraqis choose to stop persecuting the populations that fall within the area, there might be a possibility for some other regime. But right now, "Operation Provide Comfort" is there and is providing protection for the Iraqi Kurds against the type of actions which have been undertaken against them in the past by Iraqi authorities.
Q Last week, Secretary Christopher, at a photo-op session, said that he suggested the good offices of OSCE as a solution in northern Iraq to Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr. Inonu. Did the Administration or the Department have any initiatives in that regard? Could you comment on that specific solution?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have anything to state beyond which was offered by the Secretary.
Q On Saturday, the New York Times reported -- a story in the Times -- saying that Iran was shipping oil rigs enroute to Serbia in violation of U.N. sanctions. Do you have any comment on that article?
MS. SHELLY: I do not. We have seen the article in question, and we are in fact checking on the information contained in it. But it simply was not possible to get something formal to say on this by today; so it's something we may be prepared to come back maybe tomorrow or later in the week.
Q Also on Iran, apparently, they're complaining that it was U.S. pressure that forced Azerbaijan to reroute the pipeline, that they were the consortium that they were arranging. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything new for today. We talked about our position before, which was that we did not support the pipeline passing through Iran. I'm not aware there's anything new on that score.
Q It said it's not going to pass through Iran.
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry?
Q That it is not going to pass through Iran.
MS. SHELLY: That has always been our position, that we favored other geographic formulations.
Q Can we get back to the general subject of the U.N. report which is due out later today? But the question I want to ask is not related to the report.
Can you state what U.S. concerns might be in the area of weapons of mass destruction, that the Iraqis may still have the capability to possess or to develop, irrespective of the report?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything new for today. I think our positions on this -- we have gone into that in the past on several occasions. I'd be happy to go back and look and see what we've said and see if there's anything new we can add. I just don't have anything beyond that for today.
Q Any applause for the Burmese crackdown on Khun Sa?
MS. SHELLY: I have a little bit of information.
We've seen some reports of some clashes between Khun Sa's forces and Burmese army. I think these began as early as February. Then in the last couple of weeks or so -- the late March period -- there were reports of larger skirmishes, including a raid on the vicinity of Tachilek by Khun Sa's troops on March 20.
The Burmese army mounted an offensive against Khun Sa in the final weeks of the dry season with the objective of reducing the area of the Shan state under the control of Khun Sa's forces. We know that both sides have suffered casualties in the fighting, but the level of hostilities does not seem to be as intense as during a similar late dry season offensive by the Burmese army in 1994.
As you know, Khun Sa is one of the world's major drug criminals. Although Khun Sa claims to be an ethnic nationalist fighting for the independence of the Shan people, it's clear that he and his army exist primarily for the purpose of drug trafficking.
Khun Sa and his army are the principal buyers of opium and the manufacturers of heroin in Burma. He also operates an extensive network for trafficking heroin through Thailand.
As to the general view about the offensive action, and if we wish to characterize that in some way, I can just say the army offensive in 1994 against the SUA forced the closure of heroin refineries and did disrupt opium trafficking routes. We view that as a positive development and would welcome similar developments that might result from the current offensive.
Q Any chance that might you as a policy towards Burma at all? You were looking for things like that as well as the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
MS. SHELLY: Right. As you know, we do not have any bilateral programs of cooperation with Burma, although we do work through the U.N.-drug controlled program. I think that in every statement that we've ever made by the drug trafficking situation in Burma, we have talked about the absolute dire situation related to this. Of course, it's a very complicated situation as the drug trafficking generally is dominated by ethnic armies that are operating outside of the control of the Burmese Government.
Obviously, steps that the Burmese Government takes, or the Burmese army takes, to interrupt the supply and the trafficking organizations, that, in and by itself, is positive. But I'm not sure that it's necessarily a basis on which we would change our overall position on Burma.
On Aung San Suu Kyi, that's, of course, another point which you've touched upon. That's a point of great continuing interest and concern for us. There isn't anything new on that score. She has been under house arrest since mid-July 1989. Her detention has been extended through July 11, 1995.
We've repeatedly have called on the Burmese Government to free her and all remaining political prisoners in Burma so that they can participate in political life of their nation.
I would just note a recent release of some 132 political prisoners by the Burmese authorities, including Tin oo and Kyi Maung, who were two close associates of Aung San Suu Kyi's. We hope that their release will bode well for Aung San Suu Kyi's release in the short term.
Q Two things. First, do you think it will? You're saying you hope it will. But do you take that as a sign of her impending release? And, secondly, is this current operation of drug -- are you welcoming it as an effort to stem the flow of narcotics?
MS. SHELLY: We're welcoming it in the context which I described, which is to ...
Q You referred to the '94 operation. Is this the same thing?
MS. SHELLY: It's in the context of actions that they take to try to stop the production in trafficking of heroin and opium. We look upon that as a positive development. I'm not perhaps giving it the sort of glowing endorsement that you are trying to get me to make, but it is welcomed in the context of the action and in the drug enforcement context.
Q I need you to make an endorsement one way or the other, Christine.
MS. SHELLY: That's certainly the impression you've left me with.
Q What is the impression?
MS. SHELLY: It's a measured response on our part. Again, one which we think reflects the kind of action that we'd like to see them take.
I'm simply not in a position to predict whether or not this most recent action will bode well for Aung San Suu Kyi. We certainly would like to see her released as soon as possible.
