95/05/06 Interview of Secretary of State by Rovert Novak and Roland Evans on CNN's "Evans and Novak"  Return to: Index of 1995 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

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                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                        Office of the Spokesman

5:30 p.m. Embargo                                    May 6, 1995


                             INTERVIEW OF
                      ROBERT NOVAK AND ROLAND EVANS
                       ON CNN'S "EVANS AND NOVAK"

                               May 6, 1995

MR. NOVAK:  I'm Robert Novak.  Roland Evans and I will question 
President Clinton's chief diplomat about the upcoming Moscow summit.

MR. EVANS:  He is Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

President Clinton overruled some of his own diplomatic advisers when he 
accepted Boris Yeltsin's invitation to a gaudy Moscow summit 
commemorating Russia's 27 million World War II dead on the 50th 
anniversary of V-E Day.  Although Clinton wants to resolve three major 
issues, Yeltsin so far has given no sign of compromising on any of the 
three:  first, expanding NATO to include Poland and other East European 
states; second, stopping the sale of up to four nuclear reactors to 
Iran; and lastly, persuading Yeltsin not to violate the treaty on 
conventional forces in Europe.  In addition, the President has been 
unable to persuade Yeltsin to stop the killing of civilians in Russia's 
war against the breakaway province of Chechnya.

Mr. Secretary, when he gets to Moscow, will the President inform Mr. 
Yeltsin that if he doesn't stop the war in Chechnya -- 45,000 civilians 
now estimated killed -- we might cut American aid to Russia?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There will be a wide-ranging conversation the 
President is going to have with him.  I'm sure they'll be talking about 
Chechnya.  We've been saying since before Christmas we thought this was 
a tragic enterprise, a real mistake on their part.  No doubt, Rollie, 
the Russians have paid very heavily for this in world opinion.

I think what the President will be saying is that the degree of progress 
that Russia makes in entering Western institutions like the G-7 will 
inevitably be affected by what they do in Chechnya.

I want to talk to you about aid for a minute, because every bit of aid 
we give them is in our interest.  We always ought to ask the question:  
"Should we shut off that aid?  Should we take the disadvantage to 

For example, part of that aid, as you know, is Nunn-Lugar funds -- funds 
which are used to dismantle the Soviet nuclear arsenal.  We want to have 
that program go forward, so it would not be in our interest to cut off 
that kind of aid.  We need to ask that question every time when we 
consider cutting off aid.

But on your central point, there's no doubt that the Russians are 
suffering, I believe, both internally and externally from this 
misadventure in Chechnya.

MR. EVANS:  You're referring to Senator Lugar of Indiana, who is running 
for President.


MR. EVANS:  Sergei Kovalev, who was appointed by Mr. Yeltsin to cover 
human rights, was here, as you know, last week.  He said it is now 
certain in his opinion there is a re-emergence of an oppressive Russian 
state; it is anti-Western; there's anti-Western propaganda.  They are 
beginning to control the news media.  And, of course, he was originally 
appointed by Boris Yeltsin, although fired.  What do you say to that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I talked to him when he was here.  He has very 
strong views about Chechnya.  He's a very strong human rights advocate, 
and I respect him for that.  I think his statements about Russia and the 
attitudes there are overstatements at the present time.

One of the things that has characterized Russia recently has been a very 
strong and vigorous press.  The television coverage of Chechnya has been 
all throughout Russia.  So one of the things I think we have to respect 
President Yeltsin for is maintaining essential freedom of the press in 
Russia in a way that it has never been before.

I think we also ought to recognize that President Yeltsin has permitted 
a vigorous debate in the Duma.  He also has confirmed the fact that 
parliamentary elections will go ahead at the end of this year.  So I 
think it's an overstatement to say that there is a repressive Russia 
that's about to re-emerge.

MR. NOVAK:  But, Mr. Secretary, can you say that this is a different 
Boris Yeltsin than the Boris Yeltsin the President met at Vancouver in 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  This is a Boris Yeltsin who is two years older 
than he was then, but it's the same Boris Yeltsin in terms of his being 
in charge of the Government of Russia.  I don't know whether you saw the 
interview that he gave to Time Magazine at the very beginning of this 
week.  I thought he appeared very strong and effective and so did those 
who interviewed him.

I expect that we'll see when we go to Russia two days from now a 
vigorous Boris Yeltsin, in charge of his government, and one whom we've 
been able to do business with on a number of very important issues.

