State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 9, 2005
Daily Press Briefing (Corrected)
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
June 9, 2005
Secretary Rice's Meeting with Director General Dr. Mohamed
ElBaradei / Nonproliferation Treaty Compliance / Additional
Protocols for Verification
U.S. Cooperation with IAEA / Consensus on ElBaradei Continuing as
Spread of Democracy / Struggle of a Generation
Support for Henrietta Holsman Fore as Nominee for Assistant
Secretary of Management
Iran's Compliance with the NPT / Efforts of the EU-3
Natanz Facility / P2 Advanced Centrifuges / Support for IAEA
Investigation / Paris Accord Commitments
Return to Six Party Talks / Denuclearized Korean Peninsula /
President's Meeting with South Korean President
Letter Sent by Senators to the President / Diplomatic Options /
United Nations Efforts / Support for International Investigation
Surrender of All Indictees to the International Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia / Under Secretary Burns' Speech in
Belgrade / Certification of Serbia and Montenegro for Release of Aid
Public Announcement of April 26, 2005 Regarding Safety of U.S.
Citizens / U.S. Cooperation with Mexican Authorities
Elections Violence / Journalist Credentials Issue / U.S. Urges
Parties to Resolve Differences Through Political Process
1:10 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Good afternoon. Let me start off with a few words about Secretary Rice's meeting with Director General ElBaradei. The Secretary and Director General had a wide-ranging discussion, focused primarily on strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. They both expressed their conviction to make the additional protocol the verification standard under the NPT and underscored the urgency of halting the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology.
The Secretary and Dr. ElBaradei stressed their joint commitment to achieve full compliance with the NPT by all members and they met for about half an hour. Part of that time was one-on-one. So, with that, I am pleased to take your questions. Mr. Schweid?
QUESTION: Well, there are a lot of questions that could follow that. That's concise. No, that's a good synopsis, but there's more to it than that because she had said yesterday publicly that she wanted to hear his views. You know, and she had opened the door I don't think that's too subjective to say that to reconsidering the move last December for this administration said two terms should be enough for him, we've had enough. She said she would know more about this after she talked about Iran today. Nonproliferation, of course, deals with Iran.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't know if she made that direct connection that you're implying, but continue.
QUESTION: Well, in any event so, I should just simply ask you, did they get into Iran specifically and is she now confident that there's not a great dissimilarity of views on Iran Iraq is over with on Iran between the U.S. and the Director General?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think that the Secretary believes that the IAEA has a central role to play in investigations and analysis of information from those investigations and seeing that Iran complies with its NPT obligations, as well as with the commitments it's made to the EU-3. The IAEA is serious in this work and we support them in their efforts and we expect that they will consider continue their serious efforts in that regard.
QUESTION: Well, if they've been all that wonderful all along, why would the administration have ever why would the administration ever have wanted to see a change? I mean, your presentation
MR. MCCORMACK: See a change in what?
QUESTION: suggests your presentation suggests that they're as close as can be in views on proliferation. And this administration had a big argument with them that they weren't really on top of it as you know, as much as the U.S. wanted to be, particularly on Iran and Iraq.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I think again, with you know, with respect to any alleged past disputes, you know, we're looking forward and there's a lot of work to be done with the IAEA and other members of the Board of Governors of the IAEA to prevent countries from acquiring nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear programs. It's important work. We look forward to working together, as I said in my opening remarks, working with the IAEA to ensure that the additional protocol does become the verification standard and that we close any loopholes that may exist in the NPT that might allow countries to acquire technologies that they will use for the development in nuclear weapons under the guise of civilian nuclear programs, so I think
QUESTION: My last question and then I'll pass on
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: to others. Has the administration withdrawn its objections to a third term for Mr. ElBaradei?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the as we've as my predecessor and the Secretary mentioned yesterday, we continue to believe that the two-term rule is an important principle within the UN system. We believe that it leads to a healthy UN system. But I would add that we expect, when the vote comes up in the Board of Governors on this issue, that we will join the consensus.
QUESTION: Can I just
QUESTION: Was that something that the Secretary conveyed to ElBaradei today, did she say, "We'll now vote with the consensus, the consensus views, so we're therefore, dropping our objections"?
