State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for January 22
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for January 22
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
January 22, 2003
DEPARTMENT 1-2 Announcement of Trip to Davos, Switzerland World Economic Forum
IRAQ 2-3,6-8,9 Communications with France and German on Iraq 2,4-6 UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and Failed Accountability 3 Catalog of Iraq s Violations and Pattern Failure by Iraq 3, 11 Secretary Powell s Satisfaction Level of UN Inspectors and Disarmament 4,6-8, January 27 Deadline and Action by the UN Security Council 7 Whereabouts of Weapons of Mass Destruction 9 Allies and the President s Decision for Possible Military Action 10 Relevance and Irrelevance of the UN Security Council 11 World Opinion Regarding Military Action
NORTH KOREA 10, 14 International Atomic Energy Agency Report/Meeting 12 Situation Update and Australian Involvement 13 U.S. Policy on North Korea Dismantling Nuclear Program 14 UN Security Council Involvement
MEXICO 12 Earthquake Update and Possible U.S. Aid
RUSSIA 13-14 Secretary Powell s Meeting with FM Ivanov in New York
BANGLADESH 15 INS Registration and U.S. Security Concerns
PAKISTAN 15-16 Special Consideration for War on Terrorism for INS Registration Program
MIDDLE EAST 16 Travel Update for Assistant Secretary Burns and Meetings in Syria
LIBYA 16-18 UN Human Rights Commission Vote
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have one statement which might not surprise too many of you. Secretary of State Colin Powell will attend the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, from January 25 to 26. The Secretary will depart Washington on Friday, January 24th, and return Sunday, January 26th.
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is an opportunity for government, business and civic leaders to discuss a wide array of important global issues. The Secretary will address foreign participants in a major speech on Sunday, January 26th, at noon, local time. That would be about 6:00 a.m. in Washington, so I'm sure those who don't go with us can watch on TV at that hour.
QUESTION: And his speech will be -- the text will be distributed here, I'm sure.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we'll make it available.
QUESTION: Will he speak to reporters on the plane, do you think? I guess people will go anyhow, either way, but is he likely to come back and have a few things to say? We'll see?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll see.
QUESTION: Can I ask -- if there's nothing on this, can I ask you -- some of us are running off to see --
QUESTION: I've got a question. Yeah, the bilats. I understand people like King Abdullah will be there. Does the Secretary plan to see any --
MR. BOUCHER: There are a variety of important leaders of other nations of the world who will be there, as well as business leaders and others who are interesting to talk to. I don't have a schedule of bilateral meetings at this point. The Secretary may have some bilateral meetings, but he may also have a chance to talk to a variety of people during the course of the dinners and the other events that he'll be participating in. So I'm not going to be able to give you a list until probably we're much closer to being there. But there probably will be some bilats.
QUESTION: What are the other events?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, there's a dinner that I know of. There may be other things that he participates in.
QUESTION: In terms of speaking publicly --
MR. BOUCHER: He's speaking Sunday at noon, the speech Sunday at noon.
QUESTION: On another matter, in an interview yesterday, the Secretary had some things to say about France's position on Iraq, a little bit about Germany's position as well. And since that was yesterday, I wonder if anything has been communicated back and forth since then. He did refer in the interview to having spoken to the French Foreign Minister yesterday. Is there anything you have to offer to bring us up to date -- conversations or French remarks to the US or something?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. The Secretary did speak with Foreign Minister Villepin yesterday afternoon. I think what I'd do is, sort of, let me take the opportunity to remind you of where we are. The Deputy Secretary went over some of this yesterday. The Secretary of State went over some of this yesterday. I won't go back into all 16 of the resolutions that Iraq had violated before we got to 1441, but Resolution 1441, last November 8th, said that Iraq was in violation of all previous commitments.
The inspectors then reported in December that the Iraqi declaration failed to meet the requirements of the resolution. They then reported January 9th that there was only passive cooperation from Iraq; it failed to meet the requirements of the resolution. The inspectors then went to Baghdad last weekend to put the Iraqi regime on notice that they were not fulfilling the requirements of the resolution, and they came out reporting only partial results and largely in the form of promises that Iraq has to keep. And we'll see if they do or not.
