News

Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1998
Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

NORTH KOREA
10US dismissed requests for compensation to allow site inspections.
11US has substantial, credible evidence to demand site investigation.
11,12US believes failure to resolve issue will call Agreed Framework's viability into question.



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 129
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1998, 12:50 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

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QUESTION: North Korea. There are reports that the United States is being asked by the North Koreans to pay $300 million for the privilege of inspecting their underground site. Do you have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: We did hear requests and claims by the North Koreans that they wanted compensation, and we dismissed those ridiculous numbers out of hand. We're not going to pay compensation to confirm that they are living up to their obligations under this important nuclear agreement. We have substantial evidence that there are suspicious activities going on at this site. That is the reason why we consider this such an important issue, why we wanted to bring home to the North Koreans the seriousness of this issue and why we have said that a failure to resolve the issue could affect the viability of the agreement and could have very negative consequences for our relationship.

So we take this seriously. There is substantial evidence, and we don't intend to compensate the North Koreans for any access. That's simply out of the question.

QUESTION: But how about the figure -- $300 million? Is that in the ballpark?

MR. RUBIN: Without baseball analogies, that would be a place that one might play.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about a report that the soil and water samples taken from these two sites -- -- (inaudible) - last year? If so, what significance do these tests have; what do they say about --

MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be able to get into the basis of our evidence; but let me say we have substantial evidence. We have credible evidence, or we wouldn't be in this situation of demanding this kind of direct discussion on this subject. I've identified the site's name to you yesterday, and we have reason to believe that something suspicious in the nuclear area is going on there or else we wouldn't be raising this to such a high level and to such a level of importance. But I would not be able to get into the reasons why we have reason to believe.

QUESTION: Have they gotten back to you on the next meeting?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have a new date for you, but I would expect it to occur in a short number of weeks.

QUESTION: Closely related question -- in the midst of these delicate negotiations as well four-party talks to achieve the peace in the Peninsula, our people are being told in Honolulu that people there are drawing up plans to obliterate the North if it steps over the DMZ. Does the State Department know about this? Is there any reaction to it? How does that affect peace efforts?

MR. RUBIN: I've seen those reports and I suggest you address them to the Pentagon.

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QUESTION: Do you mind getting another question on North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: I'd be thrilled and honored.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is the burden now on the North Koreans to prove to your satisfaction that nuclear weapons development is not going on at this suspicious site; and if it is, that it be stopped in its tracks?

MR. RUBIN: We believe this issue is sufficiently important, that we believe failure to resolve it will call into question the viability of the agreement. We are not going to accept verbal assurances on this subject; we need access. How one defines the burden of responsibility here, we have substantial evidence that makes us deeply concerned about this problem, and we're going to require access. The burden is certainly on North Korea to give us access to satisfy ourselves on this important issue.

QUESTION: Jamie, have you all told the North Koreans some - you've told them of your concern. Have you told them what some of the evidence is that leads you to strongly suspect that illegal activities are going on?

MR. RUBIN: I can't get into the level of detail that was discussed, but certainly we've made clear certain facts that we know about the situation, yes.

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