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Military

Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 9, 2007

INDEX:

IRAN
Opportunities to Take Up Offer for Negotiations / Upcoming ElBaradei Report on Nuclear Program / IAEA Access and Cooperation
Cost of Nuclear Program to the Iranian People / Cost-Benefit Analysis
Diplomatic Pathway / Pressure from the International Community / Diplomatic Next Steps
Expansion of Centrifuges / Status of the Nuclear Program
Solana/Larijani Conversations
Looking for "Reasonables" not "Moderates" in the Iranian Regime
Secretary Rice's Contacts with P5 Colleagues
TURKEY
Statements Made by Iraqi Kurdish Leader Barzani
PKK Raids into Turkey / General Ralston's Efforts
Turkey's Work on Iraqi Neighbors' Conferences / Secretary Rice's Conversation with Foreign Minister Gul
Location of Iraqi Neighbors' Conference
NORTH KOREA
Banco Delta Asia / Options to Solve the Issues / U.S. Not a Party to Final Implementation
New Mexico Governor Richardson's Travel to North Korea to Facilitate the Return of the Remains of Missing Servicemen
February 13 Agreement Deadlines / Good Faith Efforts
SOMALIA
AU Mission / Troop Levels
A/S Frazer Travel to Baidoa / Meetings with Transitional Federal Government
Possibility of U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Somalia
DEPARTMENT
Secretary Rice's Reply to Congressman Waxman's Requests
SOUTH ASIA
Energy Needs of Region / Iran as Possible Supplier
ETHIOPIA
Purchase of Weapons from North Korea


TRANSCRIPT:

12:30 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. No statements, still waking up here, we can get right to your questions, whoever wants to start. This is such collegiality; I love to see this on a Monday morning, Monday afternoon.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about President Ahmadi-Nejad's comments this morning, where we stand with Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's another missed opportunity from the Iranians. They have had numerous opportunities over the past months to take up the offer that's been extended to them of negotiations so that they can realize their stated goal of a peaceful nuclear energy program. But clearly, they have decided against that course at this point and the international community is going to take a look at where Iran stands vis--vis its compliance with those international demands.

In the coming months, we're going to have an opportunity to assess where the Iranian nuclear program is and May -- at the end of May, Director General ElBaradei will present another report about the Iranian nuclear program and then the 60-day review period will -- for the Security Council will come up shortly thereafter and we'll take a look at where we stand at that point. But to date, the Iranians have not decided to take up the offer that has been extended to them.

QUESTION: Sean, (inaudible) the Iranians concerned, they have not backed off as UN or international pressure or all kind of whatever -- talk going on between Iran and the international community?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's correct. They have decided not to, at this point, stop their enrichment-related activities and that comes along with costs for the Iranian people and that's rather unfortunate, because it doesn't have to be that way. There are opportunity costs for now, business deals that don't get done, for trade that doesn't happen, for investment that doesn't happen. There are upfront costs to that, but there are future costs as well in terms of trade and economic benefits that won't be realized.

And that is unfortunate because it does -- as I said, it doesn't have to be that way. The Iranian Government could realize negotiations. They could decide to suspend their enrichment-related activities, get right into negotiations, talk about anything that they want to put on the table, and suspend the course on which we find ourselves right now. And we would call upon them to take a different set of decisions for -- we are looking for those reasonable Iranian leaders who can do a cost benefit analysis, look at the cost side of the ledger. It's quite clear what those costs are. And over time, if they continue down this pathway, those costs are going to increase and for what potential benefit, I'm not quite sure.

QUESTION: Sean, can I follow on this? Sorry. You think the international community or the UN is ready to take action beyond sanctions?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Goyal, we are -- we have stated from the very beginning that we hope to resolve this diplomatically. We are on the pathway -- we have put ourselves on a pathway now to resolve this diplomatically and through the gradual increase of diplomatic pressure on the Iranian Government. They find themselves really now almost completely encircled by the international community because of their actions and that pressure is only going to continue to increase, if they persist in defying the international system.

Yeah, Arshad.

