USIS Washington 

13 May 1998


National Security Advisor Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger briefed in Berlin.

Following is the White House transcript:

(begin transcript)


Office of the Press Secretary
(Radisson SAS Hotel)
(Berlin, Germany)
May 13, 1998


Radisson SAS Hotel
Berlin, Germany


Q: Sandy, what would the United States like the G-8 summit to do on
the issue of India?

BERGER: Well, I'm sure this will be raised at the summit. I would hope
that the participants at the summit would issue a very strong and
clear statement condemning the action of India and calling upon it not
only to cease this series of tests, but to stop testing, sign the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And we would hope that individual
nations would take concrete and tangible actions that would make it
very clear that the era of nuclear testing is ending. And India is, in
a sense, swimming against the tide.

We were pleased today to see the Japanese government announce that it
was cutting off aid, they were suspending aid to Japan (sic), and we
would hope that other countries would consider similar steps.

Q: Sandy, if the Pakistanis go ahead and do a test of their own, would
the U.S. -- would the President be required under law to impose the
same kinds of sanctions against Pakistan?

BERGER: I think the law is fairly clear, that if a non-nuclear --
so-called non-nuclear state undertakes a nuclear test, it is covered
by the provisions of the Glenn Amendment and sanctions will be

We would certainly hope that Pakistan would not do that in its own
self-interest. I think if the Pakistanis were to refrain from that
act, notwithstanding what the Indians have done, I think it would gain
the high moral ground in the world and I think that would redound to
its benefit.

Q: Sandy, what did the Pakistani Prime Minister tell President Clinton
when he asked him not to take that road?

BERGER: Well, I don't think -- just as the President didn't
characterize what the Prime Minister said, I'm

not going to either. It was a very good conversation. I think the
President made the argument as to why, notwithstanding considerable
public pressure at this point in Pakistan, it would be in Pakistan's
interest to not respond in kind. I think the Prime Minister listened
attentively, but he made no commitments and I'm not going to
characterize that.

Q: How could President Clinton go to either Pakistan or India this

BERGER: Well, we've -- you know, we've made no decision whether to
change our plan at this point to go to India and Pakistan. I think we
need to let some time go by and see how this plays out before we make
any decision.

Q: Sandy, if I can follow on that if I can. There was a story late
today which suggested that the Indian government had finished its
testing and was now willing to consider a testing ban. If they did
that, would that smooth things over and perhaps allow for a visit?

BERGER: Well, it would certainly be -- I think the report you refer to
I think is accurate, that is that the government of India has
indicated that this is the end of this series of tests. I don't
believe that it has said that it will never test again. Clearly, it
would be, I believe, in India's interest to unequivocally make that
commitment. And the most unequivocal way it could make that commitment
would be to become signatories and then ratify the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty. I think that would do a great deal to help improve India's
standing in the world.

Q: Sandy, do you see any evidence that in fact that is India's
intention, that they have signaled in any way, shape, or form to the
United States they're now willing to do that?

BERGER: No, I have no evidence that they're going to do that. I'm
saying I think it would be very much in their interest to do it. What
India has done over the last two days has not been, in my judgment, in
India's own long-term self-interest. That is this is, as the President
said, a vibrant democracy, an important country, a country that has
been unshackling itself from a lot of the economic baggage that has
held it down for many years. It has enormous potential.

But now that the world, now that the five declared nuclear nations --
Russia, China, the United States, France, Great Britain, and 149 minus
five other countries have foresworn nuclear testing, nuclear testing
is simply, I think as the President said, unnecessary, unjustifiable
at this point, and we would hope that they would make that same

Q: Sandy, can you explain the importance of Strobe Talbott's mission
now to Pakistan, why that's --

BERGER: Secretary Talbott and General Zinni will go off to Pakistan.
The President raised the idea this morning with Prime Minister Sharif,
whether it would be useful for a representative or a delegation -- not
a delegation -- a representative to come to Pakistan to discuss these
issues with him. And Prime Minister Sharif said he would be pleased to
have an official come.

