U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #77, 98-06-25
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Thursday, June 25, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Supreme Court Delegation Visit to Europe
1 Togo Presidential Election
1 Holbrooke's Meeting with Milosevic/Next Contact Group
Meeting in Bonn on July 8
1-2 Current Discussions Among Gelbard, Hill, and Milosovic
2 Requirements for Agreements and Principles/Situation Update
on Violence and the KLA/USG Working with Embassies on
Developing a Monitoring Mission
2,3,4-5 Contact with both groups including the KLA/Holbrooke's Talk
with KLA/Possibilities of Future Contacts
2 Comparison to Dayton Talks/Face-to-Face Meetings/Contact
Group Demands and Sanctions
2-3 Issue of Independence of Kosovo and USG Position on
3 Enhanced Status of Kosovo Within the FRY
3,4 Virtual Negotiations/Conditions/Holbrooke's Progress
4 Types of Negotiations/ Roles of Hill, Gelbard and Holbrooke
5 Contact Group and Russia Position and Demands
5 Release of Documents re Murder of Churchwomen/Investigation
and Recent New Information from El Salvador
6 Issue of Salvadorian Court Considering the Release of
Convicts/General Casonova and His Residency in the
US/Tyler Commission's Report and its Contents
7 Accusations of USG Involvement in Death Squad Activities
7 Dhahran Bombing and Saudi Involvement
7 Elections and DOS Statement
7-8 Arrests of Egyptians for Threats Against AmCits
8 USG Position on PLO Observer Status / Issue of Passage of
Resolution / Unilateral Actions / Talbott's Remarks /
Sensitivity of Jerusalem and Counter-productivity of
8-9 SecState Discussion with Arafat
9 Israel's Government Announcement Increase in Funds
9-10 Greg Craig Not Going to China
10 Imprisonment of Editor in Kuwait
10 Accusations of Richardson's Violating the Diplomatic
Principle of Confidentiality
10-11 USG Views/Waiver/ Cuba's Role in Working with Colombia on
Dealing with Guerrillas
11 Chemical Weapons Program and USG Concern/Weaponizing with
11-12 Butler's Remarks on the Discovery of VX in Missile Warheads
12 Iraqi Deception re VX and About Hiding Weapons
12 US Accepts Analysis of the Discovery of VX/Confirmation
From Other Countries
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 1998, 12:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. We have
two statements for you.
First of all, let me say that Secretary Albright welcomes the announcement
by the Supreme Court of the United States that it intends to visit Europe -
some of its members - from July 5-15. Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
will lead a delegation of four justices to meet with counterparts in the
Court of Justice of the European Community. The Secretary views this visit
as a reflection of the US commitment to Europe, and the importance
of encouraging the legal institutions of the United States and Europe to
develop a fuller understanding of each other's processes.
In addition, let me say we take note of the announcement by the Togolese
Interior Minister that their President has been re-elected. We deplore the
many irregularities in the electoral process and the voting, which call
into question the legitimacy of the outcome. Leading up to the election,
the ban on political activity during the voter registration period reduced
participation by Togo citizens. We have received credible and substantiated
reports that on the election day, many polling stations opened late or not
at all. Clearly these issues have to be looked into, and we call upon
the Togolese Government to respect its own laws and electoral code and urge
all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
QUESTION: Richard Holbrooke met today, I believe, with President
Milosevic, and he had no comment after the meeting. Do you have one?
MR. RUBIN: I spoke today to both Ambassador Gelbard and Ambassador
Holbrooke. Ambassador Holbrooke is now in his second meeting of the day
with Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade. Ambassador Gelbard was in Brussels in
which he attended a luncheon with Dr. Rugova and Mr. Bukoshi and a series
of members of the Contact Group in other nations.
With respect to one of you who continually asks, understandably, about a
Contact Group meeting, my understanding is the next Contact Group meeting
will occur on July 8 in Bonn. But obviously Contact Group nations had an
opportunity to share an update on what is going on during the course of
With respect to where we are in the discussions, let me say the following.
