News

Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 1998
Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

PAKISTAN
3,12Pakistani Delegation Visit to US
3-4Diplomatic Discussions with Pakistani Government re Nuclear Testing
5Prospects for Security Guarantees to Pakistan
5,6-7,8Pakistani Assurances re Nuclear Testing
7-8Economic Effect on Pakistan From Possible Sanctions
INDIA
4,7-8Economic Costs of Sanctions to India for Nuclear Testing
5,7World Bank Action on Loan for India
5-6Actions Necessary by India to Reverse Sanctions
8US Ambassador to India in Washington
8Negotiation of No First Use Agreement with Pakistan



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 65
WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 1998, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

...........

QUESTION: Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you know is the delegation from Pakistan still coming, and who they might be meeting?

MR. RUBIN: A delegation headed by Senator Akram Zaki, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in Pakistan, is expected to arrive in the United States May 29 and spend one week in New York and Washington. As I understand it, the delegation will be seeking meetings with senior US officials, as well as members of Congress, but I don't believe those meetings have been spelled out.

With regard to the reports that Pakistan has completed preparations for a nuclear test, which I have a feeling is going to be your follow-up question, let me say this - we cannot publicly confirm the content of alleged intelligence reports. However, there have been frequent public statements by Pakistan that they are making the preparations necessary to be able to test, if they were to decide to test. Pakistani officials have also made clear publicly, as recently as today, and privately to us and others that they have not yet decided to carry out a test.

We've always known that Pakistan was in a position to test if it chose to do so; the question is, will it choose to do so? What we are doing is strongly urging the Pakistani leadership not to test. Such an action would jeopardize, not enhance, their security, the security of the people in South Asia and the security of the world.

QUESTION: Can I ask you again - we've tried this a number of times - but what incentives might be offered for Pakistan not to test?

MR. RUBIN: We are in intensive discussions with the Pakistani Government in trying to explain to them the serious negative consequences of testing. I think for those who have followed what happened to India as a result of their test, it's very clear that the international community's condemnation of India's defiance on this subject has cost India dearly. Loans including $450 million for electrical power distribution; $130 million for hydro-electric generators; and $275 million for road construction; and $10 million for promotion of private sector development have all been postponed - a total of $865 million. This is going to sting.

The Indian electric power sector needs to expand very rapidly if the country's economy is to grow. Without direct support from the World Bank and with the financial uncertainly created by postponement of these loans, expansion will be slowed significantly.

The point of this and the point of the fact that sanctions are being imposed as we speak -- $41 million of munitions licenses were stopped, the OPIC, that is the Overseas Private Investment and the Ex-Im, the Export-Import Bank have suspended new commitments. The potential coverage for OPIC was over $10 million, and Ex-Im guarantees were about a half a million dollars, with another possibility of over $3.5 billion of loans. In other words, the sanctions that are being imposed on India are stinging to the extent of billions and billions and billions of dollars of lost opportunity for the Indian people.

I think part of our discussion with the Pakistani Government is based on that, which is informing them of what is happening to India so they understand what the automatic sanctions that are in American law could do to them.

On the positive side, we are obviously engaged in a serious discussion with them about their security in the aftermath of this decision by India to test, and how our relationship could be enhanced; on how existing difficulties could perhaps be overcome; and what a future might look like in the absence of a test by Pakistan. But the specifics of those general categories are something we think is best left for our discussions with the Pakistanis directly, prior to discussing them publicly.

QUESTION: Is there anybody weighing up with the United States that you would single out as being particularly helpful or energetic about trying to dissuade Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: As I indicated last week, I think Secretary Albright was pleased to see that the Chinese Government was adopting a position very similar to ours; and that despite the suggestion that somehow there would be some extended nuclear umbrella over Pakistan, which we had not heard much about, appears not to have been the case. What China was doing -- and indicated in correspondence with the Secretary -- was making clear their view that a test by Pakistan would be a negative development and would, like we have said, yield increasing uncertainty and instability on the peninsula. So we are pleased that the Chinese Government has taken a very responsible position in this area. There are other countries, I think, who by demonstrating the strength of their reaction to India's test, are also by indirection helping, we hope, Pakistan to make the right decision -- namely Japan and other countries who have supported tough measures against India.

