News

May 13, 1998

[EXCERPTS] PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL BERGER

8:25 P.M. (L)





                               THE WHITE HOUSE

                        Office of the Press Secretary
                              (Berlin, Germany)
____________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                     May 13, 1998     

                              PRESS BRIEFING BY
                   NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL BERGER

                              Radisson SAS Hotel
                               Berlin, Germany


8:25 P.M. (L)

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

	     
	     Q	  Sandy, what would the United States like the 
G-8 summit to do on the issue of India?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, I'm sure this will be raised at 
the summit.  I would hope that the participants at the summit 
would issue a very strong and clear statement condemning the 
action of India and calling upon it not only to cease this series 
of tests, but to stop testing, sign the Comprehensive Test Ban 
Treaty.  And we would hope that individual nations would take 
concrete and tangible actions that would make it very clear that 
the era of nuclear testing is ending.  And India is, in a sense, 
swimming against the tide.
	     
	     We were pleased today to see the Japanese government 
announce that it was cutting off aid, they were suspending aid to 
Japan (sic), and we would hope that other countries would 
consider similar steps.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, if the Pakistanis go ahead and do a test 
of their own, would the U.S. -- would the President be required 
under law to impose the same kinds of sanctions against Pakistan?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I think the law is fairly clear, that 
if a non-nuclear -- so-called non-nuclear state undertakes a 
nuclear test, it is covered by the provisions of the Glenn 
Amendment and sanctions will be applied.
	     
	     We would certainly hope that Pakistan would not do 
that in its own self-interest.  I think if the Pakistanis were to 
refrain from that act, notwithstanding what the Indians have 
done, I think it would gain the high moral ground in the world 
and I think that would redound to its benefit.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, what did the Pakistani Prime Minister 
tell President Clinton when he asked him not to take that road?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, I don't think -- just as the 
President didn't characterize what the Prime Minister said, I'm 
not going to either.  It was a very good conversation.  I think 
the President made the argument as to why, notwithstanding 
considerable public pressure at this point in Pakistan, it would 
be in Pakistan's interest to not respond in kind.  I think the 
Prime Minister listened attentively, but he made no commitments 
and I'm not going to characterize that.  
	     
	     Q	  How could President Clinton go to either 
Pakistan or India this year?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, we've -- you know, we've made no 
decision whether to change our plan at this point to go to India 
and Pakistan.  I think we need to let some time go by and see how 
this plays out before we make any decision.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, if I can follow on that if I can.  There 
was a story late today which suggested that the Indian government 
had finished its testing and was now willing to consider a 
testing ban.  If they did that, would that smooth things over and 
perhaps allow for a visit?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, it would certainly be -- I think 
the report you refer to I think is accurate, that is that the 
government of India has indicated that this is the end of this 
series of tests.  I don't believe that it has said that it will 
never test again.  Clearly, it would be, I believe, in India's 
interest to unequivocally make that commitment.  And the most 
unequivocal way it could make that commitment would be to become 
signatories and then ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  I 
think that would do a great deal to help improve India's standing 
in the world.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, do you see any evidence that in fact 
that is India's intention, that they have signaled in any way, 
shape, or form to the United States they're now willing to do 
that?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  No, I have no evidence that they're 
going to do that.  I'm saying I think it would be very much in 
their interest to do it.  What India has done over the last two 
days has not been, in my judgment, in India's own long-term 
self-interest.  That is this is, as the President said, a vibrant 
democracy, an important country, a country that has been 
unshackling itself from a lot of the economic baggage that has 
held it down for many years.  It has enormous potential.  
	     
	     But now that the world, now that the five declared 
nuclear nations -- Russia, China, the United States, France, 
Great Britain, and 149 minus five other countries have foresworn 
nuclear testing, nuclear testing is simply, I think as the 
President said, unnecessary, unjustifiable at this point, and we 
would hope that they would make that same commitment.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, can you explain the importance of Strobe 
Talbott's mission now to Pakistan, why that's --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Secretary Talbott and General Zinni 
will go off to Pakistan.  The President raised the idea this 
morning with Prime Minister Sharif, whether it would be useful 
for a representative or a delegation -- not a delegation -- a 
representative to come to Pakistan to discuss these issues with 
him.  And Prime Minister Sharif said he would be pleased to have 
an official come.
	     
