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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #77, 98-06-25

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing


Thursday, June 25, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1		Supreme Court Delegation Visit to Europe
1		Togo Presidential Election

SERBIA 1 Holbrooke's Meeting with Milosevic/Next Contact Group Meeting in Bonn on July 8 1-2 Current Discussions Among Gelbard, Hill, and Milosovic 2 Requirements for Agreements and Principles/Situation Update on Violence and the KLA/USG Working with Embassies on Developing a Monitoring Mission 2,3,4-5 Contact with both groups including the KLA/Holbrooke's Talk with KLA/Possibilities of Future Contacts 2 Comparison to Dayton Talks/Face-to-Face Meetings/Contact Group Demands and Sanctions 2-3 Issue of Independence of Kosovo and USG Position on Autonomy 3 Enhanced Status of Kosovo Within the FRY 3,4 Virtual Negotiations/Conditions/Holbrooke's Progress 4 Types of Negotiations/ Roles of Hill, Gelbard and Holbrooke 5 Contact Group and Russia Position and Demands

EL SALVADOR 5 Release of Documents re Murder of Churchwomen/Investigation and Recent New Information from El Salvador 6 Issue of Salvadorian Court Considering the Release of Convicts/General Casonova and His Residency in the US/Tyler Commission's Report and its Contents

GUATAMALA 7 Accusations of USG Involvement in Death Squad Activities

SAUDIA ARABIA 7 Dhahran Bombing and Saudi Involvement

SLOVAKIA 7 Elections and DOS Statement

EGYPT 7-8 Arrests of Egyptians for Threats Against AmCits

MEPP 8 USG Position on PLO Observer Status / Issue of Passage of Resolution / Unilateral Actions / Talbott's Remarks / Sensitivity of Jerusalem and Counter-productivity of Discussions 8-9 SecState Discussion with Arafat 9 Israel's Government Announcement Increase in Funds

CHINA 9-10 Greg Craig Not Going to China

KUWAIT 10 Imprisonment of Editor in Kuwait

CONGO 10 Accusations of Richardson's Violating the Diplomatic Principle of Confidentiality

CUBA 10-11 USG Views/Waiver/ Cuba's Role in Working with Colombia on Dealing with Guerrillas

SYRIA 11 Chemical Weapons Program and USG Concern/Weaponizing with Nerve Gas

IRAQ 11-12 Butler's Remarks on the Discovery of VX in Missile Warheads and Sanctions 12 Iraqi Deception re VX and About Hiding Weapons 12 US Accepts Analysis of the Discovery of VX/Confirmation From Other Countries


DPB #77

THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 1998, 12:40 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. We have two statements for you.

First of all, let me say that Secretary Albright welcomes the announcement by the Supreme Court of the United States that it intends to visit Europe - some of its members - from July 5-15. Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will lead a delegation of four justices to meet with counterparts in the Court of Justice of the European Community. The Secretary views this visit as a reflection of the US commitment to Europe, and the importance of encouraging the legal institutions of the United States and Europe to develop a fuller understanding of each other's processes.

In addition, let me say we take note of the announcement by the Togolese Interior Minister that their President has been re-elected. We deplore the many irregularities in the electoral process and the voting, which call into question the legitimacy of the outcome. Leading up to the election, the ban on political activity during the voter registration period reduced participation by Togo citizens. We have received credible and substantiated reports that on the election day, many polling stations opened late or not at all. Clearly these issues have to be looked into, and we call upon the Togolese Government to respect its own laws and electoral code and urge all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.

QUESTION: Richard Holbrooke met today, I believe, with President Milosevic, and he had no comment after the meeting. Do you have one?

MR. RUBIN: I spoke today to both Ambassador Gelbard and Ambassador Holbrooke. Ambassador Holbrooke is now in his second meeting of the day with Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade. Ambassador Gelbard was in Brussels in which he attended a luncheon with Dr. Rugova and Mr. Bukoshi and a series of members of the Contact Group in other nations.

With respect to one of you who continually asks, understandably, about a Contact Group meeting, my understanding is the next Contact Group meeting will occur on July 8 in Bonn. But obviously Contact Group nations had an opportunity to share an update on what is going on during the course of this luncheon.

