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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #4, 99-01-07

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


958

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, January 7, 1999

Briefer: James B. Foley

SERBIA (Kosovo)
1		Briefing Tomorrow on the Status of the OSCE Mission in
		  Kosovo

IRAQ 1-12 US Support to UNSCOM Regarding Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction 7 Reaction from Other Nations to Saddam Hussein's Call for Revolution 7-8,9,11-12 Status of UNSCOM/Composition and Mission/ Chairman Butler's Term 10 Iraqi Violations of the No-Fly Zone/Prospects for Military Action 11 Secretary's Phone Call to UN Secretary General Annan 11 Reported Massacres of Prisoners in Baghdad

IRAN 12-13 Arrests of 'Rogue Elements' in Intelligence and Security Ministry

CUBA 13 Response from Cuban Government Regarding New US Measures

CAMBODIA 13-14 Bringing Khmer Rouge Leaders to Justice

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 14 Ambassador Ross' Meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Sharon 14-15 Prospects for Travel by Ambassador Ross to the Region

ISRAEL 15 Reported Israeli Destruction of Houses on Lebanese Border 16 Status of Report on Jonathan Pollard Case

CHINA 15-16 Declassification of the Cox Report


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #4

THURSDAY, JANUARY 7, 1999, 1:20 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. FOLEY: I just have one announcement, which is that at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon here in the briefing room, Ambassador William Walker, who's head of the OSCE's Kosovo Verification Mission, will step to the podium to deliver an on-the-record briefing about the status of the OSCE's mission in Kosovo. That's at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow.

QUESTION: Well, there's still some left-over on the UNSCOM business and the eavesdropping allegations and all. Since State and, I guess the UN, both have acknowledged that there was intelligence-sharing between the UN and the US, does this in any way undercut US policy - undercut the rationale for demanding entry and attacking Iraq? I mean, does this undercut in any way US policy?

MR. FOLEY: I don't think so at all, Barry. As you'll recall, yesterday Spokesman Rubin made the point that the word "intelligence" has a sexy connotation for some, when what really is involved is a more mundane, prosaic reality; i.e., the question of information-gathering on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. That's what UNSCOM's mission is all about.

As Mr. Rubin indicated yesterday, UNSCOM's mission, its aggressive effort to uncover the concealed information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs would not be necessary if Iraq simply determined to meet its obligations that it undertook in 1991.

The effort by UNSCOM to uncover not only Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, but to penetrate through the concealment mechanism that Iraq has erected to prevent UNSCOM from doing its work, is wholly legitimate. The United States has aided UNSCOM in its efforts to uncover Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in accordance with our international obligations under Security Council resolutions.

There is nothing in any way problematic or embarrassing about the fact that the United States has met its Security Council obligations to assist UNSCOM. We're not alone. As Chairman Butler said yesterday, upwards of 40 nations are providing support to UNSCOM in different kinds of fields -- in the fields of personnel, logistics, equipment, personnel, information. So, I think we're proud of the fact that we are involved in a very concerted national effort to support UNSCOM in its Security Council-mandated work to uncover Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: I guess so, but what particularly strikes me is that Iraq had insisted all along that the American monitors were really engaged in espionage. Here comes the State Department and the UN saying, "well, we did share intelligence," and you say it's prosaic material. But it's sort of -

MR. FOLEY: No, I didn't say prosaic material.

QUESTION: No, I mean the information.

MR. FOLEY: It's material that Iraq does not want the international community to find out about.

QUESTION: I misstated it.

MR. FOLEY: -- concerning weapons of mass destruction. I'm just saying that it's exaggerated to read into something -- to over-dramatize sharing information-seeking. That's exactly what UNSCOM is about and is trying to do. It's what UNSCOM would not have to do if Iraq simply agreed to cooperate.

QUESTION: You're in a propaganda war. You are trying to enlist international support. You and the British stand alone in your determination to get at these weapons - most people don't care as much as the US and Britain do.

MR. FOLEY: I quibble with that.

QUESTION: If they cared, they would have supported the strikes. If they care - I know the State Department says -

MR. FOLEY: Well, let me just interject to say that -

QUESTION: Nobody wants Iraq to build up its nuclear weapons, I understand that.

