Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

MONDAY, JUNE 19, 2000
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman




"States of Concern" versus "Rogue States"

DPB # 61

MONDAY, JUNE 19 2000 12:15 P.M.

MR. BOUCHER: ................

QUESTION: On a related matter, the Secretary said today, this morning, that the United States has abandoned the expression "rogue states" in favor of "states of concern." I wondered if you could sort of give us an idea of the ideological shift that's involved in this change in terminology.

MR. BOUCHER: The vast ideological shift? First, I want credit for having admitted that we changed something.


All right. The phrase "states of concern" is a more general phrase. I think that the issue was whether you have one policy that tries to fit all, and when all these states are opposed to the peace process and opposed to the international situation and opposed to any form of liberalization and democracy, it's easy to describe in one basket.

What we see now is a certain evolution, different ways in different places. Some places that were described that way have embarked upon more democratic internal life; others have been willing to address some of the issues that are of primary concern to the United States; others have addressed partially issues like terrorism but not completed what the UN, in the example of Libya, has asked them to do in terms of cooperation with the trial.

So the point, I think, is just a recognition that we have seen some evolution in different ways in different places, and that we will deal appropriately with each one based on the kind of evolution we're seeing and what we think is possible in terms of getting them to live more harmoniously with the international environment and, in particular, to address the concerns that the United States has.

QUESTION: Does abandoning the "rogue state" tag mean that you're more open to engage with such countries if you see the opportunity to encourage them to change?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think if you look at what we've been doing, where we have an opportunity to address our concerns, we have tried to address those concerns. This is more a change in our description of things rather than a change in what we've been doing, because we have been, for example, in the case of North Korea finding ways to address our serious concerns about nuclear weapons, about missiles, about the overall relationship, including things such as terrorism.

With Libya, we continue to stress the importance of Libya meeting the UN requirements on cooperation with the trial, even as we've noted in our terrorism report that they've taken a certain numbers of steps -- and I grant not complete ones yet -- on distancing themselves from certain terrorist groups.

So I think it's just a recognition that what we were doing was, in fact, addressing the issues where there had been decisions to make a change, where there had been decisions to change the internal workings, like more democracy in Iran or where there have been decisions on their parts to address some of the issues that we were concerned about.

QUESTION: Can you explain to us why no one was told that she was going to make the -- do this interview this morning? And it seems to be that only a few people who heard about it from friends or whoever, who happen to listen regularly to the Diane Rehm Show, were the only ones that were aware of it? I mean, there's a schedule out that says no public appointments on it. This is obviously a public appointment. She did announce -- apparently announced this change in policy, and yet very few people in this room who cover this building -- who would be interested in this -- knew about it.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm sorry it wasn't on the public schedule. I do believe it was advertised by the radio station, so it wasn't a secret. It should have been on the public schedule, and I'm looking into finding out why it wasn't.

QUESTION: Not being a regular listener of that station -- I mean, is that how we're going to -- is this --

MR. BOUCHER: No, we're going to try to get you the information in the future because it should have been there. Okay?

QUESTION: So now that you have countries that, I guess, are in between, does that mean that there are going to be some countries that you wouldn't go all the way to consider them "rogue states;" that you might have a new category delineation like on the terrorism list, countries that aren't state-sponsored terrorists but are not officially cooperating in terms of doing enough?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the point is we're not trying to create new categories; we're trying to deal with each situation in US interests. And if we see a development that we think is in US interests, we will respond. If we see "states of concern" that continue to be of concern because they're not willing to deal with some of the issues we're concerned about -- phew. If we see countries that are not willing to deal with the issues that are most important to us, we're not going to have much of a response or reaction.

QUESTION: Is "rogue state" then out of the lexicon as of today?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't used it for a while.

QUESTION: Is it possible that some states will still be referred to as "rogue states" if they --

MR. BOUCHER: If they want to be rogues, they can be rogues, but generally we have not been using the term for a while, I think.

QUESTION: So it's not a matter of some countries continue to be "rogue states" and others have progressed to "states of concern;" all of them henceforth are "states of concern"?


QUESTION: But does this lower the bar for what a "state of concern" is, now that there's no "rogue state"?

MR. BOUCHER: Does this lower the bar? No, because, as I said, it's more a description than a change in policy, because the issue is: Are various countries whose activities around the world have been troubling to us, are they actually dealing with the issues that we have been concerned about? And if we are able to encourage them or pressure them or otherwise produce changes in their behavior, and therefore a change in our relationship, we're willing to do that. If they're not, then we're going to keep our sanctions on and we're going to keep our restrictions on and we're not going to change our policies.

QUESTION: PR-wise, does that make it easier for the Administration if you ease sanctions on a "state of concern" than if you ease sanctions on a "rogue state"? So isn't this just as much for you as it is them?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think the determination will be state by state, where if we do something with an individual country that people think is unmerited, I think we'll hear about it.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how many there are?


QUESTION: Has anybody actually done a rough list?

MR. BOUCHER: We have found the opportunity to express our concerns about different states at different times in different ways. We try to deal with each one on its behavior, on its actions, on its merits.