	     I think that, again, the purpose here is to further 
make the argument to Pakistan -- which is, you know, right next 
door and has just seen this act that is quite destabilizing and 
is obviously, as the President said, the Pakistani people feeling 
quite exercised about this, to try to make the argument to Prime 
Minister Sharif that Pakistan could gain a great deal in the 
national community right now if it refused to respond in kind.
	     
	     Q	  Is that kind of to send a signal to India?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  No, General Zinni knows this area very 
well, knows the people very well.  Obviously, there are many 
different institutions within the Pakistan government whose 
opinions are brought to bear on decisions such as this, and we 
thought it would be useful for him to join Talbott.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, after being blind-sided in the first 
round, did the United States Intelligence Agency see this second 
round of tests coming?  Did India alert us that it was going to 
do this?  And does the President still have full confidence in 
the CIA director?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Let me say -- first of all, after the 
first tests on Monday, Secretary Pickering spoke directly to the 
Indians and asked them specifically whether they intended to 
explode any further devices.  And the Indians were nonresponsive 
to that question.  So obviously we were apprehensive after the 
first set of tests that there could be more.
	     
	     I think with respect to the intelligence side of 
this, first of all one has to recognize this is a difficult 
intelligence undertaking.  But the specific answer to your 
question is the President absolutely has full confidence in 
Director Tenet -- we talked about it specifically today -- and 
both confidence in his I think very, very strong leadership of 
the intelligence community and confidence that he will review the 
facts and circumstances surrounding the events of the last few 
days in a very thorough and objective way with the outside help 
of Admiral Jeremiah, who, as you know, was General Powell's vice 
chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is a man of enormous both 
integrity and wisdom and expertise.  And we'll see what happens.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, what role did the President's 
apprehension about a second round of tests play in the decision 
not to delay invoking a legislation further and to go ahead and 
impose the sanctions.  Did he hope to forestall the second round 
of tests or did --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I lost you in your negatives there.  Do 
you want to try that again.
	     
	     Q	  I'll try it again.  If the President was 
apprehensive that there was going to be a second round of 
tests --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, what I said is we were -- I don't 
think I said that -- I think this has taken place really at a 
level below the President, with Pickering and others concerned 
after three tests were there going to be more.
	     
	     Q	  But he made the decision to invoke the 
legislation before the second round of tests.  So what I'm 
wondering is, was that in hopes of forestalling the second round 
of tests.  So what I'm wondering is, was that in hopes of 
forestalling a second --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  No.  I think the decision was made 
yesterday to invoke the sanctions and to not seek the 30-day 
provision.  The President actually made that decision on the 
plane.  It was communicated back immediately to Washington.  And 
I think that decision would have happened whether or not there 
were further tests at that point.
	     
	     When I say -- knowing there were three tests, 
obviously, I think Under Secretary Pickering wanted to ask them 
directly whether there were going to be more.  They did not give 
a responsive answer.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, could you tell us how and by whom the 
President was informed of each of the series of tests?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  He was informed of the Monday test by 
me on Monday morning, and of the second tests today, also I think 
by myself.
	     
	     Q	  What was his reaction, Sandy, when you told him 
about the tests this morning?  Surprise?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, I think -- you know, the 
President, as he said, is deeply disappointed by this.  I think 
that he, number one, seeks to build a stronger partnership 
between the United States and India.  This is obviously a setback 
to that effort.  And number two, has devoted enormous energy to 
nonproliferation and has accomplished a great deal with the 
Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, 
denuclearization of Belarus, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, strategic 
arms reductions with the Russians.

	     So any step backwards -- you know, you make four 
steps forward and one step backwards.  I think that he was not 
happy about it.
	     
	     Q	  Was he surprised, Sandy?  I mean, he had just 
hours before asked -- personally asked the Indian government not 
to do this, warned them that the sanctions were going to be 
imposed, and then just a few hours later two more tests.
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, I think decisions like this in 
terms of tests are not things that are turned on and off in a 
second.  This obviously had been previously planned by the Indian 
government.  
	     
	     Q	  What steps is the administration -- what 
concrete steps is the administration willing to take to induce 
Pakistan not to test?  I mean, aside from sort of the rhetoric 
and the high moral road, what can you offer them?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, there has been a continuing 
effort on the part of our administration to improve our 
relationship with Pakistan.  As you may recall, the Pressler 
Amendment, which was enacted in the '80s, pretty much closed down 
any assistance that we could give the Pakistan.
	     
