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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #36, 00-04-24

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


786

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Monday, April 24, 2000

Briefer: James P. Rubin

SECURITY
1-2	Secretary Albright Announces New Steps to Strengthen Security at
	 Department 
1	May 3, 2000 State Department Town Hall Meeting on Security
1-4,5,9	Transfer Responsibility of SCI from INR to DS
1	Supervisors Review Security Practices with All Employees
1	DS Intensification of Annual Security Briefings for Employees
1	Working with Hill to Establish New Under Secretary for Security &
	 Related Matters 
1	A/S David Carpenter Named Senior Advisor to the Secretary on
	 Security Issues 
2,3	Seeking Accountability on Missing Laptop Case
4	Status of Department of State Private Contracts
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
5-6	Dennis Ross to Travel to Region Next Week for Resumption of
	 Permanent Status Talks / US Views Next Six to Eight Weeks as
	 Decisive Phase / More Intensive US Role / Possible Albright Travel
	 to the Region in Next Six to Eight Weeks / Will the Possible
	 Albright Trip Attempt to Restart the Syrian Track 
CUBA
6-8	Status of Visas for Additional Members of Gonzalez Party / Impact
	 on US-Cuban Relations / Update on Cuban Explanation of Altercation
	 at Interests Section 
8	Pending Legislation on Removing Restrictions on the Sale of Food &
	 Medicine to Cuba 
IRAQ
8-9	Congressman Hall To Pressure UN to Ease Sanctions, Allow More Food
	 & Medicine / Issue of Dual Purpose Goods 
ARMS CONTROL/NON-PROLIFERATION
9	Goals of Albright Speech at NPT Conference / Strengthen
	 Non-Proliferation Regime Through IAE & Strategic Nuclear Arms Control 
13	Critics of US Commitment to Disarmament
MALAYSIA
9-10	Tourists Taken Hostage / Two American Citizens Escaped / Public
	 Announcement Issued Last Week Due to Threats by Abu Sayyaf / Has
	 US Embassy Spoken with Two American Citizens 
TERRORISM
10	Possible Connection Between Abu Sayyaf and Usama Bin Laden
IRAN
11	US View of Iranian Government Crackdown on Media
CHINA
11	Warnings to Journalists in Hong Kong & Threats to Limit Freedom of
	 Expression 
KAZAKHSTAN
12	President Warns of Crackdown on Freedom of Expression / Impact of
	 Secretary Albright's Recent Trip & Discussions on Free Expression 
ZIMBABWE
12-13	US Position on Outcome of Regional Leaders Meeting with Mugabe,
	 Ongoing Violence / Possible Suspension of US Aid 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #36

MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2000, 1:27 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. On May 3rd, I plan to conduct a State Department Town Hall meeting to discuss ongoing concerns about security and resource-related issues, but I'm taking some actions today that will not wait even until May 3rd.

Recently, a laptop computer containing sensitive information disappeared from a secure area controlled by the Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, or INR. Like several other recent serious lapses in security, this is inexcusable and intolerable.

Such failures put our nation's secrets at risk. They also damage the Department's reputation and that of its employees, the vast majority of whom take their security responsibilities very seriously.

Unfortunately, security is not a subject in a university course. Ninety- nine percent success is a failing grade. So, today, I want to reiterate to every employee in every office in every bureau and diplomatic post, security must be your top priority in all its aspects all the time. Our goal should be an environment for security that is second to none. And to this end, I am ordering the following measures.

First, responsibility for the protection of sensitive compartmented information will be transferred from INR to our Bureau of Diplomatic Security. This step follows my consultations with the Director of Central Intelligence.

Second, all principal supervisory personnel in the Department are instructed to review security practices and procedures this week and to stress the importance of security to their staffs.

Third, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security will intensify a program of annual refresher security briefings with attendance mandatory for all Department employees who handle or safeguard classified or sensitive information.

Fourth, I will work with Congress to establish, as soon as possible, a new Under Secretary of State for security and related matters, a point which I announced some weeks ago already.

In the meantime, I am naming David Carpenter, the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, as my senior advisor on security issues.

Finally, in regard to the investigation of the disappearance of the laptop computer, I have asked that questions of accountability be examined carefully and that appropriate recommendations be made for decision.

