State Dept. Daily Press Briefing October 10, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
October 10, 2006
The U.S. Is Confirming Status of Test / North Koreans Claims They
had a Nuclear Test
UN Security Council Resolution / Sanctions / Goal of a
Denuclearized Korean Peninsula
Chinese Response to the North Korean Test / International
Response to Query on Possibility of U.S. Holding Direct Talk with
Focus of a UN Security Council Resolution
P5 +1 Discussions Continuing / Security Council Resolution
ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS
U.S. Position on a Palestinian Unity Government
U.S. Interest in seeing the Roadmap and the Quartet's Criteria are
Investigation into the Murder of Journalist Anna Politkovskaya
Travel Status for Andrew Natsios, Special Envoy for Sudan
12:34 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. No opening statements, so we can get right into your questions, whoever wants to start.
QUESTION: Well, let's try here, but this may not be the place. The Washington Times is reporting that there's some lack of confidence that North Korea actually conducted a nuclear test, that the readings are below what you'd expect for such a detonation. Can you shed any light on that or what your understanding here is North Korea did?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Can't confirm for you either way, Barry, whether it was a nuclear or non-nuclear test. You know, obviously our intelligence experts are looking at all their oscilloscopes and whatever else that they look at to determine these various things. There are a lot of different pieces of the puzzle that go into this. At this point, I can't tell you when and if we do, are able to determine exactly the nature of the cause of the seismic event and we'll certainly try to keep you informed.
We ourselves are operating under assumption that, yes, in fact it was, but I can't confirm that for you. I think that regardless, the international community is going to take this as a very serious matter. The Security Council is now discussing how it is going to act. You heard from the President talking about the fact that even such a claim merits action by the Security Council, so that's the pathway that we're going down, Barry.
QUESTION: Do I understand that whether or not it meets a certain reading, to distinguish it as a nuclear test, what the North Koreans did -- well, to the extent you know what they did, that's reason enough to invoke world sanctions, it's a violation of trust. It's a violation of UN requests, et cetera. Is that right?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know something happened. You know there was a seismic event, everybody can confirm that, of a certain magnitude. There are varying estimates at the moment, but within a certain range, so you know something happened. And that, coupled with the fact that the North Korean Government claimed that this was a nuclear explosion gives the international community cause enough to act and cause enough to act to seek very strong sanctions resolution for which there is widespread support around the world. I think that you can -- this act has been met with nearly universal condemnation, if you just pick up your newspapers and you take a look at the list of countries that have condemned this act. And right now we are working with others in the Security Council to turn that condemnation into action in the form of a Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: What elements are you hoping to be included in the final resolution? And secondly, are you looking at unilateral action at the same time as the Security Council route?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of unilateral action, in terms of what?
QUESTION: More sanctions, more -- I don't know what more you could impose?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are a few, I think. I asked this question and there were, in fact, some sanctions in 1999 that were lifted under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Now, I don't know the practical effect. I'm not sure that there would be a practical effect of re-imposing those sanctions because as you note in your question, it's a fairly robust set of sanctions. We don't have diplomatic relations with North Korea and they have been engaged in a variety of unsavory, illicit and troubling behaviors for quite some time. So we already have in place a robust set of sanctions.
In terms of the resolution, I'm not going to get into the details of it, but we have some general areas. And it focuses primarily on not allowing the North Korean Government in any way to further develop its WMD or missile technology programs or in any way to benefit from those programs in the sense that it would -- expert, know-how, technology or material. And it would also -- we would also seek to impose a variety of other sanctions of the types of non-humanitarian, non-medical related imports into North Korea, medical related imports that, for example, foods and medicines for people in need which there is a great deal of need in North Korea. So those are the basic areas. Also taking steps that would prevent any sort of illicit activity, counterfeiting, money laundering or trade or facilitation of trade in narcotics.
