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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing Sept. 20, 2005

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing Sept. 20, 2005

Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 20, 2005


Statement on the Death of Assistant Regional Security

U.S. Response to Comments by North Korea
Agreement by All Parties on Joint Statement
Issue of Light-Water Reactor / Individual Statements
Implementation of Principles / Possible Difficulties
Common Interest in Denuclearization of the Peninsula
U.S. Position on Nuclear Cooperation with North Korea
Requirements for Discussions on Light-Water Reactor
U.S. Delegation to Next Round of Talks


12:17 p.m. EDT

MR. ERELI: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to our briefing today. I will begin with a statement from the Secretary. Our press office in New York put this out recently, but I wanted to draw it to your attention. The Secretary and the State Department mourn the loss of a State Department employee yesterday in Iraq. Assistant Regional Security Officer Stephen Eric Sullivan was killed when a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device destroyed his vehicle yesterday in Mosul. Steve was a brave public servant, a brave American dedicated to his country and to helping the people of Iraq and the people of America. We mourn his loss. We offer our condolences to his family. We grieve with them and we honor his memory and will live to uphold the ideals that he served.

Happy to take any questions on that or move to other subjects of interest. Other subjects of interest? At least one I hope. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Barry. Adam, I had a question on North Korea. After the breakthrough statement and the agreement that happened yesterday, we were getting some statements out of the North Korean Foreign Ministry saying that -- well, they're basically conflicting with what they agreed to. Can you give us your feedback on what they're saying?

MR. ERELI: I think we've spoken to this pretty clearly in New York and in Washington. And I --

QUESTION: How about at the White House?

MR. ERELI: Yeah, and elsewhere. And it's -- our position is -- it's pretty clear what everybody signed up to. It's quite explicit in the Joint Statement -- that statement calls on -- in that statement all the parties agreed to getting rid of nuclear weapons and nuclear programs in the Korean Peninsula, specifically North Korea committed to abandoning all its nuclear weapons programs and nuclear weapons and nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards. That's what the agreement was.

As far as light-water reactors goes or civil nuclear programs go, again, it was made clear in our statement and I would add in the statements of the other parties to the six-party talks, the other four, that such a discussion would only come after North Korea has come into full compliance with the NPT and IAEA safeguards and has demonstrated a sustained commitment to cooperation and transparency. So, look, frankly, as you say, it's one day out. We've got this Joint Statement. We've got these different statements by the parties. We're going back at an early date in November and that's where we're going to thrash out the issues of implementation and verification. So I think, you know, I wouldn't make too much out of it.

QUESTION: But the South Koreans are -- the Blue House issued a statement after the two presidents talked and said there were difficulties now they weren't, you know, pessimistic, despondent but there are difficulties. I don't think the Administration -- oh, and they also appreciated U.S. flexibility. So they don't approach the issue precisely in the hard-nosed way the U.S. does. But in any event, are they overstating, if not this issue, others that Ambassador Hill says may come up?

MR. ERELI: Two points. One is there's clearly a strong degree of consensus about what we all agreed to and that's stated in the Joint Statement. So -- and I think that is there for everybody to look at and understand. The second thing is -- the Joint Statement is a statement of principles of what we are trying to achieve. As we move forward in implementing those principles, there are going to be -- there are going to be differences. I mean that's to be expected.

I think what's important is that we have stated clearly and unanimously what we're all working toward. And as we work toward that, as we move through into the implementation phase, we need to be guided by the same spirit that brought us this far, which is a common interest in denuclearizing the Peninsula and finding a common approach to that goal. And that's really the spirit with which we take comments, such as the one that you mention.

QUESTION: I don't mean to split a hair and maybe it's not splittable here, but the agreement provides for South Korea to provide energy to North Korea. Now everything in the agreement, of course, is conditional, everything else in the agreement. But you're not suggesting that -- or are you -- that North Korea has to resume -- rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, not only agree to inspections but have the inspections carried out. And I don't know what other requirements before that provision can be implemented?

MR. ERELI: No. I was speaking with reference to the idea that we would be talking about --

QUESTION: Reactors.

MR. ERELI: Reactors and any kind of nuclear cooperation.

QUESTION: Got you.

MR. ERELI: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Yes. What is the basic position on the light-water reactor of the U.S. -- what is the U.S. basic position on the light-water reactor of North Korea?

