Bolton Sums up Arms Control Efforts at Tokyo Press Conference

Press Conference with Under Secretary of State John R. Bolton
U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, Japan
February 19, 2004

U/S BOLTON: Thank you for coming out today. I've been here in Tokyo for two days of consultations on a broad array of non-proliferation and international security matters. In particular, I was following up on President Bush's very important speech on Wednesday of last week at our National Defense University, where he addressed the problems of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and in particular the unraveling of the black market network of Dr. A.Q. Khan of Pakistan. I think one of the reasons that the President wanted to go through the explanation of what Khan's network did and how it supplied Libya, Iran and North Korea with uranium enrichment and other weapons-related technologies was to show the nature of the proliferation problem as it exists around the world today, and also to provide a context for the seven specific proposals that the President made to address it, all of which we have discussed at some length here in Japan, including expanding! the President's own initiative, the Proliferation Security initiative, which is off to a very rapid start around the world, and which has had an impact already in the Libyan decision to renounce its WMD programs and long range ballistic missiles. We also talked about the expansion of the G-8 Global Partnership, which was created at the Kananaskis G-8 summit two years ago, and which will be one of the issues along with others proliferation questions that are one of the main areas of emphasis at the Sea Islands Summit, where President Bush will host Prime Minister Koizumi and the other G-8 leaders this summer.

We talked about the President's ideas to close the loopholes in the nuclear non-proliferation regime to prevent the spread of the dangerous technologies involving uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing that enabled states to get very substantially along the nuclear fuel cycle toward a nuclear weapons capability, as well as some of President's other ideas for strengthening the capacity of the international system to deal with the problem of WMD proliferation.

We also obviously talked about the dramatic developments in Libya, which has reversed years of a policy pursuing weapons of mass destruction in order to renounce those weapons, having come to the conclusion that they would be more secure without the weapons than with them. We talked about Iran, we talked about North Korea and we talked about a range of other issues as well. So perhaps, with that, let me just stop, and I'd be delighted to try to answer any questions you may have.

QUESTION: Ryan Nakashima of AFP. You told NHK in an interview broadcast last night that North Korea's unwillingness to discuss their uranium enrichment program could subvert President Bush's determination to resolve the nuclear crisis through diplomacy. Does that mean that the U.S. would consider the use of force or sanctions? Could you expand in your comments?

U/S BOLTON: The President has been very clear for well over a year that he seeks a multilateral diplomatic solution to the problem of the North Korean nuclear weapons programs. He seeks the peaceful elimination of that program, and we have a devised a formula that I think is going to be shared by the government of Japan and others in the six party talks. We want the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. Now, North Korea has pursued, in our judgment, two routes toward a nuclear weapons capability, one a plutonium route and the other the uranium-enrichment route. So to say, as the government of North Korea has done since first admitting that they had a nuclear enrichment capability and then denying it later, to say they're not going to discuss it means that you can't reach the issue of complete dismantlement, let alone verification if they don't admit that it exists. The issue of how to pursue the six! party talks if North Korea persists in that position, I think, is going to be an issue we're going to have to address. But in our view, to get all the issues out on the table, rather than try to limit the number of issues, as North Korea appears to be doing in number of respects, is going to be a very important diplomatic aspect of the talks.

QUESTION: Satoru Suzuki, TV Asahi. Mr. Secretary, I am wondering of how the United States is going to address the issue of the abductions by North Korea in the forthcoming six party talks. What's your goal as far as the abduction case is concerned? Do you believe that the abductions by North Korea are acts of terrorism? Is it possible that the State Department will specifically mention the abductions by North Korea in its report on state sponsored terrorism, which is due out late in the spring?