You ticked off at the beginning of this program, Bob, a number of places 
where we have differences with the Russians at the present time.  But 
the essence of our new relationship -- what I call a pragmatic 
relationship -- with them is that we can talk about the difficult 
issues.  We've resolved many issues with them because we've been able to 
talk with them about it.

Take the removal of Russian troops from the Baltics.  The President 
played a big role in that because he was able to talk with Boris Yeltsin 
about it.

MR. NOVAK:  Mr. Secretary, can you briefly say what President Clinton 
will bring home from Moscow as something -- a concession, an agreement 
-- by the Russians that we don't have now?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I can tell you what he's going on this trip for 
and what I think will be the main dividends of this trip.  First, he'll 
have an opportunity to honor the sacrifice of the Russian people, the 
Russian troops, in World War II.  You used the figure at the beginning 
of the program yourself -- 27 million Russians killed.  Here in the 
United States we had dreadful losses but they were under 300,000, as I 
recall.  So that will be Point Number One.

Point Number Two, the President will have an opportunity to speak on 
Russian television to the people of Russia.  Here is an opportunity to 
improve the relationship between our two peoples.

And, finally, we'll have an opportunity to go over a list of number of 
important issues.  I think, without wanting to predict exactly where we 
will make progress, when the President returns he will have made 
significant progress on some of the important issues.

MR. EVANS:  Sir, let's just take one, the expansion of NATO.  Can you 
tell us there will be a breakthrough on Western insistence that NATO be 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I've been saying, Rollie, that I don't think 
there will be any major breakthroughs or --

MR. EVANS:  No progress even?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Oh, there will be progress.  The President has a 
very comprehensive view about European integration.  Russia has always 
been part of that integration.  I think they'll be talking about four 
different aspects of that.

First, a very active Partnership for Peace.  That's an element, as you 

MR. EVANS:  May they join that during this Moscow summit?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's entirely possible.  As you know, at 
the present time they've already indicated a desire to join.  The 
question is whether they forward their presentation document.  That 
could happen.  That is certainly going to be discussed.

Second, there is an over-arching relationship between NATO and Russia 
that will be discussed.  Negotiations may be put in train for that.  
There will also be an opportunity for the two Presidents to discuss the 
invigoration of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, 
an organization that both of us belong to and we want to invigorate.

Finally, I think there will be a chance for the President to say to 
President Yeltsin, we're going to continue with the expansion of NATO on 
the same course as before -- not accelerated, not slowed down, but a 
steady course for expansion.

MR. EVANS:  Sir, they have said they will not abide by the provisions of 
the conventional troops-in-Europe agreement.  They have said that 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's a new and different issue.  You're 
talking about the conventional forces issue.

MR. EVANS:  Yes.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That particular agreement --

MR. EVANS:  That's a treaty.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's a treaty.  But it does not come into 
effect until November of this year and it's up for review next year.  
We're urging them -- we will be urging them on this trip -- to get 
themselves into compliance.

MR. EVANS:  If they don't, would we then suggest a stoppage of American 
aid?  Or under no circumstances will we ever stop American aid?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Rollie, I would like to emphasize again that I 
think American aid has to be judged by what's in our own best interests.  
I don't think that aid should be held hostage in any one issue.  We have 
this range of issues -- maybe 20 issues with the Russians at any one 
time, just as we do with many other major powers.  We need to make 
progress on each of the issues.  But we shouldn't enable one single 
issue to keep us from doing things that are in our own interests, such 
as giving American aid to dismantle their nuclear weapons.

MR. NOVAK:  Mr. Secretary, we have to take break.  But just briefly 
before that, do you expect to get any kind of commitment in Moscow that 
they will adhere to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty?  Of 
course, they want more troops for their internal policing, don't they?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that there will be a discussion of this.  
We'll emphasize that they ought to comply when it comes into effect in 
November.  But I'm not predicting a breakthrough on that issue or any 
other single issue.  I'm expecting overall progress.

MR. NOVAK:  Okay.  We're going to take a break.  And when we come back, 
we'll talk more about U.S.-Russian relations, and something also about 



     "Next week, I will become the first American President in nearly 40 
years to visit Russia when no American missiles are pointed at the 
people of Russia.")

MR. EVANS:  And, of course, Mr. Secretary, no Russian missiles are 
pointed at the people of America.  Those are nice words, but aren't they 
essentially totally meaningless in that it would take the Russians six, 
seven, eight minutes to retarget at any moment they want in the dead of 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's symbolically very important.  It 
indicates the kind of a new relationship we have with them.  We're 
working together with them a wide range of problems.  I think that's an 
important symbol that neither we nor the Russians are targeting each 
other with our missiles at the present time.

