ACCESSION NUMBER:374686 FILE ID:EPF406 DATE:01/12/95 TITLE:N. KOREA 'FOREMOST' AMONG U.S. NON-PROLIFERATION CONCERNS (01/12/95) TEXT:*95011201.POL *EPF406 01/12/95 N. KOREA 'FOREMOST' AMONG U.S. NON-PROLIFERATION CONCERNS (Article on briefing by U/S Peter Tarnoff) (1230) By Peg McKay USIA Staff Writer Washington -- "First and foremost" among U.S. non-proliferation concerns in 1995 is the implementation of the U.S.-North Korea nuclear agreement, according to Peter Tarnoff, under secretary of state for political affairs. "It's a good agreement" for the United States and for the world, he said at a January 11 briefing at the U.S. Information Agency's Foreign Press Center in Washington, "because it provides for a freeze by North Korea of its nuclear activities" and for the eventual termination of those activities. "We're very pleased," he noted, by the cooperation with the Republic of Korea and Japan, who will play "a central, overwhelming role" in financing the light water reactor to be constructed in North Korea. "We believe that it is at least possible that over time a certain evolution will take place in North Korea in which the new leadership in that country will decide to be more responsible, more a member of the international community," the under secretary said. Focusing further on East Asia, Tarnoff said: "There is a basis for cooperation and communication between the United States and China that is well established, and it will survive whatever changes may occur in the near-term leadership in the People's Republic of China." 1 As far as the rest of the world is concerned, Tarnoff said, the United States believes it is vital for NATO to "reach out eastward" and to "demonstrate to Central Europe that it is our objective...over time" to develop "an integrated European security system." Under such a system, he said, "NATO will expand" through the U.S.-initiated Partnership for Peace program, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Western European Union (WEU) "will take on enhanced (security) responsibilities." "But overall," he said, "we believe the best way to encourage reform" is to offer the governments and people of Central Europe "the opportunity to participate much more fully in the institutions of the West." Offering a year-end review of U.S. foreign policy and a look ahead to priorities for 1995, Tarnoff said a top U.S. concern is to "encourage reform and democratic opening in Russia." He noted that Russia "retains an enormous nuclear potential, as well as formidable military forces, and therefore...the security dimension of our interest in remaining engaged with Russia is extraordinarily high." On the issue of Chechnya, Tarnoff said that while the United States "does not question whether Chechnya is part of Russia," it does question "the ways in which this operation has been mounted" and "the casualties that have been occasioned by it....We hope very much that the Russians and the Chechens can open a dialogue with regard to...a resolution of the crisis." Tarnoff told a questioner that the United States does not see "any signs that the events in Chechnya are having an adverse effect on...the progress of democracy in Russia." He cited as examples the Russian press, which has been providing "not only full and frank reporting but very vigorous commentary" on developments in Chechnya, and members of parliament and local political movements "who are...expressing themselves in an unprecedented way on all sides of the Chechen issue." On the Middle East, Tarnoff pointed to the conclusion of the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles and the Israel/Jordan peace treaty and said there has been "good progress...in the negotiations between Israel and Syria." He told a questioner that Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin "both have a sense of urgency and importance" about the exchanges the United States is promoting, and "they are moving ahead very, very positively." Asked about the Clinton administration's policy toward religious fundamentalism and terrorism, Tarnoff stressed that the United States has "enormous respect and regard for Islam as one of the great religions of the world," but he noted that "when Islam or any other religion or...movement adopts a policy of violence and terrorism, we oppose it." "We also reject the notion that terrorists will use Islam...or any other ideology as a rationale for a legal terrorist act. So we will oppose terrorism wherever it occurs under whatever guise," he said. In response to another question, he said the United States also has taken a "strong stand against" terrorism by the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), while at the same time encouraging the government of Turkey "to continue to explore ways to increase its dialogue with responsible members of the Kurdish community." On Iraq, Tarnoff said the United States maintains that a "very firm" position in support of sanctions against Baghdad "is absolutely necessary for peace and stability" in the region. Recalling that the U.S. led the effort last October in response to 1hreatening Iraqi troop movements toward Kuwait, Tarnoff declared that "our vigilance in this part of the world is a very high priority for us, and it's going to continue for a long time unless and until there is a transformation of the regimes...that represent a threat to our friends and our own interests." On Bosnia, another U.S. foreign policy priority, Tarnoff noted there has been "some progress" on the road to a settlement based on the Contact Group plan, "which is our firm position....We may see in the coming weeks at least the beginning of a negotiation between the parties." He stressed, however, that the administration is "unalterably opposed" to the unilateral lifting of the Bosnia arms embargo. "It may at some point in time...be necessary to consider a multilateral lift of the embargo, which is a very different proposition. But we will resist...any attempt to impose an obligation on the president" to lift the ban unilaterally, he said. On U.S. relations with the United Nations, Tarnoff said the U.N. "is an indispensable organization" but one that must be improved, including streamlining of its peacekeeping operations. He said the United States will work with others to transform the U.N. into an organization which will act "much more efficiently than it does now...in the interests of the international community and the United States." In response to questions, Tarnoff also made these points: -- The United States has initiated "some very productive conversations with the Russians" regarding possible modifications in the ABM treaty. "We have found on the part of the Russians a disposition to talk....They understand the seriousness of the issues involved not only for the United States but for other governments which have to think of protecting themselves against forms of missile technology" which were "simply not in existence at the time the ABM treaty was concluded." -- The United States has "very important interests" in South Asia. "American business interests have expanded" with India and Pakistan, and "there are a whole range of proliferation concerns...with both India and Pakistan...and we want to continue to pursue these issues in the hope that some progress can be made." -- The United States has a "historic relationship" with Greece and Turkey and hopes that "we will continue to be able to work with both governments...to reduce whatever tensions remain between them." NNNN .