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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #143, 98-12-22

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


Tuesday, December 22, 1998

Briefer: Lee Mcclenny

1		Wye Memorandum/U.S. Will Continue Working for
1		Early Elections/PLO Commitments
2		U.S. Thinks Agreement Should be Carried out

IRAQ 2-3 Issue of the Use of a Veto When Sanctions Are Reviewed 3-4 Reports that UNSCOM U-2s Have Stop Flying/Monitoring 6 Expansion of Oil-for-Food Program 6 Regulating WMD

BRAZIL 3 Reports that Brian Atwood Will be Nominated as Ambassador to Brazil

IRAN 3 U.S. Looking into Reports of Stray Missile

N. KOREA 4 Trilateral Meetings in New York 5 Fuel Oil and U.S. Commitment 5 Missile Program/Missile Test/Further Talks

VENEZUELA 5-6 Reports that Assistant Secretary Romero Will Travel to Region


DPB #143

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1998, 1:10 P.M.

MR. MCCLENNY: Back by popular demand. The Rolling Stones I'm not.

I have a skinny book, but I'm here to answer other questions if I can be helpful to you.

QUESTION: Do you have a message for the Israelis, now that the political season is upon them, vis-a-vis the Wye agreement?

MR. MCCLENNY: Indeed I have some press guidance on that very subject. Hope you'll bear with me, it's somewhat wordy.

QUESTION: In lieu of newsy.

MR. MCCLENNY: In lieu of newsy; thank you for the clarification. You've heard some of this language before.

The Wye River memorandum was approved and ratified by both sides of the Israeli political spectrum. Consistent with that, we feel it should be carried out and implemented as agreed. That means that the commitments made at Wye should be fulfilled by both parties, and we will continue working to support full implementation. Excuse me, my reference earlier to "approved and ratified by both sides" meant the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.

On the question of the coming election season here - or there, excuse me - in Israel, it's our expectation that the Wye River memorandum will be implemented as signed and without new conditions. Clearly requirements during the second phase of the Wye timeline are far more difficult and numerous than during the first. As a consequence, the parties have not been able to complete their efforts on the second phase of implementation.

In this regard, however, the Palestinians have worked hard to implement many of their commitments under the agreement, including annulling the clauses in the PLO Charter and stepping up the fight against terror. We said from the beginning that, for implementation to proceed, both sides need to engage directly and continuously with each other in an effort to solve problems. We are concerned that this process of Palestinian-Israeli contact so evident during the first phase has been lacking during the second phase. We have urged the parties to maintain constructive contact. It is essential that they continue to do so.

We're working with both sides to urge them to complete implementation as quickly as possible so that the second phase can be carried out.

That's the extent of my guidance on the subject.

QUESTION: When you say - this is sort of --

MR. MCCLENNY: You're not going to press me on this, are you?

QUESTION: When you say it's your expectation that the agreement will be carried out --

MR. MCCLENNY: We think that it should be carried out.

QUESTION: You think that it should be carried out, not that you think it's probable that it will be?

MR. MCCLENNY: I'm not assigning any level of probability. It's our view not to be predictive, but to say what we think ought to happen and what we believe our own policy to be. We think it should be carried out; we certainly hope it will be.

QUESTION: Does the State Department believe that the Wye agreement and all that went into making it has brought this crisis in the government of Mr. Netanyahu, which, I believe, will lead to new elections - do you think that that's contributing?

MR. MCCLENNY: That's really not a question for me to analyze, I don't think, from a public podium. There are certainly analysts who will suggest that, and there are others who probably won't. Our concern - the reason we're involved in the process was we were asked by the two sides, by the Israelis and by the PA, to try to be helpful in helping them come together. That's what the Wye agreement is all about. It would be inappropriate for me to go beyond that, frankly - at least from this podium.

QUESTION: A question on Iraq -- I know it's been covered but we never got a chance to ask Mr. Pickering this one. There's been a lot of talk about using the veto to block any easing of sanctions. Technically, what exactly is the procedure when these sanctions are renewed? Is it, in fact, feasible to use a veto to --

MR. MCCLENNY: I have to confess, Jonathan, I'm not certain. I will take the question, though, and I want to ask that we get you a written answer before the day is out. That's a perfectly legitimate question to ask, and I apologize for not having the answer right at my fingertips.

QUESTION: Because a lot of people talked about it. At a meeting at the White House today, people were saying we'd use the veto. But if it's a question - if it needs to be renewed by some kind of active process, then obviously a veto isn't enough to enforce - to renew them.

MR. MCCLENNY: I take the point entirely, and I should know the answer. I think I know the answer but, rather than potentially misspeak, particularly - how seldom I get a chance to come to the podium anyway. Rather than make a big mistake, let me get an absolutely correct answer for you and we'll get it to you in writing before the day is out. We'll post it before the day is out.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the report that Brian Atwood of USAID has been, or will be, nominated Ambassador to Brazil?

MR. MCCLENNY: No. I've seen one or more press reports some time in the last couple of weeks, but ambassadorial nominations are the purview of the White House. I haven't seen an announcement from them yet, and haven't heard, myself, any corridor talk.

QUESTION: Do you have any more since yesterday on the reports that missiles hit in Iran? Or did we communicate via the Swiss Embassy that we regretted that incident?

MR. MCCLENNY: No. We wouldn't, as a general rule, talk about diplomatic exchanges, whether they occurred or didn't occur. The question of whether US Defense Department missiles went awry or someplace astray is something you should, frankly, address to them.