	     With our support we succeeded in enacting an 
amendment to the Pressler Amendment that was sponsored by Senator 
Brown of Colorado about two years ago, Hank Brown, which repeals 
some of Pressler.  And pursuant to that we have been able to 
restore some aid to Pakistan, some assistance.  And I think we 
will examine what more we can do both bilaterally and 
multilaterally.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, did India deliberately mislead U.N. 
Ambassador Richardson to believe such tests were not going to 
happen?  Did that come up?  And has President Clinton responded 
to a letter from the Indian Prime Minister blaming relations 
basically with China for the need to do this? 
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  The letter you refer to I think arrived 
in our office hours before we left on our plane to come here.  
	     
	     Q	  Has the President seen it?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I think the President is aware of it.  
I don't know whether he's seen it.  What was the other part?
	     
	     Q	  When Richardson was in India.
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, you know, one never knows who 
knows what in a government such as the government of India with 
respect to a matter like this.  
	     
	     Q	  What does that mean?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, did the people who -- the bottom 
line is that he certainly was not told they were going to test.
	     
	     Q	  Was he told --
	     
	     Q	  Did he ask?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Excuse me?
	     
	     Q	  Did he raise the issue?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I think this issue was raised by him, 
as it has been raised by every American representative in almost 
every conversation with the Indians
	     
	     Q	  Did they deliberately mislead him to believe 
that such a test wasn't going to take place?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, they were not forthright about 
it.  The reason I'm not accepting your characterization is that, 
first of all, I don't know who Ambassador Richardson talked to, 
whether they were people who should have been in a position to 
know.  I think there are probably people in the Indian government 
themselves who were not aware that this was taking place.  
Collectively, obviously, the government of India was not 
forthright with Ambassador Richardson.
	     
	     Q	  Richardson was told, though, that there 
wouldn't be another series of tests; is that correct?  He was 
told no.
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I don't know the answer to that.  
	     
	     MR. STEINBERG:  He was told that they were 
conducting a strategic review.
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  That's right.  He was told no decisions 
would be made until they were essentially done with this defense 
policy review.  And I think we were led to believe that that was 
not within days or weeks of being completed.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, aside from Pickering's suspicions that 
there might be more tests --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  It's not just Pickering, but Pickering 
spoke to the Indians.
	     
	     Q	  Okay.  Aside from the fact that they were not 
willing to say, no, we're not going to test anymore, did the 
intelligence community see signs that another test was coming as 
quickly as it was?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Until we have all of the facts from the 
review that Director Tenet is undertaking, I think, particularly 
since I'm halfway around the world or a third of the way around 
the world, I'm not going to comment on what information they had 
or didn't have.  I think George's intent is to do that quickly 
and expeditiously and report very soon on that.
	     
	     Q	  Was the President informed, Sandy, that more 
tests were imminent?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  No, we had no specific information.
	     
	     Q	  On sanctions, can you tell us what the 
practical effect is on our relationship with India?  How much 
money, do we have arms deals that are now going to be suspended, 

is there a dollar bill figure on how much this impacts?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I happen to have an answer to that 
question if I can find it.  Scope of Indian sanctions:  
determination of bilateral assistance except humanitarian items, 
$51.3 million of AID development assistance for FY '98; $91 
million PL-480, FY98; 2) termination of military sales and 
financing -- that's FMS and IMET -- $775,000; 3) termination of 
licenses for munitions list items, $476 million worth of those 
items -- that's whatever is on the munitions list, and it's not 
just computers -- those were approved since 1994; $41 million 
more approved in calendar year '97; $35 million pending; 4) 
termination of credit and guarantees by any U.S. government 
agency or instrumentality -- there are $2 million TDA grants 
pending, $4 billion in Ex-Im guaranteed spending, $10.2 billion 
OPIC insurance and finance pending, and $20 million in 
agricultural export credit guarantees pending; 5) opposing 
loans/guarantees in international financial institutions -- there 
are about $3.8 billion of such loans that are coming up in the 
IBRD, IDA -- Asia Development Bank; 6) prohibit U.S bank loans or 
credit to the government of India except to purchase food or 
agricultural commodities -- $1.98 billion is the current loan 
exposure; 7) prohibit exports of specific goods and technologies 
under the Export Administration Act, not including food, 
agricultural commodities, items related to congressional 
oversight of intelligence activities, $12 million in pending 
license requests.

