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Fwd: 000229 U.S. State Dept. Daily Press Briefing

>From: "U.S. State Department" <stategov@UIC.EDU>
>Reply-To: "U.S. State Department" <stategov@UIC.EDU>
>Subject: 000229 U.S. State Dept. Daily Press Briefing
>Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 17:58:54 -0600
>Daily Press Briefing Index
>Tuesday, February 29, 2000
>Briefer: James P. Rubin
>1-13     Report on Palace Building and Oil Smuggling /
>Construction of Pipeline / Illegal Export of Gas Oil / Oil
>for Food Program / Importation of Luxury Goods (alcohol and
>cigarettes) / Noncompliance of UNSC Resolutions / No-Fly
>Zones / Lifting of Sanctions / Post-Sanctioned World
>14     Yugoslav Army Checkpoint Near Montenegro-Albania
>14-15     Killing of Journalist / Freedom of the Press /
>Release of Andrei Babitskiy
>15     US / North Korea Talks
>15-16     Resumption of Israel / Syria Talks
>16-17     Freedom Party Entry into Austrian Government /
>Haider Resignation / Readout of Ambassador Hall's Meeting
>with Secretary Albright
>16-17     Increase of Military Expenditures
>18     Visit of Special Envoy Harry Johnston Visit to
>18     U/S Holum's Meeting on Arms Control in Geneva / Start
>III Agreement / ABM Treaty Modifications
>18     Release of Kurdish Mayors from Jail
>18-19     US Assistance with Flood Relief Efforts
>19     Communal Violence
>19-20     Arrest of American Citizen Teenagers
>DPB # 16
>TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2000, 12:40 P.M.
>MR. RUBIN:  Greetings.  Welcome to the State Department
>briefing on this here Tuesday.  Before I left, I wanted to
>make sure I got to do one more of these presentations.  So
>we do have a presentation today on Iraq, and the purpose of
>this briefing is to present newly declassified satellite
>imagery which once again documents the perfidy of the regime
>of Saddam Hussein and the importance of international
>efforts to prevent such violations and to help the Iraqi
>The imagery that I will show you today proves two things.
>First, since the Gulf War and until now, Saddam Hussein has
>been building enormous palaces and VIP residences for
>himself and his regime.  These palaces cost billions of
>dollars, money which the government of Iraq could and should
>be spending on the needs of the Iraqi people.
>To pay for these palaces and these luxury goods for Saddam
>Hussein's family, Saddam Hussein himself and his supporters,
>the regime is selling oil outside of the Oil-for-Food
>Program and in violation of UN sanctions.  The people of
>Iraq would be a lot better off if he would simply cooperate
>with the UN, sell Iraq's oil under the Oil-for-Food Program
>and use the money to buy what the Iraqi people need.
>We're releasing this information now because Baghdad is
>again pushing the canard that sanctions rather than the
>misrule and the cynical manipulation of his own people that
>Saddam Hussein propagates are responsible for the suffering
>of Iraqis.  These photos tell a very different story.  They
>document the real reason that Iraqi people don't have what
>they need, because Saddam Hussein refuses to use oil
>revenues to order goods for his people or to cooperate with
>the relief agencies providing them.  Instead, he is building
>palaces, smuggling oil in order to buy the loyalty of his
>small coterie of guards and his small and significant
>security apparatus so that he can prevent them from putting
>a bullet in his head.
>These photos and accompanying text are available in English
>and Arabic on the Web at, and if you click on Near
>East, the photos and a new report on this subject will be
>available.  We are also providing these photos on beta
>videotape.  So let's go to the palace construction map.
>What you see here is that there are nine palaces.  Okay,
>let's move it over there. There are nine palaces listed by
>their names, five of whom are centered around Baghdad.
>That's a blow-up of those five palaces and their location.
>You'll notice that they're concentrated around Baghdad and
>in the center of the country where Saddam is in greater
>control.  There is only one palace in the north -- over
>there -- and none in the south because these are both areas
>where popular resistance to Saddam Hussein is strong and his
>security cannot be assured.
>Let's go to the Tikrit residential site, the largest and
>most elaborate of Saddam's presidential sites.  Construction
>has been ongoing since 1991.  The site itself covers four
>square miles.  This whole area right there is four square
>miles.  And then what you'll see is that there are numerous
>palaces - this is a palace, this here is a palace, and these
>are the VIP residences for his supporters.
>There are also to the west of this site where you can't see,
>there are rural and extensive farm retreats also for use by
>regime favorites.
>Now let's turn to the Al Salam Palace in Baghdad, the
>interior palace photo. This is located on the site of the
>former Republican Guard's headquarters in Baghdad which was
>destroyed during Operation Desert Storm.  Since then, Saddam
>has been rebuilding the palace,and it was completed in early
>1999.  What you'll see here are - this is the main palace
>here, this is a large conference center, these are special
>waterways that have been created, and this is the whole
>palace grounds there in the red and white.
>What we know about the interior of these palaces from
>firsthand reports, these particular palaces, who have
>traveled to Iraq and visited the palaces, that in these type
>of palaces they feature marble floors, crystal chandeliers
>and, according to eyewitnesses, gold-plated faucets and
>other excesses.
>Now let's go to the Abu Ghurayb Palace.  Construction at the
>Abu Ghurayb Palace is ongoing.  As these photos show - this
>is before it was completed - you'll see all these areas
>weren't filled in with water.  These are the after sites.
>So all of this area and down here was not filled in with
>water as they were constructed.  There are elaborate
>fountains, waterfalls.  We find the scale of this one
>particularly excessive.
>The point here is that Iraq is suffering from a drought that
>the government claims has caused widespread crop damage.
>Think about this.  They complain about a drought, and yet
>Saddam doesn't  hesitate to use scarce water resources to
>ensure that the lakes of his palaces are filled and his
>grounds are well cared for.
>Now let's go to the oil question starting with the Basrah
>refinery.  The question always arises where does money come
>from to provide for these palaces and to provide for other
>efforts to build their efforts to circumvent the sanctions.
