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Bolton: Sudan, North Korea, and Other Matters

Briefing on Sudan, North Korea, and Other Matters

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
October 6, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: Good morning. I asked to get together now because I have to greet former President Bush a little bit later, right before the start of the Security Council. I'm sure most of you will be at his press conference, but I have to be down at the entrance.

I wanted to just spend a moment on the situation on Darfur and the threatening letter that the government of Sudan sent around a couple of days ago. After the United States asked for the consultations of the Security Council yesterday and made it clear we felt that a strong response was needed to this intimidating letter that Sudan had sent around, by the end of the day, the Sudanese ambassador in Washington had come in to see the State Department to say that the letter no longer reflected Sudanese policy, that they were backing away from it. And the Sudanese perm rep here in New York saw Ambassador Oshima, in his capacity as president of the Security Council, and essentially delivered the same message.

So we take it that the Sudanese have backed down, they have rejected this policy of trying to threaten troop contributors with hostile action if countries volunteer troops to serve in Darfur. And we think that's significant.

I know there were some people who said, well, we should just let this letter pass quietly. That was, obviously, the wrong approach. I think our strong position, and the strong position that many, many other members of the Security Council took yesterday have resulted in the Sudanese government backing away from the letter.

There does remain the problem of how to dispel the atmosphere of intimidation that the letter created. And Ambassador Oshima will report to the Security Council this morning to say on that process question we're open to suggestions, whether it's a letter by the Sudanese government that retracts the first letter, or what not, there are a variety of ways that could be accomplished.

In an effort to have discussion in the council this morning, we postponed our experts meeting on the draft presidential statement until this afternoon. That obviously remains a possibility. And in fact, a number of governments yesterday said they thought it was time for a new presidential statement on Sudan from the Security Council. So we've postponed that, as I say. Exactly how we dispel the atmosphere of intimidation, we're open to suggestions. But I think the most important point is Sudan -- the government of Sudan has backed down and this threat against potential troop-contributing countries I take to be null and void.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, yesterday you had said here that people need to be willing to consider other possibilities, if Sudan doesn't allow for the UN force to come in. And we tried to pin you down a little bit on that. I'm wondering if we can try again. What other possibilities are we looking at?

Would the U.S. send troops to Darfur? What sort of a force could you send to Darfur without their consent?

Ambassador Bolton: I think the president's made very clear he wants to come to the aid of the suffering people of Darfur. And our focus now is to get the handover from AMIS to the UN. But it would be a mistake to believe that the government in Khartoum can frustrate the UN and therefore frustrate the international community. I just want to make it clear that as in virtually every other matter here, this is not the only alternative.

Reporter: What is the alternative?

Ambassador Bolton: Yes?

Reporter: Yeah. Well, what the alternative? As a second question, though, the British ambassador has talked about the need for improving security in Chad by beefing up the -- possibly beefing up gendarmes, more or less, some kind of a police force. Is this something that the United States would support? How do you view the spillover into Chad? And later on, I have a North Korea question.

Ambassador Bolton: Okay. Well, the spillover into Chad is obviously a matter of great concern to us because of the possible instability and refugee flows and tragedy that could spread well into Chad as well. So we're looking at a number of ideas. The question of what to do is under active consideration. But we've heard that idea and are still looking at it.

Reporter: Following up on (Pete's ?) question, what are the alternatives?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I'm simply trying to convey that the United Nations is not the alpha and the omega. There are other ways of doing it, you know? Other ways.

Reporter: (inaudible) -- North Korea, sir? Okay.

Ambassador Bolton: Epsilon, delta, beta. No, go ahead.

Reporter: On North Korea, two things. One, can you just give us an update on where things stand with the draft PRST? And also, there are reports that Japan believes that this test could be imminent, as early as this weekend. Does the U.S. have intelligence that would indicate that?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, as you know, we never discuss intelligence matters, and I'm not going to speculate on what the timing of a possible test by North Korea would be. I would say, as I think we've said in a variety of different places, we take the threat by North Korea seriously. We don't think this is an attention-getting device of people waving their arm to say, "See me, see me." We think this would be consistent with the unfortunate logic that North Korea has been following. But I don't want in any way my comments to be taken as an expression of a view on possible timing one way or the other. We've seen what the North Korean Foreign Ministry has said, and we take it most seriously.

