THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Moscow, Russia) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 13, 1995 BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS
May 10, 1995
The Radisson Hotel Moscow, Russia
5:02 P.M. (L)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Those of you who were here in January of '94 may be a tad disappointed. I don't have anything quite as juicy as "Moose Lips" to offer by way of color reporting on today's event, but, no doubt, the menu from tonight's dinner will be available to you later.
And rather than going through any notes that I have now, I think I'll just answer any questions you have so that we can get quickly to my colleagues who are prepared to background you on the many technical issues that were discussed.
One issue that came up that Mike said he wanted us to handle had to do with the CFE Treaty. Let me just emphasize a couple of points on that which were reflected both in what President Clinton said publicly and also what he said in the conversation with President Yeltsin.
Of course, it's our strong view that the Russian Federation should remain in compliance with the CFE Treaty. It is, after all, a solemn treaty commitment that Russia inherited from the old Soviet Union; at the same time, re-recognize that circumstances have changed. Among other things, there is no longer a Soviet Union, nor is there a Warsaw Pact. And we would be prepared to consider modifications in the CFE Treaty as long as those who are in the context of preserving the integrity of the treaty.
Now, as you all know, there are a couple of dates out there that are important in this regard. November is when the flanking limits kick in, and we, of course, hope and expect and urge that Russia be in compliance with those flanking limits when they come due. At the same time, there is a review conference next year which is the appropriate timing of context for consideration of any modifications.
Q How do you describe the tone of the one-on-one session? Was it contentious or strained, or what?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It wasn't either contentious or strained by any means. It was intense, it was very business-like and serious. Both men came very well prepared, made a case for the issues that you've heard reviewed. I think virtually every issue that was discussed has been mentioned in one setting or another.
President Clinton remarked immediately afterwards that it was one of the very best meetings that he had with President Yeltsin. As you know, I believe, he's had six.
Q U.S. officials have suggested in the past that President Yeltsin might not have been aware of all of the details of the Iran nuclear deal. Did President Clinton ask him that directly whether he knew what was in that contract, and if so, when he learned specifically what was in it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. What President Clinton did and said was to review our strong feelings on the issue, to remind President Yeltsin that we had been willing to provide intelligence and had done so in the past, offered to provide some additional intelligence information, which would support our very strong view that Iran's interest in acquiring nuclear technology is not peaceful, but rather is connected with their aspirations to become a nuclear weapon state, and he handed over some material during the course of the discussion.
Q Was President Yeltsin as candid with President Clinton about his views on what's happening and what's happened in Chechnya, or was he more candid than he was with the press? Did he essentially admit that there is a war been going on there, there have been civilian casualties? What was the interplay there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They did discuss Chechnya for a significant amount of time. It was in the second half of the session, and President Yeltsin expressed confidence that the matter could be resolved. President Clinton, for his part of the conversation, stressed the importance that in order to be satisfactorily resolved, it needs to be resolved as part of a political process and not by military force, and he reiterated the importance of building on the OSCE presence in the Caucasus.
Q What was President Yeltsin's reaction to the intelligence information presented to him by President Clinton on Iran? Was he surprised? Did he dismiss it? How persuasive was he?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, he certainly did not dismiss it. It was a document which obviously he did not review on the spot, but in his own comments he emphasized that the Russian Federation has no desire whatsoever to contribute to Iran's becoming a nuclear weapon state. He emphasized what you've heard emphasized many times, and that is that Russia wants to cooperate with Iran only on peaceful nuclear energy.
It is, of course, our view, which President Clinton addressed in very strong terms, that nuclear cooperation with Iran is a dangerous business, because of what we see as Iran's only motivation for wanting to pursue this.
Q In the intelligence material presented today, was there anything new, substantively, compared to the intelligence material presented around the 3rd of April?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Only because my boss and the Commander-In-Chief used the word "intelligence" in his own description of this material that I'm even doing that. And I'm certainly not going to discuss the nature of the material.
