State Dept. Daily Press Briefing April 13, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
April 13, 2006
Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) / Five Teams Up and Running
/ Staffing Levels / Total Policy and Logistics Agreement with
Department of Defense / Personnel Filling the Positions are Best
People for the Job / PRTs Work on the Individual Retail Level not
Always Reflected in Media / Secretary Rice Gratified by Response
to the Challenge
There is Measurable Progress in Iraq / Progress on Political and
Economic Fronts / Dual Realities
Issue of Human Rights on Agenda for President Hu's Visit / U.S.
Encourages Expansion of Human Rights
Situation is Fluid / U.S. Citizens are Accounted For / Embassy
Under Authorized Departure / Looking into Reports of Sudanese
Involvement / Concerned by Negative Change on Chad-Sudan Border /
People of Chad to Resolve Political Conflict Peacefully / U.S.
Addressing Issues of Security and Humanitarian Assistance
Contact with French on Situation in Chad
Deputy Secretary Zoellick's Remarks on Sudan / International
Forces to Address Security Situation / U.S. Expects More
Cooperation from Sudanese Government / International Community can
Help Solve the Problems / Contact at Arab League Summit
Readout of Secretary Rice's Meeting with Foreign Minister Bedjaoui
U.S. Ready to Return to Six Party Talks / North Korea Urged to
Return without Preconditions / U.S. Actions to Protect Integrity
Diplomatic Next Steps / Increasing Diplomatic Pressure / Under
Secretary Burns Trip to Moscow for G8 and P5+1 Meetings / EU
Discussions / U.S. Focused On UN Security Council Action / IAEA
Report / Individual States Looking at their own Options for Action
Iran Continues to Isolate Itself from the International Community
/ Iran Using Right to Enrichment for Civil Nuclear Power as an
ElBaradei to Provide Secretary Rice with Readout of his Visit to
Tehran / IAEA to Provide Technical Report
U.S. Relations with Libya / Moving Towards Normalization of
Relations / Not Ready to Remove from State Sponsors of Terrorism
List / Continue Positive Trajectory / Case Involving Bulgarian
Killing of High-Level Al-Qaida Operative / Rewards for Terrorist
12:06 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. How is everybody? Good. I just want to start off the briefing with one note. Many of you were on the trip to Iraq that the Secretary took last year, in which she talked about the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. She went to Mosul and announced the formation of these teams. And since then we've had a successful program in terms of putting these teams together. We have about five of these teams now in place, up and running, functioning. The number of personnel slots that accompany these teams -- I think there are about 43 total -- that we have designated in terms of what the needs of these teams are to do their jobs. And we have an 86 percent fill rate on those teams, so we have 37 of those 43 slots filled and we have volunteers that we're now taking a look at to fill the remaining slots. So we have an 86 percent fill rate on these teams through the end of this summer, so up until the end of August. And we have a good head start in terms of replacements for those people once they move on.
And I also wanted to update you on the fact that in terms of the Department of Defense and the Department of State working together on this issue, there's a total policy agreement at both the senior levels of the State Department and Department of Defense in Washington, as well as the senior levels of the Embassy in Baghdad, so total agreement on the division of labor. The Department of Defense will be providing security. On the DOD side, there are going to be civil affairs people, there's going to be logistics people, as well as security people working hand in glove with the State Department personnel. So this is an important effort. There's agreement in principle as well as in fact between the Department of Defense and Department of State on this issue to use the term there's a "mind meld" to use a pop culture reference -- on this issue. So it's an important initiative. It's going to make a real difference in our ability to work with Iraqi officials outside of Baghdad so that we can help them build those democratic institutions at the regional as well as local level that will serve as an important foundation for the Iraqi people as they build their democracy.
So I just wanted to bring that to your attention. And with that, I'll be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: On that, does a "mind meld" with DOD mean that the Pentagon no longer thinks that the State Department is poaching on its turf as far as who gets to make decisions for security and that you -- and a point of clarification, what does "fill rate" mean? Does that mean you filled all the jobs on the (inaudible) teams?
MR. MCCORMACK: It's just that there -- right now in terms of the positions that we have identified as necessary for these Provincial Reconstruction Teams, there are 43 jobs. And so what I mean by the fill rate means that of those 43 jobs, we have 37 people working or identified for those jobs.
