State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for February 26
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC February 26, 2003
DEPARTMENT 1 New Iraq Voices of Freedom Publication Available 15 Secretary Colin Powell s Calls to Foreign Leaders
RUSSIA/TURKEY 2-3 New UN Resolution and Multilateral Assistance and Support
RUSSIA 1-2 Secretary Meeting With Russian Presidential Chief of Staff Voloshin 3, 15-16 Link Between al-Qaida and Chechen Groups
TURKEY 2-3, 4-5 Assistance Package, Financing, and Support for Disarming Ira
q SAUDI ARABIA 5 Potential Assistance in Military Action
IRAQ 5 Briefings Allies and Potential Allies 6 Department Officials Abroad for Talks and 6-7 Support From UN Security Council Members 7-8 Iraqi Opposition Meeting in Salahuddin 11, 13-14 Resolution Compliance and Weapons of Mass Destruction 11-12 Calls for Destruction of al-Samoud Missiles
IRAN/IRAQ 8-9 Mujahedin-E Khalq and Weapons of Mass Destruction 9 Claims of Congressional Support and Bases in Ira
q ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 9-10 Quartet, Roadmap and Steps Toward Palestinian State
CANADA/IRAQ 13-14 Calls for Compromise Among Security Council Members
JAPAN/IRAQ 15 Financial Assistance to Reconstruction in Ira
q COLOMBIA 15 Update on American Hostages
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be back here with you. Just one small note at the beginning. I would note that we rolled out today at the Foreign Press Center a new publication called, Iraq, Voices of Freedom, a story of some Iraqis who've been able to leave the oppressive regime in Iraq and tell their stories.
This is a publication that's available largely for foreign audiences, also on the web. And those of you who need countries can get them from our Press Office if you ask. I think it behooves all of us to listen to the voice of Iraqis outside Iraq, and I believe we've been able to make that possible for you with some of the people working on the Future of Iraq project, as well.
So with that note, I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: There are strong indications that things are beginning to go the U.S.'s way on the resolution. With that in mind, could you give us some sort of a read-out of the meeting with Mr. Putin's emissary, Mr. Voloshin?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't want to try to predict how any particular governments will vote on the new resolution until they decide to declare themselves. And as you know, there's only a few that have done that so far in either direction.
But the meeting this morning with Russian Chief of Staff, Presidential Chief of Staff, Aleksandr Voloshin was very, very good. It was an extensive and in-depth discussion of the positions of the United States and Russia and the source -- the reasons for the positions, the way we saw the issues with Iraq, and a chance, I think, to really go through it from a broad perspective, but also in some detail.
It -- the meeting went twice as long as was originally planned and only ended because the Secretary was late for his meetings with the President at the White House.
QUESTION: How long was that down there?
MR. BOUCHER: It went on for about an hour. I appreciate you waited outside, but from the time you started waiting outside to the time you ended waiting outside, there was also a bit of time for people to take off their coats and hang them up in the -- before the --
QUESTION: But I interrupted. Were you going to say more about it?
MR. BOUCHER: That's okay, everybody's interrupted me. The, I think the meeting provides an additional understanding to us and to the Russian side of the positions. We'll see if there is an opportunity to narrow the gaps in our positions at this point. It's part of an ongoing discussion that's been very intensive -- the Secretary's discussions with Foreign Minister Ivanov and other discussions at other levels, so we'll continue to work with the Russians.
The meeting with the Secretary today, I think, caps an important visit by the Presidential Chief of Staff. He's been in Washington for a couple days. He's described his overall meetings in Washington as very, very useful to him. He met with the Vice President, I think. He met with National Security Advisor Rice. The President stopped by. He saw the President. He met with Andy Card, the Chief of Staff over at the White House. And so, and he's had other meetings around town, so I think it's been a very useful visit for us all.
QUESTION: You spoke in the future tense about narrowing the gap. Are you unable to say now that there's been some narrowing already?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to claim any particular progress with any particular country at this point. We continue these discussions. As we are all aware, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it'll be when we see or when we come to the moment when it's time to decide and time to vote that we'll see the product of all these efforts.