	     And then there's a final note here -- note that the 
final numbers will depend on legal determinations as to the 
precise scope of the sanctions.  So I would take those as 
estimates.
	     
	     Q	  Which companies are hit the hardest?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I have no idea.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, has there been contact with China?
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, didn't you meet this month with a 
delegation of officials from the Indian government yourself?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Yes, I met with the foreign minister 
last week.
	     
	     Q	  Are you suggesting that the foreign minister of 
India may not himself have known about this imminent test?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Foreign Secretary, excuse me.  I 
certainly raised this issue with him, and there was no indication 
of any intention to test.  I can't tell you what he knew.
	     
	     Q	  But you suspected he either --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I don't want to --
	     
	     Q	  -- didn't know or deliberately misled you.
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I don't want to speculate.  I raised 
this issue with him as we do routinely in our contacts with 
India.  One of the fundamental concerns we have is the arms race 
between India and Pakistan and the cycle of action/reaction -- 
both with respect to nuclear programs and with respect to 
missiles.  So we have raised this continually with the Indians, 
both in terms of the manifestations of this tension and also the 
cause of the tension:  why we were very pleased to see a dialogue 
begin between the Indian and Pakistan government several months 
ago.  So this is something we always raise, and I did.  And the 
answer was general and kind of standard fare.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, was there contact with China?

	     
	     Q	  Sandy, regardless of how you characterize this, 
what does it to you that this country, India, is willing to 
mislead the U.S. administration?  What does that say to you about 
their intentions?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I think it was a fairly expensive 
decision for them.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, have we had any contacts with the 
government of China over this?  And if so, what was their 
reaction?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  My understanding is that Secretary 
Albright was in the process of having a conversation with Chinese 
officials.  I have not spoken to her since then.
	     
	     Q	  Is India still a likely candidate to be part of 
the Security Council, the new Security Council?  And isn't that 
process of reform now a little bit more complicated?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, Security Council reform I think 
goes way beyond India.  We have indicated we'd like to see an 
expansion of the Security Council, we'd like to see Germany and 
Japan come on as permanent members, plus three others to be 
chosen on a regional basis.  And we still believe that. 
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, I have a question about the credit 
guarantees?  Could you just clarify a little bit --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Probably not.
	     
	     Q	  All right, I'll try.  Does that have to do with 
loans and guarantees to just the Indian government, or is that 
Indian companies or U.S. companies doing business with Indian 
companies, or U.S. companies doing business --
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Do we know that, whether these 
guarantees are -- whether they're to the government or to -- I 
don't know the answer.  

	     Q	  It says "any," sounds pretty broad.
	     
	     Q	  And on that same subject, Indian sovereign debt 
trading -- is that included, too? 
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  I'm sorry.  I don't have -- there was a 
briefing I believe back in Washington on some of the details of 
this.  I'm not -- obviously having been with the President all 
day -- in a position to answer all those questions.  We certainly 
can get answers to all those questions.
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, did the President talk about the 
sanctions with Chancellor Kohl?  And did he ask Chancellor Kohl 
to impose similar sanctions?  Will he be doing the same kind of 
thing in his bilateral meetings with Mr. Chirac and Yeltsin at 
the wider G-8 meeting?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  There was a discussion of this with 
Chancellor Kohl.  And I think the President hopes that other 
countries will both make their views known in very clear and 
unequivocal terms and also take tangible steps to manifest those 
so that the consequence of this is significant as a deterrent to 
other countries engaging in this kind of activity.
	     
	     Q	  Didn't Kohl snub you when he said that he was 
looking at sanctions and that he didn't want to raise tensions?
	     
	     MR. BERGER:  Well, this has only happened today, 
okay.  So it may not have been a full, complete discussion within 
the German government.  I would not take what Chancellor Kohl 

said as the final word on this. 
	     
	     Q	  Sandy, would the President have acted as 
quickly as he did if it were not required by the law that he go 
ahead with this?  And are there further steps that are being 
contemplated that might be more punitive on the Indian 
government? 

	     
	     MR. BERGER:  The answer to your first question I 
believe is yes, he had an option to try to push this down the 
road, which he quickly rejected.  There are -- I mean, this is a 
fairly substantial and powerful set of sanctions.  I'm not aware 
of anything in American sanctions laws that is comparable to 
this.  And let's see how this plays out before we talk about 
further steps.
	     
	     Thank you.

            END                        9:02 P.M. (L)