MR. MCCORMACK: He's had a number of conversations in Washington and I think he understands clearly where we are on the issue.
QUESTION: Meaning, he understands that, that he will have a U.S. vote in his favor?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we're going to join the consensus and I think that, based on the news reports that I see out there today, that the vote, if held today, would have Dr. ElBaradei continuing at the IAEA and we would join such a consensus.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) seems to be critical that ElBaradei's position on Iran that wasn't tough enough. Are you happy now with the way he stands? Do you think that his dealings (inaudible)?
MR. MCCORMACK: We think we believe that Dr. ElBaradei, as well as the IAEA team working on the issue with respect to Iran, is they're working in a serious way. But let's step back for a second here and you know, the conversation is not about the IAEA, it's about Iranian behavior. And what the Iranian there have been a number of Iranian behavior has been suspicious. We have had suspicions about Iranian behavior concerning their nuclear activities for quite some time. So, that's where the discussion and the focus should be and that's where our focus is as well, and I think it's safe to say the focus of the IAEA as well.
QUESTION: Any new information that Dr. ElBaradei today told the Secretary regarding to the situation of Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: What I have on their conversation I've already given you.
QUESTION: Try a little further than in case there's something on that. Did they discuss at all the NPT Review Conference up in New York last month? Did that come up and did they exchange views on where to go from here, since the attempts to actually strengthen the treaty failed at the conference?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to check on the NPT Review Conference itself. I think I would just add that we see that there's some significant overlap in the President's Nonproliferation agenda that he outlined in 2004 at his NDU speech and some of the ideas that Dr. ElBaradei has put forward and we look forward to working with him on those ideas, towards the end of strengthening the NPT and enforcement of the NPT.
QUESTION: On the what you said about the additional protocol being the standard for verification so then, what would the consequences be for members of the NPT who refuse to join who refuse to sign the additional protocol? In other words, would there be a consensus or is the administration seeking consensus that those existing members of the NPT who would refuse to sign on to the additional protocol might be denied certain kinds of dual-use technology or what might, then, the distinction be between the members in full standing and the halfways?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have, for some time, encouraged all members of the NPT to sign up to the additional protocols and that continues. Any further discussion about what other steps that might be taken, I think that's going to have to wait for discussions down the line.
QUESTION: On North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. Anything else on this before we move on?
QUESTION: Did they talk of Iran, did they talk about North Korea at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to check.
QUESTION: I have one matter related related to Sean, first of all, congratulations
MR. MCCORMACK: How closely related?
QUESTION: First of all, congratulations.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: And we'll miss Richard. He did a great job, but I'm already seeing that you are already filling the gap. You're doing a great job already in a short time.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, thank you.
QUESTION: A related question. Just now, I came from The Brookings Institute where Pakistan's Foreign Minister was speaking. In a related question, what he said was really that State Department is very much happy well, rather than happy that is satisfied with Pakistan's nuclear program in which he said that's irreversible and nobody can touch our nuclear program because Pakistan is a responsible state. And what do you have to say? He said (inaudible) there is a State Department report that said that Dr. the State Department and the U.S. is satisfied with Pakistan nuclear program.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I hesitate to jump into a question like that. I have without having seen the Foreign Minister's remarks. He is going to be meeting with the President tomorrow, I believe. So I at the moment, I don't have anything for you on that.
QUESTION: This second question on the same thing, I'm sorry, Tom.
MR. CASEY: Today.
MR. MCCORMACK: Today. Excuse me. I stand corrected today.
QUESTION: He said that the root part of terrorism is the poverty. So, what we see this. He said whatever wherever the terrorism is, is because of the poverty.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the President and Secretary Rice have all talked about this in great depth. You go back to the President's inaugural address, you go back to the President's Whitehall address and he's expressed it in terms of, this is the struggle of our time is to spread freedom and democracy around the world. And the best hope for peace is the spread of freedom in the world. And we have on many diplomatic fronts, we are working in that regard. We believe that the struggle between ideologies is really the challenge of our time. It's the challenge of generations. And I can't really add much more than what the President and the Secretary have already said on the issue.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary weighed in on the possibility of closing the detention center at Guantanamo and if not, does she intend to fairly soon?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think the President spoke to that last night in a television interview. You all have the transcript and I don't really have anything to add to what the President said.
