State Department Noon Briefing, February 19, 2004
|Thursday February 19,
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2004
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I'd like to start off by talking a little bit about the process of releases and transfers from Guantanamo Bay of prisoners we've had there.
As you know, from the Administration's statements recently, we have started -- we have been moving as quickly as we can to resolve some of the cases in Guantanamo. We recognize that there are people there who are still dangerous. There are people who still need to be held because of the danger they can represent to the United States and to others who are fighting the war against terrorism.
At the same time, we're trying to resolve and to make determinations in as many cases as possible. There have been 87 people released already from Haiti -- from Guantanamo -- excuse me. There have been 87 people released already from Guantanamo. There have been five people who have been transferred to the custody of foreign governments from Guantanamo already. That's one Spaniard and four Saudi citizens.
And today, we're in a position to announce another six people who are being transferred soon. That involves five British nationals, who will be transferred shortly to British authorities for their appropriate legal determinations, and one Danish national who will be transferred shortly to Danish authorities.
These two countries are among our closest allies in the fight against terrorism. We have full confidence that they will take the responsibility to ensure that these people do not become a threat to the United States or to their own citizens. This is part of an ongoing process of making determinations and resolving as many of these cases as we can. We are in touch with other governments and in discussions with some other governments. So this is a process that you see ongoing which will continue.
So with that, I'd be glad to stop and take your questions on this or any other matter.
QUESTION: Well, does the judgment to hold them stand up, in retrospect?
MR. BOUCHER: The judgment to hold them does stand up, in retrospect, with all these people. The important thing has been to take these people off the battlefield while the fight was going on, and these people represented a potential danger to the United States and to all the people who are fighting the war on terrorism.
Some of them may represent a continuing threat. Some of them may have to face charges in their home countries. The appropriate authorities in their home countries will have to make those determinations depending on their legal authority and the facts that they have on these people.
QUESTION: Or Barry, do you have something else?
QUESTION: Well, the Foreign Minister, the Foreign Secretary in Britain says once the detainees are back in the UK, I understand that the police will consider whether to arrest them under the Terrorism Act for questioning in connection with possible terrorist activities. So they haven't really been cleared, they've just been transferred?
MR. BOUCHER: We're making a distinction between the people who we have felt at this stage or over the last few months have been released, and those who, with the cooperation of foreign governments and the assurances of foreign governments, we've been able to transfer to the -- to foreign governments for them to make the determinations and take the appropriate action to ensure that the people do not become a threat to any of us.
QUESTION: And that includes Denmark?
MR. BOUCHER: And that includes Denmark.
QUESTION: Is it just a case of handing them over to these allied governments and trusting them or are there a set of conditions that are agreed to?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had -- it depends case-by-case and country-by-country. We've had discussions with these governments as we are having discussions with others as well about the individual cases, the information on the activities of the individual, what he may have been up to, what information is known, whether there are pending charges, whether there might be charges. And so we do look at each of these cases individually in conjunction with the other government.
Final determinations on whether they are detained or prosecuted in their home country depend on the country itself, and in most cases, for example, in Britain, depend on the judicial authorities: the police and the prosecutors in that country, so even the British Government is not able to make final commitments on behalf of what the prosecutors may eventually decide. They just give us the commitment that they will exercise appropriate legal jurisdiction and take their responsibility to ensure that these people do not become a threat.
QUESTION: Would it be fair to say that the U.S., then, is not reassured of those facts with some of the countries to whom you've not released any detainees?
MR. BOUCHER: No. It would be fair to say that each of these cases differs and requires individual discussion with the government of the country. Different countries have different laws, different cases have different circumstances, and that to the extent that we can work out these arrangements with foreign governments, we have done so and we will do so in the future. But not all of them will move at the same pace. Not all the prisoners are in the same category. There are -- I think we have a total of nine British nationals in custody at this point. Five of them are being transferred to the control of the British Government. There's another four that we feel it's still appropriate for us to detain in Guantanamo, even while we do continue discussions with the British Government on those cases.
QUESTION: Richard, China has expressed its intention to transfer about a dozen of Chinese currently in Guantanamo Bay last November. Has U.S., I mean, negotiated with China about this issue?
