[EXCERPTS] PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
THE WHITE HOUSE April 16, 1997 The Briefing Room
MCCURRY: We don't comment on the specific articles
that purport to draw from intelligence matters, because -- obviously
because it's classified information we can't, but I will say that U.S.
officials have regularly, at a very senior level, raised with senior
officials of the Russian Federation concerns that we have about
certain sales and certain transfer of technology and issues related to
our proliferation concerns generally. That's a regular feature of our
bilateral dialogue with the Russian Federation; it includes sometimes
discussions that occur at the highest levels between President Clinton
and President Yeltsin.
We have frequently discussed our opposition to the sale of advanced
air defense systems to Iran, specifically, and we've received firm
assurances that such sales would not occur. We, obviously, in this
area monitor, activity very, very closely, and that becomes part of
the basis by which we continue our dialogue with the Russian
QUESTION: Has the administration come up with some kind of plan to
help communities or states deal with the threat of terrorism and
biological or chemical threats?
JOHNSON: Under the Nunn-Lugar legislation, there is some funding that
has been provided for a program that FEMA is administering and the
Department of Defense is helping with to train a number of cities'
emergency response teams on potential threats such as chemical weapons
-- in response somewhat to what happened in Japan a couple of years
ago in the sarin attack in the subway. I think they're conducting an
initial briefing on that at the Pentagon today. This is a program
that's already been enacted and funded. I believe that 28 cities are a
part of the pilot program and there will be emergency response
training for those 28 cities. And the Pentagon is going to be talking
about how that's going to be done.
Q: I was going to say, does the military provide this training to
communities? Is that's what is envisioned?
JOHNSON: I think that the Pentagon will be able to tell you more
clearly than I would on that. They may be working directly; they may
be working through contractors. I'm not sure at this point.
Q: Is this purely domestic?
JOHNSON: Yes, this is for emergency response teams in cities.
Q: I apologize if you went over this morning, but who is coming to
this meeting tonight?
MCCURRY: I think between 35 and 50 members of the House and the
Senate, drawn mostly from the key foreign policy and appropriating
committees that deal with foreign policy and national security issues,
bipartisan, representing both sides. And after we see who actually is
able to come, because there were some that were still tentative about
whether they'd be able to attend, we'll try to give you a better sense
of who is actually there.
Q: Do you think that could happen -- once the meeting starts?
MCCURRY: Probably, yes, if we can. We can do that.
Q: Mike, is the primary interest going to be CWC or is it the other
topics as well?
MCCURRY: As I said this morning, it's really -- I mean, it is, broadly
defined, first, an opportunity for the President to talk about his six
major priorities in foreign policy for his second term, then a long
session about the future of Europe to begin with, a working dinner at
which we'll do some selected topics ranging from resources to support
our diplomacy to U.N. arrears to the CWC, to Mexico and some of the
President's interests in the Latin America trip; then another working
session after the dinner that will deal with our engagement with Asia
and the Pacific community.
Q: Can you get Sandy Berger out here to answer some of there
MCCURRY: All of you who were at the gaggle can chastise Mr. Neikirk
for asking that question. (Laughter.)
Q: Did the President personally make any phone calls on Alexis
Herman's behalf today?
MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. He's been calling senators
with respect to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and I don't rule out
the possibility the other matter may have come up depending on who he
was talking to.
Q: Is he going to approach Senator Helms directly, or has he on
MCCURRY: Well, we've had -- I think -- he has -- the President's
talked principally to the Majority Leader on this issue, and as you
heard from the earlier briefing, the Majority Leader has structured a
very effective way of dealing with the concerns of senators, including
Chairman Helms. Obviously, Secretary Albright has had extensive
contact with them. And there has been a negotiation, obviously, with
respect to these conditions that we've attached to the convention that
has involved Chairman Helms. So, I think he's -- they've had good
contact. I'm not aware that the two of them have talked directly, but
I think we have an effective way of addressing some of the concerns
Chairman Helms has raised.