With respect to where we are in the discussions, let me say the following. We have an intensive diplomatic effort going on, and it's going on on several tracks simultaneously. Ambassador Holbrooke is in contact with President Milosevic; Ambassador Gelbard is in contact with our allies, as well as Dr. Rugova, Mr. Bukoshi and others; and Ambassador Hill is in regular contact with both sides. So there is a virtual negotiation ongoing, and Ambassador Holbrooke pointed out to me that from his experience during Dayton, that the successful elements of their negotiation were discussions that took place separately - kind of proximity discussions -- and not face- to-face discussion. So to the extent we think we will ever be able to break through diplomatically -- and it's no easy task, given the situation on the ground - it doesn't necessarily require a large number of face-to-face discussions. Rather, what it requires is a set of agreements and principles that the sides can agree to and then move forward.

With respect to the situation there, I can report the following. As far as we can tell, the violence in Kosovo continues unabated, and seems to be increasing in intensity over the past two days. There are valid reports of fighting in the central areas of Kosovo, and many are concerned this violence will move south along the southern border. Clearly, large amounts of territory are controlled by the Kosovo Liberation Army during the day, and increasing amounts at night. The task we are focused most immediately on is working with the other embassies in Belgrade to develop an effective monitoring mission. That would be started very shortly. It would be a unified mission of Contact Group countries and other countries who are going to be in the region, trying to determine what's going on.

In the course of which, we would expect there to be regular contact with security forces from both sides, including the Kosovo Liberation Army, which controls large amounts of territory. So the kind of contact we saw yesterday, where Ambassador Holbrooke ran into one of the KLA fighters, is something that we would expect to go on continuously, as the monitoring mission gets up to speed and begins to work with both sides to try to avoid situations from spinning out of control and develops better contacts to find out what's going on with both the Serbian security forces as well as the KLA and others.

QUESTION: Let me return to the mode of discussions you refer to, the talks that are going on as kind of Dayton-style proximity talks - similar, but not the same, I guess, was the point you were trying to make. But the larger question - Dayton - there were proximity talks among the three presidents over the fate of a separate entity. In this case, you're talking about Kosovo remaining part of Serbia. Don't they actually have to meet face-to-face at some point - the Kosovars and the Serbs to decide that? Can that be done through proximity talks?

MR. RUBIN: Well, there's two issues. One is conditions conducive to a successful negotiation. The Contact Group laid out four demands, of which you are familiar, including that Serbian forces return to their bases and those that were outside of Kosovo return outside of Kosovo. That is a demand that is both related to what would be required for the additional sanctions to be relieved, as well as what we believe would help create the environment in which a successful negotiation could take place.

Meanwhile, we need to begin discussions on the political construct. We have said that there is no solution to this conflict outside of discussions; that the dialogue that we need to create is the only framework that can create confidence for a solution. But we do not support independence for Kosovo, nor do we support the status quo. What we do support is the territorial integrity of the FRY, an enhanced status for Kosovo within the FRY and full political and human rights in accordance with OSCE standards, Helsinki Principles and the UN Charter for the people living within Kosovo.

One can begin to flesh that out in the absence of face-to-face discussions. I am not suggesting by any means that this would be possible to conclude a peace agreement to avoid the conflict without ever meeting each other. What I'm saying is, because there is a virtual negotiation going on, and because there is plenty of contact going on, it's not a communication problem; it's a substance problem.

QUESTION: But the ultimate political disposition of this problem will have to be done face to face?

MR. RUBIN: Presumably, of course. But right now, there is a virtual negotiation.

QUESTION: A point of clarification on what you just said - you said that you support an enhanced status for Kosovo within the FRY. Does the United States support Kosovo remaining part of Serbia or does the United States take the position that Kosovo should now be under the FRY, but not part of Serbia?

MR. RUBIN: What we are saying is that there is autonomy and there is autonomy. And the exact nature of that autonomous status is a subject for discussion. Generally speaking, the autonomy that existed prior to the war between Serbia and Croatia and Serbia and Bosnia that was taken away from the people there had an autonomy for Kosovo within the FRY. Since then, it has become more complex. Rather than pre-empt discussions that we would want to have privately, I am merely saying the terms that we believe are the starting points - an enhanced status for Kosovo within the FRY.

What its relationship with Serbia would be obviously would be a subject that would be discussed, and I don't want to get ahead of the discussions in our public description of our bottom line position. That can mean many things when push comes to shove and when the lawyers begin to work out a political construct that meets the needs of both sides. But that's where we're starting from.

