State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 16
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 16
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
September 16, 2004
- Donald Keyser Case / Investigation / Department's Role in
- Investigation/ Keyser Previous Job Assignment / Retirement / Rules
- that Govern Travel for U.S. Officials / Foreign Affairs Manual /
- Effect of Keyser Case on Policy and Guidelines Towards Taiwan /
- Contact with Taiwanese Government
- Current Principal Deputy in EAP
- New York Times Article on CIA Intelligence Assessment / Current
- Outlook on Situation in Iraq
- Two American Citizens Abducted / Investigation
- Current Security Situation / Elections
- Kofi Annan's Comments Regarding War / Security Council Resolutions
- / Legal Basis for War
- Vienna Discussions Concerning Nuclear Program
- Report of Possible Iranian Nuclear Facility / Nuclear Activity
- Status of Resolution / Discussions
- Query on Israeli Nuclear Program
- Musharraf's Military Role / Transition toward Democracy
- Status of Six Party Talks / North Korean Cooperation
- South Korean Experiments
- U.S. Elections and Policy Towards North Korea
- Query on Whether there will be a Quartet Meeting at UNGA
- Terrorism Situation / Russian Anti-Terrorist Efforts
12:55 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: As you can see, we're still getting organized here. But thank you all for coming. Sorry I'm late. I do not have any statements or announcements today. I'd be glad to take your questions.
Mr. Gedda, where shall we start?
QUESTION: Would you tell us what you know about the Keyser case?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you a little bit, but I can't tell you everything I know.
QUESTION: All right. Well, that's --
MR. BOUCHER: First, I do need to make the point that there was an arrest yesterday afternoon. There was -- the papers, charges, were filed in the court in Alexandria, the court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, and the matter is still under investigation. The FBI is working on it. The Attorneys Office -- the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Eastern District is still working on it so there is a limit on what I can say. Any comment about the substance of the matter would have to come from them. There are some papers available in the court to give the background of the government's case.
I would say that we are cooperating and have been cooperating with the investigation. Mr. Keyser is currently assigned to the Foreign Service Institute. The Foreign Service Institute runs a career transition process for people who are retiring, including a job search period. There is a current session that ends at the end of the month.
As far as other things, I don't really think there's too much I can tell you. But that's about it.
QUESTION: Do you know when the Secretary was notified?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary -- the Department and the Secretary -- have been fully aware of this matter and working with the investigators on it. I can't give a precise timeframe to when they started their investigation or when we heard, but I would say for months.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the role that he has played in this administration?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't.
QUESTION: Did they play a role?
MR. BOUCHER: That's under the details of the investigation. I'd say that the Department has been fully aware of, cooperating and working on the investigation for months.
QUESTION: Did the Diplomatic Security Service have a role in this investigation?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the Department, through its appropriate people, has been fully aware and cooperating for months.
QUESTION: For months?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what Mr. Keyser's past jobs have been?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't -- no, I can't give an individual's employment history. I can tell you where he's currently assigned. His previous assignment was as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
QUESTION: And, and forgive me if this was when I was walking over. Did you say what he is doing at the Foreign Service Institute?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. There's a career transition process, and that's where he's assigned right now, at the Foreign Service Institute.
QUESTION: Has he technically retired, or not?
MR. BOUCHER: The way the system works is, once you submit your papers for retirement, you go through this career transition process. It includes a period of job search as well as retirement seminars and other things that you have available. And then at the end of that, you are -- your retirement becomes effective.
So, at this point, he's an employee assigned to the Foreign Service Institute. But, as I pointed out, the current session of that career transition process will end at the end of September.
QUESTION: Can you, without speaking of this case in particular, can you outline what the restrictions are for U.S. diplomats who are assigned to the State Department rather than having had -- rather than people who have technically resigned from State and gone to work for AIT? What kind of restrictions are there for active Foreign Service, U.S. Foreign Service Officers, in dealing with Taiwanese officials?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't really summarize it for you, that information. The rules are available in the Foreign Affairs Manual on contact with foreign officials. And that Foreign Affairs Manual is available online for people who might want to read them, but I really can't try to explain them to you without impinging upon the investigation and the case.
QUESTION: Well I'm not asking about the investigation. I'm just talking about someone in a position that he had --
MR. BOUCHER: I have to say, we do go through this every time we have one of these situations where you're not asking about the particular case, but we all know why you're asking and what the context is. And rather than having my words on the policy and the rules be applied to this particular case, I would leave you to read that in the Foreign Affairs Manual, where it's been written very carefully, and those are the rules.
QUESTION: And you can't -- you can't discuss it from the podium, though? You can't even read them to us?
