U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #23, 98-02-20
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Friday, February 20, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Secretary Albright's Calls to Olympic Medal Winners
1,21 Secretary Albright's Meeting with Prime Minister Dodik of
Republika Srpska and Bosnian Ambassador to US Sven
1-3,16 Authorized Voluntary Departure of USG Dependents and
Non-Emergency Personnel from US Embassies in Kuwait and
Tel Aviv and Consulate General In Jerusalem
3-4,5 Under Secretary Pickering's Meeting with Arab-American
4-5,6,14-16 Prospects for a Diplomatic Solution/UN Secretary General
Annan's Visit to Baghdad
6-8 Number and Size of Iraqi "presidential sites"
8 Calls From Distinguished Americans For Administration to
8-10 Department Official's Meeting with Iraqi National Congress
10-11,13,23-24 Authorization for Use of Force
11-12 Summary of Countries Providing Support for Possible
12-13 Iraqi Ambassador Hamdoon's Editorial In Today's Newspaper
13 Former President Carter's Statement Against Attack on
People of Iraq
13-14,17 Secretary Albright's Plans for Public Discussion on
Situation Next Week
18 Secretary Albright's Call to Turkish Foreign Minister Cem
18 Reported US "plan" to Use Land Mines on Bases in Countries
19 Reported Invitation to South Korea for Dialogue
19 Deportation of American Citizen from Mexico
20,22-23 Colombian Police Capture of Narco-Trafficker
20-21 Affect of Capture on U.S. Certification Process
22 Reported Release of Political Prisoners
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1998, 12:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing room. It's
Friday. I do have a few announcements and statements to read this
First of all, Secretary Albright earlier this morning, spoke to both
Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski. Kwan won the silver medal and Lipinski the
gold in figure skating today. The Secretary spoke first to Kwan, who then
handed the phone to Lipinski. The Secretary congratulated both and
expressed how proud we were of them. She also invited both of them to visit
the State Department when they return. They were found in Nagano, Japan, in
the athletes' Olympic Village.
Secondly, the Secretary met this morning with Prime Minister Dodik of the
Republika Srpska, as well as Bosnian Ambassador to the United States, Sven
Alkalaj. They had a very good, businesslike discussion. Secretary Albright
felt like a breath of fresh air had blown through the room with regard to
Bosnia. A few of the highlights are first of all, that Prime Minister Dodik
has committed to helping refugees move home. He hopes to see tens of
thousands of Muslims and Croats return to their homes in the Republika
Srpska this year. He agreed, also, that all war criminals should go
to The Hague, voluntarily or otherwise. He promised to work intensively
to facilitate voluntary surrenders, but acknowledged that, under any
circumstances, all must face justice.
The Secretary said that the US Government intends to provide $5 million in
cash assistance in addition to projects planned for next year. Prime
Minister Dodik emphasized that all assistance would be handled honestly and
transparently. That would require activities subject to our laws and
consultations. The Secretary also emphasized the message she's been
emphasizing to all of the leaders in Bosnia -- that each side should
implement Dayton without making excuses about the other side and using
those excuses to prevent itself from moving forward. Dodik agreed.
Lastly, I have an announcement about the Iraq situation. Secretary of State
Albright has decided to authorize the voluntary departure of US Government
dependents and non-emergency personnel from US Embassies in Kuwait and Tel
Aviv, and the Consulate General in Jerusalem. The Secretary made this
decision as a precautionary measure, in response to individual concerns. It
is not based on any intelligence of an imminent threat against Kuwait or
Israel, or Americans in Kuwait, Israel or in areas controlled by the
Palestinian Authority. However, the Department of State advises Americans
to consider carefully all available information before undertaking non-
essential travel to Kuwait, Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. Those
Americans already there should consider their personal situation in
determining whether it would be prudent to depart.
This decision to allow voluntary departures does not change our basic
assessment of the possibility of attack by Iraq, which is that the
probability of Iraq resorting to the use of chemical or biological weapons
is remote but cannot be excluded. The government of Iraq continues to defy
the international community by refusing UN representatives full access to
inspect and verify Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. In response,
the United States and other countries have dispatched military forces to
the Middle East. While no decisions have been made with respect to the
use of military force, and while diplomatic options have not been
exhausted, the government of Iraq continues to refuse to comply.
There are two Public Announcements that are going out to the three
locations with regard to this decision by the Secretary on authorized
QUESTION: If everybody takes your advice, how many people would be
MR. RUBIN: I do not have a number right now. We're talking about
dependents, primarily. There are people in the region who have expressed
some concerns; they have some anxiety. We have decided to allow family
members and non-emergency employees of our official American community to
exercise the option of voluntarily departing these three missions, should
they feel it better for themselves or their families. In other words, we'll
start getting information in the coming days about how many people intend
to exercise this option.
So we can't give you a specific figure right now, but each of the
Ambassadors and the Chiefs of Mission in the relevant locations felt that
they were getting enough signals of anxiety among dependents and others to
recommend authorized departure to the Secretary, and she made the decision
QUESTION: Let me ask you something more substantive, if I may. And again,
it's a matter of parsing words maybe more carefully than is called for. You
said this decision or this advice is not based on intelligence of an
imminent attack; right? Is the - let me see if this translates -- is the
State Department saying that it has no intelligence that there will be an
attack, or is the State Department saying it is not basing this decision on
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't know if I can answer your question directly, but
I hope --
QUESTION: Because you don't usually comment on intelligence except --
MR. RUBIN: When I read the word, I was sorry I said it, and I will make
sure it is excluded from all my statements in the future, precisely to
avoid this legitimate question that you've asked me. But this is a serious
matter, and let me explain the rationale.
