U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #25, 98-02-25
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
Wednesday, February 25, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 KUWAIT: National Day; Anniversary of Liberation
1 JAPAN: Consultative Committee on Fisheries Concludes
1 MIGRATION: International Conference, Feb 24-27
1-2,5,9-10 Agreement: Focus on Weapons of Mass Destruction / Sen Lott
Criticism / Iraqi Implementation / Details to Address
2-4 Compliance: Reversal of Course / Accounting for Kuwaiti
3-4,6-10,13 UNSCOM: Inspectors / Teams / Diplomats / Commissioner /
Executive Director / Role of Chairman Butler /
Responsibilities for Certification
5-6 Military Force: Costs for US Military Operations / Support
from Other Countries /Additional UNSC Resolution
7-8 Sites: Access / Off-Limits Areas
12-13 Secretary: Feb 15 Mtg with UN Secretary General /
Discussion of Diplomatic Solution / Rationale for US
10-11 EU Decision on Visits / Exchanges with US
11 Calls for Terrorist Acts Against Americans / Public
Announcements re Travel
11-12 Inauguration of President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea
12 US Support for North-South Dialogue
14 Chinese Citizens Arrested in US for Selling Body Parts for
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1998, 12:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have
one statement that I'm going to read this morning. Today is Kuwait's
National Day, and tomorrow will mark the seventh anniversary of the
liberation of Kuwait. We celebrate the success of the international
coalition in expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and re-emphasize our
commitment to Kuwait's independence.
At the same time, we note the continuing legacy of Saddam's unprovoked
invasion and brutal occupation. In a tragic reminder of Saddam's aggression,
the fate of the more than 600 Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing remains
unknown. Together with Saddam Hussein's obligation to provide free and
unfettered access to the United Nations' Special Commission, his obligation
to provide a complete accounting of the POW/Missing, as mandated in
Security Council resolutions, remains unfulfilled.
The Iraqi regime has resorted to obstructionism and blatant denials to
frustrate international diplomatic efforts to resolve the fate of the
POW/Missing. These tactics must not allow Saddam Hussein to evade his
regime's legal and humanitarian responsibilities to the families of his
victims and to the community of nations.
We also have a statement on the US-Japan consultative committee on
fisheries, as well as a statement on the international migration conference
that will be issued after the briefing. But let me go right to your
QUESTION: Jamie, do you happen to know if the 600 missing were part of
Kofi Annan's brief?
MR. RUBIN: I believe the focus of his efforts was the weapons of mass
destruction, but in the course of which the relevant resolutions of the
Security Council, which do include this, I suspect came up in one form or
another. But I think his objective was, again, to do what we've said, which
is to get the best possible way to combat the threat of weapons of mass
destruction implemented; and that best possible way is to get the
inspectors back to work.
QUESTION: Can I ask you one late-breaking, as we say?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Senate Majority Leader Lott has really opened fire on the
agreement. He says that Kofi Annan has put trust in somebody, meaning
Saddam, of course, who can't be trusted - calls the agreement folly, et
cetera. You've had criticism like that before. I don't know if you've seen
the Senator's remarks, but is there a response to that?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm familiar with the gist of what the Senator said.
It's much like what some of the other Senators said yesterday.
Let me say this. Let's bear in mind why we believe that this agreement was
a step in the right direction. This is a win-win situation for the U.S.
Administration. If, as a result of Kofi Annan's efforts, Saddam Hussein
changes course, proceeds from a pattern of stonewalling and non-cooperation
to a pattern of cooperation, if he reverses course, the best way to combat
the clear and present danger of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of
this dictator will be achieved; and that is the inspectors doing their jobs
-- the inspectors who have been able to uncover tens of thousands
of chemical weapons, missile systems and precursor chemicals and
biologicals. This is the best way to combat the threat, if he reverses
course and moves from stonewalling to cooperation.
If he reneges on this agreement as it is implemented, if he refuses to
allow inspectors access, if he continues the pattern of stonewalling that
was so evident over the last several years, we have very firm assurances
from our friends and allies -- key members of the Security Council -- that
they will be more supportive for the use of military force.
So we are in a win-win situation. If Saddam Hussein reverses course in
practice, we will be combating the threat in the most direct possible way.