Q Does the State Department feel it's doing a fine job in trying to get at the killers of six Israeli soldiers and another Israeli and the wounding of small children?
MS. SHELLY: Let me start by noting --
Q We have that already, and the enemies of peace, we know.
MS. SHELLY: All I wanted to do was to simply note that the Secretary and the President, of course, also issued statements yesterday which did condemn in the strongest possible terms the act of terrorism that took place yesterday, which were absolutely brutal and heinous by any score.
The issue of terrorist attacks and steps that Chairman Arafat has taken, or is taking, to try prevent some bombings, he did move very quickly to condemn the attack and he has committed himself to making the maximum effort possible to prevent this kind of attack from occurring against innocent victims.
This needs to be done through uncovering, through disarming, and through arresting and prosecuting all of those who are engaged in terrorist plans to undermine the peace process.
In response to the latest attacks, the Palestinian Authority, reportedly, has arrested more than 150 Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists. They have sentenced to 15 years imprisonment Islamic Jihad member Samir Ali al-Jedi for his involvement in terrorist activities.
We expect the Palestinian authority to take this type of concrete action against those within its jurisdiction who seek to destroy the peace process through acts of violence and terror.
Q What do you have in the way of an update on the American casualties?
MS. SHELLY: The only specific thing that I have is, of course, the name of the American who was injured in the attack. This is Alisa Michelle Flatow, a U.S. citizen student who was critically wounded in the first of two attacks in Gaza yesterday.
Ms. Flatow was declared brain dead this morning. Her father traveled to Israel and is arranging to have her organs donated.
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is also assisting her father. The White House, I understand, has also been in contact with her father.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Flatow family and deplore this senseless act of terrorism.
I'm told there were two other individuals believed to be American citizens who were injured in the attack. We understand both individuals were treated at Beersheva Hospital and released. We do not have Privacy Act waivers and cannot provide the names or additional information on these two individuals at this point.
Q Do you have an update on the Cubans who you were thinking about expelling last week?
MS. SHELLY: I have nothing new on that score. When David did this at the briefing last week, he said it was our general policy, in the case that the host country decided to decline the waiver of immunity in the case of a serious offense, that our policy was to require the offenders to leave. I don't have any update beyond that for you.
Q You still expect him to leave?
MS. SHELLY: I have nothing new to suggest on that score.
Q Christine, both Islamic Jihad and Hamas -- I hate to keep bringing this up -- have offices in Damascus. Any sort of words for the President of Syria about support for those groups?
MS. SHELLY: I think the President of Syria knows our position on this. We've raised it on repeated occasions and at high levels. The Secretary also addressed this question, I think, from you in a photo op last week, and it will continue to be a subject that we will raise with the utmost concern with the Syrians.
Q Did they condemn the attack?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I haven't seen anything on that yet.
Q He also said he would instruct Dennis (Ross) to raise it with Mr. Assad. Did Dennis in fact raise it as the Secretary said he would?
MS. SHELLY: The Secretary did ask him to raise that, and I don't have a readout on that exchange.
Q Where's Dennis these days? Is he back? Is it over? I'm not sure. I think I've lost track of him.
MS. SHELLY: No. He's still out there. Today he's in Amman. He's in Jordan today. I don't have further details on his schedule or his talks beyond reiterating that he's following up on the Secretary's visit to the region. That's what I've got, really. He's in Jordan.
Q When is he coming back?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have that.
Q Christine, the La Reforma newspaper of Mexico City was reported by Reuters -- this in the Post Saturday -- the report was basically that the Ariano Felix drug cartel of Tijuana was felt to be responsible for the killing of the Police Chief of Tijuana who was investigating the murder of Colosio, who I believe also is implicated -- the Felix family is implicated in that murder, and it says in this article the killing of Cardinal Ocompo was thought to have been the responsibility of that drug cartel going right to the heart of the Mexican Government, etc.
What is the reaction of the State Department to this rather authoritative report, and to what extent is the United States Government continuing to be involved in the investigation, especially the State Department?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything for you. President Zedillo has given his indication and his determination that he's going to conduct a full and fair investigation, and I think it's inappropriate for us to comment on it while it's underway.
Q Okay, and, if I could, on another subject, having to do with an assassination in North America recently, the attempt -- the threat -- the attempt on the life of Secretary General Boutros-Ghali in Salvador. Boutros-Ghali also told us that there was a threat in Guatemala. Can you comment on either of those threats; who might have been behind them?
MS. SHELLY: No, I cannot.
One last question.
Q According to some reports, Dennis Ross, when he was in Damascus, he talked about PKK issue with the Syrian officials. Do you have anything on that?
MS. SHELLY: I do not.
Q Did he raise it? Does that go under the same heading as before?
MS. SHELLY: As terrorism?
Q Yes. I mean, the Secretary said -- actually that was what he said he would ask to have Dennis raise it and not the other.
MS. SHELLY: Right. I believe that it was going to be specifically on the PKK but also in the context of our general concerns about terrorism.
Q So he did ask him specifically to raise the PKK terrorism.
MS. SHELLY: The Secretary asked Dennis to take this issue up, and I'm simply not going to get into a discussion of the specifics.
Q Since Under Secretary Holbrooke was in Athens last weekend, do you have anything on his talks with Papandreou's government?
MS. SHELLY: I do not.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:12 p.m.)
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