QUESTION: Do you have reason to believe that Iran is actually producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale or are its activities still so opaque to you that you don't actually know whether this is true of their claim?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the IAEA can give you a fuller picture of the Iranian activities on the ground. We do know that they are expanding the number of centrifuges that they have on the ground. I can't tell you whether or not they have actually introduced UF6 feedstock into the centrifuge cascades for the purposes of producing enriched uranium. Today is the one-year anniversary where they did announce an enrichment to the 3.5 percent level which is far below the level needed for nuclear weapons. But still it is an indication of their intentions. And the fact that they continue to expand the number of centrifuges that they produce and then install into cascades is an indication of their intent at this point.

QUESTION: And you are convinced that they are doing that? I mean, you have information either from the IAEA or elsewhere that suggests that they are indeed doing this? It's not just based on their claims?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. The Iranians have claimed that they're doing this. And we don't have any dispute that they are in fact increasing the number of centrifuges and the number of cascades that they have.

Yeah, Kirit.

QUESTION: You said that Iran finds itself increasingly surrounded by or I guess encircled was used. But you still haven't seen any change in their behavior. I'm just wondering at this point if you're going to have to try to increase the pressure even more and how you might do so.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's going to be the question that gets taken up in the coming months, what are the next diplomatic steps that we take. We have not yet had a full consultation with our partners in the international system about what diplomatic next steps we might take. We're still actually now in the phase of implementing the resolution that was just passed with the Sanctions Committee. So over the next couple of months, absent a change in Iranian behavior, that's something that we're going to take a look at. We have shown that we have been patient and steadily increasing the diplomatic pressure. It is starting to have an effect on the -- on Iran and the Iranian Government. The have not made a decision at this point, however, to change their behavior to the extent that they're going to suspend their enrichment-related activity. But there is still a negotiation pathway available to them out there and Mr. Solana has said that he would be talking to Mr. Larijani in the coming period of time. It's going to be up to him how and when he contacts him. But we again reiterate and have reiterated the fact that that negotiations pathway is still out there for the Iranians.

QUESTION: So just to follow up, I mean, is there a way that you're going to be able to increase it even that much more? I'm just wondering if this is the time you're seeing now to really pressure your allies in the Security Council to pass stronger sanctions.

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll take a look and see what we do next. And it's -- it doesn't require a lot of cajoling of other Security Council members in terms of getting sanctions or increasing the pressure on the Iranians at this point. The Iranians are doing a lot of work on behalf of those in the international system who do want to increase the international pressure by making speeches like this and making announcements like they did today.

QUESTION: But, Sean, it seems that the more sanctions and the more resolutions that you place upon Iran and the more pressure, they just grow more emboldened to make these kind of pronouncements like they did today. So do you think it's just a factor of getting the right amount of pressure, that more pressure is going to eventually work, or do you think that, you know, it's only going to embolden them to continue to expand further? Is there another way to deal with Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we think we're on the right course. You know, I think --

QUESTION: With enough pressure, they're going to break eventually?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we would -- we've put it in terms of we hope that they would reassess their cost-benefit analysis. And in any sort of decision of this type for any government around the world, they're going to do a cost-benefit. You know, what are the costs? What are the benefits that we're going to gain from it? And we're -- we in the international system are making the point to them that you are not going to realize any benefits from the current path you're on, and as a matter of fact, you're going to realize -- incur a number of costs.

And that is where we find ourselves right now. Over the past year and a half, two years, we have brought along a number of other countries with us in pursuit of this current strategy where we are gradually ratcheting up the pressure on the Iranian Government. You saw last month another step in that when we passed another Security Council resolution. And I'm not going to prejudge what actions we might take down the road, but certainly there is potential for more resolutions of similar type down the road if the Iranians persist in this behavior.

QUESTION: Well, but it seems that they have done the cost-benefit analysis and that they've determined that the cost is worth it to enrich -- to exercise what it calls its right to enrich.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're trying to encourage them to make a reassessment if they haven't done that cost-benefit analysis recently.

QUESTION: And can you expand on your view that you're looking for reasonable leaders to do this?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. We've said -- Secretary Rice has said in the past that she's looking for the Iranian reasonables, not the Iranian moderates. We're not going to go in search of the ever elusive Iranian moderates in the leadership of the regime. What we're looking for are people who can make reasonable cost-benefit analysis decisions and understand that this is a pathway for Iran that leads only to negative consequences and that along the way they're going to increase larger and larger in cost and more significant pressure from the international system. So those are the people with whom we're looking to deal with in the Iranian regime.