QUESTION: Can you say at this point whether Holbrooke has made any progress in creating these conditions conducive to dialogue, or whether the sides are digging in their heels? What's your sense of --

MR. RUBIN: Well, I prefer not to characterize discussions that he would prefer not to characterize. But clearly, the fighting continues; and as I said, it has intensified. We have seen no evidence that the movement of Serbian forces is such that they are beginning to comply with the demands of the Contact Group.

QUESTION: In these what you call virtual negotiations, are they negotiating the substance of their disagreement through Mr. Holbrooke, with him bringing ideas; or are they negotiating the conditions for beginning a dialogue?

MR. RUBIN: Everything, I'm sure, is discussed. When you have a meeting with a foreign leader about a problem, you don't only discuss one aspect of it. We need both the conditions to create potential success in negotiations, and we need to begin to flesh out what the end game would be. Clearly, the focus is the conditions; but I'm not suggesting that the other issues don't come up.

But again, this is an excruciatingly difficult issue, given the repression that has occurred there, given the radicalization that has occurred there as a result of President Milosevic's policies and the increasing reluctance of Kosovar officials to accept anything short of independence. That is the problem - with every passing day, President Milosevic makes it harder for him to resolve the problem, and he's shooting himself in the foot with this repression; and that is the primary cause of the problem.

QUESTION: A virtual negotiation of the kind that you describe presupposes an intermediary doing the work that Holbrooke and Gelbard have been doing. Does that mean that those two - or at least one of them - is going to be permanently in the region from now on?

MR. RUBIN: Without getting too deeply into the personalities, let me say this. Ambassador Hill has been in contact with both parties; he has won the confidence of both parties. My expectation, at least for the near term, is that he will be the one that will be in touch with both parties. Ambassador Gelbard has been working with our allies on this issue, both in terms of the economic sanctions, as well as the NATO military planning that is also ongoing. Ambassador Holbrooke, Ambassador to Germany - former Ambassador to Germany Holbrooke - is presumably and hopefully soon going to be before the Senate for confirmation as Ambassador to the United Nations. So he will have many, many duties as Ambassador to the United Nations. How all the personalities juggle is a lot less important than the substance of the discussions.

So we've set it up in a way that we have plenty of communication, we have interlocutors that have the trust of the parties, and now we need to have policy changes by President Milosevic in terms of what he's doing in the region if we're going to have success.

QUESTION: Did Ambassador Holbrooke tell you anything about Mr. Milosevic's reaction to the ambassador's meeting with the KLA?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this about that - as I've said yesterday, we would expect, at the appropriate time, to be in contact with all elements of Kosovo Albanian society, including the Kosovar Liberation Army. And although that was not political contact - it was more in the nature of fact finding - I would expect there to be political contact soon. President Milosevic is just going to have to deal with that fact. He has radicalized the population; he has increased the support among the population for the Kosovar Liberation Army, and therefore they are a reality there. While there are incidents that have taken place that we have condemned -- and we will continue to condemn extremist incidents - they are clearly an insurgent group that is growing in popularity and need to be part of the equation. So I would expect us to be in political contact with them soon.

QUESTION: In the Contact Group sessions, are the Russians now on board? Are they agreed with what the rest of the Contact Group are pushing for?

MR. RUBIN: To the extent that the Russian position is that the Contact Group demands -- with respect to dialogue, with respect to returning the forces to their barracks and outside of Kosovo, with respect to international monitoring, with respect to international humanitarian access to the region -- we are in agreement. Similarly, we are in full agreement on the question of our joint desire to solve this problem by peaceful diplomatic means.

Ambassador Holbrooke met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, I think, both today and on Tuesday, and has briefed him about his discussions. We are coordinating closely with the Russians on the monitoring mission that we want to take place very shortly that we believe should include the Russians and other members of the Contact Group.

Where there is disagreement, obviously is on the question of military planning and what might result, and I'm not aware that disagreement has evaporated.

QUESTION: El Salvador -- do you have any comments on the documents that, I guess, are soon to be released or have been released of family members that seem to show that some Salvadoran officials and former Ambassador White seems to be of this opinion, too - that higher-ups were involved in the ordering the slaying of the church women.

MR. RUBIN: Ultimately, we believe that this is a complex evidentiary issue that the historians will have to decide. What we have done, at Secretary Albright's instructions, is release as many documents as we can and as much information on this as we can in order to provide those who are interested in this, as well as the Salvadoran authorities, as much information as possible so that the pursuit of truth can go on.