Q Could you just briefly -- is the review conference for CFE in May of next year, and secondly, on Partnership for Peace, does that -- sorry -- but more importantly, on Partnership for Peace, does the current Russian decision bring us any farther than we thought we were last November?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Last November. Let me answer the second question and then turn to my colleague. The answer is, yes. I know there was a question earlier about the exact timing of President Yeltsin's decision to authorize Russia to go ahead with full participation in the Partnership for Peace. It was very clear at several points in the conversation that this decision has been made, and it will be realized in real time.
I can tell you, having closely listened to that part of the conversation as well as all others, President Yeltsin used the present tense of the appropriate Russian verb.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The review conference will be in May of 1996, and the treaty calls for the partners in the treaty to be in compliance in November of 1995, and that's why the President discussed this gap and how he tried to describe it.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can I just say one other thing on Partnership for Peace? Another important event, of course, is the North Atlantic Council Ministerial coming up at the end of May. And it was because this was reflected in the joint statement that either has been released or will be released during the course of the afternoon, it is because of Russia's decision to proceed with the two outstanding Partnership for Peace documents that the NAC ministerial will be able to take account of that fact, and, assuming that President Clinton is successful as he certainly expects to be in his consultations with our NATO allies, that the NAC ministerial will also formally launch the NATO-Russia dialogue.
Q Are you saying that you could disclose the intelligence material to the leader of Russia, but you can't tell us what it's about?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. And that's, believe me, quite appropriate. We, from time to time, do share material of that kind with other governments when we feel it's in American national interest for those governments to have that information.
Q Can you characterize in some general way that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Persuasive.
Q Is the implication of President Yeltsin's decision to go ahead now with the Partnership for Peace that he has fewer objections overall to NATO's expansion? And how was that dealt with?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: President Yeltsin and President Clinton essentially concentrated today on the issue of Russia's relationship with NATO, and that means in, of course, the present, NATO is currently constituted with its current membership. President Clinton's basic argument was that it's very important if both leaders are going to attain what they want, and that is for Europe to develop an undivided and increasingly integrated way, for Russia to be part of the process. And the key parts of the process are in the Partnership for Peace and the NATO-Russia dialogue, as far as making sure Russia is very much involved. So the accent today was on where they can cooperate and where we can move ahead.
Q If I could follow, is there now some assurance that President Yeltsin will not back out again as he did in Budapest?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The dialogue between the two men was very clear and not at all ambiguous on that point.
Q What about consulting with the Europeans? Chancellor Kohl came out in an interview with German television saying that there is no room for Russia in the European house. It seemed to him that the European integration is something to be discussed. He is saying that Russia goes from (inaudible) -- in other words, it seems to him no Russia into NATO, no Russia into the European Community, or something like that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know the interview you're referring to, and I'd really rather not comment on Chancellor Kohl's position. I can just explain for you what President Clinton's position was as he put it forward today, and that is that Russia, of course, is part of Europe and must be part of the evolution of European security structures if Europe is to remain on an undivided and increasingly integrated track. And it has, of course, been President Clinton's position before, and he repeated it again today that the process of NATO taking in new members is an open and transparent process and no members of the Partnership for Peace are excluded from that.
Q I was going to ask that someone take up the arms issue.
Q Two quick ones. What did you make of Yeltsin's reference to silos under the nuclear contract? And did he commit to a firm date for signing the two implementing documents?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's a good segue to my colleagues.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Economic issues played an important role in the general discussions that took place here -- in the plenary discussion and in Secretary Rubin's meetings. Among the important focuses of the discussion were our congratulating the Russians on the progress that had been made over the last two years in privatization. Some 60 percent of the Russian economy is now in private sector hands. That's up from 20 percent two years ago.
Secretary Rubin, in his discussions, stressed the importance of capital market development so that the very substantial savings in Russia could be mobilized to put to use in productive investments in Russian industry.
There were discussions of the status of the IMF program. This is one of the largest programs the IMF has undertaken, provides some $6.8 billion over a 12-month period -- a little bit over $500 million each month. It calls for very substantial reductions in the inflation rate. We recognized -- Russians and we have recognized in our discussions that the tough monetary policies that have been pursued in the last few months meant that inflation was likely to come down from the high single digits to the low single digits in the next few months, on the basis of the credit control so far.