Our decision was based on anxiety among people there who expressed that
anxiety to the Ambassadors and to the Chiefs of Mission, the Consul
General. Based on that anxiety that people wanted to have this option to
leave -- not based on any other information with regard to the current
situation in Iraq -- the recommendation was made by the two Ambassadors and
the Consul General to the Secretary, and she authorized this action
QUESTION: You see, but to us, far from the human factor, which is
important, probably more important is what is the State Department's
understanding -- intelligence understanding -- of what might happen? You're
saying, Go, you're anxious; it would be a good thing, if you feel that way,
to get out of town; we understand that,
we'll facilitate that. We're also interested in knowing what is the State
Department's intelligence telling the US about whether Israel or Kuwait
would be targeted?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I did actually read a sentence --
QUESTION: Without the word intelligence in it.
MR. RUBIN: I read a sentence that said what our view was.
QUESTION: Your view.
MR. RUBIN: And our view was that the probability of Iraq resorting the
use of chemical or biological weapons is remote but cannot be excluded.
QUESTION: That sort of confuses me a little bit, because on the one hand,
you're saying Saddam Hussein and Iraq are a threat because they possess
weapons of mass destruction, and they are a threat to their neighbors, they
used it before and they could use it again. Now you're going out of your
way to say, we'll let these people go because they're anxious about the
situation, but the threat of a chemical or biological attack is remote. So
it seems like you want to have it both ways.
MR. RUBIN: On the contrary, Carol, I think what we're talking about here
is a situation where people have expressed anxiety. In the aftermath of a
potential US military attack, would the Iraqis respond in certain ways, and
that's created anxiety. Based on what we believe is a powerful deterrent of
the American military force in the region and our statement that any attack
on Kuwait or Israel or any of the neighbors would be met with a swift
and devastating response, is part of the reason why this prospect
That's a very different thing from saying there's no inherent threat from
chemical and biological weapons, which I think there clearly is, and I
think the world has increasingly seen that in recent days.
QUESTION: Jamie, the Arab-American leaders that met with Ambassador
Pickering this morning came out and spoke in front of the building for a
few moments. They said - and if you could comment on this - Under Secretary
Pickering told them that the United States felt that a diplomatic solution
was possible. Then they went on to outline what this solution was that he
presented to them, and it involved - not surprising - unconditional
access to the weapons sites, but with a layer of diplomatic - layer
of diplomats added to the inspections, as observers, I take it.
MR. RUBIN: Let me say this -- Secretary Albright has been working very
carefully on this issue for many, many days. She has talked to Kofi Annan;
she's talked to people who have talked to Kofi Annan; she's talked to her
counterparts. And what we are basing our hope on - and it is no more than a
hope; in fact, we're quite skeptical that it will occur - is that when push
comes to shove, Iraq will reverse course and give UNSCOM the access
and the operational control it needs to ensure that it's UNSCOM that
can go where it needs to go, know whether it's gone where it needs to go
and make the evaluations of the information.
If a few diplomats were to accompany UNSCOM under certain conditions, we
don't have a problem with that. The important point here is UNSCOM having
operational control and access to sites it does not now have access to.
It's not just about alleged luxury residences inside presidential compounds,
six or eight of them; it's about a whole slew of sites outside of the
residence but inside the compound. It's about a whole slew of sites
unrelated completely to the presidential complexes, so-called sensitive
sites where UNSCOM is not now able to go. I think that is our bottom
We are hopeful, but we have to bear in mind the fact that, time after time,
Saddam Hussein and his government have made decisions, national decisions,
not to allow UNSCOM and its inspectors to go where they want to go. If they
were to reverse course and give UNSCOM operational control of the
inspection process it has now in these additional locations that it cannot
now go, that would be a step forward in terms of what UNSCOM has been able
to do in the past.
But I want to remind you that what we've seen in the last day or so is the
release of very important information about what Iraq has not done. An
international panel of experts has reviewed Iraq's WMD record and concluded
that serious concerns remain. These were unanimous conclusions of UNSCOM's
team, chaired by a Russian, and including other missile experts from Russia,
China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
With regard to Iraq's cooperation, they said that Iraq has not provided the
supporting documents to the team that UNSCOM had requested; that Iraq did
not respond with factual statements; the Iraqi side objected to the
introduction of relevant facts; and the Iraqi side would withdraw or change
its explanations if they were not satisfactory to the team.
This finding of this international - these experts is very important. It
concluded that only 32 of 51 chemical and biological warheads that Iraq
claims to have secretly destroyed have been verified. It concludes that
evidence of warhead designs and testing activities have not yet been
declared by Iraq. It concludes that Iraqi explanations of remnants of
warheads at a third site undeclared by Iraq are inconsistent with already
known findings and Iraq's previous explanations.
With regard to the chemical weapons, the experts note that Iraq was capable
of producing significant quantities of VX before January 1991 -- as much as
50 to 100 tons -- while the Iraqis have declared only 3.9 tons, and only
under pressure. This is a clear example of what this crisis is about.
UNSCOM has information that 50 to 100 tons could have been produced, and
the Iraqis have only permitted them information to conclude that four tons
have been destroyed. So the difference between 50 to 100 tons and four tons
has the potential for being significant chemical weapons activity.
Until Iraq provides the team information by allowing it to go where it
needs to go and providing not only access but information, and allowing it
to interview people - this is what UNSCOM is about. It's an elaborate
process. I guess, to conclude my very long answer to your very short
question, it is that UNSCOM has to make a judgment of whether it can do its
If, after Kofi Annan's mission, Iraq were to reverse course, change its
position, allow access, and UNSCOM were to believe that it were in control
of the operations of inspections and were in control of where to go, when
to go, then we would have significant new access that we don't have now,
and that would be a markedly new situation.
QUESTION: Jamie, just to follow up -- I just want to understand. You're
saying the compromise, I guess - use your own word.
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't use that word.