We have an intensive diplomatic effort going on, and it's going on on
several tracks simultaneously. Ambassador Holbrooke is in contact with
President Milosevic; Ambassador Gelbard is in contact with our allies, as
well as Dr. Rugova, Mr. Bukoshi and others; and Ambassador Hill is in
regular contact with both sides. So there is a virtual negotiation ongoing,
and Ambassador Holbrooke pointed out to me that from his experience during
Dayton, that the successful elements of their negotiation were discussions
that took place separately - kind of proximity discussions -- and not face-
to-face discussion. So to the extent we think we will ever be able to break
through diplomatically -- and it's no easy task, given the situation on the
ground - it doesn't necessarily require a large number of face-to-face
discussions. Rather, what it requires is a set of agreements and principles
that the sides can agree to and then move forward.
With respect to the situation there, I can report the following. As far as
we can tell, the violence in Kosovo continues unabated, and seems to be
increasing in intensity over the past two days. There are valid reports of
fighting in the central areas of Kosovo, and many are concerned this
violence will move south along the southern border. Clearly, large amounts
of territory are controlled by the Kosovo Liberation Army during the day,
and increasing amounts at night. The task we are focused most immediately
on is working with the other embassies in Belgrade to develop an effective
monitoring mission. That would be started very shortly. It would be a
unified mission of Contact Group countries and other countries who
are going to be in the region, trying to determine what's going on.
In the course of which, we would expect there to be regular contact with
security forces from both sides, including the Kosovo Liberation Army,
which controls large amounts of territory. So the kind of contact we saw
yesterday, where Ambassador Holbrooke ran into one of the KLA fighters, is
something that we would expect to go on continuously, as the monitoring
mission gets up to speed and begins to work with both sides to try to avoid
situations from spinning out of control and develops better contacts to
find out what's going on with both the Serbian security forces as
well as the KLA and others.
QUESTION: Let me return to the mode of discussions you refer to, the
talks that are going on as kind of Dayton-style proximity talks - similar,
but not the same, I guess, was the point you were trying to make. But the
larger question - Dayton - there were proximity talks among the three
presidents over the fate of a separate entity. In this case, you're talking
about Kosovo remaining part of Serbia. Don't they actually have to
meet face-to-face at some point - the Kosovars and the Serbs to decide
that? Can that be done through proximity talks?
MR. RUBIN: Well, there's two issues. One is conditions conducive to a
successful negotiation. The Contact Group laid out four demands, of which
you are familiar, including that Serbian forces return to their bases and
those that were outside of Kosovo return outside of Kosovo. That is a
demand that is both related to what would be required for the additional
sanctions to be relieved, as well as what we believe would help create the
environment in which a successful negotiation could take place.
Meanwhile, we need to begin discussions on the political construct. We have
said that there is no solution to this conflict outside of discussions;
that the dialogue that we need to create is the only framework that can
create confidence for a solution. But we do not support independence for
Kosovo, nor do we support the status quo. What we do support is the
territorial integrity of the FRY, an enhanced status for Kosovo within the
FRY and full political and human rights in accordance with OSCE standards,
Helsinki Principles and the UN Charter for the people living within
One can begin to flesh that out in the absence of face-to-face discussions.
I am not suggesting by any means that this would be possible to conclude a
peace agreement to avoid the conflict without ever meeting each other. What
I'm saying is, because there is a virtual negotiation going on, and because
there is plenty of contact going on, it's not a communication problem; it's
a substance problem.
QUESTION: But the ultimate political disposition of this problem will
have to be done face to face?