I think that, again, the purpose here is to further make the argument
to Pakistan -- which is, you know, right next door and has just seen
this act that is quite destabilizing and is obviously, as the
President said, the Pakistani people feeling quite exercised about
this, to try to make the argument to Prime Minister Sharif that
Pakistan could gain a great deal in the national community right now
if it refused to respond in kind.

Q:  Is that kind of to send a signal to India?

BERGER: No, General Zinni knows this area very well, knows the people
very well. Obviously, there are many different institutions within the
Pakistan government whose opinions are brought to bear on decisions
such as this, and we thought it would be useful for him to join

Q: Sandy, after being blind-sided in the first round, did the United
States Intelligence Agency see this second round of tests coming? Did
India alert us that it was going to do this? And does the President
still have full confidence in the CIA director?

BERGER: Let me say -- first of all, after the first tests on Monday,
Secretary Pickering spoke directly to the Indians and asked them
specifically whether they intended to explode any further devices. And
the Indians were nonresponsive to that question. So obviously we were
apprehensive after the first set of tests that there could be more.

I think with respect to the intelligence side of this, first of all
one has to recognize this is a difficult intelligence undertaking. But
the specific answer to your question is the President absolutely has
full confidence in Director Tenet -- we talked about it specifically
today -- and both confidence in his I think very, very strong
leadership of the intelligence community and confidence that he will
review the facts and circumstances surrounding the events of the last
few days in a very thorough and objective way with the outside help of
Admiral Jeremiah, who, as you know, was General Powell's vice chair of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is a man of enormous both integrity and
wisdom and expertise. And we'll see what happens.

Q: Sandy, what role did the President's apprehension about a second
round of tests play in the decision not to delay invoking a
legislation further and to go ahead and impose the sanctions. Did he
hope to forestall the second round of tests or did --

BERGER: I lost you in your negatives there. Do you want to try that

Q: I'll try it again. If the President was apprehensive that there was
going to be a second round of tests --

BERGER: Well, what I said is we were -- I don't think I said that -- I
think this has taken place really at a level below the President, with
Pickering and others concerned after three tests were there going to
be more.

Q: But he made the decision to invoke the legislation before the
second round of tests. So what I'm wondering is, was that in hopes of
forestalling the second round of tests. So what I'm wondering is, was
that in hopes of forestalling a second --

BERGER: No. I think the decision was made yesterday to invoke the
sanctions and to not seek the 30-day provision. The President actually
made that decision on the plane. It was communicated back immediately
to Washington. And I think that decision would have happened whether
or not there were further tests at that point.

When I say -- knowing there were three tests, obviously, I think Under
Secretary Pickering wanted to ask them directly whether there were
going to be more. They did not give a responsive answer.

Q: Sandy, could you tell us how and by whom the President was informed
of each of the series of tests?

BERGER: He was informed of the Monday test by me on Monday morning,
and of the second tests today, also I think by myself.

Q: What was his reaction, Sandy, when you told him about the tests
this morning? Surprise?

BERGER: Well, I think -- you know, the President, as he said, is
deeply disappointed by this. I think that he, number one, seeks to
build a stronger partnership between the United States and India. This
is obviously a setback to that effort. And number two, has devoted
enormous energy to nonproliferation and has accomplished a great deal
with the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty, denuclearization of Belarus, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan,
strategic arms reductions with the Russians.

So any step backwards -- you know, you make four steps forward and one
step backwards. I think that he was not happy about it.

Q: Was he surprised, Sandy? I mean, he had just hours before asked --
personally asked the Indian government not to do this, warned them
that the sanctions were going to be imposed, and then just a few hours
later two more tests.

BERGER: Well, I think decisions like this in terms of tests are not
things that are turned on and off in a second. This obviously had been
previously planned by the Indian government.

Q: What steps is the administration -- what concrete steps is the
administration willing to take to induce Pakistan not to test? I mean,
aside from sort of the rhetoric and the high moral road, what can you
offer them?

BERGER: Well, there has been a continuing effort on the part of our
administration to improve our relationship with Pakistan. As you may
recall, the Pressler Amendment, which was enacted in the '80s, pretty
much closed down any assistance that we could give the Pakistan.