MR. FOLEY: Nobody disagrees with the aim.

QUESTION: A lot of folks don't want to do anything about it.

MR. FOLEY: Well, let me say that Secretary Albright said that those who criticized or did not support our military action have not come forward with credible alternatives to achieving the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But we don't see any fissures in the Security Council concerning the need for Iraq to comply with its obligations and to disarm its weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: But you don't feel you've lost any public relations ground by acknowledging that, indeed, there was intelligence-sharing between the Commission and the United States? It doesn't make your case any more difficult to make?

MR. FOLEY: There is nothing new in that reality that has emerged in the last two days. It has been of public knowledge that the United States and many other nations are assisting UNSCOM in its work. It is aggressive work; it is work that Iraq abhors; it is work that Iraq tries strenuously to block and render difficult. But there's nothing new in the story, Barry.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoken to any of her Arab counterparts? Have you had any protests from Arab nations today or since we last heard from you?

MR. FOLEY: No, I'm not aware of what further conversations with international colleagues she's had, if any, since Mr. Rubin spoke to that subject yesterday. But I'm certainly not aware of protests; I don't see what there is to protest over. As I said, the United States is proud that it's supporting UNSCOM. After all, we're simply doing what the international community has decided needs to be done, which is to uncover, expose and hopefully disarm Iraq of its programs of weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Jim, on the intelligence business, when you cast a net to collect information sometimes you pick up bits of information which are not strictly relevant to the issue at hand -- weapons of mass destruction. I think one of the questions which was left unanswered yesterday is, what do you do with that other information? Is it of any value to the United States as an ancillary intelligence resource; for example, in tracking the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein?

MR. FOLEY: As we indicated yesterday, American support to UNSCOM was and is specifically tailored to facilitate UNSCOM, the UN inspectors' mission, and for no other purpose, and, of course, was done at the direct request of the UN Special Commission.

In other words, we have acted only to support UNSCOM, number one. Number two, our aim and UNSCOM's aim and presumably the aim of every member of the international community but Iraq is to achieve this purpose, is to find out, to uncover, to expose and hopefully disarm Iraq of its programs of weapons of mass destruction.

As Mr. Rubin also indicated yesterday, the United States did not work with anyone at UNSCOM to collect information specifically for the purpose of undermining the Iraqi regime. Our aim, again, was coincidental to and identical to UNSCOM's aim, which was to find out about weapons of mass destruction programs which Iraq is vigorously trying to disguise.

QUESTION: Right. I'm not talking about your objectives. I'm talking about the fact that sometimes incidental information does come into your net as you're gathering this information. My question is: If that information, for example, concerns the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein or some of his key aides, is that not useful to the United States and its intelligence agencies; and do you not think -

MR. FOLEY: The aim is the same.

QUESTION: I'm not talking about the aim.

MR. FOLEY: No, this is very important. The aim is the same. It has been reported -- I think it's certainly in the public domain - that the Iraqi concealment mechanism, the structures and the personnel that the Iraqis employ to thwart UNSCOM, to disguise its weapons of mass destruction programs, are similar to or identical with the structures and personnel which play a security role in Iraq on behalf of Saddam Hussein and his regime. That is not a reality of the United States' choosing; that is simply a fact produced by Iraq -- that they may employ the same structures and personnel to protect their regime and also to disguise their programs of weapons of mass destruction. It only points to the reality that Saddam Hussein quite evidently looks upon these weapons of mass destruction as vital and central to his rule.

Mr. Rubin answered a question in that regard yesterday. It only emphasizes the point that we've been making, lo these many years, that Saddam clearly does not want to relinquish those weapons of mass destruction programs and that he's been engaged in an ongoing con-game with the international community in order to obtain a lifting of the sanctions without giving up those weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: But my question is - you keep disappearing from the point that I'm trying to raise. Does the United States make use of such incidental information that might come into its possession as a result of incidental intelligence-gathering?