QUESTION: One last thing. There was a rumor that has begun to subside that the Secretary was going to Moscow. But the rumor also had Condoleezza Rice coming to Moscow next week. Can you deal with the Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: There's no particular plan to travel at this point. I just can't speculate at this point.
QUESTION: Was there any talk in these discussions of the U.S. possibly providing more aid to Russia in this situation? We have offered assistance to Turkey for bases, for help with their economy. Are there other countries that we have also asked, provided, offered assistance to?
MR. BOUCHER: We have made clear to Turkey and to others that we would try to help them deal with the economic consequences of any war in a neighboring state should it come to that.
We obviously look for every country to support these efforts because it's in all our interests for Iraq to be a stable and peaceful member of the Middle East. How we help other countries deal with the economic consequences as well as the future economic benefits of having a stable and open Iraq as a neighbor or as a future trading partner are things that we discuss with other governments, but there was no discussion today with the Russians of any particular economic consequences they might suffer.
I think the point is that we look at countries, particularly neighboring countries, in terms of the real, expected results and try to help them deal with any consequences there might be.
QUESTION: Besides Turkey, can you indicate who the U.S. has been in these discussions with?
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check and see if I can. I think you're aware of some requests from Israel.
QUESTION: Did Mr. Voloshin bring up with the Secretary Russian concerns about the links between the Chechen rebels and al-Qaida?
MR. BOUCHER: I would leave it to him to comment on what he thinks the extent of those links are. Certainly, it was a discussion that wasn't just specific to the Iraq resolution. It wasn't a narrow discussion of Resolution 1441. It was a broad discussion: the war on terrorism, the threats, the situation in the Middle East, the relationship between our two governments, the kind of security cooperation that we've found with each other in terms of fighting the biggest threat to all of us. And in that context, yeah, the question of links between terrorists and Chechen groups did come up.
QUESTION: And since we now have so much more information about links between Iraq and al-Qaida, can you say whether there are increasing signs of those links? You've mentioned them before as training camps, that kind of thing. But what do -- is there anything else you can say about those links?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- no, I don't think I can re-characterize them today. The best characterization is the one the Secretary gave during his presentation to the Security Council.
QUESTION: I would like to ask a question, but while, before we leave Turkey, we're be asked by Ankara to --
MR. BOUCHER: We left Turkey a long time ago.
QUESTION: Well, yes, but the Secretary -- it was said on the plane that he had talked to the prime minister. I don't think anything more was said about it and they are very eager for any details we could provide today on that conversation.
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary spoke yesterday from the airplane with the Turkish prime minister, Prime Minister Gul. They, as you know, had discussed the issues involved in this question of economic consequences in Davos, both the military aspects and the economic aspects. And then the Secretary had met with Foreign Minister Yakis a couple of times ten days ago. And so the Secretary has been deeply involved in this discussion all along.
He met with -- he called Prime Minister Gul yesterday to sort of see where we were, to try to help along the last few issues so that we could get them resolved. I would say at this point we are continuing our discussions with the Turkish Government. We believe that satisfactory arrangements can be worked out. We do believe it's up -- now, it's up to Prime Minister Gul and his cabinet to complete the Turkish political process, and we've seen press report that a vote might proceed on our request tomorrow. It's an important part of the democratic process in Turkey and we respect that.
QUESTION: Remember the other day the Secretary, before the trip, made some reference to, I don't know if used the word clarification, refinements -- it wasn't his word, but he meant there's some way to work the package that might help it along. Without -- I'm aware of certain ways to do this generally as well as specifically, but without taking everybody's time, is that what they talked about again on the phone? You know, alone it can be used in a certain way. It's --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, he talked about creativity in the use of the financing and certainly that's been an aspect of the discussions as we proceeded with the Turkish Government. But there are other aspects. As you know, there's a political component to this about what do we want to see in the future of Iraq. What kind of unitary, single state in Iraq do we want to see and how can we both help that along?
Second of all, there are military aspects, obviously, of cooperation and preparation if it becomes necessary to go to war. And then there's the economic consequences portion. So all those have been under discussion, and as we've proceeded we've solved a lot of the issues as the Secretary was taking up some of the -- just an approach on how to solve some of the remaining issues. I will put it that way.
