Summit Documents

Press Briefing by a Senior U.S. Administration Official on Nonproliferation
International Media Centre, Savannah, June 8, 2004, 16h03

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. Let me just start off with a few words, and then I'd be happy to answer your questions. The G8 leaders will be issuing an action plan on nonproliferation tomorrow. This will be the most significant statement on weapons of mass destruction that the G8 leaders have issued. It follows from the first extended discussion of weapons of mass destruction at the Kananaskis Summit, when the G8 leaders created the global partnership against the spread of WMD and WMD-related materials.

Last year at Evian the leaders issued the first statement on nonproliferation as such, including some significant comments on North Korea and Iran. This year, the action plan will ratify a substantial amount of progress on a number of initiatives that President Bush announced in his February speech to the National Defense University. We expect that the leaders will confirm the expansion of the activities of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was launched by President Bush in May of last year.

Just last week in Krakow, Poland, the PSI countries agreed that Russia should join the core group. This is a very substantial addition to the PSI core group. With Canada's earlier addition, it now means that all eight G8 countries are part of the core group. And at the Krakow meeting, hosted by the Polish government, 62 countries were present to endorse PSI and the statement of interdiction principles.

In addition, we expect that the leaders will endorse the continued expansion of the global partnership that was created at Kananaskis. You may recall this was originally known as 10 plus 10 over 10, reflecting $10 billion from the United States over a 10-year period, plus $10 billion from other countries to secure or eliminate weapons of mass destruction and related materials in the states of the former Soviet Union.

Tomorrow the leaders will announce that seven new countries have joined the global partnership, those being Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and the Czech Republic. And they will announce that the global partnership will coordinate activities in other states where there have been programs of weapons of mass destruction, such as the critically important programs to retrain WMD scientists and technicians in Libya and Iraq, the point of that being you don't want a nuclear weapons scientist to be hired off by Iran or North Korea, you want to find gainful employment for him in his home country.

The leaders will welcome the fact that the Security Council recently unanimously adopted resolution 1540, which President Bush had called for in his September speech to the General Assembly. This is a resolution that calls on states to make WMD activity criminal under their national laws, and to improve export control systems, as well as providing support for PSIs. It encourages U.N. members to take collective action against the international trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

And finally, we expect and hope that the leaders will endorse substantial progress toward the objective that President Bush set in the February speech of closing loopholes in the Nuclear Nonproliferation regime. One of the things that we've seen is that under the guise of peaceful – so-called peaceful nuclear programs, many states around the world have acquired very sensitive technologies that permit them, together with a clandestine weapons program, to draw very close to having a nuclear weapons capability without ever apparently violating the treaty. So one of the things that President Bush called for – it's a very significant step, very controversial, has a lot of political and economic implications – is to cut off the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology to any states that don't currently have it.

And we expect what the G8 leaders will endorse tomorrow is a one-year freeze on inaugurating any new initiatives to transfer such technology to additional states, and set a one-year target to the next G8 summit in the United Kingdom for the countries to come together on deciding what the final rules will be. Now, that's not quite to the point that the President had proposed, but it represents enormous movement in the direction of very substantial tightening on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology. It reflects, I think, the overwhelming agreement of the G8 leaders, that the loopholes that currently exist in the nonproliferation treat regime have to be closed.

So we're very encouraged by this, as we are by the companion step of the G8 leaders agreeing that tightening of the IAEA safeguards agreements through the implementation, what we call the additional protocol, now has to be a condition before all kinds of nuclear technologies can be imported, even for a legitimate civil nuclear power programs. This gives the IAEA and, therefore, all of its members more visibility in the nuclear programs. It's something we think is very significant. And that is – hopefully will be endorsed by the leaders tomorrow.

And then, finally, the leaders, we hope, will endorse the President's suggestion to create a special committee of the IAEA to consider even further measures to tighten verification and safeguards measures, and a group, we hope, will endorse the idea that countries under investigation for violating their Nonproliferation Treaty commitments should recuse themselves from any decisions by the IAEA board in their own cases.

Finally, the – and we've got a little chart here, I guess, I don't know, I suppose a chart can be on background, too – but it's a comparison, a point-by-point comparison of the seven suggestions in the President's February speech with how we hope and expect the leaders will come out tomorrow, that I think will help show the very substantial progress towards the President's goals that we will have made.