Ultimately, of course, the accountability rests with me, and I am determined to do all I can to encourage a culture within the Department where incidents of the sort we have seen recently simply do not happen. None of us should be satisfied until that goal is achieved.

Thank you.

MR. RUBIN: I have some statements on other subjects unless you have any questions on this subject.

QUESTION: Are you prepared to take questions on the laptop issue, the seriousness of the lapse, of the disappearance of the laptop?

MR. RUBIN: Well, this is, as the Secretary said, a serious matter. We're talking about extremely sensitive information here. The Department, in consultation with other relevant agencies, is now engaged in an analysis of the implications of this potential loss. Again, I would stress that because this is a matter under investigation, and because no conclusions have been drawn, and to my knowledge there is no particular direction that leads to a conclusion right now, it's unclear as to whether it was stolen for the hardware, that is the laptop, whether it was stolen for the information contained in the laptop or whether it has simply been misplaced and for whatever reason has not been returned or found. We don't have a direction yet, but given the extreme nature of this information and sensitivity of this information, obviously, an intensive effort is being made to try to determine what happened.

QUESTION: Jamie, you say no conclusions have been drawn and, yet, the Secretary's just moved responsibility for security of this sort from INR to DS. Isn't that a conclusion?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the conclusion certainly that we've drawn is that the loss of this laptop is intolerable even if it turns out to be just missing. You know, this is an issue that goes back many months. Sometime in late summer-early fall of last year there was an Inspector General report about this. The previous INR Assistant Secretary, Phyllis Oakley, explained why she didn't believe the Inspector General's suggested shift was necessary.

Upon Assistant Secretary Roy taking over, he and Diplomatic Security Assistant Secretary David Carpenter, discussed the matter, worked on a arrangement by which additional INR personnel would be put in place to deal with security of this information within INR. And as a result of this incident, and the fact that it is missing, regardless of what the result of where it will be found if it's found, the situation is intolerable. And Secretary Albright has decided that this is the appropriate step to take then.

QUESTION: What does this mean, the "transferring to Diplomatic Security?" Are there going to be guards at various offices? Is there going to be a second layer of access?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to speculate, and nor would I think it would be appropriate to detail in public for potential people trying to find this out, exactly how this will work. But suffice it to say that to date, INR officers, security officers, officers in the INR Bureau, have been responsible for procedures and protection of classified information used by the intelligence and research service.

With this change, it will be DS that's responsible for that mission. How they perform that mission, I don't presume to speak to at this point.

QUESTION: Two things. One, very briefly. I mean, she said an accountability study and -- does that mean basically people are going to lose their jobs over this?

MR. RUBIN: Well, for now let me just simply say that to ensure full confidence in the ongoing investigation, and in our remedial steps, we are temporarily detailing to other duties the directors of the offices involved in this security breach. This is not a finding of fault. We are not in a position to make decisions concerning culpability or disciplinary action until the investigation is completed.

QUESTION: And secondly, you're transferring this, INR to DS as was said earlier, but in the last two security breaches, wasn't it DS that was basically at fault for those? I mean how confidence is there in Diplomatic Security?

MR. RUBIN: I think there is a lot of confidence that DS's work is --again, I tried to give you some history, which was there were some who suggested, including the Inspector General and others, that the best way to deal with INR's security problems was to transfer the function from INR to the Diplomatic Security Service. That was a recommendation made last fall.

And the steps that we took as a result of that IG report I just described in response to Norm's question, but at this time in light of this event, the Secretary has concluded that this is appropriate.

I think it would be wrong to conclude that it was DS's fault in the previous cases. And again, I would urge you all not to draw fault conclusions based on scant information and incomplete investigations.

QUESTION: But given that this has happened now, we didn't hear about this computer for two months after the incident happened. Do you have reason to believe that we're now going to hear about more? That this is not an isolated case in the Department and there could have been other equipment, other information missing?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, we can't know what we don't know. So I can't answer your question fully. I can say this, that in the course of the investigation into where the laptop is, obviously, there's been a lot of inventory work that's been done at INR, and we have not discovered any other missing pieces of equipment or significant missing information that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: How many officers have been temporarily transferred?

MR. RUBIN: Two. Irrelevant office directors and beyond saying that, I care not to say it again. Let me emphasize this is not a finding of fault. This is to ensure that as the investigation and remedial steps are taken that there is full confidence in the work that we're doing.