QUESTION: Sean, there has been some suggestion from some sources that despite the robust set of sanctions that the U.S. unilaterally has in place and despite the fact that we're pushing for further sanctions now on other aspects of trade that there are some UN programs, such as the UN Development Program, through which not only UN money might flow to North Korea but actual U.S. money. Has that been something that's ever been raised with you?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of the issue, James. We have in the past contributed to the World Food Program's contributions on -- for humanitarian food assistance. We have not done so recently because we have not been able to assure ourselves that those donations of food actually get to the people in need and that they're not diverted for other uses. And the World Food Program has recently decided to start up again its program. It was not able to get all the assurances that it wanted, but it was able to get enough assurances to continue on.
And in terms of the UNDP, I haven't heard. I can check for you, James, to see if there is any other flow of U.S. monies through multilateral slash UN programs that might end up in North Korea.
QUESTION: When you say, Sean, that the objective here would be not to allow North Korea to further develop its programs, you assume that you're not going to let anything be imported to North Korea, but what if they already have in place in the country what they need to further develop those programs? How are you going to assure that they're not going to do that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you can't. You can't until you actually -- we're able to convince North Korea through a negotiated solution that they should give up all of those things. So whether its indigenous-developed technology or technology and know-how, materials that somehow flowed in over the decades, as this has been a decades-long program, this didn't happen just over the past few years, that -- I guess that's the short answer.
QUESTION: Would you want the resolution to include some sort of -- an element regarding IAEA inspectors or are the inspectors going into North Korea to check on sites, on facilities?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they kicked out IAEA inspectors a long time ago and withdrew from the NPT quite some time ago. Look, our focus now is on this sanctions resolution. We think it's important. We think that there's quite a bit of momentum that has been generated by the North Koreans' action for this kind of resolution to make sure that we do everything that we can to not allow them to develop those programs any further. The world is united in that. And also, as President Bush noted yesterday in his remarks, to make sure that those programs aren't able to -- that they are not able to export materials or know-how from those programs to others, so that it might endanger the United States or other countries around the world.
QUESTION: So you don't think that there is a way to, in a way, force them to accept any inspections because they are not in the NPT anymore; is that right?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not sure that I've heard anybody propose that, forcing somebody to accept the inspectors. I mean, you can cry into the darkness all you want about saying -- forcing them to accept the inspectors, but ultimately how do they get back in? It'd be an interesting proposal. I haven't heard one in that regard.
But we still do have a goal of having a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We share that goal along with the other members of the six-party talks, excluding North Korea at this point it seems. That has been reaffirmed, as you heard from President Bush in his conversations, that Secretary Rice heard that also in her conversations. But I think foremost in everybody's mind is the resolve to send a very clear message to North Korea that this is -- the current course that they are on is unacceptable and that the international community is going to act, in this particular case right now the international community is going to act in the form of sanctions, as outlined in a UN Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: Did you get any assurances from China that indeed the North Koreans won't be able to get any materials for their missile or nuclear program through the Chinese border?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, this is -- North Korea is China's neighbor so they in a sense have a more proximate cause for worry than even the United States, even though this is of great concern to the United States. The same holds true for South Korea and Japan. This is bad behavior that is occurring in their neighborhood.
Now, we certainly share, I think, the depth and breadth of the concern of their neighbors. So China itself does not have any interest in any way aiding or knowingly aiding or abetting the North Korean program. And I would point out for all of you connoisseurs out there that it is pointed out to me today that the Chinese Government used the word brazen in talking about North Korea's action. This is a word that has not been used very often -- I think down in the single digits since 1985 -- by the Chinese Government to describe other actions. So quite clearly this is something that they take quite seriously. They choose their words carefully, and so I think it is an indication of the depth of their displeasure and their concern with what North Korea has done.
QUESTION: Well, one of the working assumptions of the Administration has been that China would use its leverage to get North Korea to come back to the talks, to get North Korea not to detonate a nuclear device, and that assumption seems not to have been correct. And in fact, a number of experts say that China, despite using this word brazen, which I think they generally use for the United States or Japan, that they -- you know, they're not going to go all the way or they're not going to go as far as the United States would like them to do in terms of sanctions. So is there some rethinking about this reliance on China as the main, you know, point of pressure against North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are a number of countries that have varying degrees of leverage with North Korea. The Chinese are one of them. I wouldn't characterize what we have done as being solely reliant on China. I would say that we have relied on an international multilateral mechanism to try to pressure the North Korean regime into changing its behavior. Thus far they have not.