MR. RUBIN: Presumably, of course. But right now, there is a virtual
QUESTION: A point of clarification on what you just said - you said that
you support an enhanced status for Kosovo within the FRY. Does the United
States support Kosovo remaining part of Serbia or does the United States
take the position that Kosovo should now be under the FRY, but not part of
MR. RUBIN: What we are saying is that there is autonomy and there is
autonomy. And the exact nature of that autonomous status is a subject for
discussion. Generally speaking, the autonomy that existed prior to the war
between Serbia and Croatia and Serbia and Bosnia that was taken away from
the people there had an autonomy for Kosovo within the FRY. Since then, it
has become more complex. Rather than pre-empt discussions that we would
want to have privately, I am merely saying the terms that we believe are
the starting points - an enhanced status for Kosovo within the FRY.
What its relationship with Serbia would be obviously would be a subject
that would be discussed, and I don't want to get ahead of the discussions
in our public description of our bottom line position. That can mean many
things when push comes to shove and when the lawyers begin to work out a
political construct that meets the needs of both sides. But that's where
we're starting from.
QUESTION: Can you say at this point whether Holbrooke has made any
progress in creating these conditions conducive to dialogue, or whether the
sides are digging in their heels? What's your sense of --
MR. RUBIN: Well, I prefer not to characterize discussions that he would
prefer not to characterize. But clearly, the fighting continues; and as I
said, it has intensified. We have seen no evidence that the movement of
Serbian forces is such that they are beginning to comply with the demands
of the Contact Group.
QUESTION: In these what you call virtual negotiations, are they
negotiating the substance of their disagreement through Mr. Holbrooke, with
him bringing ideas; or are they negotiating the conditions for beginning a
MR. RUBIN: Everything, I'm sure, is discussed. When you have a meeting
with a foreign leader about a problem, you don't only discuss one aspect of
it. We need both the conditions to create potential success in negotiations,
and we need to begin to flesh out what the end game would be. Clearly, the
focus is the conditions; but I'm not suggesting that the other issues
don't come up.
But again, this is an excruciatingly difficult issue, given the repression
that has occurred there, given the radicalization that has occurred there
as a result of President Milosevic's policies and the increasing reluctance
of Kosovar officials to accept anything short of independence. That is the
problem - with every passing day, President Milosevic makes it harder for
him to resolve the problem, and he's shooting himself in the foot with this
repression; and that is the primary cause of the problem.
QUESTION: A virtual negotiation of the kind that you describe presupposes
an intermediary doing the work that Holbrooke and Gelbard have been doing.
Does that mean that those two - or at least one of them - is going to be
permanently in the region from now on?
MR. RUBIN: Without getting too deeply into the personalities, let me say
this. Ambassador Hill has been in contact with both parties; he has won the
confidence of both parties. My expectation, at least for the near term, is
that he will be the one that will be in touch with both parties. Ambassador
Gelbard has been working with our allies on this issue, both in terms of
the economic sanctions, as well as the NATO military planning that is also
ongoing. Ambassador Holbrooke, Ambassador to Germany - former Ambassador to
Germany Holbrooke - is presumably and hopefully soon going to be before
the Senate for confirmation as Ambassador to the United Nations. So he will
have many, many duties as Ambassador to the United Nations. How all the
personalities juggle is a lot less important than the substance of the
So we've set it up in a way that we have plenty of communication, we have
interlocutors that have the trust of the parties, and now we need to have
policy changes by President Milosevic in terms of what he's doing in the
region if we're going to have success.
QUESTION: Did Ambassador Holbrooke tell you anything about Mr. Milosevic's
reaction to the ambassador's meeting with the KLA?
MR. RUBIN: Let me say this about that - as I've said yesterday, we would
expect, at the appropriate time, to be in contact with all elements of
Kosovo Albanian society, including the Kosovar Liberation Army. And
although that was not political contact - it was more in the nature of fact
finding - I would expect there to be political contact soon. President
Milosevic is just going to have to deal with that fact. He has radicalized
the population; he has increased the support among the population for the
Kosovar Liberation Army, and therefore they are a reality there. While
there are incidents that have taken place that we have condemned -- and we
will continue to condemn extremist incidents - they are clearly an
insurgent group that is growing in popularity and need to be part of the
equation. So I would expect us to be in political contact with them
QUESTION: In the Contact Group sessions, are the Russians now on board?