QUESTION: I think Turkish media is reporting that Secretary Powell also made another -- made a call just recently, like, within the last couple of hours or so. Is -- can you confirm that?
MR. BOUCHER: No. That would have been yesterday afternoon, our time.
QUESTION: And no calls since then?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: What have you agreed with the Saudis on the use of their territory for --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have anything new on the Saudis. We've had some very good discussions with the Saudis about issues involving Iraq. But I don't think I can characterize anything particularly new.
We've had very productive meetings regarding military cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the event of military action against Iraq. We have had and we continue to have very good cooperation with Saudi Arabia on a wide variety of matters, including the overall fight on terrorism. But that's as far as I can go, so.
QUESTION: The rumor of these meetings, is this a particular meeting you're referring to or just --
MR. BOUCHER: I would say it's sort of been an ongoing subject of discussion. I will see if there's any particular meeting we want to cite.
QUESTION: Richard, are there any briefings going on here for ambassadors of other countries on the subject of Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: I mean in groups?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that there have been any group meetings. I will have to double-check on that. We do have very active diplomacy going on and, intense diplomacy as I think Dr. Rice described it the other day.
You've seen the Secretary of State's travel and his meetings with Japan, with China, with Australia to talk about Iraq.
John Bolton has been in Moscow. Marc Grossman, our Under Secretary for Political Affairs has been in Paris for meetings with the G8 partners. Obviously, that's G8 business, but it's a chance for him, as well, to talk about Iraq with important counterparts with other governments. And he's on up to NATO, now, to have conversations there.
If I can find it, I will go through the list: Assistant Secretary Rocca for South Asia is on her way out to Islamabad and also Bangladesh to discuss bilateral issues, but also to have a chance to discuss the issues involved with Iraq.
Assistant Secretary Kansteiner for Africa has just come back from a trip to Angola as well as Guinea, South Africa first, but he went to Angola and then Guinea. He had very useful and helpful discussions with Cameroonian President Biya in Paris on his way back from that trip. And I've probably left out a few because I can't find my paper, but there have been quite a number of diplomatic events recently, and these will continue.
QUESTION: Can you give us any kind of sense of how the Kansteiner meetings went with those three members of the UN Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the way I'd characterize the one with the Cameroonian President Biya is very, very useful, very helpful. I think we see them as positive meetings. We want to make sure that people understand our positions and that they are able to make the kind of judgment that is required of Security Council members. Judgment not with regard to the facts of Iraq's failure to cooperate, but a judgment, also, as to the responsibility that we all take on in becoming members of the Security Council.
The one I forgot was Under Secretary Larson. I should say last but not least, but he's been in Paris, as well, for a chance to discuss Iraq as well as other issues.
QUESTION: Richard, the Angolan ambassador made some reference the other day to economic assistance and their needs. Is it fair to say that, like so many other countries, that's part of the conversation?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think it's fair to say that because the Secretary, himself, has told you a number of times that it's not part of the conversation with so many other countries.
QUESTION: Well, it is with Turkey, I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: This is not, Barry, this is not a question of quid pro quo, as the Secretary of State has told you that directly several times. There are countries directly involved, directly -- neighbors of Iraq, people directly in the region, who may be affected by economic consequences of conflict, and those are friends of ours that we want to continue to support.
Now, does that mean we don't support the countries, the other countries? No. In fact, we're major donors when it comes to Angola, for example. We have been all along, way before the issue of Iraq came up, and trying to help the Angolan people with their difficulties after the conflict in that country, trying to help refugees, trying to help kids.
You remember the Secretary's visit to Angola. We visited an orphanage for young children, where not only U.S. money but also time and effort from the U.S. Embassy was going in to helping out the children who were affected by conflict there. So there was a lot of effort put into that. But it's not a horse-trading game for people to take responsibility as Security Council members.
QUESTION: No, I wasn't suggesting -- but while we're on the subject. Before he went away, he was asked about that group, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, that were in line for special economic assistance related to the Iraq -- event of war with Iraq and a (inaudible). He wasn't ready to announce an Israel or Jordan package. Has it moved along? Committees were formed, I know.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm ready to announce anything today, either, but I'll double-check. I'm pretty sure we're not quite, we're not, we're not ready at this point. Let's just say we're considering various requests.