We want this matter to be fully investigated; we want conclusions to ultimately be drawn. You're familiar with the conclusions that we've reached at various times. But Secretary Albright's instructions were, let's get the documents out and let's have as much information available as possible so that the truth can be determined.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - United States will conduct another investigation of any kind?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that. We have all the material; the Tyler Commission did an investigation. There is new information available down in El Salvador, pursuant to people talking to the people who conducted this gruesome killing -- they have said additional things. We would expect and hope that the El Salvador Government would see the value in getting to the bottom of what transpired.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Salvadoran court releasing three of the convicted guardsmen?

MR. RUBIN: We do. The precise nature of which has gotten lost in ten pages of written material.

QUESTION: We have more questions, obviously on --

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, it is our view that these people should not be released because of the nature of their crimes. They committed heinous crimes, and they should pay a price for them. On the other hand, it is up to El Salvador to make judgments about its own legal system. We recognize that it is their legal system that is at play. So it is our view these people shouldn't be released, given the nature of their crimes.

But with respect to them not reopening the case, they're interpreting their law and we have to respect that. That's why I said that even if criminal prosecutions are not possible, we want to see the full truth learned, and we want follow-up to these developments. But as far as their release is concerned, we think that's a bad idea.

QUESTION: In the event that historians or perhaps legal experts determine to the satisfaction of the US Government that General Casanova was the man who ordered the killings, will that have any effect on his right to remain resident in the United States?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, we would - again, to repeat my last answer - we would be very disappointed if these convicted murderers were released. They committed brutal crimes, and they should not be released; that would be disappointing to us.

With respect to the hypothetical question of what would we do if, let me just say that these were brutal, horrible crimes and we would respond to any new conclusions if new conclusions were reached. But no new conclusions have been reached. There has been a back and forth on the evidentiary situation. I would point out to you that one of the bases for the Tyler Commission's report was that in extensive interviews, the convicted murderers did not - as everyone would have expected at the time - say that it came from higher up. So that's one of the reasons why the Tyler Commission believed that this was not evidence supporting a conclusion that they had been ordered to conduct these brutal killings. But if a different conclusion is reached, we would respond appropriately.

QUESTION: I guess I should ask the question in the abstract. In a situation where someone has been granted residence status, as it so happens this particular general has, in the event that it is found - even though the statute of limitations, I gather, has expired - that he was responsible for mass killing, group killing, would the United States normally take action to get such a person thrown out of the country or take other action against him? What's the law?

MR. RUBIN: We'll get you a lawyer's answer.

QUESTION: In Central America, Jennifer Harbury has just released the names of suspects in the killing of Bishop Gerardi, and I want to quote her, because she says it was a command of war for the military forces of Guatemala. She says, "The commando check in with Uncle Sam two or three times a week in a modern building a few blocks away from the US Embassy. This internal death squad coordinates very closely with some intelligence branch of the US Government." These accusations are true or the State Department is familiar with these accusations?

MR. RUBIN: We haven't had time to examine her full statement. However, the FBI is working with Guatemalan authorities to investigate the case. Both the government of Guatemala and the Catholic Church human rights office have expressed their confidence in and appreciation of US efforts to help solve this horrible crime. We know of no group or individual that has claimed credit for the murder, though the Guatemalan police have arrested - have a suspect in custody.

The USG is strongly committed to the reform agenda of the administration of Guatemala, which includes strengthened civilian control of the military. Any accusations of US involvement in death squad activities would represent a gross violation of American policy, and are simply implausible.

QUESTION: Saudi Arabia - have you seen the statement, carried by their official news agency, by a Saudi minister that the Dhahran bombing was carried out by Saudis, but some other parties helped them in carrying out the explosion; and that Saudi citizens would be informed with the details?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm familiar with a number of statements coming out of the Saudi officials over the last few weeks, talking about the status of their investigation. All I can say about an investigation that is ongoing is that we reiterate what Attorney General Reno said, which is that just because there have been no dramatic new developments on any given day does not mean we're going to rest; we're going to continue to investigate until we're satisfied that we've done all we can to try to find out what happened.

QUESTION: There was a statement on Monday that the State Department released on the Slovakia new election law, in which you said that the government in Slovakia has passed a law that may result in an elections process inconsistent with the current international norms. Can you be more specific on that in terms of what basis was the statement based on? Also, there was a negative response from the minister of Slovakia; do you have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: Let me get you an answer for the record on that, because we'd want to do that very precisely because we did have our legal reasons for believing what we indicated on Monday. So let me get you after the briefing a considered answer on that.