We look forward to the inspectors' reports on Monday. At this point, we've seen nothing on the part of Iraq that changes the pattern. Iraq is failing to fulfill the requirements of Resolution 1441. Iraq has failed to account for weapons, failed to answer questions, failed to allow private interviews, failed to identify scientists, failed to prevent aerial reconnaissance, failed to explain its procurements, failed to encourage cooperation with the inspectors, failed to provide what the inspectors asked for, which is credible evidence of destruction of weapons of mass destruction.
In sum, Iraq is failing to disarm. We need to face these facts. We need to deal with this reality and not pretend that inspectors can disarm Iraq while Iraq is actively blowing smoke and hiding its programs.
Next Monday, we'll hear from the inspectors, and at that time we think we need to take up with other Council members how the Council should live up to its responsibilities. That's where we are today.
QUESTION: I was tempted to ask you an "if" question, but I know they're not usually well received. But the --
MR. BOUCHER: I always receive your questions, Barry.
QUESTION: No, the catalog of Iraq's violations of UN resolutions. A lot of these things can't possibly be addressed by continued inspections, can there? I mean, the US has a case -- does the US have a case against Iraq even if it, to use the Secretary's word, dribbles out a few more warheads?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's the problem. Iraq is a big country. Iraqi programs were massive and wide. And as the Deputy Secretary said yesterday, we now know where 16 of the empty chemical weapons shells are. The previous inspections estimated there were 30,000. I mean, you can do the math. If we can find 16 a week, how long does it take to get rid of the 30,000?
So the point is that without Iraqi cooperation, the inspectors are not going to be able to disarm Iraq, particularly when Iraq is, you know, blowing smoke in everybody's faces.
QUESTION: Richard, in the Secretary's interview yesterday, he seemed to despair that the Germans and the French wanted to give the inspectors more time. And then he said flat out, "Inspections will not work." What does that mean?
MR. BOUCHER: It means what I just said. Inspec --
QUESTION: No, no, no. I mean what the Secretary said, "Inspections will not work." That's a flat out full sentence. "Inspections will not work," from the transcript that you guys put out.
MR. BOUCHER: It's a full sentence in a full paragraph in a full interview, Matt.
QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. So let's not try to explain it outside of the context, but --
QUESTION: Well, I'm not. I'm just --
MR. BOUCHER: The context is clearly the context that you can't expect the inspectors to disarm Iraq if Iraq is not disarming peacefully. And that is a point that we have made again and again.
QUESTION: All right. Maybe I was --
MR. BOUCHER: If Iraq continues its present pattern of behavior which, unfortunately, exactly mirrors their past patterns of behavior, inspections will not work.
QUESTION: Okay. Then maybe I wasn't clear enough. Isn't it, rather, the United States that's prejudging before Monday's date if you, in fact, come out and inspections will not work?
MR. BOUCHER: I think if the inspectors come out on Monday and tell us that Iraq is cooperating and disarming peacefully and that that's the fact, nobody will be happier than us.
MR. BOUCHER: We set up a resolution to try to do that. Unfortunately, as I've said, the pattern that Iraq has established not just over the last 12 years, but since the two months when this resolution was passed -- the pattern over the last two months has been that they have repeatedly failed to abide by this particular resolution that was passed just months ago, just 60 days ago by the Council.
QUESTION: Okay. And then just the last thing that you said today that the world should not pretend that inspectors can disarm Iraq. This appears to be -- you know, the inspectors -- and I think you guys have said this all along -- the inspectors aren't actually disarming Iraq, right? Iraq has got to disarm itself. The inspectors have no -- you know, no ability to actually go in and disarm Iraq. So are you trying to set a new bar here that --
MR. BOUCHER: No, no, I'm just -- I'm saying, what the Secretary said yesterday, what I said today, was unless Iraq is disarming itself, the inspectors can't disarm Iraq. It takes --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, the inspectors never could have disarmed --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, they can verify Iraqi disarmament. That's their job. That's what they're able to do. That's what they were sent out to do. Unfortunately, if there's no Iraqi disarmament, they can't verify it. Maybe that's a better way to put it.
QUESTION: So how can Iraq, at this point, prove it's disarming, specifically?
