Ambassador Schieffer holds Embassy press conference on DPRK missile launches

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer
Press Conference on North Korean Missile Launch
U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

July 5, 2006

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We're on the record this afternoon with Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer. The ambassador will make a short statement, and then he'll take your questions. When you ask questions, please come to the microphones in the front so that the interpreters can hear the question and interpret it properly. And that goes for follow-ups too - please come back and ask your follow-up at the microphones. With that, Ambassador Schieffer.

AMBASSASDOR SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Mike. Well, I saw many of you earlier this morning, and I told you I would try to keep you updated on what we're doing throughout the day. So I wanted to visit with you this afternoon to let you know how much the United States appreciates the cooperation that we have received from the government of Japan. We have literally been talking to each other on a minute-by-minute basis throughout the day, not only at the highest levels - Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Aso visited today - but at the working level and here at the Embassy, as well as US Forces Japan, Pacific Command in Hawaii and in Washington, have all been really knit up together with our Japanese counterparts. And I think that the information that we have shared shows the depth of the relationship that we have developed, and I think it has been to our mutual benefit. And again, I just want to thank the government of Japan for sharing the information that they have with us. We have tried to share information with them, really, at an unprecedented level. And again, I think it has worked to the mutual benefit of both our countries.

With that, I'd be glad to answer any questions that you might have.

MODERATOR: When you ask a question, please, if you could give your name and your association.

QUESTION: Mike Firn from Bloomberg News. Shinzo Abe said today Japan will consider all forms of sanctions against North Korea in reaction to this. The ferry's been stopped for six months. North Korea said it considers sanctions an act of war. I wonder what the US view is on that and what you're saying to the Japanese about your view. And also, could you give an idea of Christopher Hill's visit? When he'll be here, who he'll be talking to?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, I think Chris Hill is going to visit the region. I'm going to leave it up to his office to give his itinerary on that, but I expect him to be out here in the not-too-distant future. With regard to ... I'm sorry, the first part again?

QUESTION: Sanctions.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Sanctions. I think what we are discussing is the appropriate response that needs to be made to this. We obviously think this is a very provocative act. We have said that, prior to the missiles being launched, that we would consider all options, and we are going through that process right now, trying to coordinate with Japan and other allies and friends in the region and the international community, because we think that the international community needs to speak with one voice on this matter. And I expect that there will be discussions in New York tomorrow with regard to these kinds of matters.

MODERATOR: We had a question in the second row over there. Please.

QUESTION: Omae from the Mainichi newspaper. Mr. Ambassador, you said you considered all options. Do all options actually include possible military actions against North Korea?


QUESTION: So you said you're considering all the options. All options. What options?


QUESTION: So it means it includes possible military actions against North Korea?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, I think that we are prepared to take measures to protect the United States, our allies and our friends. We hope that diplomacy will prevail in this matter. We think it is vitally important for the North Koreans to cease and desist this activity. We hope that they will return to the Six-Party Talks, and we want diplomacy to work. We do, however, reserve the right to protect the citizens of the United States as well as our allies and friends in this matter.

QUESTION: Hi, Ambassador Schieffer. This is Wei Ting Jen from The Economist. I'd be interested in knowing how the US is ... this is affecting South Korea's Sunshine Policy toward North Korea, and if this puts a severe strain on South Korea's Sunshine Policy?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, I think you really need to refer to the Republic of Korea for their reaction to this and how this affects the Sunshine Policy, but I think all of us - it's incumbent upon all of us to recognize the seriousness of this issue. I think the international community is in the process of doing that, and hopefully, the international community will speak with one voice in this matter. And I think the United States is urging friends and allies to speak with that one voice, and that's why we're doing so much to try to coordinate our activities among friends and allies.

MODERATOR: We'll come to the front row next.

QUESTION: Anthony Rowley, Singapore Business Times. Could you give us, Ambassador, your latest information, if you are at liberty to reveal it: how many missiles were launched, what the trajectory of them was, where they fell, and what the apparent intention of those launches was?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think that we have determined that six missiles were launched. One was a Taepodong-2 missile. We believe that that Taepodong-2 missile failed after a short flight, and they all fell into the Sea of Japan. Beyond that, we're still in the process of analyzing the information that we have gathered in that regard. We are coordinating that information with the information that Japan has acquired, and we are analyzing it to make a more definitive assessment, but until we do that, I don't think it would be particularly helpful to speculate beyond what I've just said.

MODERATOR: Yes, please, in the first row.

QUESTION: Ai Awaji, Jiji Press. Mr. Ambassador, what kind of reaction would you like to see from the U.N. Security Council? Would you like to see a draft resolution or presidential statement? And could you give us an idea of what might be happening?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think Ambassador Bolton is really the American ambassador that's going to have the most to say about that, since he's the ambassador to the United Nations. But again, just in an overall context, I think we're seeking an international community response - not just an American response, not just a Japanese response, not just even a six-party response. We believe that this is a very grave issue. We think the entire international community has a stake in it, and when they can speak with one voice, we think that gives diplomacy the greatest opportunity for success.

MODERATOR: Any other questions?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: OK. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.