But more than that, we're dismantling missiles.  You know, last year 
2,000 big Russian missiles were dismantled.  That's a very important 

MR. EVANS:  But, Mr. Secretary, there's a lot of comment in the Duma, 
the Russian Parliament, that under no circumstances are they going to 
take the START II treaty and ratify it.  Do you take that seriously, 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  You know, there's a lot of comment in most 
parliaments one way or the other, but the leaders of the Parliament were 
here last week -- the leaders and the chairmen of the key committees.

MR. EVANS:  Mr. Rybkin.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, and also the Chairman of the Foreign 
Relations Committee, Mr. Lukin.  And both of them indicated they felt 
that they would go forward with START ratification.  They would not say 
exactly when.  They thought it might be later rather than sooner -- that 
is, later this year.  They hoped to do it before the parliamentary 

MR. EVANS:  Just one more on missiles.  Why can't we just make a 
decision to go ahead on regional or theater missile defense which, as 
you know, 50 Republicans or more in the Senate have told you very, very 
cordially that they intend to insist that we do this.  Why are the 
Russians opposed to it?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We'll be talking about that.  The Russians are 
not necessarily opposed to it.  What both the United States and Russia 
want to do is to keep intact the ABM Treaty, which is a very important 
treaty for our overall strategic alignments.  But underneath that, I 
think we're prepared to go forward with theater nuclear defenses.

The United States is actively building, you know, theater nuclear 
defenses.  The question will be deployment.  But we expect to have a 
discussion of that when we're there, and that's one of those issues on 
which I think that we may make some progress.

MR. NOVAK:  The Republicans in the Senate under Majority Leader Dole, 
Mr. Secretary, have sent you a letter or sent the President a letter, 
saying they want nothing done in regard to the 1974 Anti-Ballistic 
Missile Treaty while you're in Russia.  What's your reaction to that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the President has certain obligations 
that he will carry out.  The President is the nation's leader in the 
field of foreign policy -- he's the Commander-in-Chief -- and he's going 
to be discussing issues to protect America's interests, and that's one 
of those issues that needs to be discussed.

First, we must have a confirmation of the validity and importance of the 
ABM Treaty, but we also must have a regime that permits the development 
of theater nuclear defenses --

MR. NOVAK:  Including interceptor missiles.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  -- so we can defend against perhaps random 
attack from some rogue state, and that's going to be important for our 
future.  So this is one of those areas where the President is going to 
carry out his Constitutional responsibilities.

MR. NOVAK:  The Russians, of course, believe that the interceptor 
missiles that the United States is developing is a violation of the ABM 
Treaty, isn't that correct?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't want to get into the technical details 
of this.  There will be a discussion there.  I think the main things we 
want to do is to protect the principle of the ABM Treaty but also our 
right to develop and deploy theater nuclear defenses at an appropriate 

The parties themselves can get into all the technicalities, but those 
are the two general principles we want to live within.

MR. NOVAK:  Secretary Christopher, can you clarify what the status is of 
the Russian supplying of nuclear reactors to Iran?  Are you making any 
progress on that?  There have been a lot of conflicting reports.  The 
latest reports from Moscow indicate that there's not much progress being 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think there may have been some progress made.  
Let me divide that into two parts, Bob.  First, Russia does have a 
contract, as we understand it, to provide two conventional reactors to 
Iran.  Now, we think that's too dangerous, because the reactors 
themselves have some limitations, some problems with them, but also the 
technology that goes with it and the scientists that goes with it give 
Iran an opportunity to develop a nuclear-weapons capability.

Iran does not need nuclear power.  They've got plenty of oil for fuel, 
so it's very suspicious to us that they want to have nuclear power at 
all.  But in the last few days, there has been talk about Russia 
furnishing to Iran not just the reactors themselves but a gas centrifuge 
which has the capacity to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Now, the fact that they're talking about that I think underscores the 
worry we have that Iran is building a weapons capability, a nuclear-
weapons capability; and that worries us very greatly.  So we're going to 
be urging the Russians to stop that nuclear cooperation.

You know, every one of the G-7 countries has withheld nuclear 
cooperation from Iran, and we think Russia should, too.