QUESTION: Elise's question was that the Iranians seem to be calling your bluff, that you're not going to be able to ratchet up the pressure and change that cost-benefit analysis.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they've been wrong thus far, haven't they?

QUESTION: Have they? I mean, they keep going. They haven't changed their behavior at all.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. And they're, as we speak, incurring the costs for their decision. I'll give you one data point. The German Government has decreased by about 40 percent, I think, its export credits in support of trade with Iran. That's a significant cost. That's trade that is not happening with Iran. And if they're going to be seeking the goods that they might have gotten through that trade elsewhere, it's going to be at a higher cost.

And you can see that story repeated elsewhere throughout the international financial system and the international trading system. So those are real -- very real costs for Iran. It's unfortunate that perhaps the Iranian people may have to bear some of the costs of the Iranian leadership's decision making. Nobody wants that. Nobody wants to go down this pathway. But this is the pathway that the Iranian Government has put us on, and the international community is going to continue to react in a strong manner to this persistent defiance of what it has laid out as its will.

QUESTION: Do you think the Germans should decrease by 100 percent?

MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Do you think the Germans should decrease by 100 percent?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's going to be their decision. But clearly, they've sent a strong message to the Iranians that the behavior in which they're engaged in is unacceptable; it is outside the accepted norms of the international system. The international system has made that clear and it has made it clear that there are going to be continuing costs for resisting cooperation with the international system.

QUESTION: Sean, as we are waiting for the IAEA report in May, do you have any real sense of whether the inspectors will be allowed in to make an accurate assessment? I mean, what's your sense at the moment of that kind of thing?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think it's best to let the IAEA speak for themselves as to -- and describe the type of cooperation that they have -- that they are receiving from the Iranians right now. In their past reports, at a very minimum, they've pointed out that the Iranians have refused to answer a vast number of questions that are unanswered, and the IAEA continues to ask those questions. But I'll let the IAEA speak for itself as to what kind of cooperation it's getting from the Iranians.

QUESTION: Are you working on the assumption at the moment that what the President says today is true, that they are enriching to this extent, to this scale?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, it's a little bit unclear from the statements exactly what it is that the Iranians are saying they're doing, except for the one thing that they have decided to and are expanding the number of centrifuges they have. I think that's very clear from their statement. As for whether or not they're introducing the feed stock, I think it's a little unclear from their statement. Nonetheless, all of those statements are a source of concern for the international system, not just for us but for other members of the international system, because I think you'll find universal agreement that the -- Iran's neighbors and responsible states in the international system don't want to see Iran obtain a nuclear weapon or to get the know-how to obtain a nuclear weapon. That would be a very destabilizing event for the Middle East and international security around the globe.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary contacted any of her counterparts within the P-5 or elsewhere to discuss these latest statements? And are there any plans to meet to discuss those --

MR. MCCORMACK: No --

QUESTION: -- in the near future?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think any ad hoc meetings -- she'll, of course, see some of her colleagues at the NATO ministerial at the end of the month, but I'm sure she'll be in discussions in the intervening time on this as well as other matters of concern with members of the Security Council.

QUESTION: But do you take this as Iranian bluster or something to take very seriously?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think you have to take it seriously. I don't think you take it as bluster. They have -- one thing the Iranians have been consistent in is following up on what they said they would do. They said -- they have said that they are going to continue to expand their centrifuge program. They started with smaller numbers and they have set targets out there expanding the 3,000 centrifuges. And I think the international system should take that quite seriously because they have been consistent in following through on what they said that they would do. So that, again, argues in favor of the international community watching this closely, taking -- and taking strong action to try to get the Iranians to turn around -- turn their behavior around.