MR. BOUCHER: Do what countless other countries have done since, you know, the last ten or 15 years. Show the inspectors where the equipment is. Show the inspectors where the programs are. Show the inspectors where the scientists are. Give them a real list of people. Encourage people to cooperate with the inspectors. Tell us what they really had. Tell us what happened to all those pieces and mustard gas shells and VX and Sarin and growth media and long-range missile tests. Tell us what they bought. Tell us where it is. And let the inspectors verify it. That's what countless other countries have done over the last ten years, and you'll be hearing more about that, I think, in the speech from Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz tomorrow.
QUESTION: So they don't have to show you the --
MR. BOUCHER: Plenty of examples. Yeah, the inspectors started this out saying, "Show us the equipment and we'll destroy it, or show us concrete evidence that it has been destroyed." They've gotten neither.
QUESTION: Can Saddam Hussein stop all this by leaving the country? Is it just him? Can he stop this war?
MR. BOUCHER: As I think the Secretary has made clear in a number of interviews, we certainly think that would be an option that he and his cohorts and his close associates, his family, should take. We would look to see an Iraqi regime that would be willing to live in peace with its neighbors, live in peace with its own people, that would be willing to get rid of all these weapons of mass destruction and would stop threatening people in its region and live by the same principles that other countries do. That's what we would look for.
QUESTION: When you say that we have to face the facts and take what the Security Council -- what it does next, does that mean that you're -- that you've reached the conclusion that you'd like the Security Council to take further action, and at what point will you be taking this up with the Council?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the first thing for the Council to do is to hear the report of the inspectors and to discuss that report, to discuss the pattern of Iraq's behavior, and to discuss whether or not Iraq is fulfilling the requirements that the Council laid down a few months ago.
On that basis, the Council then needs to discuss what its next steps are going to be, or the Council members need to decide what the next steps should be. So that'll be the way the discussion would proceed absent some change that's reported by the inspectors on Monday.
QUESTION: When you say it's up to the Council to decide whether Iraq is disarming, there are quite a few Council members that seem to disagree with you on various points of whether the inspections are working. And so when you say that the Council has to decide, it looks as if you're in for along the same lines of the long, protracted discussions that you had with the Council on the resolution in the first place.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think we've made clear -- maybe I didn't make clear in my last sentence or two -- that we have promised in the earlier resolution, 1441, that there would be a consultation and discussion with other members of the Security Council. If the Council decides to do something and decides together what to do, then that's fine. If they don't, we still reserve the right to take action along with likeminded nations. So either the Council together or Council members will have to decide what they think the next steps should be in light of the situation.
QUESTION: Richard, you said that there is a range of options. Could you lay out some of those?
MR. BOUCHER: I did?
QUESTION: You did -- that are before the Security Council. Could you lay out what those options are, ranging from, obviously, continuing with the inspections and going to war? Are there any options in between that the US thinks could be on the table?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have a list of options at this point to present to the Security Council. As I said, the first step is for the Council to hear the report from the inspectors, to look at the facts of Iraqi cooperation and to face up to those facts, and to decide how the Council or the Council members can ensure that Iraq meets its requirements for disarmament.
QUESTION: I mean, you can understand why I'm asking this, because it sounds as if -- I mean, there are some people who, contrary to what the administration had been saying just about a week ago that the 27th was not a drop-dead date, it wasn't a trigger for war following the inspectors' report, if there are no other options in between beyond the inspections continuing and going to war, then that does sound like a drop-dead date.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on what the options might be at that point. As I said, the Council or Council members will have to decide what they believe, what they think are the appropriate next steps. But it's got to be based on the facts. The first thing is to look at the facts and, frankly, look at the facts honestly and squarely. The Deputy Secretary made that point in his speech yesterday.
If we are seeing, as I believe we believe we are, the same patterns repeated of Iraq's behavior in all the other resolutions -- so this very reluctant confession, inadequate disclosure, superficial cooperation -- then we ought to face up to it, deal with that reality, and discuss how we can make Iraq fulfill their requirements.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-on. Is the 27th still not a trigger for war or a drop-dead date?
MR. BOUCHER: It's still what we've been saying. It's an important date. It's an important date to listen to the inspectors, to see what they report, and to focus on the question of whether or not Iraq is disarming peacefully.
QUESTION: But it's not a trigger?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not a trigger.
QUESTION: Does the Secretary have any plans to continue discussions with the French Foreign Minister and will he be calling the German Foreign Minister soon? I mean, there are clearly serious disagreements between their countries and the US on next steps.