QUESTION: Whatever word you want - that was presented to this group of
Arab-Americans, you said that is your bottom line. In other words, that's
the US position --
MR. RUBIN: No, no, on the contrary. I'm not going to be quoted confirming
any statement by someone who heard third-hand, from a senior US official,
what may or may not be our position. I can tell you what our position is,
publicly. I have no idea what these people said.
I can say the following --
QUESTION: What you just said, if a few diplomats were to accompany UNSCOM,
we wouldn't have a problem with that. The important thing here is that
UNSCOM has unconditional access. That is our bottom line.
MR. RUBIN: Fine. I have no trouble with that. In the event that these
Arab-Americans said other things that they were describing as the US
proposal, I just don't want to be - have someone think that I was
confirming what their account of a meeting with Pickering is, because there
are very expert technical issues that need to be used, the correct language
needs to be used; and I just didn't want to be associated with non-expert
QUESTION: I just want to make sure everybody understands. The only change
in the American position, publicly at least, is that the few diplomats can
go along. That's it. Period.
MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, I would reject the characterization as a
change of American position. If you look back at all our statements, we had
two bottom lines, which were unfettered access and the integrity of UNSCOM.
And UNSCOM has never gone to these places, so it can't be a change in a
position that never existed before.
If, as a result of Kofi Annan's mission, Saddam Hussein reverses course and
allows access to these sites, with UNSCOM having operational control, and a
few diplomats go along, that's a detail as far as we're concerned. What the
substance is, is whether UNSCOM has the operational control and whether
UNSCOM has the access. That's substance; a few diplomats are details.
QUESTION: Jamie, the United Nations inspectors or special team that Kofi
Annan sent in advance of his trip produced a report which leaked or somehow
got out yesterday. It talks about eight sites that they visited and
hundreds of buildings on the sites. The total space or size of these sites
was something like 27 square miles, which was a far smaller size than the
President, in his Tuesday speech, was referring to one site as being. I'm
wondering if you can now explain these discrepancies.
And also, what is the significance of these eight sites? Are these really
the heart of the problem, as some of the wire reports were saying
MR. RUBIN: Well, as far as the discrepancy is concerned, I would look
back at what the President said. What we are talking about when we make
that point is that there are 60-plus presidential palaces spread out over
the country -- some in places where Iraq's leader used to live, where his
family comes from, and in other sites he deems luxurious and pleasant
enough for him to place these palaces.
So there are a series of these palaces -- more than 60, in the range of 65,
68 -- some of which, some of which are huge complexes that are nearly the
size of cities in the United States. That does not mean that the eight
sites that the Iraqis like to talk about are the same as what the President
was talking about.
What the President was demonstrating is that there are 60-plus locations in
Iraq that are labeled so-called presidential sites, some of which are huge.
And if Iraq were to say, in the context of those 60-plus sites, that the
only access would be to the primary residence in that site, but huge swaths
of territory, with hundreds of buildings or dozens of buildings outside of
the residence in that site were not to be visited, then that wouldn't be
unfettered access. That's the point the President was making.
QUESTION: Well, I'm really still unclear on what you just now said --
MR. RUBIN: I thought that was pretty clear.
QUESTION: -- whether the eight sites that the UN team visited reveal
something of significance? Because some of those sites had hundreds of
buildings on them, and they have now listed them all. And I heard from the
French Embassy here that the figure of 68 refers to the suspected or the
buildings that were sought to be visited in these eight sites, and that
these two are in one - to be looked at --
MR. RUBIN: Well, let me start by saying, I recommend you don't go to the
bank on whoever the French official was who told you that.
QUESTION: It was the spokesman of the embassy, but that's not important.
MR. RUBIN: But Roy --
QUESTION: What's important is that you have not put out any figures from
this podium or from this government that explains --
MR. RUBIN: Roy, do you want to have a debate, or do you want me to answer
QUESTION: Well, just the question.
MR. RUBIN: Well, keep putting it out, and then, when you're all done,
I'll try to answer it.
QUESTION: I mean, this is a question I asked two days ago, and I tried
yesterday at the White House, and I tried at the State Department. I'd like
to know what - I'd like to get this --
MR. RUBIN: I know what you want to know, so get it out.
QUESTION: -- some handle on the sites.
MR. RUBIN: Sorry?
QUESTION: I'd like to have a handle, an understanding of the sites.
MR. RUBIN: Right. This is a matter for UNSCOM to describe to you in
detail. If I make my best efforts to explain to you the nature of the
problem, putting things in generalized categories, I recommend you go to
UNSCOM, who is in charge of this operation, and if they'll talk to you,
you'll probably understand it better. If you won't, come back to us, and
we'll try to help you as best we can.
What I'm saying to you is, it's not correct to say that the President of
the United States was referring to a huge site, and then the Iraqis say
that these sites are smaller. There are many sites. The 60-plus number
refers to presidential complexes throughout Iraq. That is our understanding
of the issue. If another government has a different understanding, I think
And when the President referred to the size of one of those sites, he did
not specify that they were one - that was one of the eight sites that
you're talking about. So what I'm trying to do is help you understand it.
And the way to understand it is, there are eight sites that the Iraqis talk
about as presidential residences. There are 60-plus sites that are broadly
under the category of presidential complexes, and then there are a slew of
other sites that are broadly under the category of sensitive sites.
What we're talking about in this crisis is whether UNSCOM is going to have
access to all of those places -- not just the question of these eight sites
and will a few diplomats accompany UNSCOM to those eight locations. What
we're talking about is stonewalling over and over again by the Iraqis in
the way that I just laid out for you by the UN evaluation team, everywhere
in Iraq. It's not just a question of do they let somebody in; it's a
question of whether they cooperate with UNSCOM and give UNSCOM the
mechanisms to go where they need to go.
That's the best I can do on specifying these sites.