QUESTION: What I haven't yet seen explained, maybe it has been and I just missed it, is wouldn't the laptop require passwords that would make it -- would it make it impossible for someone who doesn't have the correct passwords to get that kind of classified information, or would it not?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to comment on what a laptop that's currently missing whose location we don't know what steps might or might not be required to get information.

QUESTION: Is it a laptop that requires a password?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I don't want to provide additional information to those who might have access to such a laptop.

QUESTION: And then also refresh my memory, didn't this involve contract workers, too, that had private contracts?

MR. RUBIN: No. You may have been reading in various news accounts what people are speculating as to what happened. We have not drawn a conclusion as to, again, whether the computer was stolen for the hardware, that is to sell the laptop for money, or whether it was stolen for the contents of the laptop or whether it is missing. And so, again, I don't think it's useful for me to speculate on which of those it would be. But obviously we're pursuing all available leads.

QUESTION: Have any private contracts been changed in any way as a result of this?

MR. RUBIN: I've given you what, to my knowledge, are the steps that have been taken since then. Whether there have been contracting activities that have been temporarily suspended pending this investigation or not, if they thought it would be appropriate for me to put that information out in the public, I had an extensive meeting and I wasn't given that information.

QUESTION: I didn't get the reason why a laptop as opposed to a desktop was used.

MR. RUBIN: Again, that involves the decisions that were made by the individuals involved, and I don't want to speculate on that at this time.

QUESTION: Can you say whether people that are not employed at the Department of State have been interviewed in this investigation?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to comment on who's been interviewed.

QUESTION: What brand laptop was it?

MR. RUBIN: I really don't know which of the fine companies that make laptops produced this particular laptop.

QUESTION: You said these measures aren't a finding of fault yet, but investigation is still not done. But isn't basically removing INR from this responsibility, isn't that punitive in some way?

MR. RUBIN: Well, bear in mind that there have been a number of recommendations to that effect in the past. Various steps were taken in a discussion between the new Assistant Secretary Stape Roy and David Carpenter about what measures in lieu of transferring this responsibility could be taken, and those began to be put in place. And then this incident happened, and they Secretary decided that the appropriate step at this time was to do precisely what she just announced.

QUESTION: So this was the straw that broke the camel's back?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I'm telling you what the facts are, what the decision are, and I'm not going to draw those kinds of conclusions for you.

Okay, other subjects. Ambassador Ross will be traveling to the Middle East early next week. He will be helping in the resumption of the permanent status talks that will take place in Eilat. Ambassador Ross, in addition to sitting at the table with the negotiators in Eilat at this important round of discussions, will also be traveling to see the leaders and shuttling back and forth with the leaders.

In our judgment, the next 6 to 8 weeks could well be a decisive phase in the pursuit of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and that phase obviously is now including a more intensive American involvement with Ambassador Ross' presence at the table and work with the leaders. And I would say that we also would expect at the appropriate time for Secretary Albright to travel to the region. The recent weeks' events have indicated the importance of pushing harder for this agreement in working with the Palestinians and the Israelis.

One of the things that Secretary Albright and the President were encouraged by in the last round of discussions with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat was that not only was each of them aware and putting forth their own needs and their own positions but expressing comments and analysis that demonstrated that they were aware of the other leader's needs. And so this is the state on the peace process.

Anything on that?

QUESTION: A date please?

MR. RUBIN: It's early next week he's traveling. I can't give you, you know, May 1 precisely, but he's leaving early next week.

QUESTION: You mentioned a trip by the Secretary?

MR. RUBIN: I'm expecting that at some point. As I said, the next 6 to 8 weeks in our view could well be a decisive phase in the Middle East peace process in the pursuit of a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And in that light, we are expecting that the Secretary will travel as appropriate.

QUESTION: Within that time frame?

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: So 6 to 8 weeks, that takes us beyond May?

MR. RUBIN: Well, this is the phase that we think is an appropriate phase. When the Secretary travels, if she travels as we would expect she would, she'd obviously be in a position to make a recommendation to the President as to whether a summit would be or would not be useful and would be properly prepared and the ground properly prepared. So, you know, you can read the calendar as well as I can.

