State Department Noon Briefing, September 11, 2003

 

Thursday  September 11, 2003

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Washington DC
September 11, 2003

BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
-- United States View of Chairman Arafat
-- Consolidation of Palestinian Security Forces

LIBYA
-- Talks by Secretary Powell on Libyan Resolution
-- Status of United States Sanctions on Libya

IRAQ
-- Presence of Foreign Fighters Near Iraq/Syrian Border
-- Disarmament of MEK in Iraq
-- Donors Conference on Iraq Stabilization
-- Status of Iraqi Sovereignty

UNITED NATIONS
-- Status of United Nations Resolution on Lifting Sanctions on Libya
-- United States Review of Proposals to Draft Resolution
-- Naming of Terrorists to UN List

FRANCE/GERMANY
-- Franco/German Amendment to United Nations Resolution

MIDDLE EAST
-- U.S. Reaction to Al Jazeera broadcast of Osama Bin Laden Tape
-- World Wide Caution Released

SWEDEN
-- Assassination of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh

PERU
-- Secretary Powell's Meeting with Prime Minister Beatriz Merino
-- Discussion of Airbridge Denial Program

NORTH KOREA
-- U.S. Reaction to Nuclear Program and New Missile

VIENNA
-- Status of Resolution by IAEA Delegation on Iranian Nuclear Program


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2003
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: There's a report in the L.A. Times that North Korea has stopped reprocessing at Yongbyon. Do you have anything?

MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have anything on those reports. I think Assistant Secretary Kelly on the Hill said he wasn't going to try to comment on what was reportedly said at a closed session and we will respect the rules of a closed session briefing, and I can't go into what may or may not have been said.

Jonathan.

QUESTION: Shall we move to the North Koreans or move to the Middle East?

QUESTION: You should just move it.

MR. BOUCHER: Just go for it.

(Laughing.)

QUESTION: What do you think of the Israeli Foreign Minister's recommendation that Israel expel Arafat, ignoring the advice of the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: Our position on that issue has not changed since the Secretary expressed his view on Sunday.

QUESTION: Do you -- well, can you not say it again for the occasion because, I mean, it has come up again?

MR. BOUCHER: Everybody's asked me to repeat stuff that I don't quite remember. I don't have the transcript with me, Jonathan. I did a feeble paraphrase yesterday of the Secretary's eloquent words and I would hate to do an even more feeble one today, but --

QUESTION: Well, isn't it something to the effect of that it would be counterproductive or --

MR. BOUCHER: It was, "Our view is that expelling Mr. Arafat -- our view on Mr. Arafat hasn't changed and our view is that he is part of the problem, not part of the solution. At the same time, we think it would not be helpful to expel him because it would just give him another stage to play on.

QUESTION: Richard? Follow-up on that?

MR. BOUCHER: Sure.

QUESTION: In the Jerusalem Post they are actually calling for the killing of Arafat, saying that -- in an editorial today -- saying that even if Arafat were expelled, he would still be playing a role, and therefore, he must be eliminated. And it seems that the foreign minister also didn't express any negative comments with regard to such a fate for Arafat.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the --

QUESTION: Won't that throw a monkey wrench, won't that throw a hand grenade into any possibilities of peace in the Middle East?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the foreign minister was asked, nor do I know exactly what he said. But our view of Mr. Arafat and his status has not changed at all. We don't have a brief for him, but at the same time, we don't believe that dealing with Mr. Arafat in that fashion or through expulsion is going to be helpful at all to the situation.

QUESTION: What about the Palestine decision to consolidate all of the security services under Arafat's leadership?

MR. BOUCHER: We have made clear that security resources need to be consolidated, but under the clear authority of an accountable prime minister who is free of associations with terror and violence. The prime minister must have control of all the security forces, military police and paramilitary, as well as the finances of the PA in order to stop the terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

In addition, as we said yesterday, the new Palestinian cabinet must make clear its opposition to all forms of terrorism, demand that all acts of terrorism cease and insist that terrorist and military organizations not under the control of the Palestinian Authority be disarmed and dismantled.

We urge that Mr. Qurei's cabinet appointments reflect candidates free from associations with terror and violence, who are committed to acting decisively on reform and peace negotiations.