MR. BOUCHER: I could, but I don't have them with me.
QUESTION: Huh, interesting.
MR. BOUCHER: But they are available on the web.
QUESTION: And I presume that's because you didn't expect that this would be a topic of conversation today?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I expected this would be a topic of conversation but I figured that rather than hearing me read the Foreign Affairs Manual to you, which is that big, that you might want to read it yourself on the internet. So the internet citation is FOIA.state.gov/regs.search.asp, and you can enter your search words in there and get the regulations in their full detail and glory.
QUESTION: In general, U.S. diplomatic contact or quasi-diplomatic contact with officials from Taiwan, with the exception of kind of maybe the Secretary shakes the hand of or nods at someone in Panama or some other country, is U.S. diplomacy with Taiwan is conducted through AIT?
MR. BOUCHER: U.S. contact with the people on Taiwan is conducted through the American Institute in Taiwan, yeah.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that Mr. Keyser was among those personally investigated when the laptop disappeared?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd refer you back to the briefings we did at the time. And, no, we didn't confirm it at the time and I'm not prepared to confirm it now.
QUESTION: How long has he been the Principal Deputy for Assistant Secretary Kelly? Since Secretary Powell came to this job, right?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it was at some point in the middle there. I, actually, don't remember exactly how long that assignment lasted. The career transition process at the Foreign Service Institute that he is now in, began at the -- in July, in early July. So he was at the East Asia Bureau until then, but when exactly he became Principal Deputy, I don't remember.
QUESTION: And somebody has -- somebody -- some people have said he resigned abruptly in July, that nobody really expected that. Do you know about that? Do you know why?
MR. BOUCHER: Individuals decide to retire for their own reasons at their own time. I don't know why he made the decision at that time, but it was a normal retirement decision, as far as I know.
QUESTION: From the court papers, his contact with Taiwanese officials, especially his trip to Taiwan, happened and now he's -- the more contact here happened before the Taiwanese election and after the Taiwanese election. Do you have an evaluation how it might have or might not affect any policy, anything, that maybe Taiwanese officials knew something ahead of the curve or something like that?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have any evaluation, speculation or other analysis for you on connecting things like that. This is not a matter that affects our policy or our view. This is a matter involving State Department personnel and their contacts.
QUESTION: And was he one of the candidates that you considered being the next AIT chairperson?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Do you have information how -- when and how long he stayed in Taiwan as the --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to be able to go into any substance of the matter, beyond what's in the affidavit that's been filed with the court, and I'd leave you to find that at the court in Alexandria.
QUESTION: Another topic?
QUESTION: No, no, no.
MR. BOUCHER: I was hoping, but no. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, is it -- to your knowledge, is it contained in the voluminous regulations which you have decided, for a good reason, I am sure -- whether it's honorable, I don't know. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: It's sufficient. Good and sufficient.
QUESTION: In those, does it talk about any proscription on U.S. officials visiting Taiwan?
MR. BOUCHER: The rules governing travel and contacts by U.S. officials are in the Foreign Affairs Manual. And --
QUESTION: Are you aware since you -- having dealt with this area --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything after that.
QUESTION: -- of policy for the Department in several --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to put it this way. All U.S. officials who are traveling to a place on official business get country clearance from the local diplomatic establishment, embassies, in most cases. We use the American Institute in Taiwan to do that for us in Taiwan.
It is a matter of regulation and policy that officials of a certain rank do not travel to Taiwan on official business, and there are rules as well in the Foreign Affairs Manual about personal travel.
QUESTION: Okay. So do you recall, in your capacity as Ambassador to APEC, which Taiwan, as an economy, is a member, if you would have been allowed to travel to Taiwan, even for personal --
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't been to Taiwan since I left there in 1979.
QUESTION: So, okay, but was it against the rules while you were -- for you as Ambassador to APEC to visit --
MR. BOUCHER: The issue of travel or not travel is not a matter -- that's not what the rules are about. The rules are getting approval from the post and the bureau when you travel. And, as a matter of course, senior officials of a certain rank generally do not.
QUESTION: But -- and that would apply to a Deputy Assistant Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: Senior people in the bureau would require that permission, and it would require permission. Let's leave it at that.
QUESTION: Even if traveling on a private, rather than an official, visit?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, this is why we're not trying to summarize the rules here. We're trying to say they're in the manual and they can be read. I don't want to make assumptions and characterizations that require further explanation. As much as we can is going to be in the regulations. They're going to be written out carefully there.
QUESTION: But I'm not the person who began citing from or seeking to summarize or in any other way allude to the Foreign Service Manual. You're the one who started that --
MR. BOUCHER: I know.