MR. BOUCHER: We're in touch with a variety of governments. Frankly, I don't know if we're negotiating or having discussions with the Chinese at this moment.
QUESTION: Do you know how many governments you're in touch with now?
MR. BOUCHER: No, because I don't know them all. There are discussions, continuing discussions with the British Government, as I've said. We've had discussions with the Russians. We've had continued discussions with the Australians. So I know there are several that we are in discussions with. I don't have a full list at this point which other cases are being reviewed in conjunction with foreign governments.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) factor to send people back to the home country depends on your judgment of what their legal system is like and whether these people would be given free or fair trials, things like that?
MR. BOUCHER: There is always that's -- there's always that factor; there were a variety of factors, whether legal systems provide the appropriate authority for the government to make the determination or whether the government's not able to promise us that they can do that.
What is the crime? What is the evidence? What is the activity the individual has been involved in? Has the individual seemingly, you know, been willing to discuss the activities and provide information and assistance?
A whole lot of factors come into play. That's why each case is individual. And as I said, it's case-by-case, country-by-country, and we're doing these transfers as fast as we can, consistent with reaching the understandings with other governments that these individuals will not become a threat to any of us.
MR. BOUCHER: That's it? I can't remember who was checking -- who was changing the subject first.
QUESTION: If you could say anything, apparently the fire department was called to the State Department to investigate a white powder. Do you know anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: There was a white powder at -- an incident involving a white powdery substance was reported in State -- in a State Department annex that's over at Columbia Plaza. Authorities have been called in to investigate. Appropriate measures to ensure the safety of personnel have been taken. The air handling machines are turned off and the matter is under investigation at this moment. So --
QUESTION: Was the building evacuated?
QUESTION: When was it --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Do we know, Susan?
MS. PITTMAN: (Off mike.)
MR. BOUCHER: No, apparently not at this point.
QUESTION: Could you say what office it is, or what function the office has?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that information. Do we?
MS. PITTMAN: Passport validation.
MR. BOUCHER: Passport validations. Yeah. All right. Anyway, this is just -- this is apparently just happening and --
QUESTION: It was a disgruntled passport seeker. It takes a long --
MR. BOUCHER: Is there a question in there somewhere?
QUESTION: No, no.
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, we don't need to cast aspersions on people who are working hard. They discover white powder. There's a lot of nervous people over there right now who are wanting to know the outcome of this. They don't need to be maligned.
QUESTION: Okay, all right. No humor intended.
MR. BOUCHER: And none was evident anyway.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Was this found in a piece of mail? Do you have any other detail?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any more details for you, no. We'll get you details during the course of the day as we find out more.
Can we go back? Sir.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, any update to the Cyprus talks which started today in Nicosia?
MR. BOUCHER: The meetings today in Nicosia, as we know, have started. The UN Special Advisor to the Secretary General, Mr. Alvaro de Soto, is leading the talk. He has called today's session a good, constructive start. We would simply add that we applaud the parties for the political will they have demonstrated in returning to the talks and we encourage them to continue their work in a positive vein.
As you know, our Ambassador in Cyprus, Mr. Michael -- Ambassador Michael Klosson, is following the situation closely and working to support the United Nations in this effort.
QUESTION: Why you were absent from those talks, as the U.S. Government?
MR. BOUCHER: We have never been a participant when the UN holds talks with the Cypriot parties. We're not in the room as a participant. That's been true throughout the ages. But we're a strong supporter in terms of working with the UN and working with the parties throughout the process.
QUESTION: Any comment to today's attempt to assassinate in Nicosia the profound Turkish politician Mehmet Ali Talat?
MR. BOUCHER: There was a bomb attack in the middle of the night last night on the residence of Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat. We condemn this bombing. We strongly hope that the bold decision to return to talks that has been taken by the leaders on both sides of the island is not met with political violence.
There were no deaths reported in the incident. We do believe firmly that the perpetrators of this violent act need to be brought to justice and brought swiftly to justice.
Mr. Talat, himself, shortly after the attack, made clear that acts of political violence will not deter the Cypriot leaders from the course they have chosen.
QUESTION: One more question. Mr. Boucher, do you know which government in Cyprus is going to sign the Treaty of Accession to the European Union on May 1st? The present government? Another government? If you can answer.
MR. BOUCHER: The legitimate government of Cyprus will sign it.