QUESTION: You talked about listening to Iraqis. Well, the Iraqis are meeting in Irbil and saying that they don't like your plans for their country. In fact, they say they reject them totally. What's your response to the opposition --
MR. BOUCHER: Are you talking about the meeting in Salahuddin?
MR. BOUCHER: We have people there. This is a continuation of the advisory committee formed at the London Iraqi opposition conference. We're represented there by the Presidential Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large for Free Iraqis, Zalmay Kjalilzad. The State Department's Director of the Iraq Office David Pearce is out there, and other representatives of the U.S.Government.
I think, really, we would wait to see what the meeting produces before we start commenting. I know there have been various speeches and voices raised. At this point, I don't have a final assessment of the meeting. Obviously, we want to talk to our people before we give you that.
We think it is a chance to talk about the vision of the future Government of Iraq that's democratic, that's multiethnic, based on the rule of law that preserves Iraq's sovereign territorial integrity, an Iraq that's at peace with its neighbors, that forswears weapons of mass destruction, and abides by all UN resolutions.
So we'll continue to work with them, with these people, and draw on the strategies and the strengths and the experiences of the Iraqi community both inside and outside Iraq in the future to achieve a government that's truly, meets all those standards.
QUESTION: In the London meeting, one of the principles that was, I think, finally passed by this group of 65, endorsed the notion of ethnic federalism. Does the U.S. have a position on ethnic federalism, and would you like to see some of these principles that were passed in London modified?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's important for Iraqis themselves to decide their own future and I'm not going to try to dictate it from Washington.
Sir, you had a --
QUESTION: There's an organization in Iraq with military camps, Mujahadein-e-Khalq, claiming to be liberators of Iran. People who have come into those camps claim that some of them conceal weapons of mass destruction for the Iraqi government. Do you have any knowledge of this? Do you have any reaction to those reports?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't be able to talk about our knowledge of any particular facilities or camps that the Mujahadein-e-Khalq has. Obviously, anything we knew would come from intelligence, so I wouldn't be able to talk about it. But this group in particular, this is a terrorist group.
It's a group that's conducted terrorist attacks spanning three decades. It's murdered American citizens. We designated this group as a terrorist group in 1997, among the first, the first year in which we used this authority to designate terrorist groups. They have several thousand fighters located on bases scattered throughout Iraq.
They're armed with tanks, infantry, and fighting vehicles, artillery. They also have a support structure overseas. The primary support comes from the regime of Saddam Hussein, but its history is studded with anti-Western attacks as well as anti-Iranian targets.
They have also been used by the Iraqi regime in the repression of the Iraqi Shi'a community over the past 13 years, so they've, have a long history that's been described in our literature.
QUESTION: What happens in the event of a conflict in Iraq if they confront American Forces?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't advise anyone to confront American Forces.
QUESTION: If I could add --
MR. BOUCHER: And I would advise everybody who's in the terrorism business to get out of it right away lest they face the consequences.
QUESTION: Could I ask one further question? Does the Department have any decision on the fact that this organization recently as a few months ago, in ads in prominent American papers, claimed to have considerable amount of political support on Capitol Hill, 150 members of Congress? Is there an official response to that?
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is that this has been, is, and continues to be a terrorist organization, and that information has been transmitted to the Congress and is readily available to all of them.
QUESTION: This is on the same subject. You were asked what their fate would be if they confronted U.S. troops. Well, that's fairly clear. But what is their fate if they actually welcomed U.S. troops and cooperate with them and --
MR. BOUCHER: The goal is to, for groups who are involved in terrorism, to put themselves out of business or definitively abandon terrorism. I remind you of the statute that we have on groups that have to be listed for terrorism reasons, and only if a group were to suddenly no longer meet those criteria would it be unlisted, delisted.
QUESTION: So what would U.S. troops do with their bases, close them down?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You can ask U.S. troops, and ask at the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Well, I think it's a political matter, really.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it is, Jonathan. I think if, the political matter is that these are terrorists supported by the Iraqi regime. What to do with them in a military sense, if the military encounters them, is a question for the Pentagon.
