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[EXCERPTS] U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
MONDAY, APRIL 27, 1998
Briefer: JAMES B. FOLEY

IRAQ
4US Position Regarding Iraqi Compliance with UNSCOM
4-5Support for Sanctions Against Iraq within the UN Security Council
5TEM's Assessment of Iraqi Compliance with the UNSCOM Mission
5US Policy Regarding the Furthering of Sanctions Against Iraq
5-6Update on the Oil for Food Program
6-7Russian Position Regarding Sanctions Imposed on Iraq


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 51
MONDAY, APRIL 27, 1998, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

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QUESTION: Iraq on the UN today. As you know, the Security Council is hearing from Mr. Butler on sanctions. Can you give us, just in case anything's changed since we last asked you, which isn't long ago, I realize, what is the latest US position on whether or not it is ready to declare Iraq in substantial compliance on the nuclear part of the work of UNSCOM?

MR. FOLEY: Well, let me just say, first of all, that UNSCOM Chairman Butler will brief the Security Council today. We look forward to hearing what he has to say. I believe the IAEA will also brief it's six month report to the Security Council today, as well. I would rather not comment, at this point, in order to prejudge the outcome of these briefings, as well as the follow on discussions that will occur after those briefing.

But I can refer you to what Spokesman Rubin said on the subject last week, which was that we would be pleased to recognize progress where it occurs, and there apparently has been some progress - I would emphasize some -- in the area of understanding some of what Iraq had done in the nuclear area. Bbut if we're talking about transitioning to a different form of monitoring, which is what it would involve down the road in all of these areas where UNSCOM and the IAEA have responsibility, the transition would be to long-term monitoring and we would be prepared to consider that if Iraq is able to answer some of the as-yet unanswered questions in the nuclear file, in the nuclear area, and also continue to demonstrate good faith in its cooperation with the UN, generally. But I wouldn't want to highlight what position we are specifically going to take in New York.

QUESTION: Do you note any erosion of support for sanctions against Iraq?

MR. FOLEY: No.

QUESTION: Within the Security Council?

MR. FOLEY: No, none whatsoever. We note that Iraq is attempting to build a drumbeat of noise, if you will, in order to try to garner support for their position that sanctions ought to be lifted. But we don't note any weakening of the international consensus, and certainly within the Security Council, that the lifting of sanctions is predicated on the verifiable completion of the disarmament process. I think the UNSCOM report that is being discussed today indicates that there really has been no progress -- little, if any, progress over the last six months towards identifying, verifying and destroying Iraq's missile and chemical and biological weapons capability since last October. Obviously, there was a significant hiatus during this six-month period caused by Iraq's attempt to divide the Security Council and prevent the inspections from taking place. So it's not surprising that there hasn't been that kind of progress.

What we have had is an initial site visit under the new Memorandum of Understanding negotiated by the Secretary General to the so-called presidential sites. But one visit does not make a successful completion of UNSCOM's mandate. On the contrary, the Iraqi's have been emphasizing the question of procedures; the fact that they allowed one visit when what is at stake is the question of whether Iraq has disarmed and has provided all the answers that UNSCOM is seeking about what it has done historically with its biological, nuclear, chemical weapons and missiles and what's been destroyed and what hasn't been destroyed; and we've seen no progress on that front.

On the contrary, I would also point out that, as you know, there was a group of - the so-called TEM, the Technical Evaluation Mission, was convened in Vienna in March at Iraqi instigation in order to assess Iraqi compliance with the UNSCOM mission. That TEM, which included experts from all over the world -- including, I believe, Russia and China -- found that Iraq remained woefully short in its obligations on the biological issue. So we see, of course, from our point of view, no reason to even begin to consider the question of lifting of sanctions. But I have not seen any of evidence that other members of the Security Council have noted any need to reconsider sanctions in view of what, I think, everyone agrees has been inadequate performance on Iraq's part.

QUESTION: Jim, given the inadequate performance, would the United States prefer to see heightened sanctions against Iraq?