>What you see here is this particular refinery was destroyed
>in Operation Desert Fox, and what these squares show you in
>the little stacks are not inflamed, meaning they're not
>operational after Desert Fox.  So these were destroyed
>during Desert Fox.  And you can see from where these little
>arrows are that they are not operating refineries.
>Now if you look at them, you can see the flares in January
>2000 to show that these are operating.  The point here is
>that these are refineries.  Iraq is not allowed to sell
>refined oil products pursuant to the sanctions; they are
>only allowed to sell oil.  And what you discover is by
>rebuilding this site is the beginning of the pipeline --
>pipeline metaphorically -- for the illegal gas oil sales
>that I will show you in the subsequent slides.
>What they have now been able to do at Basrah is produce some
>140,000 barrels per day; that is, illegal refined products
>for sale abroad.  Oil exports are only authorized through
>the ports at Mina al Baqr; that is, the Oil-for-Food Program
>in the Persian Gulf and via the oil pipeline through Turkey.
>The oil smuggled at the Basrah refinery is illegally sold
>and smuggled out of Iraq through a loading facility called
>Abu Flus.
>So what you see here is that this is the Basrah refinery.
>The ships are loaded and they are loaded at the Abu Flus
>loading facility, which is down here, and then they proceed
>down in the - I'm sorry, I should be over there - down this
>waterway out into the Persian Gulf.  This is an example of
>the ships that pick up the illegal gas oil.  These are -
>each of these are different ships that pick up the illegal
>gas oil in that waterway.
>What then happens is that these ships then hug the coastline
>and come out here and hug the coastline along the Iranian
>border until they reach international waters here, which is
>the point at which the Multinational Interdiction Force can
>then intercept them.  That is how we intercept ships, and I
>think we have intercepted a huge number of vessels over the
>years.  Since 1990, the Multinational Interception Force has
>queried more than 28,000 vessels, boarded more than 12,000
>and diverted 700 for violation of sanctions.
>So the point of this presentation is to show you the
>extensive effort Saddam Hussein is making to illegally
>export gas oil outside the UN Oil-for-Food Program; take
>that money, meanwhile crying poverty and blaming the rest of
>the world for the effect of sanctions on its citizens; and
>building these elaborate palaces that I've just shown you.
>So we think this is conclusive proof that, to the extent
>there are problems in Iraq on the question of food and
>medicine and concern about the people of Iraq, those
>problems are the fault of Saddam Hussein.  In general terms,
>the level of smuggling has grown in recent months.  It's
>reached the unprecedented level of 100,000 barrels per day,
>which puts more than $25 million into the hands of Saddam's
>regime so then he can spend the money on these palaces.
>Overall, we estimate since these palace constructions began,
>that over $2 billion of scarce resources has been diverted
>to the purpose of building these palaces.
>I'd like to make one final point before taking any of your
>questions.  We've heard a lot in recent days about the
>regime complaining about the effect of sanctions.  In
>addition to using the illegal export of oil to provide funds
>for building things like these palaces, they also import a
>number of luxury goods, and we find it particularly ironic
>that while he is not spending the money that the
>Oil-for-Food Program permits him to spend for food and
>medicine, the regime led by Saddam Hussein spends money the
>regime controls on alcohol and cigarettes.
>In the past ten weeks, ten 20-foot containers of whiskey
>have arrived in the Port of Aqabah bound for Iraq.  This is,
>according to experts, below average for the period.  Each
>20-foot container contains an average of 900 cases of
>whiskey, or a total of 10,800 bottles of whiskey.  In
>addition, a further 20-foot container of wine and beer went
>to Baghdad during the same period.  That's 350,000 cans of
>beer and 7,200 bottles of wine.  The regime in Baghdad is
>consuming more than 10,000 bottles of whiskey, 350,000 cans
>of beer and 700 bottles of wine per week - and alcohol is
>illegal in Iraq.  Food is exempt from sanctions, and these
>goods are classified as foods, so Baghdad is importing all
>of this legally.
>The important point here is that the regime is getting drunk
>while it claims that its people don't have enough to eat.
>So we are a little tired of hearing that sanctions are
>responsible for the problems of the people of Iraq.  It's
>the government of Iraq that spends its scarce resources on
>these palaces, on items like beer and wine and liquor that's
>illegal in Iraq, and then complains about the rest of the
>world causing problems for the people of Iraq.
>The last point, and I'll turn to your question.  You know,
>we're often asked whether the sanctions regime is weakening,
>that people are losing their support for it.  I would advise
>you all to take a look at the communique issued by the Saudi
>and Syrian Governments last week which squarely places the
>blame for the suffering of the people of Iraq on Saddam
>Hussein's refusal to comply with UN resolutions.  That's the
>Syria and Saudi Arabian Governments communique as a result
>of their high-level meetings last week.  I can get you a
>copy of the public version of that at the end of the
>With that opening comment, let me turn to any of your
>QUESTION:  Apparently, a lot of these ships are making it
>past the monitors.  How come it can't be more efficient than
>it is?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, on the monitoring, obviously it is a
>difficult process.  As I said, we've intercepted or diverted
>700 vessels and boarded more than 12,000 and queried more
>than 28,000.  With this increased level of smuggling that
>we're seeing, we're looking at ways to beef up the assets
>for the Multinational Interdiction Force in the region.  The
>government of the United Arab Emirates is working closely
>with the UN and the Multinational Interception Force to
>crack down on this smuggling activity.  The UAE has accepted
>far more vessels diverted by the MIF than any other country
>in the region.
>Obviously, Iran plays an important role in the smuggling of
>Iraqi oil by allowing the smugglers to avoid the MIF by
>transiting through its territorial waters, as I showed you
>earlier.  We have raised this issue in the Security Council
>Sanctions Committee and we plan to do so again.  The
>government of Iran has tended to respond positively when
>this issue has been raised, and we do expect the government
>of Iran to uphold its obligations as a UN member state and
>to crack down on this illegal activity.
>QUESTION:  I thought the refining capacity was 140,000
>barrels a day and the illegal export was about 100,00
>barrels a day.  Does that mean that the other 40,000 is for
>home consumption?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, there may be - that is what - those are
>the numbers that I have.  I will try to, after the briefing,
>get you an explanation for whether that 40,000 stays inside
>Iraq for domestic purposes.
>QUESTION:  Jamie, it's not just Iraq that's complaining
>about  the effect of the sanctions.  A significant number of
>members of the US Congress have complained also about the
>effect of the sanctions.  What will you tell those in
>Congress who are sending you letters and urging you to move
>to ease the sanctions after nine years?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, what we would tell them is that the
>sanctions are there for a very real purpose:  to deny Saddam
>Hussein access to the funds he needs to build up his
>military machine; and that this is a repeat offender who
>started a war with Iran for eight years, who started the war
>with Kuwait that led to this situation; and that we're
>prepared to err on the side of caution when it comes to
>ensuring that Saddam Hussein can never again get the
>capability to threaten his neighbors and the world.
>When it comes to the suffering of the Iraqi people, we would
>tell these members of Congress and whoever made this point
>that they are misinformed.  It is the United States and
>Argentina and the United Kingdom that created the
>Oil-for-Food Program that forced Saddam Hussein to spend
>over $10 billion on food and medicine that have now been
>approved for the export to Iraq.
>And we would further add to those members of Congress that
>even if sanctions were lifted, only wishful thinking could
>make someone think that Saddam Hussein would spend more of
>his money on food and medicine for his lower classes when
>that is only being done because we force him to.  Instead,
>if he has his way, he would be using the money to spend on
>the kind of palaces and luxury living that I've been
>QUESTION:  First of all, I was wondering why you didn't
>condemn or in some way repudiate Iran for its - what you
>called an important role in the smuggling of oil.  You only
>said that Iran should live up to the UN regulations, but you
>didn't have any sort of negative language about them.
>That's my first question.
>My second question is the US has used deadly force in its
>enforcement of the no-fly zones, and I wonder why - if this
>is a problem why you're not doing what you've done before
>which is to bomb, for example, the Basrah refinery.
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, you shouldn't confuse, on the second
>point, apples and oranges.  With deadly force on the no-fly
>zone, we're talking about a situation where Iraq is
>threatening our pilots, and we believe that the use of force
>is necessary to deter and to eliminate those threats.
>Secondly, the purpose of the no-fly zone is to prevent Iraq
>from using its air space to kill and maim its own citizens
>in the north and the south, as it has done in the past.
>That is a different - both of those issues are different
>than illegal oil smuggling.
>With respect to your first question, we do expect Iran to
>live up to its obligations as a member state.  We have had
>some success in bringing to the attention of the Iranians
>through the Sanctions Committee this activity, and they have
>responded, and that is the accurate statement of the facts.
>QUESTION:  To follow up on the question of force or not and
>why it's apples and oranges, why not use something less than
>deadly force and blockade the Shatt Al Arab?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, we have made the decision to intercept
>ships and deter additional smuggling through this
>interception of ships.  We're looking at providing
>additional assets.  I'm not going to get into a tactical
>discussion with you about what our other options are.
>QUESTION:  Jamie, a couple of things.  There seems to be
>something - one thing missing.  What's the destination of
>all this illegal oil?  Who's buying this stuff?
>MR. RUBIN:  What happens is it gets on the oil market, and
>then it gets mixed in with oil products that go anywhere.
>QUESTION:  Well, it's got to go somewhere first where
>someone knows that it's illegal.
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, absolutely.  What we try to do - well, if
>we knew every place that it was, we would certainly try to
>take action.  It's not always possible once a ship leaves
>this area where you know it's an illegal export to track it
>so thoroughly that you can be sure that you know once it's
>mixed in with other products.  So we've tried to deal with
>it at the source through this Multinational Interdiction
>Force, and obviously when we have evidence of where the
>illegal oil ends up, we act on that as well.
>QUESTION:  Where has it ended up in the past?
>MR. RUBIN:  I'll try to get you additional information after
>the briefing as to some of the locations.
>QUESTION:  And the other thing is that there is a lot of
>smuggling of alcohol in other places --into a lot of
>countries where it's illegal, and I'm just wondering why --
>you know the destination of these thousands of cases of
>whiskey is Saddam and his --
>MR. RUBIN:  That's the information I've been provided, yes.
>QUESTION:  We don't have any - I mean, you don't have any
>photos of impounding Chivas here.  How do we know --
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, if I get one of those, I'll be sure to
>provide that to you directly.
>QUESTION:  Jamie, the bottom line in your message is that
>the sanctions is not responsible for the suffering of the
>people of Iraq; the government is.  However, the people in
>the area, fair-minded people, are wondering why official
>after official of the United Nations are disagreeing with
>you.  The head of the - Hans Von Sponeck, Denis Halliday
>before him, the head of World Food Program, they all
>disagree with your assumption.
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, as I indicated, the Saudi Government and
>the Syrian Government last week put out a very clear
>statement placing the blame squarely on Saddam Hussein's
>shoulders for the harm done to his citizens.  So it's not
>just our view; it's the view of the Syrian and Saudi
>Governments in that statement.  I'd be happy to provide you
>a copy of that.
>With respect to well-intentioned but misguided individuals
>like Mr. Von Sponeck, I've heard his account of these
>events.  And he seems to think - in what I consider and what
>this administration considers a matter of wishful thinking -
>that if sanctions weren't on Iraq, somehow the people of
>Iraq would be getting the benefits of sanctions relief when
>all the indicators are the opposite.
>Let me give you a very clear example.  In northern Iraq, the
>UNICEF did a study and they looked at infant mortality in
>northern Iraq during the period of the Oil-for-Food Program
>where Saddam Hussein has no control over the distribution of
>food and medicine.  And what they discovered is the infant
>mortality rate is lower in northern Iraq during the
>sanctions under the Oil-for-Food Program than it was prior
>to sanctions.