QUESTION: Is it too early to say whether her trip might also involve an attempt to restart the Syrian track?

MR. RUBIN: I'm leaving it where I left it. Any other topics?

QUESTION: You mentioned that there would be a change in the American role. Can you define that role for the coming 6 to 8 weeks? How would you expect it to -- how should we be talking about it?

MR. RUBIN: As I indicated to a number of your colleagues on Thursday and Friday of last week, what I'm talking about is a more continuous US presence at the table in trying to help the two sides come up with ideas that will bridge the gaps.

Other subjects?

QUESTION: On Cuba?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Now that Elian Gonzalez is back with his father, is there any movement at all on the visa issue?

MR. RUBIN: Not to my knowledge. There are obviously three visas that are still outstanding that we've provided. Those have not been used yet. Those individuals may travel whenever they wish. The remaining 22 visa applications remain under review.

QUESTION: Is there any thought about the propriety of having Cuban government psychologists be with Elian during this interim period?

MR. RUBIN: The propriety of having Cuban government -- I see your question. I do not know whether any such decision is being made to allow that to happen, so I don't want to speculate on a hypothetical.

QUESTION: But there's been some, a lot actually, of speculation and comments from I guess the usual suspects on this issue that the events of this weekend are somehow going to set the stage for a new era in US-Cuban relations. And I'm just wondering what the State Department had to say about that.

MR. RUBIN: We don't see that way. This was a case about a father and a son and the desire of the father to reunite with his son, which has now occurred. With regard to relations between the United States and Cuba, we have long said that if the Cuban Government makes the fundamental democratic changes we have specified time and time again, then and only then can our relations improve.

QUESTION: So these people that are reading grand designs into this are just flat out wrong?

MR. RUBIN: I think --

QUESTION: This isn't an -- actions over the weekend were not an overture to --

MR. RUBIN: You know, I'm trying to get kinder pundits in my final week just in case.

QUESTION: Just in case?

QUESTION: Jamie, last week you reacted to the assertion of the Cuban Government that they send you a letter informing -- advising you about guns surrounding the --

MR. RUBIN: They never sent us such --

QUESTION: They never sent?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: Speaking of never sent as such, what about answers on the incident?

MR. RUBIN: We still have not received satisfactory reply or reply of any kind to my knowledge. That matter is still under investigation by the DC Metropolitan Police. And we have demanded an explanation and have not received one.

QUESTION: What comes next, Jamie?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to speculate on what we will do until the DC Police have completed their investigation.

QUESTION: What if they don't provide an answer even to DC Police? Won't it be the State Department's role to push harder for an explanation?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we're waiting at this point for the DC Police to do its investigation. If they come to a point where there are additional steps that we need to take and we think that's appropriate, we'll take them.

QUESTION: Given that the State Department is only tangentially involved as you keep pointing out, was the Secretary notified on Saturday that there --

MR. RUBIN: I don't know.

QUESTION: Getting back to the issue here of US-Cuban relations, I know you say that there's no change unless certain conditions are met. But there is legislation with lots of support on the Hill to remove restrictions on the sale of food and medicine to Cuba. Does the Administration have a position on whether that's the right thing to do?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I know we had taken a position globally on food and medicine as a result of the President and Secretary's statements and actions. I will have to check what specific legislation and any position we have on such legislation at this time.

QUESTION: On the subject of food and medicine, this morning Representative Tony Hall of Ohio, who just got back from Iraq, said he's going to pressure the United Nations to adjust its sanctions to allow in more food and medicine. In line with the Administration's position, will they support that change to the sanctions?

MR. RUBIN: Well, by and large, I've been aware of the information that Tony Hall received during his briefing, and his general conclusions, and they seemed quite consistent with our view. Namely, that the problem is not so much the sanctions, per se, but rather the way in which the oil for food and humanitarian programs are administered, and that more needs to be done to make sure that available funds are used, and used properly, for food and medicine. And so we're generally supportive of that idea.

Q Including a change in the sanctions? Hall said that he felt that was getting in was getting to the right people but that things were being help up because of dual purposes.

MR. RUBIN: Well, there's two issues. One, on the holds in the committees - - and we've been working to try to accelerate our review of these holds so that any unnecessary holds can be lifted. And we would certainly want to move on that as quickly as we could.

