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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

                            THE WHITE HOUSE
                     Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                      June 16, 1998
                          PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                             MIKE MCCURRY 
                          The Briefing Room            
2:00 P.M. EDT
      Q Mike, how important would it be for Chinese and the U.S. to
agree to a non-detargeting of their nuclear missiles at each other in
the course of the visit to China?
      MR. MCCURRY:  Well, we have always been of the view that that is
something that lends some measure of stability to the concept of
deterrence, and in that respect, is something that enhances the security
of both sides.  That's the reason why we negotiated just such an
agreement with the Russian Federation.  And, as you know, we have sought
such an agreement with China, but I'm not going to speculate on whether
that becomes one of the outcomes of the upcoming summit.
      Q Do you have a negotiating team in Beijing working on it now?
      MR. MCCURRY:  We have our Senior Director for Asia there to go
over last-minute preparations for the visit, that's correct.  They're
discussing a number of things.
      Q Is the U.S. prepared to accept the non-first-use pledge?
      MR. MCCURRY:  I'm not going to try to write the agreement for you
      Q But there is a standing policy that the United States does not
agree to a no-first-use pledge on nuclear weapons; is that correct?
      MR. MCCURRY:  That is correct.  I'll refer you further to NSC for
exactly the way they state that.
      Q It would be fair, though, if there is an agreement you would
want it to be --
      MR. MCCURRY:  I'm not going to speculate.
      Q -- the same kind of an agreement that the U.S. has with Russia?
      MR. MCCURRY:  It would be similar to and it would be designed for
the same purpose.
      Q   Are there American missiles targeted at China now?
      MR. MCCURRY:  I'm not going to discuss our targeting posture and
targeting doctrine, but we live in a world of deterrence.
      Q What is that purpose, Mike?  Is it merely confidence building?
Does it go beyond --
      MR. MCCURRY:  It's partly confidence building; it's partly -- I
mean I think the experts correctly point out that you can quickly change
the targeting structure and guidance structures of ICBMs.  But at the
same time, it's a commentary on what your doctrine is with respect to
use when you've negotiated such an agreement.  And in that sense, it
enhances the security and the belief of most experts.
      Q Mike, did you mean to leave the impression that no first use is
on the table?
      MR. MCCURRY:  No, I didn't mean to comment on ongoing discussions
about a detargeting agreement in way, shape, or form.
      Q Mike, how was the detargeting a comment on your doctrine with
regard to the use of nuclear weapons?
      MR. MCCURRY:  Because if you're not targeted, you're not on the
so-called hair trigger, and you're not in that mode of response,
anticipating first strike.
      Q Well, you're not anyway because the Chinese have a no-first-use
pledge, right?
      MR. MCCURRY:  There's some of might try to make that argument.
      THE PRESS:  Thank you.
             END                          2:30 P.M. EDT

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