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Press Briefing on North Korea and Iraq

John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Manila, Philippines
January 9, 2003

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Thank you all for coming here today. The stop here in Manila is part of a swing through the region beginning in New Zealand, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, here, and then on to Thailand. It is one of a series of consultations that senior officials in the Department of State and the Department of Defense have had over the past month or so on the subject of Iraq, although we have obviously touched here on a number of other subjects including North Korea. In meetings here with the President and the Foreign Secretary, we discussed the current state of play in Iraq, the thinking of the United States Government and the thinking of the Government of the Philippines. We exchanged views on that, and we covered the ongoing situation in North Korea as well. So with that, why don't I just take your questions. I'd be happy to respond to any you have.

QUESTION: My question is on Iraq. Is the U.S. Government going to wait for the report of the UN inspectors team before they make a final decision on Iraq on January 27? And, are you going to go to the UN Security Council before you are going to make a decision on a strike on Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, the decision on Iraq has been made repeatedly by the UN Security Council -- that Iraq has to be divested of weapons of mass destruction -- long-range ballistic missiles. We have been actively seeking to achieve that goal for over 12 years now. And we continue to do that through our cooperation with UNMOVIC and IAEA, the UN bodies charged with carrying out the will of the Security Council and we'll continue to do that and await the report of the inspectors. In terms of what happens after that, that would just be speculation at this point because no decisions have been made. But one thing is absolutely clear, that Iraq has to give up its weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up. There have been reports of consideration by Arab countries to urge Saddam Hussein to go into exile, consider a third country --has that been discussed and is that a possibility?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I suppose anything is possible. I think, if Saddam Hussein were to leave Baghdad, that might well result in greater possibility of the Iraqis complying with the UN resolutions. But whether he's there or not, as President Bush has said, we already know what the end of the story is and that is -- Iraq will no longer have weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Rex Ramones of the Daily Expose. Will you consider a war with North Korea in case the North Koreans refuse to deactivate its nuclear build-up.

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I think President Bush has been very emphatic and very clear that he seeks a diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the egregious violation by the North Koreans of their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a series of other agreements. We have been working actively both for bilateral diplomacy with our friends and allies in the region, with other affected countries, the other legitimate nuclear weapons states -- Russia, China, Britain and France, and multilaterally through organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency to convince the North Koreans to come back into compliance with their international obligations. They have resolutely declined to do so, but, our objective is a peaceful resolution of the matter and the President's been very clear on that point.

QUESTION: I'm Ellen Cruz from Tokyo Shimbun. How about your discussion with the President and with Secretary Ople about this matter? And, what will you do with the feedback that you're getting through your visits in this region?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I consider both meetings to have been highly beneficial. We exchanged views as I indicated before on Iraq and North Korea and other subjects. I think the views of the government here and our government are essentially the same on the importance of eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and stopping the North Korean pursuit of a nuclear weapons' capability. We didn't get into any specifics, but I think that the outcome of the meetings shows the kind of political cooperation between the two governments which I think will be important, has been important, in the on-going global struggle against terrorism where Philippines and the United States have had an especially effective and close relationship.

QUESTION: How about the second question. The feedback -- how important is the feedback you're getting from these countries?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, I think it's extremely positive and we're very gratified by the analysis of both Iraq and North Korea that we've received here in Manila. I will certainly convey that back to the White House and the State Department. It's important, I think, in both cases that we show strong, international solidarity. In the case of Iraq, to bring them into compliance with 12 years of Security Council resolutions, 12 years of Security Council resolutions. And that the North Koreans understand that they have to come back into compliance with their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty which they breached in two respects -- one, their uranium enrichment program; and two, their recent decision to un-freeze the facilities at Yongbyon, seeking nuclear weapons through a plutonium route as well.

QUESTION: Jason Gutierrez from AFP. I've got two questions, one on North Korea. What offers can the U.S. Government extend to North Korea so that they go back to the agreement?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: There's nothing we're going to extend to North Korea to get them to go back to meet the fundamental obligations that they undertook. We're certainly prepared to talk to the North Koreans, to explain what their obligations are and how they can come back into compliance with them, but, as Secretary Powell said very eloquently a couple of days ago, we're not going to pay twice for them to comply with their obligations.

QUESTION: On Iraq. The arms inspectors have not found any specific weapons of mass destruction that you've been outlining so far. What would be the justification for the U.S. Government to go to war with Korea, if indeed it does.

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON:  To go to war?

QUESTION:  To go to a military action against Iraq.