QUESTION: Sean, can I follow up this? Don't you think, Sean, that we have given -- I mean, the international community or U.S. has given them so much time and they have expanded and now, again, the global community's giving them more time to expand further?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, of course, we would prefer that they not continue in their work and certainly, that's the optimal solution, if they would stop that work. What we're trying -- but they don't seem to be willing to do so, so the question then is, how do you get them to stop. Well, this is the solution that we and others in the international system have said is the right solution for the time. And that is to try to ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian Government to get them to change their behavior.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

MR. MCCORMACK: On Iraq, yes.

QUESTION: In a recent interview with the Al Arabiya television, Iraqi Kurdish leader Mas'ud Barzani said that Iraqi Kurds would be intervening into Turkish-Kurdish matters unless Turkey stops intervening in Kirkuk. And this has led to a lot of reactions in Turkey. Any comments?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. We think that those kinds of statements are really unhelpful and they certainly do not further the goal of greater Turkish-Iraqi cooperation on issues of common concern, including fighting the PKK, and it's making cross-border raids into Turkey, killing innocent Turkish civilians. We worked hard on that issue trying to bring together the Iraqis as well as the Turkish Government to find a way to deal with that important issue.

You know, Turkey has also made great efforts on behalf of Iraq in organizing this neighbors conference. I think that they -- it's safe to say that the Turkish Government has been a key player in bringing together the states in the region for these neighbors conferences. There have been a number of smaller gatherings. We saw a large gathering just a couple of months ago in which envoys from Iraq's neighbors as well as from some of its friends in the Security Council and elsewhere joined together in Baghdad in making statements of support for the Iraqi Government.

So as I said, these comments over the weekend from Mr. Barzani are unhelpful and we think that Iraqi leaders should focus on how they might work together closely with the Turkish Government to further their mutual interests in a stable, secure and -- an Iraq that is a place for all Iraqis and that has its territorial integrity intact.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, there's been no secret that the relations, between Turkey and Iraq are not in the best shape right now. You mentioned the Iraq conference. The Iraqi Government has been resisting her holding that conference and ministerial meeting in Turkey. What are you doing to encourage better cooperation? Are you talking to the Turks? Obviously, we know what the issue is. It's the Kurdish region and PKK and all that. But are you doing anything with the Turks to make sure that anything that's happening in that region is done with the consent of the Iraqi Government?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, on the PKK issue, General Ralston, Retired General, Joe Ralston has been working as a special envoy on behalf of the Secretary, working with both the Turks as well as the Iraqis on how they might begin to build confidence with one another on this issue and in the practical way, how to deal with it, so that you'd prevent these cross border raids from taking place. You have -- we're now coming up on the springtime which is traditionally when the PKK goes on the offensive, crossing the border into Turkey. Nobody wants to see that.

In terms of thanking the Turks for their efforts on behalf of Iraq, Secretary Rice over the weekend did speak with Foreign Minister Gul and she expressed her support for Turkey's actions in rallying the neighbors to get together for the Iraq neighbors conference. And she said that she looked forward to seeing Foreign Minister Gul at the neighbors conference in Sharm el-Sheikh at the beginning of May.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Would you say that General Ralston's task has been challenging? There's been some time since he has been trying to work this out. And it's obviously, it's not easy.

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. Yeah. It's not an easy issue, yeah.

QUESTION: All right. Thanks.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, but we believe he's up to the challenge.

Sue.

QUESTION: Quite a few more details as to why the Secretary called the Turkish. Was it just to express her support and to tell him she was looking forwarding to seeing him at the conference or is there something else?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. From this -- the Turkish Government put in a lot of work and Foreign Minister Gul personally put in a lot of work to help organize this neighbors effort. And she just wanted to recognize that and underline the idea that regardless of the fact that the next -- the ministerial-level neighbors conference is going to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh that people shouldn't lose sight of all the work that Foreign Minister Gul and the Turkish Government put in to making this happen.

QUESTION: So why is it not being held in Istanbul? What was the problem there? Because you know, Istanbul has a lot of hotel space. Sharm el-Sheikh actually has slightly less.

MR. MCCORMACK: You can talk to the --

QUESTION: It's also actually a neighbor.

MR. MCCORMACK: You can talk to the conveners of the conference, the Iraqis, and they can explain to you their reason behind the decision.

QUESTION: Well, was it an Iraqi -- there was obviously a lot of jockeying here because we know it's been more than a month since it's been trying to take place. Was it an Iraqi decision or was it the decision of all participants in the conference to hold it in Cairo -- in Sharm el-Sheikh? Sorry.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think anybody would have any problem with either location, Istanbul or Cairo, and I take it as a positive sign that there's a lot of competition to hold an Iraqi neighbors conference. So that's certainly positive.

Look, I don't rule out that there may be follow-up neighbors meetings in Istanbul. We would all love to travel to that beautiful city. (Laughter.) I was using the collective "we" in this room. Nonetheless, we look forward to going to Sharm el-Sheikh for this ministerial-level meeting.

QUESTION: (Sneeze.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Bless you.

QUESTION: Can we move on to North Korea?

QUESTION: Please.

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: This morning, you said that there may be other ways to resolve the BDA matter than the technical pathway that you cited but did not detail on Friday. To your knowledge, are alternatives actively being investigated or considered, or are what you are focusing your hopes on is the technical pathway that you described last week?

MR. MCCORMACK: I would -- I think that the parties best able to answer that question are really the Macanese or the North Koreans or even the Chinese. We have done what we think is important and necessary to go the extra mile in sitting down with all those parties to try to identify a way to implement the decision made by the Treasury Department. And that was that they issue their finding on the Banco Delta Asia, which is really the holdup for moving forward with disposing of the funds that were frozen.

Now, how that gets done is ultimately going to be up to the Macanese and the North Koreans and in part the Chinese. So we sat down for two weeks with them -- the team from Treasury. They offered their thoughts. They offered their good offices in trying to identify a pathway where this could be done. I'm sure that there are other ways. I'm not a banker, but I'm sure that there are other ways that this could get done. And how it gets done that meets the criteria of being consistent with international financial standards and being consistent with the February 13th six-party agreement is going to be up to them. But those are the parameters in which this has to take place.

QUESTION: But are you then encouraging those other three parties to look at other ways to do this? And the reason I'm asking you is that, as you said, you sat down with them two weeks. You last week said that you thought you had found a solution or at least a way that this could technically be done. Today when you mentioned the possibility of other options or other ways to do this, it makes me wonder, well, gee, do you think that the pathway that you identified on Friday ain't gonna -- is not going to work and that we are asking people to look at other ways to do that?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. I think that pathway was valid. And it certainly could work. It would be up to the parties in order to decide whether or not that was the pathway that they might choose to ultimately implement the agreement. It was something that we thought met those criteria that I laid -- those two criteria that I laid out for you. But certainly there could be other ways to accomplish that and we will see. I can tell you that whatever those ways may be, whether it's the pathway that was identified or whether it's some other pathway, it's not going to involve the United States. We are -- we don't hold the funds and the two parties most directly involved here are the Macanese authorities and the North Koreans.

QUESTION: Again, you -- three times you've referred to it in the past tense, which makes me think that you feel like that pathway simply isn't going to cut it, isn't going to work.

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we're not parties to this. It's going to be up to the North Koreans and the Macanese to decide whether or not they avail themselves of it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: But don't we sound a little less gung-ho today than you were on Friday when it appeared that you were going forward with --

MR. MCCORMACK: I wasn't trying to be gung-ho.

QUESTION: But the technical part that you thought had been found, did something happen over the weekend that -- the other parties came forward and said, well, actually this technical way, whatever it may be, may not work?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, this is going to be up to others to implement. We've gone the extra mile on this. We've really gone the extra mile on this.

QUESTION: And are you willing to talk about other ways or have you done what you're going to do about this and --

MR. MCCORMACK: Our technical experts have said that they will be available for any consultations that might be needed to ensure that in our view any solution that is -- that arises and that the parties want to implement meets the standards that we outlined.

QUESTION: So after two weeks of meetings in Beijing, the Treasury team left on Friday without a final solution to this? Is that what you're saying?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Nicholas, what I said on Friday still stands, that they identified a way to make this happen. And that it has always been the case that it would be up to the parties whether or not they chose to do that. We have really put in all the effort, good faith effort that we possibly can in trying to get this to the point of a fully implemented resolution. You can take the ball down to the one yard line, but you can't get it over the goal line for somebody else. They're going to have to do that.

QUESTION: So what can Chris Hill do now in Beijing before this is solved because we thought on Friday that it looked like the money will be transferred in the next couple -- you know, by maybe midweek and he'll be able to continue to work on the February 13th agreement, but the North Koreans are not going to do anything until they get their money. So what is Chris doing in Beijing?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in one of these -- one of the great oddities of this particular job, you learn pieces of information that you never thought that you would know. But today is actually a Macanese banking holiday -- (laughter) -- so the banks are not -- the banks are actually not open today and they weren't open over the weekend. So the first opportunity for any fully implemented solution to come about would be on Tuesday, so we'll see what happens on Tuesday.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) wanted to have some rules.

MR. MCCORMACK: Nicely done.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: In a news conference before he left, Governor Richardson indicated that they expected to get about 12 bodies back, and a North Korean general has indicated that they'll be getting six. Should we read anything into this?

MR. MCCORMACK: You'd have to talk to the Governor's office about what understandings they might have had before he left. Certainly it is -- it's important to try to bring a close to as many of the uncertainties that still exist regarding our missing servicemen and so we want to do everything we can to clear those up. Governor Richardson is on a mission to see that some of those remains are repatriated and they're able to be identified and the loved ones of those people can finally know what happened to their missing servicemen.

Goyal.

QUESTION: Sean -- oh.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes?

QUESTION: Just sort of interjecting a point. So now you -- are you officially ready to -- I mean, Chris said in Beijing -- I mean, in --

MR. MCCORMACK: Tokyo.

QUESTION: -- Tokyo about the deadline because you were still hoping last week that you can meet the Saturday deadline, but now it doesn't seem like that'll happen.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as we have said, we have worked in good faith to meet all our obligations within the allotted deadlines and we hope -- we still hope that all the parties will operate under that same assumption and make every effort that they can possibly can to meet their obligations under the deadlines as agreed on February 13th.

QUESTION: But it wouldn't be -- I mean, I suppose just as the six parties agreed on this deadline, they can agree all to -- on another deadline, right?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, let's see where we are on Saturday, Nicholas.

QUESTION: But last week you said that you were confident, you maintained that you were confident for several weeks that you were going to make the deadline, and it seems as if Chris is saying that that's becoming increasingly more difficult to meet this particular deadline.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're still -- at this point, we're still holding everybody to their obligations under February 13th that they should make every effort to try to meet those deadlines. But again, we'll see where we are on Saturday.

QUESTION: But what about the confidence factor?

MR. MCCORMACK: What's that?

QUESTION: Are you as confident today as you were on Friday?

MR. MCCORMACK: We're confident that parties are working through this process and that the important part of the process is reaching the ultimate goal. And in order to reach that ultimate goal, you are going to have to build confidence among all the various parties. And in order to do that, you're going to have to show a good faith effort in order to reach all the deadlines as they are laid out.

Now, there are along the way in this process going to be a lot of obstacles that come up that were unexpected or were more difficult to achieve than anybody had anticipated. BDA is one of those. I don't think anybody anticipated that it would be this complicated or difficult to actually fully resolve the issue. But what's important is along the way in this process that all the parties to the talks act in good faith to meet their obligations, and where there are difficulties to try to surmount them.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? I mean, I'm perplexed by the "make every effort." I mean, the BDA matter is not addressed by the February 13th agreement. It's nowhere mentioned in the text. Why do you not take the position that every party is obligated under an agreement that they reached collectively to do it, not make every effort but to do it by day 60? Why isn't that your position?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it is our position that everybody should work as hard as they can, make every effort to meet their obligations. We take seriously these agreements. We also take seriously the process that has been laid out. This is not a process where we have been at it for -- that five years ago we made an agreement for a denuclearization and we're just now at the end of the five-year mark and people are saying, "Well, what happened? Where's the denuclearization?" This is just one part of a -- one step in a larger process.