MR. FOLEY: Again, I don't see a distinction. We make use of information that comes from, for example, the U2 over-flights in order to achieve or further two objectives. One is to enhance UNSCOM's ability to ferret out these weapons, and also to enhance our understanding of the weapons of mass destruction. I just don't accept the premise of a distinction that you're trying to draw here.

QUESTION: In other words, part of the program to find out, uncover, expose and disarm Iraq of its chemical/biological weapons involves finding out where Saddam Hussein is, his key operatives, Special Republican Guard; is that what you're saying?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not going to comment on operational details of that nature. I simply said that it's Iraq's choosing that they use the same structures and personnel for both purposes. Our purpose is to support UNSCOM; UNSCOM's purpose is to ferret out Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Can we deal with the latest specific allegations, which do, in fact, go beyond what we believed yesterday, in spite of your attempt to banalize them.

MR. FOLEY: An English formulation.

QUESTION: To portray them as being banal.

MR. FOLEY: Or British.

QUESTION: Did US officials, intelligence officers, work as UNSCOM inspectors undercover without the knowledge of UNSCOM? Secondly, was there a direct feed of eavesdropped information to the National Security Agency?

MR. FOLEY: On the second question, it really is impossible for me to discuss intelligence matters as such. We never do it; I'm not going to do it now. As far as your first question is concerned -- and I think Chairman Butler, though, referenced that question himself yesterday.

But in terms of the first question, let me say that UNSCOM certainly has one of the most difficult tasks in the history of the United Nations, which is disarming a non-cooperative member nation, Iraq, of its hidden arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The business of weapons of mass destruction arms control is extremely serious and cannot be carried out by amateurs. The United States has sent UNSCOM our best weapons experts, both from the government and private organizations. When they work for UNSCOM, they do just that: they work for UNSCOM. We tell people we send to UNSCOM that if you cannot take orders from your chief inspector, who may be of any nationality, then we won't send you.

Now, as I said, UNSCOM draws its inspectors from a variety of nations, and each nation provides experts in the areas of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles from a number of government agencies. Again, these experts were sent to UNSCOM to carry out UNSCOM's mission and take direction from UNSCOM. Beyond that, I'm not going to get into how they do their jobs. But let me stress, as we've been saying all along, that US support was tailored to support UNSCOM's important mission.

I believe that there is a profound misunderstanding that lies behind the kind of question you raise as to how UNSCOM engages people who work for UNSCOM - how this process of hiring nationals from different countries goes about. I checked into this today, and was informed that it is UNSCOM which does the initiating here. UNSCOM approaches member nations, including the United States, with requests for personnel according to very specific criteria.

For example, they may be looking for an expert in chemicals or in chemical weapons or in missiles or in the biological field, for PhDs, for researchers, whatever. But they come to the member nations; the member nations don't go to UNSCOM. Now, the member nations, including the United States, respond to those appeals and propose candidates which UNSCOM either accepts or rejects. I'm told that UNSCOM has often rejected American-proposed candidates for particular UNSCOM jobs on the basis that UNSCOM was looking for a different level of expertise, a different nature of expertise or training or background or whatever.

But these are experts, arms/weapons experts whom we send there, and that's whom we send to work for UNSCOM.

QUESTION: Can you tell us whether such people continue to receive payment from the United States Government?

MR. FOLEY: I'd have to take that question; I don't know the answer. I believe that - and I'd like to take it - I believe that the UNSCOM employees continue to be compensated by - actually, I think it would be far safer for me to take the question and get you the correct answer because I'm just speculating at this point.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - US Government receives these requests from UNSCOM - would have received these requests?

MR. FOLEY: I'd have to take that question, too. My assumption is that these requests probably would be transmitted in New York to our mission to the United Nations and then are farmed out as appropriate, again, on the basis of finding those who have the expertise that fit the criteria that UNSCOM defines.

QUESTION: Do you dispute the report in The Wall Street Journal that some of the information gathered in the pursuit of UNSCOM's mission, gathered to help UNSCOM, was also used to help plan the American air strikes?