We stress the importance of carrying through discipline policies through the summer with the problems during 1992, 1993, and 1994. We also discussed in a fruitful way plans for the debt rescheduling for 1995 and the treatment to debt beyond that point.
Q Did the President at any point suggest that future economic aid was at risk and Russian leadership does not come to some agreement with the United States on the more contentious issues, like the Iranian nuclear sale, the Chechen war or NATO expansion?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I should let my colleague or someone answer that, because if that was done, it was done in a context of the discussion of those particular issues, rather than in the context of the economic discussion.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President, I think, spoke to that during a press conference, but his position with President Yeltsin was, on this occasion as earlier, that the relationship as a whole -- and that means the pace at which we develop our relations and the content of that relationship depends in significant measure on Russian policies and activities.
But as you know, President Clinton opposes making the relationship as a whole in any way hostage to one particular issue. Moreover -- and my colleague can speak to this better than I in many ways -- the reason that we are engaged in economic assistance to Russia -- and that means everything from technical support for Russian reform, institution-building and macroeconomic assistance through the international financial institution is because we believe it's in American national interest to do so.
Q Was there any talk of compensation for the Russians if they drop the sale to Iran?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The compensation for Russia, if it drops all nuclear cooperation with Iran, is that Russia will stand less chance of having a nuclear weapon state very close to its own borders.
Q Did Boris Yeltsin mention a figure -- the amount of money that they expect to get from this sale? I know publicly the talk has been $1 billion, but U.S. estimates, as I understand it, go much higher than that when you include the total package.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, to make a serious point, U.S. estimates are actually considerably less than that when we take a realistic look at whether Iran will be able to pay its end of those contracts. President Yeltsin did refer to the commercial benefits of the deal, but I think you already have the flavor of President Clinton's response.
I think we want to get --
Q Can I follow up, please? Did anyone point out to Yeltsin that even though you don't believe in holding Russian aid hostage over the Iranian issue that Republicans in Congress do?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: President Yeltsin is well aware of statements and sentiment in Congress on all of the issues that we're talking about.
Q Well, is it your view that what you got today is going to be enough to hold off Republican threats to try to attack Russian aid?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would hope that the argument that I've tried to summarize for you would prevail. It's primarily a U.S. national interest argument. We have an interest in engagement with this country, we have an interest in reform of this country going forward, and we can help that process go forward.
Q On the G-7, Russia wanted to be fully part of the economic global discussion. Was that agreed upon -- and maybe your colleague can say if he thinks that Russia could become soon a full member at the ministerial level or so of the G-7.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was not a great deal of discussion of the agenda of the G-7 per se. President Yeltsin did refer to it on a couple of occasions as a meeting that he's looking forward to, but why don't I let my colleague address the latter part of your question.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As you know, the extent of Russian involvement in the G-7 meetings -- G-7 summit meetings, has, with the passage of time, increased. The Russian Finance Ministers, economic officials have met quite a number of times now in recent years with G-7 finance officials and at the time of the G-7 finance ministers meetings. But at this point, there is not a plan to move further than the kinds of changes that have already been discussed.
Q Could I get your colleague to clarify maybe one more time the PFP accession timing question. You mentioned present tense versus future tense. Do you have, in your own mind, a target date? Does the American side have a target date by which it expects Russia to fully accede to PFP?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me come back to something I said earlier. An important part of what President Clinton said both in the one-on-one and also in the press conference today has to do with his intention to work with the NATO allies on the next North Atlantic Council Ministerial which, if I'm not mistaken, is the 31st of May, which is to say later this month.
But the full implementation of the Russian -- the two Russian documents, both needs to occur before then and President Yeltsin certainly indicated that it would occur before then.
MR. MCCURRY: Let me -- any more for my colleague before we go on to the security issue?
Can you all come up and whack away?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is your team. The President said that this was about security, and so we're here to answer your questions.
