U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #7, 99-01-14
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Thursday, January 14, 1999
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Statement Released on US-Baltic Charter of Partnership
1-9,11-13 New Initiative for Humanitarian Assistance to Iraq
2-3,8 --UNSC Resolution to Lift Ceiling for Sale of
3-5,9-10 --Proposal Yesterday by French Regarding Iraq 's Weapons
Programs and Sanctions
3-4,6-7 --Iraqi Government's Refusal to Care For the Iraqi People
7 Iraqi Parliament Renounces Recognition of Kuwait
10 Enforcement of the No-Fly Zone
11,12 US-Turkey Discussions Regarding Threat Posed by
13-14 Brazil's Financial Situation
14 Secretary Albright's Upcoming Visit to Moscow/Meetings
14-15 US Sanctions Against Three Russian Entities/Export Controls
15 Reported Russian Announcement Regarding S-300 Missiles in
14 Secretary Albright's Meeting with USTR Representative
15-16 Status/Progress on Hand-Over of Pan Am 103 Suspects
16-17 Department Reward Poster for Usama Bin Laden
17 Developments in Trial of Anwar
17 Secretary's Working Relationship with President Clinton
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 1999, 12:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings, welcome to the State Department briefing on this
Thursday: Slippery Thursday. We have a statement on the US-Baltic Charter
of Partnership that we'll be issuing after the briefing. With that
announcement, let me turn to your questions.
QUESTION: Could we revisit - because there's a lot of speculation -
revisit the matter of humanitarian assistance to Iraq? Now, there's a rumor
floating around that the US is engaged in some effort to generate more
revenue, and I'm not sure if that means expanded oil sales. Could you go
over it again for us, please?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, in New York, we are pursuing a new initiative in this
area. Since sanctions were first authorized in 1991, the United States has
expressed our deep concern that sanctions should not harm the people of
Iraq. Since that time, we have worked consistently to ensure that the Iraqi
people receive the food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies, which
the government of Saddam Hussein deliberately denies them. We supported the
establishment of the Oil-for-Food program in 1992 and played a leading role
in expanding that program in 1997. Let me emphasize that sanctions have
never prohibited the import of food and medicines. The Oil-For-Food
program was intended to supplement -- not substitute for -- the Iraqi
Government's owe spending in this area.
Unfortunately -- and sadly for the people of Iraq -- the Government of Iraq
has chosen not to order important foodstuffs and medicines for its people.
Furthermore, the Government of Iraq has rejected donations of humanitarian
goods from other countries. In the face of the Iraqi Government's neglect
of its own citizens, the Oil-For-Food program has made great strides in all
parts of Iraq to improve the daily food intake, as well as to provide
medicines and other necessary humanitarian supplies.
While we do believe the program has made progress, we believe there is
still room for improvement, because of Iraqi delays in distribution of
medicine, and because hundreds of millions of dollars worth of humanitarian
supplies are sitting in warehouses in Iraq. One idea, which we are
proposing today in New York, is to provide more funds for humanitarian
supplies. We would support, the United States would support, eliminating
the ceiling on funds from oil exports so that those funds can be used
solely for humanitarian food and medicine. We would also support reasonable
measures to streamline the UN contract approval process, including
automatic approval of food and medicine contracts.
Let me emphasize, this is not a lifting of sanctions. It is an expansion of
the humanitarian program known as the Oil-for-Food program. All present
controls on the collection and disbursement of revenues generated by the
sale of oil would remain in place. We call upon the Government of Iraq to
use the Security Council's authorized mechanism to help its own people.
That is what the initiative we are pursuing in New York is designed to
QUESTION: All right. Just to totally understand: When you talk about
removing the limits or the ceiling, you're talking about the $5.2 billion --
MR. RUBIN: Correct: To create a situation where there is no ceiling on
the sale of oil, provided that it goes into the Oil-for-Food program, and
only the Oil-for-Food program, to be used for food and medicine.
QUESTION: All right, and when you speak of food and medicine, pharmaceuticals,
that's short-hand, isn't it, for humanitarian? There are other humanitarian
MR. RUBIN: Correct. Food, medicine and other --
QUESTION: I heard today computers to help produce school books are
permitted under the program.
MR. RUBIN: Food, medicine and other humanitarian programs, as defined
through the system in New York.
QUESTION: And today it is -- what procedure? What are we talking about -
introducing a resolution?
MR. RUBIN: Well, there's the resolution of the Security Council that puts
the $5.2 billion ceiling on oil sales every six months. So we are saying we
should work with our friends and allies in the Council and around the world
to create a new system, requiring a new resolution that lifts the ceiling,
and creates a situation where they can sell as much oil as possible to
enable the program to provide food, medicine and other humanitarian
QUESTION: Put down streamlining. Does this mean there will be no more
holds on particular contracts; and indeed, do you have the history of this?