>Think about that.  That means that before sanctions were
>imposed, there were more people dying in northern Iraq,
>infants, than there are now under the Oil-for-Food Program.
>That's an indicator of what a post-sanctions world might be
>like under Saddam Hussein where no effort is made to provide
>food, medicine and necessary supplies to prevent problems
>like infant mortality.
>So as well-intentioned as Mr. Von Sponeck is, we have
>consciences too.  He's not the only one with a conscience.
>That's why we created the Oil-for-Food Program.  That's why
>we've allowed $10 billion worth of food and medicine to go
>to the people of Iraq.  And if we hadn't done so, it never
>would have gotten there.  So we find it unjustified for
>people like Mr. Von Sponeck to point the finger at us rather
>than pointing the finger at Saddam Hussein's regime which
>hasn't implemented the Oil-for-Food Program.
>The problems Mr. Von Sponeck identifies in central and
>southern Iraq, many of them could be resolved if Saddam
>Hussein's regime would take the medicine and food and other
>supplies out of the pipeline - out of the warehouses and
>distribute them, if he would spend the money that he's
>allowed to spend on food and medicine.
>The UN has to force him to buy food and medicine for his
>people because he doesn't care about them.  That should give
>you an indicator of what the world would look like if
>sanctions were lifted.  So we think he's well-intentioned,
>he has a conscience.  So do we.  We have a different
>judgment as to what would happen in a post-sanctions world.
>QUESTION:  Jamie, some of those on Capitol Hill are urging
>the administration to delink sanctions and basically get rid
>of the economic sanctions and keep military sanctions in
>place.  Is that something that seems reasonable?
>MR. RUBIN:  No.  We think that would be ill-advised in the
>extreme.  The problem here is making sure that Saddam
>Hussein's access to hard currency is as limited as possible.
>We have denied him something like $100 billion in hard
>currency.  That has prevented him over the period of
>sanctions from spending that hard currency on weaponry, on
>illegal goods that he could try to buy even if there were
>sanctions around.  Hard currency to Saddam is a prescription
>for disaster, so we try to limit the amount of hard currency
>through the oil embargo and through other steps and try to
>keep it down to these small amounts of money that we track
>as best as we can.
>And so we think it would be ill-advised in the extreme to
>allow a dictator like him to get access to billions of
>dollars of hard currency through some suspension of the
>economic embargo unless and until he has shown a willingness
>to comply with UN Security Council resolutions.
>QUESTION:  What makes you think he isn't using some of that
>money that he gets from selling oil illegally to buy the
>very things that you're --
>MR. RUBIN:  We have no doubt that he's trying to do that.
>What we're trying to do through sanctions is limit the
>amount of money he could use, because the more you have the
>more you're able to bribe people, do things illegally, get
>dual use equipment. So what the sanctions - the primary tool
>they serve is to limit his access to hard currency so we
>limit his access to military hardware and military goods so
>that he can never again be the threat that he was to the
>rest of the world.
>QUESTION:  First of all, is all of the money being spent?
>MR. RUBIN:  No.  We think that there are significant gaps in
>what he is prepared to order, and I can go through a little
>bit with you after the briefing.  But certainly we believe
>that UN reporting has shown that he is under-utilizing the
>funds.  They've under-funded the food sector by more than
>$200 million.  It is allocated to the health sector,
>two-thirds less than what the Secretary General said was
>minimally acceptable.  And it continues to ignore calls -
>that's the regime - by the UN to order critical medicines to
>treat child leukemia.
>So those are some of the examples of ways in which he has
>not ordered what he could using the funds available.  We're
>talking about a lot of money here.  Over the coming year,
>there may be as much as $20 billion in oil revenue that
>could then be used for significant portions for food and
>medicine, but if he doesn't use it and he won't spend it,
>that's where Mr. Von Sponeck should have focused his energy
>on the regime.  Why isn't it using these enormous amounts of
>money to ease the concerns that he has?
>QUESTION:  Von Sponeck and others have said that the
>requisition and the licensing procedure is unnecessarily
>restrictive and cumbersome.  Have you thought about
>improving that system?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, we do not believe contract holds are the
>problem.  In December 1999, the UN's Office of the Iraq
>Program issued a report on the impact of holds on the
>program.  The report concludes that contract holds have had
>a minimal impact.  This is the UN's own report.  Mr. Von
>Sponeck's own organization has said that holds have had a
>minimal impact on most sectors.  It also says that poor
>ordering by Iraq and Iraqi delays in distribution are
>hampering the program's effectiveness.
>About 90 percent of the contracts submitted to the UN are
>approved.  There are no contract holds on food.  With minor
>exceptions, there are no contract holds on medicines.  The
>most frequent reason for contract holds is the quality of
>information that accompanies the contract.  We currently
>have 300 contracts on hold because the technical information
>or the end use information in the contract was insufficient
>to make a judgment.
>We want to be cautious.  We do not want to let dual use
>equipment sneak through this process.  Let me give you an
>example.  Pesticides.  Pesticides can be used for legitimate
>purposes and illegitimate purposes.  And unless we know the
>information and understand who the end user is and whether
>the supplier is someone who has violated sanctions in the
>past, we want to be careful.  But none of that interferes
>with the bulk of the job of the Oil-for-Food Program, and
>Saddam Hussein's refusal to order supplies, food and
>medicine, far exceeds the very limited effect of these
>They constantly want to blame the holds, and we are troubled
>when people fall into the trap of accepting that as the
>reason when the reality is these tens of billions of dollars
>that are available they don't want to spend on food and
>medicine, and they have to be forced to.  So our concern is
>that we will obviously look to ensure that the contract
>review process is speeded up, that there are pre-approved
>goods that don't require committee approval pursuant to the
>Resolution 1284.
>But if you look at the facts, a really good, hard look at
>the numbers, the delays in distribution, regularly we have
>situations where there is huge amounts of food and medicine
>sitting in warehouses that they don't want to distribute.