Q The Secretary of State, as well as the President, made a big point about the Iranian evil hand. I imagine that hand can be assertive not only in the nuclear field but in the conventional field. Now, you remember that last summit left Russia with the right or the privilege of continuing conventional weapon sales to Iran. Did this summit restrict that in any way? It is still not clear to me whether you agreed to put those sales through some new screening, some new test.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, as my colleague said earlier and as the President mentioned in his opening remarks, the two Presidents today resolved the outstanding issues with respect to this issue of Russian arms -- conventional arms sales to Iran, and Russia's participation in the post-COCOM regime. And we are quickly going about to record that agreement so that we can welcome Russia as a founding member of the new post-COCOM regime.
As you recall, the agreement that the two Presidents laid out last September was an agreement whereby the Russians would undertake no new arms contracts to Iran, but only service their existing contracts.
We, then, have spent the last few months trying to ensure that those existing contracts were reasonably limited in both content and time, and we have assured ourselves through an exchange of information that those contracts will not introduce new kinds of capabilities into Iran or alter the overall military balance as it currently exists. And we've also come to an agreement as to the cutoff for those existing contracts. But even more importantly with respect to the new contracts, we have now gained an understanding as to the scope of those contracts -- that is, that they will be comprehensive -- that is, the cut-off will be comprehensive to include arms and the associated items that go into the making of armaments.
So we have resolved the issues and we will now record those in agreement that Gore-Chernomyrdin will do as quickly as possible, and at that point, we will welcome Russia's participation in a new regime.
Q Can you tell us time frame? I may be wrong, but I thought in September the understanding was, those contracts might have three years to go. If that's correct, have you shortened it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: These contracts are already being ended, so the process of ending is already underway. We've asked that they be ended as quickly as possible. We don't believe that Iran has very many dollars to actually carry out those contracts, and look forward to their being concluded in the coming few years.
Q Did President Yeltsin refer to the silos?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We don't know what the reference to silos is. That's the way it came through from the Russian. It could be some canisters or equipment that are associated with these reactors or perhaps with the earlier contract.
Q Do you have assurances there will not be any more Russian submarine sales to Iran?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What we said is there will be no new -- there will be no new kinds of equipment introduced as part of this agreement, and there may be one that one additional submarine that they've -- that we've been talking about or hearing about for some time. But no new kinds of weapons and no highly- sophisticated conventional weaponry.
Q One additional submarine is sold; that's it. No more submarines?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's it.
Q And not missiles?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's it. There is no more -- that's right.
Q There's no missiles -- contract you're allowing him to go forward.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, first of all, let's just say -- all I'm going to say about the information that's been shared is that there are no new kinds of weapons and that it will end at a time specific.
Q On CFE, the position -- our position up until now has been that any attempt to modify substantively that treaty would rapidly cause the whole agreement to unravel because other countries would jump in with their own proposed modifications. What has happened to make us now apparently change our position and agree to support subsidy --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President hasn't changed our position. What we've said is that we would wish that all parties to that treaty be in compliance in November of 1995, that come to review conference in the spring of 1996, that it's appropriate in a review conference to look at the treaty, not to fundamentally alter the treaty, certainly not to renegotiate the treaty, but to look at potential modifications to that treaty as appropriate to a review conference. That's been our position, and that's the position that we've shared with President Yeltsin --first, that we wish that Russia be in compliance with that treaty; and second, the review conference is the appropriate time to look at any modifications to that treaty.
Q If I can follow up, though, the language that the -- both Presidents used, seemed to use at the press conference was that the United States would support Russian requests or Russian demands to modify the flank limitations.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We said we'd be prepared to look at modifications to the treaty, and that's what I heard the President to be saying. He also said quite clearly that we supported maintaining the integrity of that treaty.
Q President Yeltsin said the United States now supports the Russian demands on flank limitations; was that accurate?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: President Clinton has said that we support the integrity of the treaty. We see the review conference as a time in which we would look at that treaty and look at potential modifications to that treaty, but not fundamentally to alter or change that treaty.
Q Is true that under the current limits the Russians need to be down to 165 tanks in the North Caucasus and that they now have about 600? Is that accurate, roughly accurate?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Russians are several hundred over in the number of tanks, so they will have to come down substantially by November to meet the limit. There is a provision within the treaty that allows what used to be the republics of the former Soviet Union to allocate the total number of tanks that the Soviet Union would have gotten under CFE among them. So they do have some flexibility among themselves to reallocate those numbers.
