Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 1998
8 No information on reported ISRAELi assistance to India nuclear program 
14-15 World Bank suspends loan; Glenn Amendment; EU, int'l response to nuke test 
DPB # 64
TUESDAY, MAY 26, 1998, 1:15 P.M.


QUESTION: While on vacation in Australia, Richard Butler has said that he believes it's possible sanctions could be lifted by October or after October. He feels that inspections can be finished by then. Does the US share that view?

MR. RUBIN: We share the view that if Iraq were to make a wholesale change in its policies towards UNSCOM, the process would be accelerated. That would mean moving from a posture of deny and delay and obscure to a posture of cooperate and conform with the rules of the international community. So if Iraq were to change its posture and begin to come forward and provide all the information that it has so far denied, that would certainly speed up the process.

With respect to any dates, we expect that Ambassador Butler will be reporting to the Council early next week, and he will lay out for the Council what Iraq must do. Our view hasn't changed that Iraq must comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions. But certainly it would speed things up if they were to go from denial to cooperation.

QUESTION: If they take actions that satisfy UNSCOM and Richard Butler, would that be enough for the United States?

MR. RUBIN: It's Ambassador Butler's job to determine technically what Iraq has and hasn't done. Then it's the Security Council's job to determine whether that meets the standards the Security Council set out in its resolutions. That is what the Security Council would make judgments on.

QUESTION: Is the announcement that the United States will be drawing down the troops that it had sent to Iraq as a contingency military action -- is the withdrawal an indication that the United States is letting up on its resolve to enforce the sanctions and to use military might to do that if necessary?

MR. RUBIN: No. The decision was a decision that the Pentagon is going to explain in some greater detail today. But the basic pillars of our policy -- robust forward presence, rapid reinforcement capability and support and enforcement of the UN Security Council mandates - that is, the military side of our overall policy - remains the same. Decisions that were involved will leave behind a more powerful force than before last fall's crisis.

So this is an adjustment in the force posture that the Pentagon, at the direction of the President, is going to take. But it in no way changes our determination to see Iraq's threat deterred and contained, and to see international Security Council resolutions enforced.

QUESTION: But that build-up was quite costly, and explained that it was quite necessary to carry out your military goals against Iraq. If Washington sees the need to do that again, are you going to go through with another costly build-up, bring those troops back; or can you do what you need to do with the forces you have there now?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I wouldn't be able to make that judgment. It would obviously be dependent on the circumstances and what the military commanders thought they did and didn't need.

I just would point out that the basic policy of maintaining a force structure and the firepower necessary to deter Iraq from threatening its neighbors or threatening the world with weapons of mass destruction has not changed. With respect to specific cost issues and specific force posture issues, I'd recommend that you address those to the Pentagon.

QUESTION: Chairman Butler seemed to suggest that UNSCOM should take the lead in mapping out the way that the Iraqis should go. Do you think that there's going to be a problem or do you see a problem with that and, perhaps, the Iraqis complying only with what is on the map, and maybe hiding other weapons or maybe developing something else?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I guess that depends on what's on the map. We're waiting for a briefing from him next week on specifically what his road map looks like, so we can be sure that it meets the basic principles that we think undergird the Security Council resolutions.

But in general, we've found that Ambassador Butler and Ambassador Ekeus before him have been fully capable of laying out what Iraq needs to do. The problem isn't in what Ambassador Butler or Ambassador Ekeus ask Iraq to do; the problem is in what Iraq refuses to do.

[end of document]