QUESTION: Jamie, about three dozen Americans who have been prominent in
foreign policy thinking circles, whatever, over time, including Steven
Solarz and Richard Perle, today called on the Administration to change
course and actively go after Saddam Hussein, and replace his regime with a
provisional government. I know you've addressed this issue, but can I ask
you again to --
MR. RUBIN: Yes. These distinguished Americans are entitled to their
opinion. These very issues that they have raised today are issues that top
officials in our government have given plenty of thought to.
Without getting into the specifics, the conclusion of the President and his
advisors is that the right policy for the United States is to contain
Saddam Hussein. Over the long term, containment has worked. Containment may
not be the most aesthetically pleasing policy; it may not be the knee-jerk
simple solution that some would like, but it's a solution that's consistent
with our vital national interests, at a cost and a risk that the President
deems is acceptable.
That is the basis of our policy. As Secretary Albright said yesterday, if
Saddam Hussein were not around, we would look forward to dealing with a
post-Saddam regime and working with that regime. But as long as Saddam
Hussein is around, we are going to keep him in the tightest possible
containment box we can create, and make it impossible -- or as best as we
can, make it impossible -- for him to threaten our vital interests. And the
vital interests identified, obviously, are the possibility of threatening
his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction, threatening the world with
weapons of mass destruction or threatening his neighbors with conventional
QUESTION: In the last two days, have any officials in this building met
with representatives of the Iraqi National Congress?
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that David Welch, our deputy assistant
secretary, will be meeting with them. I believe it's today; is that
QUESTION: And what's the - I know you made some comments - or Jim made
some comments the other day about our interest in looking again at
supporting an opposition movement, but what's the current thinking on that?
Is there any --
MR. RUBIN: Well, this particular group - sorry. Go ahead.
QUESTION: No, I mean, this group or any other - anybody else.
MR. RUBIN: We obviously would want there to be a government in Iraq
that's democratic, that allows effective opposition. And one of the ways to
pursue that long-term goal, in the aftermath of - well, anyway, that long-
term goal -- is to have -- the INC is an umbrella organization made up of
many independent Iraqi opposition groups. We've invited leaders of these
groups to come to Washington before, either independently or as members of
the umbrella group.
These meetings reflect our interest in finding effective ways to support
Iraqi groups opposed to Saddam Hussein. We would prefer to see the Iraqi
people led by a new government, so it's therefore appropriate for us to
meet with those people, but that's a very different thing than making it a
matter of national policy, national security policy, as some have suggested,
to send hundreds of thousands of ground troops into Iraq and change the
regime. And that is a decision the President and his advisors have decided
is not appropriate, and the better choice, over the long term for
the United States is to contain Saddam Hussein.
QUESTION: Can you put this meeting today in this context? I mean, is it
the start of a new effort by the United States to try to work with this
group to build up a credible and cohesive opposition that could supplant
MR. RUBIN: Well, I would hesitate to use the word new. It's certainly
part of an effort that we've long made to meet with opposition groups, to
discuss matters with them in the hopes that the more serious they became in
their capabilities, the more likely they would be to mount effective
opposition. But that's a very different thing, again, than the question of
going after Saddam Hussein, and making it a matter of national policy to
use military force or other means to unseat him.
QUESTION: I understand that, but just --
MR. RUBIN: I'm just making sure it gets in all the answers.
QUESTION: I see. Two more questions, though. Do you see this group as
more - I forget the word you used - more serious --
MR. RUBIN: Effective?
QUESTION: -- or more effective, at this point in time, to sort of carry
out that kind of goal, which is to install a more democratic government --
MR. RUBIN: Well, all I can say - sorry.
QUESTION: And do you have any new ideas which you might present to - will
there be new ideas? Will there be a new plan? Will there be new initiatives
presented today to try to move that forward?
MR. RUBIN: Well, obviously, it's very difficult to discuss any details of
a discussion like that. All I can say is that we are looking at ways to
find effective ways to assist opposition to Saddam Hussein, and we have
said that for some time now. And one of the ways you look at ways to do
that is to have meetings like this.
QUESTION: Jamie, on that subject, isn't it the experience of the earlier
Clinton Administration that it didn't work to rely on the INC; that they
spent more time feuding with each other, and they were so heavily
infiltrated, it would have been cheaper to send the money directly to
MR. RUBIN: Well, that's your characterization; it certainly wasn't a
conclusion of the Clinton Administration. But as far as your question is
concerned, I did use the words more effective. So clearly implied by that
is that the previous groupings were not effective.
QUESTION: Another question - a simple one of process. Kofi Annan goes to
Baghdad; he comes back. Supposing he comes back - just for the - just to
outline the procedure.
MR. RUBIN: For the sake of hypothetical argument, yes.
QUESTION: Just to outline what procedure you are planning to follow. If
he comes back with a response from the Iraqis which is not satisfactory. At
that point, does this government make the decision on its own to go with
military force? Or do you have - or are you planning to go back to the
Security Council to notify, at least, that the United States is going
MR. RUBIN: It's a legitimate hypothetical process question. Let me try to
do the best I can without actually answering it. And that is -
QUESTION: At least you're honest.
MR. RUBIN: No, I may give you something you'll find useful.
We have said in the past that we do not believe we need Security Council
authorization to use military force if the President were to make that
decision, and we have not changed that position. So if we believe military
force is necessary, we do not believe we need Security Council authorization.
That's the best I can do for you.
QUESTION: But for political reasons, would it be prudent, at least to win
international support, to go back to the United Nations in some form or at
some level to say, this is what we're going to do, and this is why, and we
wanted to let you know first?
MR. RUBIN: In the hypothetical procedure that you have outlined, the
Secretary General of the UN has been stiffed by the Iraqi Government, and
so that's a different situation than we face now. He's gone over there.