Q And just to follow up, did you get any assurance from President Yeltsin that Russia intends to be in compliance in November?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm sorry, I was not -- my colleague was in that meeting and I can't comment on it. The only other point I would make in regard to the earlier question is that any modifications that did get put on the table at the review conference next May, if they rose to the level of being an amendment to the treaty, they obviously would have to be approved by all states' parties to the treaty, and if they were an amendment ratified by Parliament. So it's quite a number of steps here that would have to be crossed.
Q Can your colleague the other question that --
Q ABM statement did for the administration's program and what does it do with the debate with Congress?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Only to say that President Yeltsin surely understands our position. To put it in the negative, which is obviously one way in which it has to be seen, for Russia to unilaterally abrogate a solemn international commitment would be undesirable and unhelpful to Russia in its on right, and would certainly be a setback for the overall goal of integration that President Yeltsin reaffirmed as his own aspiration several times today.
Q That statement on ABM. Does it crimp the U.S. program in any way? Will it go down with Congress? It is a concession by Yeltsin? Could you sort of fill in those spaces? What does it do for you, or is it just an obvious statement?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, let me characterize what the principles do. We have been saying for a long time that we need to pursue effective theatre missile defenses to defend our troops and allies against the Irans, Iraqs, the North Koreas and so forth in saying that.
We've also been saying that the ABM Treaty remains a cornerstone of stability necessary for implementation of START I and START II and that this objective and that objective are compatible. There is no reason why they have to conflict. The principles affirm that -- that those two objectives of ours are compatible. That's important to us to have that affirmed and to be affirmed by the Russians.
Now what it specifically says is that the ABM Treaty won't be extended to cover theatre missile defenses which, while they might simply have some theoretical capability to intercept strategic missiles under very carefully controlled circumstances aren't intended to and don't have any realistic capability to threaten the strategic force of either side.
And it's by that standard, by taking into account their technical characteristics and where they're deployed and how many there are and so forth that if there's no realistic capability there to pose a realistic threat to the capability of either side, then the ABM Treaty doesn't extend to them. That's what it says specifically.
Now, what does it do? What it does is give a common- sense political impulse or impulse from the top to these discussions we've been having -- we've been trying to make this point -- but these discussions that have kind of gotten mired down in technical detail and haven't gotten anywhere.
So this sort of lifts it up and says in this common sense way, you can have your cake, that is, the theatre missile defenses, and the ABM Treaty, that they're compatible and let's get on with the job of working out the details that will be necessary to implement that.
Q Will Congress be mollified?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think what Congress has insisted on, as the administration has insisted on it, is that we be able to go forward with effective theatre missile defenses. And our ability to do so is protected by this agreement. So the answer is yes.
Q I asked your colleague to ask you to clarify -- a moment ago you used the word "cut-off" in describing the agreement that was made. I was unclear as to whether a specific date has been picked for this cut-off, or whether you are just leaving to Gore- Chernomyrdin to negotiate a cut-off date in the future.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The two Presidents have an understanding, and we will record that in a final agreement.
Q Does it include a date?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It will include an end to the contracts.
Q But not a date?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: An end to the contracts; that's a date.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That will be a date to be inscribed in a confidential agreement.
Q Have they redone the date?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They've resolved all the issues.
Q Is President Clinton concerned that a willingness to agree to modifications on the CFE limits will enable Moscow to maintain and increase its war in Chechnya?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm sorry, would you say that again?
Q Is President Clinton concerned that U.S.'s apparent willingness to go along with altering the conventional force limits allowed will enable Moscow to maintain and increase its war in Chechnya?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think you understand what we had earlier said, and what the President said. We are saying that the Russians need to come into compliance with all the limits, including the flank limits, when the treaty calls for that in November of 1995. That's the position of the United States, and that's the position of all the other parties to this treaty.
Q That's not the impression that was left at the news conference. If that's the case, why didn't President Clinton challenge President Yeltsin when he gave a different -- portrayed the U.S. position differently?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President then said at the Review Conference which comes up in the spring of 1996, would be a time in which we would review that treaty and hear suggestions and ideas and possible modifications to that.
