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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


DPB # 61

MONDAY, JUNE 19 2000 12:15 P.M.

MR. BOUCHER: ................

Second of all, we'll be giving you a fact sheet on the easing of sanctions on North Korea that we've talked about before. The Federal Register notice is out today with a full and complete description. We'll give you a fact sheet as well. And we are going forward with implementation of these steps that were announced in September of last year, and you'll remember the context was the improvement in relations, the missile talks that we had had, and the continuation of the missile moratorium. All those things continue and remain important to us.


All right, with those mentions, I'd like to take your questions right now. Mr. Gedda.

QUESTION: Are you able to elaborate at all on the prospective impact of the easing of sanctions against North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me talk a little bit about what it is, give you a clearer picture on that. And then we'll have to see on the prospective impact, I think is probably the best answer; that this is a part of a process, as you know, that was designed by Secretary Perry, former Secretary Perry. The idea was that we would address issues of concern and that we would continue to work in a process.

In September 1999, the President announced his decision to ease some of the sanctions under his authority. The sanctions that we're easing will allow most imports and exports of non-sensitive consumer goods. Also permitted in the easing are direct financial transfers from one person to another, such as from a family in the United States to family members in North Korea, or for legitimate commercial purposes.

The decision also allows for relaxation of most restrictions on investment and on transportation rules to permit US commercial vessels and aircraft carrying approved goods to call at North Korean ports, subject to existing regulations.

The step does not unblock frozen assets or address claim settlements issues, nor does it affect our counter-terrorism or nonproliferation controls on North Korea which prohibit exports of military or dual-use items and most types of US assistance. Restrictions currently in place due to US missile sanctions and multilateral arrangements will also remain in place.

It is our understanding and expectation that North Korea will continue to refrain from testing any long-range missiles for the duration of our negotiations that are aimed at improving our relations. Of course, we will judge North Korea as we always have, based on its adherence to its commitments, and the US decision to ease a limited number of sanctions is not just based on North Korean promises alone.

At the same time, further steps to improve our relations will look obviously at other North Korean actions in other priority areas that are of concern to us as well. As far as the commercial implications, there are members of the US Chamber of Commerce in Korea that are looking at traveling up there to see what the opportunities are.

I think we have to be realistic and understand that the actual opportunities for trade may be limited by the state of North Korea's economy, but the fact here is that the United States is making it possible to engage in consumer transactions, normal transactions while not changing our regulations on terrorism, nonproliferation concerns, missiles, and military use goods.

QUESTION: Building on that last point, I mean what theoretically - possibly, what do you expect that the United States might import from a country that's leading imports seem to be kind of misery and starving refugees across the border into China? Is there any goods that North Korea now produces that might be exportable to the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, Matt, the key issue in this easing of sanctions by the US Government is precisely to say that's no longer a US Government decision; that's a commercial decision the commercial people can make on a commercial basis. Trade both ways, so that will be up for entrepreneurs and traders to figure out if there is.

QUESTION: You actually don't know of any product --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not forecasting some explosion in trade, or some particular product that would be traded. The point is that we're allowing most of these decisions in all areas that are not sensitive, that don't involve sensitive goods either way, imports or exports from the United States, we're allowing those decisions to be made by commercial people on a commercial basis.

QUESTION: Can I just ask - you said that relaxation of rules for investors. Does that mean that people will no longer need a license to do business there?

MR. BOUCHER: I think licenses will still be required, but people will have to get them. That is something - I'm trying to see if I have the exact language, or if that's just something I happen to know. All right, we'll have to get you the precise language on what licenses are required.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - Treasury, Commerce?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's Treasury that handles these things.

QUESTION: You said that in terms of other further steps that might be taken in terms of North Korea beyond the easing of sanctions, you'll have to continue to look at North Korea in action in other areas. What might those other further steps include, and what action in other areas will you be looking at?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's probably speculative at this point on what the exact next steps will be. We will continue our discussions with North Korea on the Agreed Framework, on the missile issues, basically dealing with the nuclear questions, the missile questions, and the whole process of improving a relationship in the future. That process can involve a whole series of steps, as forecast in the Perry Report.

QUESTION: Senator Helms said Sunday that if this is a genuine reconciliation between North and South Korea, the United States should look at pulling out the 37,000 troops it has there. What's your response to that?