QUESTION: You mentioned ways in which Pakistani security could be enhanced. Might that include security guarantees by the United States to Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I did also, at the end of that remark, make clear that other than saying the general categories that we would think it would be unwise in a delicate moment like this when we have the prospect of a nuclear arms competition on the Indian Subcontinent in South Asia, to make public things we are discussing privately if that will make it harder for our private discussion to succeed. At this point, other than saying that we think we can help make Pakistan's security greater if they don't test than they do test, we'd prefer not to get into any specifics.

QUESTION: Just two questions - you say that the Clinton Administration has received private assurances from Pakistan that they're not preparing to test. Can you give any detail to that conversation?

MR. RUBIN: What I was trying to signal to you as best I could is that the public statements and the private statements have been the same. Which particular conversations have been had, and I suspect that include in country by our ambassador, and as well as discussions that people here may have had -- not that they will not test, but that they have not yet made a decision to test, a political decision.

QUESTION: And the second question - there were sort of conflicting reports on the World Bank action yesterday, if you could just clarify. Did the Clinton Administration fail to convince the World Bank to dismiss the loans completely, or were you just seeking a suspension of the loans - suspension consideration?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that some of the reports have been misleading. The US achieved its objective at the World Bank, which was to delay indefinitely consideration of the loans. But again, the exact action of the World Bank, I'd prefer them to describe rather than us; other than to say that our objective was indefinite postponement, and that's what has happened.

QUESTION: On your statement of the Pakistanis have assured you publicly and privately that they have not yet made a decision to test. Have they also said that they will not make that decision until after this delegation comes?

MR. RUBIN: No, I'm not aware of that. Again, I think with each passing day, we've passed a day when they haven't had a test. We are very much taking the question of Pakistani testing one day at a time.

QUESTION: What would the government of India have to do to make itself whole again?

MR. RUBIN: Well, clearly the ball is in India's court; and if they want to get themselves out of the hole they've dug for themselves, they could start by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without conditions, join negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and undertake not to weaponize or deploy ballistic missiles. Those certainly would be steps that would begin to put India back on the road to good standing in the international community when it comes to weapons proliferation practices.

QUESTION: Those would be first steps, but not sufficient to have all the sanctions removed?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, for sanctions to be removed, there is no provision for removal of sanctions in the legislation. If one wanted to do that, one would have to pass another law.

QUESTION: When you say New Delhi would have to undertake not to weaponize, would signing the CTBT be sufficient to do that, or would they have to do something more affirmatively?

MR. RUBIN: Weaponized ballistic missiles could be many types of weaponry -- it's not necessarily just nuclear weapons - and the CTBT refers only to nuclear weapons. So these are three separate undertakings we're looking for. One, sign the Comprehensive Test Ban, join the rest of the world - the over 100 countries that have signed it. Number two, agree and pursue seriously negotiations to cut off all the fissile material in the world that could be used to make nuclear weapons; and number three, not deploy ballistic missiles and weaponize them.

QUESTION: But presumably, a statement by the government wouldn't be sufficient; they'd have to sign some kind of an agreement.

MR. RUBIN: Well, there is no such agreement currently in place - a non-weaponization of ballistic missiles agreement. However, there are agreements that, like the Missile Technology Control Regime, that govern missiles. We would certainly not have any trouble constructing a way to give effect to a commitment not to weaponize or deploy ballistic missiles. The problem is the commitment, not the structure.

QUESTION: And if they did all three of these things, it wouldn't necessarily mean that the Congress could be persuaded to lift the sanctions?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not saying what the result of those things would be, except to say that they would return them from the direction that they're now in, which is outside the mainstream, outside the norm of the international community against proliferation. Those are three steps that could begin to reverse the process. How far it would reverse their current status, I wouldn't even hesitate to say because we've had no indications that they're now prepared to take those steps.

QUESTION: Could you say when the most recent assurance was given by responsible Pakistani officials?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get that for the record.

QUESTION: Or you may know this off the top of your head - did you get any assurances after the flurry of reports, principally by CNN, I believe, yesterday that they're about to test. And intelligence has decided - you quoted alleged intelligence, by the way, which might be well taken - that Pakistan was about to - did you check back with them on the theory that CNN drives American diplomacy sometimes by its appeal, by it being broadcast around the world?

MR. RUBIN: Well, certainly, with that preamble, I can answer the question, no, we certainly don't get our foreign policy driven by --

QUESTION: Well, it's broadcast around the world, and that would set alarm bells off.

QUESTION: Can I set the record straight?

MR. RUBIN: Certainly, we would be happy to have --

QUESTION: We did not report that they were about to test. CNN reported that they had finished preparations to do so, to possibly test.