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary, in his meetings at the United Nations and his discussions with other Foreign Ministers, including the French Foreign Minister and the German Foreign Minister, took the same approach that I have today and said we all need to look at the report that the inspectors produce, look at the facts of the matter, ask ourselves, "Is Iraq disarming peacefully in accordance with the resolution or not?" And then we need to be in touch. He promised he would be in touch with other leaders.
So we will be, I'm sure, consulting very closely with other members of the Security Council and other nations outside the Security Council after we hear from the inspectors and start to look at what the next steps should be.
QUESTION: But the French made it very clear that -- the French Foreign Minister -- that he did not see war as an option. And it sounded like he was saying no matter what.
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I think, some of these issues, as you know, were discussed when we passed the first resolution, the Resolution 1441. We are looking at that resolution and trying to answer the question: Is Iraq fulfilling these requirements? That was a process of peaceful disarmament. Is Iraq peacefully disarming?
And if Iraq is not, then in that resolution, all 15 members of the Council promised that we would have to consider serious consequences of another failure. So that's what we expect people to live up to.
QUESTION: So even if someone vetoes this in the Security Council after the 27th, you still reserve the right to act with a coalition of the willing?
MR. BOUCHER: Vetoes what?
QUESTION: The -- any further action.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know that the further action, that the next steps will be another resolution. It may or may not be. The Council will get together and talk. We will talk to other members of the Council at various levels and focus on what are the next steps needed to ensure that Iraq fulfills the requirements of the resolution and the expectations of the international community to disarm. That's what we intend to do. That's what it says in Resolution 1441. Whether that takes the form of another resolution or some other form of action by the Council or by Council members, I can't really say at this point. The first thing is to listen to the report of the inspectors and to ask -- to deal with the question of what's going on.
QUESTION: Richard, when you say that you reserve the right to act with a coalition of members or other Council members or other states, and to follow up on Betsy's point that the French Foreign Minister and the Germans clearly don't see a justification for war, does the United States believe that Saddam Hussein is such a threat to US national security and to international peace and security that it's willing to alienate two of its closest allies over many, many centuries and deal with the consequences of alienating itself down the line?
MR. BOUCHER: Without talking too much about history, I think you've seen that allies can debate and discuss things, that allies can come together sometimes, act jointly sometimes, sometimes not. And we do believe that the prospect that this dictator would threaten a vital region, would continue to be able to develop the wherewithal to attempt to dominate and intimidate this vital region of the earth, is something that affects our national interests. And it affects not only our national interests, but the interests of many other nations, including those who are there.
And therefore, we believe that should we decide it necessary to use military force, should we decide it necessary to take action that would result in a better region and a better future for the people of Iraq, that there would be other governments, other countries that might join us in that.
But at this point, the President has not made a decision. We have not made a decision on military action, and therefore not made a decision on how that action should take place. So we will see as we go forward, based on the facts of the matter, based on the report of the inspectors, what we know and what we've seen, we'll see how the countries come together or don't come together to do what's necessary.
QUESTION: But when you make that determination while you're considering all your options, are you considering the consequences that the US will face by going it alone?
MR. BOUCHER: We consider everything.
QUESTION: Richard, does the United States believe it's possible for the Iraqis to conduct an active program to develop these weapons at the same time as there are UN inspectors going around the country?
MR. BOUCHER: They did in the '80s when the --
QUESTION: There were no inspectors going round in the '80s.
MR. BOUCHER: You want to let me finish a sentence? They did in the '80s when the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were going around the country. They did in the '90s when the UNSCOM inspectors were going around the country and they had active biological weapons programs. They did for the last five years when there were no inspectors in the country. And they've failed to account for the end of those programs.
When you have active non-cooperation, when you have the Iraqis putting smoke up everywhere, when a country such as Iraq -- as I said, without Iraqi cooperation, it's not possible to verify that these programs have ended, it's not possible to verify that these programs have been destroyed.
QUESTION: Richard, getting back to what Betsy asked a while ago, which I think you may have forgotten about in the answer, but it was, in fact, on Monday Foreign Minister Fischer's comments which first raised the eyebrows of the Secretary and prompted him to diverge from his prepared remarks and go on about impotence and all this other kind of stuff. And the Secretary has spoken with Foreign Minister de Villepin after he made his objectionable remarks in the press conference.