QUESTION: Who (inaudible) the present one?
MR. BOUCHER: Ask me on May 2nd.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: The United States hasn't been called in on the assassination attempt or investigating or playing any role, has it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that we have, no. Not aware that it can actually be described as an assassination attempt, either. It's --
QUESTION: The incident.
MR. BOUCHER: -- still some questions about what the incident was. It was clearly an act of political violence, and therefore certainly the wrong -- you know, something that we condemn that we don't want to see.
All right. Teri.
QUESTION: Haiti. Can you tell us anything about the request by Ambassador Foley to have a security assessment done by a military team, asking for (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: Anything on military assessments with military teams would have to come out of the Pentagon. So --
QUESTION: This came out of the embassy.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I am not getting into the embassy securities arrangements and possible teams that might help with those arrangements. We never do that in these cases. If the Pentagon has something to say on military teams, we'll convey that information to you here as well. But I'm not going to get ahead of them on that.
The story in Haiti today, I think is two things: The first is the political developments, and the second is the humanitarian developments. On the political side, we talked this morning by teleconference with other key actors in the search for a solution to Haiti's political crisis. Our common goal is to obtain agreement on a plan that we can present to Haiti's Government and democratic opposition. We expect to be able to present this plan sometime this afternoon, and we'll be talking to the other governments involved during the course of the day again.
The steps that we're proposing track closely with the CARICOM plan and the kind of steps that the parties have committed themselves to. What we want to do is go to the parties and see that they implement these steps. We are consulting with Canada, with France, with the CARICOM nations, of course, the OAS, and keeping in touch with that group that came together in solidarity in Washington last Friday to support the efforts that are being made.
And so on the political front, that's where we are. On the humanitarian front, we had a disaster assistance team down in Haiti. It was two people who went down, I think, on the 9th of February. They pretty much finished their work. I think one's already back.
Our ambassador yesterday, Ambassador Foley, in Haiti made the disaster determination yesterday on February 18th. And so now we're able to start moving on disaster relief. There's an initial amount of $537,000 available for humanitarian assistance. We've allocated $50,000 of that so far that will be used to purchase emergency relief supplies including 12 medical kits and three surgical kits.
Each medical kit is equipped to serve 10,000 people for about three months. Distribution of this material will be done through a network of nongovernmental organizations and the Pan American Health Organization as they conduct emergency help programs. So there will be additional monies in terms of disaster assistance provided in coming days.
I'll remind you that each year the United States provides significant assistance to Haiti in terms of development aid and other assistance. This year it's about $55 million. No, it's actually more than that this year, I think. What year is it? (Laughter.)
For fiscal year 2004 it's estimated to be about $63 million.
QUESTION: Can you say who the "we" are? Is there one -- so we can get an idea of what level these talks are going on? Or is it a bunch of people on the American side?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a bunch of people principally led by Roger Noriega, our Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs. On the other end of the phone lines a variety of ministers and responsible officials from the countries that have been most concerned with this.
QUESTION: Did you say telephone or teleconference?
MR. BOUCHER: I said teleconference. I think -- pretty sure that means telephone as opposed to televideo.
QUESTION: And can you say how many people were at the other end? I mean how many different parties?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't stop to count them. It's the parties that we brought together, the people that we've been working with on this -- the CARICOM nations -- I'm not sure if they were represented as a group or individually on this particular phone call: The Canadians, the French as representatives of France as well as Francophonie. That's -- and the OAS was probably there, too. I, again, don't know how many people from the OAS or what -- how they represented themselves.
But those are the groups, those are the parties we've been working with, those are the parties that came together with the Secretary of State in Washington last Friday to support the effort that's being made and now we're presenting the Haitian Government and the opposition with some specific steps that they can and must and should take to implement the commitments that they've made to CARICOM.
QUESTION: How do you intend to present the ideas to the parties? Are you calling for some kind of meeting with them? Are you --
MR. BOUCHER: That's being worked out by the people on the phone call, but the expectation is that we'll do it in Haiti with our representatives there.
QUESTION: Do you expect that Ambassador Foley will meet with President Aristide?
MR. BOUCHER: The expectation will be done in Haiti appropriately by our representatives there. I don't have any meetings scheduled at this point.