Are they agreed with what the rest of the Contact Group are pushing
MR. RUBIN: To the extent that the Russian position is that the Contact
Group demands -- with respect to dialogue, with respect to returning the
forces to their barracks and outside of Kosovo, with respect to international
monitoring, with respect to international humanitarian access to the region
-- we are in agreement. Similarly, we are in full agreement on the question
of our joint desire to solve this problem by peaceful diplomatic means.
Ambassador Holbrooke met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, I
think, both today and on Tuesday, and has briefed him about his discussions.
We are coordinating closely with the Russians on the monitoring mission
that we want to take place very shortly that we believe should include the
Russians and other members of the Contact Group.
Where there is disagreement, obviously is on the question of military
planning and what might result, and I'm not aware that disagreement has
QUESTION: El Salvador -- do you have any comments on the documents that,
I guess, are soon to be released or have been released of family members
that seem to show that some Salvadoran officials and former Ambassador
White seems to be of this opinion, too - that higher-ups were involved in
the ordering the slaying of the church women.
MR. RUBIN: Ultimately, we believe that this is a complex evidentiary
issue that the historians will have to decide. What we have done, at
Secretary Albright's instructions, is release as many documents as we can
and as much information on this as we can in order to provide those who are
interested in this, as well as the Salvadoran authorities, as much
information as possible so that the pursuit of truth can go on.
We want this matter to be fully investigated; we want conclusions to
ultimately be drawn. You're familiar with the conclusions that we've
reached at various times. But Secretary Albright's instructions were, let's
get the documents out and let's have as much information available as
possible so that the truth can be determined.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - United States will conduct another investigation
of any kind?
MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that. We have all the material; the Tyler
Commission did an investigation. There is new information available down in
El Salvador, pursuant to people talking to the people who conducted this
gruesome killing -- they have said additional things. We would expect and
hope that the El Salvador Government would see the value in getting to the
bottom of what transpired.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Salvadoran court releasing three
of the convicted guardsmen?
MR. RUBIN: We do. The precise nature of which has gotten lost in ten
pages of written material.
QUESTION: We have more questions, obviously on --
MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, it is our view that these people should
not be released because of the nature of their crimes. They committed
heinous crimes, and they should pay a price for them. On the other hand, it
is up to El Salvador to make judgments about its own legal system. We
recognize that it is their legal system that is at play. So it is our view
these people shouldn't be released, given the nature of their crimes.
But with respect to them not reopening the case, they're interpreting their
law and we have to respect that. That's why I said that even if criminal
prosecutions are not possible, we want to see the full truth learned, and
we want follow-up to these developments. But as far as their release is
concerned, we think that's a bad idea.
QUESTION: In the event that historians or perhaps legal experts determine
to the satisfaction of the US Government that General Casanova was the man
who ordered the killings, will that have any effect on his right to remain
resident in the United States?
MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, we would - again, to repeat my last answer
- we would be very disappointed if these convicted murderers were released.
They committed brutal crimes, and they should not be released; that would
be disappointing to us.
With respect to the hypothetical question of what would we do if, let me
just say that these were brutal, horrible crimes and we would respond to
any new conclusions if new conclusions were reached. But no new conclusions
have been reached. There has been a back and forth on the evidentiary
situation. I would point out to you that one of the bases for the Tyler
Commission's report was that in extensive interviews, the convicted
murderers did not - as everyone would have expected at the time - say that
it came from higher up. So that's one of the reasons why the Tyler
Commission believed that this was not evidence supporting a conclusion that
they had been ordered to conduct these brutal killings. But if a different
conclusion is reached, we would respond appropriately.