Has the US, to any extent, really delayed any of these exports?
MR. RUBIN: On the sanctions committee, what we're trying to do is create
a greater level of automaticity in the program. So still having a system --
to be sure, we're talking about food and medicine and humanitarian supplies
here - eliminate any slowdowns that are perceived to slow down the arrival
of food and medicine to Iraq. That doesn't mean we're going to let anything
in; it just means we're trying to streamline the procedures, create
greater automaticity, so that Iraq cannot claim that it is the Security
Council or the sanctions committee that's holding up the arrival of food
QUESTION: Is there a history of the US putting holds on --
MR. RUBIN: The reality is that we're talking about a situation where the
vast majority - 95-to 98 percent -- of the contracts put before the
sanctions committee are immediately approved. Occasionally we look into the
source of some of these contracts to make sure they're not going to be used
for nefarious purposes.
QUESTION: So, just because this could be important, they would be allowed
to pump as much oil as they wanted, provided it was used for humanitarian --
MR. RUBIN: Provided it went into the escrow account and was used pursuant
to the existing program for food, medicine and other humanitarian
Let me emphasize, that is not a lifting of the sanctions; that is an
expansion of the humanitarian Oil-for-Food program.
QUESTION: How does this - other than the fact that the money would be put
into escrow accounts, as it is - I guess escrow account is the right word.
How does this differ from the French proposal of yesterday?
MR. RUBIN: Well, the French proposal is addressing a broader question of
UN monitoring, of addressing the inspection and verification regime, of
addressing the question of what would happen in the event that the oil
embargo were lifted in such a way that it was outside, necessarily, of food
and medicine exclusively. They're looking at: How can we get to a point
where Iraq provides the necessary work on the disarmament and weapons of
mass destruction side, so that there can be action on the formal sanctions
process, as opposed to a narrow program, where the oil funds go directly
into the escrow account.
So they're addressing both sides of the equation; that is: What if there
were steps by Iraq to provide assurances on the weapons of mass destruction
side? What would be done on the sanctions side commensurate with that? This
is something separate from that, and solely humanitarian, saying: Whatever
happens on the weapons of mass destruction side -- which we believe one of
the clear signals of recent weeks and months is that Saddam Hussein
does not intend to fulfill the Security Council resolutions on disarmament,
and therefore, we need to have a longer term process in place to care and
feed and clothe and provide medicine to the people of Iraq, because their
leader is not going to take the steps that would allow this to take place
outside of that.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up - maybe not so quick. Yesterday you
described a situation where pharmaceuticals are sitting in warehouses and
basic supplements are not being distributed. From that description, it
would appear that they have pretty much what they need. Why would you
propose expanding this program, when they're not even distributing it or
following the procedures that -
MR. RUBIN: Okay, what I just suggested to you is that: That behavior on
the part of Iraq has been part and parcel of their refusal to care about
their people for the last several months, and before. We believe that in
light of the fact that we don't see Iraq signaling a willingness to comply
on the weapons of mass destruction side, that we need to create a more
improved system, that may need to be operative for a long, long time;
as opposed to just the current one that was created in a situation
where -- at least, originally -- there was some hope that Iraq would
So we're now dealing with a situation where the chances of Iraqi full
compliance have greatly reduced, with their refusal to allow UNSCOM to do
its work, and we need to think more expansively. That doesn't mean we don't
have to resolve the problems, and make sure that it's clear to Iraq that
the current problem in the humanitarian area could be improved by not
holding back on the distribution of medicines. But we need to think bigger,
over the longer term, because the prospect of their compliance and the
lifting of sanctions has greatly decreased.
QUESTION: Doesn't the French proposal, both in its proposal to lift the
oil embargo in a very broad sense, and then in a narrow sense, to allow - I
actually lost my train of thought. But the point is, doesn't the French
proposal on lifting the oil embargo, in and of itself, strike at the very
heart of what is the US policy all along; that is, keeping Saddam Hussein
in his box? And as such, doesn't it make it completely off the table as far
as the United States is concerned?
MR. RUBIN: First of all, let me say, as a spokesman, I believe a train of
thought is a terrible thing to lose.
And I confess, it's happened to me. On your specific question, let me say
that the UN Security Council resolutions require Iraq to disclose, disarm
and destroy its weapons of mass destruction, and mandate that this
disarmament be verified by the Security Council. Iraq has not fulfilled
these resolutions; and until it does so, UN Security Council resolutions
mandate the maintenance of international sanctions. That is our view.
While we see certain positive elements to the French proposal, we are
concerned that it does not take fully into account the fact that Iraq has
not fulfilled the requirements of the UN Security Council resolutions in
the area of complete disarmament. And precisely because he is not disarmed,
there is an ongoing need to ensure that Iraq cannot use the revenues from
the sale of oil for the purposes of rearmament. The French proposal needs
to be further elaborated in this regard.
