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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

[EXCERPTS] DOD Background Briefing
Thursday, April 3, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Subject: Secretary Cohen's Trip to CINCPAC, Korea and Japan

Q: How will the matter of theater missile defense work in to the visit in
Tokyo as far as Japan's interest in cooperation of the United States,
the Patriot or whatever? 
A: Well, I think as you know, Dr. Kaminski, our Under Secretary for
Acquisitions was in Japan for consultations about two weeks ago. He
had very detailed discussions with our Japanese friends. Japan has
been involved now in almost a two year study in terms of how they
think about and what they're national options and priorities are
vis--vis tactical missile defense. I think that our goal, of course, in this
entire process is to provide as much information, calculus, as much
data as we can to allow Japan to make its own decision about what
are it's options, what are in it's national interests concerning tactical
missile defense. 
I also think Secretary Cohen will lay out very clearly what his and the
Department of Defense's priorities are in terms of tactical missile
defense. And he's been very clear on the record that this is a very high
priority for him in this, the second Clinton Administration. So I think
our Japanese interlocutors will be very interested to hear how
Secretary Cohen wants to move ahead here. 
Q: Are they ready to -- are you expecting to get some sort of word
from them on what their decision is? 
A: Their decision in terms of how they want to proceeded is likely to
be made some time this summer. And really, that's for Japan to
announce. Our primary responsibility in this is to provide as much
information as possible to help them make their best possible decision,
not to put pressure, but to provide info. 
Q: Does the United States have any immediately plans to resume talks
with North Korea to restrict its missile development? And in addition,
how will the United States respond to the South Korean's government
request to abrogate the 1991 -- the memorandum of understanding,
the Ryschik, the South Korean government's plans to develop long
range (inaudible) range missiles? 
A: I know about your question. I've gotten it often from Korean
interlocutors concerning the Missile Technology Control Regime
(MTCR). As I've tried to say in previous discussions about this, the
responsibility for diplomatic interaction with the Korean government
concerning various provisions concerning the development or
procurement or the ultimate putting into force of various missiles is the
responsibility of the Department of State, not the responsibility of the
Department of Defense. I can tell you that as part of the interaction
between the U.S. government and the ROK's with North Korea, one
of the issues we are looking at is resuming or having the next phase of
discussions on proliferation of missiles with North Korea in the near
term, yes. And that will be one of the issues that will be discussed over
the next several days. The principle interlocutor from the State
Department the acting assistant secretary, Chuck Kartman, is actually
in Korea and he'll also visit China discussing these issues. 
Q: Did I understand you to say you wanted start talks with North
Korea on missile proliferation? 
A: In fact, you did understand me, but those talks have already been
held. I think we've had two rounds of those talks. Deputy Assistant
Secretary Bob Einhorn, at the State Department has had two
meetings, I believe, in Geneva with North Korean interlocutors about
Q: You're talking about the KEDO arrangement, right? 
A: Well, actually no. It's a separate diplomatic initiative to attempt to
limit the development and the sale of North Korean weapons, missiles
of a certain range. 
Q: So just want to have another round of talks or what -- 
A: That's right. Yeah. The talks were essentially -- during the period
immediately after the submarine incident, it was very difficult to
contemplate any kind of interaction with North Korea obviously. Now
as we move forward, in discussions about what would be necessary to
get the going, the so-called Four Party talks that were announced or at
least initiated last year when President Kim and President Clinton were
on Cheju Island in South Korea. That is one of the initiatives that
we've looked at in terms of basically insisting to our North Korean
interlocutors how it important it will be for us to talk with them about
the potential proliferation of these very dangerous weapons. 
Q: How will your talks with South Korea including your recent trip to
Seoul about Korean's intention of procuring Russia military equipment?
A: I've already been misquoted on this several times so I'll try to be
The United States has an interest in -- when we operate very closely
with our Korean interlocutors that certain key weapons systems, that
there is a high degree of harmony and interoperability. We've tried to
make that point to our Korean interlocutors. We know that there are
some plans underway for the ROK to consider the possible purchase
of surface to air missiles from Russia. We have tried to make our case
to the ROK government, not pressuring them but to make our case
that we have a very strong interest because of our forward deployed
forces that U.S. and ROK equipment are inter-operable particularly in
critical areas like surface to air missiles. And so we believe that this is a
case where we hope that our Korean interlocutors will look at the
kinds of equipment that we have fielded and make a judgment that will
lead to greater interoperability and perhaps would not cause a
potential problem should, you know, god forbid, a conflict develop on
the Korean peninsula. 
Q: Will that come up in this meeting -- 
A: We have very regular interactions with our Korean interlocutors
about the status of the military situation and about military
procurement, so -- 
Q: The particular weapons systems they're contemplating buying,
they're still contemplating, it hasn't been resolved yet? 
A: Let's be clear about this. At any one time, there are tens, perhaps
many dozens of weapons systems that Korea considers purchasing.
This is one particular system which they have looked closely at the
Russian options. We encourage close relations between the ROK and
Russia. We think that's a very important development. On this
particular matter in terms of interoperability, we have some concerns
that we want a safe environment, so to speak, and so we have made
our case that we think that this is something that the ROK should look
closely. I think it'll be discussed. But let's be clear, that this is a
discussion that's very straightforward, it's very easy going, we make
our pitch, why we think this is important. Koreans listen, and will make
their decision. This is not a case of Yankee coming in and demanding. 
Q: You don't like the idea of them buying -- 
A: I wouldn't say that exactly. We don't want -- we would prefer a
situation that not a large number of Russian surface to air missile were
actually set out in the field. We do think that it makes sense to think
about purchasing some for testing purposes or other kinds of training.
But in terms of working closely with U.S. forces fielded in a potential
scene of action, it raises some potential concerns, obviously, because
U.S. fighter planes will be obviously operating in close proximity. 
Let me just take a couple others and then I'll get back to you. 
Q: Well I mean on the very same point, we have officially told the
UAE that if they buy SA-12, we won't fly in their air space. Have we
told the South Koreans the same thing? 
A: No. We have a security treaty with the Republic of Korea. We
work extremely closely with them. We are partners on the peninsula.
We have made our case why we think this very important. I think we
may have more to say in the next several weeks about this. I don't
want to go any further than what I've said already. 
Q: You are talking about the SA-12 here, aren't you? What competing
U.S. systems? 
A: I'm not sure I'm supposed to talk about competing systems. I don't
know -- (laughter) 
Q: What compatible U.S. systems? 
A: I think it's the Raytheon system. 
Q: The U.S. and Japan are scheduled to hold mid level consultations
later on this month on missile defense issues. There is some question as
to whether or not those talks are going to be actually held, and I was
wondering if Secretary Cohen's visit will in any way spur those
meetings on to be held? 
A: I wasn't aware that there was any dispute. These are working group
meetings that have been going on for many, many months. I think this is
the eighth or tenth. These are exchanges of views. I thought they were
to proceed as planned in the United States at the middle part of April.
I don't see any problem with it and I think that's what plan to do. I
don't know of any controversy surrounding that. And that would be
very unusual, frankly. 
Q: North Korea, how soon do you think is he going to get to have a
round of talks with North Koreans on missile issues? 
A: It's very hard to say. I will the say the critical issue at this
juncture is
to try to see whether we can get concurrence from the North Koreans
to attend the Four Party talks. That has been the primary focus of our
diplomacy. However, I think there's a wide commitment to try to move
ahead quickly with the missile talks and North Korea. On that
particular matter, I would urge you, since the primary responsibility
resides in another building, to direct your questions there. 
Q: Is it linked to the progress of the Four Party talks? (Inaudible) 
A: I don't -- I'm not implying a link. 
Q: Is it too late to be part of that discussion about North Korea? 
A: We've made very clear that you can't -- We're not going to link
support to the Four Party talks with food assistance. However, you
will see in South Korea, increasing movements that will gradually allow
certain amounts of food through a carefully controlled mechanism to go
to North Korea. As to the Four Party talks, we've made very -- 
Q: Generally, will Secretary Cohen bring that subject up and discuss it
with either the Japanese or the South Koreans? 
A: I think it's likely that we will review the overall security situation in
North Korea. Increasingly, food is part of the security situation in
North Korea, yes. And I think those discussions will be held in both
Japan and South Korea. 
Q: Can I just clear up one more thing about missile defense? The
Japanese are not trying to make a decision about whether they want
missile defense, the decision is whether or not they want to field their
own system or buy a U.S. system. Is that not right? 
A: I really think they're at a much earlier stage about deciding whether
-- what's the potential national utility of such a situation and a changing
Asian security dynamic. I also believe that, you know, if you look at
their budgetary constraints right now, they're in no position to move
ahead dramatically in this way. I think primarily what they've been
looking are various possible arenas and areas of collaboration with the
United States. And that's what we expect to hear more from our
Japanese friends this summer. 

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