This week's terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv only underscore the urgency with which the Palestinian Authority must take immediate, effective steps to dismantle and disarm the terrorist capabilities of these organizations that take innocent lives in order to prevent the peace process from moving forward.

As we've, I think, made clear over the past week or so is while all the parties have responsibilities to bring peace to the Middle East and move forward on the roadmap, ending terror must be the highest priority, and the Palestinian Prime Minister needs to have the commitment, the authority and the resources to do that effectively.

QUESTION: Richard, Elise's version of that was slightly different from the one I heard, which is that the -- all the security forces would be under the supervision of a security committee in which both Arafat and Abu Ala'a would be members. Does that kind of arrangement satisfy your requirements?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to get into the details of the governmental arrangements. You, yourself, say you've heard different reports about this. The point is that there needs to be clear commitment, clear authority and clear resources in the hands of the Prime Minister if he's going to be able to move effectively against the terrorist groups, establish effectively the institutions of the future Palestinian state, and move down the roadmap towards the aspirations that the Palestinian people want.

Teri.

QUESTION: Not really Palestinian, but Middle East.

Military officials are currently questioning some 80 foreign fighters that were picked up in Iraq very near the Syrian border. While I wouldn't necessarily expect you to say anything about that, they said that they were from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan and Syria, and I wanted to know if there had been recent, very recent, reiterations to Syria that the border area is their responsibility, that we expect them to uphold their commitments to Secretary Powell?

Have there been recent conversations on this?

MR. BOUCHER: Recent, yes. Very recent, I don't know. And I know as of, what, two weeks ago when we were talking about this we were making the point repeatedly to the Syrians. I expect we have been, but let me double-check on exactly when and how.

QUESTION: Do you know anything about this operation? It's apparently the last couple of days they've picked up --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on that operation, but we, I think, have made clear all along that the presence of foreign fighters in Iraq was dangerous, that the ability of people to get across borders, whether -- you know, with or without the consent of governments -- was one of the problems, and a problem that we wanted to deal with. And so you've seen our military take action. You've seen us work on rebuilding the Iraqi border patrol in order to help police the areas there. And you've seen us work diplomatically with other governments, some of whom, like the Saudis, are working with us, and some of whom haven't done much at all.

QUESTION: Do you know if we saw a decrease, a sharp decrease in the crossing of these foreign fighters?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the tracking might be on how many are there and how many might have crossed. I don't have anything on that.

Jonathan. We'll come in a minute.

QUESTION: Can I get back to the Israeli-Palestinian thing?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: I'm sure you're aware there was some internal discussion about what the status of construction of the fence or wall would be in relation to the loan guarantees, which you are proposing to give to the Israelis. Did that, did you ever come to a decision on whether work on the fence would count as settlement activity, and therefore would be deducted from the sum?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check.

Yeah. Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, the Israeli Foreign Minister reportedly also indicated that Israel would take action in commenting on the situation with Arafat and their aversion to having him play a role or possibly to eliminate him, whatever the case may be -- that the Israelis would not necessarily consult with the United States before taking action. Is there not concern that there might be something of a breakaway ally scenario in terms of the Israelis acting on their own not consistent with the overall goals of peace in the Middle East?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to join you in speculation. I would just point out to you that through the able reporting of members of the press, as well as all our public statements and the policy discussions that we have with the Israeli Government, the Israeli Government is very clear on what our views are on these things, and I think understands clearly our position.

Cristophe.

QUESTION: On something else?

MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

QUESTION: On Libya. The French and the Libyans announced today a deal clearing the way for a positive vote tomorrow at the UN on the lifting of sanctions. Do you have any reaction on that?

MR. BOUCHER: Secretary Powell spoke this morning with Foreign Minister de Villepin. The Libya resolution is one of the subjects they talked about. Foreign Minister de Villepin told him about the agreement that has apparently been reached between the families of the UTA flight and the Libyans. The Secretary, of course, welcomed that, said that would be good for the families. And we always have said we share their concerns.

As far as the resolution tomorrow, there's a vote scheduled at 10:30 tomorrow. We certainly have made clear our view that it should go forward, and we think the French will now be in a position to avoid any problems with it.