There was a glimpse when we saw that they might be thinking about it back in September, September 19th of last year, when they actually did agree to a framework agreement. I think the Chinese Government is -- we will see. I'm not going to speak for them. We will see how they express their displeasure. They will have an opportunity when the -- put together Security Council resolution. But we believe that it is international pressure including from China that ultimately, we hope, will get North Korea to change its current behavior when they continue to isolate themselves and take themselves away from the international community. We would hope that every country around the globe, including China, would do everything that it possibly could to get them to change that behavior and change the pathway that they're on now.
QUESTION: So, and just to follow up on that, when you say you want them to change their behavior, that suggests that the United States is accepting of the rule of Kim Jong-il, would like to co-exist peacefully with that regime; or is there any rethinking about that they've now crossed this line and that there should be instead a policy of regime change?
MR. MCCORMACK: Glenn, our policy remains the same. We have made it very clear that the United States has no intention to attack North Korea. That element of our policy still stands. You can go back and look at all the President's statements in that regard. What we have sought is a change in the behavior of the North Korean regime. The North Korean people have suffered greatly under this regime so we are quite concerned for their situation and the human rights situation and the humanitarian situation there. We've done everything that we could within the bounds of our policy to address that and we will continue speaking out about that and we will continue to be working with the Chinese as well as others to try to address those humanitarian as well as human rights concerns.
QUESTION: So just lastly there, from the North Korean perspective, they might look at the examples of India and Pakistan, who also detonated nuclear devices against the wishes of the United States, and now Pakistan is a major ally of the United States, India the United States is ready to sell nuclear reactors to India and bring it out from that -- out from the cold. Why should North Korea not look at those instances and say, you know, we can hang on, we can deal with the inevitable sanctions, and now in some time the (inaudible) will turn and we will be accepted as a nuclear power?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I think that the characteristics of the North Korean -- this particular North Korean regime and the particular historical facts among those three different cases are quite different so I'm not --
QUESTION: For the record --
MR. MCCORMACK: As for what might be going into the thinking of the leaders of the North Korean regime, that I couldn't tell you. I can't tell you what their calculus is. It's relatively opaque.
QUESTION: Well, how are these things different? I just wanted to, for the record, understand why --
MR. MCCORMACK: You can -- first of all, looking at the nature of each of those three governments in those countries -- North Korea, India and Pakistan -- I think they are all quite different. In terms of India you have the world's largest multiethnic democracy. In terms of Pakistan you have a country that has made the strategic decision to ally itself with those who are promoting freedom and democracy around the world. Now, granted, it is a country that is transitioning to its own form of democracy, making the changes necessary in terms of their domestic laws and their politics and even within their society that fundamentally realize Pakistan with the great, the broad sweep of the rest of the world, and that is towards greater freedom and democracy. In the North Korea regime, you don't have that. You have a regime that is actually going in the other direction. So it gets to the nature of these particular governments.
And in terms of their particular programs, each has different historical pathways and I would note that North Korea was in fact a treaty signatory to the nonproliferation regime and it broke its commitments under the Nonproliferation Treaty and I don't believe -- certainly not India was a member of the Nonproliferation Treaty.
QUESTION: Sean, can I ask --
QUESTION: If North Korea were a democracy, then it --
MR. MCCORMACK: What's that?
QUESTION: If North Korea were a democracy, it'd be okay?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I'm just -- Glenn is trying to draw some parallels here and I'm just trying to point out how all the cases were different.
MR. MCCORMACK: The United States has made it very clear that we are for the peaceful development of nuclear power. That is the deal that the vast majority of countries around the world have signed up to in the Nonproliferation Treaty. With respect to India, we've made it very clear that we think that the deal that we have struck with India and now we are working with the Congress to pass is to the benefit of the United States, to the benefit of India and to the benefit to the nonproliferation regime worldwide. India has been a responsible actor in that regard. We have certainly made that judgment. And we are working very closely with the government of Pakistan on a whole wide array of issues in terms of their situation, where they stand vis-Ã -vis the rest of the world in terms of freedom and democracy and fighting terrorism. So the nature of these regimes is entirely different. In terms of our fundamental stance with regard to the proliferation of nuclear technology, development of nuclear weapons, that certainly has not changed.
QUESTION: And you're saying that policy hasn't changed, could I just check one part of that policy?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Is any consideration being given, is there an option to talking directly to North Korea in light of developments?
MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, that hasn't been our policy for some time. I would point out within the context of the six-party talks we have talked directly to North Korea. I notice that there has been some commentary out there about engaging North Korea directly. Well, in the context of the six-party talks we have talked to them just as we have had bilateral discussions with other members of the six-party talks.
But as President Bush has made very clear, that is not a position you want to put the United States in because certainly -- and certainly not at this point where you have this kind of behavior from North Korea. But just putting that aside for a second and speaking theoretically and the basis for our policy in the past, what you do when you put the United States in that situation is -- in a bilateral discussion with North Korea, all of a sudden all the pressure is on the United States to make concessions. You know, we've seen how that works and that is certainly not a position that I think anybody who has been in a tough negotiation would advocate somebody else get into, get into a position where automatically it is assumed that you are the party that makes all the concessions in the negotiation. It's not a strong hand from which to start.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up. There are no six-party talks going on now.
MR. MCCORMACK: Correct.
QUESTION: Is there still a format that makes permissible talking to the North Koreans directly?
MR. MCCORMACK: The mechanism, the --
QUESTION: Or do talks have to be going on?
MR. MCCORMACK: The mechanism still exists and is available, Barry. But look, the discussion right now is on the sanctions resolution and up in New York, and John Bolton working with his colleagues up there.
QUESTION: A follow-up on that, Sean.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have any concerns about the Russians supporting a tough sanctions resolution? John Bolton said a little bit ago that they were still awaiting instructions from their capital, so --
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't talked to John recently. I think that, you know, given the public comments about North Korea's behavior, I think that we should be able to work through a sanctions resolution in pretty relatively short order.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary make any calls today to that we'd want to know about?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. Well, I don't know which ones you want to know about. I don't know what your metric is. I assume with regard to North Korea we tried to put out a list yesterday of calls that she had made. She also -- and you had Foreign Minister Downer, Foreign Minister Peters, Foreign Minister Ban, Li, Lavrov and Aso. That was a conference call they got together. Spoke with Foreign Minister Mackay yesterday.
And in terms of today, nothing related to North Korea. Although I would note that she did speak with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi to express her condolences on the murder of his brother. It was a brutal act and he has suffered greatly as a result of his taking a stand and participating in this Iraqi Government to try to bring about a better day for the Iraqi people. So she called him to express not only her personal but also her official condolences of the U.S. Government.
QUESTION: To go back to the size of the test, not necessarily in terms of what it proves, but when you get those results is that going to make any difference, or does that factor into your approach in terms of what the diplomacy is, how strong the sanctions should be?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think -- well, I think President Bush made that clear yesterday. Even this kind of claim is cause enough for concern. As I said, we are essentially operating under the assumption that it was in fact -- that it was in fact what the North Koreans said it was, a nuclear test. I think that that is the only assumption one could operate under at this point. But we have not been able to confirm it at this point.
QUESTION: But is what you're saying is it doesn't really matter. You've already decided on that you want to go pursue the avenue of --
MR. MCCORMACK: We, as well as others, are already going down that avenue, yeah.
QUESTION: One more thing. Last week Assistant Secretary Hill said that the U.S. and its allies would not live with a nuclear North Korea. I mean today aren't we -- although you're taking steps to adjust the program, I mean, isn't North Korea in fact a nuclear state right now?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they have -- our estimates, for some time, and you can go back and looking at the intelligence estimates even prior to this Administration were that they at least had the capability to produce nuclear weapons and that likely, in fact, possessed some number of them. They actually -- the exact numbers on the estimates varied -- they varied over time.
We have made it clear that this is an unacceptable state of being. It is a destabilizing situation in which you would have a nuclear-armed North Korea and that is not something that is in dispute. That is something -- an opinion that is shared by not only the people in the neighborhood, but also people worldwide.
QUESTION: Just one more. This is kind of a two-part question. Are the Chinese talking to--
MR. MCCORMACK: I thought you said one more.
QUESTION: Well, one-and-a-half. Are the Chinese talking to the North Koreans right now? I mean, is anybody talking to the North Koreans in lieu of this test and after this test --
MR. MCCORMACK: You would have to talk to the Chinese. I don't know.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, in consultations with your allies -- I mean, yes, you're moving forward with a sanctions regime type of diplomacy to stop further growth or proliferation of the program. But a lot of experts are saying that until you have that kind of mechanism in place, you really need some kind of understanding with the North Koreans about how they're going to behave in terms of no more nuclear tests, some kind of -- set up some kind of deterrent relationship while you seek to ultimately negotiate the end to the program.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think all those elements are there. You know, the heart of deterrence is that there will be a certain reaction for a given kind of behavior. I think you're seeing that. We have made that clear. The world has made that clear. There is going to -- if they continue down the pathway of the kind of behavior that they have been engaged in for the past several years, actually, and go back even longer than that, then they would continue to isolate themselves from the rest of the international community. And in terms of declaratory policy, I think that President Bush has made it very clear in a number of different aspects, our declaratory policy.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, but that's a long-term or medium-term, in the very earliest, objective. I mean, what about, like, tomorrow? What about the day after? I mean, is somebody reaching out to the North Koreans to say, you know --
MR. MCCORMACK: I think they read the press clippings and watch CNN very closely.
QUESTION: But not limited to --
MR. MCCORMACK: Not limited -- I don't know, I can't tell what they --
QUESTION: Just to follow up on Barry's question before --
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: -- on bilateral discussions. It has been reported that Secretary Rice, last year after the September 19th statement, was willing to send Chris Hill to Pyongyang if North Korea took the good-faith step of turning off its reactor. Now they didn't do that, but there are experts out there that say that -- you know, the purpose of such a trip might have been to get them to actually turn off their reactor by the end of that trip. Did the Administration miss an opportunity to engage directly with the top leadership of the North Korean Government in order to head off this crisis?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have engaged, the history books will show; we as well as others. We, the Clinton Administration, other administrations have engaged --
QUESTION: Well, I was talking --
MR. MCCORMACK: It's important here. You can't -- you know, you can't talk about one potential news report in isolation from the rest of history. People have engaged the North Koreans. The Clinton Administration did. They negotiated an agreement with them and the North Koreans were cheating on it almost as soon as the ink was dry on the thing. We engaged directly. We had people in Pyongyang. As a matter of fact, it was while we were in Pyongyang that our delegation confirmed with the North Koreans that they, in fact, had another nuclear program to develop a bomb that they hadn't told anybody about, a uranium-based program.
And we have engaged with them, in a bilateral manner, in the context of the six-party talks, so there's been no shortage of engaging the North Koreans and the North Korean Government here. Now everybody's going to have a suggestion on tactics, okay? Everybody's going to have a suggestion on policy and people have that right. This Administration is, of course, going to do what it thinks is right and what is effective and it's going to -- and what I mean by effective is reaching the goals that we've laid out. Those are pretty clearly stated in the September 19th statement. Fundamentally, that is getting out a verifiable, denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And then also, we can address a number of different issues that's laid out in the September 19th statement. So this -- again, this idea that -- you know, you kind of pinpoint back in time the reason for North Korea's behavior and somehow pinning that on the United States or anybody else, I don't think you can do that. The North Korean regime has been developing a nuclear weapon for decades and --
QUESTION: There's no value -- I mean, if they're not willing to live up to their commitments, is there no value then in actually trying to work with them? I mean --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, you do because you want to bring about a change in behavior. And as the circumstances change, I would assume that they, as would any government, make calculations about where they stand and what their interests are. And the circumstances are now changing. The circumstances are now changing because you are going to have a sanctions resolution and they are going to find themselves even more isolated from the rest of the international community. And we'll see exactly what the sanctions are. I've gone through with you very generally what our proposals are and we'll see how those stand up.
But I think there is a -- there's widespread support for a very tough resolution and the idea here is that they would make, one would hope, a different set of calculations based on a different set of circumstances. And the circumstances are changing for them and the circumstances are changing for them in a negative way. So to get to your question, we would hope that given those changed circumstances or those imminent changed circumstances that they would change their calculations and therefore their behavior.