QUESTION: How does that break out for State versus DOD?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, those are just State Department positions. I'm speaking only of the State Department positions. There's a cohort from the Department of Defense that will be working with each of those teams. So in terms of the security, there's agreement on the security. In terms of the logistics, there's agreement on the logistics. There's agreement at the senior policy levels on this, as I said both here in Washington as well as in Baghdad on it.
QUESTION: Sean, a couple of things. It's very unusual for something like this to happen for you to come in and give us a note before we ask about a particular story in the newspaper.
MR. MCCORMACK: I was just anticipating you. (Laughter.) Over time, we've developed a good sense of each other and --
QUESTION: I'm serious. Did you think that there's been in the past -- because there's been other articles about this, too, especially about the disagreement with the Pentagon -- did you think that there was a lot of misperception you wanted to correct or what was the reason for you to come in and begin with this?
MR. MCCORMACK: Just trying to provide information to the press corps. A well-informed press corps is something that I aim for.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, back to the numbers. You said five, but I think four are actually in place now and that the fifth is about ready to go but not yet.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: Okay. So these 43 -- do those cover the four of the five -- the PRTs right now, do you know?
MR. MCCORMACK: That, I believe, is the five. I'll double check for you, Nicholas.
QUESTION: Okay. And just one other thing, can you tell us if you know the leader of those PRTs is a State Department person? When you negotiated with the Pentagon to have them provide security, what was the agreement on what that person, the head of the team, what kind of prerogatives and authority does that person have?
MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of the command and control relationship?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have those details, Nicholas. They're worked out. I mean, these are logistical details upon which there is agreement. I can't detail it for you in black and white. I can only say that at the senior policy levels, everybody's in agreement on this. I don't have the details in terms of the specific command relationships and working relationships within each PRT. I can say, however, that there is agreement on both the principle of the PRT as well the fact of the PRTs and the fact that they're important and there's agreement on the division of labor of who's going to be doing what.
QUESTION: When you say the 37 slots are filled, those people are actually on the ground? They're not sort of in training in Washington or doing something in Washington? They're actually physically in Iraq on the ground?
MR. MCCORMACK: The slots that I have -- the term is currently filled.
QUESTION: What does that mean? I mean --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you.
QUESTION: -- they could still be here, you know, pushing papers and --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you. I'll check for you in terms of who is where at any given point in time. I mean, you also have to account for the fact that sometimes people are on leave. They're actually doing the job. They're getting training in order to do -- and do the job.
One other point also for you on this, the folks who are doing these jobs have been screened and vetted and they're the right people for the jobs. They have the skills to do these jobs. They also have the potential and the capabilities to excel at these jobs and, in fact, many are. And in terms of the Secretary's view of how to fill these jobs, it is not a matter of bureaucratic designation as to who are the best people to fill these jobs, sort of rough bureaucratic measures in terms of rank, et cetera, do not take into -- do not provide the full measure of an individual and their skills and their capabilities. It certainly doesn't measure, you know, background, language ability and those sorts of things. So I think it's important to point that out as well.
QUESTION: Just to follow up just out of interest, the PRTs are an integral part of the clear hold and build policy that you have. So it seems that there has been a bit of a (inaudible) in these people on the ground and if you have the 37 that's very nice on the ground. But how is that clear hold and build policy working? Can you cite any sort of success cases, where that policy has worked because it was much heralded when you announced it?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think the President's talked about this. He's talked about the example of Talafar that's been much written about. And --
QUESTION: With mixed reviews, actually. I think The New Yorker had a --
MR. MCCORMACK: No. I understand. I understand there are going to be certainly different perceptions. But I think as the President has said, that this measurable progress in Iraq and there are other examples, myriad examples that I've -- that certainly I've heard about, that I've been briefed on. I don't have the details for you off the top of my head.
But certainly you talk to our folks in the field, in Embassy Baghdad, you talk to our ambassador out in the field, you talk to the people who deal with this issue on a day-to-day basis here and they do cite examples of success. That's not to undersell the difficulties that exist in Iraq and we all know what those are. We've seen them. But one thing we -- that is also happening there is that underneath the surface, they are making progress on the political front. There is progress in terms of the Iraqi economy and that's -- you can look at various international measures of that, you can look at the Iraqi bond ratings, you can look at the stability of the Iraqi currency.
So I point -- we've talked about this a lot in the past, the fact that there are dual realities in Iraq; both are equally valid. We see a lot of reports. There are reports on our television screens about the tragic bombings and the efforts of those who seek to undermine the progress being made on Iraqi democracy. There is also another reality of people -- people living their daily lives, making -- opening business and working very hard to look across any sectarian or ethnic divides to help build an Iraq for all Iraqis.