QUESTION: Richard, why?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the fact that the UTA families appear to have gotten some additional settlement is good for them. We also think it's very important to move forward on the Pan Am 103 families, who have been waiting a long time, have seen this vote delayed four times and we now have the prospect of doing that tomorrow morning.

QUESTION: Can we move to Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: Adi.

QUESTION: Are there plans for Secretary Powell to go anywhere else other than Geneva this weekend?

MR. BOUCHER: It's a possibility -- nothing to announce at this point. We're working on it.

QUESTION: A follow-up to the Libya vote tomorrow. Would you, even though you have before, but would you tell us again the status of U.S. sanctions and what any removal that the UN would do or not do on that?

MR. BOUCHER: U.S. sanctions on Libya are imposed for their own reasons, and there are a variety of different laws that apply and restrictions that apply, whether for terrorism or other laws.

In order for the United States to lift our sanctions on Libya, we would want to be satisfied on all the fundamental points that we have raised that these laws apply to. Things like the residual of Libyan support for terrorism, even though they've done a lot to distance themselves in recent years; things like the active weapons of mass destruction programs that Libya has; things like Libyan activities in Africa.

So there are quite a few issues that we would want to be satisfied on before we were in a position to lift the independent U.S. sanctions.

Tammy.

QUESTION: Can we switch to the MEK in Iraq? Does the State Department have some concerns that the U.S. military has not effectively disarmed the MEK in Iraq and that they have been allowed to operate?

MR. BOUCHER: As -- I think the Pentagon has been quite clear on the situation there, and so I really refer you to them for the details.

From a policy point of view, we have all agreed within this Administration that: first of all, the MEK is a terrorist organization; second of all, that we are not going to allow terrorist organizations to exist or operate inside Iraq, and how we go about doing that is the subject that the Pentagon, I think, is already discussing. So I'll leave that part of it to them.

QUESTION: Did the State Department, though, express any concern to the Pentagon about this?

MR. BOUCHER: This has been an ongoing subject of discussion from the beginning of the war --

QUESTION: But recently?

MR. BOUCHER: -- the existence of terrorists inside Iraq is something that we have had to deal with. I am not going to get into specific memos or when we talk to other agencies. We talk to other agencies about everything every day. You can assume that.

QUESTION: What kind of points are still outstanding on that though, Richard?

MR. BOUCHER: The -- again, --

QUESTION: Yeah, what are main things --

MR. BOUCHER: -- check with the Pentagon on the status of what they are doing with regard to this group.

QUESTION: Is it true -- there are reports today that the Secretary does not have very high expectations that he'll be able to get much in the way of contributions from other countries for reconstruction in Iraq, either in cash or troops, I believe. Is that a fair reflection of the way he sees it?

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't say that's a fair reflection of the way he sees it.

Obviously, we know that there have been a lot of donors conferences for -- over recent years for the Balkans, for Africa, for Afghanistan.

A lot of countries have stepped forward again and again.

But we also know how important stabilizing Iraq and reconstruction in Iraq is to many of these countries, so I think the Canadians just yesterday talked about $300 million that they were able to contribute. We will be making an active effort with other countries, as the President said yesterday. The Secretary will be making an active effort.

We have a donors conference coming up in Madrid. And we have been working all along with other donors, since the conference that was held in June. We'll work very hard on this. At this point, I am just not in position to predict how far we can get or how much others are in a position to contribute at this time.

QUESTION: And the Secretary, in his conversation with Mr. de Villepin today, did they talk about any details of the Franco-German amendments to the UN resolution?

MR. BOUCHER: They didn't talk about the details of the amendments. They did look forward to a discussion on Saturday, which we have made clear, the Secretary has made clear we want it to be a constructive discussion, one that starts from the reality of the situation, which is that there was a war and there is a coalition and there is an Iraqi Governing Council who are gradually taking over more and more of Iraqi sovereignty and exercising more and more responsibility.

On that basis, we think that our goals are the same. Everybody wants to see how much we can do to help the Iraqis take over responsibility and do that as soon as the Iraqis are ready to take it.