He's trying to get them to see the wisdom of reversing course. And if he
succeeds, that will be a peaceful solution. And if it meets the substantive
criteria I laid out before, we will be supportive. If he comes back,
as Ambassador Richardson said, we reserve the right to disagree.
But we want to be hopeful about this. We want Secretary General Annan to go
to Baghdad, or now to do his work in Baghdad, with the support of the
United States in achieving a change in position by the Iraqi Government on
how UN inspectors can operate inside Iraq.
QUESTION: Maybe you can answer if I put it more simply. Will a decision
to go or not go be made in Washington? Or will it be made after consulting -
- in Washington after consulting with New York?
MR. RUBIN: The best answer I can give you is, we have made clear that we
do not need Security Council authorization. We have also made clear that we
would welcome a strong message from the Security Council - in the past
several days we've said this - making clear that the grave consequences
that would ensue from a failure to solve this diplomatically would be the
responsibility of Saddam Hussein. I can reiterate that we do not believe we
need such authorization.
QUESTION: On Mr. Annan's mission, this morning the prime minister of
Italy said, if Saddam - here I'm quoting - "If Saddam Hussein slams the
door on Mr. Annan's face, then Italy - it would be very difficult for Italy
not to contribute to a possible military action against Iraq." Now, in the
country, as you probably know, there is some controversy about the
use of air bases for strikes against Iraq. Could you comment on this?
And could you anticipate whether the US is going to ask for the use of
MR. RUBIN: Any specific decision about the use air bases, logistical
support and over-flight rights would have to be addressed to the Pentagon.
But let me take this opportunity to point out to you -- those of you who
seem determined to write about the small size of the coalition at least
should hear before you write it again - that there are over 20 countries
that are providing either military forces, that are supporting us with over-
flight clearances, that are providing basing rights or other support
necessary to mount a military operation.
They include: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Kuwait, The Netherlands, New
Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Spain and the United
Kingdom. We also have a group of countries within that - and there are more
- who are what we might call contributing forces directly, and those are a
subset of that. So there is broad support around the world, broad military
support that will be with us, if this decision has to be made.
As far as a specific decision to seek over-flight rights, I can say that
it's my understanding that Italy is in that category of countries that are
supportive either -- through one of the ways that I suggested. And we
certainly recognize that some of these decisions may be domestically
difficult. As you saw in Ohio, it's not without its difficulties here in
the United States. But these are decisions that leaders have to make, based
on what their view of the threats are and their view of the rights courses
QUESTION: Jamie, I noted by absence -- I believe, in your list, I did not
hear Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. Is that correct or did that --
MR. RUBIN: Well, you're again going to make me wonder why I provide you
with information. But the answer to the question is that just because
you're not on the list doesn't mean you're not on the list.
QUESTION: Did you see Ambassador Hamdoon's op-ed piece this morning?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, I did. I read that, yes.
QUESTION: He responded to the accusation Iraq is withholding technical
information, which you repeated today.
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: He says that information was either destroyed or is nonexistent.
I take it by your comments that you don't believe that argument.
MR. RUBIN: We don't know. The problem is that the experts commission that
the Iraqis specifically asked for to address these questions concluded that
when they met with the Iraqis to address these very pieces of information --
namely, where is the information; where has it been; could it have been
destroyed; could they not have it and it really happened -- received the
following kinds of responses: Iraq did not provide the supporting documents
to this team that UNSCOM had requested; Iraq did not respond with
official declarations or factual statements; the Iraqi side vehemently
objected to the introduction of relevant facts; the Iraqi side would
withdrawal or change its explanations if they were not satisfactory to the
That's sort of a procedural point. Are they giving the teams the information
and the cooperation they need to answer these questions? That's the
problem. The problem isn't the way Ambassador Hamdoon put it. The problem
is that his compatriots, when confronted with serious questions and serious
information respond by obfuscation, if not outright lying. And if they
wouldn't, then maybe the inspection teams would come to different
conclusions about what may have been destroyed or not.
QUESTION: How do you comment to the former US President, Jimmy Carter's
statement, who said today, I really disapprove the attack against the
people of Iraq.
MR. RUBIN: Jimmy Carter is a former President of the United States, and
former Presidents of the United States are well respected from this podium,
and we certainly respect his opinion.
QUESTION: Do you know finally if Turkey is going to allow US forces to
use the Incirlik base?
MR. RUBIN: I will not be in a position to comment on that level of
QUESTION: -- question about authorization. You said you don't need
Security Council approval. Is that because one, you view your action as a
multilateral action - you and the 20 other countries; or is that because
you believe that previous resolutions give you the right to mount a
military attack? And if so, what resolutions?
MR. RUBIN: We believe that Resolution 687 of the United Nations Security
Council, which is the cease-fire resolution, makes clear that the Iraqis
must comply with the UN to give up their weapons of mass destruction.
Several times, the Security Council has declared Iraq in material breach
for the kinds of activities they are now undertaking. We do not believe
that every time Iraq fundamentally violates these obligations of the cease-
fire that we need to go back to the Security Council to have Security
And I would remind you that 687, the cease-fire resolution, is based on
Resolution 678, which authorizes the use of military force.
QUESTION: What are the Secretary's plans for public diplomacy in the next
MR. RUBIN: At this point, she has been asked to do some television this
weekend, which would be the last thing that any sane person would want to
do after the week we had. But I can't rule out that it'll happen, given the
desire we have to continue to explain to the American people what our
position is and how we arrived at it and why we think it's wise. Beyond
that, I don't have a schedule for you, but as soon as we have new
information, I'd be happy to give it to you.
QUESTION: On "Nightline" last night, maybe she was just joking; she was
talking with children and asked them, did they believe everything they read
in the newspapers, expecting a big no answer, which she got. I was
wondering what was really on her mind when she asked that?
MR. RUBIN: I think the response was general applause from some four- and
five- and six-year-olds.