QUESTION: Aside from urging the parties to reach a compromise solution, what else are you proposing?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there are a number of specific steps. If you look at the CARICOM plan itself, it involves setting up an independent government; it involves putting the police under professional management; it involves working out rules and regulations for demonstrations so that we don't have armed clashes whenever there's a demonstration -- a whole series of steps like that. And so that's what we're going to the parties with, to tell them that they need to move forward on these steps, they need to reach agreement on these steps where necessary, and they need to take these steps urgently because it's important to the people and the future of Haiti.
QUESTION: You've called for the establishment of an independent government. Isn't that what they have now?
MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Isn't that what they have now, an independent government?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, they do have an independent government that -- there are -- in the CARICOM plan there are issues in terms of identifying a prime minister and ministers who can run the affairs of government.
QUESTION: I have a new one, please. Mr. --
MR. BOUCHER: Still on this.
QUESTION: Is this new plan or new measures saying anything about the future of President Aristide, his political future?
MR. BOUCHER: We have said that we are not dickering around with his future, that the -- he is the President of Haiti. We're not asking him to leave. We're not going to countenance his being kicked out by force. Contrary to some reports, we've not presented some plan that he have early elections and that he depart, or anything like that.
This is what we're doing. We're trying to ask President Aristide to live up to his commitments to CARICOM, which involve steps like the ones I've been talking about. We've asked President Aristide to live up to his constitutional role.
We've asked the opposition, and are asking the opposition to live up to their commitments, as well.
QUESTION: But President -- Secretary Powell this morning -- I think it was this morning in his interview with Sam Donaldson said that if another agreement means that Aristide goes or that the government goes in another direction, that's fine.
MR. BOUCHER: I'd put the emphasis on the word agreement. If there's -- as far as I know, there's nothing on the table of that sort at this point. But we have not made any proposals in that regard and if somehow the people of Haiti and the government and everybody agree on what they're going to do, then whatever they agree on is going to be okay.
QUESTION: Just for terms of references, are you still calling this the CARICOM plan, and you're just working out more details of it? Or is this a different plan?
MR. BOUCHER: This is within the framework of the CARICOM plan. These are steps to move forward consistent with CARICOM plan. This is, this is the CARICOM plan.
QUESTION: It is the CARI-- okay.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. These are pretty much, I think, all. I haven't done a point-by-point comparison. But the kind of steps we're talking about right now, are the kind of steps that parties have already committed to really in the CARICOM plan.
QUESTION: That you were working on last week?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, that we've been working on with CARICOM. Whether there are some more things and what we're going to end up proposing, I'll leave until we actually propose it.
QUESTION: Given that there is little difference between the plan that has been proposed to the parties down there, so -- at least since last week and now, why are you hopeful that the parties will actually take heed of this plan? There's nothing new, is there?
MR. BOUCHER: Did I say hopeful?
QUESTION: You're not hopeful. Sorry. Maybe I should rephrase it.
MR. BOUCHER: No, did I say not hopeful?
I told you what we're doing.
MR. BOUCHER: I told you that this is the way forward, that this is the way for the government and the opposition to take action, to meet their commitments and to give the people of Haiti some calm and to give them a better situation in their future. It's very important that they take this seriously.
The full weight of the international community is behind this. The United States and the others have worked closely together, the Secretary in his meetings and his phone calls. The Bureau in their meetings and phone calls have worked to rally the international community behind some very specific proposals of steps the parties need to take. So we go in and will go in with the full weight of the international community behind these specific steps. And it's a matter of getting people to meet their commitments by taking these steps.
QUESTION: Is that why it should work? But while the steps themselves are not new proposals, the full weight, the full weight of --
MR. BOUCHER: This is the way to make progress and we've been pushing very hard to do it.
QUESTION: Well, the Secretary, I think, used the phrase, the word "thugs," at least four times the other day, to describe some of the opposition, not all of the opposition.
Why would thugs -- and he even said murderers --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think --
QUESTION: Why would they heed international opinion? What do they care about international opinion?
MR. BOUCHER: Didn't you ask the same question yesterday? I'll give you the same answer I did.