MR. FOLEY: In terms of the military action that took place last month, I'd have to refer any operational questions over to the Pentagon. But I think we've been pretty categorical that - I can just repeat what I said and what Mr. Rubin said yesterday, that the United States did not work with anyone in UNSCOM to collect information specifically for the purpose of undermining the Iraqi regime. Our support to UNSCOM was based solely on the aim of helping UNSCOM uncover Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

QUESTION: Do you agree that it can put UNSCOM in a very difficult or uncomfortable position when, at the time it is receiving intelligence from the United States or even sharing intelligence with the United States, the US has two policy goals - one being military action and the second being overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime - that go beyond a UN consensus?

MR. FOLEY: Again, in supporting UNSCOM, we're responding, in the first instance, to a requirement under Security Council obligations. In the second instance, we're responding to specific requests by UNSCOM to provide experts for them to do their job.

In terms of US national policy, our policy aim is not to conduct military action against Iraq. The President decided that had become necessary in December because Iraq was not cooperating with UNSCOM; but that's not a policy aim.

QUESTION: Jim, let me go back to the weapons of mass destruction, specifically gas, poisonous chemicals and the potential for germ warfare. I understand that the targets that might have been relevant - surface targets - were passed up because of the fear of spreading these toxins and the like. So the question is, how does the allies, the UN, the US deal with these places that haven't been touched, where the manufacture apparently is free to go on with it? How do they approach that?

MR. FOLEY: Well, that's the type of question that was asked and answered in December at the time of our military action, about targeting and what US military and British military forces were aiming at and what they weren't aiming at, and the question of collateral damage that was taken into account, and the need to minimize civilian casualties and the like. I would refer you to the lengthy transcripts of various briefings that were conducted in December.

But the question remains, though, Iraq continues to have programs to build weapons of mass destruction. We have always stated our belief that a functioning UNSCOM is the best way of conducting the work of disarming Iraq of those programs. But in the absence of a functioning and effective UNSCOM, the US was going to keep a hawkeye, through national means, on developments inside Iraq and remain prepared to act as necessary.

QUESTION: Could I just ask another little different subject? Saddam Hussein called a couple of days ago for a revolution throughout the Arab world. I just would like to ask you, what's the State Department's opinion as to the reaction to this call in other Arab countries? Did it fizzle?

MR. FOLEY: I think fizzle is about a good a word as any. You could say there has been negative reaction on the part of spokesmen in the Arab world. But I think that our judgment - and I believe it's shared in the Middle East - is that these calls by Saddam Hussein, his speech, the attempts to challenge the no-fly zone, that taken together, these are the actions of a desperate man; at the very least, a remarkably frustrated man.

First frustrated because of the demonstrated impotence of his military establishment during the conduct of the US-UK strikes. They were AWOL, absent in the action. That had to have been somewhat humiliating. Secondly, frustration because of the absence of support for Iraq's position. Third - and this is related to the second - the sense of regional and international loneliness that Saddam Hussein must feel in the wake of the action that he brought upon himself. We think he's certainly isolated in the region and probably he feels he has a lot of explaining to do to people in his own regime and in his own country over why he's not getting support, why his country is continuing to be subject to sanctions and to periodic military action. He's lashing out in desperation. I think there's no better explanation.

QUESTION: How crucial was the contribution of US personnel to UNSCOM? In other words, would UNSCOM be as effective, in your opinion, without the contribution of US personnel?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we've always stated that the composition of UNSCOM's teams is a matter for UNSCOM to decide. We've also often pointed out that the United States, through decades of Cold War experience, has developed a lot of professional expertise in the field of weapons of mass destruction. It so happens that we've got an enormous reservoir of expert talent and capability that UNSCOM has chosen to draw upon.

QUESTION: You quoted the Secretary as saying that those countries that criticized military action and did not acquiesce had failed to come up with an alternate plan. Does that mean that the United States would be open to discussion on disarmament options for Iraq?

MR. FOLEY: Well, that's a very general question. If the implication is as was formulated to Mr. Rubin yesterday - namely, a question about the future shape of UNSCOM, whether we would entertain any proposals or changes or modification -- Mr. Rubin stated that we've always been open to any ideas and efforts that will strengthen UNSCOM, make it even more effective, a more effective instrument of achieving Iraqi disarmament.