QUESTION: So there would be many, in fact, because you have often expressed concern about various aspects of countries?

QUESTION: Is Pakistan a "state of concern"?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to create new categories. The essence of this is not trying to categorize people. The essence of this is trying to describe our relationships with individual nations in terms of the issues that are most important to the United States and our ability to make progress on those issues.

QUESTION: So just coming out and saying that we're concerned about an event in a country, wherever country, does not necessarily mean that it's a "state of concern"?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to categorize or re-categorize anybody. I'm trying to say that we're going to deal with each country based on the situation and the merits.

QUESTION: So are the same seven countries -- or however many countries it was that were considered "rogue states" before -- are they all now considered "states of concern"?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, they would be. But I have to say the point is not to categorize them; the point is to deal with each country on the basis of what we can accomplish in terms of what we care about.

QUESTION: But when you change the category, that is necessarily a categorization.

MR. BOUCHER: We'll discuss that over lunch sometime. I think that's too philosophical for me to deal with from the podium.

QUESTION: Well, I just want to know -- I mean, I think it's a valid question. I mean, are there any more countries that are "states of concern" than there were previously described as "rogue states"?

MR. BOUCHER: No, because we're not adding a large new category. We're trying to say that we deal -- we changed the description, okay? Let's not make this an enormous policy step. Our policies towards each of these countries is very well known, and we've been quite clear over time -- we're talking about North Korea today, talking about countries in our terrorism report, talking about developments in Iran in the Secretary's speeches. We've been quite clear about each of these countries where we saw good things happening, where we wished to progress, where we thought we could progress.

But we've been quite clear that we have different policies towards different places because the key issue here is not to categorize or write a book; the key issue is to get developments and progress on issues the United States cares about because we have our interests in these places in the world.

QUESTION: Can we change topics and go to the Balkans?

QUESTION: I just want to ask a question on the former rogue state of North Korea. (Laughter).

MR. BOUCHER: The state previously known as rogue; is that it? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Are they still going to be denied -- is the United States still required to vote against World Bank and IMF loans to that country?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a consequence of their being on the terrorism list, and therefore it would continue to be.

QUESTION: One more question on that. Wouldn't it be more accurate for you to think of not "states of concern" but "issues of concern" to the United States? And would you -- you started to give a list and you didn't get very far with the list. Is there such a list?

MR. BOUCHER: This is descriptive. There are some countries with which we have a lot of concerns. These correspond to the countries that we have previously called "rogue states." The description of "states of concern" is as good as any. I'm sure there's a thousand other that wordsmiths could dream up. The point of this whole thing is to say that we will deal with each of these countries based on the kind of relationship that we think we can have, based on the kind of progress that we can have, that we can actually see, on the issues that are most important to us.

QUESTION: Is it merely coincidental that this comes up on the same day as we ease sanctions on North Korea, or was this something that was prompted longer in the works, but prompted today by a redefinition of the North Korean relationship?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it was prompted by questions, actually. As I said, I think if you look back to my briefings, and Jamie's briefings, and the Secretary's statements, that we actually haven't used the word "rogue" for quite a while.

QUESTION: When was the definitive shift?

MR. BOUCHER: Over the past few months we've changed the terminology, I think.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- reason you've done this is because you think there's a better chance of engaging with a country if you stop calling it a rogue?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think it would be fair to say that we think the category has outlived its usefulness.

QUESTION: This is more than just semantics, partly because this Administration, in justifying publicly the need for a national missile defense, was that it would guard against "rogue states," not against the former Soviet Union, for example. Now, since it was the category, and it was the justification for a national missile defense, does the term of reference for national missile defense change at all?

MR. BOUCHER: No, absolutely not. The threat that the President -- one of the four criteria the President's going to have to deal with is not based on what term we're using for places, it's based on the fact that there are nations out there who are developing missile capabilities who do not appear to be bound by the traditional strategic stability that exists, for example, between the United States and Russia, because of the network of treaties that are involved.

Therefore, we need to look at other ways of dealing with that new threat that's emerging, and the President will look at the threat and the cost and the feasibility and the nature of the international arms control regime, as we've said, in making that determination. This is not a cookie-cutter approach; it's an attempt to say that we have to deal with each situation as it comes.

QUESTION: You guys have just walked into a huge mine field, maybe a rhetorical mine field, but I mean there are tons of countries out there, and even some that are not official -- Afghanistan and Somalia, for example, that are "states of concern" to the United States, that are not "states of concern."

MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I would say, Matt, is we don't sit around here with a basket marked "states of concern" and try to throw countries into it every day. We actually grab situations, and try to work on them, and improve the interests of the United States with regard to that situation. If you look at what we've been doing, we have been dealing with these issues, with these countries, with these developments overseas, in ways that we thought were most advantageous to the United States.

It's not really a change in behavior or policy or what we're doing as much as it is finding a better description, or a better description because a single description, one size fits all, doesn't really fit any more.

QUESTION: Can we get a transcript of the Diane Rehm Show, though?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure it's probably available very soon.


(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 P.M.)

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