>And they only distribute them when we make so much noise
>publicly that people running the program, like Mr. Von
>Sponeck, finally feel compelled to approach the Iraqi
>Government and ask them what happened to the food and
>medicine that's in this warehouse.  And then suddenly,
>magically, there is an effort to distribute it.
>So the concern on holds is greatly exaggerated.  It's a very
>small percentage that are put on hold, but we obviously want
>to improve the process.
>QUESTION:  On the pesticides, the illegitimate use would be
>possibly chemical weapons?
>MR. RUBIN:  Correct, yes.
>QUESTION:  Do you think the diesel fuel trade with Turkey
>also contributes to Saddam's wealth and this decadence?
>MR. RUBIN:  The Turkish Government estimates that Turkey has
>suffered losses of tens of billions of dollars as a result
>of enforcing Iraqi sanctions.  Because of these losses,
>Turkey asked the Sanctions Committee in 1996 to legalize its
>diesel and gas oil trade with Iraq.  The action was deferred
>on this request.
>We have raised this issue with Turkey and are working to
>find a way to strengthen sanctions enforcement without
>causing further hardship on southeastern Turkey.  But we
>certainly believe that Turkey, like all countries, should
>understand that these sanctions are important to the
>security of the world because they deny hard currency to the
>regime so that it can never again pose the same threat as it
>has to its neighbors.
>QUESTION:  Jamie, to go back to the question of the imports,
>Mr. Eckhart, Kofi Annan's spokesman himself, said after he
>resigned - Mr. Von Sponeck resigned -- that Mr. Annan shared
>the views of Mr. Von Sponeck on how to improve the regime in
>terms of  getting (inaudible) with Iraqis.  Are you saying
>that he's just being diplomatic?  Is he --
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, you know, if you look carefully - and I'll
>be happy to get you the material, it's quite voluminous -
>there are many reports by the UN.   Most of the figures that
>I'm giving you about the ways in which Saddam Hussein has
>refused to sell - buy the food that he's able to buy, to
>distribute the food that he has purchased or to buy the
>medicine or distribute the medicine that he's allowed to do,
>most of this data comes from the UN.  And there are many
>reports the UN has put out that include the demonstration
>that the bulk of the problem is their refusal to order -
>distribute pursuant to the UN's recommendation we agree
>When it comes to the contract holds, I'm - we're being quite
>candid, we tend to err on the side of caution when it's a
>dual-use issue, and we do that for very good reasons.  And
>what I'm suggesting is that the UN itself acknowledges that
>that's a very, very tiny percentage and bears almost no
>effect on the problem.  Minimal is the word they themselves
>have used.
>QUESTION:  Well, Jamie, getting back to the smuggling coming
>through Aqabah you cited cases of alcohol which is illegal
>in Iraq.  Why is that allowed to be trans-shipped from
>Aqabah out through --
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, it's under the food and --
>QUESTION:  Well, it's under food, but you apparently know
>what's in it.  And it would seem to me --
>MR. RUBIN:  They're classified as foods, these goods.  I'm
>just pointing out the hypocrisy of the regime, that they
>spend their money on things like whiskey and then come to
>people like Mr. Von Sponeck and others and they try to make
>the case that they don't have the money to feed their
>QUESTION:  Just about the palaces that you showed before,
>you showed a before and after.  What were the time periods
>MR. RUBIN:  There were some dates on those, and we'll be
>able to give you that.  They're along the top.
>QUESTION:  And you also mentioned that you all estimate
>about $2 billion --
>MR. RUBIN:  Over $2 billion.
>QUESTION:  Over $2 billion was diverted for the purpose of
>building those palaces.
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes.
>QUESTION:  Again, what --
>MR. RUBIN:  That's an estimate.
>QUESTION:  But over what period of time?
>MR. RUBIN:  Say over the last decade roughly, okay?
>QUESTION:  Children in Iraq are suffering from diseases
>because of impurity of water, and Iraq has claimed they need
>chlorine to purify the water which is dual function - one of
>their dual - how do you deal with issues like pesticides
>which they need to grow their food and their plants,
>chlorine to purify the water?  How do you deal with such
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, obviously, there are complexities, but
>what we deal with them in -- is because, based on caring
>about what happens to the Iraqi people, unlike the regime,
>which I think we've demonstrated conclusively doesn't care
>and uses these arguments to try to divert attention from
>what their real intent is.  There are very technical issues.
>I can try after the briefing to get you some information
>about various contracts and what the concerns were.  But by
>and large, once the legitimacy of the product is certified
>and once the legitimacy of the end user is certified, we
>allow these things to go through.  We're just not going to
>do it willy nilly.  And Iraq tends to use any contract hold
>as an attempt to divert all of your all's attention from the
>fact that their not spending the money that is in the
>QUESTION:  Nobody will argue about the focus of the system,
>and you describe those who believe lifting the sanction may
>end the suffering of the people, and you describe them as
>wishful thinking.
>MR. RUBIN:  Right.
>QUESTION:  Do you still believe that sanctions or lifting
>the sanctions or staying with the sanctions may put an end
>to the system or to the regime, or this too is wishful
>MR. RUBIN:  No, that's not what we say sanctions are for.
>The sanctions are for containment.  We believe that to
>protect the security of the region where he has gone to war
>against Iran, gone to war against Kuwait, threatened the
>whole Gulf with war and devastation and destruction - and
>those of you who remember the Gulf War know the threat that
>he poses where he's used weapons of mass destruction against
>his own people - those are the dangers.  We are containing
>that danger through sanctions by denying him the hard
>currency to rebuild the military machine that poses those
>In the meanwhile, we are supporting a number of opposition
>groups who understand that the only long-term solution to
>the danger of Saddam Hussein's regime to the region and to
>the world is to have that regime changed.  But the sanctions
>we've never said are going to change the regime.  We think
>they contain the danger he poses to the extent they put
>pressure on him and cause other Iraqis to understand the
>value of another way of running their country.  Fine.  But
>the purpose of them is to contain the danger posed by hard
>currency reserves.
