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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2004

International Security Issues, Arms Control Matters, and Nonproliferation

John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Press Conference at U.S. Embassy Beijing
Beijing, China
February 16, 2004

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I am here in Beijing to continue the strategic dialogue between the United States and China that was agreed to a couple of years ago between President Jiang Zemin and President Bush. Today and tomorrow we will cover a series of international security issues, arms control matters and nonproliferation.

In particular today we had extensive discussions about the very important speech that President Bush made at National Defense University and the several suggestions that he made for improving the international nonproliferation networks. In particular we discussed the expansion of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) that the President proposed, and the President’s efforts to get a Security Council resolution reflecting the suggestions he made in his speech to the General Assembly in September, and we discussed the various reforms that the President proposed last week to tighten the loopholes in the nuclear nonproliferation regime and to make the International Atomic Energy Agency more effective. We also discussed a number of regional questions – obviously North Korea, Iran, Libya and others.

I think, significantly, we had very good discussions on the Proliferation Security Initiative. Both China and the United States obviously are firmly opposed to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. We stand ready to enhance cooperation in such areas as information exchange. The United States made it clear that PSI is an international response to the growing challenge posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials. China made it clear that it understands the concerns of PSI participating states regarding WMD proliferation and the proliferation delivery systems. China shares the nonproliferation principles and objectives of those countries participating in PSI, and we have agreed to continue our dialogue on PSI. So, with that, why don’t I stop and I’d be delighted to try and answer any questions you might have.

QUESTION: I’m wondering if China gave you any sense that it will support PSI. You mentioned that it understands the concerns of PSI participating countries, but did it give you any indication that it will sign up as a participating country? And if not, what are the differences that still remain between the U.S. and China on nonproliferation?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: We have a description of PSI. We say PSI is an activity, not an organization. PSI is an activity, not an organization. So, a lot of what comes into your mind when you think about joining something, really you shouldn’t think of in the context of PSI. What we are attempting to do is share intelligence, law enforcement and military assets on a global basis to interdict trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, related materials and their delivery systems. I think what I described a moment ago about China’s posture is an accurate description of where they stand. We have cooperated with China in the past in interdiction efforts and I would expect we will in the future as well.

QUESTION: Can you comment on a recent visit by Japanese officials to Pyongyang to talk about North Korean issues?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I think they discussed a number of issues, some of them in the bilateral Japan-Korea context and I don’t really have any further comment to make on that. I think that’s something that you could properly address a question to the Japanese or North Korean authorities.

QUESTION: Could you please comment on the reports that China is still working with Saudi Arabia and with Pakistan on their programs? Whether the issue was brought up and how China responded?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON:  I don’t really have any comment on those two specific countries. We obviously talked about our overall efforts in the nonproliferation area and specifically the question of outward proliferation and how China can strengthen its export control systems and how we can strengthen the multi-lateral export control systems that exist as well.

QUESTION: In light of some of the revelations coming out of Libya and Pakistan with Mr. Khan’s disclosures, there would seem to be additional evidence, despite North Korean denials, that North Korea is running an HEU weapons program. If North Korea does not acknowledge this in the upcoming Six-Party Talks, is the United States Government prepared to proceed with the Six-Party Talks nonetheless?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Let me say first, the subject of the A.Q. Khan network is something that we have been concerned about for quite some time. As the President laid out in great detail in the speech, we have been concerned about its scope and the breadth of its activities, what it shows about the international black market in weapons of mass destruction, shows how sophisticated the network is, how complicated it is, how skilled it is at deception and camouflage, and shows why efforts like the Proliferation Security Initiative are needed to penetrate these networks and ultimately defeat them. It’s why the President called last week for the expansion of PSI activities simply from interdiction toward even more robust activities: drying up the finances, destroying the laboratories and related activities to thwart what the traffickers are up to.

What A.Q. Khan said in his confession in Pakistan was that he had been supplying uranium enrichment technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea. That’s really nothing new from our perspective. I think what it does show, however, is the fundamental motivation for A.Q. Khan was, as the government of Pakistan has said, financial. The other countries that he supplied technology to were Muslim countries, but at last report there aren’t any Muslims – at least any practicing Muslims – in North Korea. The only argument for Khan to supply that technology was financial reward, which he got plenty of.

In terms of how the North Koreans want to carry on their discussions, we have to proceed on the basis of what we believe they have, which is a production scope procurement program for uranium enrichment purposes. What Khan has said publicly simply corroborates what we already believe. The only way to get to a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear weapons program is if both the plutonium route to nuclear weapons and the uranium route to nuclear weapons are stopped. If the North Koreans don’t acknowledge the half of their program that deals with uranium enrichment, it’s hard to see how you can get a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement.