So we'll be going to Geneva in that spirit, that we share the same objective, and that we want to work together with our counterparts in the Permanent 5, as well as with the Secretary General to identify the various ways that we can all help build the Iraqi institutions and have them take more and more authority.

QUESTION: So can I just --

MR. BOUCHER: Barry.

QUESTION: When you say when the Iraqis are ready, are you speaking both politically -- constitution, et cetera, and being able to take charge of their own security? Because --

MR. BOUCHER: No, you don't have to do one or the other. I mean, the Iraqis --

QUESTION: I mean both.

MR. BOUCHER: The Iraqis have already taken charge of a lot of services: of mail and police and the foreign ministry, and electricity and, you know, any number of areas the Iraqis have taken over and some of those are political areas.

There are local governments operating and running the political arrangements in a lot of cities. There are now national structures. And the Iraqis, themselves, are already at work on the constitutional aspects. What you've seen is Iraqis taking over services, taking over responsibility, taking over some of the security in terms of police and others that are being formed, and also taking over the political aspects. That's a process we'd want to encourage across the board and that we want to go forward with.

When I say, "As the Iraqis are able to take on those responsibilities," was a reference to the fact that in the resolution that we presented, we said to the Iraqis, "You come up with a plan, and then we'll look at how we can help you do this in cooperation --

QUESTION: Right.

MR. BOUCHER: -- with the UN and the Coalition. And we think that the responsibility for going forward should be more and more in the hands of the Iraqis, and therefore we're looking for their timetable of how they think they can do this.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Jonathan, another one?

QUESTION: You've received these suggested amendments from the French and Germans. And the Secretary made very clear in his interview yesterday with Jazeera that he didn't think much of them. So have you gone back to them with counter-proposals, counter-amendments or is that something you're going to leave until Geneva, or?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, at this stage, I don't think Geneva's going to be a discussion of text. The -- Geneva should, in our view, be a discussion of how we can all contribute to help the Iraqis build their capabilities, and build -- and take over the exercise of their sovereignty. We are reviewing the various proposals that we've received on our draft resolution. We're looking at them internally and we'll respond in due course.

We've heard informally from all the council members. We've gotten specific proposals from France and from Germany, separately from Russia. We've received input from other members on the text like the United Kingdom, Spain, Chile.

At this point, we're not producing new text, we're looking at all these suggestions. We'll talk more with our P-5 colleagues in Geneva, and we'll get back to everybody based on their comments and based on our original working draft.

Teri.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any meetings that are going on between the Iraqi Governing Council and forces that may be opposing the American occupation? There were reports that there have been meetings in Egypt that might bring together meetings -- that might together the Iraqi Governing Council --

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen those reports. That sounds like a story you'd have to look for in Baghdad, as far as the Governing Council and what they're up to. Okay?

QUESTION: All right.

MR. BOUCHER: Elise.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the United Nations naming a list of ten Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists to their list following the U.S. doing the same?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specific about that. That has been frequent practice. And I think in the past we have actually submitted names together with the Indonesians. I don't remember -- I don't know specifically if we did that in this case, but generally when we name people, we and other governments submit those names to the sanctions list at the United Nations as well.

QUESTION: Before there were some terrorist groups that the U.S. considered terrorists and moved to block their assets, things like that, and there seemed to be some discrepancies with the Europeans, such as Hamas. But do you think now, you know, two years into the war on terrorism, that there is more of a consensus in the international community, the U.S. and the United Nations, other member states, in terms of what constitutes a terrorist group and what doesn't?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's not on a definitional level. There probably is, but we don't really work this on a definitional level. We work this on a specific level of who are the -- what are the terrorist groups based on their kinds of activities and who is in them, where they get their money, and questions like that.

The United States has a very active program to identify those people and has a number of laws that prevent terrorist groups from getting any financing, any source of support, from the United States, whether it's the terrorism list or the separate financial lists that are somewhat more extensive.

So we have, over the past two years, made this one of the leading edges of our work with other governments to try to get them to cut off the support, cut off the flow of funds, cut off the ability of people to travel, and therefore plan and meet.

And as you have seen, the Europeans have taken a number of steps in that regard. As we work with other governments, like the Saudis, in that regard. There was a UN resolution. So we work generally with the international community.

