News

Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1998
Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

N. KOREA
7,8,9Foreign Operations Bill and KEDO/Nuclear capability/Access to Underground Facility/Talks with Congress/Heavy Fuel Oil/Waiver Authority Next Year's Funding
9Debris from Missile Launch/Terrorism Talks




U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 108
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1998, 2:10 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)


............

QUESTION: KEDO funding - yesterday the House passed a foreign operations bill which included an amendment that tries to kill the KEDO funding next year; so do you have any comment?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that we've made clear we have serious concerns about certain congressional restrictions; Secretary Albright spoke to that yesterday. KEDO is one of them. We believe that this is an agreement that is in our interest. We all have to bear in mind that in the absence of this agreement, in 1994, we were facing a situation where sanctions were likely to be imposed and North Korea threatened war if sanctions were imposed, and our military was taking steps to be in a position to be ready for any such action. That was a very dangerous situation.

What has brought us back from that brink was the decision by the North Koreans to freeze the nuclear materials facilities and to allow the IAEA to monitor those facilities and to stop their reprocessing - steps that were not required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime that went beyond the requirements of normal non-proliferation requirements.

So as a result of that agreement, we avoided a very dangerous situation - dangerous because North Korea having a nuclear weapons capability of that magnitude is dangerous to us, it's dangerous to our neighbors. The way out was the KEDO agreement - the agreed framework that set up KEDO. That was designed to induce North Korea to take these extraordinary steps and agree to inspections and no reprocessing, which no country had previously agreed to under the international proliferation system.

We believe that if we can't fulfill our part of the agreement, it will be much, much harder to convince the North Koreans to fulfill their part of the agreement. As you know, we have serious concerns about a suspicious underground facility. We've now gotten an agreement to a meeting in which access will be required by the United States to that facility. We are doing what we can to keep North Korea acting in compliance with the agreement. We have no illusions about what North Korea's intentions are, what kind of society they are; but we think this is the best alternative to the kind of crisis and nuclear danger that we faced in 1994.

So we will continue to try to convince the Congress of the wisdom of that position and make clear to them the dangers if we fail to pursue the agreement and we fail to get North Korea to live up to its part of the agreement.

QUESTION: Next week - or actually not next week, the week after anybody from this Department goes to Congress to talk with some of the leaders?

MR. RUBIN: On that subject, people in this Department are in contact with members of Congress morning, afternoon and night on that subject. So I don't know what particular meetings are planned. But we intend to continue to make our case to Congress about the danger to the world of a failure of North Korea to live up to its required positions in the agreed framework and the fact that if we don't do our share, it will be harder to get them to do that.

QUESTION: Are they accepting that argument - based on your contacts with them?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the premise of the question is that a certain committee and a certain bill did not accept that argument.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I'm asking because Albright herself said a couple of weeks ago that one way or another, at least this year, we're going to be able to meet our commitments. The implication was that if we can't get it from the Japanese and the South Koreans, we'll get it from our own Treasury.

MR. RUBIN: There are two issues. One is how we will provide the heavy fuel oil for the remainder of this year; and we believe we have the combination of waiver authority and we've done the consultations that will permit that to occur.

The issue is next year's funding. There has been congressional action that we strongly oppose for the reasons I stated.

QUESTION: Jamie, did the discovery this time of the parts of the rocket or the satellite or whatever the North Koreans put up there landed near Alaska cause the Administration to change its assessment of what happened?

MR. RUBIN: No, I'm not aware of this particular fact as you describe it.

QUESTION: The Pentagon yesterday said it.

MR. RUBIN: Right. I know that between yesterday and today we haven't changed our assessment of that missile, and the words provided would be the same.

QUESTION: Do you have any announcement about terrorism talks with North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: No.

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(The briefing concluded at 2:35 P.M.)

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