As far as allowing dual purpose goods in, that's something we've tended to err on the cautious side, given Saddam Hussein's track record of using dual purpose goods to produce chemical weapons that he's then used against his own people and others.

QUESTION: Back to Cuba for a moment. The difference between the position that the government takes on the Elian case and the position of the Cuban community in Miami, will it change in any way the relationship between the government and the Cuban leaders in Miami in terms of consultations or--

MR. RUBIN: I have no real view on domestic American politics to report to you on the extent of consultation and political developments between American citizens and their government.

QUESTION: Since the Secretary's speech is at 4:30 p.m. and it may even slip back a little bit past that I understand, can you give us any hint as to whether there might be any new policy proposal or policy announcements in the speech?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the speech will lay out the Secretary and the United States Government's position on nonproliferation in some detail. It will deal with not only the need to strengthen the nonproliferation regime through the IAEA safeguards improvement programs that have been proposed, but also on steps that we've taken to try to deal with our goal of strategic nuclear arms control. And so that's what the speech will say. It's 10 minutes to 2:00 p.m. As soon as I leave here, we're getting on a plane, we're going to New York. And in my last week, it seems like a dumb idea to scoop the Secretary of State.

QUESTION: What better time to do it?

QUESTION: -- about this INR-DS change, so someone knew.

MR. RUBIN: In one of our nation's finest newspapers, it did not say the Secretary's decided to make this. That decision was, in fact, made after that particular newspaper was published.

QUESTION: The Philippines, there was an attack by separatist Muslim- guerrillas. Some Americans escaped. Some Germans didn't.

MR. RUBIN: That was in Malaysia I believe.

QUESTION: Malaysia, yes. But the guerrillas are Filipinos?

MR. RUBIN: Reportedly. I just said reported. Well, I don't know. Are we now doing cross-commentary? Okay, what's the question, Ben?

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about this attack on tourists in Malaysia?

MR. RUBIN: What I can say about that are essentially the facts, which is that we understand that at 8:00 p.m. local time Sunday, a group of armed men landed on the Malaysian island of Sipadan and took 22 people hostage. Among the hostages were citizens of several countries including the United States. The two known Americans in that group managed to escape by jumping from the kidnappers' boat and swimming to shore. We do not know if there are any Americans among the remaining hostages.

We are unaware of any claims of responsibility at this time. We have see speculation in the press about the Filipino terrorist group Abu Sayyaf that may be involved, but that has not been established.

Last Tuesday we issued a Public Announcement for the Philippines due to threats by the Abu Sayyaf organization against American citizens and interests in the region, although the Sipadan island is part of Malaysia, it is extremely close to the southernmost islands of the Philippines, an area in which the Abu Sayyaf has been most active.

QUESTION: The Filipino group there, Abu Sayyaf, has asked for the release of Ramzi Yousef, and the Sheik Omar.

MR. RUBIN: With respect to the views of this terrorist organization let me simply say that the Philippine authorities are obviously engaged very heavily on this. The United States does not concede to threats or demands made by terrorists.

We have seen reports of this terrorist group's statements. We obviously take all threats against Americans seriously.

QUESTION: Do you have information about this group, that their links between this group and of Usama bin Laden or Afghani sort of training camps in Afghanistan?

MR. RUBIN: I have no comment on such links from the podium.

QUESTION: On this same subject, the two, the American couple arrived back in KL a couple of hours ago. Has the Embassy been in touch with them at all?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know the answer to that, but I can check that for you after the briefing.

QUESTION: : New subject.

MR. RUBIN: Yes, please.

QUESTION: In Iran, how worried is the United States about this banning of 12 pro-reform -- publications by the --

MR. RUBIN: Well, in general, obviously, we have watched with interest and encouragement in recent years as the Iranian people have embarked on a path towards greater freedom and democracy. Obviously, in the end, the pace and scope of change in Iran will be determined by the Iranian people themselves.

We have seen reports of the closures of additional newspapers and the continuing arrests of journalists. We do believe the press has played an important role in political developments and has contributed to a lively political culture in Iran.

More than anything, these actions are a blow to the people of Iran, which have clearly expressed their desire for openness and this kind of freedom in successive elections. From our standpoint, any time a free press is challenged anywhere in the world or statements are made that question the right of free expression, we in the United States are concerned.