MR. EVANS:  Mr. Secretary, we're getting out of time.  On another 
subject, your good friend Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee, wants sanctions tightened on Cuba at the same time 
the President has said that any political refugees who escape that 
Communist bastion will be sent home.  The first time we've ever had this 

Does this contradiction mean real political problems for the President, 
and do you think that's the right way to handle political refugees?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, Rollie, you've indicated that you're short 
of time.  That's a very big issue.  But let me answer both sides of it.  
First, Senator Helms has introduced a bill along with Congressman Burton 
that has some good features and some bad features in it.  We'd like to 
work with Senator Helms and Congressman Burton to see if we can't take 
advantage of the good features in their bill.  It's one of those cases 
where we may be able to come out of this with a stronger set of laws 
than we have at the present time.

But the secondary boycott aspect of the Helms-Burton bill I think is 
quite a disadvantage and would be a problem for us with our relations 
with our allies, including particularly Canada.

Now, the other half of that problem, that's a migration issue.  The 
question is whether or not the United States is going to be able to 
control its borders.  Last summer we had about 35,000 Cubans leaving 
their country in very unsafe conditions, trying to come to the United 
States.  We picked them up, no doubt saved dozens, probably hundreds of 
people from perishing in that very dangerous situation.

What President Clinton has done is to regularize the situation, saying 
that we can take those people who are on Guantanamo -- probably about 
15,000 or so, in very dangerous conditions there -- bring them into the 
United States under the present immigration levels that we have; but 
that if future people come they will be returned to Cuba, but only 
returned after they have an opportunity to claim asylum, if they think 
they have a legitimate case for asylum.

MR. NOVAK:  But some of them have already been returned, isn't that 
correct, under this new regimen?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Some of them will be returned.  Thirteen, I 
believe, were picked up yesterday.  But, Bob, they'll have an 
opportunity to express a claim for asylum -- that is, if they feel 
they're in danger when they return, they can make that claim either on 
board ship or when they get to Cuba.  And we've been assured that they 
will not be harmed; they will not be jeopardized because they have made 
this trip.

MR. NOVAK:  Let me ask you a straight question, Mr. Secretary.  Jesse 
Helms says that you are moving methodically toward recognition of the 
Castro regime in Cuba.  True or false?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That is false.  We are living within the terms 
of the Cuban Democracy Act which was passed overwhelmingly by the 
Congress, which has really two parts of it.  The first part of it is 
that there should be an embargo of Cuba which we hope will produce a 
democratic Cuba.  The second part of it is to improve communications 
between the United States and Cuba.

Now, we're living within the bounds of that Act.  The legislation that's 
been proposed by Senator Helms, as I say, has some good features that 
may improve that Act.  We'll be working with him on that.  But, you 
know, what we want to do is to see a democratic Cuba.  That's the Cuba 
that we want to recognize.

MR. NOVAK:  Okay, we're going to take another break, and when we come 
back we'll have a big question for Secretary of State Christopher.


MR. NOVAK:  The big question for Secretary of State Christopher is posed 
by the wife of William Barloon, one of the captives held in Iraq, Linda 


     "Mr. Clinton, I would like to make a personal plea to you:  What 
are you doing?  What have you done?  I'm asking you directly.  Take 

MR. NOVAK:  What are you doing about this?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me first say that, you know, we all feel 
extremely sorry for those wives who are there and the difficult 
situation they're in.  It must be terribly frustrating.

This is really the fault of the Iraqis.  Their husbands made an innocent 
mistake.  It was the fault of the United Nations guards there, as 
they've acknowledged.  The Iraqis ought to release them.  They should 
have released them in any case, but because of the medical condition of 
these two men, they should be released immediately.  We're doing every 
single thing we can.

MR. NOVAK:  What is that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That means we're contacting countries that have 
a better relationship with Iraq than we do, asking them to talk to Iraq 
and ask them to release these two men.  We're doing it through the 
United Nations.  We're making all the contacts we can.

But let me tell you that this is the fault of the Iraqis.  You know, 
those two men would know what we're doing if the Iraqis allowed our 
representative there in Baghdad to see them.  But the Polish diplomat 
who represents us has not been able to get in for three weeks.  So, you 
know, this is the fault of the Iraqis.  I feel terribly sorry for those 
wives.  We're doing everything we can.

I've been through this a lot, as you know.  We have got Americans who 
were taken abroad, and I've been through the hostage situation.  One 
thing you don't do is to make concessions to another government, but 
we're playing every diplomatic card we can.

MR. EVANS:  Mr. Secretary, unfortunately we're out of time.  Thank you 
for being with us.

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