'Ultimately It Would Be Useful For All Five Of The Legitimate Nuclear-Weapons States To Participate [In Talks With North Korea': US Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Press Conference, Beijing, July 28.
John R. Bolton, US Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, Press Conference at the USS Embassy in Beijing, July 28.
Question: Did you discuss...[with the Chinese government] the possibility of Russian participation in North Korean future talk... Does America agree that Russia could also participate?
Undersecretary Bolton: Yes, we did discuss that and it's been our view that Russia should participate in multilateral discussions about the North Korean nuclear weapons program. In fact, we think that ultimately it would be useful for all five of the legitimate nuclear weapons states to participate. ...
Question: Among the things that have been reported recently is that the US is prepared to give North Korea some sort of security guarantee and that the US may agree to another round of three party talks if they're immediately followed by five party talks. Are those reports accurate or are they not accurate?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, I think the United States position has been stated by the President and it has been the case for quite some time that we have no intention of an invasion of North Korea and are prepared to say that, as Secretary Powell had said, in a piece of paper. I don't really think that's the issue. It's certainly not the issue that people should be focused on. What people should be focused on is North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Question: ... There were reports regarding the formats of the future meetings. There were reports that it would be arranged in two phases. The first phase would be three participants, as it was in April. And, immediately after this phase it would be the six participants of the meeting. Can you confirm it?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, as I said before, there are a lot of reports about a lot of things some of which have only slight relationship to reality. The issue is not ultimately what the shape of the talks is. The issue is how we're going to get on a multilateral basis North Korea's nuclear program dismantled in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way. We're prepared, and we've said we're prepared, in a variety of multilateral formats that begin discussions as to how we're going to accomplish that objective. I think that, for us, is the focus and has been from the outset. ...
Question: [Did you talk to the Chinese government] about nuclear proliferation involving arm sales, sales of arms to Iran and...[did you ask] the Chinese for more safeguards or measures to insure that it doesn't happen anymore?
Undersecretary Bolton: You mean Chinese sales to Iran? Well, we discussed a variety of recent sanctions decisions that the United States government made and the reasons why, under our statutes and executive orders, we make sanctions decisions against entities that engage in such sales. We expressed our desire that this kind of outward proliferation behavior should cease because of the destabilizing effect it has in the region and the contribution that it makes to Iran's ongoing ballistic missile program. Which, when you couple with their ongoing clandestine nuclear weapons program, is a cause of great concern to the United States and many other countries. ...
Question: Mr. Bolton, I'm just wondering is there any line in the sand that the US - how far and how long is the US government prepared to keep talking about this issue with North Korea? Is there any line in the sand where the United States might envision using military force against North Korea? And, just considering that Iraq and the issue of North Korea have both been involved to some extent with weapons of mass destruction, how come the approach to North Korea in focusing on talks has been so different to the approach on Iraq?
Undersecretary Bolton: To answer your second question first, because North Korea is not Iraq. The context is very different. The circumstances are very different. And, the history has been very different. I think President Bush has made it clear for quite some time that what we seek here, in the case of North Korea, is the peaceful dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. That has been his charge to us from the outset and it remains our objective and it's what we've discussed here today.
Question: ... When you bring up the issue of [the] Proliferation Security Initiative [PSI], what is the Chinese reaction? Are they positive about that or not? And my second question is, do you think the attendance of Russia in the meeting about North Korean issue, would it accelerate the momentum of the meeting or not?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, our discussions about the Proliferation Security Initiative were in the nature of my briefing the Chinese about where the international negotiations on the initiatives stood. And, as I said to them, it's a little bit like a chicken and an egg problem since our discussions with the other ten countries that have joined with us in this initiative [Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK] are not finished. So, I didn't have final conclusions to report, here in Beijing today. But, at the same time, I wanted to be able to give them the thinking of the eleven partners in the PSI, who announced at their first meeting in Madrid that they were prepared to conduct interdictions of international shipments of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. And, who at their second meeting at Brisbane moved a long way toward making that political resolve operational by agreeing, for example, to conduct interdiction exercises for the next several months; by identifying the particular concerns that the eleven countries had of rogue states and terrorist groups that were seeking the weapons of mass destruction and naming Iran and North Korea, in particular; and, by explaining some of the obligations and responsibilities that the eleven countries participating in it - the initiative - felt that they had as flag states or coastal states or trans-shipment states; dealing with maritime authorities, but relating as well to the possibility of interdictions in the air and over land. So, really what we wanted to do was convey some better sense to the Chinese as to the progress that the eleven nations participating in the PSI had been making toward identifying what they were prepared to interdict, against whom they were prepared to interdict it, and to delineate some of the circumstances in which some of the interdictions would take place. The Chinese side had a number of questions. That is basically the way we left it. ...