In addition, the leaders will carry on as they did at Evian, talking about North Korea and Iran. We expect they will also talk about Libya, which is a very important success story for the Proliferation Security Initiative and for the idea that we're not simply trying to contain the spread of weapons of mass destruction, we're trying to roll back the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And I don't doubt that they will talk about other issues, such as the A.Q. Khan network, and some very important initiatives we have in the area of bioterrorism, to take more concrete steps at the national and international level to make all of our countries more secure against bioterrorism attacks.

So why don't I stop there, and I'd be pleased to answer any questions you have. And if you could identify yourselves, I'd sure appreciate it.

Yes, sir, right here.

Q I just have two quick questions on the plans for the global partnership. One is, I might be mistaken, but I thought the Czech Republic was already a member as a donor country. And I know that there had been discussion or proposals to expand the recipient countries to other former soviet states besides Russia. Will there be any talk or decision on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Czech Republic is a new country this year. Six joined last year – Sweden, Finland, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. And the seven countries I name are seven new ones, so there's a total of 21.

In terms of recipient countries, no additional countries are formally admitted this year, but the United States and several other G8 members have long had programs in many of the other states of the former Soviet Union, and, in fact, it was agreed at Kananaskis that our programs in those countries count toward the $20 billion target. So that won't be – it won't be affected. In fact, if anything, I think more countries are looking to expand their programs in the other states of the former Soviet Union.

Yes, sir.

Q Thank you. Could you be more elaborate on what

– especially the United States, expects from Russia's participation in PSI? And don't you see contradiction, while the U.S. has arduous talks with the Russians over Iran and suspects Russian entities of proliferation, at the same time you invite Russia to join into this initiative? Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think on what we expect from Russia, as with all core group countries, we expect strong political support for the initiative. And I think that was, in part, already reflected in Russian support for Security Council Resolution 1540. We'd like additional operational support from Russia in terms of intelligence cooperation and cooperation among our militaries and law enforcement assets and the actual interdiction of WMD shipments.

And I think, as well, the decision by the Russian Federation to join the core group will send major political signals in other capitals that have not yet signaled their support for the statement of interdiction principles. Just geographically, Russia's joining cuts off major land, air, and sea routes between proliferators in the Far East and the Middle East, and I think that's extremely significant.

In terms of your second question, I think that, as we're seeing in New York, hopefully, in a couple of hours, in terms of the adoption of this resolution on Iraq, I think the issues that have divided many of the G8 countries on Iraq are fast being left in the past. And I think one of the things that was encouraging all the while, is that it did not interfere in our cooperation on nonproliferation policy. I think now with Iraq more and more a question of the past, we can enhance our cooperation further.

But one thing that I think we've seen over the past three years is the countries of European Union, Russia, Japan, and others have already been drawing closer to the very strong views that President Bush has articulated about the importance of stemming the proliferation of WMD. And I think the leaders will reaffirm what they said at Evian, that WMD proliferation, together with terrorism, is the preeminent threat to the national security of us all.

Q – Iran, not Iraq.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm sorry, the – I think the leaders will – I think that the leader statement tomorrow, hopefully, will show that, in fact, they are united, unmistakably united in their determination that Iran not achieve nuclear weapons. Now, there have been a variety of disagreements about tactically how to achieve that, and that's no secret to anybody. But what is unmistakably clear is that there is no division among the G8 that a nuclear weapons-equipped Iran would be unacceptable.

Yes, sir, down here.

Q On Iraq and the search for WMD, while this is somewhat of an old story, would you comment on where that search remains? We are always apprised that it continues. Do you still expect that something will be found? And has the lack of finding affected the G8 nonproliferation talks? And could you comment on that, please, sir?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think that the – well, number one, the work of the Iraq Survey Group continues. I really don't have anything to add at this point, but their are forensic investigation, their interviews, their reviews of files continues at apace. I don't think the dispute has affected the gradual convergence of positions, I believe legitimately, towards that of the United States on proliferation issues. And, in fact, Iraq – the current circumstances in Iraq show, I think very graphically, something that's come home to us in a significant way as part of our experiences growing out of the Soviet Union, that part of the problem of proliferation, a significant part, in fact, the hardest part, is not tubes for centrifuges or plastic jugs of chemical agent; it's the problem of intellectual capital. It's the knowledge that scientists and technicians have about how to put a WMD program together.