MR. FOLEY: I think it's clear that Iraq is fully dissatisfied with the level of sanctions such as they exist. Clearly, what Iraq seeks to do by all means - by propaganda, by evasion, by noncompliance - is to attempt to get out from under the sanctions such as they exist. I think it's clear that the sanctions have succeeded in their basic mission since the end of the Gulf War in terms of containing Iraq, preventing Iraq from rebuilding its capabilities in the military field with which it can threaten its neighbors, with which it can further develop weapons of mass destruction. I think any sort of neutral observer would have to conclude that Iraq's failure to comply with the disarmament demands placed upon it at the end of the Gulf War is indicative, indeed, of a desire to maintain its capabilities in this area; and they are willing to apparently continue to endure sanctions without doing what's necessary to see them relieved.

So I think that currently it's not a question of ratcheting up the sanctions at this point. I think we are still seeing a work in progress. We were satisfied that the inspectors were able to go visit the presidential sites for the first time. But as I said, that was a single visit. The agreement that Iraq signed with Secretary General Annan called for, among other things, unrestricted access, which I believe in UNSCOM's view means that UNSCOM will have the ability to go back, including non-notified or surprise inspections to those presidential sights and, indeed, to sites around Iraq. Yes.

QUESTION: On Iraq. Do you have any update on the expanded Oil For Food Program? Do you know where that stands?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have an update specifically on the implementation of that resolution.

I can tell you that last week, I think it was last Monday in London, there was a meeting of international organizations of several countries designed to look at how the international community can act to direct assistance - and when I say assistance, I mean the proceeds of the increased oil sales that are envisaged in the coming months in Iraq -- but to use those proceeds in a way that gets really to the neediest people in Iraq. I think that meeting in London focused specifically on children, I believe, under the age of five. They discussed a number of items, including a nationwide immunization program.

So we think that this is essential work; and I would note that the Iraqi Government, unfortunately, declined to participate in that meeting. That, perhaps, is not a good omen for possible future Iraqi cooperation with this oil-for-food increase that was decided by the Security Council in recent months. And the sad fact is that it is, I think, crystal clear that Saddam Hussein and his regime really do not see it in their interests to remove the humanitarian problems that are facing their people because they find this to be their best argument in the propaganda battle: to try to have sanctions lifted without having complied with the need to disarm in the areas of weapons of mass destruction.

It's an open question as to whether the best plans that the international community may come up with to help Iraqi children, to help the elderly and pregnant women in Iraq, to help with hospitals and schools and infrastructure, whether indeed there will be the cooperation that will be necessary from the Iraqi regime in order to provide this assistance to the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Still on Iraq. It's clear that the US doesn't - you've made the position clear that the US doesn't want to ratchet up any kind of more sanctions; however, you're not happy with the way things are going. But, once again, it looks like the Russians are suggesting that they want to reward Saddam Hussein for opening up his presidential palaces. Is the US disappointed that, once again, Russia is advocating leniency in this?

MR. FOLEY: In answer to, I think, the first question I got, I stated, I think emphatically, that we don't see anyone on the Security Council arguing for lifting of sanctions now. I think everyone understands that the consideration of lifting sanctions, must follow the issuance of a clean bill of health by UNSCOM, that namely the disarmament process has been completed; and we've seen no progress on the disarmament front in the last six months, so that's not on the table. There had been reports that some nations looking at the IAEA recent report have seen progress on the nuclear file, and that that progress ought to be acknowledged. I stated to Jim Anderson a few minutes ago our view that there has been some progress, and we would be willing to acknowledge such progress if Iraq is able to answer the remaining questions, having to do mostly with the concealment mechanism involving their nuclear weapons programs in the past, and if Iraq continues to cooperate with the UN inspectors in the coming months.

QUESTION: Are you disappointed that the Russians are once again jumping to the gun and wanting to put things ahead of the end game?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think your question had to do with whether nations on the Security Council are urging the lifting of sanctions; that's, to my knowledge, not the case.


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