QUESTION: What was on her mind in asking the question, was my question.
MR. RUBIN: Whose parents must have told them what they think of the
QUESTION: No, what was on her mind when she was thinking - when she asked
the question? Why - does she have a problem with the way the press has
covered this week's events in Columbus?
MR. RUBIN: I don't think it would be a wise policy for me to get into
press criticism here from the State Department podium, because then the
briefings would be even longer.
QUESTION: This morning Mr. Annan - (inaudible) - said that I hope I will
turn back to New York with a package which will satisfy everybody. We know
the United States package everybody knows. Does this mean a different
package can be discussed in future?
MR. RUBIN: Could you try that again? I didn't get it.
QUESTION: Well, he said, I hope that I will go back to New York with a
package which will satisfy everybody. We know the United States package in
details. So if he comes with a different package from Baghdad, is United
States going - will United States be going to talk about that package?
MR. RUBIN: Well, let me quibble with a few of the words you used. I
wouldn't say that you know the United States package. You know the United
States principles; and the principles that will guide us in deciding
whether this crisis can be resolved peacefully. The principles involve
UNSCOM having full access, and then UNSCOM having operational control of
the inspection and process. Those are principles; they're not a package.
If Kofi Annan comes back with a package that meets those principles, we'll
have a peaceful resolution.
QUESTION: What if he comes back with a package - I know we're talking
hypotheticals here, and you may duck - but he comes back with a package he
says is acceptable?
MR. RUBIN: To whom?
QUESTION: To him.
MR. RUBIN: Again, we have confidence in the Secretary General. We believe
the Secretary General's goal in going on this trip is to implement Security
Council resolutions. And any plain reading of Security Council resolutions
makes clear that Iraq must give full access to the UN inspectors and must
let the UN inspectors have operational control over the process. There is
no other way to read those resolutions, and we expect the Secretary
General will be going with that in mind.
In fact, as a result of our meetings, we have every reason to believe that.
So I wouldn't presume any outcome other than to say that he would like to
see the UN Security Council resolutions implemented. The UN Security
Council resolutions are based on the two principles that I described to
you. If it's something else, we reserve the right to disagree.
QUESTION: But if he says - so in other words, if he says that he did it;
that's the end of the story.
MR. RUBIN: No, I didn't say that. Didn't I just say that he reserves the -
we reserve the right to disagree?
QUESTION: But you said you're fully confident in his judgment on these
MR. RUBIN: I mean, I think you're now starting to quibble. This is what I
call a quibble. We have confidence in the Secretary General's intention to
seek the implementation of Security Council resolutions, based on the two
principles that I described to you. If the Secretary General comes back
from Baghdad with a package based on those two principles, then we have the
basis of a peaceful resolution. If he does not, we reserve the right to
disagree. I don't know how else to put it.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary General bringing - carrying with him proposals
that - or the framework of some sort of resolution that would adhere to
your principles, your bottom-line principles, and yet have some other,
let's say, inducements, beyond this idea of having some diplomats go along
MR. RUBIN: All right. We're in a situation now where the Secretary
General of the United Nations has arrived in Baghdad. The United States is
poised and said it's prepared to use military force. He has described his
proposals in the most general of terms, and I certainly am not going to
describe them in any more specific terms. This is not a time to discuss in
public the details of these matters. This is a time to discuss in public
the principles that will guide the United States in judging this issue; but
it's not a time to be describing for him the details contained in
QUESTION: But I didn't ask you for the details; I just asked you if he
was carrying with him other inducements or ideas?
MR. RUBIN: Those would be details.
QUESTION: Well, I'm just asking --
MR. RUBIN: Do you mean, as a generality, does he have other things in his
QUESTION: That's right.
MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to get into the position of characterizing the
Secretary General's package. As you could see, he is not either; so I
certainly wouldn't want to do that for him.
QUESTION: Can I just go back to the issue of the departure? Would the
voluntary departure or possible ordered departure, could those be seen as
necessary steps before military action?
MR. RUBIN: Well, this is not an ordered departure, and an ordered
departure would be a different step. This is an authorized departure. I'm
not going to get into a situation where we're beating the war drums here
from this podium. All I can say is, we received recommendations from the
chiefs of mission and the ambassadors, and we acted on those recommendations.
If we want to lay out for you what the steps we think are necessary
prerequisites for a military decision, I think that would have to come from
QUESTION: Well, can I just turn it around then?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Would the US initiate military action without giving US
citizens a chance to get out the way?
MR. RUBIN: Certainly, as a matter of principle, this government would do
what it could in every circumstance to protect American lives.
QUESTION: Jamie, -- (inaudible) -- just to clarify.
MR. RUBIN: We're coming right back, yes.
QUESTION: You used a term I haven't heard in this voluntary departure,
dependents and "non-emergency" personnel, or did you say nonessential?
QUESTION: He said it both ways.
QUESTION: Is there --
MR. RUBIN: I'll try to get the consular folks to give you a differentiation,
but I suspect --
MR. RUBIN: -- nonessential is the word.
QUESTION: He said what's been said every time.
MR. RUBIN: I certainly meant to say what's been said every time. I didn't
intend to include a new word in the lexicon.
QUESTION: But there's a new threat, and does that mean the US is doing
anything so far as medical and --
MR. RUBIN: I'd have to get you more information on that. Obviously, the --
QUESTION: The folks at State.
MR. RUBIN: Yes. Obviously, the Pentagon is taking steps in that
QUESTION: Besides anthrax.
MR. RUBIN: And I will have to get you information on what specific steps
By the way, Roy, to answer your question, the Secretary of State is
testifying before Congress three times next week. I consider that part of
the public discussion about this issue, and I suspect that members will be
interested in asking her about Iraq.
