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State Department press briefings are deceptively formal affairs, and today's was no exception. Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin no doubt spoke with a diplomat's precision, when he said of Iraq: "The suspension of sanctions would not occur until three things happened. First, that Iraq would permit the return of inspections. Second, that it had fulfilled key disarmament tasks. Third, that it had cooperated for a substantial period of time with the inspectors. Then and only then could there be an adjustment in the sanctions regime, one in which, again, we would still ensure that Iraq's leadership would not have control over the revenues that it could produce." The following is snipped from today's briefing, at http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/9911/991116db.html --- QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date - the Washington Post reported today that you all think the French are closer to some sort of compromise language on the UNSCOM or the inspection regime for Iraq. I wonder if you could bring us up to date on where things stand? MR. RUBIN: Yes. There is an omnibus draft resolution that has been supported by a large majority of members of the council. We are meeting today with the Permanent Five and we have made a lot of progress in recent weeks. Those discussions are continuing. We would like to see this omnibus resolution passed within a few weeks with the broadest possible support among members of the council. The goal is to establish a consensus so that the Security Council can put pressure on Iraq to complete its disarmament tasks by allowing the inspectors to return and do their job. We are pushing very hard to get a resolution that ensures that Iraq has to perform the required tasks of disarmament before there is any change in the sanctions regime. Iraq's obligations have not changed. It must fully declare and destroy its weapons of mass destruction and prohibited missile. And we believe - the council believes that this obligation has not been met. What this resolution is designed to do is identify those steps Iraq must take before there could be any temporary suspension of sanctions, such as letting the inspectors back into Iraq, fulfilling the key disarmament tasks required by Resolution 687, and cooperating fully with inspectors for a substantial period of time. If that were to happen, then there could be modest adjustments to the regime that would allow certain civilian exports and imports for humanitarian purposes but also, and this is critical, the establishment of financial controls on Iraq's ability to sell oil. The objective of sanctions in its essence is to make sure that a regime that has used its resources to oppress its own people; to spend money on weapons of mass destruction; to waste money on elaborate palaces; does not get new revenue that it can then use for nefarious purposes. And so what we've done is insure that even if there is progress on Iraq - and that is a big if - in other words, even if Iraq were to actually let the inspectors back and even if Iraq were to cooperate with the inspectors and fulfill key disarming tasks and even if that were to occur for a substantial period of time - three huge ifs - that we would still have very effective controls on their ability to use oil revenue to advance any of their nefarious purposes. So that's the structure we're working on. I'm not going to be able to describe for you who's position is what other than to say that a substantial majority of the Council supports this approach. There are obviously a few members - permanent members - who have not yet endorsed the approach, but we're hoping to move towards that in the coming weeks. QUESTION: In the past Iraq has challenged some inspectors or wanted to limit how many inspectors would come from which member countries and that sort of thing and in your comments now you said, "when the inspectors return" a few times. I wonder if the US will accept any sort of limitations or restrictions on what inspectors can come from where and what they can do? MR. RUBIN: The resolution that we could support would establish a new organization with the same mandate, the same rights, the same privileges, and the same immunities as UNSCOM. So the point here is that Iraq cannot dictate how independent experts do their job. It must be up to an independent organization that has the confidence of the key member states of the United Nations if we're going to get to a point where they ever can meet the key disarmament tasks. Remember what the objective here - the objective is disarmament. And we believe the only way to promote that disarmament and to protect ourselves against Iraq pending that disarmament is to have a tight sanctions regime. So that means that we and the rest of the world must agree on what the facts are and what the situation is because it's that independence of UNSCOM which gives us the ability to insure support from a wide variety of countries. So, in short, what I'm saying is that what we challenged was Iraq's right to dictate to the independent inspection regime how that independent regime would do its job. And we will continue to oppose any attempt by Iraq to manipulate the independence of any new organization because it's that