He also noted in his statement that there was this gap between these two, and that we were sensitive to the fact that we had both of these to fulfill.
Q But didn't the President go a step further by belittling, in effect, the current significance of CFE when the President said, look, the Soviet Union isn't around anymore. That's the Russian argument for changing of modifying CFE. For Clinton to make the same argument today -- isn't that buttressing the Russian position, either for not complying in November, or getting the kind of modification they want next year?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. The President is very clear that in saying that when we get to May, at that Review Conference, we will look at appropriate modifications to the treaty. As it was said in the introduction, we're not talking about a wholesale rewriting of this treaty, or a reordering of it. What you're looking at is a flank limit that was set up originally when the assumption was one pact against the other, meeting at the Fulda Gap.
So we're confident that there are some ways to take account of this flank problem that we can get to and work through with our NATO allies come May of next year, in a way that preserves the fundamental integrity and structure of the treaty.
So I don't think the President was belittling the significance of the treaty, quite the contrary. His point was simply that with this treaty, as with any treaty, you build into a treaty review conferences periodically, just like the review conference we had on -- we're having still today on NPT, so you can take account of changes in the international security situation. Obviously, there have been changes in the international security situation since CFE was signed four and half years ago.
Q One of the main reasons that the Russians want to modify the flank limits is because of what's going on in Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus right now. In fact, the Defense Ministry has announced plans to create a new army group based in the Northern Caucasus, because of the events in Chechnya. So there is a connection here. If we're so concerned about what's going on in Chechnya, why are we even agreeing to consider limitations that would increase their offensive military capabilities --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The flank problem --the Russian presentation of the flank problem pre-dated Chechnya. They were concerned about instability in the region, generally, long before the hostilities broke out.
Second -- and this goes to the earlier question from the correspondent in front of you -- the U.S. position is clear that Russia must come down to the flank limits by this November. That means if they comply with that there will be no excess treaty limited equipment in the region to deal with Chechnya. And they would have to then look to May of next year for a solution to that question.
Q On, I think it was part of START, I'm not completely sure, but was there any resolution to the issue of Russian missiles and carrying satellites?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, and I'm sorry we're so late getting to this because it really is one of the signal accomplishments of this summit.
We have resolved that in a way that protects the START treaty, will allow the smooth implementation of START I to proceed and that would preclude any possible complication of START II ratification.
We've worked this hard last weekend in London. In a meeting between the Vice President and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, the Russians agreed that our reading of the treaty on this question, of whether you can use ICBM derivatives for space launch purposes without having them be accountable under the treaty -- they agreed that our reading of the treaty was correct and that they would adjust their position to take into account our reading of the treaty and we confirmed that today.
Q So there was no -- does that mean, then, that the Russians cannot use their missiles for satellite purposes? Can you --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, quite the contrary. We have been stressing to the Russian government from when this issue first arose that we in no way are trying to put a barrier between their ability to use these excess ICBMs and their commercial interest.
Our position is simply that when one of these missiles that they intend for space launch comes out of the plant at Votkinsk, they must notify us, pursuant to the START Treaty, it must move to the places it's permitted to move to for launch under the treaty. When it goes up, they must give us the kind of telemetry we need simply to confirm that the missile was gone up and is now off the books in terms of START accountability.
So there's not barrier to their doing that. Our concern was simply their refusal to acknowledge that the treaty -- that the missiles were going to be accountable under the treaty. And to that end, we had been withholding licenses to U.S. satellite companies that wanted to put payloads into orbit on these missiles. We're now prepared to go forward.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Could I just add to that, for those of you who are not into the details of this, essentially this was an issue of how you accounted for strategic missiles that were then used for space launch. And so we've worked out an understanding as to their accountability, and we will be then going back to execute or implement that in the normal ways within the treaty.
We have an understanding as to how we would be proceeding with this.
Q Are they -- are the Russians currently over any troop limitations they would face under the November deadline? And how far over -- and the fact that they've got Interior Ministry forces now in Chechnya, is that covered by CFE or not?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The treaty itself covers equipment. These are limits of various kinds on different kinds of equipment. And right now, the Russians will have to take reductions within the flanks in order to come into compliance with the treaty in November.