QUESTION: What do you think, in Washington’s view, are the options open to Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean leader, for him to survive? Is it going to be the Libyan way or the Iraqi way? Also, given the current debate on the intelligence on Iraq, how reliable or how trustworthy is the U.S. intelligence on North Korea?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON:  Let me answer the second question first. I think that the evidence we have and the conclusions we that we have drawn about the North Korean nuclear weapons programs, which are really not debated within the U.S. government – these are broad, consensus conclusions – reflect the best information we have. We have said publicly that there’s a lot about the North Korean uranium enrichment program that we don’t know. We don’t draw confidence from that; it makes us more concerned that the activity is more extensive and may have been longer lasting than we currently know.

Now in terms of what North Korea does and how it approaches these talks, really the ball is in their court. We have said before that we will come to the Six-Party Talks without preconditions. That’s what we’re prepared to do. The issue really is whether North Korea is prepared to make the commitment for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its programs. I noticed today in our conversations with the Chinese side, even they called CVID: complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement.

I think the example that Libya has provided is there for North Korea to see; it’s there for Iran to see; it’s there for others to see. Libya opened up its WMD programs to inspection by our experts. British and American experts on two separate occasions spent three weeks in Libya visiting the important locations of these programs, meeting and talking to the Libyans involved in the programs, taking pictures and gathering information, before we were able to agree that the Libyan renunciation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles was going to be a serious declaration.

You can certainly contrast Libya’s behavior with the continuing behavior of North Korea and Iran, which have taken completely different routes in their approach. I think the Libya case shows how one goes about giving up weapons of mass destruction. The critical conclusion that the Libyan government came to was that the pursuit of these weapons did not make them more secure; it made them less secure, and that’s the conclusion I think North Korea and Iran have to come to.

QUESTION: In the upcoming Six-Party Talks, under what circumstances, if any, will the U.S. offer substantive security guarantees and economic aid to North Korea?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I don’t think our position has changed from what it has been for quite some time and what the President, Secretary Powell and others have articulated. The North Koreans have to agree to dismantlement under verifiable circumstances and we are prepared in that context to give them assurances consistent with what the President has previously said. I don’t think there’s anything new in our position on that subject.

QUESTION: Given reports that Chinese designs for nuclear weapons have been found in Libya, presumably sold to Libya from Pakistan, did you discuss this with the Chinese side?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: There are a lot of “ifs” in your question.

QUESTION: Do they know that the weapons were being sold to Libya?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON:  We don’t know of any weapons being sold to Libya. We know we have weapons designs because we pulled them out, but beyond that, in terms of the reports of Chinese involvement, I really have no comment. I just want to be sure we’re clear on what it is we found in Libya and taken out of Libya.

QUESTION: Also, regarding the upcoming Six-Nation Talks, are the U.S. and China basically on the same wavelength in terms of how to deal with North Korea and what the goal should be? Or are there still big differences between the U.S. and China?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I suppose it is a question of defining accurately what the end state is that we want. I think that the important outcome of the first round of the Six-Party Talks was that five of the countries reaffirmed that the goal is a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. I don’t think the Chinese Government has deviated from that view from the outset. I think as long as the five parties in the talks, and as far as I can tell, the entire rest of the world, believe that the Korean Peninsula ought to be free of nuclear weapons, that’s going to be the common objective that we seek.

Now, how one goes about it in the specifics of negotiations, obviously that’s something that can vary over time, but in what is the central, core objective – the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program – I don’t think there’s any difference whatever between China and the United States.

QUESTION: Malaysia intends to protest its alleged links to the nuclear network. What is the U.S. response to this? Also, there’s some concern in Southeast Asia that the U.S. is doing the finger-pointing on the nuclear issue, when some years ago Mr. Bush wouldn’t sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Also there’s concern about the recent decision to develop a new class of battlefield nuclear weapons. Can you comment on this?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: With respect to the participation of a company based in Malaysia in A.Q. Khan’s network, I think the President has spoken to that point. There’s certainly no whiff of an allegation in the President’s statement that the Government of Malaysia had the slightest thing to do with it. I would say this is one of the hallmarks of the sophistication of the international black market in WMD materials, that otherwise perfectly reputable companies, given specifications for tubes, for rotors, for oils and resins, for any of a variety of aspects of a uranium centrifuge cascade, can manufacture these devices and not have any idea what they’re ultimately being bound for. So there was never any suggestion that the Government of Malaysia was involved.