And, yes, frequently we do come to conclusions about people, whether it's based on our information or our ability to make decisions, and then we go out and keep pushing them in the world. We've had some success with that. You've seen recently the Europeans have made the political decision to move forward on Hamas, and, of course, that's very important to us that we see them carry through on that.

But the process of working with other governments, listing them at the UN, has been a major effort of our diplomacy, and I would say has been fairly successful over the past couple years.

QUESTION: Can we move to Al Jazeera, the tape? The question being -- I have a couple, but do you have any observations on the release of this tape so close to 9/11? Do you have any suspicions of motives? Do you have any -- and, frankly, the second question was, you know, are you convinced that Al Jazeera, all the people who work for it, are news-gathering people, or do they have some other agenda?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know I would be able to comment on that. Obviously, we have been critical sometimes of the kind of things they put on and the kind of things that they say on their air, the kind of things that people say on their air, which are sometimes inciteful. But I would say as well -- I mean incitement -- sorry. (Laughter.)

But the issue -- I would point out they did an interview with the Secretary yesterday, which is airing probably in about 45 minutes on Al Jazeera, so they have been --

QUESTION: Is that your incitement --

MR. BOUCHER: That's the insightful part. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I got you.

MR. BOUCHER: But, you know, we have worked with them. We have offered them people who can explain our point of view, and they have put them on the air. We have tried to maintain that relationship and get our views across. So --

QUESTION: I think you mentioned --

MR. BOUCHER: The Al Jazeera -- let's go back to the tape.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't really have any analysis of the tape. There are questions that do need to be looked at. You know, any indication of when it was done, whether the audio and the video were, in fact, done together, or just kind of hodge-podged together. People have to look at all those questions as well as the authenticity of the audio track and, you know, try to determine the voice and things like that. So that kind of analysis is still ongoing.

As far as speculating about why it might have been released right before September 11th, that's really speculation, I think. Don't have any solid information on --

QUESTION: But you're not going to object to that publicly? You don't think it's poor timing, and possibly a an incitement?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we do -- I mean, we do wonder about these things. But I think we'll want to know before we go public on that kind of observation, I think we'll want to know a little bit about who and what this is. We certainly do think that the airing of these kind of tapes at great length, with their hateful rhetoric, is not helpful to the overall situation, and doesn't particularly add to the news of the day.

QUESTION: One last thing on timing. You referred to -- they had a two-month, you know, what was it, May or June, or April or May. When you say you have to look into the timing -- you don't mean just to pin, to nail down whether it's one week this way or one week that way, do you?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think we'd like to know as much as possible about it, and see if they're -- I don't know if they're conclusions, suppositions, or what they were told, but to see if there is anything really in there to indicate how old, how new, the tape might be.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: George.

QUESTION: Back on North Korea, there are --

QUESTION: Same subject? Sorry.

MR. BOUCHER: Teri.

QUESTION: Was the release of these tapes one of the things that sparked the Worldwide Caution this morning?

MR. BOUCHER: The Worldwide Caution was based on, first of all, information that we have obtained through yesterday; analysis that's ongoing that led to the possibility of attacks such as those we described; the anniversary, September 11th, being a moment that we all want to be especially careful and where people might want to try to repeat some things they've done in the past. So it was a combination of things, both information analysis and the anniversary. I don't think the tapes were a precipitating factor in any way. It was more the kind of information that had accumulated and the kind of analysis that was being done.

QUESTION: Last year you put out a warning, though, on September 9th. Why did you wait until such a late moment this time?

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it was sort of the accumulation of evidence up to yesterday led us to -- that was the point where we crossed the threshold and believed it was important to put a statement out.

QUESTION: Can I follow up, Richard? Are you saying that you've received information in the last several days that would heighten your concern about a possible attack on the anniversary?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say that based on the information that we had acquired as of September 10th, we felt it was prudent to pass on the Worldwide Caution to U.S. posts and U.S. citizens who are living and traveling abroad. I can't get too specific about when we acquired information, but it was the accumulation of evidence, including evidence that came as late as yesterday.