QUESTION: -- and all I'm trying to is understand the one short comment that you made about how people of a certain rank in the bureau don't go there without permission. And the question is a simple one and it is raised by your statement --
MR. BOUCHER: I said don't go there for official travel without permission.
MR. BOUCHER: What the rules are governing personal travel --
QUESTION: So you don't know about any private --
MR. BOUCHER: -- I'd refer you back to the manual.
QUESTION: Okay. So after -- but after we read this section of the manual, or these multiple sections of the manual, and perhaps some of us may get it wrong, you'll be happy to correct us, right?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, let's face it. We all know why we're talking about this.
MR. BOUCHER: And I'm not trying to encourage or myself apply general rules to this specific case. So I'm not here to try to make judgments or imply judgments about this specific case, and that's why I do feel constrained into not going into the general rules, because I know how they're going to be applied.
QUESTION: By us or by the -- by law enforcement?
MR. BOUCHER: Law enforcement will have to decide how to apply them. I'm not trying to --
QUESTION: All right.
MR. BOUCHER: -- create implications or assumptions on your part about how law enforcement might decide to do that.
QUESTION: But if we come back to you tomorrow or some other time with our -- with what we have gleaned from the manual and present it to you, you will be able to tell us whether it's correct or not, or is that something you're just not prepared to do at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to be able to promise that.
QUESTION: Then he commit federal crime because of that --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, that's a question for the investigators and the courts to decide.
QUESTION: Is he out on bail now, and how long have you known him?
MR. BOUCHER: That's a question for the investigators and the courts.
QUESTION: How long have you known him?
MR. BOUCHER: I've known him for a long time. A lot of people have.
QUESTION: Have you heard from the Chinese on this matter?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that.
QUESTION: If you could.
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of, but I have to check on that.
QUESTION: You said that what Mr. Keyser did did not change your view and policy toward Taiwan, but will this case have any impact in the future guidelines regarding the contact between Taiwan and the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know yet.
QUESTION: Is there going to be any contact between the Department and Taiwanese and Chinese representatives here, or the government, a notice or something?
MR. BOUCHER: That -- it would not be normal practice to give a foreign government notice of a U.S. judicial procedure. I'm sure it might come up in discussion.
QUESTION: All right. And who is his replacement after he resigned, do you know?
MR. BOUCHER: The Bureau?
MR. BOUCHER: Senior Deputy -- the Principal Deputy in the Bureau is Evans Revere right now.
QUESTION: Could you spell that?
MR. BOUCHER: E-v-a-n-s for the first name, and R-e-v-e-r-e for the last name.
QUESTION: R-e-v-e-r-e. And --
QUESTION: One of our experienced Asia hands.
QUESTION: Right. And last thing, promise.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: In the paper, it said he has to pay, what, $500,000 for bail.
MR. BOUCHER: Your colleague asked a similar question. That's a question for the investigators and the courts.
QUESTION: But as a career diplomat, can he afford to pay that? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: That's --
QUESTION: But I mean, somebody has to come up with the money.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid that's a very personal question I don't know the answer to, nor do I pretend to able to find it out.
QUESTION: But from personal experience, you can tell us -- (laughter) -- about the percentage of the money needed to post bond.
MR. BOUCHER: I am happily, through my life experience, not familiar with the procedures of bail bondsmen. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Do you know any details about anything beyond what's published, or you can't say?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not even going into some of the stuff that's been published, frankly. I'm just trying to do exactly what we can do here, which is to confirm his employment, to tell you, as we do for all public officials, when they're employed by us and what their jobs are, to tell you that these people in this building have known about this and have been cooperating with this investigation and are cooperating with this investigation as is appropriate. That has been going on some months.
But for any issues involving the case or the rules and how the rules apply to this case, I have to refer you to the courts.
QUESTION: So the Secretary knew about this for a few months?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the Department and the Secretary -- the Department and our leadership -- has been fully aware of this matter for a long time.
QUESTION: But you won't know what's going to happen to his spouse, as a CIA operative?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything to say about his spouse.
Okay. We're going something to else?
QUESTION: One more.
MR. BOUCHER: No?
QUESTION: One more quickly. But now I forgot what it was, so I'll come back to it.
MR. BOUCHER: It's okay. You can remember it later and tell us.
QUESTION: There was a New York Times article today talking -- giving -- talking about a CIA estimate, intelligence estimate, for the situation -- the future of Iraq. It was pessimistic and it had more than one scenario. One of them was talking about civil war in Iraq. Do you have any response on that article?