QUESTION: There's a wire story that there have been some members of radical Muslim groups that have been arrested in Egypt, threatening to harm US interests - either people or corporations. Are you aware of this?

MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that wire story.

QUESTION: Also in the Middle East - have you been talking to Arab governments about their outrage over the Jerusalem plan? Apparently there's been some contact --

MR. RUBIN: Let me say with respect to activities that are being considered at the United Nations by Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority, there are two separate issues. One is the enhancement of the PLO's status, and the other is whether the Security Council - and that would be considered in the General Assembly - and the other is the question of whether the Security Council should react to the announcement last week and the statements last week by the Israeli Government with respect to Jerusalem. So let me handle them separately.

With respect to the PLO observer status, we oppose enhanced status for the PLO in the General Assembly. The PLO is not a state and should not enjoy rights tantamount to those of a state. We hope other members of the General Assembly will join us in opposing a move that would set a dangerous precedent for the United Nations and can only hurt the Middle East peace process. Passing such a resolution will set a dangerous precedent that could be copied by others, and would overturn decades of practice and precedent in the General Assembly.

With respect to the peace process, we have been working very hard on the peace process, and it has been stalled for some time. We are working closely with both sides to try to help get the process back on track. Precipitated action by the General Assembly on this measure can only hurt these efforts. It will only encourage the parties to be less flexible; it will harden their positions and make it less likely that the peace in the Middle East could be advanced. And in addition, I should point out that this Palestinian measure would constitute exactly the kind of unilateral action that we have asked both parties to avoid, and would therefore undercut our efforts to get Israel to refrain from such acts as well.

With respect to Jerusalem, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in the peace process. Security Council discussion of this issue would be unhelpful to the peace process. Any action in the Security Council would be counter-productive to the success of our discussions with the Palestinians and the Israelis. So whatever might be motivating some countries to raise this issue, they should bear in mind that their actions could harm the peace process; that they are pursuing a course that would be counter- productive, and that they will only harm those they claim they are supporting. It might feel good to engage in such an exercise at the United Nations, but it will do bad to the peace process.

QUESTION: Correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that the Secretary spoke to Arafat yesterday, gave essentially the same argument you just made here, and that he agreed to drop the bid.

MR. RUBIN: You will have to ask Chairman Arafat what his intentions are, the Palestinian Authority what their intentions are with respect to the PLO observer status issue. That is potentially different from the Jerusalem issue in the Security Council.

QUESTION: But the Secretary spoke with him yesterday and --

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: -- presented this argument to him.

MR. RUBIN: Correct. We're hopeful that --

QUESTION: And she was satisfied that he - with his response.

MR. RUBIN: I don't believe I said that.

QUESTION: As I said, this was my understanding.

MR. RUBIN: The Secretary's hopeful that Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat will see the wisdom of her arguments.

QUESTION: Also on the Middle East peace process --

QUESTION: Can you also confirm that Secretary Talbott urged the Arab ambassadors yesterday not to take the expansion of the Jerusalem borders to the UN?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I said very clearly what our position is, that is a position that all officials would take in their discussions with counterparts from other countries. As I just indicated, Secretary Albright believes that it would be counter-productive to the peace process to take this move. I would be surprised of Deputy Secretary Talbott did not make that same point in a discussion with officials from those governments.

QUESTION: Also on the peace process, the Israeli Government has announced intentions to supply additional funding for an acceleration in expansion of existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that report.

QUESTION: Well, could you check it out?

MR. RUBIN: Sure.

QUESTION: It's supposed to be $80 million in new --

MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen the report.

QUESTION: New subject - can you say something about the reasons why Greg Craig - (inaudible) - did not go to China with the President?

MR. RUBIN: I think you should bear in mind that the party, which is a very large party, including Secretary Albright, Assistant Secretary Roth and others from the State Department are in the region and are in regular contact with the media. My position, given the large size of the party and that all the senior officials who I would normally contact with regard to specific issues like that are in the field, and those questions are legitimate questions, and I ask you to have them posed to the party in China.

QUESTION: He's coordinator for Tibet.

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: A different subject - the editor of a leading Kuwaiti paper has been sentenced to six months in jail because of a blasphemous --

MR. RUBIN: Where?

QUESTION: In Kuwait - the editor of a leading newspaper in Kuwait. The newspaper was ordered to be shut for a full week. Are you aware of this; and do you have any --

MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard that, but in principle, we support freedom of the press.