QUESTION: I guess I should ask the question in the abstract. In a
situation where someone has been granted residence status, as it so happens
this particular general has, in the event that it is found - even though
the statute of limitations, I gather, has expired - that he was responsible
for mass killing, group killing, would the United States normally take
action to get such a person thrown out of the country or take other action
against him? What's the law?
MR. RUBIN: We'll get you a lawyer's answer.
QUESTION: In Central America, Jennifer Harbury has just released the
names of suspects in the killing of Bishop Gerardi, and I want to quote her,
because she says it was a command of war for the military forces of
Guatemala. She says, "The commando check in with Uncle Sam two or three
times a week in a modern building a few blocks away from the US Embassy.
This internal death squad coordinates very closely with some intelligence
branch of the US Government." These accusations are true or the State
Department is familiar with these accusations?
MR. RUBIN: We haven't had time to examine her full statement. However,
the FBI is working with Guatemalan authorities to investigate the case.
Both the government of Guatemala and the Catholic Church human rights
office have expressed their confidence in and appreciation of US efforts to
help solve this horrible crime. We know of no group or individual that has
claimed credit for the murder, though the Guatemalan police have arrested -
have a suspect in custody.
The USG is strongly committed to the reform agenda of the administration of
Guatemala, which includes strengthened civilian control of the military.
Any accusations of US involvement in death squad activities would represent
a gross violation of American policy, and are simply implausible.
QUESTION: Saudi Arabia - have you seen the statement, carried by their
official news agency, by a Saudi minister that the Dhahran bombing was
carried out by Saudis, but some other parties helped them in carrying out
the explosion; and that Saudi citizens would be informed with the
MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm familiar with a number of statements coming out of
the Saudi officials over the last few weeks, talking about the status of
their investigation. All I can say about an investigation that is ongoing
is that we reiterate what Attorney General Reno said, which is that just
because there have been no dramatic new developments on any given day does
not mean we're going to rest; we're going to continue to investigate until
we're satisfied that we've done all we can to try to find out what
QUESTION: There was a statement on Monday that the State Department
released on the Slovakia new election law, in which you said that the
government in Slovakia has passed a law that may result in an elections
process inconsistent with the current international norms. Can you be more
specific on that in terms of what basis was the statement based on? Also,
there was a negative response from the minister of Slovakia; do you have
anything on that?
MR. RUBIN: Let me get you an answer for the record on that, because we'd
want to do that very precisely because we did have our legal reasons for
believing what we indicated on Monday. So let me get you after the briefing
a considered answer on that.
QUESTION: There's a wire story that there have been some members of
radical Muslim groups that have been arrested in Egypt, threatening to harm
US interests - either people or corporations. Are you aware of this?
MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that wire story.
QUESTION: Also in the Middle East - have you been talking to Arab
governments about their outrage over the Jerusalem plan? Apparently there's
been some contact --
MR. RUBIN: Let me say with respect to activities that are being
considered at the United Nations by Arab countries and the Palestinian
Authority, there are two separate issues. One is the enhancement of the
PLO's status, and the other is whether the Security Council - and that
would be considered in the General Assembly - and the other is the question
of whether the Security Council should react to the announcement last week
and the statements last week by the Israeli Government with respect to
Jerusalem. So let me handle them separately.
With respect to the PLO observer status, we oppose enhanced status for the
PLO in the General Assembly. The PLO is not a state and should not enjoy
rights tantamount to those of a state. We hope other members of the General
Assembly will join us in opposing a move that would set a dangerous
precedent for the United Nations and can only hurt the Middle East peace
process. Passing such a resolution will set a dangerous precedent that
could be copied by others, and would overturn decades of practice and
precedent in the General Assembly.
With respect to the peace process, we have been working very hard on the
peace process, and it has been stalled for some time. We are working
closely with both sides to try to help get the process back on track.