Now, if you're talking about reports that you see here and there in the press that some argue for something along the lines of an "UNSCOM-lite" - an UNSCOM that doesn't hurt Iraqi feelings and, perhaps, on that basis doesn't do its job, that's not something that the United States is going to entertain.

QUESTION: No, I don't think anybody's advocating that.

MR. FOLEY: I should hope not.

QUESTION: Are you open to other approaches to disarming Iraq?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we believe that UNSCOM is the best vehicle to produce Iraq's disarmament in the field of weapons of mass destruction. Right now, UNSCOM isn't in Iraq and hadn't gotten sufficient cooperation from Iraq to do its job for most of the last year. So to some extent, currently, it's a moot question. If you ask me a very theoretical question, not related to any kinds of proposals that may be out there concerning UNSCOM, but just simply theoretically whether the US is willing to entertain ideas that actually and truly will lead to disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, the answer is yes. But that's sort of a truism.

QUESTION: I'd like to go back to the question of intelligence officers working undercover for UNSCOM. Obviously, it's not enough to say that if Butler denied it; he wouldn't be aware of such a thing if they were working undercover. Can you - just to keep this short - can you just tell us that you're not prepared to discuss intelligence matters of that kind and have done with it?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, what is your question?

QUESTION: My question is, did US intelligence officers work undercover as UNSCOM inspectors? It's a simple question.

MR. FOLEY: No, the United States, like many other nations, responded to specific requests by UNSCOM to provide experts in the field of weapons of mass destruction, and that's what we provided.

QUESTION: Do you know if there are member nations of the UN, if other countries contributed intelligence officers to work as UNSCOM inspectors?

MR. FOLEY: I have no idea. Let's recall, though, what Mr. Rubin stated yesterday -- three or four times -- I reread his transcript -- about the fact the people who go to Iraq come back outside of Iraq with more understanding of what's going on inside Iraq - be they journalists, diplomats or whatever. That's not a dramatic issue either.

QUESTION: There's no UNSCOM operating now, so I can imagine the days that you or Rubin will be standing there and telling us how a reshaped UNSCOM without Butler as chairman is actually a positive development because it would get UNSCOM back in there. But the question is: Is the US prepared or considering scaling down UNSCOM's operations and/or encouraging Mr. Butler to retire from the job, maybe in June?

MR. FOLEY: On the second point, no; absolutely not. No, I've seen press reports that indicate some question as to whether he's interested in remaining on the job after June of this year, when his current contract, I believe it is, expires. That's a matter for Chairman Butler to decide.

We continue to have complete confidence in his professional and independent efforts and, indeed, the rest of UNSCOM to vigorously meet its disarmament mandate, as called for in UN Security Council resolutions. We support him; he's done a superb job. If he is willing to stay on in the job, then he will continue to have our confidence and support.

That's not the question. Iraq would like to personalize this issue. In the person of Richard Butler, it would like to demonize UNSCOM. But as Jamie Rubin said yesterday, that's all part of an effort to shoot the messenger, to change the subject, to put the onus back on those who are trying to oblige Iraq to meet its international commitments.

Now, you asked, I think also, about a different UNSCOM going back in. I can just refer you to the answer I gave to Carole.

QUESTION: You said the US wouldn't go for - well, it's hard to pursue this because we don't know --

MR. FOLEY: You're talking hypothetically, and, of course, we don't answer hypothetical questions.

What I can say, though, is that we're not panting to have UNSCOM go back in there now, as you can see. We'd have to be convinced, through affirmative action, that UNSCOM would be going back in able to do its job, enjoying the kind of honest cooperation from Iraq that we haven't seen. So we indicated at the time of the military strikes in December that the Iraqis would have to, going back to the Missouri motto, "Show Me," we would have to be convinced that UNSCOM was going to be able to do its job and that we didn't want to be drawn back into this pattern that we've been going through over the last several years where Saddam makes a promise, UNSCOM goes back in, starts to do its work and then encounters obstructionism and concealment. We don't want to go back into that.

We feel pretty comfortable about where we are. In spite of a lot of things you read, commentary in the press, that Saddam is in a good position and we're not, we think, look at what Saddam is saying and what he's doing. We see an increasingly desperate man and we feel that our overall policy of containment, which two Administration have pursued, has been very successful and that Saddam is basically where we want him to be, which is contained and unable to threaten his neighbors.