QUESTION: Could you discuss the position of the Department on whether or not it feels that Ambassador Richardson violated any diplomatic principles of confidentiality regarding the UN report on human rights in the Congo that's going to be issued?

MR. RUBIN: Our understanding is that no one in the US Government has seen the report, including US officials at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York. We will study it carefully when we receive it; we will not have a position on the report until we have studied its context. Apparently there was a misunderstanding with respect to Ambassador Richardson's comment about that pending report, and I'd urge you to contact his office about what was said that might have lead you to ask that question.

QUESTION: Cuba - Castro has been praising President Clinton because his foreign policy on the Helms-Burton. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. RUBIN: I think we'll do fine in getting support for our foreign policy without the views of Fidel Castro. We have little or no interest in his views on how we're doing.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea when the US Government is going to announce another waiver for Chapter III of the Helms-Burton?

MR. RUBIN: Another --


MR. RUBIN: Waiver. I don't know what the date is for the next waiver, but usually the announcements come around the time of the date. So we will be acting next week, then, to make a decision on that.

QUESTION: In Colombia, the President-elect has said that Cuba could play a role in the peace process with the guerrilla groups. I was wondering if --

MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that comment. We think that Cuba rarely plays a constructive role in international affairs. As far as how the new government is going to pursue the peace process, we haven't had a chance to discuss it with them. But as I said yesterday, we want to be helpful and encourage them to pursue it, and depending on what they think we could do, we would be prepared to consider it.

QUESTION: On Syria -- does the Administration have some new found concern about Syria's chemical weapons program? New concerns.

MR. RUBIN: I believe that in our annual reports on chemical weapons in this area, the status of Syria's program is regularly discussed, and I wouldn't be able to go beyond that. I think we're always concerned about the development of programs for all of the countries that we believe have programs.

QUESTION: But it's no news to you that Syria has chemical weapons?

MR. RUBIN: It's not news to me that Syria has a chemical weapons program.

QUESTION: What about weaponizing nerve gas?

MR. RUBIN: The specific nature of which would require discussion of intelligence matters.

QUESTION: Have you taken up the subject of Iraq and --


QUESTION: No, okay. Mr. Butler -- the UN chief yesterday --

MR. RUBIN: Chairman Butler, Ambassador Butler --

QUESTION: Ambassador Butler, is it?


QUESTION: All right. Ambassador Butler took up the issue yesterday of the deception by the Iraqis insofar as having VX, I believe -- having loaded it, having detected, demonstrated without a doubt that that was VX on those warheads. And he says that there is true and absolute deception on the part of Iraq; that sanctions should not be lifted. Is that acceptable to the US?

MR. RUBIN: First of all, the decision on sanctions is one for the Council to make, not Mr. Butler to make. He makes reports on the status of their progress towards disarmament, and then the Council reacts.

With respect to the Iraqi deception, let me say that Iraq has shot another hole in its credibility with its refusal to admit what evidence has proven - that once again, they lied about their weaponization of VX, and they lied to UNSCOM about that and they have been engaged in a pattern of deception and concealment with respect to hiding proscribed weapons and lying about them to the UN Special Commission. They failed to honor other commitments, and therefore it should be no surprise to anyone that the Security Council has not changed one wit its position that Iraq has not met the requirements of the Security Council resolutions, and sanctions will not be lifted.

Once again, Iraq has shot itself in the foot. It has had so many opportunities to come clean on this issue. We are still hopeful that it will some day come clean. But this is another piece of evidence that they have not.

QUESTION: Jamie, I should have asked a little more pointedly if the United States accepts the analysis, the data that's coming from the analysis of the warhead and that there was VX in it.

MR. RUBIN: We have no reason to doubt that analysis, and neither does Ambassador Butler. I watched him on tv make that very clear.

QUESTION: You're not willing to wait for confirmation from France and Russia, which are also looking into --

MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Butler made clear that he has no reason to dispute the finding last night, and neither do we - on tv. I managed to get an opportunity to watch him on one of our nation's television programs, and he said that. If he's accepted the finding, I can't imagine why we wouldn't. That doesn't mean he's not going to confirm it with other so that maybe then Iraq will admit what is already evident - that it did do this. That's kind of the game that goes on in New York - Iraq doesn't want to admit that something is true until it's proven ten times that it's true instead of just once or twice.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:15 P.M.)

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