As I indicated yesterday, the positive elements include a recognition that
inspection and monitoring to protect against rearmament, and try to ensure
disarmament, is a positive element. Secondly, the French proposal
recognizes the importance of controlling revenue, so that Iraq is not in a
position to use those revenues to pump back in money to its weapons of mass
But we believe that the issue of making sure that the French proposal takes
better into account the fact that Iraq has not fulfilled its Security
Council requirements is something we need to talk to them about. Secondly,
in the meanwhile, we are working on this humanitarian initiative that I
just announced to you, and that was laid out first by the Vice President in
his speech yesterday in New York. That is a recognition that we're not
anywhere near to a time where sanctions are going to be lifted; and we
need to make sure that, in that period when sanctions are not going
to be lifted, that we have put in a place the maximum program for easing up
on the system that will ensure better food and medicine for the Iraqi
QUESTION: A couple of questions. First of all, how do you feel about the
fact that the French proposal does not address existing weapons, but is
purely looks towards the future and which attempts to develop weapons
programs; do you find that unacceptable?
MR. RUBIN: We are concerned that the French proposal does not take fully
into account the fact that Iraq has not fulfilled the requirements the
Security Council laid out with respect to past programs to disarm.
QUESTION: Right. Okay, a lot of people, including the Iraqis, say that
your proposal is meaningless, because they don't have the means to produce
any more oil for the foreseeable future. How can you convince us that this
isn't just a kind of empty promise to undermine the French proposal?
MR. RUBIN: I would hope to convince you, first, by asking you to think --
long and hard -- before making any judgments based on what the Iraqis tell
you. Secondly, I would ask you to look at the fact that we are willing, in
the Security Council sanctions committee, to look favorably upon measures
to allow the equipment necessary to increase the sale of oil, and we always
have been. We will now look at greater flexibility, and greater streamlining
of those procedures. The fact that we, the United States, want to improve
the humanitarian program is something that's quite familiar to you, because
you because you know that Ambassador Pickering, Under Secretary Pickering,
talked about this well before the French proposal was put out.
So I think that the United States has been at the forefront of those
countries trying to deal with the humanitarian crisis Saddam Hussein has
caused. And when Iraq complains that it can't pump the oil, or Iraq
complains that the food and medicine aren't getting to the people, I would
hope that you would look at the facts. The facts are that they're not
distributing food and medicine as quickly as they could. The facts are that
they are failing to order and distribute food and medicine that would
alleviate the problem, and that Iraq plans to order less food and
medicine for the Iraqi people than in previous times. So those are
If you want to listen to the Iraqi explanation for why they're not feeding
their people, and this proposal isn't real, there's nothing I can do about
QUESTION: Jamie, in addition to Iraq's failure to buy and distribute what
its people need, there also seems to be an unwillingness to sell as much
oil as they are entitled to sell under the $10 billion a year Oil-for-Food
program. Will the lifting of the ceiling, under those circumstances, make
any difference? And do you have, in addition to the proposal you've
outlined, any plans to coerce, or to impose upon Iraq, a purchase and
distribution system that actually might work?
MR. RUBIN: Mark, it is impossible for us to coerce Iraq into selling oil.
The suggestion is simply fantasy land. You cannot coerce another country
into selling its oil. What we can do is to make available the ceiling and
increase the ceiling so there are no limits on what they can sell. What we
can do is make available the equipment they need to increase their capacity
to pump oil. But we can't make them do it; we can't coerce them and
compel them into selling oil. I've never heard anybody, before you,
suggest that we could.
QUESTION: Can I follow up? Given all the circumstances, then, that you
have laid out, can you offer us any assurance that your proposal will
actually make a difference? And will it entirely be up to the Iraqis to
MR. RUBIN: It has always been up to the Iraqis to work. We can't force
Iraq to sell oil and buy food. That's the first principle that you have to
understand. That has always been true. Iraq and others made similar
comments about the original Oil-for-Food proposal, and spent a lot of time
complaining, in much the same way that you and others have cited people's
complaints. Yet we made available billions and billions and billions of
dollars in food and medicine that have been real; that have gone to
real people, that have improved real people's lives; and that have
made real people less hungry and less sick.
We cannot force Iraq to sell oil and purchase food and medicine. What we
can do is eliminate every one of their objections. If they choose to use
the facility we provide for them, if they have any concern whatsoever for
their people, clearly they're not going to spend their own money on this,
because Saddam Hussein wants to spend his money on weapons and palaces.
But if new money is made available to him, he has, through this program,
acquiesced in the distribution of food and medicine for his people. We are
now talking about a situation where there are no limits on the amount of
oil he can sell. We're prepared to look at ways to make the equipment
available so he can increase the capacity of oil to sell, and we're
prepared to look at ways to streamline, and make more automatic, the
distribution approval in the Security Council. That is about as far as one
can go, before it is up to the Iraqis to acquiesce in this program. But
again, we can't force them to do so.