Q So there is no -- no troop limitation in the treaty area?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What we're talking about are equipment -- tanks, armored personnel vehicles. That's what the treaty is about.
Q President Clinton said there had been an agreement reached on pushing for START II ratification. Does that mean Yeltsin is going to summit to the Duma, and is there a date when he's going to do that? Was there any indication of how he's going to get this done?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Russians right now have before the Duma the chemical weapons convention, which is another very high priority of ours to have ratified by the Russians. They have, in general terms, told us that they will be moving the START II Treaty as soon as they can thereafter. And so what the President and all of the rest of us have done has shared with them our own schedule for moving towards our own ratification and hope that they'll be able to move quickly thereafter.
Q Secretary of State Christopher said before this summit that in no way would we be satisfied if what Russia agreed to was simply not to sell the gas centrifuge to Iran. Now that that's basically what you've got, is the U.S. satisfied by this arrangement with Iran?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What we have is two things with respect to nuclear reactors to Iran. The very important step that the Russians have taken not to be selling the very dangerous centrifuge and other kinds of equipment, as well as provide the training. And then secondly, an agreement on the part of both Presidents to look at the -- look at the evidence that the President of the United States shared with the Russians as to the dangers associated with what Iran is about and to come back and to review that.
So in no way is this issue finished in our discussions with the Russians.
Q Are we satisfied?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We wish, as all the rest of us have been saying, for the Russians not to go ahead with their nuclear cooperation with Iran, because it's not in their interest to do that. It's not in their security interest, and that's what we will be seeking to convince the Russians of in the course of these discussions.
Q A follow-up to that. After Secretary Perry was here and got a note from Chernomyrdin, they agreed to refer it to this same question to technical groups I believe under the auspices of Gore-Chernomyrdin. How will this review be different from that review?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we have since, actually over a month and a half ago, been discussing our concerns and why we have these concerns. And our concerns go beyond the technical issues associated with the reactor. But what else goes with the construction of reactors -- the people, the knowledge, the technologies. And so the process is underway. Now, the Presidents discussed our evidence and will keep going back to this until we've convinced the Russians not to go ahead.
MR. MCCURRY: Is there any other political issue or any other issue that someone wanted to ask about, that we didn't touch yet?
Q What was said about the Middle East peace process?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Understand, the Middle East was not discussed at length in the one-on-one. I'm hoping my colleague can tell you something about how it came up in the plenary. It did come up, though, at least once that I can recall in the oneon -one between the two Presidents and it came up in the context of the Iran reactor sale.
President Clinton stressed that one of many areas in which the United States and Russia have cooperated to good effect is in their cosponsorship of the Middle East peace process. Iran is among the most unrelenting and mischievous opponents of the Middle East peace process, and President Clinton simply pointed out the inconsistency of any nuclear cooperation with Iran and U.S.-Russian cooperation in the Middle East peace process.
MR. MCCURRY: I would also -- you may want to check -- were any of you at the pool at the Kremlin? You may want to double- check. Nick Burns, on behalf of Secretary Christopher, gave a little readout of Secretary Christopher's session with Kozyrev in the last two days. They have done -- normally, Secretary Christopher does a full review of the Middle East peace process for the Russian side in that context, and I believe that occurred there, and I think you'll see that reflected in the pool report coming off from your folks that were at the Kremlin.
Any other political issues?
Q More than once, President Clinton mentioned that Russia had tremendous support from the United States, and this was based on the fact that Russia was becoming more and more democratic. I would like to know what specifically the elements are that show how much more Russia is becoming democratic.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me say a few words about that. As you've indicated, the logic of U.S. policy and why the President spoke as he did about increasing security both for the American people and the Russian people has to do with our view that it's in everyone's interest that there be a democratic, prosperous, market-oriented Russian state.
With specific respect to the democratic process, we point to the fact that Boris Yeltsin is popularly elected, that Boris Yeltsin has committed to the parliamentary elections at the end of 1995 and to the presidential elections in 1996. We would point, also, to the fact that the press in Russia is certainly freer than it's ever been, and among the freest in the world.
Q Sorry, could I just go back to that for a minute? In fact, