State Department Briefing, October 7
07 October 2005
Dr. ElBaradei/IAEA/Nobel Peace Prize award, IAEA/three-term rule, Avian Flu, Indonesia, North Korea, Iraq, China, Mexico/Central America
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack briefed the press October 7.
Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Friday, October 07, 2005
12:42 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Sean McCormack, Spokesman
-- Dr. ElBaradei/Nobel Peace Prize Awards/IAEA
-- Issue of IAEA's Term Rule
-- Avian Flu Conference
-- Rewards for Justice Program/U.S. Assistance in Bali Bombing
-- Six-Party Talks/Upcoming Discussions in November
-- Saddam Hussein Trial
-- Iraqi Constitution/October 15 Referendum
-- U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue/China's Remaining Commitment
-- Continuous U.S. Diplomatic Exchanges on Human Rights
-- U.S. Emergency Funds and Assistance in Hurricane Stan
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2005
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:42 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I don't have any opening statements, so I'd be happy to start off with questions.
QUESTION: We've seen a flurry of statements, the Secretary, the White House, Mr. Bolton had a brief statement on the Nobel award. Do you suppose that the Nobel Committee is trying to make a political point by giving this award to ElBaradei?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what I take away from it, Barry, is that they wanted to honor the work of Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA at this important moment in history, in which we are confronted with several cases of countries pursuing illicit nuclear weapons programs. And what I think it says is that the world is watching. I think that this is a message to Iran and other countries that would pursue a nuclear weapons program under the guise of trying to obtain civilian nuclear power. So I think it is a message to them. I think it is a message that the world is watching closely and that the world stands united in working together to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: It must have been a good answer. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, because it was quite clear like -- it was about six months ago that Mr. ElBaradei was certainly not the U.S. choice to remain at the head of that agency there and now he's receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. Does that seem like a bit of a rebuff to just the U.S. coolness to him?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. I think today is a day to honor Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA. There were discussions in the past that you note about a principle, and this is a principle, the UN -- that would apply to the UN (inaudible) about changes in management and the application of the three-term rule. We had that discussion. We joined the consensus, when the time came, to look at Dr. ElBaradei remaining in the job for a third term. We joined the consensus for Dr. ElBaradei to remain at the IAEA. And I think today is a day that the world is honoring the commitment of Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
QUESTION: Change of subject.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, anything else on this?
QUESTION: But shouldn't these prizes be given out after good deeds are done, rather than before?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, this is a private foundation that makes these awards, George, and they make their own decisions about who should be honored. We have congratulated Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA in receiving these awards.
And I would point out that we are working very closely with the IAEA on a number of different measures designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. We have worked with them on getting additional states to sign the additional protocol with the IAEA. We've been working with them to make more robust their tools and their capabilities to detect illicit nuclear programs, so we're working very closely with them on these issues.
QUESTION: Change of subject to Indonesia. Indonesian police have named two people they say are the masterminds behind the bombing, and neither of those names are the names that the U.S. is offering Rewards for Justice.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Rewards for Justice announcement yesterday related to the bombings in 2002.
QUESTION: Oh, I'm completely (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we are working on the -- I'm sad to say, the most recent bombings in Bali. We are working very closely with the Indonesian authorities on the forensics. We offered some assistance from the embassy to travel to the actual site of the bombings to help collect evidence and they accepted that. They accepted that offer, so we did have some people that are working with them on that.
QUESTION: Could you give us some more details on the two terrorists you are offering reward for? Do you know who they are exactly?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we did put out the statement yesterday and we provided a bit of biographical data on them. These, again, are two individuals that were involved with Jemaah Islamiyah that had received training as part of the terrorist network. I'm not sure -- I don't know what --
QUESTION: What nationality they are? You have that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I believe Dulmatin, who is one of the individuals, is Indonesian and both -- in fact, both of them are Indonesian.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. Anything else?
QUESTION: In the -- the North Koreans are saying that nothing will happen with respect to them rejoining the IAEA or on other fronts until they get their light-water reactor.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we've made -- we and the four other members of the six-party talks have made very clear what commitments we have made and the sequencing of those commitments. This gets down to a question of when do you discuss the issue of a light-water reactor. We, the South Koreans, the Japanese, the Chinese and the Russians have all made very clear that there's a sequence that will be followed if there is to be even the beginning of discussions about the subject of a light-water reactor and that is that North Korea must dismantle their nuclear weapons programs. They must be back in the NPT and they must have full IAEA safeguards. So I think it's a very clear understanding that all the six parties share.
The North Koreans were certainly part of those six-party negotiations. They understand what the Statement of Principles was and what it means and we look forward to reconvening the next round of the six-party talks in November and we look forward to having a focused discussion on issues related to verification and dismantlement of their nuclear weapons program.
QUESTION: Can I get back to ElBaradei?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: The stated reason for opposing him was that the two party -- the two term rule is a good rule.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: For all sorts of reasons, turnover, et cetera. That's been broken now. Do you -- does that -- is there any uncertainty about whether this is a good thing here? I mean, that somebody could sort of retire the chairmanship of the IAEA, make it a life assignment practically?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we still believe the two-term principle is the right one for the UN system. And as I said, we had that discussion in the IAEA with regard to Dr. ElBaradei and then this past June when the point of decision came about his -- about a third term for Dr. ElBaradei, we joined that consensus. We joined that consensus still with the thought in mind that UN wide, system wide, that the two-term rule is still the right principle.