MR. BOUCHER: The question of US troops in Korea is really a question solely to be addressed by the United States and South Korea, the Republic of Korea. We will do that. I think that's quite clear. We very much welcome the change in atmosphere and the prospect for a reduction of tensions on the Peninsula, but our troops are there as long as we and the South Koreans think they're necessary for defense, and that situation hasn't really changed at this stage.

QUESTION: There was an old-style attack on the United States in the North Korean media over the weekend. How much weight do you attach to that? Do you dismiss it as just a sort of reflex of the old style, or --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I would say it's outdated rhetoric. It's a bit puzzling why it appeared in publication at this point but, to make absolutely clear, the report is incorrect; we are not increasing tensions or escalating the risk of war on the Peninsula.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - just the North Koreans who are doing that, right?

MR. BOUCHER: Matt, I don't want to counter charges with counter-charges. Let's just say the report - any implication that we're somehow increasing tensions is just plain wrong. We welcome the inter-Korean summit. We hope that the progress it has started will lead to reduced tensions on the Korean Peninsula and, for that matter, we'd look forward to a reduction in this kind of outdated rhetoric as well.

QUESTION: You say it's your expectation that the North Koreans will continue to refrain from missile testing. Is that based on a statement or assurances from them?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, they've had a missile moratorium in place. We made quite clear when we announced the easing of sanctions in September of last year that it was done in the context of our talks on missiles and of their moratorium on missiles. That remained very important to us then, and it remains very important to us now. I think I have to stop at that.

QUESTION: Have you heard during the summit, were there any further assurances given about missile testing?

MR. BOUCHER: That's a question you'll have to ask the South Koreans.

QUESTION: Why did you wait from September until now to ease the sanctions?

MR. BOUCHER: It just takes a long time. These are very complicated regulations that have been built up over 50 years. It involves a lot of people in the bureaucracy, a lot of lawyers. And I think when we announced in September, we said it would take many months, and we've said something like six months, and the answer is: Everything always takes longer then you planned.

QUESTION: You probably answered this before, but does the United States believe that North Korea is still able to develop its missile program without carrying out these very obvious tests?


QUESTION: Does the United States believe that North Korea is still able to develop its missile program without carrying out tests? And there was a follow-on to that.

MR. BOUCHER: You mean, can you develop a missile without testing it? I don't know, that's kind of a factual matter. We do know that they have a fairly advanced program. Let's put it that way.

QUESTION: So you would still see them - that this continuing moratorium doesn't make any difference to the equation in terms of NMD?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I wouldn't be forecasting any change on missile defense. I don't think - well, let's put it this way, I don't think anything has changed on missile defense at this point, and the evaluation of the threat will have to take into account the capabilities that they have developed over time.

QUESTION: Is the Trading With the Enemy Act sanctions, is that's what's been lifted?

MR. BOUCHER: Bingo. Ease substantially sanctions in categories that fall under the Trading With the Enemy Act, the export administration regulations, and the Defense Production Act.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what remains - I mean, for example, if we get a visa to North Korea, does that mean that private people can spend as much as they want, that you don't need to have the - I mean, a license or permission? I mean, when you talked about licenses, we'd like to know a little more about that.

MR. BOUCHER: Direct personal and commercial financial transactions will be allowed between US and North Korean persons. Again, I have to get the exact language for you on licenses, just to make sure that we know which pieces are subject to license and which aren't. I don't want to wing that one.

QUESTION: On a related matter, the Secretary said today, this morning, that the United States has abandoned the expression "rogue states" in favor of "states of concern." I wondered if you could sort of give us an idea of the ideological shift that's involved in this change in terminology.

MR. BOUCHER: The vast ideological shift? First, I want credit for having admitted that we changed something.


All right. The phrase "states of concern" is a more general phrase. I think that the issue was whether you have one policy that tries to fit all, and when all these states are opposed to the peace process and opposed to the international situation and opposed to any form of liberalization and democracy, it's easy to describe in one basket.

What we see now is a certain evolution, different ways in different places. Some places that were described that way have embarked upon more democratic internal life; others have been willing to address some of the issues that are of primary concern to the United States; others have addressed partially issues like terrorism but not completed what the UN, in the example of Libya, has asked them to do in terms of cooperation with the trial.

So the point, I think, is just a recognition that we have seen some evolution in different ways in different places, and that we will deal appropriately with each one based on the kind of evolution we're seeing and what we think is possible in terms of getting them to live more harmoniously with the international environment and, in particular, to address the concerns that the United States has.