independence that gives us both confidence that it's doing the job and gives the other countries confidence so that they hang with us in a consensus to maintain the strongest sanctions regime that's ever existed. QUESTION: Do you know - and I don't remember this from the previous UNSCOM battles - but does this organization - this resolution envisions - you've mentioned disarmament - but I wonder does it also cover future development of WMD? MR. RUBIN: Right, there's two tasks. One is to find out what they had and make sure it's all destroyed. The other is ongoing monitoring to make sure that whatever programs they have that are permitted are not translated or transformed into programs that are prohibited - such as, shorter range missiles are permitted, and we want to be sure that monitoring tells us, or protects us against the possibility that those ranges would be extended. QUESTION: On the new -- MR. RUBIN: I'll come back to you. QUESTION: On the new UNSCOM, would the United States insist that there be US representatives in this inspecting? MR. RUBIN: We never insisted that the United States be represented in UNSCOM. What happened when UNSCOM was started was that the United States became the country where the original inspection leadership came to for expertise because we had enormous expertise. We had knowledge in missiles, in chemical weapons, in disarmament. So the question for us is independent experts. It's up to the new leadership of the new inspection agency to decide where that expertise is going to come from. I would find it hard to imagine they could put together an effective inspection system without any Americans. But our position was not, there have to be Americans. It was Iraq's position to try to say there can be no Americans. Our position is that whatever it takes to have an independent organization that we have confidence in, that has independent experts that are expert-based and not politically-based, that actually know what they're doing in the substance is what the test for us is. Not the nationalities. QUESTION: Who makes that determination over its -- MR. RUBIN: That would be the leadership of the new inspection agency. QUESTION: Who makes the determination on the leadership? MR. RUBIN: Well, that would need to be selected. There would be a process by which the new leadership would be selected. QUESTION: But that hasn't been determined, the process? MR. RUBIN: That would be determined if the resolution were to mature to that point. QUESTION: Didn't the Post story say that there would be an initial suspension of sanctions and that the actual lifting would take place much further down the road after good behavior was verified? MR. RUBIN: Yes. If it did, I don't recall what it exactly said. But let me tell you what I know the resolution requires, which I think is more important than even what comes in such a fine newspaper. The suspension of sanctions would not occur until three things happened. First, that Iraq would permit the return of inspections. Second, that it had fulfilled key disarmament tasks. Third, that it had cooperated for a substantial period of time with the inspectors. Then and only then could there be an adjustment in the sanctions regime, one in which, again, we would still ensure that Iraq's leadership would not have control over the revenues that it could produce. So those things have to happen first. Then there's the suspension, and then, obviously if the day ever came when an Iraq - presumably under new leadership - were to fulfill all the requirements of the relevant resolutions, then you could imagine lifting the sanctions. QUESTION: Jamie, don't your requirements for the membership of UNSCOM, too, make it absolutely mandatory that there be at least a preponderance of Americans in it? MR. RUBIN: I think I very carefully answered that question. We don't have a nationality based requirement. And so I think for you to say does our requirement include a preponderance of Americans, the simple and short answer to that is, no. What our requirement is, is that it be expert-based and that experts be gathered who are based on their expertise, not what countries they come from. Just as we wouldn't want countries that we might have a problem with to be guaranteed a place in such a regime, such an agency, our position is not there have to be X Americans or XY percentage of Americans. Our position is there have to be experts. I said, in response to Andrea's question, I find it hard to believe that that many experts could be gathered in such a highly technical area without any Americans present. But to suggest, as you did, that there must be a preponderance of Americans, as an American condition, that would be inaccurate. QUESTION: I understand that it is not a specific requirement but obviously, in order for you to have what you said, confidence in this group, it just seems to me that this is kind of a de facto way of saying that there have got to be - anyway, if it's not, then - MR. RUBIN: What is important is that they be experts and that we have confidence in its leadership and that we have confidence in their independence and in their willingness to base their decisions on the facts. And judging those facts without a political bias. That would be what is required for us. -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***