QUESTION: When you are listing them, the terrorist group on your terrorist group list. How do you explain that they have, apparently, a representative in the U.S. and they are able to, at news conferences here in Washington, to explain their case, and --
MR. BOUCHER: I think that question has been dealt with many times before at the Department of Justice, in the courts, and I'd refer you to that.
QUESTION: When Assistant Secretary John Bolton emerged from his meeting with Ariel Sharon, the Israeli press is reporting that Sharon said that --
MR. BOUCHER: In Moscow? John Bolton's in Moscow.
QUESTION: No, but he was in Tel Aviv --
MR. BOUCHER: This is two weeks --
QUESTION: Two weeks ago.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, a long ago trip.
QUESTION: Yeah, long ago.
MR. BOUCHER: Sorry.
QUESTION: I'm very uncurrent.
MR. BOUCHER: Me, too. (Laughter)
QUESTION: The -- Ariel Sharon said that they had discussed, or that he believed, was a little unsure as to which he put it, that the coalition should stay together and take care of weapons of mass destruction of Syria, Iran, and Egypt. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any comment on that, and since the statement was not in any way attributed to John Bolton, I think I'll leave you to ask those who made the statement about what they meant by the statement.
QUESTION: I was just wondering what John Bolton's reaction was.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know that he had any reaction. It was after his meeting.
QUESTION: Could I have a follow-up?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure, yes.
QUESTION: Sharon has also said repeatedly in the last two weeks that the Quartet was not, not really anything that he or anyone else would deal with on their roadmap, and so on. He has made it apparent that they aren't pertinent to the present situation. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I'm not sure you're quoting everything Prime Minister Sharon has said, but I'm not going to speak for him in any case. We have said, the President has said, that the Quartet is important for the accomplishment of the goals that he laid out June 24th, that the roadmap is the way to do that. He has said, we have said in statements after the President met with the Quartet on December 20th, that we looked, we were going to further work on the roadmap and look forward to moving forward with those steps from both sides as events progressed, including as the Israelis formed a government. So we do look forward to addressing the issues between the Israelis and Palestinians. We think the roadmap is the way to achieve the President's vision. We want to be moving down those steps where each side has obligations and each side needs to take steps from stopping the violence to moving forward towards a Palestinian state.
QUESTION: Is there any action towards moving forward at this point that you can point to?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll hold off for just a moment longer on that one. We've been looking for the Israeli election to take place. We've been looking for a government to be formed.
QUESTION: Saddam Hussein was interviewed on CBS television, he talked about not having these, not having any missiles that violate the UN sanctions. Any comment on that? And can you also talk about how large a role this deadline Saturday for the destruction of these missiles will play in the U.S. view of how Iraq is complying with --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, first of all, this is the similar pattern of defiance we've seen before from the Iraqis. The Security Council tells Iraq, your declaration is grossly deficient in all aspects, and the Iraqis say, read it again. The inspectors tell Iraq that you have missiles that would go beyond the prescribed limits, based on some information even provided by Iraq, and Saddam Hussein says, no we don't.
The effort to deny reality is very strong. It'll be interesting to watch this interview. It'll be interesting to say whether Saddam Hussein says yes, we have biological-chemical weapons, and now we want to destroy them. It'll be interesting to see whether he says yes, we've been trying to develop nuclear programs, but now we want to destroy all the materials. It'll be interesting whether to see whether he says, I've asked all my scientists to show up whenever and wherever the United Nations wants to talk to them. It'll be interesting to see whether he says, I've asked all my people to bring forward all the documents. It'll be interesting to see whether he says, I've asked my military to take the inspectors to all the various depots and chemical weapons dumps where I've stashed this stuff. So we'll see. But based on the previews we've seen, it doesn't sound like he says any of that.
QUESTION: And how about the Saturday deadline, then?
MR. BOUCHER: The Saturday deadline is an important date for the inspectors. They have given this date for Iraq to destroy, begin destroying the al-Samoud missiles. These are the missiles that go beyond the prescribed deadline. We know the missiles, we know the associated equipment, much of which the inspectors have specified to Iraq it needs to destroy.