U/S BOLTON: Well, bear in the mind, we have said, the President has said, that there is the possibility of a completely new relationship between North Korea and the United States if North Korea will deal with our concerns on its nuclear weapons program, but also its chemical weapons program, its biological weapons program, its human rights violations in North Korea, and the disposition of conventional forces on the Korean peninsula, among other issues. And I think in the last round of six party talks, the question of the North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens was something that was raised by both the United States and Japan, I think most predominately by Japan. I think that's appropriate. It's Japanese citizens who have been kidnapped, and the United States is going to stand very firmly with Japan in its position on how to deal with the abduction question. There shouldn't be any doubt on that point. I think kidnapping is an act of terrorism. I don't see h! ow you can describe it any other way. Whether it will appear as such in the report, on the annual publication of the list of state sponsors of terrorism, I couldn't say, but certainly from the perspective of any government's responsibilities to protect its citizens when another government is kidnapping them, that's something that they can only deal with in the most serious way, as the government of Japan has consistently dealt with that issue since the North Koreans admitted doing the kidnappings, along with admitting having a uranium enrichment program.

QUESTION: Joe Palmer with Associated Press. There have been some reports out of South Korea that the North Koreans are expressing some willingness to discuss the uranium issue. Have you heard any of this, and do you consider it a hopeful sign?

U/S BOLTON: Well, I have seen the press reports, and with all due respect to members of the press, sometimes they're accurate and sometimes they're not. I think the real question is what the North Koreans say next week. I must say it's hard to describe that as a sign of progress. I mean, imagine the mindset you're looking at - North Korea admits to discuss reality, and we call that progress. Maybe it is progress.

QUESTION: Mitsuru Obe of the Jiji Press news agency. China was apparently behind the proliferation of nuclear technology to countries like North Korea and Pakistan. What do you think is the motive of China behind this proliferation drive? Why did that country want to spread that technology? China recently appears to be more cooperative towards nonproliferation. Does that represent a change of heart on the part of China, or is that just a trick?

U/S BOLTON: Well, China has said very explicitly to us that they have not engaged in any assistance to the North Korean nuclear weapons program, and we don't have any reason not to take that statement at face value. We have long been concerned about external Chinese proliferation activity in the nuclear field and the missile field, and it's one reason why some time ago President Jiang Zemin and President Bush decided that our two countries should have a strategic dialogue on that question and others. I was just in Beijing earlier this week having the third session of that dialogue on strategic issues. So we are continuing to work with the government of China. There have been various reports associated with A. Q. Khan's activities, specifically with respect to weapons designs and where that information may have come from. I'm not going to comment on that at this point, but I think this is something that demonstrates the gravity of this international black market ! in nuclear weapons technology and weapons of mass destruction generally. It's a very sophisticated operation. It's highly camouflaged, difficult to detect, it doesn't all necessarily come from states that have WMD technology. Therefore, I think we've learned not to draw conclusions too quickly about what the source of some of this material is, but to analyze it and to work with all the governments involved to try to reduce the international trafficking. That's why the cooperation, for example, of the government of Japan on the proliferation security initiative has been so important, and why we have continued to discuss PSI with governments like China and Russia, to try and persuade them of the merits of PSI and get them more actively involved in our ongoing interdiction efforts.

QUESTION: Lindsay Whipp from Bloomberg News. I have a question concerning a Japanese oil company's announcement today that they were going to invest in developing the uranium oil field in Azadegan. The U.S. has already said that they were not really in agreement with this, given your concerns about the nuclear weapons program in Iran. Did you have any talks today concerning that, and how is this going to affect your relationship with Japan concerning nonproliferation?

U/S BOLTON: We've had a number of conversations over the past two days about Azadegan and the agreement that was signed. I think the United States has given its position on this agreement before. Let me address the implications in the area of proliferation. I am very confident that the view of Japan and the United States on the Iranian nuclear weapons program is essentially the same, and I am not at all concerned that this decision will weaken our cooperation in ensuring that Iran is held to account of its obligations under the nonproliferation treaty and under the resolutions of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. And I would just note Prime Minister Koizumi's statement earlier today, which I think in the nuclear proliferation area is precisely in line with American thinking, so I'm not troubled by it at all.