And the important factor here is: Are we making our way towards the ultimate goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula? Can we still have faith, can we still have confidence in whether or not that process is moving forward? We believe the process is still moving forward. And as I've talked about a lot last week and am talking a lot about today, where there are difficulties, if there are unexpected obstacles, bumps in the road, then how do you react to those? Are people going to react in a way that demonstrates their good faith in trying to resolve them? We believe that our actions with respect to BDA have shown that we are making every possible effort that we can to clear up any questions around it, even though the action that Treasury took about a month ago, we believe, is the action that was called for under these -- by these understandings. Nonetheless, we've gone the extra mile to see if we can do anything to see that that issue is fully resolved. And we would expect the other parties, including the North Koreans, make that similar kind of effort.

QUESTION: But how can you now state that the North Koreans are actually going to stick to this process if they can't even -- if they can't even do what they said they would do within 60 days and if you don't even hold them responsible and demand that they do it within 60 days?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, let's see where we are on Saturday. Second of all, let's see how the process is unfolding and whether or not it's a process in which we can continue to have confidence that it will move everybody forward to the common objective: denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Let's -- Nicholas hasn't exhausted --

QUESTION: Sean, I think the question is really, why are you allowing North Korea to not meet a deadline on an agreement that had nothing to do with the BDA? Basically, they're saying, "We're not going to meet the 60-day deadline on agreement about denuclearization because of this other issue that has nothing to do with denuclearization?" Why are you not saying these things have nothing to do with each other?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, Nicholas, these are issues that were of concern to the North Korean Government and we have said in the six-party talks that other countries can raise issues of concern to them. They raised this, we said that we're going to try to resolve this in a different channel, in the Treasury channel, and very quickly, it became very complicated involving banking regulators from Macau, from China, as well as our banking regulators and the North Koreans.

So it's something that is important to the North Korean Government. We said that we are going to work in good faith to try to resolve it and I think we have. It is now to the -- now, it is up to them to, as I said, get the ball over the goal line. We can't do that for them, we can't do it for the Macau authorities, we can't do it for the North Koreans. And if in doing so, that helps us achieve our ultimate objective of a denuclearized North Korean -- a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, then of course, we are going to take a look at what it is that we can do to achieve that ultimate objective. Everybody agrees that that is important, that that is in our national security interest as well as the national security interests of some of our friends and allies in the region.

QUESTION: So there was an understanding that the BDA issue will have to be resolved, you just didn't put it in writing; is that right?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we made a commitment that the issue would be resolved.

QUESTION: Though Sean, by waiting, by kind of allowing the North Koreans to delay this meeting their deadline, why is this not the same kind of nuclear blackmail that North Korea has engaged in for so many years that you said that you weren't going to stand for? And does that bode well for you trusting that the North Koreans are going to continue to implement various parts of the agreement in good faith?

MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we'll see where we are on Saturday.

Dave.

QUESTION: Sean, I was wondering if there was an (inaudible) agenda on Frazer's visit to Somalia on Saturday; for instance, whether any headway is being made toward augmenting that African force to go in there and replace Ethiopians.

MR. MCCORMACK: Don't have any updates for you on whether or not there are going to be additional AU members that devote forces to the Somali mission. Right now, we have about 1300 Ugandans there, which is just not enough. Jendayi went to Baidoa primarily to speak with the members of the Transitional Federal Government as well as the members of the civil society and the parliament. And what she urged them to do is to reach out to all Somalis who have an interest in seeing a peaceful, stable, more secure Somalia.

It's been a long time since anybody has seen that. And it is our view that the members of that government need to make every effort to resolve the political differences which have led to a lot of bloodshed and continued fighting in Mogadishu as well as elsewhere in Somalia. So that was her primary message. As for any other forces, I don't have an update for you. I'm happy to check to see if we have any reasonable expectation if we're going to see more in the near future.

QUESTION: Is that kind of a criticism of the Transitional authorities in the way they've been running things?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I wouldn't say it's -- at this point, I wouldn't say it's a criticism, but they need to focus on that political outreach. It's going to be important for Somalia's future.

QUESTION: Are there any plans for -- to open up maybe even a low-level diplomatic mission in Somalia yet? A couple of months ago, the U.S. was looking into this.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't think at this point that that's feasible. It required quite a bit of security and terrific work on the part of our diplomatic security for her to safely transit in and transit out.