QUESTION: Well, all right, if we take the State Department's position that everybody wants to see Iraq disarmed, and if we take Saddam's position that he won't let the UNSCOM team in the way it's constituted now, then you would seem to have to make a decision whether you're going to revise UNSCOM more to Saddam's acceptance.

MR. FOLEY: I don't accept that premise.

QUESTION: All right. Then how are you going to get them back there? You're not going to be able to get them back there.

MR. FOLEY: Let me tell you why. Just as I stated a few minutes ago, we can accept the status quo right now. It's not perfect; we would like to see an effective UNSCOM going back in there - and only an effective UNSCOM going back in there. But we can live with the status quo. It's Mr. Saddam Hussein who wants to have sanctions lifted. And he's not going to have sanctions lifted if UNSCOM isn't able to go in there, do its job and come out and certify that Iraq has been disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction.

In other words, I think the status quo is one that Saddam Hussein does not like and wishes to escape from.

QUESTION: But we can't accept the status quo of his possession of weapons of mass destruction and his continued -

MR. FOLEY: I think I've covered that point -- we are prepared to act again as necessary.

QUESTION: Continuing aerial assault by Iraq -- how long can the United States and Britain put up with that? Could that possibly prompt a new round of significant air strikes?

MR. FOLEY: I can only restate what we said at the close of the military operation in December -- that if we see Saddam Hussein working to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction, to threaten his neighbors, to move against the north, to do things of that nature, that we remain prepared to act. I think the United States has shown remarkable staying power over the last seven, eight, almost nine years now in dealing with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: Jim, what you said about you would only want to see an effective UNSCOM go back in there and do its job -- you're really setting the bar so high that it's just not going to happen.

MR. FOLEY: Look, Saddam is the one we are confronting with this difficult choice. He's always wanted to have it both ways - to have sanctions lifted and to keep his weapons of mass destruction. As long as we are able consistently to drive home the message that the only avenue to sanctions relief is disarmament, then I think we're in a very strong position.

QUESTION: Jim, one clarification -- the telephone call yesterday between Kofi Annan and the Secretary, who initiated that phone call?

MR. FOLEY: I believe the Secretary did.

QUESTION: The Secretary did.

MR. FOLEY: I don't know the answer for a fact, but -

QUESTION: There was some conflicting reports on it.

MR. FOLEY: My understanding of what Mr. Rubin said yesterday was that she read the articles and wanted to seek clarification; so I'm only assuming that she initiated the call. I can check it for you if you want.

QUESTION: Please do.

QUESTION: Also on Iraq but on a slightly different subject -- there is some reports out of Iraq that in mid-December some 180 political prisoners were massacred or executed by the Iraqi authorities in a prison in Baghdad. Do you know anything about that?

MR. FOLEY: I've not seen that specific report. I can check it for you. As you know, earlier in the week, Mr. Rubin did lay out in some detail information that we have concerning increased repression in the South of the Shia, and he laid out some great detail. I'd not heard that report, but I'll look into it, see if we have any information on it.

QUESTION: Can I switch next door to Iran? Do you have anything on the report that they were going -

MR. FOLEY: Just a second, Barry.

QUESTION: One last one on UNSCOM transformation -

MR. FOLEY: Last one.

QUESTION: Yes, can you be more specific on what's your bottom line, if you accept any change in UNSCOM's composition, mission, mandate, whatever? Would you be willing to accept, for example, a non-permanent presence of US inspectors on Iraqi soil? I mean a system by which they could come in and go out, or a system by which the UNSCOM mission would be carried out by non- US inspectors.

MR. FOLEY: Well, you're getting - first, into a hypothetical realm that I can't get into and also into a level of detail that I can't get into because our position is pretty clear and very firm on this, as I've laid it out to you. You mentioned composition, you mentioned mandate, you mentioned leadership. On all of these issues, we have a firm position. On the leadership, we support Chairman Butler. On the composition, we've always said that this should be up to UNSCOM, based on its assessment of its professional expert needs. On the question of mandate, I made very clear we're not going to accept a watered down mandate or an UNSCOM-lite.