With our support we succeeded in enacting an amendment to the Pressler
Amendment that was sponsored by Senator Brown of Colorado about two
years ago, Hank Brown, which repeals some of Pressler. And pursuant to
that we have been able to restore some aid to Pakistan, some
assistance. And I think we will examine what more we can do both
bilaterally and multilaterally.

Q: Sandy, did India deliberately mislead U.N. Ambassador Richardson to
believe such tests were not going to happen? Did that come up? And has
President Clinton responded to a letter from the Indian Prime Minister
blaming relations basically with China for the need to do this?

BERGER: The letter you refer to I think arrived in our office hours
before we left on our plane to come here.

Q:  Has the President seen it?

BERGER: I think the President is aware of it. I don't know whether
he's seen it. What was the other part?

Q:  When Richardson was in India.

BERGER: Well, you know, one never knows who knows what in a government
such as the government of India with

respect to a matter like this.

Q:  What does that mean?

BERGER: Well, did the people who -- the bottom line is that he
certainly was not told they were going to test.

Q:  Was he told --

Q:  Did he ask?

BERGER:  Excuse me?

Q:  Did he raise the issue?

BERGER: I think this issue was raised by him, as it has been raised by
every American representative in almost every conversation with the

Q: Did they deliberately mislead him to believe that such a test
wasn't going to take place?

BERGER: Well, they were not forthright about it. The reason I'm not
accepting your characterization is that, first of all, I don't know
who Ambassador Richardson talked to, whether they were people who
should have been in a position to know. I think there are probably
people in the Indian government themselves who were not aware that
this was taking place. Collectively, obviously, the government of
India was not forthright with Ambassador Richardson.

Q: Richardson was told, though, that there wouldn't be another series
of tests; is that correct? He was told no.

BERGER:  I don't know the answer to that.

MR. STEINBERG: He was told that they were conducting a strategic

BERGER: That's right. He was told no decisions would be made until
they were essentially done with this defense policy review. And I
think we were led to believe that that was not within days or weeks of
being completed.

Q: Sandy, aside from Pickering's suspicions that there might be more
tests --

BERGER: It's not just Pickering, but Pickering spoke to the Indians.

Q: Okay. Aside from the fact that they were not willing to say, no,
we're not going to test anymore, did the intelligence community see
signs that another test was coming as quickly as it was?

BERGER: Until we have all of the facts from the review that Director
Tenet is undertaking, I think, particularly since I'm halfway around
the world or a third of the way around the world, I'm not going to
comment on what information they had or didn't have. I think George's
intent is to do that quickly and expeditiously and report very soon on

Q: Was the President informed, Sandy, that more tests were imminent?

BERGER:  No, we had no specific information.

Q: On sanctions, can you tell us what the practical effect is on our
relationship with India? How much money, do we have arms deals that
are now going to be suspended, is there a dollar bill figure on how 
much this impacts?

BERGER: I happen to have an answer to that question if I can find it.
Scope of Indian sanctions: determination of bilateral assistance
except humanitarian items, $51.3 million of AID development assistance
for FY '98; $91 million PL-480, FY98; 2) termination of military sales
and financing -- that's FMS and IMET -- $775,000; 3) termination of
licenses for munitions list items, $476 million worth of those items
-- that's whatever is on the munitions list, and it's not just
computers -- those were approved since 1994; $41 million more approved
in calendar year '97; $35 million pending; 4) termination of credit
and guarantees by any U.S. government agency or instrumentality --
there are $2 million TDA grants pending, $4 billion in Ex-Im
guaranteed spending, $10.2 billion OPIC insurance and finance pending,
and $20 million in agricultural export credit guarantees pending; 5)
opposing loans/guarantees in international financial institutions --
there are about $3.8 billion of such loans that are coming up in the
IBRD, IDA -- Asia Development Bank; 6) prohibit U.S bank loans or
credit to the government of India except to purchase food or
agricultural commodities -- $1.98 billion is the current loan
exposure; 7) prohibit exports of specific goods and technologies under
the Export Administration Act, not including food, agricultural
commodities, items related to congressional oversight of intelligence
activities, $12 million in pending license requests.