If he fails to comply, if he reneges in front of the whole world, we
believe we will have greater support for much stronger measures, as the
President has indicated he would be prepared to take.
QUESTION: A couple of questions. Do you agree with Kofi Annan's
assessment that UN inspectors have been cowboying in their duties? I
believe he's reported to have said that to the Security Council in recent
days. And secondly, can we gather from your opening statement that under no
conditions will sanctions be lifted from Iraq until they account for the
600 missing prisoners of war?
MR. RUBIN: Let me make clear our position on both points. On the second
point, we have said that he needs to comply with the relevant resolutions,
one of the relevant provisions of which is the accounting for Kuwaiti
prisoners. So yes, that is a part of the requirement that would yield a
position by the United States that we could move towards sanctions relief
if the relevant resolutions, including provisions on this, were acted
But that's a long way off. That's a truly hypothetical question. We have
seen no indication that Iraq is going to do this, nor have we seen any
indication yet, until this agreement is tested, that Iraq is going to
change its behavior.
On the first question, let me say this. A lot of people can focus on the
words of the agreement. They could focus on the words that the Secretary
General may or may not have said behind closed doors, after three and a
half days of a long, long trip to Iraq. But what we're focusing on is the
testing of this agreement. We're focusing on substance. It's not about the
words of an agreement; it's not about the words of the Secretary General in
characterizing Iraqi views about UNSCOM. What we are focused -- our efforts
are now on clarifying the agreement, on getting the ambiguities resolved.
President Clinton, Secretary Albright and Ambassador Richardson have all
been in contact with the Secretary General in the last 24 hours, as well as
the UN Mission in New York being in discussions with the experts. As a
result of those conversations, we have received assurances on some major
First of all, that Chairman Butler is in charge of this operation. Chairman
Butler will be in operational control of this mission. Secondly, that
Chairman Butler will not be reporting to some new political advisor in the
Secretary General's operation. The relationship between Chairman Butler and
the United Nations Security Council will remain unchanged. Thirdly,
diplomats will accompany the inspectors, but they're not going to be the
inspectors. The team leader - and this is the fourth point, and this is
critical for those of you who want to know how this agreement is going to
play out in practice if the Iraqis cooperate -- the team leaders for
this special group in these special locations will be UNSCOM inspectors,
reporting to the UNSCOM chairman, who will then be in a position to report
to the Security Council. So the experts are in charge.
Fifthly, the commissioner for this special group will be one of the UNSCOM
commissioners. This group will be within the construct called the UN
Special Commission, UNSCOM. The executive chairman of that commission, with
all its members, is kind of like the chairman of the board of a corporation
with a lot of board members. So as the executive chairman of this
commission, he is in charge. So all the assurances we've gotten are that
the issue is not going to be so much what this agreement says, but the
issue is going to be a lot more on whether Iraq changes course and moves
from a pattern of non-cooperation to a pattern of cooperation.
The proof of this agreement will not come in the words or the clarifications.
Ultimately, the proof of this agreement will come in its testing and its
QUESTION: Can I follow up here? Just this commission - I'm a little
unclear on this.
MR. RUBIN: I'll do my best.
QUESTION: This is going to be another layer, another - can you just
explain what --?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, let me try that again. One of the things that we felt
strongly about was that this special group for this special purpose -
inspecting sites that UNSCOM has never been to before, no UN inspectors
have ever been - was within the UNSCOM system. The assurances we've
received is that the UNSCOM commissioner, the person who will be selected
to be the commissioner of this special group will be an UNSCOM commissioner,
but not Butler. But Butler is the executive chairman of that commission.
QUESTION: So he'll be above - he'll still be above --
MR. RUBIN: He will be - I'm trying to give you the best analogy I can,
which is there's a board called UNSCOM, there are board members and there's
a chairman of the board. The executive chairman of the commission is
Butler. There are 21 or so commissioners, one of which will be the
commissioner for this special group within the UNSCOM system.
QUESTION: What's a long way off and hypothetical - that Iraq will satisfy
all the resolutions, or that the sanctions will be lifted because Iraq has
satisfied - it's practically the same thing? But I want to be clear what
you think is a long way off.