>QUESTION:  Jamie, besides buying whiskey and building
>palaces, do you all have any idea where this money is going?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, that's obviously two important outputs.
>There are other outputs.  We certainly think they tried to
>rebuild their hardware, cannibalized their system, used some
>of their hard currency to try to improve their military
>machine.  They've been testing and seeking to deploy very
>short-range missiles that are permitted below, I think, 150
>kilometers.  That cost a lot of money.
>So they're spending their money on the things that have
>nothing to do with the concerns about water and water
>purification and infant mortality.  They are focusing their
>money on missiles, palaces and other outputs.
>QUESTION:  You mentioned nine palaces.
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes.
>QUESTION:  Are these new palaces, or is that the sum total
>since he started his palace construction program?
>MR. RUBIN:  I think there are others.  It depends on where -
>these are the large style.  There are smaller ones, and I
>can get you some numbers of - there's dozens of others that
>are in the small palace category.  These are in the large
>palace category that are particularly egregious examples of
>excess and waste.
>QUESTION:  So you don't dispute the statistics that say that
>people, particularly children, are suffering from
>malnutrition and dying in Iraq?  You just dispute who's to
>blame for it?
>MR. RUBIN:  I think what I indicated from the UNICEF report
>is that we do care about the children of Iraq, that's why we
>created the Oil-for-Food Program, as a result of which the
>children in northern Iraq, where the UN runs the program and
>Iraq doesn't, have a lower infant mortality rate than the
>children in that part of the region did before the Gulf War
>when there were no sanctions.
>Is there suffering in Iraq?  Of course there's suffering in
>Iraq.  Mostly the suffering is a result of the fact that
>this mad dictator has launched his country into 10 years of
>war against Iran and 10 years of war against the rest of the
>world.  After 20 years, it's not a surprise that their
>economy is in shambles.  What we're saying is that we care
>about it and we're trying to do something about it, and that
>people should not be misled from the propaganda that comes
>from Baghdad.
>QUESTION:  On Chechnya, Mr. Rubin --
>MR. RUBIN:  Are we done with Iraq?  Iraq, yes.
>QUESTION:  After all these violations and these numbers, do
>you have any new - do you think you are going to revise or
>MR. RUBIN:  Sorry?
>QUESTION:  After all these violations by the system - Iraqi
>system -- and complaints all over the world, I mean are you
>inclined, are you thinking about revising or reviewing
>sanction policy?
>MR. RUBIN:  No.  On the contrary --
>QUESTION:  No modification or --
>MR. RUBIN:  No, no.  We were going to implement Resolution
>1284 in the way that I suggested in trying to make sure that
>certain products are notified and approved in advance, that
>the control hold process is limited.  That's not changing
>the sanctions policy.  The sanctions are those measures that
>deny hard currency to the regime and prevent the import of
>weapons of mass destruction, military hardware and other
>consumer goods that could be used for that purpose.  There
>is no consideration whatsoever being given to that,
>headlines in major newspapers notwithstanding.
>QUESTION:  How long is the United States going to wait?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, we are not in the waiting business; we are
>in the protecting business.  We are protecting our national
>interests by containing the danger he poses.  And so long as
>there is a danger from Iraq to our national interests, we're
>going to continue to act to defend those interests.
>Are we done?  Good.  Before we move to your question, I have
>one statement to read on Yugoslavia.  The United States is
>concerned by the Yugoslav army setting up a checkpoint last
>weekend and again today near the border crossing on
>Montenegro's border with Albania.  We are watching this
>situation closely and remain in close contact with the
>Montenegrin authorities.
>The governments of Montenegro and Albania opened on February
>24th the Bozaj/Hani i Hotit border crossing which had been
>closed since 1997 in order to foster economic development
>and promote stability in the region.  We welcome efforts by
>both governments to build confidence and cooperation in a
>region that has been crippled by mistrust and confrontation
>for much of the last decade.
>We commend the Montenegrin officials for their show of
>restraint and their efforts to prevent this situation from
>escalating, and we call on Belgrade to dismantle the
>Yugoslav army checkpoint and to join the Montenegrin and
>Albanian governments in efforts to build peace and
>prosperity in southeast Europe.
>Finally, we call on Serbia and Montenegro to renew efforts
>to resolve peacefully their disagreements about respect for
>the Republic of Montenegro's rights under the federal
>QUESTION:  On that same area there, do you have anything on
>this UN official being shot on the Serb-Kosovo border this
>MR. RUBIN:  I do not have that.  I will check for you.
>QUESTION:  Do you have any announcement to make --
>MR. RUBIN:  No, we don't.  When I do I will, but I don't.
>QUESTION:  On Chechnya, Russian foreign correspondent
>Vladimir Yatsina was killed several days ago by Chechen
>rebels.  He was kidnapped, tortured, and then he was killed.
>There is a lot of talking about freedom of press in Russia,
>mistreatment with Russian journalists, not only for Russian
>- mistreatment with journalists, in particular with Mr.
>Babitskiy, and brutality of Russian forces also.
>How would you characterize this situation in this case?  My
>understanding is there was not any condemnation, any
>reaction on this murder.
>MR. RUBIN:  We're not aware - we're aware of reports.  We
>have no confirmation of this information.  We're looking for
>that.  If it proved to be true, we'd obviously deplore that
>in the strongest possible terms.
>In regard to your question, let me say that we were very
>pleased to learn that Radio Liberty journalist Andrei
>Babitskiy was released from detention today in Moscow.  We
>were extremely troubled by the circumstances by which a
>journalist would be traded as a hostage like a criminal in
>that circumstance, and that was a rather chilling
>demonstration of one of the problems in that coverage of
>that war.