So far, I guess we don't know which way Iraq will go on this. Given the way they've been dribbling out concessions or pseudo-concessions in the past, and again this week in terms of finally identifying some of the debris from Our-400 bombs, I suppose one shouldn't be too surprised to see if they cave in the end on the missiles. But let's remember how much of an arsenal Iraq has.
Iraq has 550 of these bombs, but thousands of munitions for chemical weapons. Let's remember how many liters of anthrax and botulinum Iraq could have produced. Let's remember how many missiles they actually have. So we'll see, we'll see what they do.
But I think it's important to remember that this is a clear obligation of Iraq, and one that we expect them to meet in terms of destroying these missiles as the inspectors have required, and we would expect that to be done in a timely fashion. The fact that it takes them so long to say yes is another indication of the sort of begrudging acceptance and reluctant admission that we've seen from Iraq all along.
QUESTION: We understand the big picture is more than the missiles. But on the missiles, would you care to indulge in observing whether there's a gray area here, how the missiles are loaded, whether they may possibly not exceed the limits if they're configured a certain way, or is that just flim-flammery?
MR. BOUCHER: It is. It's exactly whatever word you were about to use. Flim-flammery is a good substitute. The fact is, these missiles by Iraq's own testing of them and by the determination of the inspectors, these missiles exceed the limits. They are prescribed missiles. In fact, we also note Iraq tested an al-Samoud II engine on a test stand February 23, so Iraq is continuing to try to develop these missiles. In that case, they invited the, they notified the inspectors who were able to observe this.
But Iraq not only has these missiles, but continues to develop them. They need to be destroyed, they are required to be destroyed, but that's only a small piece of the full disarmament that was required of Iraq, which Iraq has not complied with.
QUESTION: There is a story out there that seems a little fanciful, but maybe not. There are three tankers that are plying international waters around the world that are not in contact, seemingly, with normal shipping, I guess, people that you would be in contact with were you on one of those ships crossing the ocean. And there's a lot of speculation as to what the story is with the ships --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've seen those stories, those stories have been around for a couple weeks now. We've seen the stories, we've seen the speculation. I think we've never had anything that could confirm this one way or the other.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the UN debate just for a second? Canada has now announced what it thinks is a compromise, would be a compromise between the different sides in the Security Council in which they suggest that a deadline of the end of March be given, and then everybody takes a vote. Is the U.S. even willing to look at this as a reasonable alternative to either doing something early or doing something late?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'd say, I mean, first of all, note that Secretary did talk to Canadian Foreign Minister Graham about an hour ago now, and so they've had a chance to discuss this directly.
The Canadian proposal is an effort to bridge differences, but I would think I'd have to say we're already three-quarters of the way across the bridge anyway. That, if you remember back in January, late January, when the inspectors were reporting, there were those who were floating these kinds of ideas, saying maybe we should give them four to six weeks to report again and then decide and then set a deadline, similar to the Canadian proposal now.
But here we are, already four to six weeks later facing another report by Dr. Blix and then a chance for the Council to decide and to vote. So in a way, setting another deadline, setting another date farther into the future only delays, only procrastinates on a decision we should all be prepared to make and to face up to facts that we should all be able to see.
It's clear to us that Iraq has failed the test of Resolution 1441. It's not provided an honest declaration or made any attempt to make it honest. And it's not provided full cooperation with the inspectors nor made any attempt to provide that kind of full cooperation. In short, Iraq has not disarmed. That's a fact that's been abundantly clear through a whole series of reports by the inspectors, and setting another deadline sometime in the future is not going to change that fact.
QUESTION: So --
MR. BOUCHER: Hang on, hang on. We heard from the inspectors on December 19th about the declaration that Iraq, that the declaration did not shed any new evidence on the facts. We heard from the inspectors on January 9th that no program of significance has emerged, no information of significance has emerged regarding nuclear programs in that case from Dr. ElBaradei.
We heard from Dr. Blix on that date that Iraq appears not to come to a genuine acceptance of the requirements. We then heard from Dr. Blix on the 14th of February that cooperation requires more than the opening of doors, and they were still expecting, still hoping Iraq would comply. And just today, Dr. Blix said again, Iraq has not made the fundamental decision to disarm.