QUESTION: You've answered it; you can go on.
MR. RUBIN: For whatever reason -- and it's true -- what you're saying is
that the Oil-for-food program did not work as planned previously. Let me
finish the question, okay? So some of these horrific stories that we've
been hearing about Iraqi children starving to death for years seem to have
some basis in fact, for whatever reason. The question is, why does this
proposal come forward now; why didn't it come forward some time previously?
MR. RUBIN: You make me feel as if none of the work I do here has any
impact. The Oil-for-food program has worked. I just explained -
QUESTION: But -
MR. RUBIN: May I finish the answer? I let you ask the question. In
response to the last question, the billions of dollars of food and medicine
that has gone to the Iraqi people -- for the people who receive those
billions of dollars and thousands of tons of food and medicine, I can
assure you they think the program has worked.
If the question is, why do we need to expand the program if it worked? I've
given the answer in response to Sid's question. We're now looking down the
road at a time when there's no prospect that Iraq, based on its actions and
its words, is going to take the necessary steps to allow the sanctions
regime to be lifted. So we're looking at a time when this program needs to
be bigger and better, because we see no prospect of Iraq fully complying.
So we're setting the groundwork now, and it may require many months
of negotiations and discussion -- as it did in 1994 and '95 and '96 -- in
which food and medicine and humanitarian supplies that would not otherwise
have gone to Iraq, went to Iraq to people who need it.
That is the motivation, now, is that we think that in the current context
of Iraqi behavior and Iraqi intentions, that we need to plan for a future
where they're not prepared to take the required actions to get sanctions
QUESTION: My question is simpler than that. If this makes sense now, why
didn't it make sense previously when these reports were coming in of vast
hardships in Iraq?
MR. RUBIN: We have cared about the Iraqi people. We have created programs
to allow that problem to be alleviated. It can never be completely
alleviated, if the Iraqi regime won't spend it's money and spend its effort
on its own people. The rest of the world can't solve the problem of the
people of Iraq. What we can do is try to improve their fate. That is what
we have done through their Oil-for-food program; that is what we're
trying to do by expanding it, knowing that the future doesn't look
like it holds, in the near term, a decision by Iraq to comply with
Security Council resolutions and thus get sanctions lifted.
QUESTION: Also on Iraq, you say the Iraqi Parliament has again renounced
the recognition of Kuwait, and talked about Kuwait belonging to the Iraqi
people. Are you taking this seriously?
MR. RUBIN: Well, whether it implies an indication of further action or
not, it clearly demonstrates a frame of mind in which the Iraqi leadership
is disregarding Security Council resolutions, disregarding the cease-fire,
and showing why it is such a danger to its neighbors, and why the regime
constitutes such a clear threat to our interests and the interests of the
QUESTION: Is there anything different legally or in any other sense by
the statements made --
MR. RUBIN: Well, it's in a newspaper article, so it's hard to make a
legal conclusion based on a newspaper article. But I will get our lawyers
to take a look at the actions and statements of the Iraqi leadership and
its parliament in recent days, and get back to you.
QUESTION: You may have touched on this a few moments ago, but this
humanitarian proposal - would you describe that as sort of on a fast track
path and -- kind of a time line for the Security Council to act and
MR. RUBIN: We believe that right now the Security Council is discussing
this matter and Ambassador Burleigh is presenting these ideas the United
States has that I signaled to you yesterday, that Vice President Gore
announced last night. We hope that the Security Council can quickly get
together and move on those measures that can be moved on.
In that regard, let me suggest that, in response to some of your suggestions
that Iraq doesn't have the money through the oil exports, that we're also
looking at ways to find additional funds. That could mean, first of all,
permitting donations that Iraq has said it doesn't get, or has refused, and
allowing those donations to go straight into the Oil-for-Food program
accounts. Secondly, we're willing to consider other innovative ideas for
supplementing the funds in the Oil-for-Food account, including borrowing
funds that would be repaid once exports increase.
So for example, right now the way the program works is: A portion of the
proceeds goes to compensate those whose property, or otherwise, or their
lives were taken during the invasion of Kuwait, a portion goes to the
funding of the UN Special Commission and a portion goes to the sale of food
and medicine. What we're looking at is since the compensation fund - the
first category - has money in it, that we would allow the program to borrow
money in the compensation fund to spend on food and medicine that could be
replenished later with further oil exports.
In short, we are trying to be as creative as we can, as helpful as we can,
eliminating as many roadblocks as we can, in our effort to assist the Iraqi
people; all the while trying to ensure that the program, which is an
innovative, unprecedented activity, doesn't allow Iraq to abuse the program,
and assist its WMD.