QUESTION: No, I didn't ask the question yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: There's a difference between the thugs, the gangs and the violent elements that have been taking over some towns and the opposition, the political opposition that's been operating in Haiti, that's been seeking adherence to the constitution, that's been seeking acceptance of their role in society, that's been seeking acceptance of their political role without the fear of violence and intimidation that's been directed against them by various groups.
That opposition has an opportunity here to move forward towards a peaceful resolution of these problems and towards a political role for everybody in Haiti under a government that's fair and that's committed to stop violence against violence by taking action on these points.
There is a difference between the thugs and the political opposition. But we have made the point here that if the government and the political opposition agree on a process to move forward, agree on a process to resolve these differences peacefully, we think, first and foremost, that will have a calming effect on the violence, that will give the ordinary people of Haiti some hope, that will reassure people that the police can and will take up the responsibility in a fair manner, in a responsible manner, and the international community has said they're willing to help with that, and that that's the way to end the violence by these thugs and violent elements, who, indeed, are probably not listening to what we say, what the government says, what the CARICOM says or anybody else, at this point.
But they need to -- they need to hear from Haitian leaders that it's time for Haitian leaders in the government and the opposition and the people of Haiti to move forward, and we think that can have the effect of calming the violence.
QUESTION: I appreciate the -- you know, this is viewed as the way to go forward, et cetera, everything that you've said, but I guess I still don't understand why this -- how this differs from the previous CARICOM plan and the, you know, commitments that have been made.
I mean, why are they going to do it now and they didn't before? There were sanctions, carrots, anything like that involved in this plan?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's not so much the plan itself, because the elements, as you note, and I've noted, have been under discussion through the CARICOM plan. Many of them are already commitments these parties have made. It's the actual implementation of it that's been the problem in Haiti for -- in many of these situations in the past where plans have been produced and commitments have been made, but people didn't do what they said they would do. And what you have now is the full force of the international community, organized by the United States, the OAS and others, to go in together to try to ensure the implementation.
QUESTION: But how are they going to do that, I guess is my question. I mean, is there --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the diplomatic mechanisms are the ones that I decided -- that I described. The -- in terms of ensuring that it's fulfilled, the parties fulfill their commitment, it's the ongoing engagement of the international community, it's the fact that the relationships that Haiti has and that individuals in Haiti have with all the parties in the international community are going to be affected by whether they do these things or not.
QUESTION: Can we try Iraq, or is this still Haiti here?
QUESTION: Middle East.
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Well, Secretary General Annan didn't surprise anybody today. He agrees election isn't feasible and he was mum on any other ideas pending consultations. You said yesterday the Secretary had talked to -- Secretary Powell had talked to him. Can you elaborate at all as to whether -- you know, how the U.S. is part of these consultations? Has the Secretary been told privately by Mr. Annan a little more about how he sizes up the situation?
This may go on for some time, so I wonder how the U.S. dovetails with the UN on this one.
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, as a member of the Security Council and the Coalition Authority, we have been in close touch with the Secretary General's office throughout. You'll remember that when the Secretary General began to look at this issue again he asked Ambassador Bremer, the head of the Coalition Authority, in fact, to come to New York along with the representatives of the Governing Council in January. And that we were happy to do, and throughout this last month or so we've been in close touch with him. The Secretary has talked to him very often and very directly about the issues involved.
The discussion at this point, because the United Nations is still formulating their ideas, the discussion has been fairly general. Mr. Brahimi, when he was in Iraq, had talks with many segments of Iraqi society and also had extensive discussions with the Coalition Authority, of course, while he was out there. The Secretary General and the Secretary did talk yesterday, as I said, and talked about some of the elements involved that had to be looked at as the UN tries to formulate their ideas.
But I think the UN itself has said that today is really more the beginning of the discussion between Mr. Brahimi and the Secretary General, that they are looking at the results of the trip, considering the ideas, and that they'll have to consider those, some of the reporting, I said, may be some days or a week before they're able to come back to us with specific recommendations, proposal or suggestions.
QUESTION: Does Mr. Annan's confirmation of his previously stated view and the U.S. view that July 1, you can't have, really, you can't go through all the mechanics of setting up an election before then -- does that help in any way, does that help the United States in any way to make preparations for this transition? Do you feel bolstered in some way? What does this do for your expectations in Iraq for self-rule?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it confirms a judgment that they have expressed before, but also a judgment that was implicit in the decisions we made last fall when we and the Governing Council put together the November 15th plan for transfer of sovereignty and then elections after that. That is why we came up with the proposal we did. If we had thought it was feasible to have elections on the short time frame, then obviously that would have been the preferable way to go.