QUESTION: Does abandoning the "rogue state" tag mean that you're more open to engage with such countries if you see the opportunity to encourage them to change?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think if you look at what we've been doing, where we have an opportunity to address our concerns, we have tried to address those concerns. This is more a change in our description of things rather than a change in what we've been doing, because we have been, for example, in the case of North Korea finding ways to address our serious concerns about nuclear weapons, about missiles, about the overall relationship, including things such as terrorism.

With Libya, we continue to stress the importance of Libya meeting the UN requirements on cooperation with the trial, even as we've noted in our terrorism report that they've taken a certain numbers of steps - and I grant not complete ones yet - on distancing themselves from certain terrorist groups.

So I think it's just a recognition that what we were doing was, in fact, addressing the issues where there had been decisions to make a change, where there had been decisions to change the internal workings, like more democracy in Iran or where there have been decisions on their parts to address some of the issues that we were concerned about.

QUESTION: Can you explain to us why no one was told that she was going to make the - do this interview this morning? And it seems to be that only a few people who heard about it from friends or whoever, who happen to listen regularly to the Diane Rehm Show, were the only ones that were aware of it? I mean, there's a schedule out that says no public appointments on it. This is obviously a public appointment. She did announce - apparently announced this change in policy, and yet very few people in this room who cover this building - who would be interested in this - knew about it.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm sorry it wasn't on the public schedule. I do believe it was advertised by the radio station, so it wasn't a secret. It should have been on the public schedule, and I'm looking into finding out why it wasn't.

QUESTION: Not being a regular listener of that station - I mean, is that how we're going to - is this -

MR. BOUCHER: No, we're going to try to get you the information in the future because it should have been there. Okay?

QUESTION: So now that you have countries that, I guess, are in between, does that mean that there are going to be some countries that you wouldn't go all the way to consider them "rogue states;" that you might have a new category delineation like on the terrorism list, countries that aren't state-sponsored terrorists but are not officially cooperating in terms of doing enough?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the point is we're not trying to create new categories; we're trying to deal with each situation in US interests. And if we see a development that we think is in US interests, we will respond. If we see "states of concern" that continue to be of concern because they're not willing to deal with some of the issues we're concerned about - phew. If we see countries that are not willing to deal with the issues that are most important to us, we're not going to have much of a response or reaction.

QUESTION: Is "rogue state" then out of the lexicon as of today?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't used it for a while.

QUESTION: Is it possible that some states will still be referred to as "rogue states" if they -

MR. BOUCHER: If they want to be rogues, they can be rogues, but generally we have not been using the term for a while, I think.

QUESTION: So it's not a matter of some countries continue to be "rogue states" and others have progressed to "states of concern;" all of them henceforth are "states of concern"?


QUESTION: But does this lower the bar for what a "state of concern" is, now that there's no "rogue state"?

MR. BOUCHER: Does this lower the bar? No, because, as I said, it's more a description than a change in policy, because the issue is: Are various countries whose activities around the world have been troubling to us, are they actually dealing with the issues that we have been concerned about? And if we are able to encourage them or pressure them or otherwise produce changes in their behavior, and therefore a change in our relationship, we're willing to do that. If they're not, then we're going to keep our sanctions on and we're going to keep our restrictions on and we're not going to change our policies.

QUESTION: PR-wise, does that make it easier for the Administration if you ease sanctions on a "state of concern" than if you ease sanctions on a "rogue state"? So isn't this just as much for you as it is them?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think the determination will be state by state, where if we do something with an individual country that people think is unmerited, I think we'll hear about it.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how many there are?


QUESTION: Has anybody actually done a rough list?

MR. BOUCHER: We have found the opportunity to express our concerns about different states at different times in different ways. We try to deal with each one on its behavior, on its actions, on its merits.

QUESTION: So there would be many, in fact, because you have often expressed concern about various aspects of countries?

QUESTION: Is Pakistan a "state of concern"?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to create new categories. The essence of this is not trying to categorize people. The essence of this is trying to describe our relationships with individual nations in terms of the issues that are most important to the United States and our ability to make progress on those issues.

QUESTION: So just coming out and saying that we're concerned about an event in a country, wherever country, does not necessarily mean that it's a "state of concern"?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to categorize or re-categorize anybody. I'm trying to say that we're going to deal with each country based on the situation and the merits.