So in answer to your question, there are examples of success. The President has talked about some of those. The Secretary has talked about some of those. But this is going to require a concerted effort, not only from us and other members of the international community, but most importantly from the Iraqis and we've seen that they are dedicated to the task and we believe that they are up to the task.
QUESTION: What -- it's been about year, I guess, since you've talked about putting PRTs in Iraq. I mean, I think what Sue was getting at to an extent was how -- isn't that quite a long time for you still to be talking about filling jobs and what they're going to be able to do? I mean, can you point to anything that this idea or structure has achieved so far that might not have been there otherwise?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of the PRTs, we started off with converting the regional embassy offices. We went to one of those, Mosul. That was a start. And a lot of what gets done with the PRTs is done on the individual retail level, working with individuals, working with mayors, working with city councilmen, working with people who work in regional as well as local governments, and helping them understand how an institution in a democracy works, an institution that works to serve the Iraqi people.
And oftentimes you don't see the progress that's being made in terms of daily news stories, but it is there. People are moving forward. Institutions do function a little bit better every single day in some of these areas in Iraq. And it's a result of the dedication of Iraqis to get the job done, to serve their people, to make a better life for their people. It's a result of our efforts and the efforts of others to help the Iraqis build these institutions. So a lot of the progress that you see is it's day by day, it is at an individual retail level. And oftentimes you don't see it reflected in news stories, but you talk to the people who are out in the field and they'll tell you about it.
QUESTION: Sean, just one more. The numbers that you gave are at variance with the table that was published this morning. I just wondered what is the difference between the numbers you gave and the ones that are --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. I can't -- I'm not sure what the source of that particular document was. I don't know. I don't know from whence that sprang. You know, I'm not disputing it, but what I'm telling you is in terms of the reality of jobs being filled, the numbers I just gave you are accurate. These are the numbers that are given to the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary satisfied with the application rate for these very difficult jobs or is she looking to have more --
MR. MCCORMACK: She's -- we have a lot of volunteers. As I pointed out, we have an 86 percent job occupancy and fill rate for those jobs. We also have volunteers that want to fill those remaining slots. So she is very gratified by the response of people of the State Department and others U.S. Government agencies that have sought out what are some of the toughest assignments in the Foreign Service. This is -- what we're talking about are assignments that are really at the vanguard of what the Secretary has talked about in transformational diplomacy. This is not about doing reporting cables. This is not about attending meetings. This is about doing the hard work, brick by brick work, of transformational diplomacy. And I think she is very gratified by the response that she has received to the challenge she has put out to the people of the State Department and related foreign affairs agencies.
QUESTION: Another issue?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: On northern Epirus, Mr. McCormack --
MR. MCCORMACK: Another question on northern Epirus.
QUESTION: Correct. Because it's was mentioned in the letter of Secretary of State. Mr. McCormack, according to the Albanian letter to Secretary Dr. Condoleezza Rice, I asked the other day, the Albanians are claiming that the Greek minority of northern Epirus is less than 2 percent instead of more than 30 percent, resulting in an area larger than Kosovo. Since the CIA annual publication is saying that it's 10 percent, may we have the data from the Department of State in the framework of human rights for those Greeks of northern Epirus?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not familiar with the issue that you're raising. In terms of reports put out by the U.S. Government, they are the result of input from a variety of U.S. Government agencies. And in terms of documents that we make available to the public, I'll certainly be happy to check for you to see if those are publicly available documents. As for your specific contention, we'll see if we can get you an answer.
QUESTION: And one question to this effect. Since in the same letter to Secretary Dr. Condoleezza Rice the Albanians present the several hundred of Albanian immigrants, illegal or legal living in Greece today, that constitute according to the level a separate ethnic minority. May we know the DOS position vis-à-vis to those illegal or legal Albanians immigrants in Greece? Otherwise do they constitute a separate ethnic minority, keeping in mind, Mr. McCormack, that you have also in this country 12 million Latino illegal immigrants who in the recent days actually are protesting for their own rights?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure I would make the same connection you do. I don't have anything for you on that. That's it. No, that's it. You've had two. We have others who want to ask questions.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay? Thank you. Yes.
