|12,13||Narcotics trafficking reports viewed with concern by US.|
QUESTION: Jamie, the February 15 issue of US News and World Report has an article that goes into some detailed allegations about narcotics trafficking by the government of North Korea.. Do you have anything about that?
MR. RUBIN: I am better prepared for that question today. As a matter of policy, international narcotics trafficking is anathema to the United States. We have been aware of past reports that the North Koreans may be engaging in such activity. We view these reports with concern, particularly since they suggest the possibility that North Korean officials could be involved.
Because of the continuing reports indicating that North Korea may be producing large quantities of opium for the illicit market, and may be involved in methamphetamine production and trafficking, we need to monitor the situation closely, to determine whether a substantial amount of opium is being cultivated or harvested in North Korea, and whether opium transiting North Korea is significantly affecting the United States.
Because there is not yet sufficient evidence to meet the legal criteria for including North Korea on the majors list - the so-called major narcotics countries - we will continue to monitor and evaluate alleged North Korean involvement in narcotics, and will apply the law as circumstances warrant.
We will issue our international narcotics strategy in the coming weeks, which will include information on North Korean activities in this area. As you know, the majors is based on having reliable information that North Korea fell into particular definitional descriptions about significant quantities reaching the United States. It's very hard to talk about the specific way in which we learn this information, or some of the specific information, without going to a level of sensitivity I cannot.
QUESTION: When you say reports, you don't just mean news reports, do you?
MR. RUBIN: We have reports - and I wouldn't over-interpret that. We are not in a position to have reliable information about this. I indicated to you that we have no reliable information that North Korea fell into either definition of major drug producing or transit countries, as articulated in the law. We do have a variety of reports that indicate what I indicated, but I wouldn't draw elaborate conclusions on the word "report."
QUESTION: Has a date been determined for new talks on the suspected nuclear site?
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check for you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:40 P.M.)
[end of document]