QUESTION: Both China and Russia say that the military option is not on the table for this and it has to be dealt with diplomatically. You're saying that, you know, the U.S. has made it clear that you're not going to attack North Korea. So is the military option off the table as far as the U.S. is concerned --
MR. MCCORMACK: The President --
QUESTION: -- or are all options on the table?
MR. MCCORMACK: President Bush has addressed this issue and you can go back and look at his transcripts. Nothing has changed.
QUESTION: I just want to seek two clarifications. Is the United States urging China and/or South Korea to cut food and energy as a way of persuading North Korea to come back to the talks?
Separately, what evidence does the U.S. have that North Korea is sharing nuclear capabilities with Iran and Syria, as the President suggested yesterday?
MR. MCCORMACK: On the second of those matters, I don't have anything further to provide beyond what the President said yesterday. If I'm able to share anything, I'd be happy to.
And the first part of your question?
QUESTION: Is the U.S. urging China to cut food and energy?
MR. MCCORMACK: Our focus now is on the sanctions resolution. (Inaudible) tied that to getting back to the six-party talks. Our focus now is getting the Security Council resolution and talking to UN member-states about how to enforce that Security Council resolution. And certainly we're also talking to them about the wider political security situation in the region as well. So those are -- that's really the focus of our discussions right now with them.
QUESTION: Are you prepared to say that you're not?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, again, I haven't heard anybody talking in that regard. Our focus is working on the sanctions and going through very specifically what would be in the UN Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: But you're also looking for countries to take bilateral sanctions on their own, aren't you?
MR. MCCORMACK: We're looking -- again, countries, individual countries, will decide for themselves what steps beyond the Security Council requirements there are. We ourselves, along with the Japanese and the Australians, prior to this announcement by the North Koreans over the weekend took steps on the financial front to curb North Korean illicit behavior. And other states are free to do that and take other types of steps that they deem necessary in terms of bilateral actions. Those would be up to those states, yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah, but, you know, the United States had in 2005, before North Korea came back to the talks, asked China to cut off the oil for a few days as a form of pressure. So presumably that sort of suggestion is still the sort of thing that you're talking about.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Janine's question related specifically, you know, back to the six-party talks. Are you asking China and other countries to do X, Y and Z in order to get back to the six-party talks? What I want to do is refocus you on what we're doing right now, where the focus of our diplomatic energies are, and that is up in the Security Council.
Now, I know the South Korean Government has come out with a variety of actions that it's going to take on its own and related to reducing its profile of trade and cooperation with North Korea. So I was just pointing out that those countries can take unilateral steps, bilateral steps if you will. Our focus right now as we're speaking is to talk about a Security Council resolution and what's in it.
QUESTION: Sean, do you have any indication that China is going to sign on to PSI, which I mean there's a lot of talk about, you know, the ability to board ships coming out of North Korea but up until now China -- and I don't think South Korea either --
MR. MCCORMACK: South Korea is not, no.
QUESTION: -- are members? Is this going to put more pressure on them to be members to join PSI's initiative?
MR. MCCORMACK: As for China, let me check for you as to what discussions we have had with China regarding Proliferation Security Initiative. I can't tell you off the top of my head what those have been. I know that we have talked to South Korea about Proliferation Security Initiative.
MR. MCCORMACK: South Korea, yes.
QUESTION: Since the test or --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don't -- well, I (inaudible) tell you since the test, but recently. I'm defining that loosely as within the past several months.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. And we think it is an important initiative. You can't, you know, force somebody to join up. It's a -- you know, it's an effort that doesn't have an executive secretariat or headquarters or anything of the such. It is an important initiative, however, that commits those who are interested in PSI to using their national -- their existing laws, national laws in order to prevent the flow of WMD technology know-how through their air space and their waters and their territories.
QUESTION: Don't China and South Korea have to sign up for something like PSI in order for the UN -- this idea of having international inspections of suspected ships coming in and out of North Korea? I mean, that's one of the -- or would there be a way to do that without China and South Korea's --
MR. MCCORMACK: We're not trying to link PSI and the Security Council.