QUESTION: Can we go to Iraq?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have any news about the trial of Saddam Hussein? Can you confirm it's still scheduled for the 19th of October?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is an Iraqi process. We are working with the Iraqis to provide technical assistance, as are others as they prepare the evidence for this trial as well as develop the procedures, which will govern the proceedings. The Iraqis have said that the trial is scheduled to begin on October 19th and to my understanding that date still stands.
QUESTION: Yes, Sean. There's a piece in The Post today that the former President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, got some documents from Leandro Aragoncillo relating to some internal U.S. analysis of political developments in the Philippines. Can you confirm or do you know anything about that?
MR. MCCORMACK: This question came up yesterday and because it is a matter of an ongoing criminal investigation, I am constrained from offering any comment about any aspect of the case.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, we've got a couple more. We've got a couple more.
QUESTION: Probably not, but is there an upshot, that you know of, from the avian flu conference downstairs?
MR. MCCORMACK: It's ongoing now. What this is, it's a -- this is really a sort of working-level, nuts-and-bolts-level discussion. It is -- as you've heard from various briefers, this is designed to bring together 80-plus countries and international organizations on the topic of avian flu. It's designed to identify any potential gaps in either country-specific prevention or response mechanisms or sort of larger systemic issues.
The goal here is to identify those; if there are any issues that are identified, work on -- put in place procedures to work on solutions to those gaps. One of the most important things in addressing a potential outbreak or pandemic of this type is advance planning and building those connections among countries and international organizations concerning reporting, response, and make sure that there are proper resources that are available for countries and regions that might be affected. So that's what we're trying to do. I think this demonstrates that we have, both here in the State Department and as part of a wider U.S. Government effort, a focused effort to prepare ourselves in the case that there is an outbreak or a pandemic of avian influenza.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask if you have had time to check on the resumption of the U.S.-China human rights dialogue?
MR. MCCORMACK: As a matter of fact, I did.
MR. MCCORMACK: My understanding is that the last U.S.-China human rights dialogue was held in Beijing in December 2002. No round was scheduled in 2003 or 2004 because commitments that China made in 2002 had not been fulfilled. And at this point, all but one of these commitments has been fulfilled and that remaining commitment is for China to invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture on terms acceptable to the Rapporteur. We understand that that visit is now scheduled to take place in November. So we will await that visit and the results of that visit and we will take another look at resumption of the human rights dialogue.
All of that said, the issue, as I talked about yesterday, the issue of human rights, is one that has been part of our diplomatic exchanges with China throughout this entire time. Not having a formal human rights dialogue meeting scheduled notwithstanding, we have -- from Secretary Rice, from the President on down, Secretary Rice as well as other officials at the State Department -- this is an issue that we raise with the Chinese as part of our broader relationship with them.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. George.
QUESTION: This is going to be a hard one. What commitments did the Chinese undertake in 2002 that were not fulfilled?
MR. MCCORMACK: Back in 2002 -- that I don't have, George. I think over time they have worked on them. We can get those for you.
QUESTION: Have there been requests of aid or an intention to provide aid to Central American countries that have been struck by rainstorms this week?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have provided some aid to Mexico as well as some of the other countries that have been affected by this. The U.S. ambassadors in-country have access to emergency funds in these cases and I can get you the complete list of countries the ambassadors did take steps to access those funds and provide them to some of the countries that were affected.
Specifically on Mexico, Ambassador Garza announced just today that the United States is making available $100,000 worth of assistance for the victims of Hurricane Stan in Mexico and our USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance will provide this help to the Mexican Red Cross on behalf of the people of the United States.
QUESTION: Are these amounts being given at their initiative or as a result of the aid request from these countries?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think these are initiatives generated out of our embassies.
QUESTION: I have another question on Iraq. We are only one week to the referendum, the constitution. Is the project final now or it's still in discussions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I believe the Iraqi Government has started distributing copies of the constitution so that the Iraqi people can read it for themselves, make their own judgments about the text. Any additional statements regarding the constitution, any additional amendments regarding the constitution would have to come from the Iraqis. I know that they are working to build the broadest possible consensus of support for this constitution. There are those who have come out in opposition to the constitution. They are going to be working to rally people to their side, to their point of view. They're going to be -- there are others who have come out in support of it and they are working to bring people to the ballot boxes in support of the referendum.
We will see on October 15th, you know, what the Iraqi people decide. They will have the opportunity to vote on this referendum. Regardless of the outcome in the wake of October 15th about whether or not the referendum is approved, there will be a vote also in December. If the referendum passes, the vote will be on for a new, permanent government for the Iraqi people based on this constitution. If not, there will be a vote on a new Transitional National Assembly, which would then form a new government and then a new constitution drafting committee that would draft a new constitution that would then be up for vote again.
So for sure, we're going to see two votes in the coming months and it will be an opportunity for all Iraqis to -- through the ballot box -- speak to their fellow citizens and to the world about what pathway they want to take in terms of their political development.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:00 p.m.)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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