Has the Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Fischer or do you guys consider the Germans just a lost cause at this point?
MR. BOUCHER: Can I take Option C? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I just want to know if he's talked to him.
MR. BOUCHER: No, he hasn't. I think I answered that part of it.
QUESTION: Well, is there any reason why you're taking -- why he would have a -- go ahead.
MR. BOUCHER: If you remember, I think the Secretary said so in his interview with the newspapers yesterday that as things played out on this issue in the Council, obviously the Secretary had spoken with both Foreign Minister Fischer and Foreign Minister Villepin, as well as the other ministers he met up there about the Iraq issue. We're quite familiar with their views. We've discussed it. We've had some back and forth with them and we've said, "Well, let's look honestly at the reports on Monday and continue to address these issues."
So the views themselves are not any particular surprise. As things played out in the Security Council, Foreign Minister Fischer was the first one to address the Iraq issue. The Secretary, then, in his remarks replied to that. And then it was later that Foreign Minister Villepin addressed the issues more extensively in his press conference. So the Secretary felt it was necessary to call Foreign Minister Villepin and make he understood our views on that.
QUESTION: Right. Okay. Does the United States believe -- the Secretary said in his interview yesterday that he, frankly, had to question the seriousness, or he wasn't sure whether these people -- and he was specifically referring to, I think, specifically referring to the Germans and the French -- were serious about ending the inspection process anytime soon, in other words calling -- you know, bringing an end to the process of inspections.
Do you guys thing that the French and the Germans, or particularly the French, have undermined the authority of the Council by coming out right now, a week ahead of the inspectors' report, and saying what they will, you know, basically laying their cards on the table, "We will not support a war," in the case of the Germans, or "We think the inspections are working and have no need to stop them," as the French said?
MR. BOUCHER: We will have to have these discussions with other Council members as we deal with the facts. The important thing is to honestly face the facts. As Deputy Secretary Armitage said yesterday, "We must not let the sensible reluctance to fight drive us into wishful thinking."
The importance for the Security Council is that the Security Council insist that its resolutions be honored. And if we have a pattern of non-cooperation, of active non-cooperation, then the Security Council needs to insist that its word is abided by and needs to do what it said it would do, which is to get together and discuss how to ensure that Iraq fulfills the requirements.
QUESTION: Are you still of the opinion that this-- that action, that this is the moment, this is going to be a defining moment for the Security Council to prove its relevance or irrelevance? Is that --
MR. BOUCHER: We are still of the opinion that the Security Council needs to demonstrate that it means what it says and that a resolution is upheld by the resolution of the members -- by the resolve of the members.
QUESTION: But right now, that resolve is up in the air, as far as you can --
MR. BOUCHER: Right now, we're just beginning a debate that will be further aided by the facts as reported by the inspectors. So let's not draw conclusions and postulate on eventualities.
QUESTION: Well, the reason I'm asking is --
MR. BOUCHER: What can I say?
QUESTION: The reason I ask is that you guys --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's not try to draw conclusions at this point nor predict how it'll all turn out.
QUESTION: But, well the reason I'm asking, though, is because you seem very happy and, in fact, now you're demanding that the North Korea issue be taken to the Security Council, and yet you're still not convinced that the Security Council is relevant. Is that a mis --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's quite a fair analogy. There's a reason and a responsibility that make it almost imperative that the International Atomic Energy Agency report to the Security Council because the North Korean withdrawal from the Nonproliferation Treaty is, by definition, a matter affecting international peace and security, and therefore one that should be reported to the Security Council.
QUESTION: Could we go on to that?
MR. BOUCHER: Can we go to something else?
QUESTION: On North Korea, since we're on that?
QUESTION: One more on Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: We have a question back there.
QUESTION: Thank you. My question is related to the some of the latest questions. If President Bush decides to attack Iraq, what would that cost the US in world opinion, and does it matter?
MR. BOUCHER: I will go back to what I said before. If it comes about that military action is necessary to uphold the word of the Security Council, to rid the region of the threat of weapons of mass destruction, to rid the Iraqi people of a regime that's persecuted them and oppressed them and gassed them, then I think there will be other nations in the world and people in the world who will understand why that's necessary and correct.