QUESTION: I know they're different, but it's the idea --
MR. MCCORMACK: But we are not trying to link those two things.
QUESTION: But the Security Council -- it's been reported that the Security Council is considering or that the U.S. is pushing this idea of making sure that ships coming out of North Korea are not, you know, selling things.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: So I understand they're not calling it PSI
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: But how do you -- what mechanism would be used there, and don't you need the cooperation of China and South Korea in order to make that work given that they are the countries there -- the neighboring countries?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, part of -- I guess part of the answer to that is a -- would have to come from the lawyers. You know, I can't tell you. PSI is -- what I can tell you is PSI is based on national laws, you know, existing laws that are on the book. Now does a Security Council resolution then force individual states to enforce their national laws? I don't know. You would think that they would find it in their interest to enforce their national laws anyway.
As for -- you know, and the Security Council resolution, if it's Chapter 7, does have the force of international law. Those who are not participating in PSI would be required to abide by the Security Council resolution and the requirements thereof. So they're completely separate things. I can't tell you there would be any sort of overlap or interaction between the two efforts. You know, I don't know if national laws would be more robust than the Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: I think the simple question is how would any prohibition on technology transfers of a certain kind say to or from North Korea be enforced, period?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, those -- again, those things are -- it depends on the specifics of the Security Council resolution and we don't have one yet. Part of the enforcement obviously comes down to individual countries and their individual enforcement mechanisms. Anything beyond that you have to see what is in a Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: All right, Sean, just one more. Do you have any indication that there might be more tests? South Korean news agencies are reporting -- you know, quoting unnamed North Korean officials as saying they might conduct a nuclear missile test if the U.S. doesn't, you know, get --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any. I'm not aware of any --
QUESTION: You're not aware of any preparations for additional --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Sean, you say that China, Russia, South Korea and Japan are on the same page when it comes to the objective of denuclearization of the peninsula.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: But the North Koreans say that they're building this arsenal because they think that the U.S. threat is the one that they should worry about. They don't worry about China. They don't worry about South Korea or Russia. So because of that, the Chinese, Russians and South Koreans don't think that they will be probably the target of the North Koreans. You probably are concerned more about this than the other countries. So why would China and Russia have the same impetus as you do to refer as what the North Koreans are doing if they are not going to be the target of the North Koreans?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, might I suggest to you that the North Koreans are saying that because they want to try to achieve the maximum benefits from their particular negotiating position.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think we've exhausted this yet.
QUESTION: Just two more hours.
QUESTION: Sean, apparently, A.Q. Khan was the mentor in many respects to North Korea. Throughout this entire week and with the UN meetings, is there any regard to perhaps have both UN inspectors, IAEA, interview A.Q. Khan? And do you have the permission from the Pakistani authorities? He would know where all the pieces lie.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't know who's talked to him lately, Joel, but he's out of business. And that's a good thing for nonproliferation efforts around the world.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Bob Joseph is supposed to be traveling to China, South Korea, and Japan. And what exactly is the purpose of his trip, especially in light of the tests?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I think that he did have some prescheduled travel that goes back prior to these announcements over the weekend. I'll check with Bob and find out what he's been working on.
QUESTION: Can you actually, as a taken question, like give us just when he's leaving and that sort of thing, his itinerary?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Well, just for that matter, would you throw in Chris Hill and, for that matter, the Secretary of State? Maybe she's going to (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of the Secretary's travel, we keep you up to date. We have announcements when we have announcements.
QUESTION: Does Chris Hill have any plans to go as far as you know?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I know of.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sylvie's not ready to let go, no. Okay, go ahead.
QUESTION: Okay. I wanted to speak about Iran because it was the other subject of --
MR. MCCORMACK: Looks like the bait-and-switch here. I thought we were talking about North Korea, okay. James, are you yielding the floor?
QUESTION: As in the Abbas case, yes, I'm happy to.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. All right, yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any news about the discussions on the sanctions against Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not --
QUESTION: They were supposed to start this week?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. What -- process-wise, Nick Burns is going to have a virtual meeting tomorrow with his P-5+1 counterparts. So they are going to be elsewhere around the globe. He's going to be here, and through the wonders of technology they're going to get together and have a video conference. And I --
QUESTION: Do you know what time that they --
MR. MCCORMACK: Early in the morning. Early in the morning. Go ahead.
