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Powell Press Briefing En Route to Tokyo, Japan

Plane Briefing En Route to Tokyo, Japan

Secretary Colin L. Powell En route to Tokyo, Japan October 23, 2004

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, Richard gave you a pretty good, I think, backgrounder the other day on what we are going to be doing on the trip, so in the interest of time, and knowing that they want to serve a meal rather quickly and Weisman wants to go to sleep, we'll go right to questions.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the level of commitment of your four partners in the six party talks--Japan, South Korea, Russia and China, vis-à-vis putting pressure on the North Koreans? Are they giving lip service or more?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm satisfied that our four partners in the six party talks are fully committed to the six party talks. I speak to them on a regular basis. We all agree that this is the way to go forward to find a solution to this problem. Keep in mind that in the first session of the six party talks, it was agreed that all six parties want to see a denuclearized peninsula. And we believe the way to achieve this is to get back into the discussions. Any outstanding issues that are holding up the progress should be dealt with in the context of the discussions, not by press statements or rhetoric going back and forth. And we hope that the North Koreans will recognize that this is the only way to move forward. And obviously we are in the closest contact with our four partners and I think they are steady and steadfast, even though we are constantly looking for any adjustments that might be made in respective positions that might allow us to achieve faster progress.

We put forward a good proposal at the last session, which we were asked to do by our four partners, and it was well received by all of them. And I have heard from none of them suggesting that it was not a good way to proceed. The North Koreans should respond to that proposal and let's get on with the six party discussions. They may be waiting for our election to be over, I don't know, I won't second-guess them, but I don't think they will see a change in the format that was going to be used to resolve this problem.

QUESTION: The North Koreans put out a statement today where they listed three conditions. One of the conditions was talking about some sort of compensation by the United States at the beginning of the process. But what is the objection to the United States perhaps paying for the administrative fees--administrative costs--of heavy fuel oil deliveries as the Koreans have suggested.

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the specific word they used in the condition is not compensation, but reward. And anything they wish to talk about, we should talk about in the six party framework and not talk about conditions to have another session of the six party group. And they are free to bring anything forward at those discussions. But to put forward these kinds of conditions, which may lead to yet another set of conditions, is not the way to approach this problem.

We made it clear that we have no intention of invading them, no intention of attacking them, we have no need to. We want to solve this diplomatically. We have no hostile intent. But we also think, heard from the South Koreans, with respect to what they were doing in some minor nuclear experimentation over the years and the IAEA is looking into that with the South Koreans and that should not be an obstacle. There are still questions about what the South Koreans are doing; let that be discussed at the six party talks.

And with respect to what benefits might accrue to North Korea for them entering into the arrangement that we laid out in our proposal, they're well aware of those benefits. There are some early, up-front benefits immediately from the Japanese and the South Koreans. And we have made it clear to them all along that President Bush is committed to assisting the Korean people to a better life and to help the Korean people to deal with their problems of food sufficiency, energy. But we can't start putting things up front on the table, from our perspective, because we do not think that is the way to ultimately achieve our mutual objective, which is complete removal of a nuclear weapons program and all of its parts from North Korea.

QUESTION: A question about our proposal and the sequencing. When would the security guarantees be formally presented the North Koreans--at the beginning or after three, several months--when they have already shown they are willing to dismantle?

SECRETARY POWELL: The way it was laid out in the proposal is that there should be some expression of seriousness. In contract law, one might call it 'put some consideration on the table' before we're willing to enter into a security agreement, even on a transitional basis. At one point, we might start to discuss what it would look like, but that I don't think we have been that precise about, and, in fact, the North Koreans have a pretty good idea of what such an agreement should look like. I've studied past models and they've studied past models. And so it is not hard to figure out what such an agreement would look like, but we can't enter into a negotiation where they get the agreement up front when we have yet to see what they are liable to do.

The track record in working with them is such that they are very good at trying to get everything that they want up front, in return for promises. And we need to do it a different way this time to make sure we solve the problem in a permanent manner, in a way that makes all of Korea's neighbors, makes them all feel secure, lets the all feel secure that the peninsula is being denuclearlized. And makes North Korea also realize that they will benefit in a very significant way from getting rid of their nuclear weapons program--and all parts of their nuclear weapons program--in a verifiable, permanent way.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if I could ask about Iran. What are you hearing from the EU-3 about their conversations with the Iranians? And how confident are you that should Iran not fully comply that the Board of Governors would, in fact, refer it to the Security Council?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think at the September meeting it became clear that we just couldn't keep having meetings every couple of months with no positive response from the Iranians without a referral ultimately going to the Security Council. And I think everybody left the September meeting believing that if there was not a significant response, and a very clear significant response that met all of the IAEA requirements and was totally consistent with the agreement they had with the EU, that there should be a referral in November. Now, what I've heard is that they had extensive conversations with the Iranians, and that the Iranians are now studying the EU proposal. And they'll be meeting again sometime in the very near future to give their response to the EU.

But, we're approaching November. And so, it is our position that we should continue to march toward action by the IAEA Board of Governors that would refer it to the Security Council if there is no complete satisfaction on the part of the Iranians toward the international obligations and commitments that they have made- both to the IAEA as well as to the EU-3.