QUESTION: The reason I asked the question here is he left he opened the door slightly apparently. But then on the flight to Europe, Secretary Rumsfeld seemed to knock it down and say there are no plans to closing it. And so, since it's a little ambiguous, I was just wondering, since State in its senior role diplomatically, you might have some people say that.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think I'm just going to leave it where the President left it.
Okay. Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan of North Korea mentioned yesterday that North Korea will continue to manufacture nuclear bombs. In the wake of a summit meeting between U.S. and South Korea tomorrow in Washington, what do you think the true intention over there North Korea's statement?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not going to try to divine the intentions that go into some of the statements that come out of North Korean officials. The only effect of these types of statements is to further isolate North Korea from where they already are. The North Koreans have a serious proposal in front of them that we laid down at the six-party talks within the context of the six-party talks and we would urge them, as I have said before, to return to the six-party talks, without precondition, to engage in a constructive manner on this proposal.
The proposal presents a choice for them, a pathway in which they have greater involvement in the world, a better future for their people. It provides the potential to give them the respect that they say they want and the assistance that they say they need. So again, I just reiterate the rhetoric and action should be focused on returning to the six-party talks. And as for the President's meeting with the South Korean President, we look forward to very much to the exchange between with the leader of a close friend and ally. And beyond that, I'm just going to leave any other comment to the White House.
QUESTION: North Korea Ambassador to UN Pak Kil Yon mentioned (inaudible) and in New York. North Korea shouldn't be officially recognized and were, in respect as a nuclear power by the United States, (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: The six-party talk forum came about because of North Korea's neighbors' concerns with their nuclear programs. And there is consensus within the six-party talk framework that for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. That is the goal the stated goal of the six-party talks and that is what we are trying to achieve. Again, we have laid out a proposal a serious proposal for the North Korean Government to consider within the context of those six-party talks, which potentially provides a better future for the North Korean people, and we would urge them to engage in a constructive manner on that proposal.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up?
MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie?
QUESTION: It's been 24 hours, (inaudible) any word from the Chinese or any other parties about the timing? Is that true?
MR. MCCORMACK: No other word that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: Or the Europe channel, (inaudible)?
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing that I'm aware of. Let me check to see if the most up-to-date information, if there's anything to share, we'll share it with you. Okay. Sunny.
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll get the we'll come back to you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Were you going to change topic?
QUESTION: Change the topic.
MR. MCCORMACK: Or do you have
QUESTION: Change topic.
MR. MCCORMACK: All right. We'll go to Sunny and then back here.
QUESTION: Can we switch to Uzbekistan?
MR. MCCORMACK: Uzbekistan.
QUESTION: As you are aware, a number of human rights groups and other NGOs have written a letter to the President asking that the U.S. suspend (inaudible) negotiations with Uzbekistan until such a time as the Karimov Government complies with the U.S. demand for an independent investigation of the Andijan events.
I wonder if you could give us your comment on that? And also, what is the statute of limitations for the Uzbek Government to respond to the U.S. Is there a deadline? Can they take a year? Can they take six months to respond? The reason I'm asking about the timing issue is that in both the human rights group reporting and the State Department's own reporting indicate that witnesses are being intimidated to come forward. So obviously, the longer it goes on, the less likely it is to be possible to have an independent investigation.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Secretary Rice did receive a letter from Senators McCain, DeWine, Leahy, Sununu, Biden and Lindsey Lindsey Graham. And I think, very basically, we share the concerns of the senators. We are calling for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the Andijan tragedy. We also stand ready to take part in such an investigation in cooperation with the Uzbek Government and credible international partners. And I think this current state of play is that we are considering all of our diplomatic options, including at the UN. We are pleased that representatives of the UN High Commission on Human Rights will be returning to the refugee camp in Kyrgyzstan to assess the situation there. And in the meantime, we're talking to member states of various international organizations to try to generate support for an international investigation. We've been calling for this for some time. And as a matter of fact, there was the Uzbek parliament started their own investigation. That's something that we chose not to participate in because we didn't we don't see that as a substitute for the international investigation that we talked about.