QUESTION: I am Ishiguro from Yomiuri newspaper. A recent Washington Post report indicated that the design of the nuclear explosive device that was obtained in Libya and that is right now in the hands of U.S. authorities was the size of 1000 pounds, in other words, it was 450 kilograms. The design was originated from Dr. Kahn. Do you confirm that point, especially about the size of that device? In that case, is it also probable that the same design was transferred to North Korea and that it was already incorporated in their own explosive device that could be a perfect fit as a warhead for the Nodong?

U/S BOLTON: Well, I'm not going to comment here on anything with respect to the contents of the weapons design documents that we received from the government of Libya. They are under analysis. We have discussed the weapons design documents with the IAEA and with the British. I think we will be taking appropriate action based on a further analysis, but I really don't want to get into the specifics here today because I think more work needs to be done on this.

QUESTION: My name is Yumiko Asada from Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Japan has just passed a legislation allowing to put sanctions on North Korea, and also considering banning North Korean ships. Would you encourage Japan to go ahead with these threats to put more pressure on North Korea?

U/S BOLTON: I think the question of what sanctions authority the Diet wants to grant to the government is obviously a domestic question here. My understanding of the statute already enacted and some of the bills that are under consideration is that it authorizes the government to make sanctions decisions based on national security concerns, and at least in broad strokes that is authority very similar to the sanctions authority that the government of the United States possesses. Our judgment is that judiciously applied sanctions can have a very important impact in the realm of non-proliferation, and I think to the extent that Japanese authorities are now becoming more consistent with American authorities, I think it enhances the possibility for joint action, for cooperation in the international sanctions field, and I have to say that's a very positive step.

QUESTION: I'm Ichinose with NHK. I have a question about the nuclear black market. There are some reports that a Japanese company is involved in this network. Have you discussed this matter with Japanese authorities?

U/S BOLTON: One of the attributes of the black market in WMD technology is that firms that are very skilled technologically and sophisticated can find themselves unwittingly involved in the export of technology that can be used for nuclear or other WMD purposes. I think you have to be very careful before you assume that the firm itself is witting in this sort of trafficking. Now having said that, the United States has a very comprehensive system of export controls, as does Japan, and we take these law enforcement obligations very seriously, as does Japan. But no law enforcement system is perfect, and it could be that exports have taken place without the appropriate licenses, or that the licenses were not properly applied for. There are a variety of circumstances that we could think about. That's one of the reasons that the international black market is as difficult to break through as it is, because the variety of sources that proliferators can go to is so large! . There may be other reports. We may hear reports of equipment from other countries in Europe, from the United States. Nothing would surprise me given the depth and complexity of this black market. I think we have to work our way through it, and I think we have to learn from the information that becomes available to us, both in the case of Libya and in the case of A.Q. Khan, to make our various efforts to reduce proliferation more effective - our national legislation, our export control regimes, the proliferation security initiative, and a range of others as well.

QUESTION: Amy Bickers, Voice Of America. Could you please outline your expectations for the upcoming round of six-party talks?

U/S BOLTON: Well, they are going to be held in Beijing on February 25th. I think the real issue here is what North Korea says. I think the United States and Japan and others have made their positions pretty clear. What we'd like to see is the strategic decision by North Korea that it's going to give up its nuclear weapons programs - all of its nuclear weapons programs. What follows from that, both in terms of substantive developments in the talks and procedural developments in the talks, will have to depend on the attitude that North Korea brings. It's not a question of being optimistic or pessimistic. It's a question of being realistic. And since the responsibility really lies with North Korea, until we actually hear what they have to say, I don't think we can really prognosticate about the likely outcome. The President has been very clear - we want to pursue a diplomatic solution through this multi-lateral mechanism. And that's what we'll continue to do.

QUESTION: Sachiko Sakamaki with the Washington Post. What's your evaluation from Japanese officials' response to the Bush initiative trying to enforce the non-proliferation, such as cooperation of law enforcement and also, I believe, that you want to expand more nations to come to join PSI - what is your feeling after the meeting with Japanese officials?

U/S BOLTON: Japan has been a key participant in the Proliferation Security Initiative since President Bush announced it on May 31st of last year. They've been involved in all of the meetings of the diplomatic core group, beginning in Madrid in June. They've participated in the meetings of the working groups on intelligence and operations. Japan has participated through sending one of its Coast Guard ships to the very first operational exercise, Pacific Protector, which was lead by the Australians in the Coral Sea in the fall of last year. Japan has undertaken a series of activities with countries in the Asian region to work with them to build up their export control regimes and their national capacities to explain what PSI is about and to encourage their participation. I think one of the positive outcomes of all that is in Lisbon we will welcome three new full members into PSI - Canada, Norway, but also Singapore. I think that's very significant, to have anothe! r Asian country as a core group member, and we're looking forward to that. I also want to say PSI is a different kind of initiative than a traditional international organization. We have a saying - PSI is an activity, not an organization. PSI is an activity, not an organization. So what we really want are countries to cooperate with us - in the intelligence area, in the military area, in the law enforcement area - to help us interdict trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and WMD related materials. So a lot of activity can go on and has been going on - in Asia, in South Asia, in Europe, Middle East - to work together to try and dry up this trafficking in WMD materials. That's very important whether countries formally join the organization or the activity or not.

QUESTION: My name is Ikuko Higuchi, the Yomiuri Shimbun. I have a question about PSI. How many more countries would you expect to join it? For example, are there any efforts going on for the participation of China and South Korea?

U/S BOLTON: I think our expectation is in terms of the core group. I don't think we're going to get much larger than 15-20. I think one of the real advantages of keeping it small is that it allows us to be more flexible. But we have received already over sixty public statements of support by governments around the world for the statement of interdiction principals that we announced in Paris last fall, and actively joined with us to prepare for and conduct PSI interdictions. I think we've already explained one of the interdictions that was very successful - the shipment of uranium centrifuge equipment down for Libya, that through the cooperation of Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom was diverted, and the information used to help persuade the Libyans to make their decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction. So I think all of this activity has been proceeding, and with really a great deal of rapidity in diplomatic terms. But it's also one of the reasons w! hy the President, in his speech last week, felt it important to suggest that PSI be expanded, not just to engage in interdiction efforts to stop the movement, the trafficking of the WMD materials, but as he said to demolish their laboratories, dry up their financial flows, and in general try to look at the entire spectrum of WMD activity that would enable us to take more vigorous steps to stop this trafficking, and where we can't stop it to raise the political and economic cost to proliferators. I think that was one of the real consequences of the interdiction with respect to Libya that I mentioned, and an important factor in allowing Libya to come to the conclusion that this pursuit of weapons of mass destruction was not in its national interest.

QUESTION: Yutaka Ishiguro of Yomiuri newspaper. About the proliferation of Dr. Khan. The authority of Pakistan's government is always denying its own involvement in Dr. Khan's activity, and the military also denied its involvement. How credible, in your assessment, are these claims?

U/S BOLTON: President Musharraf fired A.Q. Khan as head of the Khan research laboratories about three and a half years ago, which is a pretty good indication of, I think, where President Musharraf stands. We have been in discussions with him. Secretary Powell has spoken with President Musharraf several times over the course of the administration about how strongly we feel about not having any outward proliferation activities, particularly on the nuclear front. From Pakistan, President Musharraf has repeatedly assured us that no one . . . he doesn't, and his government, does not sanction any of this activity, and we take him at his word on that. I think he has handled Dr. Khan, and Dr. Khan's confession on public television in Pakistan about his proliferation activities, extremely well. I think we are looking forward to additional information about Khan's activities, which I think in respect of North Korea and Iran and possibly other countries is going to be qui! te important in stemming the tide of WMD proliferation activities.

Thank you very much.