>We understand Mr. Babitskiy has agreed to remain in Moscow
>while an investigation is completed into charges that he was
>carrying falsified documents.  We continue to urge the
>government of Russia to conduct a full investigation as well
>into the alleged exchange of a civilian journalist to
>Chechen separatists for Russian soldiers held prisoner.  We
>support freedom of the press in Russia for all journalists,
>and urge the government of Russia to ensure that journalists
>are able to do their work without unnecessary constraints.
>If indeed Chechen rebels were responsible for murdering a
>journalist, that would be profoundly troubling indeed. We're
>checking into reports that we've heard to that effect.
>QUESTION:  You are aware but you have no confirmation on
>MR. RUBIN:  We don't have confirmation of the event, no.
>QUESTION:  Have you taken up with the Russian officials all
>these conflicting and sometimes confusing stories that they
>kept putting onto you and others?
>MR. RUBIN:  We believe there should - as I said, yes, we
>have raised this with them at many, many, many occasions.
>What we're urging the Russians to do, as I said, is to
>conduct a full investigation into the exchange of Mr.
>Babitskiy and what happened and what didn't happen so that
>we can get to the bottom of that.
>QUESTION:  Could you give us the latest about US-North Korea
>talks?  You said yesterday that the announcement would be
>made very shortly.  How shortly is shortly?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, I said that before I left this job I was
>hoping to define shortly for you.  Obviously, shortly does
>not always mean within 24 hours.
>QUESTION:  Or within 10 minutes since the question was first
>QUESTION:  I would have been very angry if you had answered
>his first.
>QUESTION:  Can you go to the Middle East for a second?
>MR. RUBIN:  Sure.
>QUESTION:  There's a whole new spate of reports about
>Syria-Israeli talks being resumed in March and also that the
>ILMG that you guys and the French have managed to get a
>meeting of this together.  Any --
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes.  On the Lebanon question, the co-chairmen
>have been in Syria, are going to Lebanon and then will be in
>Israel in capitals meeting to see that when a meeting of the
>ILMG is held that it can be as effective and successful as
>possible.  So the co-chairmen have been in these capitals
>starting in Syria, then Lebanon, then Israel on Sunday, I
>believe, at which time we hope to be in a better position to
>have such a meeting.  Their job is to work in capitals
>pending such a meeting happening.  I'm not aware of any
>imminent announcement of a meeting.
>On the first question, I see these reports from time to
>time, and I think I'm as well briefed as one can be on the
>Israel-Syria track.  Let me say to you there is no truth to
>these rumors, reports, suggestions that there is an imminent
>announcement of a breakthrough on the Syria track.  I wish
>that were true.  It's not true.  What is true is that we are
>working with the Syrians and the Israelis on a number of
>levels to try to make that possible, but there is no
>imminent announcement that I'm aware of.
>I think that hit both your questions hopefully out of the
>QUESTION:  And the Palestinian track?
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, Ambassador Ross has just returned today.
>He'll be briefing Secretary Albright, and maybe after that
>we'll have more to say.
>QUESTION:  Can I switch the subject again?  On Austria, has
>there been a review on the diplomatic steps that the US has
>taken in the wake of Mr. Haider's announcement to step down
>as leader of the Freedom Party?
>MR. RUBIN:  If Mr. Haider's resignation leaves the Freedom
>Party better able to work with Chancellor Schuessel in
>meeting the standards the Austrian Government set for itself
>in the preamble to the coalition agreement, we will see this
>as a positive step.  We remain deeply concerned about the
>Freedom Party's entry into the Austrian Government and have
>told the Chancellor that we will hold the new government to
>the spirit and letter of the preamble which both parties
>signed and which commits them to democracy, pluralism and
>tolerance.  We are following the actions of the new
>government very closely, and we will react swiftly and
>firmly to any statements or actions suggesting sympathy with
>Nazi-era policies or that express racism, xenophobia or
>The long and the short of it is we continue to monitor this.
>  He's still a member of the party.  The Freedom Party is
>still part of the coalition.  We're going to continue to do
>what we have been doing which is to be pleased with the
>preamble of the coalition agreement but to be monitoring to
>ensure that that preamble is indeed the guiding force for
>the government.
>QUESTION:  The Indian Government announced --
>MR. RUBIN:  On this, yes?
>QUESTION:  I just want to know if you have a readout of
>Ambassador Hall's meeting with the Secretary yesterday and
>what the Ambassador thinks.  Without mentioning Haider at
>all, just what she thinks of what's going on.
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, there was a number of meetings with
>Secretary Albright and other administration officials.
>Ambassador Hall is going to return to Washington in a few
>weeks for further consultations.  We have limited our
>contacts with the new government, and we're constantly
>reviewing the appropriate measures.  We want to see how the
>new government performs before considering other actions.
>With respect to her views, I think I've reflected the US
>views on this subject, and I don't intend to be more
>personal in saying what an Ambassador's views are as opposed
>to the US Government's views.  I think Ambassador Hall is
>comfortable with what I just said.
>QUESTION:  Have you told Austria exactly what it needs to do
>to emerge from this cloud?
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes.
>QUESTION:  Like there's benchmarks?
>MR. RUBIN:  We've told them that we need to monitor closely
>their implementation of the preamble which we were
>supportive of.
>QUESTION:  There seems to be a note of skepticism.  Your
>statement begins with the word "if."  Do you think that
>Haider's resignation was perhaps a deceptive maneuver
>designed to abort punitive actions by you and the European
>MR. RUBIN:  Well, I don't know what the motivation was.  I'd
>prefer not to speculate.  What I can tell you is what our
>policy is, is to remain concerned about the presence of the
>Freedom Party in the Austrian coalition and to judge them by
>their actions and not the presence or absence of
>personalities, although that obviously, if his absence means
>they're more likely to go along with the kind of policies
>that we have advocated, that would be great.
>QUESTION:  Are you at all concerned by the Indian
>Government's announcement that it's going to sharply
>increase defense spending in the new budget?
>MR. RUBIN:  On that subject, we have seen press reports the
>Indian Government has submitted for parliament's approval a
>substantial increase in military expenditures.  They assert
>that this is a result of heavy fighting in the Kargil sector
>last year.  We don't have any details at this point, and we
>want to get a full readout on the budget proposals and the
>Indian Government's justification before reacting.