QUESTION: China, the President of China is coming next week. And I wonder -- it's a practice in many cases before such an important visit for certain gestures to be made. And as you know, there have been some successes in trade and in copyright policy and piracy. I'm wondering whether you're working on any sort of human rights case or issue with the Chinese and whether we might expect some sort of a gesture on their behalf before the President comes here?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of human rights, it is an issue that we raise with the Chinese government on every occasion that we have. Certainly, it will be an important item on the agenda of the upcoming visit between the two presidents. Human rights, religious freedom, freedom of expression are issues I know that the Secretary raises every opportunity that she has with her Chinese interlocutors. As for any actions that the Chinese may take prior to or after the visit, we'll see. But we at every occasion encourage the expansion of freedom of expression, freedom of worship, as well as bringing -- addressing serious human rights issues that we, as well as others have raised.
QUESTION: So it sounds like you're not excluding the possibility that something actually might take place. Are you aware of whether the embassy might be working with the Chinese in Beijing on anything that might or might not happen?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. I don't have anything beyond what I've said.
QUESTION: Can we go to Chad? Chad accused today Khartoum of engineering their rebel offensive in N'Djamena. And I wanted to know if you have any reaction and if you are doing something on a diplomatic front on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: The situation in N'Djamena is fluid. At the moment, there is some violence in and around the capital. Those are the latest reports that we have received. The American citizens in the capital are accounted for, they're safe. And we're taking all appropriate measures to ensure that they remain safe. People who are associated with the embassy are under authorized departure which means that they can choose to leave when conditions allow. We have a Travel Warning out for Chad as well, which you've seen recently.
As for the accusations of Sudanese involvement in supporting or encouraging this violent incursion, I've seen the reports. I can't confirm them for you. Certainly, it's something that we are looking into that, if true, would be a source of real concern. But I can't at this point confirm those reports for you.
QUESTION: If I can follow up also. There is -- the problem is there are a lot of Chadian refugees pouring into Darfur because of this violence. So is there something U.S. can do or what do you -- how do you see that because it's not only in Chad. It's --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, we've talked about our concerns about the change in a negative direction along the border between Chad and Sudan. It's a source of real concern for us. It's on many different fronts, not only on a security front but as well as a humanitarian front.
We are very much interested in seeing the political crisis in Chad resolved and that it is up to the people of Chad to resolve any political differences they may have within the confines of their law and through dialogue and peaceful means, not through use of violence. Certainly that principle also applies to the situation in Sudan and in Darfur. We talked about that quite a bit, that we are doing everything that we can at the moment to address the immediate concerns of humanitarian aid as well as security issues, working with the international community.
On the security front, that means working very closely with the AU mission and then pushing forward on a couple of different fronts, both with NATO as well as the UN.
On the humanitarian side, certainly we're at the forefront of providing humanitarian assistance to ameliorate the situation in Darfur, and that would include doing everything we can to address those problems that have now come to the fore along the border with Chad and Sudan.
Ultimately, this has to be resolved on the political level. That's the long-term solution, not only for instability in Chad but also in Sudan. So we are trying to focus our efforts on all of these fronts and we encourage the people of Chad to come together to resolve any differences they may have about their political situation and not resort to the use of violence.
QUESTION: What's happening in Chad puts a lot more pressure, as you said, on Darfur and makes finding a solution there much more urgent. In an address today at the Brookings Institution, Robert Zoellick spoke quite critically of the Khartoum government and how they haven't really been overly helpful, especially in providing visas for people to go in and help. They've been blocking access by some aid groups to various camps.
He also raised the specter -- although he wasn't saying that this should happen at all -- he just pointed out that it would be much easier if there was -- if the Khartoum government supported an international force. But he said you either get their support or you invade. I have to be clear that he was not saying that you wanted to invade.
MR. MCCORMACK: Glad you saved me the trouble.
QUESTION: Yeah, was saying -- but is there something that -- at what point do you say okay, this is enough diplomatically, we really are not getting anywhere on this, this is turning into or maybe it already is a situation like it was in Rwanda where we intervened far too late? At what point do you intervene and do you, as he, you know, said, maybe invade, although, as I said before, he was not pushing for that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. As you point out, he was not advocating that course of action. In fact, what he was talking about was putting pressure on members of the international community and the Sudanese Government to work together to solve the problems. We want to solve the problem here. And the problem exists on many different fronts. We talked about it -- political, humanitarian as well as security.
Part of solving the security problem is getting the Sudanese Government to be more forthcoming with respect to their cooperation with the United Nations and in terms of welcoming in international forces to address the security situation, which again will also add to trying to bring a better situation on the humanitarian front. You talked about the denial of visas, for example, from Mr. Egeland. Certainly, that was a source of concern. I think we solved that problem.
But frankly, we are going to expect more cooperation from the Sudanese Government on these issues and we're working with members of the international community to see that that happens, that cooperation is forthcoming, so the international community can help solve the problems. That's what the international community's aim is and that's what we're trying to do and trying to make happen.
QUESTION: Do you think Arab nations could be doing a lot more to put pressure on Khartoum?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think they have a role to play and we would encourage them to play a positive role.
QUESTION: On North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: Sean, can I just follow up on this very briefly.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Have you talked to any specific Arab nations about this?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think there have been some contacts, certainly around the recent Arab League summit. So certainly, we did -- I can't give you a catalog of the contacts, but certainly, I know that there were contacts and we did encourage Arab states to play a positive role with respect to Khartoum.
QUESTION: Sean, on this issue?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: Mr. Zoellick said he talked yesterday with the Foreign Minister of Algeria. Can you give us a readout of his talks with the Algerian Foreign Minister?
MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't talk with the Deputy Secretary concerning his meeting with Foreign Minister Bedjaoui. Secretary Rice did have a meeting with him. They talked about a number of different issues primarily centered on U.S.-Algerian bilateral relations and ways that we can increase our level of cooperation. Certainly, fighting terrorism is high up on that list. She did certainly touch on the issue of Sudan and how important it was to try to find solutions to the problems that exist there.
On this, Dave?
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, sort of. On Chad, can you speak of any particular diplomatic efforts that the U.S. is making, for instance, contacts with the French who are very active?
MR. MCCORMACK: We are in close contact with the French Government. They have, I would say, a more robust presence in Chad than we have. So certainly, we are in close contact with them.
QUESTION: The French have spoken of being willing to assist in the evacuation of foreigners. Is that a subject that's been raised with --
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we are working with them on a number of different issues, Dave.
QUESTION: On North Korea, yesterday, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan in Tokyo claimed that United States is entirely responsible for the delay of the six-party talks. Also, he mentioned that the more the six-party talks is delayed, the better for the North Korea. What is your comment?
MR. MCCORMACK: Would it surprise you to hear that I have a different point of view, that we have a different point of view on that? Look; we, as well as the other four members of the six-party talks, excluding North Korea, are ready to go back. We're ready to go back and engage in a serious manner, a constructive manner to talk about the issue at hand.
The issue at hand is denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Certainly, other issues can be raised within the context of the six-party talks. We have made that clear. But the fact of the matter is, North Korea is -- has chosen, at this point, not to return to the six-party talks. We, as well as the other members of those talks, are encouraging them to return without preconditions and with an attitude of engaging in serious discussions about the topic of the talks.
In terms of our actions to defend the integrity of our currency, these are actions that any state is going to take. If North Korea has concerns about the actions that we take to defend the integrity of our currency, then I would suggest that they not engage in illegal activities. We have talked about that. So, in fact, when we talk about responsibility, the responsibility is on North Korea on a couple of fronts. One, to say yes and to act to return to the six-party talks, engage in a serious manner, and two, to not engage in illegal activities. It's not hard. The answer here is not hard.
So again, you know, North Korea should concentrate on being constructive with respect to the six-party talks and not focus on rhetoric and actions that only serve to further isolate them from the rest of the international community.
QUESTION: I have a question.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: On the same issue.
MR. MCCORMACK: On North Korea?
QUESTION: No, no, no, northern Epirus. North Korea is a different story.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: You told us earlier, a few moments ago, that the Albanian immigrants in Greece are not connected with the Latino immigrants in this country. And I'm wondering why, since immigrants, Mr. McCormack, are immigrants and never constitute a separate ethnic entity to formulate their own, whatever it is, "country" within any state on earth, wherever they live?
MR. MCCORMACK: You're trying to draw an analogy between two situations which, in innumerable different aspects, are different.
MR. MCCORMACK: So that's why you were trying to draw an analogy between the two situations and a connection between the situations. I was just trying to caution you that we don't draw those two same connections.
QUESTION: And the last one. Any answer to my pending two questions? Number one, regarding autonomy of northern Epirus in connection with the final status of Kosovo? Number two, the letter I mentioned to you -- to Secretary Condoleezza Rice from the Albanian side?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. We'll try to get answers for you.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. Libby, did you have one?