Precipitated action by the General Assembly on this measure can only hurt
these efforts. It will only encourage the parties to be less flexible; it
will harden their positions and make it less likely that the peace in the
Middle East could be advanced. And in addition, I should point out that
this Palestinian measure would constitute exactly the kind of unilateral
action that we have asked both parties to avoid, and would therefore
undercut our efforts to get Israel to refrain from such acts as well.
With respect to Jerusalem, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in
the peace process. Security Council discussion of this issue would be
unhelpful to the peace process. Any action in the Security Council would be
counter-productive to the success of our discussions with the Palestinians
and the Israelis. So whatever might be motivating some countries to raise
this issue, they should bear in mind that their actions could harm the
peace process; that they are pursuing a course that would be counter-
productive, and that they will only harm those they claim they are
supporting. It might feel good to engage in such an exercise at the
United Nations, but it will do bad to the peace process.
QUESTION: Correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that the
Secretary spoke to Arafat yesterday, gave essentially the same argument you
just made here, and that he agreed to drop the bid.
MR. RUBIN: You will have to ask Chairman Arafat what his intentions are,
the Palestinian Authority what their intentions are with respect to the PLO
observer status issue. That is potentially different from the Jerusalem
issue in the Security Council.
QUESTION: But the Secretary spoke with him yesterday and --
MR. RUBIN: Correct.
QUESTION: -- presented this argument to him.
MR. RUBIN: Correct. We're hopeful that --
QUESTION: And she was satisfied that he - with his response.
MR. RUBIN: I don't believe I said that.
QUESTION: As I said, this was my understanding.
MR. RUBIN: The Secretary's hopeful that Palestinian Authority Chairman
Arafat will see the wisdom of her arguments.
QUESTION: Also on the Middle East peace process --
QUESTION: Can you also confirm that Secretary Talbott urged the Arab
ambassadors yesterday not to take the expansion of the Jerusalem borders to
MR. RUBIN: Well, as I said very clearly what our position is, that is a
position that all officials would take in their discussions with counterparts
from other countries. As I just indicated, Secretary Albright believes that
it would be counter-productive to the peace process to take this move. I
would be surprised of Deputy Secretary Talbott did not make that same point
in a discussion with officials from those governments.
QUESTION: Also on the peace process, the Israeli Government has announced
intentions to supply additional funding for an acceleration in expansion of
existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that report.
QUESTION: Well, could you check it out?
MR. RUBIN: Sure.
QUESTION: It's supposed to be $80 million in new --
MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen the report.
QUESTION: New subject - can you say something about the reasons why Greg
Craig - (inaudible) - did not go to China with the President?
MR. RUBIN: I think you should bear in mind that the party, which is a
very large party, including Secretary Albright, Assistant Secretary Roth
and others from the State Department are in the region and are in regular
contact with the media. My position, given the large size of the party and
that all the senior officials who I would normally contact with regard to
specific issues like that are in the field, and those questions are
legitimate questions, and I ask you to have them posed to the party in
QUESTION: He's coordinator for Tibet.
MR. RUBIN: Correct.
QUESTION: A different subject - the editor of a leading Kuwaiti paper has
been sentenced to six months in jail because of a blasphemous --
MR. RUBIN: Where?
QUESTION: In Kuwait - the editor of a leading newspaper in Kuwait. The
newspaper was ordered to be shut for a full week. Are you aware of this;
and do you have any --
MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard that, but in principle, we support freedom of
QUESTION: Could you discuss the position of the Department on whether or
not it feels that Ambassador Richardson violated any diplomatic principles
of confidentiality regarding the UN report on human rights in the Congo
that's going to be issued?
MR. RUBIN: Our understanding is that no one in the US Government has seen
the report, including US officials at the US Mission to the United Nations
in New York. We will study it carefully when we receive it; we will not
have a position on the report until we have studied its context. Apparently
there was a misunderstanding with respect to Ambassador Richardson's
comment about that pending report, and I'd urge you to contact his office
about what was said that might have lead you to ask that question.