So as the UN looks at ideas and suggestions that they might make, I guess that sort of frames the issue of what they're able to look at, what they're able to recommend, since it's just objectively not possible to put together elections by June 30th, and we all remain firm in our determination to try to achieve the transfer of sovereignty to a transitional government in Iraq of Iraqis.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: A high-level U.S. official said yesterday to Japanese media that United States will accept the idea of Taiwan to have a referendum with conditions; that is, only if the status quo remains the same. Does that mean you've softened your position on Taiwan's referendum?
MR. BOUCHER: Who was it said that?
QUESTION: I suppose it's in White House background briefing.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh. You'd have to ask at the White House. I --
QUESTION: Because it's different from --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on the referendum.
QUESTION: -- what Secretary Powell said earlier. It's different.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I -- we've said we would look at the questions being posed and the context in which they were posed. I don't really have anything new at this point for you.
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: The President of Taiwan, he said that even if the referendum is rejected next month, he will still push ahead the plan to buy more anti-missile weapon from the United States. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I don't comment on weapons sales.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Iran. Some reports that the IAEA found new centrifuge parts in Iran, which are not in line with what Iran has already declared. Perhaps some of these were found at an air force base?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to be in a position to confirm what the IAEA may or may not have found. We are all looking forward to the report that the Director General of the IAEA and his team will put together for the Board of Governors. I think the last decision of the Board of Governors was that that would be done some time in mid-February, so we would expect that report soon, and it'll be that report plus any additional information the Board will have to consider when it gets together on March 8 - 10.
The kind of reports we're seeing, though, and what we would hope to see in terms of a complete report from the Director General and his people, I think, indicate once again what we have been saying, that we do not believe that Iran was fully transparent in its October declaration. We have said that we believe that Iran is continuing to hide information from the International Atomic Energy Agency. You know, and the President, in his speech last week said that A.Q. Khan and his associates provided Iran with designs not only for older centrifuges, but for more advanced models as well. And so that's germane to the kind of information I'm seeing reported in the press right now.
So we -- we'll look forward to hearing -- to seeing the report from the Director General. We hope it will inform the Board of Governors fully of what the inspectors have found in their ongoing investigations so that the Board can judge whether Iran's meeting its promises and decide what's the appropriate action to take.
QUESTION: Do you have reason to believe that if A.Q. Khan had supplied Libya with all of this material that Iran would have the same -- was privy to the same technology, designs, information, that Libya was?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I don't know that I would be able to answer that question but those who are investigating the activities of Mr. Khan and those who are looking into the acquisitions by these countries will have to determine what the facts are, and at that point they can make some comparison. But I don't think, as a matter of principle, there's any way to make an easy comparison, now.
QUESTION: One more question. If you're saying -- if you believe that Iran has not been fully transparent and has been in violation of previous resolutions where it declared it would be transparent, do you think it's time that this matter is referred to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: We think the Board needs to look at this and take appropriate action. I'm not in a position right now to predict what that action should be. We want all the facts to come out.
The investigation is still ongoing. We may find that IAEA inspectors are going to continue their investigations. There are probably a number of areas that they're going to want to follow up on. So let's see what they can report to us now and -- well, in the written report and then at the Board of Governors meeting, and that will help determine what the Board of Governors can do in this situation.
Remember, the goal is to get Iranian compliance with its commitments, Iranian compliance with its obligations, and so the Board will need to look at it in that context.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, according to Associated Press, in a lecture, "suggested Americans should stay home from the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, because of the high potential for terrorist attack."
Do you agree with that, or if you have any comment?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the situation in regard to the Olympics remains the same. We've said before and say again today, that we have every confidence that Greece has the will and the resources to hold a secure and successful Olympics this year. Greece continues to work with several countries, including the United States, to ensure the full safety of the Olympic Games. We have offered expertise and resources of several of our agencies to Greece in order to ensure Olympic security and we are providing both equipment and training toward that end.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq for a minute? Granted, Brahimi has just reported to the Secretary General, but by any chance has Secretary Powell received a private -- received privately Annan's assessment of what the situation is? I mean, it's only a few hours, but there's a chance they talked. Did they? They talked yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary hasn't spoken to the Secretary General yet today.