Question: [D]id the Chinese say anything about possibly participating in a UN Security Council statement that would urge Pyongyang to rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]? And, two, did the Chinese respond to the Norinco Corporation? That was the corporation that the State Department a few months ago put on the list allegedly selling missiles, or missile parts to Iraq; did that come up?
Undersecretary Bolton: Not allegedly - they were selling missile components.
Question: Did the Chinese respond to that allegation and did they make any commitment?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, on the second question, they had previously said they didn't think that the transaction in question had taken place. We're quite convinced that the basis for the sanctions was correct. We did discuss this question of the sanctions as I mentioned a moment ago. And in terms of the discussion of possible action in the Security Council, we certainly did discuss that. It has been our view for some time that it's appropriate to have the question of the North Korean nuclear weapons programs discussed in the Security Council, as the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency overwhelmingly concluded, when they referred the matter to the Security Council, that it did amount to a threat to international peace and security. Now, the question of how action in the Council might be affected by other diplomatic efforts is something that we have had extensive discussions with China and other countries about, and we see it as two alternative tracks; that we would like to make progress towards eliminating the North Korean weapons program, and the Security Council certainly strikes us as one place where appropriate multilateral discussions could take place. There may be other tracks as well, we'll have to see.
Question: Mr. Bolton, is the US Government committed to a peaceful dialogue in addressing the North Korean nuclear issue?
Undersecretary Bolton: The United States is committed to the peaceful elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and we have engaged in multilateral discussions with North Korea. We're prepared for multilateral discussions, but let's be clear: they will be multilateral, because the North Korean nuclear weapons program is a threat, not just to the United States, but to the countries of Northeast Asia, and indeed, because of North Korea's proliferation record, to the world as a whole. ...
Question: Can you tell us what your assessment is of how helpful the Chinese have been on these issues, particularly North Korea? And, what else could they do to be more helpful?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, I think the Chinese government has devoted a lot of attention and effort toward the question of getting multilateral negotiations underway. We've considered those efforts very important, and I'm not sure that there is anything else specifically that we could think of that the government here could do that they haven't already tried. That's not the question; the question is whether and when North Korea is going to take the steps necessary to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
Question: China is doing what it can, and that's a lot, according to what you have just told us. But what else; what other levers do you have? China is North Korea's most important ally. If this most important ally is doing what arm-twisting they can, what's Plan B? What else can you do?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, as I said, I think there are several tracks that we are pursuing. One, the possibility of resumed multilateral negotiations under Chinese auspices. Second, proceeding in the Security Council, as the Security Council is authorized to do, in a good multilateral fashion to deal with this threat to international peace and security. And third, through other steps that we've taken such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, to deny North Korea the hard currency earnings that it uses to fund the nuclear weapons program to begin with. So, we're certainly pursuing a variety of diplomatic options, but we're pursuing other options as well.
Question: ... Did you get any sense from the Chinese, I realize this isn't an easy one to answer, but do they seem to have any intelligence on North Korea's nuclear capability that other countries may not have? I realize you can't spell it out, but can you characterize the value of what they may know?
Undersecretary Bolton: That's okay, they didn't spell it out to us either. Well, I think there's no disagreement among the countries most concerned by the North Korean program that they're pursuing nuclear weapons, both through the route of reprocessing spent fuel to extract plutonium, and through the uranium-enrichment route. That really is not the issue. The issue is how one would believe reliably a North Korean commitment to eliminate that program in an irreversible fashion. We've discussed a variety of aspects of that, including the question of verification, which we think would be central to any conclusion that resulted in the North Korean program being eliminated. I think there may well be aspects that China could be helpful on there at an appropriate point.