Reporter: On the PRST. Do you --

Ambassador Bolton: We're working on it. I wouldn't be surprised if we have agreement this morning. The government of Japan has made it very clear they'd like to have a PRST before Prime Minister Abe's trip in China begins, and I'm sure we'll be able to accommodate them.

Reporter: Do you think that financial disclosure forms of secretary-generals should be made public?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't, to tell you the truth, understand why financial disclosure forms of all senior UN officials are not made public. My financial disclosure forms are public -- not that they're very interesting to read, but it's certainly true in the U.S. government. People say it's an invasion of privacy. It's part of the responsibility I think we undertake in the U.S. government as senior officials so that anybody can see what our pitiful net worth is, and -- at least in my case -- and I don't see what the problem is with public disclosure.

Do individuals like to have to disclose? Of course not. Is it a good thing to do it? I think so.

Reporter: Should Ban Ki-Moon file his?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think this is something we need to have more discussion of in the UN. You know, one of the buzz words -- I mentioned in the case of North Korea the other day, one of the buzz words was "preventative" diplomacy. We talk a lot about it, but we don't actually do much. Another buzz word, as all of you in the press know, is "transparency," "transparency." Okay. How about transparency?

Reporter: Ban Ki-Moon has indicated he will be ready to go to North Korea. Now he's obviously in this sort of curious half-way state between South Korean foreign minister and UN Secretary-General at the moment. Do you think it would be a good idea for him to go to North Korea, or is time for the UN Secretariat to get more involved in this issue?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't think he's in a half-way state. He's currently the foreign minister of South Korea, and the election for secretary-general has not yet taken place. He is obviously commenting in his current capacity, and one of the reasons that we're looking forward to his becoming secretary-general is he'll bring new eyes and new thoughts to a lot of different issues.

Reporter: On Sudan. What new could come out of this statement that you're planning to distribute? Is it just confirmation of 1706, or are there new elements?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, we already have distributed a draft statement. As I said earlier, we've put off the experts meeting until 3:00 today to discuss it because we want to see what the discussion in the council shows about how to dispel the atmosphere of intimidation created by the letter. So it could be well be we would make further modifications in it in light of this discussion.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, on North Korea. You had said the United States wants a strong response. Are you satisfied with the text of the statement that's being circulated -- that the experts have agreed on and which is likely to be adopted? And are you certain that it's going to be a presidential statement and not a press statement?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think possibly with some modifications, we're going to support the statement. I don't want to get into psychological states of mind, you know, are we satisfied, are we happy about it, are we glad about it. We're going to support it. We think the main point that North Korea should understand how strongly the United States and many other council members feel that they should not test this nuclear device, and that if they do test it, it will be a very different world the day after the test.

Reporter: Could you just -- following up on that -- you had said that the United States wanted to develop a longer-term strategy. Is this something that you're still going to be pursuing?

Ambassador Bolton: Yes, absolutely, because the purpose of an exercise in preventative diplomacy is -- in this case is to prevent the test. And we don't know how much time we have. We need to do something more than simply issue a piece of paper, with the thought that if time goes on and we need to issue another piece of paper, what are we supposed to do, issue it all in capital letters to show we're really serious about it? In other words, this requires thinking beyond the normal knee-jerk response of one piece of paper and then moving on.

Reporter: I'm sorry, how would it well be different the day after the test?

Ambassador Bolton: Because there would be another nuclear power. This would be proof positive of North Korea having a weapon. This would be an example of nuclear proliferation that we're very much concerned about. And it's one of the reasons we feel so strongly that North Korea should not test. And I'll just take one more here.

Reporter: Ambassador, would you agree with this proposition that it would provoke an opposite domino effect, that other countries will start becoming nuclear powers, like in the Middle East or elsewhere?

Ambassador Bolton: This is why we call it proliferation, and it's why it represents such a threat to international peace and security.

Okay, thank you.

Released on October 6, 2006


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