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Iraq's obligation under the Security Council resolutions is to demonstrate that it no longer has weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the burden is on Iraq. And the requirement is on Iraq to be free of weapons of mass destruction. It was obligated under Resolution 1441 to make a declaration of the weapons of mass destruction, the production facilities, the dual-use items that it has and it failed to do so. The December 7 Iraqi Declaration is false and misleading. It contains material omissions and misrepresentations. And as Secretary Powell has said, it constitutes a material breach of Iraq's obligations -- one in a long series of material breaches over a 12-year period. The purpose of the inspections is not to play hide and seek with the Government of Iraq. The purpose of the inspections is to audit the declaration. We are cooperating with the inspectors. There's no doubt if they had enough people in Iraq, if they had enough facilities, that they would find the hidden weapons of mass destruction production facilities and dual-use items that Iraqis still possess. If they're not able to do that by the 27th, then we'll have to take that into account. The President has committed in any event to further discussion in the Security Council and depending on what the inspectors report on the 27th, we'll consider what the next steps are.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up question on North Korea. You said your government is not prepared to offer anything the second time around. So what will be the next step, considering that North Korea has been resolutely refusing to return to the agreement?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: This matter, at this point, lies entirely in North Korea's hands. The International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors has now twice unanimously called on North Korea to stop its violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- resolutions, I might say, that were supported in both instances by the Government of the Philippines, which is a member of the Board of Governors. We have been in consultation, as I say, with a number of countries in the region, particularly China and Russia, urging them to urge the North Koreans to withdraw from this course of action and that remains our policy.

QUESTION: Masaaki Muramatsu from Nikkei. May I confirm that the United States has already informed North Korea that the United States is ready to re-start negotiation with North Korea bilaterally?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: My understanding is that the communiqué from the tri-lateral consultations that concluded in Washington on Tuesday was conveyed through the channel of the North Korean mission to the United Nations.

QUESTION:  Did you get any response from them?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Not that I know of. But I've been out here and not back there.

QUESTION: The organizer of the World Economic Forum in Davos is now sending an invitation to North Korea to invite the number two guy, Mr. Kim Yung Nam, to the annual forum there. Would it be a good idea to use this occasion to re-start the negotiation with the United States?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: We're not going to negotiate with North Korea under any circumstances. I don't know very much about the World Economic Forum. I've never been to it. It's a private operation. I suppose they can invite whomever they want.

QUESTION: Can we get a reaction from you? There have been concerns in the region that you have been giving unequal treatment to Iraq and North Korea? Can you respond to that?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I think that the United States regards the efforts by Korea to acquire nuclear weapons both through the plutonium route and through the uranium route as very serious. The reason that the Korea matters being handled differently from the Iraq matter is that the factual circumstances of the two cases are different. That's not to say that we don't view the North Korean effort as something that's very serious, but, I think different circumstances require different treatment and that's what we've been doing.

QUESTION: What kind of offers of support have you received during your swing through the region? Any concrete --

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I think one thing that's been absolutely unanimous from all the capitals that I've visited so far is their view that Iraq has to comply with the multiple UN Security Council resolutions that have been adopted over these past 12 years. And I think that one of the remaining hopes that we may yet resolve this matter peacefully is continuing to demonstrate that Iraq is utterly isolated in the world. That it has no support for its continued defiance of the Security Council. And, that people are determined that, as President Bush has said, at the end of the story Iraq will no longer have weapons of mass destruction. Now, there are lots of differing views on how to get to that point, but, I think it's important to underscore that there is no disagreement whatever on the requirement that Iraq eliminate its WMD.

QUESTION: Gigi Grande from ABS-CBN News. Can you tell us a little bit about a post-Iraq scenario?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON:  A post Saddam Hussein Iraq?

QUESTION:  Right.  Presumably.

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I think the United States and others have been in consultation with a host of Iraqi opposition groups among the exile community in the Iraqi Diaspora and with Iraqi leaders inside the country. Because it would be our expectation that in a post-Saddam Iraq, that government could swiftly be returned to the representatives of the Iraqi people. One of the points that I think is not as well understood is it should be is the oppression and the misery that the people of Iraq have suffered under Saddam Hussein and his regime -- and their desperate effort to keep themselves in power, to divert resources away from the legitimate needs of the Iraqi people toward the support of the Iraqi military and the perpetuation of Saddam Hussein in power. So, obviously changing that circumstance for the Iraqi exiles and other Iraqi leaders, has been a high priority as it is for us.

QUESTION: With the consideration by Saddam Hussein of a third country for exile, would that change a U.S. decision on Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I don't know of any third country that's offered him a place to live yet. I suppose that's one requirement, but, our determination on Iraq, the centerpiece of our policy for over 12 years now, has been that Iraq must give up its weapons of mass destruction in a comprehensive, verifiable way. And, whether it's Saddam Hussein or anybody else, that objective remains the same. 


Released on January 14, 2003

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