So we are obviously aware of the feelings of people around the world. As Deputy Secretary Armitage said yesterday, "Nobody wants to fight a war." Americans no more than any other people are looking for war. But we also think it's necessary to face reality. If this threat is allowed to continue, if this threat is allowed to build, we'll all be in trouble. And if we have to deal with it, there will be others who will be prepared to deal with it as well.
QUESTION: Just one more on Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Richard, you keep talk about facing the facts. But if the facts are the facts that the inspectors are going to lay out next week, it sounds like you're not really willing to accept whether the inspectors are saying whether Iraq is cooperating or not. It sounds like you, like Matt said, you have already prejudged what the facts are going to be and your interpretation of them.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me go back through the list. Where are we today? Not going back 12 years and 16 violations. The resolution on November 8th said they were in material breach. The inspectors reported in December that their declaration didn't meet the requirements of the resolution. The inspectors reported January 9th that passive cooperation did not meet the requirements of the resolution. The inspectors went to Baghdad to put the Iraqis on notice that they had failed to meet the requirements, failed to answer the questions, failed to account for the weapons, failed to provide credible evidence. They came back with only partial results, meaning many of those failures continue and many of those failures we have promises, but not changes.
So we will look at what the inspectors report on Monday. But given this history of repeated failures, not just in the past, but today -- now, every day as this continues -- Iraq is failing to cooperate, failing to disarm peacefully, and given that it's Wednesday already, we'll see what they report on Monday, but I think we should be prepared to deal with the facts.
QUESTION: Do you have any information or reaction to documents that were given by the Iraqi Government to Mr. Blix?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. That would have to come first from the inspectors in terms of what they might say to the public or report to the Security Council.
QUESTION: On Mexico, can I ask you -- Mexico is suffering the consequence of this terrible earthquake. Is US providing some support to Mexican Government to alleviate the damage and maybe solve some problems?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, let me jump quickly to that. We are, in some ways. The earthquake was 8:06 p.m. local time yesterday, magnitude of 7.8, depth of 10 kilometers, epicenter at Colima. The preliminary reports say that the earthquake killed at least 23 people, wounded 159, destroyed dozens of homes and buildings, and disrupted electricity and telecommunication services.
The Governor of Mexico has not requested international assistance at this time, but there are three US Agency for International Development disaster management experts in Mexico today who will help conduct damage assessments, help coordinate with the US Embassy and our mission in Mexico and the local disaster office. There is a Mexican search-and-rescue team from Guadalajara that was trained by the US Agency for International Development and they're going to Colima.
We'll continue to monitor the situation and see if there's anything that's needed or that we can do. So, in some ways, the assistance that we can provide by training these teams in advance, by coordinating on disaster relief in advance, is proving to be useful in this situation.
QUESTION: Well, thank you, Richard. This is Arshad with the Daily Inqilab.
QUESTION: Jonathan asked for a change of subject ten minutes ago to follow up with --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, sorry. That's right. You wanted to stick to North Korea. Let's do that and we'll go back.
QUESTION: On North Korea, first of all, what is this progress that you're making in your consultations with other people on North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm in a position at this point to describe it any further than the Secretary has. We've been talking to other governments about ways to resolve this peacefully. We've been looking very carefully at the reports that we've been getting from other governments about contacts with the North Koreans. I think you know we got a final report from Governor Richardson after his talks.
But the Secretary has also, in recent days, been on the phone with Australian Foreign Minister Downer about the Australian delegation that was out there and they came by to see us, see Jim Kelly, yesterday here at the State Department. We've gotten reports from Kofi Annan about his special envoy's visit to North Korea. We're in touch with the South Koreans, who are having talks now with the North Koreans.
So we're looking at all this information, looking for ways to move forward, and exploring with other governments what are ways to resolve this peacefully. So at this point, I think you've seen the policy that we described the other day. We're looking to make clear again and again that this is a matter of concern to the entire international community, that North Korea needs to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, needs to reverse the actions its taken to kick out monitors, break seals and otherwise reverse the steps its taken with the International Atomic Energy Agency. But we're also, at the same time, exploring avenues for the possible peaceful resolution of the issue.
QUESTION: Okay, can I follow up a bit from there, then? Have you seen any evidence that the North Koreans are considering or are open to the idea of doing these things that you demand of them?
MR. BOUCHER: We have looked at the record. There have been some public statements that they've made. We re looking at what they've said to other people. But at this point, I don't think I'd be in a position to characterize the North Korean position.