QUESTION: And that raises a question whether the events of this week and
the questioning you're getting from the public will cause a kind of a delay
in whatever timing the Administration might have for the eventual need for
MR. RUBIN: I'm going to make it a practice of not getting into timing
discussions with you on the question of the use of military force. I can
certainly say that the United States Government will take that decision
using the greatest care and taking into account all the factors that need
to be taken into account. But I don't have any intention, from this day
forward, of giving you any clue or signal, at least by my desire, on a
question of that sensitivity.
QUESTION: If you take away the word timing and just use timetable, I mean,
does it put back the overall timetable because you have to do more public
MR. RUBIN: Well, let me say this -- I think President Clinton made clear
yesterday, as Secretary Albright did yesterday, that we believe that if
military force needs to be used, the American people will be behind us;
that the Congressional leadership made clear there's a broad-based support
in Congress for confronting Saddam Hussein's threat.
So all I can say is that we're not going to make our decision by public
opinion polls; Secretary Albright made that very clear. We do feel an
obligation to explain our policies to the American people. That process has
taken place. Whether there are additional explanations being considered by
the President or others, I'm not in a position to say. But certainly, next
week there will be plenty of testimony.
QUESTION: Over the weekend, Secretary Albright called the Turkish Foreign
Minister Cem, and they had a long dialogue on the phone. Are you happy to
hold dialogue, or do you have some disagreement on the Iraq policy, or Iraq
MR. RUBIN: I think they had a very good discussion on the Iraq crisis.
QUESTION: You didn't count Turkey on the list of supporting countries.
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't assume - as I said, I wouldn't assume, if you're
not on the list, you're not on the list.
QUESTION: Can we dispose of one or two other issues?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, please. I would welcome it.
QUESTION: All right. The anti-land-mine activists are saying that the
United States is pushing to plant land mines on bases in countries which
only recently signed the land mine treaty. Do you have any response to
MR. RUBIN: Yes. That doesn't sound like the behavior of the United States
Government; it sounds like the behavior of the suspicions of those who are
suspicious of the United States Government.
We are not putting pressure any government not to sign the treaty.
Obviously, we're consulting with countries in NATO on the implications of
this treaty on our military alliance. We're approaching these consultations
in a problem-solving way. We believe the countries that do intend the sign
or have signed will - are also approaching this in a problem-solving way.
And we're confident that at the end of the day, we'll be able to maintain
essential defense cooperation with our NATO allies in the face - despite
some concerns by some about the effect of the Ottawa treaty.
QUESTION: As I understand it, the US is pressing them to accept to land
mines on bases in these countries.
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I'm not going to be able to get into detail.
There is a necessity for defense cooperation that's part and parcel of a
military alliance. That is the principle that's guiding us. We also
recognize the solemn obligation of signing a treaty. And we are democracies
who work very closely together well. There's not pressure being imposed on
anybody, but rather there's discussion going on, on how to reconcile
essential defense cooperation with the solemn obligations of treaties.
QUESTION: Jamie, have you seen the --
MR. RUBIN: Did you have one other subject, George?
QUESTION: This is another subject. Have you seen the batch - the report
of a batch of letters being delivered by the North Koreans, inviting a
dialogue with South Korea? Do you think that this is genuine, or is this a
piece of theater?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we'll have to see, obviously. We have long supported
meaningful dialogue between the South and North Korean Governments. We do
not have much detail on this proposal and therefore can't comment on its
specifics, but we support the concept of family reunification and better
communication between families. And we're from Missouri on the question of
whether this will yield any result.
QUESTION: Jamie, on Mexico.
MR. RUBIN: Please. Go ahead.
QUESTION: It has been in the couple of days, the Mexican Government has
deported two Americans, members of organization groups in Chiapas. Do you
have any response to that? And I also have a question on meetings on Peru
and Ecuador here in the building. Do you have anything to say about
MR. RUBIN: Yes. I do not have any information on the Peru and Ecuador
question, but we can get you some information after the briefing. Able
deputy number two, Lee McClenny, will be delighted to discuss with you the
With regard to the deportation issue, our Embassy in Mexico City confirms
that US citizen Thomas Hansen was deported from Mexico yesterday. We
understand that the government of Mexico charged him with activities not
permitted on a tourist visa; specifically, acting as an international
observer at the 1996 peace dialogues in Chiapas province. Mr. Hansen
alleges threats against his person but no physical abuse.
The United States respects Mexico's right to regulate the presence of
foreigners on its territory. We are concerned, however, about Mr. Hansen's
statements regarding the manner in which he was treated by immigration
authorities in Chiapas, and are seeking further information from the
QUESTION: Something on Colombia?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Colombia, there was a --
MR. RUBIN: Let's go to the back, if we still have it.
QUESTION: The Colombia police captured the last of the biggest narco-
traffickers a few hours ago. Do you have any comments about this? And what
impact will this new issue have when the certification process is going to
announce next week?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, let me say this -- we are very pleased to learn of the
arrest by the Colombia National Police, on February 19, of Jose Nelson
Urrego. He's also known as "El Loco," or "The Crazy One." He's a major
narcotics trafficker, in our view, and money launderer, and a priority
target of the international law enforcement community.
El Loco, the last of the big Cali North Valley cartel leaders who had
eluded arrest, had been a fugitive for two years. The Colombia National
Police arrested him as he was visiting one of his Medellin properties which
was under surveillance by the CNP. The National Police did an outstanding
job in locating and identifying the drug lord, who had undergone plastic
surgery and was carrying false papers when arrested.
We hope that El Loco is quickly prosecuted and that he receives a sentence
commensurate to the crimes he committed. He is not indicted in the United
States, so there's not a question of extradition.
With regard to how this will affect certification, no decisions on
certification have been made. If it will have any impact, that will be only
appropriate to discuss after decisions are made and we are prepared to
discuss the decisions.
QUESTION: Follow up.
MR. RUBIN: Let's have him follow up, and then I'll come over here.