MR. RUBIN: I would start with what's genuinely hypothetical. We're from
Missouri on whether Saddam Hussein is going to comply with this agreement.
And before we can even begin to discuss whether it's this accord, this area
of weapons of mass destruction or all the other areas, we need to see a
pattern of continuous cooperation from Iraq - a pattern that has been sadly
missing from their behavior in the past. Until we see a pattern of
cooperation and the UNSCOM inspectors can do their work, we're not going to
be in a position for the experts to make any judgments about Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction: have they destroyed them; have they destroyed
all the precursor chemicals that Iraq apparently had imported prior to the
These are the kind of expert judgments that are a long way off because of
the Iraqi behavior. If their pattern of behavior changes, they'll be less
long way off. But we don't have any reason to know at this point that he
indeed will change from non-cooperation to cooperation.
QUESTION: But the other resolutions are still in play?
MR. RUBIN: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Kuwait has to be satisfied, et cetera.
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: And that obviously is a long way off if you have this pattern
plus other things.
MR. RUBIN: Correct, yes.
QUESTION: You've just said over and over again, as well as others, and
the Secretary has said this - that Saddam doesn't have the proclivity for
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: What makes you confident - and I have a second question - that
this time around, this agreement and this promise is any different from the
behavior we've seen from him seven years - throughout the seven years? What
makes you all --
MR. RUBIN: I don't think anybody has expressed confidence that he's going
to implement this agreement. We've expressed confidence that, as we've
sought additional assurances from the United Nations, we've received
clarifications that are moving in the right direction; that make clear that
the UN Special Commission Chairman Butler will be in charge; that the
experts will be doing their work; that the team leader of the inspections
will be from the UN Special Commission. Those are the items we're
increasingly confident about, but I don't think anyone has expressed
confidence that Saddam Hussein is going to reverse his behavior.
What we've expressed confidence about is that we are in a situation where,
either way, we're better off. If Saddam Hussein does change his behavior --
and that's a huge if, as the President said -- we will be able to combat
the threat of weapons of mass destruction through the best means, which is
the inspectors doing their work. If Saddam Hussein doesn't change his
behavior, the whole world will watch him renege on an agreement signed with
the Secretary General and the support of many nations in the world. And
we've received concrete assurances from key countries that in that event,
the severest consequences will ensue and that we will receive support for
the military action the President has spoken of.
QUESTION: Just to follow up about --there are reports now that it's
costing to keep troops over there about $600 million, and those costs could
increase the longer troops are over there. Is the United States prepared to
keep the troops over there indefinitely and ratchet up these kind of
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think you know that costs for military operations are
better directed at my colleague Ken Bacon at the Pentagon. But as far as
the overall posture is concerned, the President has made clear we will keep
our forces at this high state of preparation for some time. Until the
President changes that decision, that is the plan.
QUESTION: Jamie, do these five clarifications that you went through, does
that clear up all the ambiguities?
MR. RUBIN: No, there are still details to be worked out with regard to
the mapping of the sites and how that exactly will be worked, how the
diplomats will be chosen. There are ambiguities that still need to be
clarified, and we want to continue to do that work.
But as far as some of the key principles that have undergirded our position
on this from the beginning -- namely, that the experts are in charge, that
the agreement will be tested very quickly -- we've received assurances -- I
would say this is a sixth assurance -- that the agreement will be tested
very quickly. We expect that to happen as soon as possible. Thirdly, that
the integrity of the process is protected because the team leaders will be
from UNSCOM, will report to the UNSCOM chairman, and the relationship
between this chairman of the UN inspectors and the Security Council will
not change; and lastly, that the access is total.
I think, if anyone looks at this agreement, I would urge you to read it
carefully, from the leaked copies I've seen in some of the news account.
And I would point you to the fact - what I've been saying to you for some
time here - this is not about presidential sites; this is about a whole
slew of sites across Iraq, a whole pattern of cooperation. In that case,
the agreement is very explicit with regard to information, materials, means
of transportation, all the other locations in Iraq. Iraq has to comply with
the UN Security Council resolutions and provide full and complete
QUESTION: You talked about key countries indicating support if he
reneges. Do you want to say which ones they are? Do you want to say how
many there are?