QUESTION: Yeah, can we move to Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: The Iranian president said today, "We won't hold talks with anyone about the right of the Iranian nation to enrich uranium." Do you have any particular reaction to that? And also, is this sort of another sign that the Iranians are not hearing what many world leaders have had to say about their calls to stop enriching uranium?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think they'll hear directly from Mr. ElBaradei on that front, if they have not turned on their televisions or read their newspapers. We are going to be talking in the coming days about what the diplomatic next steps are, how to increase the diplomatic pressure on the Iranian regime to get it to change its behavior. Nick Burns is going to be traveling to Moscow next week. I believe he leaves Monday night. He is going to be attending a prescheduled meeting of the G-8. This -- Iran and their continued pursuit of a nuclear weapon, their enrichment activities is going to be a topic of discussion.
Also, attached as part of his stay in Moscow, he's also going to be attending a P-5+1 meeting at the political directors level that's going to be held in Moscow. This will bring the Chinese into the set of discussions in Moscow. They are not part of the G-8. And I would also point out that as part of the G-8, you also have the Italians. The Italians happen to be Iran's largest trading partner. So certainly what diplomatic next steps the international community is going to take is going to be on the agenda. I would note that the EU has begun a discussion among themselves about what possible steps they might take, whether it be travel restrictions related to visas or other kinds of sanctions.
So I think that there is a growing unease and displeasure with Iranian behavior among the international community. I think there are a number of different states that are on their own and privately considering what steps they might take to react to this Iranian behavior, but we are going to be focused on work within the U.N. Security Council to, as the Secretary has said, have the Security Council act to take strong steps to demonstrate through diplomatic means to the Iranian regime that the world is serious when it says it must change its behavior with respect to its enrichment activities. It must heed the call of the IAEA. It must heed the call of the U.N. Security Council as expressed through a presidential statement.
QUESTION: Can you talk about, just to follow up, of the differences between Nick Burns' meetings? And then what's going on in the Security Council and how they are separate or how they work together?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there were some meetings among the P-5 up in New York. I think there were -- I 'm not sure if it was today or yesterday. I think it might have been both days. There are two different fora but of course at two different levels. But it's an opportunity to talk through what are the possibilities and to talk through what information each state might have in terms of the Iranians and where they stand in their program, to exchange views about what next steps to take. So it's useful to have those discussions in New York. It's useful to have those discussions also in Moscow in and around -- within the G-8, which is a different forum that brings in some other countries, but also within the P-5+1.
QUESTION: Would you like to see the Security Council either meet in an emergency session or take some other action -- strong action, as the Secretary said yesterday -- before this 30-day clock runs?
MR. MCCORMACK: What's going to happen now, the way the process will unfold, is that the IAEA is going to produce a report. And certainly that report, I imagine, would take into account what Iran has said it has done -- enrich uranium, some amount of uranium to the 3.5 level percent of enrichment. That should be part of the report. That report's going to go to the IAEA Board of Governors. It's also going to go the Security Council. And I would expect that at some point around that time when the report is delivered, which I think it is scheduled for April 28th, that the Security Council would convene in some form to discuss that report. And also we would hope in and around that time to discuss what diplomatic next steps to take and we would hope to actually act. There are a lot of different ways that the Security Council can act, certainly through resolutions. That is -- that, I expect, is going to be at the top of our agenda in pushing a new diplomatic phase in terms of diplomatic next steps. So I'm not going to at this point try to circumscribe what diplomatic steps we are going to seek to take in the Security Council. But what we are looking for is the Security Council to act and not act in the form of a presidential statement. We've already done that.
QUESTION: But as far as a timeline, you're not pushing for that to happen tomorrow, next week?
MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, there's no emergency session of the Security Council to be convened to take up this topic. Now as recent events up in New York showed, they are talking about it, the P-5 came together to talk about it. You know, I'm not going to preclude that the Council as a whole might not take up the issue of Iran as part of its daily or weekly business. But in terms of any extraordinary meetings, I don't have anything for you at this point.
QUESTION: You just mentioned the important connection in the links between Italy and Iran. Are you encouraging the Europeans to take sanctions against Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the EU itself, we've -- you can look at the press reports yourself, is looking at what steps it might take. And I would expect that other states, certainly given Iran's actions, are looking within themselves as to what they might do. I don't have any specifics to offer you, certainly not with respect to Italy. I would just point out why the G-8 as a forum for discussing this topic is an important forum because you do have countries in that forum, not in the P-5+1, that have important relationships with Iran. And certainly, we will be talking countries individually as well as on the Security Council about how to bring pressure, diplomatic pressure to bear on Iran, so that it will change its behavior.