QUESTION: And you believe this evidence is credible information, credible evidence?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's the combination of information and analysis, that not every piece of it may be credible, but when you start seeing information and the analysts start going through it, at some point they decide that it's serious and worth warning the public about. We obviously hope that nothing will happen. And, obviously, federal officials or international officials, embassies working with governments abroad, will take every possible precaution. But, as you know, in these circumstances, we have a commitment that when we think there is a danger, possible danger, that we do tell the public about it as well.

QUESTION: Did the information point to an attack abroad or in the U.S.?

MR. BOUCHER: As I think it says in the warning itself, given the attacks that they have made in Middle East, North Africa and East Asia, our assessment is that European or Eurasian locations could be the venues for the next round of attacks. We noted in the advisory that just because we had information and analysis that dealt with possible attacks abroad, nobody should think, you know, this won't happen in the United States. So we can't rule out attacks in the United States, but the information and analysis that we were dealing with mostly in this report was the possibility of attacks overseas.

QUESTION: The assessment about the European region target, is that -- you kind of put that in the context that they have already attacked in the Middle East, East Asia and East Africa. Are you -- is part of your analysis the fact that they have hit these other regions and now these remain vulnerable, or is it kind of based on information that you received about these specific areas?

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, as I said, increasing indications, information that al-Qaida is preparing to strike abroad, that may deal with a number of areas. The assessment of all of that information, as well as past behavior, leads us to conclude or to believe that it's possible that they would be looking at Europe and Eurasia for the next attacks.

QUESTION: Is that because there hasn't been around there yet?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I am not in position to go through the whole analysis with you, but we rely on people to look at all of the information and try to give us their best conclusions.

QUESTION: Richard, is there any indication that the Department may have that the assassination of the Swedish Foreign Minister yesterday may have been a terrorist act? And did the fact of the assassination have any bearing on the warning?

MR. BOUCHER: This warning was done independently of that. I don't have any information about that particular attack, other than to say, as the Secretary did this morning, and as we did in written statements, it's a terrible tragedy for her family and for Sweden. Our hearts go out to them. I am sure the Swedish Government will investigate and find out everything they can.

QUESTION: Can you tell us more about the Secretary's meeting with the Peruvian Prime Minister today? And did she bring up Peru's request that the Airbridge Denial Interdiction Program, whatever it's called, should resume as soon as possible?

MR. BOUCHER: They had a very good and thorough discussion of a number of issues with -- in U.S.-Peruvian relations. They talked about cooperation on counternarcotics. Prime Minister Merino talked -- updated the Secretary on the status of economic forum and progress in the Peruvian economy. They talked about, as I said, the counterdrugs programs.

They did talk about the Airbridge Denial Program, and how we could work with Peru, in terms of moving towards the restarting of that program. We have had a long history of friendship and cooperation with Peru. And I think the fact that this meeting occurred on September 11th was personally important to the Secretary of State, since he was in Peru September 11th, two years ago, meeting with President Toledo at the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

And that's when the Democracy Charter for the Hemisphere was adopted, the same morning, while the plane was being readied. And so they talked a little bit about that situation. And the Peruvian Prime Minister expressed her solidarity and continued sympathy with the people of the United States.

QUESTION: Back on North Korea. There are reports that the Administration was, perhaps, seeking a freeze on the North's nuclear programs, as sort of a first step toward eventual complete dismantling of their programs. Do you have anything on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I'd just have to refer you for what we have said I think fairly frequently; and that is, that as we engage in this attempt on our side to find a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the problems created by North Korea's nuclear programs, it's important for North Korea to bear in mind vis--vis us, but vis--vis all the others who are participating and concerned about this situation, that there not be any further provocative steps or difficulties.

It's important for North Korea to think about moving in the right direction and not take steps in the wrong direction. And I think we have made that repeatedly clear here, and that's our view, and that's, I think, the view of many others as well.

Elise.

QUESTION: There are some reports that North Korea has halted work at some of its nuclear -- at the nuclear facility at Yongbyon. Do you think that's -- well, but -- well, that was about seeking a freeze. But do you think that they --

MR. BOUCHER: No, but 20 minutes ago, there was a question about work at Yongbyon.