MR. RUBIN: What we try to do here is give you as best an indication as we
can about the views of other countries. But until those other countries
have made their views public, we're reluctant to do that for them. But what
I can say is this: when it comes to the key members of the Security Council,
the ones whose votes count the most, we have assurances that they will be
increasingly supportive of the prospect of military force if Saddam
Hussein reneges on this agreement.
QUESTION: Jamie, will you all seek another resolution in the Security
Council to try and lay out parameters for non-compliance that could lead to
military actions, or would you prefer to keep this vague?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly don't want to keep anything vague, Betsy.
The memorandum of understanding is between the UN Secretary General and
Iraq. It consolidates commitments made by Iraq concerning the ability of
the UN Special Commission inspectors to pursue their mandate.
This mandate and the UN Special Commission itself were established by the
Security Council. It is therefore appropriate for the Council to take
action to codify developments that affect the implementation of that
mandate. As far as what such a resolution should or should not include, all
I can say is we're consulting on this. We do think it's important to make
abundantly clear to Iraq that they must provide the unfettered access, and
the Iraqis should understand that we will go back to a situation if they
fail to comply in which the United States has made clear there will be
serious consequences if he fails to implement this agreement.
This is a very serious matter, and there will be serious consequence if
Iraq reneges on this agreement.
QUESTION: Jamie, one point - I think you have made clear that the person
who is head of this diplomatic component for these teams is a commissioner
that will report to Butler; correct?
MR. RUBIN: In the sense that a chairman of the board sits on a board and
the board members look to the chairman of the board to be their leader.
Again, UN bureaucrats --
QUESTION: That puts him above Butler.
MR. RUBIN: No, no, on the contrary, Betsy. What I'm trying to explain -
reporting to is a term of art for bureaucrats, even for journalists who
have to report to producers and executive editors. And I want to be very
clear on this: when it comes to the meat and potatoes of the work of
inspectors, the team leader -- even for these sensitive sites, these so-
called presidential sites - will be from UNSCOM, will provide his report
directly to the executive chairman. The executive chairman will make
his report to the Security Council. So there is a direct line between
the experts doing the inspecting and the Security Council evaluating the
As far as who will be the titular head of this special group within the UN
Special Commission, UNSCOM, process, it's complicated. The simple way to
analogize is the titular head of that special group within the UNSCOM
process is equivalent to a board member; the chairman of that board, being
executive chairman, Richard Butler.
QUESTION: Will this person make a separate report, separate from --
MR. RUBIN: No, Butler does the reporting. There's no question about
QUESTION: So is this person there just to give face - or allow the Iraqis
to save face? Is that the point of this?
MR. RUBIN: Look, I'm not going to psychoanalyze the reasons the Iraqis
might have decided to reverse course on paper. They've clearly reversed
course on paper. They're now prepared to say that they're going to give the
access they've refused to give. Whether they reverse course in practice
remains to be seen. We want this process to be tested; we want it to be
tested as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Well, I ask the question because the Iraqis are saying Butler
is not in charge --
MR. RUBIN: We've received firm assurances that Butler is in charge.
QUESTION: Jamie, is the U.S. understanding that the special group will
search the entire boundaries of the presidential sites? And is that
acceptable to you, as opposed to just the presidential palaces, which was
the position at one point?
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that there will be total access. The
precise way in which that will be accomplished is one of the details that
needs to be clarified within these compounds, but the access is total.
QUESTION: In other words, they will have responsibility for certifying -
the special group, that is - certifying compliance within those boundaries;
is that right?
MR. RUBIN: That's not the way it works. An inspection team doesn't
certify compliance of anything. An inspection team sets out a decision: I
want to go somewhere. They then ask for access to those locations. Then
they go and they evaluate the information they a factual report -- to the
executive chairman. And he is then analyzing that information on the basis
of all the information he has.
Let me remind you, one of the reasons why these presidential sites were
important is because we can't have a sanctuary. Not so much that people
thought that there were weapons of mass destruction hidden there, but
people knew that if you had a sanctuary, a place that was off-limits to the
inspectors, then the Iraqis could take material, evidence, documentation,
or in the extreme, weapons of mass destruction, move them from places you
were inspecting into places you couldn't go.