QUESTION: Is there any thought being given to allowing the UN workers to
more directly distribute the food and medicine, so that there is less of a
chance that these backups at the warehouse? I realize Iraq being a
sovereign nation, you don't want to override that sovereignty, but --
MR. RUBIN: I think that is a question that ought to be directed at the
secretariat that's running the program. What we can do as a nation in the
Security Council is try. The Security Council put a series of safeguards
into the program that we are now -- as it's working more effectively, and
it's clear that we can, and there's clearly a need for the future - we're
trying to relax those safeguards that we think we can relax. But we
don't want to relax safeguards that we think we can't relax.
So the areas where we think we can relax some of the provisions are in the
area of the ceiling on oil, and the area of how other moneys could be
created, in the area of ensuring that there's an automatic approval for
food and medicine contracts. As far as the distribution itself of the food
and medicine that gets there, that would be something that you should
address to the UN. But we would be in favor of anything that would make it
more likely that the people of Iraq would get the food and medicine.
QUESTION: Considering that the United States has always said that it has
never wanted the Iraqi people to suffer and that is why, years ago, it
initially proposed an Oil-for-Food program, which Iraq finally accepted in
'96: Why was there ever a ceiling on the amount of oil Iraq could
MR. RUBIN: Again, this was an unprecedented action; it had never been
taken in the history of sanctions: To impose these comprehensive sanctions
on Iraq, to have them be comprehensive. I think people regard them as
relatively leak-free, with some problems on the margins. I don't think,
initially, anybody envisaged they would be on for seven years. When we
first put this proposal forward, that was five years ago, and there was
obviously hope that Iraq would comply. We always said when we first put the
controls on, in terms of the ceiling, that we would review these as
the program evolved.
So we have always envisaged the possibility of increasing the ceiling as
the program demonstrated its effectiveness. I think it would have been
foolhardy in the extreme to start with no ceiling until you are confident
that the escrow account system would work, that the money would be
controlled tightly, that it would only be used for food and medicine, and
that as confidence built in the effectiveness of the program and as the
prospect of Iraq living under sanctions longer and longer becomes clearer
and clearer, because Saddam Hussein won't comply, one is expanding,
improving the program as we go along, because we want to be flexible
and meet the objective, but we don't want to see the funds go to the
QUESTION: Leaving aside the question of food and also the question of
past weapons program, what does the United States think of the aspects of
the French proposal which cover an alternative arms control system? Do you
think that their proposals are assertive enough, vigorous enough, obtrusive
MR. RUBIN: I know that you're looking to write: US disagrees with these
aspects of the French proposal. I understand that motivation, and sometimes
I have it myself. But in this case, I would like to leave my comments to be
that: We are encouraged that the French proposal recognizes the importance
of inspection and monitoring to deal with the disarmament task. But we do
want to make sure, as I indicated, and have concerns that the French
proposal not misunderstand the fact that Iraq has not complied with the
requirements to disclose its programs in this area, and that Iraq has not
come clean on its weapons of mass destruction, that the Security Council
has therefore been unable to certify that they don't have biological,
chemical or missiles.
QUESTION: If Iraq is, like you said, not complying with the Security
Council on weapons inspections, if Saddam's army is still pretty strong and
if the US is proposing --
MR. RUBIN: They're weaker now.
QUESTION: A little weaker. If the US is proposing to lift the ceiling on
oil, can you explain to me how sanctions are going to be stinging
MR. RUBIN: I think, first of all, the clearest evidence of that is, if
you look at every statement coming out of Iraq, the first comment usually
is that the sanctions have to be lifted. They very much are desperately
seeking the lifting of sanctions. So clearly, they believe they are
Remember what sanctions are - they're a ban on imports and a ban on
exports. The primary export of Iraq is oil. The imports could be anything
from food and medicine - which we're permitting under the humanitarian
program - to high-tech items, cars, television sets, building equipment,
telecommunications, all the elements of a modern society. Those are not
allowed to be sold to Iraq. They have to go to extraordinary lengths to try
to get around the sanctions to buy simple consumer goods, that the average
person in the world can go -- simply order from a foreign country.
So on the import side, the embargo, the sanctions have been extremely
effective. That is why they are so concerned. On the export side, what we
are saying is that, because we see that Iraq will not spend its scarce
resources on food and medicine, and instead takes all the money it has,
seemingly, and focuses it on building palaces and trying to rearm its army,
or work on weapons of mass destruction, another revenue stream needs to be
created if the Iraqi people are not to be without food and medicine. We've
created another revenue stream, through the Oil-for-Food program, but made
sure that the only thing that can be purchased with that, is what
was always permitted to be purchased, which is food and medicine.
Meanwhile, they can't use their money for all the purposes they would
desire to do so. And the fact that Iraq regularly, continuously, and pre-
eminently point to the sanctions as something they want lifted, I think
demonstrates the pain that the regime thinks it is causing. What we're
trying to do is keep the pain on the regime, and minimize the effect on the
QUESTION: This week, one of the Kurdish groups made a statement in
Washington that they hope to see the no-fly zone in the North to be
expanded. Number one, what is the likelihood of such desire? And number two
is, lately daily skirmishes in the North are taking place. What do you
think that is going to lead us to?
