News

The White House Briefing Room


November 20, 1998

PRESS BRIEFING BY DIRECTOR OF ASIAN AFFAIRS FOR NSC JACK PRITCHARD, AND DEPUTY SECRETARY OF TREASURY LARRY SUMMERS

6:05 P.M. (L)





                               THE WHITE HOUSE

                        Office of the Press Secretary
                                (Tokyo, Japan)
______________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                     November 20, 1998     


	    
                              PRESS BRIEFING BY 
              DIRECTOR OF ASIAN AFFAIRS FOR NSC JACK PRITCHARD,
                AND DEPUTY SECRETARY OF TREASURY LARRY SUMMERS
	    
                             Akasaka Prince Hotel
                                Tokyo, Japan 	  			       
		  	      


6:05 P.M. (L)
	    
	    
	    MR. LEAVY:  For all of you who didn't get to ask questions at the 
press availability with the President, we've got the Deputy Treasury Secretary 
Larry Summers to talk about the economic aspects of President Clinton's and 
Prime Minister Obuchi's discussions this afternoon.  And we've got Jack 
Pritchard, Director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, to talk 
about the security aspects of today's discussions.  Jack was also part of the 
Special Envoy Kartman's trip to Yongbyon and can answer your questions on 
North Korea.  

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


	  MR. PRITCHARD:  In the bilateral meetings that the 
President held with Prime Minister Obuchi they led off for about 
45 minutes on a discussion on security issues.  In that 
discussion the President and the Prime Minister discussed the 
bilateral aspect of our security relations.  A couple of things 
that were discussed, and that was the defense guidelines and the 
importance of moving forward and passing the implementing 
legislation.  And Prime Minister Obuchi indicated that it was on 
track, and we're pleased with that. 

	  The other was the SACO, or the Special Action Committee 
on Okinawa, that that's on track and moving forward and 
ultimately will lead to the relocation of Futenba Air Base -- 
excuse me, Futenba Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa.

	  The two also talked about the Wye River agreement, in 
which the Prime Minister indicated he wanted to help support to 
maintain momentum for what the President had accomplished there, 
and is in the process, as he announced earlier, of pledging some 
$200 million to the Palestinians over the next two years.  
	  
	  They also spent the best part of the discussion on 
North Korea.  And I can go into a little bit of that detail a 
little bit later.  

	  The two had an opportunity at dinner last night to 
discuss other issues, regional issues, on Russia and China, so 
that was not taken up in any significant detail.

	  Q    Can you tell us a few things about North Korea?  
One is the agreed framework puts certain things under observation 
and certain things are subject to inspections.  Can you just give 
us a sense of which is which?  And I forgot the second question.

	  MR. PRITCHARD:  The agreed framework calls on the North 
Koreans to freeze their plutonium production capability at 
Yongbyon, a nuclear site.  They have done that.  There are IAEA 
monitors there now to safeguard and to verify the implementation 
of that.  That's been done.  We're on the verge of finishing the 
canning operation of the spent fuel that is stored in the ponds 
there.  That should be done by the end of the year.

	  What is built into the agreed framework is the special 
inspections later as the lite-water reactors come on line, or 
about to come on line, before key or critical components go into 
the LWR, the IAEA must be satisfied about North Korea's 
compliance with the NPT.  So that's the distinction now.

	  Q    I remember the second question, which is, what 
were the objections that the North Koreans threw into the 
inspections that the President said earlier today were 
unacceptable?

	  MR. PRITCHARD:  Well, now you're talking about a couple 
different things.  You are now talking about the suspected 
underground construction that if our suspicions are borne out 
could turn out to be nuclear related, which is precisely the 
reason for Ambassador Kartman's trip into North Korea the 16th 
through the 18th of this month.

	  So what we're looking at is whether or not what we have 
seen is a violation of the agreed framework.  The answer is, it 
is not at this point, but we certainly don't want to see anything 
proceed down the road that, in fact, would endanger the agreed 
framework.

	  Q    So that's what the President was objecting to, was 
inspections on that specific --
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  What the North Koreans have initially 
indicated is that to allow inspections on this particular site, 
this new site, they have placed some obstacles in the way for 
which we have found not acceptable.  And that's what the 
President was indicating.
	  
	  Q    When you say it's not a violation, is that on the 
basis of your trip or that's what you --
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  No, the information that we've built 
all along and the reason for which we are now confronting the 
North Koreans is the suspicions we have we want to ensure don't 
lead to a violation of the agreed framework.  So if they continue 
down that road they very well could.  Right now, as we said 
before, it is not, but we're not concerned about the technicality 
of the letter of the law.  We have addressed this issue of our 
concerns with them.
	  
	  Q    There are some in South Korea who say that the 
agreed framework is -- from the standpoint of the North Koreans, 
site specific, and that therefore, whatever may be going on 
somewhere else in the country doesn't apply to the agreed 
framework.
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  No, that's not accurate.  The agreed 
framework applies to the freezing of North Koreans' plutonium 
production capability.  So it wouldn't matter where that were 
occurring, if we had indications it was someplace else -- and we 
do not -- it would fall into that category.
	  