And you mentioned some of the arrests and we are concerned and remain concerned that the Government is trying to silence human rights activists and the media the intimidation as well as arrests. I think our views on freedom of speech are well known, so these are very troubling matters and very concerning for us and we are actively working within the international community to try to generate the support for an international investigation.
Okay. I promised back here.
QUESTION: There are some Serb media reports that there are some active negotiations underway for the surrender of the former Bosnian-Serb military leader, Ratko Mladic, including that he wants to go to the hospital before he would go to Hague. What can you tell me anything about these reported negotiations?
MR. MCCORMACK: I have not seen those reports. I don't have any information to share with you on the reports. But I would just add that we expect that all leaders in the region to arrest and transfer to the ICTY in the Hague all remaining indictees, including Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Ante Gotovina.
QUESTION: So you haven't heard any
MR. MCCORMACK: With regard to the report that you mentioned, I've not seen that. I don't have any information for you on that.
QUESTION: Nothing about any negotiations under way
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any negotiations.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: Nicholas Burns is out (inaudible) and it appears that he reached an agreement with the authorities there to resume American economic aid for their reconstruction. And I was wondering, since I thought the Government of Serbia was kind of in the penalty box because of Mladic and Karadzic, what are the reasons behind this resumption? Do you know?
MR. MCCORMACK: He did give a speech in Serbia and I'll also be putting a statement out after the briefing on this. I can share with you the essence of it. We have we believe that we have seen some progress. In addition to sending 15 indictees to the Hague, the Government of Serbia and Montenegro has also enabled the testimony of many witnesses through the granting of waivers that freed potential witnesses from local prosecution, under state secrets laws and have transferred hundreds of pages of documents to the Tribunal's office of the prosecutor during the year.
I would also note that this is an annual certification, so this question will come up with respect to the release of the finding again next year. So in essence, what has happened is, there's now a higher standard in order to the Government will need to build on the progress that they have already made this year.
So I'll be putting out a full statement on this after the briefing so you can get it there.
QUESTION: On the Hill today, I understand that some concerns were raised by Senator Obama at the confirmation hearing of Henrietta Holsman Fore to be Undersecretary of State for Management, some concerns about her attitude toward minorities. Do you have anything to say?
MR. MCCORMACK: I have heard about these concerns that Senator Obama has expressed. I think they center on a news story that's nearly 20 years old. The nominee is a fine nominee and the right person for the job. We believe that. The Secretary believes it. She is ready to answer any and all questions concerning this old news story and you know, should the Senators have either at the hearing or in follow up in a written form, she'll answer any and all questions.
She at the time this story came out, she has denied that she made the remarks that were attributed to her and I think really, that's about it.
QUESTION: Can we go back to the Middle East?
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll go back to the Middle East.
QUESTION: You know the Syrian Baath Party just ended its deliberation and they have chosen nine new members out of 14 who are non-Baathists. And also, they have asked for the abolition of the emergency law who are do you see this as a new development of Syria trying to open up? Do you welcome such development or (inaudible)?
MR. MCCORMACK: Let me take the question and see if we have anything for you on that.
QUESTION: Did you see the story about the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia concerning his remarks on genocide in Armenia and the fallout from that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Is this the Washington Post story?
MR. MCCORMACK: I did see the news story. The story centered on an award that was going to be given by the American Foreign Service Association, which is an entity independent of the State Department. And I understand that, based on their own assessments, their own evaluation of the facts against the criteria that they used to decide on granting this award, they decided not to issue the award.
That's just my reading. That's my reading of the news stories. I would refer you over to AFSA for any further description of why they took the action that they did.
QUESTION: But does the State Department have a position on what happened in 1915? Did it constitute genocide or not?
MR. MCCORMACK: George, let me put that out for you after the briefing.
QUESTION: Mexico. Can I ask the border violence doesn't seem to be getting any better. Is the U.S. especially in places like Nuevo Laredo. Does the U.S.