MR. RUBIN: On the first question, I know that people are considering many
different aspects of issues related to Iraq, and I don't want to preview
any one, or signal there is any focus on any one. I don't have any new
information for you on new plans we have in the military area.
On the second question, I think all I can tell you is that we are
determined to use the military force we have available to enforce the no-
fly zone. The Pentagon has made clear that they are going to take the
necessary precautions to protect their pilots. Beyond that, it's a matter
for the President to discuss any future decisions that we might take.
QUESTION: The Turks announced today that they're going -although they did
it three weeks ago - they've notified you that they do want the extra
Patriot batteries that you've offered them. Do you have anything to say
MR. RUBIN: On that subject, let me say I've seen a news report to that
effect. Let me say that the United States and Turkey are working closely to
address the threat that Iraq may pose to Turkey; that obviously we
undertook the Desert Fox operation, in part, because of the threat that
Iraq poses to its neighbors. We're in intensive discussions with the
Turkish allies about many security measures that may be necessary,
including in this area, because we want to ensure that we've been prudent
and taken the necessary precautionary steps.
But I wouldn't be able to specify any final decisions, or make any
announcements in this area.
QUESTION: Well, they've already announced it today. My understanding is
they actually accepted it three weeks ago. So why is there so little detail
MR. RUBIN: Well, there is an elaborate process here, and although you
would consider a deal done the first time someone shakes hands, and it
would be enough for many, for us all I can say is that we're in intensive
discussions about precautionary security measures, including in this area;
and those discussions continue.
QUESTION: Okay, well, there are some officials - not American officials -
who say the reason for this move is a couple things. They fear a follow-on
either to Desert Fox - they're anticipating that and they think there may
be some retaliation; so they need more Patriots than just the ones they
have around Incerlik. Secondarily, they fear what might happen if an
American pilot is actually downed in Northern Iraq. They would have no
ability to - although they've asked you not - although they've refused to
give permission to launch offensive operations, they fear there would be no
ability to stop the United States from staging an operation to rescue
a pilot; and again, they would fear retaliation. Can you comment on any of
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: You said before that one of the proposals for funding the Oil-
for-Food program was to let Iraq borrow against this one fund for
compensation. Can you give me an idea of how much money is involved in
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, it's not exactly Iraq borrowing; it's the program
borrowing. In other words, the oil is sold, and the money generated goes
into these three accounts - one for compensation, one for food and medicine,
and one for paying off things like UNSCOM.
What I'm suggesting to you is that the compensation fund could be used to
lend money to the food and medicine fund, so that increased food and
medicine could be sent. As far as an order of magnitude here, I can tell
you that, basically, the compensation fund has roughly a third of the money
going in that area. Maybe it's 30 percent; I would have to check the
details. So we're talking about billions of dollars that have been
generated in the whole program, a third of which would be earmarked for the
compensation fund, roughly. So I think it would be fair to estimate we're
talking about at least hundreds of millions of dollars here that could
be available, in theory, for loans.
This is something we're prepared to consider. Depending on how it would
work and how you would ensure that further oil sales were going to happen
so that the compensation fund could be replenished, we would be prepared to
look at it. But it would be hard to get more specific about an idea that I
am now first telling you we're prepared to consider.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up. Is this something that could go a long way
towards solving the problem, or is this just one small element of getting
enough funds to --
MR. RUBIN: I would like to think it would be somewhere in between those
two - that it would be an important element if it could be worked out, but
that there are other elements that need to be worked out as well.
QUESTION: I want to go back to this Turkish thing, because it's
important. The Foreign Ministry has gone public, saying they've accepted
your offer for Patriots. What I don't understand is, are you saying that we
just have to cross the T's and dot the I's; or is there somehow some shift
in Washington's position on the Patriots?
MR. RUBIN: No shift in Washington's position. We don't normally announce
things like that from here, nor do I normally respond to other countries'
announcements until we're ready to talk about an important military-to-
military program, until we're ready to do it, regardless of what another
government decides to do.
QUESTION: I just want to be sure. You're not denying the Turkish
MR. RUBIN: I know you have a job to do, and your job is to try to find a
story to write - usually by trying to find the truth. My job is to provide
you the information that is true, the best I can. It isn't always as much
information as you would like, but I am not going to go beyond the
information I was given; which is that we are intensively discussing the
military-to-military relationship as a precautionary measure, including in
the area of air defense systems. Beyond saying that, no matter how self-
righteous you get, I can't help you.
QUESTION: I'm not trying to be self-righteous.
QUESTION: On the borrowing proposal, would this delay compensation to any
of the victims of the Persian Gulf War? Have you gotten any kind of
agreement from the potential beneficiaries?