QUESTION: And where do we stand on -- sorry, just one more, if that's okay.
QUESTION: Where do we stand then on the North Korean request for something -- a security assurance in writing? Mr. Bolton went a little farther yesterday, or on Sunday, rather, and suggested it might be possible to have that in writing. Can you confirm that now?
MR. BOUCHER: There's nothing new on that. I think he referred to it, Deputy Secretary referred to it; the Secretary has made somewhat similar comments before. But I think the point that we've always made -- the President has made clear we have no intention of invading North Korea. That is US policy, but US policy is also quite insistent that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program and reverse the negative actions it's taken with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
QUESTION: You mentioned contacts with the Australians, the UN, the South Koreans. The Russians were there, yes?
MR. BOUCHER: I forgot. Oh, Russians, I'm sorry. The Secretary talked a little bit about it with Foreign Minister Ivanov in New York. But at that point, I think the Russian delegation had just gotten back to Moscow, so we may hear more from the Russians. But yes, we've been in touch with the Russians as well.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Bolton said, I think this morning in Seoul, that he thought that the IAEA would take this up this week and that it could go to the Security Council as soon as the end of this week or next week or in the, you know, in the very near future.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is an IAEA meeting set up?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure there's anything particular confirmed yet for this week so I'm not able to give you an exact timetable. I don't think he quite did, either. But I think the point will be we look for the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to report this to the Security Council and we think -- we're looking for that to be arranged soon.
QUESTION: Okay. And to what end, though, do you want the Security Council to look at this?
MR. BOUCHER: As we've mentioned before, we think it's important for the international community to make clear in a variety of ways that North Korea's nuclear enrichment programs, its steps it's taken to get rid of monitors and monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and then its withdrawal from the Nonproliferation Treaty are matters of concern to the entire international community. Individual governments have made this clear. We've seen statements, I think around the world, including Japan, Korea, Russia, China, Europeans. The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors together has made this clear in a statement before North Korea announced withdrawal from the Nonproliferation Treaty.
And so we think it is important, first, for the Security Council to deal with this because it relates to international peace and security; and second of all, for the international community to use this way to continue to make clear that this is a serious matter of concern to all of us.
QUESTION: I realize that, but I still -- what do you want the Security Council to do with the issue?
MR. BOUCHER: Exactly what the resolution might say or what the Security Council action might take, we'll see when we get there. At this point, we're moving from the IAEA, but I think the basic point is the one I've made.
QUESTION: Well, are you looking for a resolution that would contain sanctions against the North Koreans?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, let me not try to fill out the details of any resolution, just say that's the point that we want to make.
QUESTION: Okay, but that option is not out -- it's not out of the question, then?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not predicting it or anything else in the resolution at this point.
QUESTION: Thank you, Richard. This is Arshad with the Daily Inqilab in Bangladesh. In the wake of the recent INS deployment of registration of Bangladeshis, hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis living in the United States are having this nightmare, and the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh would scheduled to meet Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday, coming Friday.
What is the position of the State Department and just to elevate this concern among the Bangladeshis who are a front-ranking ally of the United States, and it almost became like a bolt from the blue?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's quite a bolt from the blue. We have talked over the last several months about the need for the United States to have some system that lets us know who's in our country and where they're going and what they're doing on a periodic basis. We're all familiar with traveling in other countries. Many countries have this kind of system. Some countries you have to report every night. The hotel reports every night who you are and where you are.
So it's not quite a system like that, but it is a system so that we can have a way of knowing who's in our country. And it's been part of US law and something that's being implemented now on a progressive basis.
It's not directed against any particular country or any group of particular nationals. Bangladeshis shouldn't feel themselves singled out, nor should Pakistanis, nor should others. And gradually, it will be applied broader and broader to people of many, many nationalities.
We do recognize the procedure causes inconvenience. We're working to keep that inconvenience to a minimum. But we do, again, think it's very necessary for the United States and for the security of all those who come here, whether they live here permanently or they come for temporary reasons, for us to maintain appropriate control over our borders, to have the best possible security system so that people who come to the United States are not subject to terrorist attack.