QUESTION: Cuba - Castro has been praising President Clinton because his
foreign policy on the Helms-Burton. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. RUBIN: I think we'll do fine in getting support for our foreign
policy without the views of Fidel Castro. We have little or no interest in
his views on how we're doing.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea when the US Government is going to
announce another waiver for Chapter III of the Helms-Burton?
MR. RUBIN: Another --
MR. RUBIN: Waiver. I don't know what the date is for the next waiver, but
usually the announcements come around the time of the date. So we will be
acting next week, then, to make a decision on that.
QUESTION: In Colombia, the President-elect has said that Cuba could play
a role in the peace process with the guerrilla groups. I was wondering if --
MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that comment. We think that Cuba rarely plays a
constructive role in international affairs. As far as how the new
government is going to pursue the peace process, we haven't had a chance to
discuss it with them. But as I said yesterday, we want to be helpful and
encourage them to pursue it, and depending on what they think we could do,
we would be prepared to consider it.
QUESTION: On Syria -- does the Administration have some new found concern
about Syria's chemical weapons program? New concerns.
MR. RUBIN: I believe that in our annual reports on chemical weapons in
this area, the status of Syria's program is regularly discussed, and I
wouldn't be able to go beyond that. I think we're always concerned about
the development of programs for all of the countries that we believe have
QUESTION: But it's no news to you that Syria has chemical weapons?
MR. RUBIN: It's not news to me that Syria has a chemical weapons
QUESTION: What about weaponizing nerve gas?
MR. RUBIN: The specific nature of which would require discussion of
QUESTION: Have you taken up the subject of Iraq and --
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: No, okay. Mr. Butler -- the UN chief yesterday --
MR. RUBIN: Chairman Butler, Ambassador Butler --
QUESTION: Ambassador Butler, is it?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: All right. Ambassador Butler took up the issue yesterday of the
deception by the Iraqis insofar as having VX, I believe -- having loaded it,
having detected, demonstrated without a doubt that that was VX on those
warheads. And he says that there is true and absolute deception on the part
of Iraq; that sanctions should not be lifted. Is that acceptable to the
MR. RUBIN: First of all, the decision on sanctions is one for the Council
to make, not Mr. Butler to make. He makes reports on the status of their
progress towards disarmament, and then the Council reacts.
With respect to the Iraqi deception, let me say that Iraq has shot another
hole in its credibility with its refusal to admit what evidence has proven -
that once again, they lied about their weaponization of VX, and they lied
to UNSCOM about that and they have been engaged in a pattern of deception
and concealment with respect to hiding proscribed weapons and lying about
them to the UN Special Commission. They failed to honor other commitments,
and therefore it should be no surprise to anyone that the Security Council
has not changed one wit its position that Iraq has not met the requirements
of the Security Council resolutions, and sanctions will not be lifted.
Once again, Iraq has shot itself in the foot. It has had so many opportunities
to come clean on this issue. We are still hopeful that it will some day
come clean. But this is another piece of evidence that they have not.
QUESTION: Jamie, I should have asked a little more pointedly if the
United States accepts the analysis, the data that's coming from the
analysis of the warhead and that there was VX in it.
MR. RUBIN: We have no reason to doubt that analysis, and neither does
Ambassador Butler. I watched him on tv make that very clear.
QUESTION: You're not willing to wait for confirmation from France and
Russia, which are also looking into --
MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Butler made clear that he has no reason to dispute
the finding last night, and neither do we - on tv. I managed to get an
opportunity to watch him on one of our nation's television programs, and he
said that. If he's accepted the finding, I can't imagine why we wouldn't.
That doesn't mean he's not going to confirm it with other so that maybe
then Iraq will admit what is already evident - that it did do this.
That's kind of the game that goes on in New York - Iraq doesn't want
to admit that something is true until it's proven ten times that it's true
instead of just once or twice.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:15 P.M.)