Last time I looked - which was yesterday, when this came up - I understood that they were looking into these reports, trying to figure out what they were based on. And I haven't heard anything back, so I don't know whether they're true or false. But, really, it's a Defense Department issue.

QUESTION: On Iraq? Do we know if --

MR. MCCLENNY: I thought we did Iraq, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Oh, I think we did the periphery of Iraq, basically, but with the - the inspectors went out, did the U-2s stop flying?




QUESTION: The UNSCOM U-2, yes. When UNSCOM went out, did they stop flying? And has it now come to be - if that's the case, that they've stopped flying - has it now come to be that it's US reconnaissance only that we rely on, or that the UN relies on, or do you know?

MR. MCCLENNY: You'll have to ask UNSCOM the status of their information- gathering mechanisms, if you will, inside Iraq. I would doubt that they were flying, but I don't honestly know. The other half of your question deals with - and you used the word "reconnaissance," but the word you meant to use was "intelligence," and it's not something that I would discuss from this podium.

QUESTION: Well, it's a policy question, in this respect --

MR. MCCLENNY: We actually addressed this yesterday, Bill, in some depth -- that is to say, the depth that we're willing to address it, which is to say that we have means of discerning what is going on inside Iraq. Those means cannot be described here and would not be described here, and I'm just not going to get into it.

QUESTION: But I'm not asking about the means. I'm asking about what you do with the information in order to suppress weapons of mass destruction. You use --

MR. MCCLENNY: I don't follow your question.

QUESTION: Do you use your airpower in coordination with your eyes over Iraq, and is that how --

MR. MCCLENNY: You're asking an intelligence question, Bill.



QUESTION: Well, I think it becomes a policy, too, but okay, I'll drop that.

MR. MCCLENNY: Draw a line around it.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - North Koreans one technical question. Today, the US, South Korea and Japan, they're having a trilateral meeting in New York. Who leads the US delegation; is it Chuck Kartman? Do you have anything on that?

MR. MCCLENNY: I sure don't, but I'd be happy to get back to you on it. To be clear, you're saying that there's a trilateral meeting going on in New York today --

QUESTION: Yeah, trilateral meeting, yes.

MR. MCCLENNY: I didn't know that, I confess, I should have known that.

QUESTION: Second question -- anything new on fuel oil to North Korea?

MR. MCCLENNY: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Fuel oil --

MR. MCCLENNY: I don't have an update on that situation, either. I know that we've committed publicly to fulfill our end of the bargain, and we're working hard at that. But I don't have any announcements on that process. We're hopeful. Today's the 22nd; there are still a few days left in this year; we hope that we can make it all work and move forward. I know that there are a lot of people, very capable people, working very hard to ensure that we uphold our end of the bargain.

QUESTION: Have you seen the report that the North Koreans are preparing to launch a ballistic missile?

MR. MCCLENNY: I have; early this morning, I saw it. I've consulted our people, and they tell me there's no basis for this story. We view the North Korean missile program as a serious threat to the region and will continue to press North Korea to cease all development, testing and export of missiles and missile technology. We've made clear to Pyongyang that any further missile tests would have very serious consequences for any improvement in our relations with North Korea. And we continue to consult very closely with our Japanese and South Korean allies on North Korean issues. Perhaps we're doing that right now in New York. If I can confirm that for you, I will.

If asked about the possible next round of missile talks, I can tell you that you recall that at the conclusion of the October 1 and 2 talks in New York, we agreed that we would hold another round at the earliest practical date. But I don't have an announcement in that regard for you at this time.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCLENNY: I don't have an announcement at this point; I don't have a date of any kind.

QUESTION: January -- (inaudible) - venue in New York or Geneva or whatever?

MR. MCCLENNY: Don't have any details or any announcement.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on Under Secretary Romero's plans to visit Venezuela possibly next week?

MR. MCCLENNY: Assistant Secretary Romero. No, I don't. While Latin America holds a special place in my heart, I don't have any information about his movements. I'd be happy to look into it, or I encourage you to give Michael or Brian - Michael Hahn or Brian Penn -- a quick call. I can probably tell you for the record that the telephone number is 647-4727; I remember it well.

I've not heard anything about his travel to Venezuela. I'm not surprised - an extremely important country, one that has just gone through an election. It's a good time to be visiting, I suspect.

Anything else exciting? I don't have much in my book today, I confess. Surprise me.

QUESTION: I want to return to Iraq once more.

MR. MCCLENNY: I'll do my best, but I doubt if I can be helpful to you.

QUESTION: The Under Secretary mentioned the possibility of expanding the oil-for-food program. Can you elaborate at all on that? Would it mean investment in the oil sector to raise production capacity?

MR. MCCLENNY: I really couldn't elaborate. I think this is at an early stage yet. He said about all that we're willing to say today on that subject. Sorry.

QUESTION: Can I go back to that question? I have another approach, maybe another angle. So it becomes known that there is some movement in the weapons of mass destruction field somewhere in Iraq. As the UNSCOM inspectors are not there to go and detect it and put monitors on it, then how is it that such would be regulated under these current circumstances?

MR. MCCLENNY: UNSCOM's not operational right now. We've made that very clear. UNSCOM's not on the ground; UNSCOM's not operating.

QUESTION: I understand, but would it come to US forces to use force to bomb these kinds of facilities and these kinds of activities?

MR. MCCLENNY: We've indicated that that would be one possibility.

QUESTION: Okay, one possibility; is there any other?

MR. MCCLENNY: There probably are, but I'm not here to lay out for you what we might do in a hypothetical situation.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you, Lee.

(The briefing concluded at 1:25 P.M.)

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