QUESTION: Is it across the board -- will it be across-the-board situation? All -- most of the countries would be part of this process? Or is it a process just only for a --
MR. BOUCHER: I think you'd have to ask the Immigration Service how many countries there are now and where it will eventually go. The legal requirement, or the legal authorization, I think, is to be able to keep track of any people who are here.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The Pakistani Foreign Minister, in an interview today, said that Pakistan's role as a frontline state in the war on terrorism should exempt Pakistan from having to register in this program. Do you think that frontline states in the war on terrorism should be given some special consideration here?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we would say, first of all, that we deeply appreciate Pakistan's cooperation. I think that's been a very positive and healthy cooperation with us. We certainly believe that Pakistan remains a key ally in the war on terrorism. This issue is not a reflection of our strong relationship with Pakistan, nor does it relate to the really growing and vibrant relationship we have with the Government of Bangladesh.
The Secretary will meet with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh on Friday to deepen our relationship. The Secretary has talked to and will talk again next week with the Pakistani Foreign Minister about reinforcing our ties. So it's not really related to the relationships we have with individual countries. It's related to the need to maintain security in our own country for all those who come here and to be able to know who's in here and where they are.
QUESTION: Middle East. Assistant Secretary Burns seemed to have escaped the city under the radar the other day and flown off to Damascus. Is he going anywhere else on his trip? And also, in the description that the State Department had --
MR. BOUCHER: Do you have that with you, Lynn? I don't think I have it. The answer is yes, he is going other place and I don't have my piece of paper so I can't remember exactly where.
So the second part of it --
QUESTION: Well -- and maybe you -- well, you might have an answer to this. In the description of his Damascus stop that the Press Office had to offer, it said something about he was going to Damascus to discuss with senior Syrian officials, continuing on from the discussions he had on his last trip when he presented President Assad with a letter from President Bush.
In looking back at the coverage out of Damascus from that trip, which I believe was in late October, there was not any mention of any letter that he delivered on behalf of President Bush. Maybe I just missed it in the -- but what was that letter all about? What were you looking for? I mean, this was in the run-up to, obviously, in the UN and the Security Council on Iraq. Was that a major part -- was that what this all has to do with?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me get you something a little more definitive on that, if I can.
QUESTION: Do you have something to say about Libya's election to the chairmanship of the UN Human Rights Commission? And do you have any ways of countering whatever they may try to do?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, on January 20th, Libya was elected by secret ballot. There were 33 countries in favor of Libya's chairmanship of the UN Human Rights Commission, there were 3 opposed, and there were 17 abstentions.
The United States took the unprecedented step of calling for a vote and we voted against Libya. In our view, for the first time, an unacceptable candidate faced a real challenge and members were asked to face their responsibilities. I would refer you to Ambassador Moley's statement to the press on Monday. He said, in part, "We took the steps necessary to ensure that there would be a vote on this matter, so that we could leave no doubt about our objection to Libya. Calling for a vote was an unprecedented and historic action But we cannot have business as usual in what should be the world's foremost international human rights body."
As far as what we do next, we continue to look to the members of the Human Rights Commission to live up to their responsibility. We are, indeed, disappointed that Libya will take over this body, but I think we've made it clear that Libya, nor any other future candidate, can expect automatic approval of the world. And the members of this body, of the UN Human Rights Commission, need to examine their role, need to examine their conscience. They need to act on that to make sure that the Commission is effective. And we'll continue to call on members to fulfill that destiny.
QUESTION: Richard, on this -- what do you -- even if you're -- even if all the people who abstained had voted with you, you still would have lost. But -- correct? Thirty-three beats 20, doesn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that that's the point.
QUESTION: No. I'm -- what I'm -- well --
MR. BOUCHER: But go on.
QUESTION: Well, it's the point for my question, which is, do you have anything to say to these 17 countries that obviously weren't wholeheartedly in favor of Libya, but neither would they come out and take a stand against it?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we would say, in particular to those who voted for Libya, that this is the Human Rights Commission and that we find it unconscionable that people could find it possible to vote for a serious human rights offender like Libya to chair the Human Rights Commission.
QUESTION: For those who abstained?
MR. BOUCHER: I will reserve any comment on those who abstained since they appear to have reserved their comments. We certainly believe that nations who examined the situation closely and nations who stopped to think about the implications of this would have voted against Libya's candidacy.
QUESTION: So you're suggesting that those who abstained did not examine this very closely?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, whatever their reasons, we don't think they are justified.
Okay, thank you. [End]
Released on January 22, 2003