State Dept. Noon Briefing, November 13, 2000

BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2000 1:45 P.M.

Q: Thank you. I wondered if you had any response to the comments out
of Moscow by General Yakovlev suggesting a new flexibility on NMD.

MR. REEKER: Yes, I did see some of those comments today and raised
that with some of my colleagues in the building. We read with
interest, in fact, President Putin's statement, I guess which was
released today in Moscow.

Certainly we share Russia's interest in lower levels of strategic
nuclear arms, and we want to proceed in a manner that allows us to
address new threats, something we have discussed for some time. As you
know, we have been working together with the Russians, and so far we
have developed in just recent months a series of initiatives,
including the Joint Statement on Principles of Strategic Stability,
which was agreed upon and signed June 4th of this year in Moscow, and
the Joint Statement on Cooperation and Strategic Stability from July
21st out of Okinawa when the two presidents met, as well as a joint
statement and implementation plan referred to as the Strategic
Stability Cooperation Initiative from September 6th in New York.

So all of those things go into our review of these issues, and we
certainly welcome the continued engagement of the Russians on this. It
is a subject we will continue to work on with them.

Q: If I may follow up, I understood it was actually comments by
General Yakovlev. Were we talking about two different things, then?

MR. REEKER: As I understood it, what we reviewed was a statement that
was actually released by President Putin today, the 13th, which
largely restated the Russian position on strategic nuclear arms

Q: So you're not aware of any comments by General Yakovlev suggesting
new flexibility?

MR. REEKER: Those specific comments I hadn't seen. We had seen
President Putin's statement and reviewed that.

Q: Well, President Putin's statement does say that the Russians are
willing to discuss modifications to the ABM, which seems to be a
slight shift from where they were before, saying that this was
basically inviolate. And now they're saying that, well, the Treaty
itself has provisions built in to review it.

Are you familiar with that part of it?

MR. REEKER: At this point, I don't have anything more specific than
what I gave you now in terms of our review of their statement which
was released today. As I think I indicated, we certainly share the
Russian interest in lower levels of strategic nuclear arms. That is
something we have worked on for quite some time now, and we want to
proceed in a manner that will also allow us to address new threats. I
think that has been fundamental to our policy on this.

Q: The numbers that you are talking about, though, are still based on
the Yeltsin-Clinton Helsinki general understandings, right?

MR. REEKER: Yes, they were general understandings of numbers. And as I
outlined, there were a series of statements and initiatives that have
come out in the last five months or so as part of our process, and
obviously we will continue working on that. I just don't have anything
more concrete or specific to say in response to those comments from
Moscow today. Obviously it is something we will continue to look at as
the process goes on.

Q: Let me ask you a policy question. Are you saying the Clinton
Administration is ready to negotiate further cutbacks in strategic

MR. REEKER: I just don't have --

Q: Because I thought the policy was we're not - the US will not
negotiate further --

MR. REEKER: Barry, I was asked about these comments - have we seen
them, what was our response to them - and that is what I am able to
provide you on a cursory review today. But I don't have anything to
add for you to anything previously we have said about this.

Q: Well, if I understand what you have said, summarizing it, you share
their interest, but the State Department will not say whether the US
policy is to proceed with further nuclear weapons cutback

MR. REEKER: I just don't have anything further to add for you to what
we have said in the past about our policy on that.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 P.M.)