QUESTION: And you wouldn't be unhappy if they would take some sanctions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we are at the discussion diplomacy phase of this right now.
Sue, and then Dave.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoken to her Chinese and Russian counterparts in the past two days?
MR. MCCORMACK: She has not, no.
QUESTION: President Ahmadi-Nejad and some other Iranian officials today are quoted as saying that the enrichment advance that they made on Tuesday changes the equation and Iran should now be dealt with differently as a nuclear country. I'm wondering if you see any change in the equation since Tuesday as far as the United States is concerned.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think the only change in the equation I see at this point is that Iran has continued to isolate itself from the international community. I think that there is a, as I said, increasing sense of unease as well as displeasure among members of the international community that Iran has sought confrontation with the international community when the international community has extended its hand to the Iranian regime seeking cooperation with the Iranian regime on this important question. We have gone through it a number of different times. There were several attractive serious offers on the table that would have sought to address Iran's stated desire for peaceful nuclear energy while providing the international community objective assurances that it wasn't going to use that peaceful nuclear energy program for the purposes of building a nuclear weapon.
You know, the Iranians make the excuse that they have the right to enrich nuclear material and that they need it for their -- to power their civilian nuclear reactors. There are plenty of examples around the world of countries that have peaceful civil nuclear power but get their -- the material to power those reactors from outside sources. There are a number of European countries that do that. So these excuses that the Iranians throw up are just that; they're meant to obscure the real issue, and that is their determination to pursue development of a nuclear weapon and to pursue -- to try to perfect the critical technologies that will allow them to develop a nuclear weapon.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
MR. MCCORMACK: On Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Not for Cyprus, not for Greece. Anything to say about the recent visit to Iran by ElBaradei regarding inspection. Any communication? What is the results?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Dr. ElBaradei is in Tehran and the Secretary spoke with him yesterday morning. I talked to you about that. As part of that phone call, Dr. ElBaradei said that once he leaves Tehran and returns to Vienna that he was going to call the Secretary with a readout, essentially, of his visit to Tehran. So when we have that, I'll be happy to share that with you.
QUESTION: I have another question on another subject.
QUESTION: Please --
QUESTION: -- if everybody agrees.
MR. MCCORMACK: No.
QUESTION: Do you have anything else you can tell us today about Iran's enrichment itself? I don't know if this was covered yesterday, but you know, Assistant Secretary Rademaker was saying that, you know, they could be, if they stepped up their enrichment, they could be within like 16 days of --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right, I saw the news reports and I think that, frankly, if I could comment on news reports, it was taken a bit out of context. I think he was asked a technical question about the number of centrifuges required in order to produce fissile material sufficient for a nuclear weapon and on what time scale that would take. So he answered a factual question. He wasn't offering an assessment of their program.
In terms of a technical assessment of what the Iranians have said that they have done, I can't offer that. The IAEA will have to do some inspections as well as examinations of the material, as is their right under the Nonproliferation Treaty, make an analysis of what they've seen, what they've measured, and then report back to the IAEA Board of Governors. That hasn't been done yet.
So when we are at liberty to provide you that information, I'd be happy to share it with you, but again, I can't -- you know, I'm not saying that I'm not taking what the Iranians have said at face value, but I can't confirm it for you.
QUESTION: And what is the U.S. Government doing besides, you know, the IAEA's actions? What is the U.S. Government doing to unilaterally assess the claims right now?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of our intelligence capabilities, that's not something that I get into and I certainly don't get into what the results of any analysis that they might or might not be doing would be.
QUESTION: Tomorrow will be the 20th anniversary of the bombing -- the U.S. bombing on Tripoli and Benghazi. Could you give us an idea of how much the relations with Libya have improved?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, certainly, our relationship with Libya has changed markedly over the past several years, beginning with the step taken by Libya to resolve issues related to their involvement with -- their past involvement with terrorism, as well as steps that they have taken to get rid of, in a verifiable manner, their weapons of mass destruction programs, included a nuclear program.