With respect to your other questions, they don’t really deal with the question of nuclear proliferation. The United States has made the decision that we will not seek ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty because of the adverse effect that treaty would have on the safety and reliability of our nuclear deterrent, which has been a cornerstone of international security for quite some time.

QUESTION: Could you please tell me who you met with today and who you will be meeting with tomorrow and get a little into the specifics of what you talked about with each of these people?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, I met with Zhang Yesui this morning who is my counterpart and we discussed there, particularly the President's speech last week, the Proliferation Security Initiative and the various regional issues that I mentioned before. I met with Wang Yi this afternoon and our conversation was entirely about North Korea and the resumption of the Six-Party Talks next week. And, tomorrow, I will meet with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and I am sure we will cover those same subjects.

QUESTION: During the second round of Six-Party Talks is the United States willing to raise the abduction issue of Japanese citizens?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I don't know how much we would actually be raising it. I think that is more properly a subject for Japan to raise in the context of their bilateral relationship with North Korea. But, bear in mind, our concerns about North Korea - the U.S. concerns about North Korea - extend beyond simply the North Korean nuclear weapons program. We have said, and we remain, extremely concerned about their chemical weapons program, their biological weapons program, their ballistic missile program, their disposition of forces on the Korean Peninsula so heavily concentrated near the DMZ, and about the human rights situation in North Korea. North Korea remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and I can't think of any other way to describe the abduction of innocent civilians from Japan or any other country to North Korea as something other than acts of terrorism. So, I think that we have said that we will support the government of Japan if it raises that issue and it's an important issue to discuss.

QUESTION: There have been several reports recently, one extensive documentary by the BBC and another by defectors over the testing of chemical weapons in North Korea on human subjects. I wonder if you can possibly tell us whether you have anything more you can contribute on that subject or whether this is a source of any conversations you intend to have here in China or at the Six-Party Talks? Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON:  I don't really have anything more I can say on it other than what's been out there concerning what North Korea's activities have been.

QUESTION: The World Food Program recently said they've had to stop feeding 6.4 out of the 6.5 million people that they feed in North Korea and they said that one of the reasons for this is the interference of political issues into the humanitarian efforts. What's your take on this? Do you feel that the donor community should feed these people or do you think that North Korea's behavior is so egregious that they don't deserve to be fed?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I can only speak for the United States. I think the U.S. humanitarian assistance program is - the levels of assistance are set completely without regard to North Korean behavior with respect to weapons of mass destruction. I can tell you, for instance, that I have, and the four bureaus that report to me have, absolutely no impact whatever on decisions made in terms of the allocation of American food resources to the World Food Program. What the United States does say is that the allocation of food by WFP or other humanitarian agencies inside North Korea or any other country has to be conducted without regard to the internal politics of that country. And, there has to be adequate verification of the food distribution to ensure that, in fact, the food is going to needy populations and not being diverted to military or elite groups. That has been the consistent policy of the United States on the distribution of humanitarian assistance since Herbert Hoover founded the Committee for Relief in Belgium in World War I. That's a policy that we continue to adhere to. In fact, it's now an international norm that donors, quite correctly insist that food and other assistance be distributed to the people who really need it.

QUESTION: So you think it's being diverted then?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, I think there have been concerns about diversion. We have worked with the World Food Program and we look to them to be able to carry out the assistance. The point I'm trying to respond to is this allegation that somehow our decisions on food assistance levels have been colored by North Korea's external political performance and I can tell you that's absolutely not the case. Our decisions are based on strictly humanitarian factors.

QUESTION: You said that China made clear that it understands the concerns of the states involving PSI and shares the objectives, but given what was found in Libya and reports that China's still helping Pakistan with its nuclear and missile programs, and Saudi Arabia with missile programs. What questions do you have about China's commitment to that and to what extent do you, not to put too blunt a point on it, believe them when they say that?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, I think you have to look at the record and our response to the record over time. In the past several years we have had cooperation with China in some interdiction efforts. At other times we have concluded that China itself is continuing outward proliferation in the field of chemical weapons or ballistic missiles at a sufficiently grave level that they have triggered American statutes that require us to impose economic sanctions. And, we have not hesitated to make those sanctions decisions when the circumstances warranted it. In fact I think we have imposed more sanctions on China and more sanctions generally in just the first, what I hope will be the first, three years of the Bush administration than in the entire Clinton administration all eight years. So, I don't think we waiver when the facts are presented to us. We are engaged in a continuing strategic discussion with China as part of what I do think is a common enterprise at the top levels of government to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It's something that you just have to keep working at day after day.