MR. ERELI: I think the position is in our statement that we issued yesterday, that was included in my briefing yesterday, that was included in Assistant Secretary Hill's briefing the day before yesterday in Beijing. It's very clear what our position is, that no state should be providing nuclear cooperation with North Korea until it's returned to the NPT, has complied with IAEA safeguards and has eliminated all its weapons and -- nuclear weapons and nuclear programs and verification has taken place.

QUESTION: Does it mean the appropriate time?

MR. ERELI: That's exactly what that means?

QUESTION: But North Korea, they do not understand the appropriate time is --

MR. ERELI: Well, I don't know if that's true or not.

QUESTION: Do you anticipate meetings or discussions among the parties? You have six to eight weeks before you resume.

MR. ERELI: Yeah, I think it's reasonable to assume that there will be contacts at a variety of levels between now and the resumption -- and the next round of the six-party talks.

Yes. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Oh, I want to make sure -- I want to make sure in the Joint Statement they discuss on issue of nuclear reactor in appropriate time. It's a little bit unclear U.S. position whether -- what is the discussion, you know, what does discussion mean. I mean discussion mean only you have just a discussion or if once North Korea come back to NPT and then accept the IAEA inspector team, is it likely or is it possible for you to provide them nuclear light-water reactor or?

MR. ERELI: We haven't gotten -- we're not even close to going that far. All we're saying is if there's going to be a discussion, not presuming what that discussion will entail, but a discussion, if there's going to be a discussion, it will only take place after North Korea has done all these things: eliminate its weapons programs and -- it's programs and its weapons, having that elimination dismantlement be verified, rejoining the NPT and complying with IAEA safeguards. Once that's done, and if people want to talk about civil nuclear program and light-water reactors, then that would be the appropriate time to do it. And what that discussion might entail, should it take place, who knows.


QUESTION: Sorry. So who knows? Who knows -- nobody knows that?*

MR. ERELI: Which means it's a question that is vastly premature at this stage.

QUESTION: So it means that you don't deny the possibility of a provision of --

MR. ERELI: All I'd say is you're getting way, way ahead of yourself. And anybody who wants to speculate about that is getting way, way ahead of themselves and that there is a long road to go and some pretty tall mountains to climb before we get there.


QUESTION: Sorry. So if North Korea returns to the NPT and if they comply with IAEA safeguards that then discussions might be able to start, but --

MR. ERELI: Whoa, whoa, look at what the statement says because it's very clear and I don't really want to -- I don't think you need to go too far in interpreting it. I'm just trying to find the paragraph. "We respect and agree to discuss, at an appropriate time, the subject of provision of the light-water reactor to the DPRK." So agree to discuss, not presuming what we will -- what the parameters of our scope of those discussion will be. And at an appropriate time, and that appropriate time is once all these other things are done. And -- now.

QUESTION: Just to reconfirm that, like all five nations, all the other five nations, including China and South Korea, they're very clear about --

MR. ERELI: Oh, yeah.

QUESTION: -- the appropriate time.

MR. ERELI: And that's where I spoke in my earlier answer and referred to the individual statements of the four other parties to the six-party talks, because in their final statements they're very clear and explicit about the sequencing here. And like us, leave no room for ambiguity that "an appropriate time" means after dismantlement and verification, after returning to the NPT and after complying with IAEA safeguards.

QUESTION: What about North Korea? North Korea, did they accept the meaning of "appropriate time," during the negotiations?

MR. ERELI: I'm not going to speak for North Korea.


QUESTION: Since we will be talking about verification in the next round of talks in early November, will there be a change in the makeup of the delegation?

MR. ERELI: Oh, I don't know. It's going to be -- I have every reason to believe that it will be led by Assistant Secretary Hill and will include many of the people that are there now. If everyone's going to be the same or if there'll be any changes, I wouldn't rule it out but I don't know what the thinking is at this stage.

QUESTION: I think I heard you say yesterday, early December, maybe I heard (inaudible).

MR. ERELI: No, November.

QUESTION: Early November.

MR. ERELI: That's what the Joint Statement says.


QUESTION: And who within the U.S. Government would be charge of, like (inaudible) questions (inaudible)?

MR. ERELI: I don't know. I don't know if that's been decided yet.


QUESTION: Just wanted to go back to the first question. Have the North Koreans communicated with you through whatever channel about their new position?

MR. ERELI: No, I don't believe so.


QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:30 p.m.)

DPB # 161

Released on September 20, 2005


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