QUESTION: Back on North Korea, if I may. The sense of Congress resolution that passed recently and was signed by President Bush, I believe last week, calls on the administration to make human rights an ingredient of any future discussions in talks with North Korea. And it also says that the United States cannot or should not provide any assistance without a similar measure of progress on human rights with North Korea. Can you tell us whether you do plan to take up human rights in the next six party talks, and whether that's been a discussion with the other partners in the talks?

SECRETARY POWELL: I haven't had a conversation with the parties since the resolution passed. I talked to Senator Brownback this morning. And, it is something that we should talk about. But we have not yet covered it in sufficient detail at all, either within the Department on how to approach it or with our other partners. But we certainly take very much into account the expression of the Congress. And human rights in North Korea is a serious problem, In fact, it is something that should be discussed by the international community. But, we haven't gotten that far yet, Steve, only having gotten the president to sign it within the last couple of days.

QUESTION: Do you expect to name a Special Envoy shortly on human rights in North Korea? And, if so, who would that be?

(Cross talk)

SECRETARY POWELL: Of course, we're required to, and I told Senator Brownback we would be doing that. We have not yet identified anyone or scoped out exactly what the responsibilities of the office of the person would be.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what message, if any, should North Korea take from the PSI exercise off Japan next week?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the message the North Koreans should take is that we are deeply concerned about proliferation and the international community is doing more and more together to deal with the problem of proliferation, and this naval exercise is an example of it. The President took this issue to the United Nations. We got a resolution out of the United Nations.

We've been doing a lot of work in a variety of ways to deal with the issue of proliferation. The breaking up of the A.Q. Khan network and other work that has been done within the Department, under John Bolton's leadership and others, certainly makes it clear to all proliferators that they're in a new environment where the international community is coming together and working together on the high seas, at our seaports and using law enforcement and intelligence means to get deep inside proliferating networks and to keep this kind of material from reaching rogue states or terrorists.

QUESTION: Just a clarification on the latest North Korean proposals, you seem to be suggesting that they were not helpful, or not a step forward or a step backwards. Could you characterize them a little more, please?

SECRETARY POWELL: Their spokesman laid out three conditions, which they indicated, and I don't have the words that they used in front of me, but they called three conditions they would like to see dealt with- let me use that expression- before they would consider returning to talks. And my view of them is that all of the issues that they laid out as conditions are subjects for discussion at the six party talks, not just conditions to have six party talks. We have discussed this hostile attitude issue over and over. And, we have put forward a proposal. And what they are saying is we don't, rather than coming to the six party talks and discussing our proposal, and we can discuss their proposal, they're saying, "no, we've just added a condition that changes your proposal, so you've got to meet this condition."

I don't think that's the way to go about this. The way to go about this is bring your three issues, your six issues, your twelve issues to the discussion so they can be raised and discussed with all six parties, as opposed to conditions directed towards the United States. This is a six party discussion, not a US-North Korea discussion, or an exchange of the US and Korean talking points, or press statements.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, why shouldn't the North Koreans look at the PSI exercise next week as something that is hostile in intent?

SECRETARY POWELL: How does it threaten a nation? I mean, how is it threatening them? Why is it hostile?

QUESTION: Well, I believe that they have complained that the Japanese have blocked a lot of traffic, that their ships have been harassed, and then you have this naval exercise where they see this country- the United States- participating, which I think they interpret as a hostile action, a hostile intent. They're known to be quite paranoid on this

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't help with whatever their condition is, as you describe it. There's nothing wrong with naval forces coming together to exercise for the purpose of seeing if we can do a better job of keeping the most dangerous cargos from reaching the most irresponsible purchasers of such cargo. It does not threaten North Korea. it does not threaten the sovereignty of North Korea or the welfare of North Korea. It protects the rest of the world. And so they may react in the way you describe, but it is not a hostile act towards North Korea. It is naval exercises in international waterways. And legitimate cargo, either in exercises or in real operations, will not be stopped from enjoying the freedom of the seas.

QUESTION: One measure that the North Koreans do appreciate is the food aid that the United States gives them. And last week I think the New York channel was used to discuss the monitoring of food aid. The United States this year has given less than in previous years. Is there any consideration being given to announcing or giving more food aid.

SECRETARY POWELL: We've made our plans for the year, which you're familiar with. We always look at the food requirement separate and distinct from anything else, as American generosity to people who are in need. It's a mixed picture inside of North Korea this year as to how well or how badly they are doing with respect to their crops. And there are severe distortions in the market in terms of the price of food throughout the country, which is probably causing some difficulty. So, we're joining with the international community and the World Food Program. I think Director Morris was on television yesterday, I spotted him, discussing what the needs are, that the needs will continue to be there for the foreseeable future and the United States will do its part. There are no plans right now to increase the amount above that which we have already made known to you. I think Richard has given you that number already.

(Cross talk)

MR. BOUCHER: Late last year we added forty or sixty, but late last year we topped out to a hundred thousand last year- a lot of that was being delivered in the first part of this year. And then around July, we announced another fifty thousand for this year. So, there's been a continuing supply from the United States. And, that's where we are: a hundred thousand last year and fifty thousand this year.

SECRETARY POWELL: It doesn't match fiscal years with calendar years. (Inaudible).

QUESTION: What is it: corn, wheat?

SECRETARY POWELL: The crop itself? I don't know if it's wheat or rice or whatever.

MR. BOUCHER: Someone will find out for you.



Released on October 23, 2004

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