So what you need is a closed circle by which hard-nosed, trained inspectors
can do their job, report to the UN Special Commission chairman, Richard
Butler, and then he can report to the Security Council for the Security
Council to make judgments.
QUESTION: Jamie, you have used the phrase "we've gotten assurances the
agreement will be tested very quickly," things like that. Can you put that
into, as best you can, a time frame? Are we talking about days? Are we
talking about weeks? Butler is supposed to go next week.
MR. RUBIN: That decision will be up to UNSCOM to make. But what we wanted
to see, and we're pleased that we received assurances regarding, is that
this will be tested quickly, because our view is the proof of this
agreement is not in the wording or the nit-picking, but in the testing.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Rubin. Is there going to be any place in Iraq
that is off-limits where the inspectors cannot go, or is this access to the
total totality of Saddam's territory?
MR. RUBIN: Our understanding is it's total access.
QUESTION: Can you go back to this board member who's going to head up the
special sites. It just sounds a little odd to me.
MR. RUBIN: I think you haven't spent enough time in the private sector,
QUESTION: Clearly, looking at my bank account.
QUESTION: Or in international relations.
QUESTION: Thanks, Charlie.
QUESTION: This person is a member of UNSCOM?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, is an UNSCOM commissioner.
QUESTION: He's an UNSCOM commissioner?
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: Someone who - an existing UNSCOM commissioner?
MR. RUBIN: Maybe one - there are vacancies. He might be from a vacancy.
QUESTION: Okay. This person will decide how -- where to inspect?
MR. RUBIN: No.
MR. RUBIN: This person will be in charge of developing and overseeing the
special group. The special group's procedures will be based on the key
point - and this is what I would focus you to - that in the case of how
this special group will operate, the team leader for an inspection will be
an UNSCOM inspector. Diplomats will accompany; diplomats will observe;
diplomats will not inspect. Professionals will inspect.
Furthermore, we've been assured by the Secretary General that his selection
of this commissioner will be a professional arms control expert. Again, the
importance here is that even when the Iraqis wanted an outside evaluation
of the work that UNSCOM had done -- the so-called technical evaluation
teams that I reported on to you last week - it was clear to this outside
evaluation team that Iraq was doing all the things that UNSCOM said.
They were non-cooperating in documentation; they were challenging
the facts; they were not providing information. And there were these
gaps in the areas of chemical weapons, biological weapons and missiles.
So the point is, when experts who understand the parameters of these issues,
examine the issues, there are no alternative facts possible. What we've
seen time and time again is every time someone evaluates Iraq's cooperation,
they conclude they're not cooperating, and every time someone evaluates
Iraq's behavior, they conclude there are still huge gaps between what they
say they have and what UNSCOM can prove they've destroyed.
QUESTION: And one last one - has the Clinton Administration now accepted
the Secretary General's - the product of his talks in Baghdad?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we think this agreement is a step forward, but we think
it will be a real step forward if its implemented properly.
QUESTION: You've now accepted what has been presented to you.
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, those are your words. My words are the ones that
I can use, which is the agreement is a step forward and if it's implemented
rigorously, tested rigorously, over time, it could be a major step forward.
But we've seen agreements in the past. What we've never seen is a pattern
of cooperation on the part of Iraq.
QUESTION: Jamie, just going back to the special group again, initially -
I know, it's beating --
MR. RUBIN: I thought we beat this special group to a dead horse.
QUESTION: I guess we're going to beat it until it dies again and is
reincarnated. But initially, Iraq had said that they felt as though UNSCOM
was not doing their job. You mentioned the gaps, and then they called for
an outside - not an outside group, but they called for another group,
MR. RUBIN: Additional evaluation, yes.
QUESTION: -- to have some kind of expert opinion. So it would seem to the
average person, perhaps, listening to you today, that this is - the special
group was a concession made to appease Iraq and their grievances and make
them happy with UNSCOM.
MR. RUBIN: I am confident that an average listener would have trouble
understanding half of the things I said, let alone concluding what you
There are no concessions. Iraq has reversed course on paper. The question
is, will they reverse course in practice?
QUESTION: There was no - this - it would be impossible to perceive this
creation of a special group as somehow meeting Iraq halfway.