We call upon the authorities in Iran to respect and safeguard the right of the people of Iran to exercise their right to a free and independent media as recognized by internationally accepted human rights norms and standards.

QUESTION: Still on free press?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Last week a Chinese mainland official warned Hong Kong journalists in Hong Kong not to report pro-independence views about Taiwan. He also called for a quick drafting in Hong Kong of anti-subversion and sedition laws.

MR. RUBIN: We would be concerned by any infringement upon the free press that has been a hallmark of Hong Kong society for so long and the hallmark of their system. And we certainly cannot support and would oppose any suggestion that they shouldn't be able to publish or pursue that free press.

Speaking of free press, Matt.

QUESTION: I'm expecting to get I guess the same answer to the question that was previously asked.

MR. RUBIN: You can package these all together in one story.

QUESTION: Exactly. But this one has --

MR. RUBIN: I occasionally make suggestions.

QUESTION: -- a little bit more relevance in the fact that the Secretary was actually in this country last week and made an appeal for democracy and free press, and now the President of Kazakhstan is warning a big crackdown. And I'm just wondering if you're at all disappointed in addition to any statements that you made earlier?

MR. RUBIN: Well, yes, we're disappointed that the right of free expression in Kazakhstan has been questioned. We're trying to get a better understanding of what the significance of these statements are in the coming hours and days. But for now, I think it's fair to say that we oppose any statement including the one coming out of Kazakhstan on this subject. And we're disappointed that there is not greater appreciation that the ability of newly emerging democracies to enter the international system with the full weight and support of the international community is dependent upon their support for basic human rights such as the right of free expression.

QUESTION: But there's not an even greater disappointment considering the fact that the Secretary was there and personally making an appeal to this government?

MR. RUBIN: Well, yes, we're disappointed.

QUESTION: Different subject. Zimbabwe.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts on the outcome of the meeting last week with regional heads of other states with Mugabe?

MR. RUBIN: We've seen reports that additional farms have been occupied and vandalized. We have no further reports of deaths. The government of Zimbabwe still has not called for an end to the occupation and has not condemned the violence perpetrated by the occupiers. A bomb exploded outside the offices of the independent daily newspaper in Harare on April 22nd. No one was hurt in the explosion. No one has taken responsibility for the blast, and no suspects have been arrested. Much of the violence in Zimbabwe has been directed against supporters of the opposition movement for democratic change. Zimbabwean citizens have a constitutional right to associate with the party of their choice. Democracy can only develop in a climate of political tolerance. So we're extremely disturbed by the fact that the Zimbabwe Government still has not accepted its responsibility to uphold the law for all Zimbabweans and fully implement the court orders which call on police to evict squatters from commercial farms.

QUESTION: Jamie, I think that you all were hoping for something with more teeth to it that the regional leaders were going to say to Mugabe in their meeting with him last week that was both to beyond the situation in Congo and on the situation in his country. Were you disappointed in the message that they seem to have taken?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'd rather not comment on what they might or might not have said privately. We're certainly disappointed that there has been no change in the position of the government of Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: Last week or 10 days ago there was a suspension of US aid to the land reform program there. Is there any consideration being given to any other kind of sanction-type measures?

MR. RUBIN: All I can say at this point is we call on the government to end the violence, to implement the court orders, and to take all the steps they can to prevent these violent confrontations.

QUESTION: As the US is promoting its disarmament efforts, the US military has been upgrading warheads. It stores thousands of warheads beyond the levels in treaties. How do you answer critics that say the US in light of that is really not serious about disarmament?

MR. RUBIN: Well, on the contrary. We spend billions of dollars in American taxpayer dollars to work on nonproliferation including with programs with the former Soviet Union and around the world to try to make sure that there isn't a spread of nuclear weapons.

Secondly, we have worked very hard in getting this CTBT signed and agreed and now ratified by many countries. We've worked very hard to reduce by roughly 80 percent when START II goes into effect the strategic nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union and now Russia. We arranged and worked very hard to see that nuclear weapons were removed from the territory of Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus.

So we have a record we're quite proud of over the last seven years of putting nuclear arms control on the highest possible priority level. But the Secretary will have more to say about that in a couple of hours.

Thank you.

(The briefing ended at 2:00 p.m.)


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