MR. MCCORMACK: In Mexico?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. satisfied that Mexican authorities are working to resolve cases there? Are there any more warnings coming out from the State Department? Can you give us any kind of an update?
MR. MCCORMACK: We did issue a public announcement with respect to the situation that you raised. We put that announcement out on April 26th. In the announcement, you can everybody can go back and look at it, but I'll summarize it a bit for you here. The announcement notes our concerns about the violence in the border area, as you mentioned. It urges U.S. citizens to be especially aware of safety and security concerns and recommends that they avoid troublesome areas. We want to emphasize that, again, we are working with the Mexican authorities to help resolve any outstanding cases involving American citizens.
And so, for the full summary, I refer you back to the April 26th statement; but it's still an issue that we are working on.
QUESTION: And are you satisfied with the response that has been (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: I think we're working well with the Mexican authorities.
Yes, back here in the green.
QUESTION: What's the U.S. position on Charles Taylor? And where do negotiations stand with Nigeria on getting them to turn him over to the Special Court in Sierra Leone?
MR. MCCORMACK: Our position with respect to Mr. Taylor is well known and unchanged.
Yes. Over here.
QUESTION: Talking about the six-party talks excuse me, you said you look forward to (inaudible) on tomorrow with the South Korean and the (inaudible). I wondered if you can tell us what you're intending to tell the South Korean President in your exchange, beside what you told us of your position on the six-party talk?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's a leader meeting and it's going to be held over at the White House, so I'm going to refer the questions about the President's meetings over to the White House.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Teri.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, have you seen reports that Iran is trying to install, says an LA Times report says tens of thousands of advanced centrifuge at Natanz I know we've seen reports about commitments here and there, but given the fact that the EU says that negotiations will continue based on nothing changing on the ground, this was simply of some concern if, indeed, the U.S. has these indications as well.
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I can't get into intelligence information. I think that there are some questions with respect to the Natanz facility and that the IAEA itself has received reported previously that Iran received P-2 advance centrifuge designs. These are more advanced centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium. They received these centrifuges from a clandestine procurement network in 1995. The Iranians claimed that it did nothing with those designs until it suddenly started manufacturing modified P-2 rotors in 2002.
And this is something that the IAEA, again, has questions about that claim and they are continuing to look into those questions. We support the IAEA in this investigation. Again, as I stated earlier, we believe that the IAEA is working in a serious way to look into these questions to try to resolve them.
QUESTION: Are you referring to new movement that might take (inaudible) up to the place where these centrifuges or just
MR. MCCORMACK: No, this is yeah, this is historical.
QUESTION: So nothing on this new
MR. MCCORMACK: Let's just say that there still remain questions with respect to the Iranian program and the IAEA is continuing its investigations.
QUESTION: Is there any way that the U.S. feels it can be sure that nothing is changing on the ground as U.S. officials were saying this morning?
MR. MCCORMACK: I still think that there are, again, questions and the IAEA is working in a serious way on the issue. We expect the Iranian Government to abide by its EU its commitments it made in the Paris accord with the EU-3, which would preclude activities related to enrichment.
QUESTION: Well, wait a minute. Can we talk about one more?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. One more.
QUESTION: Okay. I want to revisit Ethiopia. Since the violence in the capital the other day, the authorities have arrested a number of opposition figures. They have confiscated media credentials from reporters from various news organizations. Is the United States in dialogue with the government about this or any further reaction?
MR. MCCORMACK: With respect to the credentials issues, yes, we did. We raised it. We raised it with authorities. Our Embassy did. We think you know, our view of these actions is that they're troubling and that they don't add to helping calm an already-charged political atmosphere. I talked a little bit about the situation there yesterday. The situation in Addis Ababa more widely seems to be a bit more calm today and there was not any as far as I'm aware, there are no reports of violence. We remain concerned about the situation there, however, and we're in contact with all parties in Ethiopia. Again, we urge all parties to refrain from violence and to resolve any differences or questions they may have through the political process and to let the political process play out.
QUESTION: Sean, a quick question
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.
(This briefing was concluded at 1:40 p.m.)
Released on June 9, 2005