>QUESTION:  Did the government decide whether the President
>will be going to Pakistan?
>MR. RUBIN:  The President's schedule is normally not
>announced here from the State Department.
>QUESTION:  Apparently, there's been a flurry of activity
>involving US diplomats in Khartoum of all places preparing
>for a weekend visit by Mr. Johnston.  I'm wondering if you
>have anything on that?
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes.  On Sudan, what I can say about that is
>that the visit of Special Envoy Harry Johnston along with
>Special Envoy Tom Vraalsen met with the leadership last week
>in Nairobi to offer direct US and other donor assistance.
>With respect to visits to Khartoum, I'll have to see whether
>there's anything more I could say.  I know he was in Nairobi
>meeting with Garang but I don't know what other meetings,
>and I'll try to get that for you after the briefing.
>QUESTION:  Mr. Rubin, if I'm not mistaken, Under Secretary
>of State Mr. Holum is in Geneva now for talks on arms
>control issue as a Russian counterpart.  Could you update us
>on this issue or the development?
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes.  I know he is - I don't know whether the
>meeting started yet, but I know he's expected to travel for
>that purpose, and we will work in those meetings to try to
>move towards a combined agreement on START III and the ABM
>Treaty modifications we've proposed to try to get into
>greater detail so that Russia and the  Russian side can
>understand that these modifications can take place without
>undermining the fundamental principles of the ABM Treaty and
>help both we and they deal with this coming threat that we
>see in the future.
>We certainly hope that START II is indeed ratified by the
>Russian Duma as Mr. Putin has indicated he would like to see
>- Acting President Putin see -- happen.  And that will make
>it easier to turn discussions on START III into negotiations
>on START III which would then accelerate the prospects for
>QUESTION:  Do you have anything to say on the release from
>prison of Kurdish mayors in Turkey?
>MR. RUBIN:  On this subject let me say that the release was
>a positive step.  The release of the three mayors arrested
>last week was a positive step.  We learned yesterday the
>order to remove the three from office has also been
>rescinded.  It is important that the mayors be accorded full
>due process and treated in a manner conforming to
>international human rights standards, and we're going to
>continue to follow the case - monitor the case closely.
>QUESTION:  Do you have anything else today on aid to
>MR. RUBIN:  No.  I will try to check for you, but I don't
>think I have anything.  I do?  I thought that I used this
>All right.  The US has provided approximately $1.7 million
>in response to the flooding in Mozambique.  Additionally,
>USAID is sending a seven-member disaster assistance response
>team to Mozambique which will arrive later this week.  This
>will supplement a 14-member team which is already on the
>USAID has also activated its public donations hotline,
>1-800-USAID-RELIEF, 1-800-872-4373.  For people interested
>in assisting the people of Mozambique can call this hotline
>from 9:00 to 5:00 eastern standard time to receive a list of
>non-governmental organizations who are assisting in
>Mozambique.  An Air Force C-17 loaded with humanitarian
>supplies is expected to arrive in Maputo tomorrow.  Supplies
>include 6,000 5-gallon water containers, 6,000 wool
>blankets, and 200 rolls of plastic sheeting.  We're also
>transporting 30,000 pounds of high energy biscuits on behalf
>of the United States.
>QUESTION:  It won't surprise you to learn that the measures
>that you've just detailed are being criticized in the
>African press already as paltry.  There's some mocking that
>President Clinton and Secretary Albright recently said that
>Africa matters, yet it comes up with the measures that
>you've just outlined.  Could you respond to that, please?
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes.  We always wish we could do more, and we're
>doing a substantial amount to try to ease humanitarian
>relief, ease humanitarian crisis there.  This is a flood
>that has caused damage that we're responding to, and we
>certainly hope that our friends and allies in Africa don't
>have the views that you attributed to some critics.
>QUESTION:  Do you have anything on Nigeria's suspension of
>Sharia law in three northern states?  I understand there's
>been --
>MR. RUBIN:  I do.  I'm aware that there was serious violence
>that broke out yesterday in Aba, in southeastern Nigeria.
>The return from Kaduna of the body of a local soccer star
>sparked the violence.  The soccer star was reportedly killed
>during last week's violence in Kaduna.  We understand that
>police have set up roadblocks around Aba.  Our embassy
>reported that at least 30 people have been killed.
>We would like to take this opportunity to again call on all
>Nigerians to respect each other and find peaceful ways to
>resolve their differences.  We support all Nigerians of good
>will who are working together to resolve disputes, and we
>condemn any exploitation of differences to pursue
>short-sighted objectives that harm Nigerians and their
>shared goals of democracy and prosperity.
>QUESTION:  Is the US going to be able to provide choppers to
>help in Mozambique?
>MR. RUBIN:  I will check that for you.
>QUESTION:  Do you have anything to say about these American
>youths who have been arrested in Germany, possibly facing
>murder charges?
>MR. RUBIN:  Yes, I'm aware of this incident.  The State
>Department wishes to join Secretary Cohen in expressing
>shock and sadness at the tragic incident that occurred
>Sunday in Darmstadt resulting in the death of three German
>citizens and injury of four more.  Our thoughts and prayers
>are with the families of the victims who have experienced
>this terrible and senseless loss.  The suspects, who are
>military dependents, were arrested Monday evening near
>Darmstadt, which is south of Frankfurt.  We understand they
>were arraigned earlier today in German court, and
>prosecutors asked a magistrate for a warrant charging the
>three suspects with murder and attempted murder.  We will be
>cooperating fully with German officials as this case
>QUESTION:  Do you know if there's any kind of a treaty the
>US has with Germany that might --
>MR. RUBIN:  It is my understanding that the German
>authorities have jurisdiction in this case, but the
>Department of Defense would have to be able to clarify the
>rules more and the legalities more specifically.  Thank you.
>(The briefing concluded at 1:35 p.m.)

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