MR. BOUCHER: First, is I'm not going to be able to explain to you CIA documents or National Intelligence Estimates. These estimates are prepared, as a matter of course, on a regular basis, particularly when issues are current in policy. They try to summarize and analyze the situation and give policymakers the best estimates of the intelligence community about how the situations might evolve.
And as part of that, the community puts together possible scenarios about how things might evolve, in order to illustrate the situation and talk about the factors that can determine which one of these outcomes we end up with. I think what I would say in general, though, the implications for policy of having such estimates are that they describe the reality. They describe, as best we can, to the policymakers the reality on the ground. And we know what that reality is and that's the reality that policymakers are, in fact, dealing with. We know the dangers. We know the difficulties. We know the areas where things have to be done. We are working with an Iraqi Government that's determined to extend government control. We are working with U.S. military and a U.S. presence with them to do that.
We have seen a process evolve, hurdle after hurdle, because of the determination of the Iraqis and the Americans who are working with them. The transitional law, the transition of sovereignty, the national conference -- all these things have been held and we have a government now that is determined, first, to establish control in cities that are not totally under government control, as they have done, as we have done with them, in Najaf and elsewhere; and, second, to proceed on to elections at the end of the year or early next year. And the government shows every determination of doing that and we will work with them to achieve those goals.
QUESTION: Can I follow?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Does the State Department has an over -- overlook, it has a future look for Iraq, I mean, looking at the situation right now?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the best I can tell you is that intelligence analysts, the community and reporters and observers outside look at these things in terms of trying -- describing the situation and even making predictions about how they will evolve. We certainly take that in, but I think our job is to take it one step farther and to analyze, to look at how we can help determine the course of events, how we can contribute to the evolution towards the best possible scenarios.
So it's not a matter of just sitting back and predicting. It's a matter of sitting at it, looking at the facts, and then determining how -- what we can do to bring them, move them, in the right direction. And that's the process you've been seeing as we and the Iraqi Government have worked together to address some of the problems of security, to address the problems of electricity and oil output and hospitals and schools for the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the two Americans that were abducted recently in Iraq?
QUESTION: Can I just follow on this one, the future of Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's do the two. We'll come back, back to the big one, too.
I can confirm for you the U.S. Embassy has informed us that two American citizens were abducted this morning from their residence in the city's Monsur district.
We are working to contact family members of the two Americans. We're doing that from the State Department here. Our Embassy is also in contact with local authorities in Baghdad to ascertain the welfare and the whereabouts of these U.S. citizens and will, of course, provide all possible support and cooperation with Iraqi investigators.
We have seen reports that a third individual of British citizenship was abducted with these two Americans, and I'd have to refer you to the British for that.
They are employed by a company that's based in the United Arab Emirates called The Gulf Services Company, and that they were doing work under contracts with them for -- in Baghdad.
QUESTION: And the names were released by the Embassy.
MR. BOUCHER: That might have been a little bit premature. I'm told we don't quite have the Privacy Act Waivers or the -- we haven't contacted the families. I don't know.
QUESTION: But are they wrong?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say they were wrong.
QUESTION: Okay. And does the U.S. launch its own investigation or is this an Iraqi investigation with American assistance?
MR. BOUCHER: It's -- I guess if you looked at it formally, it's an Iraqi investigation. It's their territory; it's a crime of abduction on their territory. The United States obviously collects every piece of information we can on the welfare and whereabouts of American citizens who might have been taken hostage, and others as well, and the operations of groups that might be taking people hostage.
So whether you call that an investigation or not, we are very much involved in the fate of people who have been kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq, of people who are missing and trying to identify their location for the purposes of safety, but also identify the people who are carrying out these kind of acts in order to stop them.
QUESTION: Have you heard any claim of responsibility yet?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, no. We haven't seen anybody accept the blame or claim the responsibility.
QUESTION: Did you see the BBC interview with Kofi Annan?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, but let's --
QUESTION: All right.
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe we should go back to Najaf, first, before we move on to that.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on the reports by (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: Not yet.
QUESTION: The reports. I mean, don't you think they are contradictory so far to the most of the statements that came out from the Administration? And I would like to know how does it affect the election directly.
And secondly, since the Prime Minister and the Secretary, yesterday they were talking about the election's going to be held in time, we have the Kofi Annan coming to say that he does not think that they're going to be held on time.
MR. BOUCHER: What a beautiful transition question. Let me --
QUESTION: Considering the security situation --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me start with the -- the assessment that we -- that was done by the intelligence community.