MR. RUBIN: As I indicated, we said we would consider this idea. There are
a number of legal issues that need to be addressed, including the ones that
you mentioned. We obviously wouldn't be taking money away from legitimate
victims who were about to receive compensation.
So we want to see if there's a way to use the program for things that have
not yet been earmarked for compensation, knowing that it could come back
into the program in the future.
QUESTION: Does it require any kind of agreement from Kuwait?
MR. RUBIN: Well, there are a number of legal issues that we'll be
addressing. At this point, all I can say is that we are considering this
idea as another innovative way to get more money for the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: One more. If this proposal of yours is accepted, one likely
consequence would be that more oil would be sold by Iraq into the world
market, presumably affecting the world oil price, which is already dragging
bottom. Have you been consulting with other oil producers, such as the
Saudis? Have they signed off?
MR. RUBIN: We have been talking to other countries about different ideas
we have to improve the humanitarian situation with Iraq. The Saudi
Government has some of its own ideas, as you know, and some of you asked me
about in recent weeks. Certainly the consultative process on an initiative
in this area would include governments in the Arab world and will so
include. As far as how they would react to this proposal, you would have to
QUESTION: I mean have you already bounced it off them?
MR. RUBIN: I do not think there will be major surprise by the relevant
Arab countries about our ideas to enhance the humanitarian program.
QUESTION: Brazil - how concerned is the US Government that the rescue
plan might collapse; and what are you doing to save it?
MR. RUBIN: Brazil's financial stability and prosperity are extremely
important to the United States and our entire hemisphere. We remain
committed to supporting Brazil while it works through difficult economic
times. Brazil acted to enhance the flexibility of its exchange rate system
and reaffirmed its commitment to implement the program of fiscal adjustment
and other reforms agreed with the IMF last year.
We are in close touch with the Brazilian authorities, the IMF, and the G7,
and the financial authorities of key emerging markets, and will continue to
watch developments in the world markets closely. It is important that
Brazil carry forward the implementation of a strong and credible economic
QUESTION: More on Brazil? Are there any plans for any meetings on
MR. RUBIN: I think there have been intensive discussions here in
Washington and elsewhere on the subject. I don't have a particular meeting
agenda on it, but I can tell you that people are seized with it.
QUESTION: Do you think that Brazil has the political will to go ahead
with the steps that have been laid out for it by the international lending
MR. RUBIN: I would rather not address that question directly, other than
to say that, given the financial market issues that are associated with
questions like that; and rather -- instead -- tell you that we think it is
important that Brazil carry forward the implementation of a strong,
credible economic program.
QUESTION: On Russia, the Kremlin said today that President Yeltsin would
not be meeting with the Secretary when she goes over there. I think it's
unusual. Do you have any -
MR. RUBIN: Well, the Secretary's been in Moscow without meeting the
President before, so meetings have happened with President Yeltsin, and
sometimes they have not. I don't think our schedule has been finalized; and
I haven't seen that particular announcement.
QUESTION: The Secretary met - I think it was yesterday or maybe the day
before - with the US Trade Representative, Charlene Barshefsky. Was that
about the EU banana dispute?
MR. RUBIN: I would be surprised if bananas didn't come up in such a
meeting, but I think it was part of a broader effort to work closely with
the US Trade Representative on several matters.
QUESTION: Including -
MR. RUBIN: Including the bananas.
QUESTION: I forget which official said it, but it was a senior Russian
official, and he's on record - suggested that, in light of the sanctions
and then the threat yesterday of more sanctions, that Russia might be
better off to align itself with Iran rather than the West in its future
MR. RUBIN: I saw that; I didn't read it that way -- at all. Let me simply
say that we took the steps that the US Government took, because we think
they were extremely well thought out, and based upon compelling evidence
against the three Russian entities. We informed the Government of Russia
last month that we would have no alternative but to take such steps, if the
flow of sensitive nuclear and missile technology was not halted.
We are committed to working with the Russians to facilitate implementation
of vigorous export controls. We believe it is in Russia's interest to work
with the United States and other countries, to prevent the spread of
missile and nuclear technology, regardless of the financial consequences;
that it is in their national security interests, as it is in ours, that
these missiles and nuclear technology efforts be stopped, because it will
be a more dangerous world for Russia, for the United States and for all if
additional countries get long-range missile or nuclear capabilities.
In addition to that, I think the word threat - I know it was used, but it
certainly wasn't used by me. I was merely pointing out the fact that the
quota will expire, and that we have said here from this podium last month
that we would have to take into account Russian cooperation on missile
technology and missile non-proliferation in any decision to increase the
quota, and that that increase, if it didn't happen, could mean lost revenue
for the Russians in this area. I don't consider that a sanction. I know the
word "sanction" gets thrown around a lot, but I wouldn't
see it that way.