MR. RUBIN: I said yesterday that critics will criticize, and I'm sure
somebody can conceive of it that way, but a fair-minded person needs to
focus on two points. We demanded total access; they agreed to total access.
We demanded that UNSCOM will be in charge; UNSCOM will be in charge. The
question for this agreement is not what it says on the piece of paper; the
question for this agreement is what will happen in practice.
MR. RUBIN: Sure.
QUESTION: Russia and Iran today vowed to strengthen their economic and
political ties. After the EU established high-level contacts with Iran, I
believe, Sunday, foreign minister of Italy, Dini, is traveling to Tehran. I
was wondering, what's the US evaluation of these developments?
MR. RUBIN: As we understand it, EU foreign ministers decided to resume
official bilateral ministerial visits to and from Iran. We view this
decision as the EU's to make, but have urged that contacts with Iranian
officials be used to register concern over Iran's objectionable policies.
In this regard, we note that the EU decision stipulates that enhanced
political contacts between the EU and Iran should lead to a dialogue on
areas of concern, including on weapons of mass destruction, terrorism,
human rights, including the fatwa against Salman Rushdi*, and Iran's
attitude toward the Middle East peace process.
So we have had differences in tactics with many countries about how to deal
with Iran. Let me just say this -- that with respect to the visitors that
are in Iran, the academics that are there, we welcome the apparent Iranian
decision to encourage these kinds of visits as a way of expanding contacts
with the US, in line with President Khatemi's call for people-to-people
We have said we are ready for official talks with the Iranian Government to
discuss issues of concern to both governments. Iran has said that it is not
yet ready for an official dialogue. People-to-people exchanges, however,
which appear to be starting up, are valuable and can help prepare the
ground for government-to-government talks. We encourage those who wish to
participate in such contacts to do so. When Iranians wish to come to the US,
we will work to facilitate visa issuance on a case-by-case basis.
QUESTION: Following up -- on the issue of fatwas do you have any comment
on the report yesterday out of London of a group of unnamed religious
leaders issuing fatwas against American citizens?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. We understand that there was a published fatwa that was
attributed to Saudi financier Osama Bin Ladin. It is an open invitation for
terrorists to attack American civilians. We strongly, strongly condemn this
and all such exhortations to violence. There is no basis in Islam, or any
other religion for inviting such cowardly terrorist attacks. The United
States takes this and all such threats seriously. We are studying it
carefully and evaluating its implications. However, there is no specific
threat contained in the fatwa. The Department does, however, remind
Americans that several recent public announcements relating to travel in
Europe and the Middle East remain in effect.
QUESTION: South Korea has a new president. Do you have some words of
welcome for him?
MR. RUBIN: We do congratulate President Kim Dae-jung and the people of
Korea on the inauguration of Korea's new president. The smooth transfer of
power was an impressive demonstration of the Republic of Korea's commitment
to the democratic process.
President Kim takes office after the third free presidential election since
the end of military rule, the first to involve a transfer of power from the
ruling party to an opposition party. President Kim is well known as a
supporter of strong relations between the United States and Korea. In his
inaugural address, he cited US support for Korea in its time of economic
crisis, and pledged to strengthen US-ROK security ties.
President Kim has many friends here, and we look forward to working closely
and cooperatively with him in the future.
QUESTION: You didn't mention North Korea. Do you have any words there on
his views on North Korea?
MR. RUBIN: I don't always have to have words to make up words; but I will
answer your question as follows.
We do support meaningful dialogue between North and South Korea. We have
said that for some time. We think this complements very well the idea of
the four-party talks. We have long supported the implementation of the 1991
basic agreement. We support this meaningful dialogue, including the
implementation of that agreement's specifics. It fits well with the four-
party talks. President Kim has stated his support for the four-party
process, and preparation for the March meetings in Geneva are moving
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Mr. Kim's proposal to the North
Korean authority, especially on exchange of envoys?
MR. RUBIN: Again, within the context of the 1991 basic agreement between
North and South Korea, we do support meaningful dialogue between North and
South Korea on trying to implement that agreement as a key to lessening of
tensions on the Peninsula.