QUESTION: When this application process is going to announce?
MR. RUBIN: Soon.
QUESTION: I have a follow-up question.
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: (Inaudible)-- suggests that the decisions on certification have
to do with results in the previous year. Would an issue that happened
yesterday, would that influence any decision on this year's --
MR. RUBIN: I'm sure it will be taken into account, but that is very
different than the phrase influence. Taking into account the arrest of a
major drug dealer would be appropriate, but whether it will influence the
decision would be a preview of which direction the decision is going, and I
certainly wouldn't want to do that before it's been made.
QUESTION: This arrest would not be covered in the period under consideration
for the certification, though, right?
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check the technicalities of the law, but thank
you for pointing them out to me.
QUESTION: You say the announcement is going to be made soon, but
Secretary Albright has already taken her decision about what she's going to
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: On the meeting this morning, did the Secretary or has somebody
else in the Administration discussed with him the members of his cabinet,
some of whom had activities during the war which would put them under
suspicion, although not under indictment for war crimes?
MR. RUBIN: He pledged to her that he would not have people in his cabinet
who were bad guys, broadly defined.
QUESTION: And did she raise the subject with him?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Jamie, another Bosnia, what's behind the $5 million --
MR. RUBIN: We are working on a record here on Friday, but please go
QUESTION: The $5 million that was promised, what's the problem about - or
is there - what's the procedure for delivering the money?
MR. RUBIN: This is something that has to be consulted with Congress,
worked through our government laws, but it's designed to be cash assistance,
as opposed to funding of projects.
QUESTION: Will the problems about the members of his Cabinet be a problem
for Congress, do you think?
MR. RUBIN: Well, you'd have to ask them. Secretary Albright felt this
meeting was a breath of fresh air, and that this is a gentleman who seems
determined to do the right thing in Bosnia; to see Dayton implemented. And
I haven't seen her have a better meeting with a Bosnian Serb in many years
of watching such meetings.
QUESTION: You're going to hate me for asking this --
MR. RUBIN: I'm going to hate you? I wouldn't hate you.
QUESTION: It's been more than an hour.
MR. RUBIN: Yes, it's hot under these lights.
QUESTION: The government of Cuba has just announced that they've released
70 political prisoners. Do you see finally this as a positive step in
changing the policy of Cuba, or are you still saying this is a small
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't think we've characterized the step yet. We've
very carefully avoided characterizing the step, but talked about what we
know and what we don't know. Until we have all the information we need,
it's hard to make a characterization of what the significance of this step
We understand that over 60 political prisoners have been released. We do
not have figures on the number of common criminals being released. Some of
the released prisoners have requested information on how to apply for
refugee status. We naturally welcome the news that political prisoners are
to be released. We are concerned, however, that many political prisoners
remain incarcerated, and that many who are being released are being forced
The purpose of releasing political prisoners is so that they can live in
their own country, and allow them to express their views and not to exile
them. We also want to ensure that people who are released are not detained
again. So we're going to watch this very carefully. What we want is an open
process in which there is freedom for peaceful political expression in
Cuba; and we'll be monitoring it very carefully.
QUESTION: In other words, there will be no reciprocal response from the
MR. RUBIN: When we've made a decision as to what we think has happened,
based on the information we can get, we'll be in a position to decide
whether it's a significant enough action to merit a response; but we're not
in that position yet.
MR. RUBIN: I think I did Colombia.
MR. RUBIN: Yes, okay.
QUESTION: If you said that he's not being indicted here --
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) - here. Does this mean that the US authorities
doesn't have any charge - I mean anything that he probably did here and --
MR. RUBIN: I think I described him in pretty stark terms, is what we
thought of this gentleman. But because there isn't an indictment current,
doesn't mean we think he's a nice guy; in fact, we think he's a very bad
QUESTION: But if he's not indicted here, it means that the US doesn't
have any information about him.
MR. RUBIN: You're drawing conclusions based on our criminal law - legal
system that I wouldn't, if I were you.
Yes, let's do one more question.
QUESTION: On Iraq.
MR. RUBIN: Iraq - end where we started.
QUESTION: Jamie, you alluded to Resolution 687 as the basis for the
United States to hit Iraq; is that correct?
MR. RUBIN: A basis, yes.
QUESTION: That the US does not need the permission of the Security
Council on --
MR. RUBIN: No, no, in fact the contrary - the US already has the
authorization of the Security Council.
QUESTION: Some precise wording in this resolution that allows the United
States to hit. The question is based on - it's an international law, right?
The law needs specific wordings, and if there is no wording with regard to
the specific right of the United States to hit any other country, then were
is the border between the acts based on UN resolutions and outright
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think you would have had a hard time finding the
Security Council Resolutions 678 having specific wording authorizing the
Gulf War, if you were going to be a nit-picker. No, there were no words in
there that said the United States and its friends and allies may use a
large military operation to eject Iraq from Kuwait.
There are legal terms of art. The international legal system is based on
principles of international law. When you are operating under Chapter 7 of
the UN charter, when the underlying resolution is Resolution 678 that
authorizes the use of military force, and when 687, which suspends 678, is
nullified by Iraqi action, then 678 is operative, authorizing the use of
QUESTION: Yes, but also when you are talking about the Gulf War, that was
the right of Kuwait for the collective defense in the face of the
aggression, not this case.
MR. RUBIN: No, it was the authorization under Chapter 7 that actions had
been taken that threatened the international peace and security of the
You've got to remember I spent four years in New York; you're going to have
a hard time out arguing me on this.
QUESTION: But that time was the right of Kuwait for collective defense.
MR. RUBIN: No, it was a decision by the Security Council that Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait threatened international peace and security. That is the
basis of the Resolution 678; that's the basis of 687; and that's the basis
of our legal judgment.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:45 P.M.)