So we are, at this point, committed to the goal of full normalization. We have moved along that pathway. At this point, Libya still is on the list of state sponsors of terror. There are certain requirements that need to be met under the law and regulations of that -- of the governing statute. In our judgment, they have -- we are not, at this point, ready to take them off of that list and I think at that point, that's pretty much where we stand.
QUESTION: What is the obstacle? What is the problem?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we -- what we do is we take a look at the situation, we take a look at the facts, make an assessment of those facts, and if the -- if, in our objective assessment, we can answer all the questions that need to be answered under the statute, under the regulations, then we might be able to take some action. We have not been able to answer all those questions. I can't get into exactly what they are, but there's no change in the status quo at the moment.
QUESTION: So would it be safe to assume that Libya will not be included on the list of countries removed next -- I think -- is it next week the report comes out?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to make any predictions one way or the other.
QUESTION: I'm not sure if you've seen reports out of Pakistan that a high-level, high-ranking member of al-Qaida has been killed, an individual that was responsible for the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I saw the news reports just before I came out here. I'm not in a position to confirm them for you one way or the other. I know there is a high-ranking Pakistani official who spoke to the matter. I think that they are probably in the best position to offer any comment on the matter. Certainly, fighting al-Qaida is an important priority for President Musharraf. We believe that in President Musharraf, we have a good partner in fighting the war on terrorism, fighting al-Qaida. It's not only important in the global fight against terrorism, but al-Qaida itself presents a threat to Pakistan, so they devote quite a few resources to that fight.
In terms of an individual wanted in connection with that embassy bombing, we want to see justice be done. We want to see individuals held to account for what they have done. There is a -- I believe this individual -- the individual in question had a Rewards for Justice reward attached with them. So certainly, we have -- we pursue those who have committed acts of terror, regardless of how long it takes.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: Back on Libya, you said you are not considering removing Libya from the list of state --
MR. MCCORMACK: I said I'm not going to comment one way or the other.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with -- what Libya is doing to respond to the requirements by the U.S. so they can be removed from your list? Are they cooperating?
MR. MCCORMACK: Our relationship with Libya has a number of different components to it and we look at the relationship as a whole, as well as in particular. Part of that is addressing issues related to their past involvement with terrorism. At this point, I don't have any announcements for you regarding any change in status of the Libyan Government, vis-à-vis the terrorist list. But certainly, I think as a general comment, you can see a positive trajectory to the relationship between the United States Government and Libya over the past several years.
That change in relationship has been based on a principle, the principle that good deeds would be -- and good faith would be met in turn by good deeds and good faith on the part of the United States Government and that's what we have seen. I would hope and expect that that process would continue and that that same positive trajectory would continue.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Can you respond to charges by some Libyans that you're keeping them on the terrorism list for aspects that have nothing to do with terrorism, such as the issue with Bulgarian nurses, human rights concerns that -- you know, obviously, those issues could be taken into account when you normalize relations, but that they feel that they have -- you know, responded to the issues on the terrorism list and should be removed.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I said earlier in response to a similar kind of question about the terrorism list, there are certain laws and regulations that govern both getting on and getting off the terrorism list. And what we do is we assess facts and we have to make judgments about facts and how they fit together. If we have a set of facts that lead to a set of judgments that lead us to change -- make any changes, then we'll do so.
In terms of the status quo, I don't have any update for you at this point. There are a number of different issues in the relationship between the U.S. and Libya. And as I said, good faith actions on the part of Libya will, in turn, be met by good faith actions on the part of the United States. There is an issue between Bulgaria and Libya concerning these medics. It's a sad case. It's a really sad case, the facts of it, and I know that there are many in the international community that would like to see that issue resolved. I think that certainly, there's a great interest, for a lot of different reasons, putting aside international politics, to resolve that case.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on this issue with the Bulgarian nurses? Since you --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any update for you. I don't, no.
QUESTION: Libya has been playing more of a role in Sudan and in other areas and I think Ethiopia and Eritrea they've been trying to help out. So shouldn't that be something that you would reward them for, playing a greater role on the international stage?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we would hope that states would, for reasons of their own, not for reasons of reward or punishment, choose to play a positive role in the international community. With respect to Sudan, you're talking about real humanitarian issues. And certainly, we have encouraged states from around the globe to play a positive role. So again, we encourage states, including Libya, to play a positive role as they can on various topics across the board in the international community. But, you know, again, we think that that's -- that that kind of behavior should be encouraged just on the basis of doing positive things in the world.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:55 p.m.)
DPB # 61
Released on April 13, 2006