QUESTION: Jamie, to go back to the Annan-Iraqi agreement, did the
Secretary meet with the Secretary General two Sundays ago to talk
specifically about the package that he would carry with him, or the
negotiating position that he would - not the negotiating position, you'll
knock that one down straight away.
The position he would take --
MR. RUBIN: You've got my number, Steve.
QUESTION: The position he would take with him if/when he went to Iraq?
And was the broad framework of the agreement we see today something that
was already worked out in consultation between the Secretary and the
Secretary General and perhaps others, before this mission began last
MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright did meet with Secretary General Annan in
New York on Sunday, February 16 - or is the 15th? They had a luncheon
meeting, one-on-one; and Secretary Albright laid out the rationale for our
support for a diplomatic, peaceful solution.
The rationale she laid out was that if, as a result of Kofi Annan going to
Baghdad, the Iraqis were to reverse course and begin to comply and
cooperate with the UN Security Council, the best way of combating Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction would be developed. And that was our preferred
course, and the President made that very clear.
Equally important, she explained that if this agreement failed to yield
Iraqi compliance or if his mission failed to yield an agreement, the whole
world would see that Iraq was refusing to comply with the United Nations,
and the prospect of support for military action would be increased. During
the course of those discussions, the Secretary did state America's position
on the matter, which included a description very much like the descriptions
that I had been giving you publicly about our red-lines, in terms of what
any discussion could entail -- namely, that UNSCOM would be in charge of
the process and that access would be permitted to all sites in Iraq. And we
do believe that the outlines of the agreement fit within those parameters,
but there are some important details to be clarified.
QUESTION: Was the concept of chaperones talked about in that meeting?
MR. RUBIN: The idea -- I think -- I believe soon after that meeting we
all made the point that we had no problem with diplomatic chaperones
accompanying technical experts; and so I suspect that that did come up in
such a meeting. But beyond these broad points, I'm going to be very
cautious not to get into the substance of a private discussion like
QUESTION: What are the chaperones going to do, Jamie?
MR. RUBIN: These are one of the issues to be talked about, but the
assurances we've received during the course of the last 24 hours, through
the conversation the President had with Kofi Annan, through her discussions,
through Ambassador Richardson's work in New York, are that they are to tag
along rather than conduct the inspections.
QUESTION: Will the head of the team have authority over the chaperones?
MR. RUBIN: Well, if this system is not worked out in such a way that will
prevent any diplomat from interfering with the integrity of an inspection,
then this process won't work. But those are the kinds of implementation
details that need to be discussed by the experts.
QUESTION: Who will be the chaperones?
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, the way the agreement spells it out - and these
are some of the questions we need to work on - is that the commissioner of
this special group, who operates within UNSCOM, will select diplomats. But
again, the team leaders and the core of that group will be from the UN
QUESTION: Jamie, different subject?
MR. RUBIN: Please.
QUESTION: There is a story that there are several Chinese who have been
trying to sell organs from political prisoners who were killed in China. Do
you have anything on that? Are we in touch with the Chinese?
MR. RUBIN: We can confirm that two Chinese citizens were arrested on
February 20 for alleged violations of US laws prohibiting the purchase of
human organs. The Chinese Government was notified of these arrests on
February 23, in accordance with our consular obligations. We are continuing
our efforts to ascertain additional facts in the case.
Let me say this -- we find the idea of trade in human body parts to be
abhorrent. The State Department's 1997 China human rights report states
that there have been credible reports in recent years, that body parts from
executed prisoners were removed, sold and transplanted in China. Chinese
officials have confirmed that executed prisoners are among the sources of
organs for transplant, but maintain that consent is required.
We have raised this issue with China time and time again. We expect China
to enforce applicable laws and regulations. These are very serious
allegations. This is abhorrent behavior, if true. We have repeatedly raised
this issue in meetings with senior Chinese officials, asked for results of
investigations into this matter and will continue to do so.
QUESTION: Is this the first time that you're aware of this sort of open
market in this country?
MR. RUBIN: Again, I would refer you to the human rights report from 1997.
I'll have to check on what information we may have had about various
reports in the United States prior to this.
QUESTION: Have the Chinese responded at all?
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any information on their response.
(The briefing concluded at 1:45 P.M.)