QUESTION: Are you confident that the new government is doing sort of a repeat really of -- that it's doing enough to sort of reconcile with other parties within Somalia? Do you think that they're being open enough?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there's more that needs to be done.

QUESTION: Could you expand on that, please?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't want to get into detail because, you know, my objective here isn't to criticize the Transitional Federal Government. This is a -- these are nascent democratic institutions and they are operating under very difficult circumstances in Baidoa and then also in Mogadishu. But it's critical, as difficult as it may seem, for those involved in the process that they reach out to those with whom they may have differences, but who are committed to a Somalia that is more peaceful, more stable and safer for the civilian population.

QUESTION: And are you satisfied with the performance of the Ethiopians, thus far? Did Jendayi Frazer meet with the -- any Ethiopian leader? Any Ethiopian military commanders at all?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to check for you. No, she didn't. This was just with Somalia TFG and civil society types.

QUESTION: Sean.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Another subject? Apparently in Congress, the House reiterated its request for Secretary Rice to testify on April 18th on --

MR. MCCORMACK: Is this from Mr. Waxman's --

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: -- committee?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't really see the need. I think the letter that we replied to, answered in full, all of his inquiries.

QUESTION: No. He said after receiving an insufficient response from the State Department.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know what makes -- it'll be interesting for them to detail in what regard it's insufficient in that we detailed some correspondent -- all the -- we've been through all the correspondence that they were -- they alleged was not responded to in detail for them exactly how it was responded to, including a letter that they said that they sent that nobody could find any evidence it had been sent. So clearly we were answering our mail, looking at it and responding to it. I'm not quite sure that they have done the same.

QUESTION: So she refuses to testify?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I haven't asked her. I haven't put the question to her, but I think the question needs to be when they talk about an insufficient response, I'm very curious as to in what regard it's insufficient.

QUESTION: Sean.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Last week South Asian nations met at a regional conference in New Delhi, India. And they formed for the first time economic forum and also they are talking about cooperation on energy. You think -- do you see this as challenge for the U.S. or international community and as far as trade and energy talks are going on with those nations?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, clearly there's a lot of demand for energy among those nations. They have growing economies, growing populations, and they're going to have to decide for themselves as to how they meet those energy needs with respect to Iran. And as a possible supplier of energy needs, we've made our views clear on that. But ultimately, it's going to be for the states of that region to decide.

QUESTION: Without undue U.S. support, what do -- the conference took place in New Delhi among those nations.

MR. MCCORMACK: Goyal, it's going to be up to others to decide for themselves how they arrange themselves and how they group themselves.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the Ethiopia-North Korea?

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I know you talked about this in the morning, but are you trying to clarify to other Security Council members what exactly happened and why this might or might not be a violation of the (inaudible) resolution and have you received any questions from them about --

MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I know of.

QUESTION: -- your -- not the -- so do you think --

MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: -- there is a need for them to explain to them what happened?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don't see any particular need. I think --

QUESTION: So you don't think it's a violation of the resolution?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think if there are any questions that need to be raised, they can put it to member-states of the United Nations who made the trafficking with the North Koreans in arms or parts or supplies that may be covered by Security Council resolutions.

QUESTION: Right. When the Ethiopians went to the embassy to talk about the sale before it actually took place, I know that they were supposed to have promised not to do this again, but did you exchange anything with them in writing about this?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Nicholas, this refers to a New York Times story that appeared on Sunday and I stated in the morning I'm not going to have any particular comment on the details of that story. I talked a lot about our commitment to upholding Security Council resolutions as well as our commitment to preventing the traffic in illicit technologies, materials that may be used for a weapons of mass destruction program. But beyond that, you can talk to the Ethiopians.

QUESTION: Well, you also said this morning that you encouraged the Ethiopians to take a look at, you know, who they're procuring from. Are there any efforts underway to help Ethiopia procure from a more reliable or a different source other than North Korea?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's going to be up to them to decide from whom they buy parts and ammunition.

QUESTION: Is there any -- is there any discussions underway to perhaps help Ethiopia upgrade its equipment? Because apparently some of the equipment in question is very old and North Korea is one of the only suppliers of spare parts of this type.

MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I know of. Not that I know of.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:13 p.m.)

DPB # 61



Released on April 9, 2007



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