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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

July 14, 1998


                           THE WHITE HOUSE
                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                July 14, 1998     
                         PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                            MIKE MCCURRY 
                         The Briefing Room   
1:59 P.M.  
	     MR. MCCURRY:  What do I have today?  Nothing.
	     Q	  Trent Lott's accusations?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  What was that about?  That was politics, 
pure and simple.  (Laughter.)
	     Q	  An independent counsel --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The question is, Senator Lott's comments, 
which I found if they weren't so flabbergasting they would be 
somewhat amusing.
	     Q	  Wait a minute.  Read slowly.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Mr. Lott said they had reached no final 
conclusions, but they had reached five major interim judgments, which 
struck me a little bit like Alice in Wonderland time -- you know, 
verdict first -- sentence first, verdict afterwards, facts sooner or 
later forgotten.
	     We've addressed these issues and made it quite clear 
that the license waivers granted by the Clinton administration, 
pursuant to a policy developed by President Reagan and first 
implemented by President Bush, had been consistent with U.S. interest 
and had been consistent with our desire to be competitive in the 
global satellite and technology market.
	     And they've now had, I think, something like 18 hearings 
on the Hill; they've got more scheduled.  There will be 
administration witnesses from Commerce, from Defense, from the 
intelligence community, from the State Department who have testified 
in excruciating detail about this matter and made it quite clear what 
this policy is and what it is not.
	     And Senator Lott today tried to connect a lot of dots 
that, frankly, don't connect.  And our judgment here is that that was 
not a serious statement by a serious person; it was a political 
argument made by a politician for political benefit.
	     Q	  Mike, you're not saying that Senator Lott is not a 
serious person?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'm saying that that statement today he 
made on the Senate floor was not a serious statement.
	     Q	  By a serious person?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, he can be more serious and bring 
more reasoned argument to a serious matter like this than he did 
	     Q	  Lott and others on the Hill have also said, on the 
satellite question, that the administration has not been forthcoming 
enough in terms of providing information to --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That is ludicrous.  I just told you, they 
have eight committees looking into this; we've cooperated with all 
them, to my knowledge.  We've given hundreds, if not thousands, of 
pages of documentation to them.  We've had top-level administration 
witnesses explain in categorical detail the basis of the license 
waivers given and demonstrated I think to their satisfaction that the 
license waivers that have been granted by this President are 
consistent with the policy pursued by the previous Republican 
President.  And I think Trent Lott is making politics and not making 
serious judgments about the facts.
	     Q	  But does the President think the policy has given 
the Chinese a leg up on the --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think the President is confident that 
the license that he's granted have not contributed to China's ability 
to design, develop, operate, maintain, modify or repair satellite 
launch vehicles.

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