Question: Following up on the [possibility of a] Security Council [statement]... Previously the Chinese have said that this would not be a helpful avenue to resolve this issue. Have they changed that position at all in this process?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, I think our position has been that the five Permanent Members of the Council, who are also the five legitimate nuclear weapons states, have to look at the Council as an alternative, as an option for proceeding, or otherwise face the marginalization of the Security Council on this critical issue. If there are other ways in which the multilateral negotiations could proceed, we're certainly open to that. We've demonstrated that by the range of proposals that we've said are acceptable to us as forums where these multilateral negotiations can proceed: 2+3, 2+4, Permanent Five+5, Permanent Five+4, so on, and so forth, including the trilateral negotiations, such as were hosted by China. So, there's no doubt we have been flexible in looking for alternatives. But ultimately if the Security Council is to remain a venue where these kinds of issues can be addressed, not being able to address the North Korean issue would be a grave impairment of the Council, and would mean that it was not only incapable of addressing North Korea, but might well be impaired from addressing other proliferation issues, or other threats to international peace and security as well. So, those who say the Security Council is not the appropriate place to go have to take into account the impact of their statements on the long-term significance and potential role of the Council in a variety of disputes.
Question: How do you talk with China today about Japan's role in next multilateral talks on DPRK's nuclear issue?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, we've said we favor the inclusion of both South Korea and Japan and Russia, and others, as I've said. We've said several times before, that there aren't going to be substantive discussions until South Korea and Japan are included. They have a vital stake in the resolution of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, and the idea that substantive discussion and substantive progress on the issue could be made without them being present to speak on behalf of their own equities, I think, is just a non-starter. ...
Question: What would be the role of Russian attendance at the meeting to solve the nuclear issue?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, I think Russia's attendance is warranted because it is a major power in the region, and is therefore directly affected by the actions North Korea takes. Russia has a historic relationship with North Korea that could make it a very important factor in convincing North Korea that it has to abandon its nuclear weapons program. And, as both a Permanent Member of the Security Council, and one of the five legitimate nuclear weapons states, I think that's also a substantial argument for Russia's participation. I don't see that there's any disagreement between us and Russia over that possibility. I think this is something that is going to happen inevitably, if there is to be a diplomatic solution. I don't see that we're making progress by denying entry into the negotiations by countries that have a legitimate and substantial stake in the outcome. ...
Question: I was wondering if you could tell us what your understanding is of the extent...[of] Pakistani missile and nuclear proliferation with respect to North Korea...
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, the Pakistanis have assured us that they are not cooperating with North Korea on either ballistic missile or nuclear weapons programs. They've given that assurance directly to Secretary Powell, and we take them at their word.
Question: If China is doing everything that it can do, and it has already done what you think it could do, how much more influence does it have? Are you starting to question how much influence Beijing actually has over North Korea?
Undersecretary Bolton: I'm sorry, in saying that, I was addressing the question of what else they could do diplomatically to bring the North Koreans into a multilateral negotiation. I don't think there's any question that China's influence beyond that is substantial, given that it supplies between 70% and 90% of North Korea's fuel needs, and provides substantial additional humanitarian assistance as well. That's a point we've made in our discussions with China many times.
Question: I just wanted to follow up on the question about China's attitude towards talking about the issue in the Security Council. Has their position changed on that, and what did they have to say about that today?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, I think their view is that there's a prospect for further discussions following on to the April conversations. It's not that we're pressing one alternative as opposed to the other. What we are saying is that the Security Council is now seized with this matter. It has been referred by the IAEA. And, that if there's progress on one or another diplomatic front, there's no particular need or urgency for the Council to act now. But the Council's ability and willingness to address this question at an appropriate time is an important test for the Security Council. If it's not able to pass that test, it will obviously have an impact, not only on the North Korean situation, but on the Council's future role in other crises as well. ...
Question: When you say multilateral talks, do you have an exact number of parties that should be involved in these talks, less than which you cannot agree, and can you name them please?
Undersecretary Bolton: Well, we've been very flexible in the range of multilateral options that we've been willing to consider and employ. We've gone as low as three, as we did in April, below which you cannot go any more and still be multilateral. And we've gone as high as ten in the Permanent Five+5 proposal. There may be other formulations as well. This is not, I want to stress, a process point. This is a point that goes to the central threat posed by the North Korean weapons program, and the reason why, in addressing it and hopefully eliminating it, it's important to have broad participation. North Korea benefited in the 1993-1994 Agreed Framework by making it seem as if this were an issue with the United States alone, where it manifestly is not. The threat posed by the North Korean program extends to all the countries that are present in this region, and globally as well, and so that, since this is really a fully international problem, is why we believe that, from the outset, it has to be addressed in an appropriate multilateral forum.
Source: Bolton Says Talks with N. Korea Will Be Multilateral, US Department of State, Washington File, http://usinfo.state.gov/usinfo/products/washfile.html, July 31.
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