No, I don't think it's in any way contradictory of what U.S. officials have been saying. I certainly am very familiar with what Secretary Powell has been saying. And he, and I know the President, have talked about the challenges and the difficulties in Iraq. We've talked about the progress that has been made in many areas and acknowledged that the problem of security continued to make that process difficult and continued to present dangers and challenges in the future.
As you know, not only have we talked about it, we've made some of what we think are appropriate adjustments in the way we spend our money in Iraq in order to train, help train more Iraqis as they take control of their security, and also provide projects that are of benefit to Iraqis' daily life in terms of employment and improvement in local services and local conditions.
Just because we know the reality of the situation and we know that people are worried about security, we know they're worried about jobs and we know they're worried about their city, their living environment, and so not only do we understand those difficulties, but we're actually directing our policy towards it.
Similarly, on the areas in Iraq that have -- where the insurgents are operating, these are, as the Secretary has described, there are broad parts of the country that are not subject to these kind of attacks and not subject to these kind of difficulties: the north, most of the south. Some of the areas in the south, Najaf and Kufa, through the joint efforts of the United States and the Iraqi -- the coalition and the Iraqi Government have been brought under government control and getting better, and we're going to have to do that in the other places as well in what's called the Sunni triangle.
So I think we've acknowledged the difficulties. The Secretary has talked about the political and military and diplomatic strategy to overcome those difficulties and to deal with those insecurity problems, and that is part of the plans and goals to get us to an election at the end of the year.
Elections are an important part of the agenda. I think we recognize that. The Iraqi Government certainly recognizes that. Prime Minister Allawi has made clear his determination to get to elections at the end of the year. We've had many times over this last six to nine months, as we've gone through the transitional law or we've gone to the transition of sovereignty or we've gone to the holding of the national council and other steps when people said, "Oh, it's not going to work. This is too little security, too little agreement." But, in fact, the Iraqis overcame their difficulties to move forward and they show a similar determination now.
So, while recognizing what the Secretary General said about elections, he also said that the UN has helped create the laws for the elections. The UN has assigned personnel to try to help the Iraqis prepare for elections. There is an Iraqi electoral commission and I think a firm determination on the part of the Iraqis to get those elections -- carry them off on time.
QUESTION: So do you think the four major cities that are considered no-go area for the Americans will be pacified before January and everything will be --
MR. BOUCHER: There is certainly a lot of determination to extend government control into those areas in the course of the next few months. We know how difficult it is, but I can't tell you exactly when and exactly how or predict it on schedule.
QUESTION: But what if it doesn't --
MR. BOUCHER: But that is part of the program right now for us and for the Iraqis.
QUESTION: What if it doesn't happen, extending the authority, to include those cities? I mean, would they be excluded from the election process?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speculate at this point on what if it doesn't happen. We'll see the situation clarify as we approach the elections.
QUESTION: The elections are soon.
MR. BOUCHER: We do have --
QUESTION: They are going to be held soon.
MR. BOUCHER: It is soon, but it is a matter of months, and there is time to both prepare the election and deal with these situations. We'll see if that can be completed successfully.
QUESTION: Could I ask about what Kofi Annan was asked about the Iraq war? He is quoted by BBC as saying, "From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it was illegal."
MR. BOUCHER: I think is a subject we've discussed before. I think the Secretary General's view has been expressed by him before. And while we respect his views, I think we've also made clear before that we don't agree. The war in Iraq had a sound legal basis of international law and UN resolutions. There were, as we pointed out before, 17 resolutions, including Resolution 1441, that detailed Iraq's obligations, its refusal to disarm and the consequences for noncompliance.
So we think that was a very solid basis and legal basis for the war and that's the basis on which we proceeded. There was a fairly extensive article written on this by our legal advisor for a law journal last summer and we have copies of that available for you in the Press Office for people who want to go into it in more detail.
QUESTION: Correct me if I'm wrong, but 1441 didn't say that if they failed to comply, they would be invaded by a U.S.-led coalition.
MR. BOUCHER: It said there would be serious consequences.
QUESTION: Right, which were not spelled out.
MR. BOUCHER: There were serious consequences.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: But that there would be serious consequences does not -- you know, there are lots of things that can be serious consequences.
MR. BOUCHER: Including war, and that was, I think, clear to all at the time.
QUESTION: And when you say basis in UN Security Council resolutions, do you feel that any of the other 16 -- would you care to try to make the argument that any of the other 16 resolutions provided a basis for an invasion?
MR. BOUCHER: It goes back, really, to the beginning, to 678 that authorized all necessary means to get Iraq out of Kuwait; 687 reaffirmed that in imposing a ceasefire, imposed conditions, including conditions related to cooperation on the ending the programs of weapons of mass destruction.
