Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

State Department Noon Briefing


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2000 12:45 P.M.

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to
be here on a Friday. I guess I don't have any announcements or
statements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.

Q: Can you talk about the missile talks in Malaysia beyond what was
said in the statement issued by Mr. Einhorn?

MR. BOUCHER: Beyond?

Q: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: No. Basically, for those of you who don't have it, we
will get you a copy of the statement that Mr. Einhorn issued in
Malaysia. The goal of these talks was to clarify positions. I will
repeat again, as I think we have said in the past, we were not out
there to reach an agreement, and therefore one shouldn't be surprised
that we didn't. We were out there to clarify areas. We had detailed,
constructive and very substantive discussions with the North Korean
delegation. We think we did, in fact, further clarify the positions,
continue to expand areas of understanding and common ground in these
talks about missiles. But there are other issues that still need to be
discussed, and we will also be looking at the whole situation when the
delegation returns to Washington, which I guess is over the weekend.

Q: Would you characterize these talks as a success?

MR. BOUCHER: They achieved their goal, which was to clarify the
situation and to get further information from the North Koreans, and
they managed to do that.

Q: Well, is the American understanding of the North Korean position
basically the same, now that the talks were over, as it was going into
the talks?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, but in more detail and with more substance attached
to it. I mean, that was the goal and that has been the goal. I think
you have heard from the Secretary several times, including yesterday,
that we are proceeding along this path of trying to deal in a very
serious way with missile threat on the Peninsula. We are proceeding in
the overall relationship and on this specific path in a very
systematic way, very methodical way, a way of testing and examining
the propositions that are made, and that's the context in which I
would put these talks.

Q: Yesterday, during her speech, she said that the Administration was
not in any hurry. And so did anything this week lend itself to believe
that now might not be the time, that enough progress on this issue
hasn't been made for a Presidential visit?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, there was never a timetable, as far as I
understand. And, second of all, the Secretary said all along that
substance has driven this policy. We are proceeding in a systematic
way. She said if we have the opportunity to move forward, we should
take it. So that is what we have been saying all along; nothing is
changed in terms of timetables because there never was one. Nothing is
changed in terms of progress because we continue to make the progress
that we want in a systematic, step-by-step way. That's how we intended
to proceed. That's how we are proceeding.

Q: I'm a little confused. You said that the Presidential visit
depended to some extent on the outcome of the Kuala Lumpur talks, and
you also say that the purpose of the talks is not to reach an
agreement. So could you explain exactly how the two are related, the
visit and the talks?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, we went through this the other day, I think. And
you gave me the out when you asked the question "to some extent." I
said that's about as far as I can go because I don't want to say that
the one depends totally on the other. The President's visit will
depend on an assessment that the President will make based on the
understanding we have of the proposals as to whether significant
progress can be made in reducing the threats that we need to reduce.

Q: You said that the talks achieved their objective, so we can assume
from that that that brings the possibility of a Presidential visit
closer, since they achieved their objective and since --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I would make that assumption because
the goal of the talks was to clarify, was to achieve a more detailed
understanding of the ideas that were, you might say, floated during
Vice Marshall Jo's visit in Washington, discussed during the
Secretary's visit to Pyongyang, and now discussed in somewhat more
detail in Kuala Lumpur.

Having understood those ideas, and we may have further discussions to
discuss some of the other aspects of these things, we may be closer to
a position where we can decide on the next steps, but that doesn't
make it more likely one way or the other.

Q: Is there any further talks scheduled at this point?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of, no.

Q: Are you any closer as a result of these talks to understanding
whether the North Koreans are interested in launching satellites from
outside their own territory or from within their own territory?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the proposition - as stated in the past and as
stated to us in North Korea - was always launch services, which means
somebody else's rockets, which means not in North Korea. So I think
our understanding of the proposition has always been that we would
have a significant restraint on the indigenous programs in North Korea
and the exports, and that the launch services would be provided
outside of their territory.

Q: You said that was your understanding. Have you actually confirmed

MR. BOUCHER: That's been the understanding all along of the idea ever
since it was raised with Putin.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 P.M.)

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