QUESTION: Is there any relationship between the actual launches
themselves and the missile technology that might be --
MR. RUBIN: No, we're talking here about a program that is -- a program
that we weigh the benefit to our companies, the need for them to get
satellites in orbit - and we've talked about this in the China context --
against the non-proliferation risks. So far, we've made the judgment that
15 launches -- the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. If we don't see a
Russia that is committed to non-proliferation intensively, that changes our
calculation about the risks, and might then change the calculation about
QUESTION: If I could sharpen the question, is there evidence that
technology or information or expertise they acquired through these
satellite launches -
MR. RUBIN: Again, I'm saying that's not the issue. There are these three
entities that are not entities that, to my knowledge, are launching
satellites. They tend to be research institutes of some kind or another. In
the case of missiles, we're only talking about one. They are technical and
research entities. Then there is the Russian launch program, the booster
program, the missile program. It is those programs that benefit from
receiving hard currency from American companies by launching their
QUESTION: None of those three have anything to do with the missile launch
MR. RUBIN: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Jamie, do you have anything to say about the discussions in
Libya about the Pan Am suspects?
QUESTION: Can I ask you a question on Russia? Do you have anything on
Russia's announcement on S-300s to be placed on Armenia, and who the enemy
is or perceived enemy?
MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that announcement. We'll get something for
On Libya, let me say we've seen reports out of Libya that progress is being
made in arranging the hand-over of the Pan Am 103 suspects for trial,
pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1192. We have seen similar
reports out of Libya on numerous occasions over the past several months --
that is, that there is progress.
We are not in a position to comment on the accuracy of these reports, and
don't want to speculate on the basis of them. What is clear and indisputable
is that Libya has an obligation to comply fully and promptly with UN
Security Council Resolution 1192, and hand over the suspects for trial
before a Scottish court in the Netherlands. That is what the Security
Council requires; that is what Libya itself has said it would accept; that
is what justice and the victims of this tragedy demand. Libya has not yet
done so, and our patience in pursuing this effort is limited.
QUESTION: Has the United States received a read-out yet on the delegation
that the Secretary General -
MR. RUBIN: I don't normally comment on diplomatic contacts like that; but
so far, obviously, we're not in a position to believe that this is about to
QUESTION: There's a report that the State Department will soon distribute
posters of Osama bin Laden. Is that happening? When? And is that unprecedented
for the State Department to do, or would that normally come from, like, FBI
MR. RUBIN: Today the Department is releasing the poster that will be used
to advertise the up to $5 million reward for information leading to the
arrest and/or conviction of Osama bin Laden. This poster will be printed in
English, Arabic, French, Dari, and Baluchi, and will be sent to all of our
diplomatic missions. We will vigorously advertise this reward offer around
the world. We will advertise it on the Internet, where we can reach, we
hope, over 100 million subscribers in 150 countries. We are considering
other avenues to advertise this reward, including paid advertising in
matchbooks; but we haven't made any final decisions on that.
This reward offer has generated leads that are being investigated It takes
time to develop this type of effort, and we considered several versions
before going forward with it.
With respect to whether this is unusual, I believe it's normal for us to
work through our rewards program to try to generate information - it's
called the Heroes program - in which people have come forward with
information that has helped us solve or prevent acts of terrorism against
US citizens. We have paid over $6 million dollars in about 20 cases through
this program. So we do use a rewards and other program to generate
sufficient international interest so that people who may have information
can come forward. This effort on Osama bin Laden is part of the pattern of
making clear that this dangerous murderer is wanted for indictment
in the United States; he's been indicted. We want to use whatever
creative way we can to get information that will lead to his arrest, and
that is what the program is trying to do.
QUESTION: Will we get a copy of that today?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Where would one go to take a photograph of it?
MR. RUBIN: We can work out arrangements after this briefing.
QUESTION: Change of subject. This subject's been hanging around a couple
of days, actually. Do you have anything to say about the developments in
the trial of Anwar Ibrahim and the judges decision?
MR. RUBIN: Well, there have been new formulations of the charges, and we
have been very concerned about this issue. We have asked to try to make
sure that American diplomats are able to observe the trial. We're very
concerned and want very much for him to receive a fair trial. It's unclear
to what extent this adjustment in the charges -- how that will play
QUESTION: Okay, so you're not prepared yet to say that it's a bad
MR. RUBIN: You interpreted me extremely well.
QUESTION: I know impeachment has no business in the State Department; but
just knowing how the Secretary has a very close relationship with the
President, did she call him, have any contact with him today on the start
of his trial? Does she have any personal feelings about the start of his
MR. RUBIN: That matter is going on in the United States Senate, and as a
matter of practice, I am not going to get into reporting on what the
Secretary or anybody else in this building thinks about that subject; other
than to tell you that Secretary Albright continues to work to advance the
interests of the United States every day. When she has needed to consult
with the President on matters where he needed to make decisions, she has
done so, and there has been no change in that during this period. We
will continue to do so.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:40 P.M.)