There were many, many occasions on which, either in resolutions or in statements, the Security Council said that if Iraq doesn't cooperate with this process there will be serious consequences. We went through that several times, many times before the war. I think you, perhaps, remember better than I do the exact details. But there were 11 or 12 different occasions when the Council said that there would be serious consequences if Iraq didn't cooperate, including in Resolution 1441.
QUESTION: You just mentioned their refusal to disarm as one of the reasons why, but WMDs are not found yet.
MR. BOUCHER: There was a much broader process involved with the United Nations, involved to disarm, to rid Iraq not only of any weapons of mass destruction that they had at the end of the war, but also of the potential and capability and the intention of developing further weapons of mass destruction.
And while it's true that stockpiles of weapons have not been found at this point, it is clear from the reporting that's available that those capabilities and intentions remained in Iraq and that Iraq did not cooperate with many of the specifics in those resolutions, including the requirements for disclosure: making people available, the basic, fundamental cooperation we all know was lacking for many years, including the cooperation specifically called for in 1441.
QUESTION: What about the --
MR. BOUCHER: More on this?
QUESTION: Yeah. Richard, does it not strike you as unusual or, perhaps, as something that hurts your argument the fact that the head of the organization whose credibility you went to war to protect and defend is saying that what you did was not -- was not legal, and the fact -- along with the fact that a majority of members of the Security Council, who also should have a vested interest in seeing that their credibility is sustained, that they wouldn't go along with it?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, it wasn't a question of majority; it was a question of nine votes and vetoes on the second resolution.
QUESTION: Well, presumably, if you thought you had the support of the Council --
MR. BOUCHER: But, second of all --
MR. BOUCHER: -- you would have gone ahead with the second resolution. I think that's pretty well known.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: All right. But you weren't going to get the support of the Council, though.
MR. BOUCHER: If we'd had nine votes and no veto, we would have gone forward.
QUESTION: But you didn't.
MR. BOUCHER: We didn't.
QUESTION: Right. So --
MR. BOUCHER: My turn?
MR. BOUCHER: The second resolution was an opportunity for the Council to express its views, to express its unity and political will that, unfortunately, was lacking, but it was not necessary from a legal point of view.
As far as the question of the head of the organization, the Security Council made these resolutions. The question of Iraq as a danger to international peace and security is one that's not only been described by us, but been described the Security Council over a long period of years. But the fact is that we had a danger that had to be dealt with. We had a dangerous dictator that we and many other nations felt had to be removed and he has been removed.
QUESTION: But don't you see that argument as undermining the premise that you -- that what happened was to defend the credibility of the United Nations, rather than just the United States deciding on its own that it wanted -- or along with a group of allies, that it wanted to remove someone?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me put it this way. If we're going to talk about the legal basis for the war, there is a legal basis in the UN resolutions that we think is very firm and very clear. And we've discussed that. We've discussed it here. It was discussed in the article that I can give to you as well.
If we want to talk about the diplomatic, strategic and other reasons for the war, then there was a large -- a substantial group of nations who agreed that this was a danger that had to be dealt with for many reasons as well. And that's a solid basis for proceeding.
QUESTION: Let's turn to Iran for a second. Larry Franklin's case had to do with presidential policy on Iran for the most part, according to news reports. Mordecai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower, has been urging for some time that there be a tradeoff between the Iranian nuclear program and the ending of the Israeli one. And there has been, as you know, negotiations in Jerusalem on that, or some information from the IAEA has been transmitted to the Israeli Government.
Now, I wonder what the U.S. attitude is in Vienna at the IAEA on this subject of trading off a Israeli nuclear program, an ending to it, whatever.
MR. BOUCHER: That -- I guess that is being speculated about in the press, but that is not the issue in Vienna. The issue in Vienna is whether Iran has, for almost two decades, hidden a covert program that's designed to make nuclear weapons, and whether or not Iran has complied with the obligations that it's -- the requirements of the Board of Governors resolutions, the requirements of the Nonproliferation Treaty and the protocols that Iran has -- well, I guess the -- I'm not sure of the status of the Additional Protocol, but the requirements of the treaty, and the commitments that Iran itself made. The -- that's the matter that's before the International Atomic Energy Agency and that nations are currently discussing now.
QUESTION: Could I have a follow-up on that? Does the United States then feel that the Israeli nuclear program, which is now out -- Abner Cohen has written a full book on it. Mordecai Vanunu spent 18 years in jail because of it. It's obvious that they do have such a nuclear program. Does the United States consider that that's absolutely essential to Israel's security?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not making judgments or presumptions about that. We've had a view on the universal adherence to the Nonproliferation Treaty that we've expressed many times. That applies in all cases.