And then there's a final note here -- note that the final numbers will
depend on legal determinations as to the precise scope of the
sanctions. So I would take those as estimates.

Q:  Which companies are hit the hardest?

BERGER:  I have no idea.

Q:  Sandy, has there been contact with China?

Q: Sandy, didn't you meet this month with a delegation of officials
from the Indian government yourself?

BERGER:  Yes, I met with the foreign minister last week.

Q: Are you suggesting that the foreign minister of India may not
himself have known about this imminent test?

BERGER: Foreign Secretary, excuse me. I certainly raised this issue
with him, and there was no indication of any intention to test. I
can't tell you what he knew.

Q:  But you suspected he either --

BERGER:  I don't want to --

Q:  -- didn't know or deliberately misled you.

BERGER: I don't want to speculate. I raised this issue with him as we
do routinely in our contacts with India. One of the fundamental
concerns we have is the arms race between India and Pakistan and the
cycle of action/reaction -- both with respect to nuclear programs and
with respect to missiles. So we have raised this continually with the
Indians, both in terms of the manifestations of this tension and also
the cause of the tension: why we were very pleased to see a dialogue
begin between the Indian and Pakistan government several months ago.
So this is something we always raise, and I did. And the answer was
general and kind of standard fare.

Q:  Sandy, was there contact with China?

Q: Sandy, regardless of how you characterize this, what does it to you
that this country, India, is willing to mislead the U.S.
administration? What does that say to you about their intentions?

BERGER:  I think it was a fairly expensive decision for them.

Q: Sandy, have we had any contacts with the government of China over
this? And if so, what was their reaction?

BERGER: My understanding is that Secretary Albright was in the process
of having a conversation with Chinese officials. I have not spoken to
her since then.

Q: Is India still a likely candidate to be part of the Security
Council, the new Security Council? And isn't that process of reform
now a little bit more complicated?

BERGER: Well, Security Council reform I think goes way beyond India.
We have indicated we'd like to see an expansion of the Security
Council, we'd like to see Germany and Japan come on as permanent
members, plus three others to be chosen on a regional basis. And we
still believe that.

Q: Sandy, I have a question about the credit guarantees? Could you
just clarify a little bit --

BERGER:  Probably not.

Q: All right, I'll try. Does that have to do with loans and guarantees
to just the Indian government, or is that Indian companies or U.S.
companies doing business with Indian companies, or U.S. companies
doing business --

BERGER: Do we know that, whether these guarantees are -- whether
they're to the government or to -- I don't know the answer.

Q:  It says "any," sounds pretty broad.

Q: And on that same subject, Indian sovereign debt trading -- is that
included, too?

BERGER: I'm sorry. I don't have -- there was a briefing I believe back
in Washington on some of the details of this. I'm not -- obviously
having been with the President all day -- in a position to answer all
those questions. We certainly can get answers to all those questions.

Q: Sandy, did the President talk about the sanctions with Chancellor
Kohl? And did he ask Chancellor Kohl to impose similar sanctions? Will
he be doing the same kind of thing in his bilateral meetings with Mr.
Chirac and Yeltsin at the wider G-8 meeting?

BERGER: There was a discussion of this with Chancellor Kohl. And I
think the President hopes that other countries will both make their
views known in very clear and unequivocal terms and also take tangible
steps to manifest those so that the consequence of this is significant
as a deterrent to other countries engaging in this kind of activity.

Q: Didn't Kohl snub you when he said that he was looking at sanctions
and that he didn't want to raise tensions?

BERGER: Well, this has only happened today, okay. So it may not have
been a full, complete discussion within the German government. I would
not take what Chancellor Kohl said as the final word on this.

Q: Sandy, would the President have acted as quickly as he did if it
were not required by the law that he go ahead with this? And are there
further steps that are being contemplated that might be more punitive
on the Indian government?

BERGER: The answer to your first question I believe is yes, he had an
option to try to push this down the road, which he quickly rejected.
There are -- I mean, this is a fairly substantial and powerful set of
sanctions. I'm not aware of anything in American sanctions laws that
is comparable to this. And let's see how this plays out before we talk
about further steps.

Thank you.

(end transcript)