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this - that report occurred roughly 24 hours ago. Today I was told that we have received private assurances. I would suspect that since we are operating on a day-by-day basis and we're only taking this one day at a time, that we will be, on a daily basis, looking for signals of anything changed.

With regard to any specific, authoritative representation by the Pakistani Government, I am not in a position to report that. But we'll try to get that for the record.

QUESTION: Jamie, apropos of your remarks about the loans to India and the cost to them, one World Bank official told me several days ago, before yesterday's action, that India not getting the loans that were pending would be, and he quoted, "an inconvenience to them" - would not be crippling. Without asking you to comment on that, what's the State Department's assessment of what Pakistan not getting loans would be? What would be the economic impact on Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: I'm going to have to comment on that. I do not believe the fact that the international community has condemned India, the fact that the World Bank and the IMF are now in the position that they're in, the fact that all the activities that I described - billions of dollars worth of lost opportunity for India from American sanctions - is an inconvenience. I think it will sting; it will sting for a long time to come. India made a profound miscalculation about the effect of sanctions, and with each day, they're going to be realizing what the effects are.

So I do not think it's an inconvenience; I think it's a long-term, profound lost opportunity for India to join the international community as a member in good standing; to have an economic integration with the rest of the world through Overseas Private Investment Council guarantees, through insurance, through billions of dollars of projects that they very much wanted to pursue. So with that preamble, let me say that I suspect that the effect on Pakistan would be even greater, given the state of its economy.

QUESTION: Jamie, just to follow up to what you said when you responded to Barry's question; I'm just a little unclear about it. You said that you're taking the Pakistani testing one day at a time, or day by day. So would today be a no-test day? Would you say today you've gotten private assurances --

MR. RUBIN: Well, it's 1:00 a.m. in the morning in Pakistan. I'm not aware they have tested.

QUESTION: So would you say today, based on your private assurances from yesterday and looking at today, and even though it's 1:00 a.m. in the morning, things are looking like it's been a no-test kind of reading?

MR. RUBIN: It does look that way, yes.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Jamie, let me ask, the US Ambassador to India was recalled. Is he back to India? And how long he was --

MR. RUBIN: He's here. I was just in a meeting with Ambassador Celeste. When the Administration decides to send him back, I'm sure he'll be willing to go, and I'm sure he'll have things to say when he gets back there. But for now he's in the Department.

QUESTION: Also, as far as the State Department is concerned, do you suggest President Clinton to go ahead with his visit to India and Pakistan and South Asia, despite all these problems, even if Pakistan tests or not?

MR. RUBIN: What we're recommending at this point, and the President's spokesmen have indicated this as well, is that that visit is under review.

QUESTION: India today apparently made a public offer to negotiate a no-first-use agreement with Pakistan and I wondered how that struck you?

MR. RUBIN: We do believe that the Prime Minister's proposal indicates a sensitivity to the issue of reducing tensions between India and its neighbors, and we favor steps that will accomplish that important objective. However, we should bear in mind that India's testing of nuclear weapons has itself made a major contribution to raising tensions in the region. What would be best would be to focus less on this no-first-use issue, and focus more on the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban without conditions, serious negotiations to fissile material cut-off, and a decision not to weaponize or deploy ballistic missiles. Those would be the kinds of steps that would genuinely reduce tensions.

QUESTION: Jamie, I'm not as familiar with the fissile treaty as others might be.

MR. RUBIN: Their proposed negotiations for a treaty that would involve -- prior to now, international arms control treaties have dealt with launchers, missile systems, bombers and START III, if it's negotiated, would deal with the warheads themselves in terms of counting and using that as a unit of account.

The next level would be to try to bring under control and cut off the supplies of the fissile material that makes it possible to make a nuclear weapon -- the key component that many people know how to construct a weapon if they could get their hands on fissile material. So what we would try to do in such a treaty is cut off the production of that material and try to limit it so that people would not have a handle on it.

QUESTION: Production?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

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

QUESTION: Just to go back to the Pakistani delegation - is this going to be a delegation made up entirely of parliamentarians?

MR. RUBIN: The leader of the delegation, as we understand it, is the chairman of their foreign relations committee. I am not ruling out that there will be other contacts with the Pakistani Government to deal with our expressed desire to convince them not to test. I would say that this is not the primary channel in which those discussions occur.

QUESTION: Okay, but this delegation is not a government delegation, per se.

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, it's led by the chairman of their parliamentary committee; and therefore, is not a representative, directly, of the sitting government.


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