QUESTION: But Israel is not a member, has refused to be a member.
MR. BOUCHER: That's right. We encourage all nations to be members and adhere to the Nonproliferation Treaty.
QUESTION: Back on Iran. A senior official is being quoted as saying that this site, I think called Parchin, demonstrates Iran's intent to acquire a nuclear weapon. Is that the State Department's view? Do you have such a sort of unequivocal view that what you know about this site demonstrates that intent, or is it not so clear cut?
MR. BOUCHER: I have to say, I'm not in a position to really go into any information about this. I'm not in a position to share any information about, I guess, what was reported as a possibility of nuclear-related activity at an Iranian high explosive facility.
Obviously, our view is that Iran should cooperate in every way with the International Atomic Energy Agency and that Iran should try to reassure the world and its neighborhood that they are not doing any work that's related to nuclear weapons. That's what this is fundamentally all about. But specifically what might be going on or not going on at this site, I really am not in a position to go into.
QUESTION: Okay. Can you say -- and I'm not trying to get you to discuss something that I realize you are going to have a hard time discussing, but can you say whether you have certainty about Iraq's pursuit, because -- of nuclear weapons, because of this site? Iran, excuse me, Iran.
MR. BOUCHER: I would not -- oh.
QUESTION: They did have certainty about Iraq, too. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: I would not -- I would not be able to relate that kind of conclusion to any specific site. But I think it has been very clear, we have made very clear, that Iran's activity, that activity has been reported by the IAEA, that activity that we have talked about for many years, in our view, is ample evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that these activities, many of these activities Iran has conducted, point in that direction.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Teri.
QUESTION: Back in Vienna, anything to report on the resolution? The word is that Germany was one of the obstacles holding back full agreement by the EU-3, for example. Can you say whether any progress has been made on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I really can't because it's a moving game and there are ongoing consultations. We feel the process in Vienna has been constructive. We are trying to work with other governments, particularly with a delegation from the European 3 nations, to try to come to agreement on a resolution that expresses what we think are concerns that we all share about Iran and Iran's nuclear activities and the insufficient cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
QUESTION: So, if you don't have agreement yet from the EU-3, can you confirm that it's still -- that Britain and France are on board and Germany's holding out?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't want to identify any particular nation during the course of these discussions because, as I say, it's ongoing negotiations, ongoing consultations in Vienna, and this is a fast-moving game that I couldn't pretend to put my finger on at a single moment.
QUESTION: Are you optimistic there will be a draft ready for a vote tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll see.
QUESTION: We'll see if you're optimistic?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll see. (Laughter.) I'll be optimistic after it happens.
QUESTION: Have you had time to ruminate on a change in President Musharraf's status in Pakistan vis-à-vis the military?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we've had a bit of time to understand the situation better, and I have to say our understanding is President Musharraf has not taken a decision on this issue and that today, in Pakistan, the Information Minister retracted the statement of yesterday where he said that President Musharraf would remain Chief of the Army.
Our view, as expressed before, is that Pakistan's long-term interest continues to be in a transition to a fully functioning democracy. We do expect to see continuing progress towards this goal, which is central to Pakistan becoming a moderate and modern Islamic state.
President Musharraf has made many statements over his term in office in support of Pakistan's continued path towards democracy. His vision for his country he describes as one of enlightened moderation. This is a vision for Pakistan's future that we fully share.
QUESTION: Regardless of your views on what is in Pakistan's long-term interest, I had thought, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I had thought that you guys thought it was a short-term good thing for President Musharraf to relinquish his military role. Am I -- have I misunderstood?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think you did understand. When it was first announced that he would do that, we said it was a good thing and it did constitute, as far as we saw, progress in this general direction.
QUESTION: So you would like him to do so at the end of the year; you haven't changed that position?
MR. BOUCHER: We think it's a good thing, the position that he's taken on this, and that he hasn't changed at this point, as far as we know.
QUESTION: On North Korea, have you heard from British diplomat Bill Rammell that -- from North Korea that they said they want more information on South Korea, want that clarified before they'll come to six-party talks?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what exactly referred from the British. I'm not probably in a position to describe it anyway.
QUESTION: But that would have been conveying pretty clearly, since the British are your pretty close allies.
MR. BOUCHER: They're friends.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the situation with North Korea --
MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding is that North Korea promised at the last round of discussions to have another round in September, that all the other parties are ready and willing and able to do that, that North Korea has been stalling on its answer, that it has not given a clear answer yet to whether it will keep that commitment.