And Iraq is a very good example. For years, Saddam kept together a group of 1,000 nuclear weapons scientists and technicians that he called his nuclear Mujahadeen. These were the people who had the intellectual capability, with money, and free from U.N. sanctions, which is what Saddam's objective was, to recreate his nuclear weapons program. We've identified already 500 – 400 to 500 of these scientists that we want to try and retrain and redirect, so that they can find legitimate work in Iraq, and not be hired off by another WMD aspirant. And that really signals to us why this problem is so difficult to resolve, because the intellectual capacity is something that's a lot harder to restrict and detract than the physical evidence of weapons programs.

Q On North Korea, I was wondering if there was an appraisal by the G8 of how they feel the six-party talks are going. The progress has been very slow. Is there any idea if in the next round there's not any progress, might we be looking at sending it to the United Nations or trying to send it to the United Nations?

And then, also on the PSI, is there more of an initiative to try to contain states like North Korea, with the PSI? There's been fairly good success so far. Was there any talk on how to take a step further with that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think on Korea, I don't think there's going to be any disagreement among the G8 that we continue to believe there has to be complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. I think that's significant. I think that continues to show important unity that North Korea is not going to be able to break, despite one effort or another.

The Proliferation Security Initiative I think has played a major role and will continue to play a major role, given North Korea's long history of proliferation activities. It is the largest proliferator of ballistic missile technology in the world, and we fear very much that a country that depends on the hard currency it earns from the sales of weapons of mass destruction, drugs, illegal gambling activities in Japan, would be prepared to sell weapons grade uranium or plutonium or complete weapons, if it could, to other rogue states or to terrorist groups to earn additional hard currency.

So PSI we think has been playing and should continue to play a major role in not only in stopping North Korea from acquiring the critical materials and technology it needs to advance its own nuclear weapons program, but from financing that program through the sales of other things, like ballistic missiles and other weapons systems.

Q (Inaudible.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, they're going to be discussing it tomorrow, and I think that's been a view that we've had for quite some time, that if the six-party talks don't make progress, the Security Council is obviously the body charged with threats to international peace and security, the IAEA has already referred it there. For the moment, we're continuing to pursue, as the President has directed, the six-party talks. And the next round will take place in Beijing at the end of the month. We'll see how it goes.

Q I'm astonished on the argument that you used about the scientists in Iraq. You said that Saddam Hussein put together hundreds of scientists that are capable to build a weapon of mass destruction. Which country in the world has not this accumulation of scientists, because any country can be a threat?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think the issue is not whether a country has a lot of nuclear physicists, the country is whether a country has scientists and technicians who know how to build uranium enrichment systems, who know how to reprocess plutonium, who have the technical capabilities to go from raw uranium to weapons grade uranium or plutonium. And thankfully, not all countries have that capability. And what we want to try and do through a variety of means, such as those President Bush has proposed, is make sure that that number doesn't get any larger.

Q Following up on the question about North Korea, Prime Minister Koizumi the other day said that he has an understanding with the great leader that he will give up his weapons of mass destruction. Do you all see that as any change, any breakthrough? Is so, will that figure into the talks this week here?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, certainly we remain hopeful that North Korea will accept that it has to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. That's the absolute bottom line for us, for Japan and for our other partners in the negotiation. And so far, North Korea in the negotiations has not shown the slightest willingness to do that. Now it's possible in the meetings at the end of the month that we'll see a changed position. We're prepared to take advantage of that, to move these negotiations ahead. The President has been very clear he wants to see a peaceful diplomatic resolution to the outcome, and that's why we're prepared for the six-party talks to proceed at the end of the month.

Q There's no change in our position vis-a-vis what Mr. Koizumi said the other day?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think certainly the President will receive this information. It's important, it's important that we hear from the Prime Minister on the outcome of his trip. But the North Koreans themselves, if what the dear leader has said is accurate, now we need for them to follow up in the six-party talks, and we'll see the answer to that in a couple of weeks.

Q You mentioned that Australia was now a member of the new global partnership on nonproliferation. What specific contribution do you see countries like Australia making? Is it intelligence capability, is it retraining, or is it providing scientific experts?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, on the global partnership, what we're really looking for are two things: one, additional resources to bring to bear in a prudent and effective manner in the states of the Soviet Union, but also the growing political commitment that the enlargement of the global partnership represents. And I would expect that Australia and some of the other new members will probably start with relatively modest contributions. We understand that, that they won't want to duplicate work that's already been done. And we, and I know the other G8 members, are fully prepared to work with them. We've had informal meetings with many of these new members already.