So I think it's, we've come to the point where we've heard from the inspectors again and again and again, and we'll hear from them again, rather than setting some long deadline into the future with one proposal or another, and we have to recognize it's time to decide.
MR. BOUCHER: The answer is, we're already three-quarters of the way across that bridge that they want to build. We've already given it four to six weeks when these ideas were originally floated back in January, and we're coming up on the moment we should all be prepared to make a decision.
QUESTION: Do you want to say anything, though, about Canada's effort, just generically, not about the substance of it, but the effort to bridge the differences?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, you know, that Canada's a very good friend of ours. The Secretary's discussed these matters frequently with Foreign Minister Graham. I think we are all focused on the need for the Security Council to live up to its responsibilities. We are all focused on the need to disarm Iraq. We are all focused on the need to obtain maximum international cooperation, including a Security Council resolution if that's possible.
And so we've worked with Canada in regard to that. But as I said, we think it's time to say the facts are clear. The inspectors have told us not once, not twice, but half a dozen times if not more, and it's time to just draw the conclusion and make the decision.
QUESTION: I was going to ask a similar question -- whether or not this attempted bridge building qualifies Canada for characterization as being among the unwilling, less willing, ambivalent --
MR. BOUCHER: Our goal is not to characterize countries one way or the other. Our goal is to work with the international community on what is a very important project, which is to disarm Iraq. But our goal is also to focus people's minds on the facts of the matter; to focus people's minds on where we are, how long it's been since 1990, 1991 when the Council set its first deadline of 45 days for Iraq to disarm.
We are now going over 4,200 days. The Council has said nine times that Iraq was in material breach. We've said 11 times that that would result in serious consequences. The question that faces us now is when are we going to mean it? And we think the time is now to mean it.
QUESTION: Was there any discussion on the financial contribution to a possible conference in Iraq? One of the Japanese coalition party leader told in public that Japan will not pay in cash at this time.
MR. BOUCHER: I think we're all aware of Japan's constitutional constraints and how they handle these matters and the policy of the Japanese Government. So during the discussions in Tokyo, there were no specific requests made one way or the other.
There was a general discussion and I think the Secretary, in public, expressed his hope that Japan would be able to help in a post-conflict environment -- help with the reconstruction or rebuilding that needs to be done -- that may need to be done.
QUESTION: Are there other phone calls that the Secretary made today?
MR. BOUCHER: Not today. Yesterday he talked to Foreign Secretary Straw, Prime Minister Gul, I mentioned, Spanish Foreign Minister Palacio, and Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim. And then he made a lot of phone calls over the weekend, particularly on Sunday when it came to talking to people about the upcoming presentation of the UN resolution.
Yeah, Christophe. Sorry.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on Colombia, the three Americans that's in there?
MR. BOUCHER: If you put the question like that, I think the answer is no. No. I don't think there is anything new at this point. Our concern remains with the safety and well-being of the crewmembers. We have not authorized or requested any group to negotiate.
QUESTION: Any? All right.
MR. BOUCHER: One more. Last one.
QUESTION: Thank you. Before leaving for Asia, Secretary Powell said that you actually included those Chechen terrorist groups (inaudible) at least while, as far as I understood, the Department was still in the process of doing so. Are you ready at this point of time to disclose the names of those groups?
MR. BOUCHER: Not quite yet. The Secretary, the way this works legally in the United States, we have to notify Congress and we have to do sort of -- because it's a formal, legal matter we have to do certain formal, legal designations. So the Secretary makes the decision a week or even two weeks before the details become public. So he said he'd made the decision to list three groups, but we're not able to give you the details until they are published in our Federal Register. And I think that will happen within a few days now.
But it normally takes a week or two weeks from the decision to the publication.
QUESTION: Did that come up in your meeting this morning?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it didn't, actually.
QUESTION: What about (inaudible).
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know. Don't know that it did. We were able to inform the Russians of the decision in New -- I guess it was in New York, about the time we were in New York which would have been what, the 14th? So they've already known about the deception for a while.
Thank you. [End]
Released on February 26, 2003