QUESTION: I mean, is it fair to say that the UN Security Council is kind of focusing right now on getting this resolution passed on North Korea before duking out a resolution on sanctions right away?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think they're going to have to be able to handle two things -- two serious issues at once here. Now in terms of --
QUESTION: You think they can do it? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: We're going to try to pulse the system here. But to get back to Sylvie's question -- and I would expect that after that videoconference that everybody's going to agree to turn the matter over to their perm reps in New York. So I would expect that this is going to be -- the discussions in New York are going to start in earnest and more formally this week. I think you'll at first see discussions among the P-5 countries and then sort of expanding out in terms of what's on the -- what's going to be in an Iran sanctions resolution. I would expect that North Korea -- the North Korean resolution will probably -- almost certain -- move at a quicker pace than the Iran resolution.
QUESTION: Is it your expectation that when the political directors' videoconference is over and they turn the matter over to the perm reps in New York that the political directors will have made the selections from the menu?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think they'll define the realm of possibilities in terms of what sanctions will be included in the Security Council resolution. I can't tell you that that will -- that everything that they agree to discuss will end up in a resolution. That's why you have these guys working on -- spending all this time working out specific language of a sanctions resolution.
QUESTION: So they will sort of craft a smaller menu from the menu from which the perm reps --
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that's the idea, yeah.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Palestinian territories. President Abbas is considering calling an -- is appointing an emergency government for calling early elections because their attempts to form a unity government have failed. What's the U.S. position on this?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's unchanged since Secretary Rice was asked these questions last week when we were in the region. The Palestinians are going to have to sort out their political arrangements themselves. We enter -- we, meaning the international community -- enter into the picture in terms of looking at whether or not those political arrangements and the platforms and the composition of whatever their government is meets the criteria laid out by the Quartet. So that's where our interests come in. Our interests also come in more broadly in trying to address the humanitarian situation on the ground among the Palestinian people, and we're doing what we can to try to make sure that some of those needs are met. They're not met because the Hamas government has failed in doing what it said it was going to do.
QUESTION: But do you think calling an early election would somehow break that stalemate and push the process along?
MR. MCCORMACK: There are a number of different options available under the basic law to President Abbas. I'm not going to try to obviously prescribe any particular course for him or the Palestinian government. Those are going to have to be decisions that they make.
QUESTION: Just one last --
MR. MCCORMACK: Kessler with a late breaker.
QUESTION: The Russian journalist who was killed over the weekend -- she was born in the United States and has dual citizenship. And unless I missed it, I don't recall seeing much of an outcry from the State Department about this killing that -- did I miss it?
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, Mr. Kessler, you just led with your chin.
QUESTION: Oh, boy.
MR. MCCORMACK: No. No, but not to make light of the situation, we did have a strong statement in my name that came out the day that this happened. It is a terrible, terrible thing that happened. It was a brutal act committed against somebody who was committed to the best practices and higher standards of journalism. I know that quite a few of you who read her works and followed her work had a great deal of respect for her and she was dealing with some of the most important issues of the day in Russia and Chechnya, human rights concerns. So I point you back to the statement that we put out.
QUESTION: And did -- I noticed that the President raised it with Putin.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary raise it with Lavrov?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you. I don't know that she did. But it was certainly on her mind. I know, as I told her about it when we got news that it happened.
QUESTION: Just one more on this. Does the fact that she was an American citizen, does the United States Embassy over there get involved in the investigation or anything?
MR. MCCORMACK: I can't tell you, Elise. I know that the Russian general prosecutor said that he was personally going to take charge of this investigation. As for any difference in our involvement, I'll check with our Embassy and see if there's anything.
QUESTION: Just one more thing. Is Andrew Natsios traveling anytime soon? Do you have any travel plans --
MR. MCCORMACK: He has applied for a visa. He has applied for a visa. We haven't heard back yet.
QUESTION: Not heard yet.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Okay.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:21 p.m.)
DPB # 164
Released on October 10, 2006