But their participation, I think is very important in showing to the states of the former Soviet Union we are determined that these WMD materials are either going to be destroyed or secured, and that the growing number of countries participating I think underlines how important that we see this work. And I think it underlines the potential for these sorts of programs in other countries – as I mentioned, Libya and Iraq – that are also prepared to give up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

Q Of the $20 billion pledged at Kananaskis, how much has actually been spent on concrete projects, besides the bilateral American-Russian project which are underway? And it is also correct your report already said in April that of the $20 billion, you're still missing $3 billion to $4 billion?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have posted on the global partnership website, and I think on the Sea Island website the report to the G8 leaders from the global partnership working group that has a lot of specifics on a country by country basis as to what's actually being spent and how the programs are proceeding. Some of the countries that have just begun new programs, of course have not yet begun to spend very much. But we expect today or tomorrow, for example, Canada and Russia will announce they've signed their bilateral agreement, their framework agreement that allows the very substantial Canadian pledge of roughly equivalent to $750 million American dollars to begin to be expended.

And I think that that is a – that is something that – the commitments occur at the beginning, and the expenditures of the money flow a little bit later. In terms of the current amount toward the 10 plus 10 – the original 10 plus 10 target of $20 billion, depending on what today's exchange rate turns out to be, we're somewhere just a little bit short of $17 billion U.S.

So there are some of the G7 – the original G7 partners – we're looking for additional contributions from. The European Commission has indicated it's going to have a very substantial addition by the end of this year. They're not quite ready to announce it, so I don't want to preempt them, but we're looking forward to that. And we are drawing closer to that target. That remains, for us, a very important part of the goal.

Q You mentioned that more or less the G8 are unified regarding Iran, at certain point. What is their attitude toward Syria and Libya. And in related to this question, the second part of the question, how Middle Eastern countries are cooperative, and if they are cooperative with the PSI regarding this Khan network and others?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, on Libya, I think there will be a recognition that Libya's decision to foreswear weapons of mass destruction is an important step forward. We've believed for some time it was an important victory for the Proliferation Security Initiative because the interdiction of the ship, the BBC China, which was carrying uranium centrifuge equipment to Libya, and was diverted to Italy, when that happened, we think that the government of Libya came to the realization that we knew a lot more about their nuclear weapons program than they thought, and that at that point, there wasn't any further utility in trying to conceal it. And so that – that is exactly the kind of paradigm of a deterrent impact of an interdiction having that we think PSI can provide.

I think in terms of other cooperation with PSI activities, that we've had very good discussions with a number of countries in the Middle Eastern region, the broader Middle Eastern region, and we have also appealed to some of those countries over the past year that have had – have purchased military equipment from North Korea in the past, not to do so in the future, to supply their legitimate defense needs from other sources so that they're not providing North Korea with that hard currency that I mentioned before that's so critical to the North Koreans' ability to continue their nuclear weapons program.

The leaders are going to be discussing a variety of regional issues, and, you know, Syria – it is entirely possible that would come up.

Q Thank you. You said a little while ago that so far, North Korean leadership has shown not the slightest willingness to change its aspirations on nuclear – nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Koizumi apparently saw some change between September and May, his two visits to Pyongyang, saw some movement, at least some perceived movement on the part of the North Korean leadership. And we were told earlier that he shared that view with the President in the bilat today.

Do you think the Prime Minister is misreading the signals out of Pyongyang?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I'm sure he's accurately reporting what he saw. What I said a moment ago in response to an earlier question was now we have to see whether the North Koreans follow through on that in Beijing in the next round of six-party talks.

North Korea is a very successful propagandist, and it – it has shifted its position on critical issues in this matter before. It, for example, admitted at one point that it had a uranium enrichment program, and then denied it. So tracking the North Koreans and the consistency of their statements over time is something that tells you a lot about the way they bargain and the way they behave.

We're prepared to go ahead with these talks. We want a peaceful diplomatic solution. We're going to pursue it vigorously. The ball is in North Korea's court. On that, there is no question, either.

Okay, well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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Source: Official G8 Sea Island site

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