QUESTION: Can I ask one quick on Iraq?

MR. FOLEY: Andre promised that was the last one on Iraq, and he engaged all of you in that commitment.

QUESTION: While the US says it's okay with the status quo, other members of the Security Council don't appear to be so satisfied. I mean, the French President, Jacques Chirac --

MR. FOLEY: Can I interrupt for one second? I didn't say that the status quo is ideal. The ideal is an UNSCOM back in, working effectively. I'm just saying that in the absence of that, we can live with the status quo because we think it's a status quo that keeps Saddam contained.

QUESTION: Well, how do you respond to the French President's somewhat criticism of the US-British air strikes in saying that now the UN Security Council should take over the leadership role and it shouldn't be in American-British hands?

MR. FOLEY: Well, the Security Council determined that it needed to create a body of experts - those who understood the complex issue of weapons of mass destruction. We believe that it requires experts to go in there and verify what Iraq is doing - experts who can certify, at the end of the day, hopefully, that Iraq has been disarmed. This is not a political decision in the first instance.

The political authority is the Security Council. We will have to assess, ultimately, an UNSCOM and IAEA report of good behavior or of disarmament. But we believe that the experts need to do the disarmament work.

QUESTION: Iran's next door. There's some similarity, though: our policy never changes in both places. In Iran, where you think you see moderation and you're jumping up, clicking your heels with joy over the report that even maybe with the Ayatollah's approval, there will be some action taken against some officials or some intelligence folks for mistreatment - actually, slaughter is a better word that mistreatment --

MR. FOLEY: I'll be honest with you: I have nothing prepared that's new on that. What Mr. Rubin said - was it yesterday --

QUESTION: I must have been out of the room; I beg your pardon.

MR. FOLEY: He noted that it was a positive development or step if Iranian authorities had arrested some people responsible; and it would be a further positive step if this were pursued and all those guilty were brought to justice, because we certainly support the idea that Iran develop a system in which the rule of law is prevailing. We think that's very positive.

QUESTION: Develop a system where the rule of law is prevailing and also pursue weapons of mass destruction that threatens virtually the entire world. Are these two things inconsistent? Would you be happy with half a loaf - Iran-lite?

(Laughter.)

MR. FOLEY: No. That's not --

QUESTION: Well, the people in this building seem to be awfully excited about Khatemi and see all sorts of - it sounds like 1970-whatever.

MR. FOLEY: I happened to be at the podium a number of times last year when we were dealing with this issue, so I can more or less paraphrase myself when we said that we welcomed the prospect of change in Iran, of an Iran that was becoming more democratic in which the rule of law would prevail, an Iran that, on that basis, would be a better regional neighbor and member of the international community.

We also stated that we wanted to see positive changes in Iran reflected in Iranian external policies and in its military capabilities as well.

Cuba?

QUESTION: Have you gotten an answer or any response?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of any response.

QUESTION: On Cambodia, there was an AP story this morning that said a former Khmer Rouge general in Cambodia has threatened renewed fighting in case any more efforts are made to bring Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea to trial. I was wondering whether you had anything on that.

MR. FOLEY: The United States is consistently attached great importance to bringing senior Khmer Rouge leaders such as Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan to justice for their actions during the 1975-1979 period. We are now consulting with the Cambodians and other interested governments in how to accomplish this.

We strongly support Cambodia's goal of national reconciliation, and we believe that Khmer Rouge accountability for their actions is consistent with the goal of national reconciliation. In terms of that threat, I can't really speak to it. Of course, it's something that we would condemn. In terms of its potential impact, though, on what might happen, let me say that Prime Minister Hun Sen stated on January 1st that he supported a trial for Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. Prince Ranariddh, the Chairman of the National Assembly, has also publicly supported a tribunal for the atrocities of the mid-70s.

Secretary of State for Information Khieu Kanharith has indicated that the Cambodian government would review the issue of arresting the senior Khmer Rouge leaders if they are indicted. We call upon the government of Cambodia to insist upon the accountability for the crimes of the '75-'79 period.