QUESTION: Can you confirm just what exactly was found in Libya that has raised concern about China's involvement in the proliferation in this case it seems of nuclear weapons designs?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: What I will say is that we have copies of weapons design information that were taken out of Libya as part of our effort to dismantle their nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction programs. What that shows, consistent with what the government of Libya itself admitted, was that its nuclear programs were not for peaceful civilian purposes but were part of a nuclear weapons effort. In fact, that they had weapons design information I think is just another piece of evidence. Now the Libyans have renounced that and we are in the process of cooperating with them to remove the physical evidence of the weapons program. We've taken out the critical parts of the centrifuges that they had. We will be removing the rest of the weapons related program here in due course.

QUESTION: I am wondering if your Chinese hosts gave you any indication of efforts they've made since the last round of talks to get North Korea to roll back its nuclear program and there have been reports that, for example, there have been inducements of perhaps financial aid given to North Korea to get them to the bargaining table. Do you believe that there's any substance to that?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, I think that I would steer you towards the Chinese government to answer the second question. In terms of what China has been doing, I think the record is pretty clear that they have undertaken very substantial efforts to get the North Koreans back to the table. We have tried a variety of ways of working with them, although I think it should be clear that China's been in the lead in this activity among the six parties. We've tried to do what we could with that work by saying repeatedly that we were not prepared to impose preconditions on the talks. We were prepared to come here to Beijing and have the talks commence again and see where they would lead. That has now been set for February the 25th and so we'll see what develops from there.

QUESTION: After the first round of the Six-Party Talks there was some criticism here in Beijing in some of the other regional capitals that the U.S. delegation didn't really come to the talks prepared to negotiate. There was a bit of disappointment, saying that all of the concessions were to be made by North Korea. Will this round be any different? Is the U.S. prepared to offer some concrete concessions or a road map here?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, I think our position is going to be substantively the same as it was before, that is the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the program. There is a way to get to that result. Libya has shown the way in a very remarkable development. So, if you want to know how to get there the answer is in Tripoli. We'll see what the North Koreans say next week.

QUESTION: How would you describe Chinese cooperation on your issues – on PSI, on proliferation, on North Korea – and progress in those areas?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: We did discuss Taiwan. We did discuss the American missile defense program. But I didn’t detect any linkage. I think we agreed, for example, on missile defense as part of the larger bilateral strategic dialogue that we need to have more talks than we’ve been able to have. When we get together in these conversations, since President Bush and President Jiang Zemin set this up, we’ve tended to focus more on the immediate issues of proliferation concern and I think the Chinese raised a legitimate point that we should talk more about our bilateral strategic relationship, including what we are doing around the world on missile defense. That is something that we are clearly prepared to do and we will figure out how to do it in the next few months I hope.

QUESTION: Will the U.S. impose sanctions on Pakistan, and are you satisfied with the response of the Pakistani Government, which has pardoned Mr. A.Q. Khan?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I don’t detect, in connection with A.Q. Khan’s network, involvement by the top leadership of the Pakistani Government. So, in terms of the government’s involvement, I don’t see any issue there. I think the United States has had a very important dialogue with President Musharraf over the past couple of years, particularly Secretary Powell’s efforts and many conversations with President Musharraf to emphasize to him the importance that we put on avoiding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. We’ve been in very close touch with him and with the IAEA on these developments concerning A.Q. Khan. I think President Musharraf has handled this very difficult problem correctly.

There’s more that I think we’d like to know about the Khan network. Although we have followed it for some time, it’s a very complex and devious operation and we do want to learn more about it. I think we’re confident that we’ll be able to do so.

QUESTION: During Chinese President Hu Jintao’s latest visit to France, French President Jacques Chirac said that it doesn’t make any sense for the European Union to impose the weapons embargo on China. Apparently the European Union (EU) is having a discussion on whether or not to lift the ban on the weapons embargo on China. Are you going to discuss this issue with the Chinese Government during this trip? I’d like to get your comment on the American stance on this issue.

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: We did discuss the EU weapons embargo and whether and to what extent the Europeans are going to modify it. That’s a decision the Europeans will reach. Our view is that we are not going to modify our weapons embargo and we’ve made that point clear to the Europeans.

QUESTION: With just one week to go before the Six-Party Talks, how optimistic are you that this round of talks will go well and that you will have concrete results, unlike the last time? And do you think that there could be many, many more rounds of talks before you can get agreement from North Korea to dismantle weapons?

UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist; I’m a realist. There are a lot of issues to discuss, but we will be here – I won’t be here – in Beijing next week and we look forward to the opening of the talks. That’s really all I can say. We are waiting to hear what the North Koreans have to say in terms of the dismantlement of their nuclear weapons program. Thank you very much.


Released on February 23, 2004

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