QUESTION: Oh, sorry, sorry.

QUESTION: Oh, I have a question on North Korea.

MR. BOUCHER: Teri. QUESTION: What about these reports that there is a new ICBM that North Korea's got that can reach targets even further than you thought they could before?

MR. BOUCHER: We have made clear, and I think I talked about it the other day, that North Korea has been working on its missile programs. This has been a concern of ours. It's been a very strong concern of people who live in the neighborhood, such as the Japanese and the South Koreans. And, as we have said before, we watch this very closely, but I wouldn't be able to share with you whatever information we might have.

QUESTION: Why not?

MR. BOUCHER: Because whatever intelligence information we have, we want to keep acquiring, so we know what's going on.

QUESTION: The reports in Beijing have been on the nuclear programs, and not much has been said about the missile programs. Are the missile programs a part of the Beijing discussion?

MR. BOUCHER: As you know, in the President's announcements in the early part of the Administration, there were a number of areas in North Korean policy that were significant concerns for us and continue to be. North Korea's missile developments and exports have been longstanding concerns that we have, I think, addressed again and again.

The immediate problems created by North Korea's nuclear weapons programs and their violation of all their previous commitments are the ones that are most up front and need to be dealt with in Beijing first. And the Secretary and President and others have made clear that, first, North Korea needs to completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.

But we have also said that the other issues need to be dealt with and we are prepared to deal with them through the kind of approach we were willing to take, the bold approach. And we would have addressed those other issues through that approach if North Korea had not started violating its nuclear commitments some years ago.

QUESTION: Well, these other issues include missiles, right?

MR. BOUCHER: Other issues include missiles. They're still there, and they still need to be dealt with. But we've made clear, first, we need to deal with nuclear weapons programs.

Joel.

QUESTION: Richard, with respect to the North Korean situation, the Tokyo Government -- Governor rather, has said that a senior diplomat received a bomb. He's referring to Deputy Foreign Minister Tanaka. And do you think this internal intimidation or is this the North Koreans themselves?

MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me? Deputy Foreign --

QUESTION: They deactivated a bomb outside the residence of Deputy -- Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Tanaka.

MR. BOUCHER: Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister. Yeah, I had not heard that. I have no idea what it might be connected to.

Teri.

QUESTION: In Vienna, the vote put off on the IAEA resolution -- does this make you concerned that you don't have the votes to get a resolution passed that are required?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think that the summary is vote put off, but progress nonetheless. We are joining a number of states in cosponsoring a resolution that states it's urgent and essential that Iran fully cooperate with the agency by the end of October. The resolution reflects the hard work and ongoing consultations of our delegation and of the delegations in Vienna and elsewhere. Director General ElBaradei has made it clear that this resolution is the best way for the board to support the Agency's efforts to get to the bottom of the Iranian nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency Board will reconvene tomorrow, September 12th, to consider this resolution, which we understand now commands wide support among board members. As the resolution calls for, we believe Iran must immediately answer the many questions about Iran's nuclear program highlighted in the Director General's reports, including questions about Iran's uranium centrifuge enrichment program.

I would point out that the Secretary himself has been working on this. He spoke with South African Foreign Minister Zuma yesterday about the draft that South Africa has put forward, and it now appears that the nations in Vienna have been able to come together on a text that will enjoy wide support and it will be taken up tomorrow.

QUESTION: It sounds like Russia still isn't on board though.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a vote count, can't tell you everybody who will vote for or abstain or against. But, as I said, it commands significant and widespread support.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary made any other calls on this? Or on anything else? South Africa -- who else did you say he spoke with?

MR. BOUCHER: The South African was yesterday when they were talking about this resolution.

This morning the Secretary spoke with Foreign Minister de Villepin about the Libya resolution, but also about the Iraq resolution and the meeting in Geneva. And he also called Swedish Prime Minister Persson to express our heartfelt condolences about the death of Anna Lindh.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: One more, David?

QUESTION: Did the Secretary place the call or did de Villepin?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't remember, actually. When they spoke the other day, they talked about getting back in touch, and they've had a series of discussions of the Libya resolution. So I think it was de Villepin calling this time to give him the update.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 p.m.)

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