	  Q    What is the overall assessment of what North Korea 
is doing?  Do you see the missile launch and the suspected 
underground site as a breakdown, or do you see them continuing to 
try to cooperate with South Korea, Japan and the United States?
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  That's kind of an either-or on two 
extremes there.  We are very much concerned about the 31 August 
missile launch, and that's one of the things, as the President 
indicated, he was here to discuss with the Prime Minister and 
it's high on his agenda when he goes to Korea today, and for 
discussions tomorrow with President Kim.
	  
	  In terms of the North Koreans, they certainly, I 
believe, see this as the normal evolution of their own program.  
Missiles, as you know, are not captured within the agreed 
framework.  They certainly don't think there is a violation; 
there is not, but this whole issue of what the North Koreans are 
doing is very much a concern to us.  We don't treat it as 
separate issues and we are looking at the broad range of what 
North Korea's activities are, whether or not they have bought 
into the concept behind the agreed framework and the four-party 
talks which seeks to replace the Armistice with a permanent peace 
treaty.
	  
	  Q    -- the inability to inspect the underground site 
and the missile development are outside the framework, the agreed 
framework, what does the United States do now?
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  One of the things when the agreed 
framework was developed, there was not a provision for some type 
of challenge inspection or verification of concerns, and so 
that's in fact what we're doing now.  It's not that they are 
untouchable or outside the realm of contact, but we are 
aggressively engaged in discussions with the North Koreans to 
figure out how we can in fact satisfy our concerns -- site access 
and to ensure that there is not a violation or will not be a 
violation of the agreed framework.
	  
	  Q    But what's the leverage the United States has -- 
what can the United States threaten or offer?
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  Well, in basic terms the leverage is 
the future of a relationship.  The North Koreans hold very much a 
value to the development of a relationship with the United 
States.  Within the agreed framework part of the objectives once 
it is carried out or as it is being carried out is the economic 
and political normalization there.  We've got a series of 
obstacles that are not allowing that to proceed at this point.  
But it still -- it cannot be understated how much the North 
Koreans ultimately value and will depend upon a more normal 
relationship with the United States.
	  
	  Q    In these talks that you have with the North 
Koreans, have they made it clear -- there was a news report today 
that there were two new launch facilities for medium-range 
missiles and stepped-up short-range missiles.  Have they made it 
clear why they have such a robust missile program?  Do they 
maintain it's for their own security, do we suspect it's for 
leverage on other fronts?  
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  Well, without commenting on the 
specific story in mind that is coming out tomorrow in The 
Washington Post or today in The Washington Post, the North 
Koreans have contended all along that they are a small country, 
they have some requirements to defend themselves.  They have the 
right, the sovereign right for the indigenous production and 
deployment of missiles.  They certainly are a cash-strapped 
nation which accounts for some of their motivation for the 
proliferation of those things.
	  
	  Q    The President said that it is possible that these 
developments signal a more hostile attitude by the North Koreans 
to the rest of the world.  What is your own take on that?  Is 
that the way you see it?
	  
	  MR. PRITCHARD:  Well, let me suggest over the last 
couple of years or so we've seen things that, starting in 
September of '96 with the submarine incursion into South Korean 
territory, followed by a more recent submarine incursion, et 
cetera, that you would not think should be going on at this point 
in time.  With a North Korean economy that is in dire straits, 
they ought to be engaged in a more productive and positive way.  
They're not.  
	  
	  There's a new, as you're well aware, a new 
administration in the Republic of Korea, headed by Kim dae-Jung, 
who is actively engaging the North.  Recently Hyundai Corporation 
reached agreement with the North to conduct tour ships to Kunga 
Mountain, providing in the neighborhood of $150 million in cash 
over the next six years for the rights to develop that. 


	  So you would expect that they would be more engaged on 
the positive side; that has not happened.  They've gone through a 
transition over the last four years in terms of the death of Kim 
il-Sung, the downturn in their economy, the fall of the Soviet 
Union, the isolation of their traditional partners, the subsidies 
that they get on trade.  So there's a good deal of turmoil going 
on at the same time that they maintain a good deal of priority 
and emphasis on their own military structure.  That's what's 
keeping them afloat.


..........


	       Q Can I ask another Korea question?  Can we go 
back -- at some point -- what's the next step?  Will there be 
talks again in Geneva, for instance, or have be basically said 
until we hear more about this site we will have no more 
conversations there?

	  MR. PRITCHARD:  No.  We are actively pursuing -- one of 
the things that at the end of the discussions in Yongbyon we 
agreed we would continue this discussion -- we've got a target 
date of probably around the first week in December.  But there 
are some details that have to be worked out -- exactly where this 
is going to be held and whatnot.  But we are actively pursuing 
this and the North Koreans have received the very serious message 
that we took to them.

	  Q    Is Bill Perry going to go to North Korea and talk 
to the North Koreans?  Or what's the nature of his role that the 
President mentioned?

	  MR. PRITCHARD:  Right now, as the President indicated, 
Dr. Perry will come on board to help conduct an overall review of 
our North Korea policy, taking into stock kind of offset for 
what's needed and going on -- details, talking with our allies in 
South Korea and Japan.  Kind of following exactly what the 
President is doing now.  He's come to Japan, he's talking with 
the Prime Minister, he's going on to South Korea tomorrow to 
discuss that.  The Prime Minister recently had a state visit by 
President Kim in South Korea.  President Jiang Zemin is coming 
here as well.

	  So you've got a series of these leaders talking and 
they're talking very focused on the North Korean policy.
              
	  Q    Thank you.

             END                      6:26 P.M. (L)