QUESTION: Will he speak to him today?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. All I can tell you is, as of this moment, he's not spoken to him.
QUESTION: Any other interesting calls?
MR. BOUCHER: Every call is interesting.
QUESTION: Any other call of any kind?
MR. BOUCHER: In the last few days, of course, he's been talking to Foreign Secretary Straw, he's been talking to Danish Foreign Minister Moller. I think yesterday -- yesterday he talked to Danish Foreign Minister Moller again. He's been in touch with Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez because we have the upcoming --
QUESTION: Is that --
MR. BOUCHER: He's been talking to Foreign Minister Derbez and the French Foreign Minister as well. I think I went through some of those calls with you already. Today I don't have any phone calls, but that's generally the people he's been keeping in touch with.
QUESTION: Should we relate the Danish conference, at least in part, conversation to the transfer?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yeah, yeah. He's talked to him several times this week about the transfer and the situation in Guantanamo. He talked -- worked that with the Danish Foreign Minister as, indeed, our lawyers and people responsible were working with the details of the matter. Both he and Foreign Minister kept in close touch with each other on what was going on.
Similarly, he's been working with Foreign Secretary Straw on the British cases for some time. Remember that the British cases were a matter of discussion between the President and Prime Minister Blair, especially during the President's visit to Britain, and so the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State have been implementing the decisions, the guidance that they got from their leaders, on this matter.
QUESTION: Change the subject?
MR. BOUCHER: No, not yet. One, two.
QUESTION: Is getting North Korea to deal with or at least acknowledge the HEU program the make-or-break issue of the six-party talks, at least for the U.S.?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not writing headlines here. It's a very important issue because as we move forward under the understanding that everybody reached in previous rounds that we were going -- that we were seeking a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, and that means that we need to eliminate all the nuclear weapons programs and activities. That's been our goal, and we want to do that in a complete manner, which means all the activities have to be eliminated, and you can't do that unless you identify them. So it is important to make progress in this round, that we identify the activities and we start talking about how to eliminate them in a verifiable and irreversible manner.
The United States has made clear that we're willing to do our part in terms of providing, along with the other governments involved, the security assurances so that North Korea can do that without feeling threatened.
But if we're going to make progress in this round, the parties need to come to table with an open and honest attitude about the activities and a willingness to discuss how those goals can be achieved.
QUESTION: And there were divergences between Washington and Beijing earlier about to freeze or to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program and whether the alleged HEU program exists. Are China and U.S. leaders --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I know there were press reports of things like that. There was really not, not a problem there.
On the question of freeze, we've made clear a freeze might be valuable. It might be something that the North Koreans might put forward, but that we would certainly listen to and look at, but that the goal -- that was not our goal. Our goal was to eliminate these programs, and indeed, if all the parties accept the goal of a denuclearized peninsula, there's no way to do that without eliminating all these programs. I think all the parties have recognized that goal and therefore it strikes me as logic that whatever the value of a freeze as a step along the way, that the goal had to be elimination.
On the question of North Korea's HEU enrichment activities, I'd refer you first and foremost to the speech that Ambassador Kelly, Assistant Secretary Jim Kelly gave last Friday, and we have text of that available to people.
We all know that North Korea, when confronted with the facts of the matter, acknowledged it to us in Pyongyang -- in Beijing, and that subsequently they didn't say much. Then they began denying they said it, and then they, at some points, have denied they had the program. But I think perhaps other countries have said they don't have independent information to verify that program, but I think everybody knows the facts of the matter as they transpired with North Korea. And that's recounted again in the speech by Assistant Secretary Kelly.
QUESTION: And is the U.S. now going to offer economic aid or security assurance at the same time --
MR. BOUCHER: The position on that remains the same. If you want to discuss these matters further, there'll be a senior official available to you in less than an hour to discuss these as long as you want.
One more in the back.
QUESTION: Can you share with us what the Secretary thought about the film Osama?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, but later. I think there's a quote in the newspaper that's what he thought about it. I don't have it with me, so I can't read it to you now.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 p.m. EST)
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