QUESTION: So are the same seven countries - or however many countries it was that were considered "rogue states" before - are they all now considered "states of concern"?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, they would be. But I have to say the point is not to categorize them; the point is to deal with each country on the basis of what we can accomplish in terms of what we care about.

QUESTION: But when you change the category, that is necessarily a categorization.

MR. BOUCHER: We'll discuss that over lunch sometime. I think that's too philosophical for me to deal with from the podium.

QUESTION: Well, I just want to know - I mean, I think it's a valid question. I mean, are there any more countries that are "states of concern" than there were previously described as "rogue states"?

MR. BOUCHER: No, because we're not adding a large new category. We're trying to say that we deal - we changed the description, okay? Let's not make this an enormous policy step. Our policies towards each of these countries is very well known, and we've been quite clear over time - we're talking about North Korea today, talking about countries in our terrorism report, talking about developments in Iran in the Secretary's speeches. We've been quite clear about each of these countries where we saw good things happening, where we wished to progress, where we thought we could progress.

But we've been quite clear that we have different policies towards different places because the key issue here is not to categorize or write a book; the key issue is to get developments and progress on issues the United States cares about because we have our interests in these places in the world.

QUESTION: Can we change topics and go to the Balkans?

QUESTION: I just want to ask a question on the former rogue state of North Korea. (Laughter).

MR. BOUCHER: The state previously known as rogue; is that it? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Are they still going to be denied - is the United States still required to vote against World Bank and IMF loans to that country?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a consequence of their being on the terrorism list, and therefore it would continue to be.

QUESTION: One more question on that. Wouldn't it be more accurate for you to think of not "states of concern" but "issues of concern" to the United States? And would you - you started to give a list and you didn't get very far with the list. Is there such a list?

MR. BOUCHER: This is descriptive. There are some countries with which we have a lot of concerns. These correspond to the countries that we have previously called "rogue states." The description of "states of concern" is as good as any. I'm sure there's a thousand other that wordsmiths could dream up. The point of this whole thing is to say that we will deal with each of these countries based on the kind of relationship that we think we can have, based on the kind of progress that we can have, that we can actually see, on the issues that are most important to us.

QUESTION: Is it merely coincidental that this comes up on the same day as we ease sanctions on North Korea, or was this something that was prompted longer in the works, but prompted today by a redefinition of the North Korean relationship?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it was prompted by questions, actually. As I said, I think if you look back to my briefings, and Jamie's briefings, and the Secretary's statements, that we actually haven't used the word "rogue" for quite a while.

QUESTION: When was the definitive shift?

MR. BOUCHER: Over the past few months we've changed the terminology, I think.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - reason you've done this is because you think there's a better chance of engaging with a country if you stop calling it a rogue?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think it would be fair to say that we think the category has outlived its usefulness.

QUESTION: This is more than just semantics, partly because this Administration, in justifying publicly the need for a national missile defense, was that it would guard against "rogue states," not against the former Soviet Union, for example. Now, since it was the category, and it was the justification for a national missile defense, does the term of reference for national missile defense change at all?

MR. BOUCHER: No, absolutely not. The threat that the President - one of the four criteria the President's going to have to deal with is not based on what term we're using for places, it's based on the fact that there are nations out there who are developing missile capabilities who do not appear to be bound by the traditional strategic stability that exists, for example, between the United States and Russia, because of the network of treaties that are involved.

Therefore, we need to look at other ways of dealing with that new threat that's emerging, and the President will look at the threat and the cost and the feasibility and the nature of the international arms control regime, as we've said, in making that determination. This is not a cookie-cutter approach; it's an attempt to say that we have to deal with each situation as it comes.

QUESTION: You guys have just walked into a huge mine field, maybe a rhetorical mine field, but I mean there are tons of countries out there, and even some that are not official - Afghanistan and Somalia, for example, that are "states of concern" to the United States, that are not "states of concern."

MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I would say, Matt, is we don't sit around here with a basket marked "states of concern" and try to throw countries into it every day. We actually grab situations, and try to work on them, and improve the interests of the United States with regard to that situation. If you look at what we've been doing, we have been dealing with these issues, with these countries, with these developments overseas, in ways that we thought were most advantageous to the United States.

It's not really a change in behavior or policy or what we're doing as much as it is finding a better description, or a better description because a single description, one size fits all, doesn't really fit any more.

QUESTION: Can we get a transcript of the Diane Rehm Show, though?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure it's probably available very soon.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 P.M.)

[end of document]

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