QUESTION: In your conversations - US' conversations - are they convinced that that is the operative position because he's taken about every position you could take.

MR. FOLEY: Well, he made a public statement on January 1st. Our Ambassador met with the Prime Minister earlier this week. On that basis, we believe that there's reason to hope that the Cambodians will pursue accountability of these Khmer Rouge leaders.

QUESTION: Did the mention of the atrocity make a difference as to whether you think the one who committed it should be tried or forgiven in the interest of reconciliation? I'm thinking of Pinochet versus the Khmer Rouge people here.

MR. FOLEY: I think it's always difficult, and you know we've been back and forth on this so many times in this briefing room to make sort of arm chair comparisons about what needs to be done in given situations.

I have no further comment on the Chilean situation. They, after all, they have been dealing with this issue and have managed to negotiate their way to a democratic form of government. At the same time, we've made clear that we do support the principle of accountability for crimes that were committed - human rights violations - terrible human rights violations that were committed during that period in Chile.

So, it's the comparison business is not an easy one, especially to do kind of spontaneously if you will. There are certain episodes in the history of the 20th Century that certainly stand in their own category. One of them is, obviously, the Nazi barbarism of genocide perpetrated in Europe. I don't think anyone has characterized as what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia as anything but genocide, mass killing on an unimaginable scale.

QUESTION: When and where is Ambassador Ross meeting with Foreign Minister Sharon? And do you know when Ambassador Ross is going to be traveling back to the Middle East?

MR. FOLEY: You know, I had heard, I believe, that he was going to be meeting with the Foreign Minister in New York on Friday. I'd have to check that for you though.

QUESTION: As to when he goes back to the Middle East?

MR. FOLEY: I heard that he's going to be traveling to Israel. I don't have a day yet on that.

QUESTION: Is this another team trip or is - because he has a date to make a speech - but is there more to the trip than that? I mean, does he take the baggage - although I don't mean personnel being baggage, but -

MR. FOLEY: The honest answer, Barry, is that I don't know. I would be surprised if he didn't use the opportunity of his presence there to touch base with the parties, but I -

QUESTION: I'm sorry. Well, I was going to -

MR. FOLEY: Maybe I should speak on.

QUESTION: Well, there's a 17th candidate - or, I don't know, if lost track - the general, who reminds people of Rabin, he probably has a good chance.

MR. FOLEY: You know my answer.

QUESTION: Well, no the question is, will he talk to these - I know the US always talks to the opposition, particularly Labor, when it's in the opposition. But will he take the inclination to talk to this general -

MR. FOLEY: In a democratic country and friendly country like Israel, we talk to a range of voices, no matter who's in power.

QUESTION: I know, (inaudible) and there were 27 candidates. The serious question is: Can you determine a little more on the extent of his mission, if it really goes way beyond on making the speech, and will he speak to at least - I don't know what - the prominent candidates, including the newly declared general?

MR. FOLEY: I'd be happy to look into that for you.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Israelis knocking down about 12 houses in Lebanon on the border?

MR. FOLEY: I have not heard that report. I'd have to look into it for you.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment at all about the select committee - House committee - that Chris Cox chairs and their report specifically about technological transfers to China? Does the State Department favor making that public?

MR. FOLEY: The Cox Committee and the Executive Branch agencies are working on declassification of the report's findings and appropriate report material. We've received a copy of the Committee's recommendations and are currently reviewing them. As soon as we receive a copy of the full report, we will start the declassification process.

Thank you.

QUESTION: How long?

MR. FOLEY: I don't know how long it's going to take.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) report on Jonathan Pollard, that the US is considering reducing his sentence from life to 25 years. Can you comment on that?

MR. FOLEY: I've not heard that report. As you know, the President is going to be reviewing the matter and he's asked for input from relevant agencies. But I have no status report for you on that. In any case, I won't, because that's going to be a White House matter.

QUESTION: Would there be input coming from the State Department -

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: And will the Secretary of State be giving a recommendation to the President?

MR. FOLEY: She will be, yes.

QUESTION: So she decided on that?

MR. FOLEY: I don't know the status of that.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:05 P.M.)


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