QUESTION: So you still believe that there hasn't been a clear answer, that nothing definitive has come out of Pyongyang about whether there will be -- whether they will agree to go to talks this month?
MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding is that they have not given a clear answer on that, but we do believe it's very much in their interest to attend.
QUESTION: And was that -- that was the same -- I wasn't here yesterday. That was basically the same that you knew yesterday, right, or didn't know yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay. And also on North Korea, do you have any -- do you have any idea what this explosion was that --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any more detail at this point. We have been looking into the matter as much as we can. The North Koreans, as you know, claim it's associated with a hydroelectric project. We understand that North Koreans allowed a delegation to travel to the hydroelectric project yesterday, and we look forward to hearing what they saw and heard.
QUESTION: As far as you know, you haven't heard back from any member of the delegation about what they saw?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as I know, we don't have that information yet.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just read the KCNA statement, and, I mean, often you do respond to things they say. In this case, it says that they will never sit at the table to negotiate its nuclear weapon program unless the truth about the secret nuclear experiments in South Korea is fully probed.
So how can you work from there? I mean, do you not -- you don't agree that that needs to be addressed further before you expect North Korea to come?
MR. BOUCHER: I think they're two separate -- two things here. The North Koreans made a commitment to come to talks by the end of September. We think it's very much in their interest to keep their commitments, including in this case, and that the rest of us are ready to do that. We'll see if North Korea does or does not keep its commitment in this matter.
Second, as regards the South Korea situation, that is being looked at by the International Atomic Energy Agency. South Korea has disclosed information to International Atomic Energy Agency since signing the Additional Protocol in February, and we expect that process to continue with the full cooperation of the South Korean Government. And that matter is being handled properly, ably, and fully and thoroughly between the South Korean Government and the International Atomic Energy Agency, as it should be.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the six-party talks?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I know you're saying you want to go back, as everybody promised last time. The spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry said it would be difficult to hold the talk by the end of the month, and he further said it's -- I can quote it, "It's the stand of North Korea and the United States." I wonder, do you hold the same view that the talk won't be held -- it would be difficult the talk to be held by the end of the month?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we all understand the calendar and the kind of arrangements that need to be made. We have made clear that we have been willing to go to talks and that remains our position. Diplomatic discussions to convene the talks have continued and we're engaged in that process as well.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) about the standoff of North Korean and whether the talk will be held or not by the end of the month is the stand of North Korea and the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: The United States has been ready to go to talks. The North Koreans have not been ready to go to talks. So we're certainly not on the same page on that one. The United States and the other five parties have been ready to go to talks, as we committed to. We haven't seen that same willingness from the North Koreans at this point, unfortunately.
MR. BOUCHER: That's right.
QUESTION: Richard, I can't -- let me just ask kind of a housekeeping question about next week. And I think the Secretary has spoken to this. But do you expect there to be a Quartet meeting sometime in New York next week?
MR. BOUCHER: We do expect there will be a Quartet meeting next week, yeah.
QUESTION: Can I keep on North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have a further date or a Plan B, if it doesn't happen? Do you hold a working group meeting before October or something?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, the commitment that was made at the last round of talks, including work group meetings before the plenary. So the question remains: Is North Korea going to meet its commitment or not?
QUESTION: The White House said yesterday that the North Koreans shouldn't have their hopes on the U.S. election to change the policy. Would you say the same to them, as from the State Department, from your --
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: My question is about anti-Georgian campaign in Moscow. After Beslan (inaudible), Russian officials made some negative statements. There were consideration about connection between Georgia and terrorists. Officials in Tbilisi fear that Russian anti-terrorists campaign will be directed against Georgia, as it happened two years ago. So what can you say about that?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd say, first of all, we always remain in close touch with the Georgian Government, Georgian officials, as well as Russian officials, about the situation of terrorism in the region. We have been concerned about the situation there, and that is the reason why we undertook a process to train and equip Georgian forces to deal with the problem of terrorists who might take refuge on their soil. And, in fact, in the Pankisi Gorge, they have shown a lot of success in that region.
I think we did the other day put out a statement on this matter. This has been an area where we think the cooperation between the United States and Georgia has benefited all the countries in the region, including and especially Russia, and where the effort that the Georgians are making to prevent their soil from being used by terrorists is a benefit to Russian citizens.
QUESTION: So is there any chance to select U.S. attention on this issue because of elections in this country?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had, I think, pretty constant and serious attention to this issue and, no, there is not -- it's not going to fall off. The Secretary is not involved in the election and we've continued to devote a great deal of attention to this matter.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 p.m.)
DPB # 152
Released on September 16, 2004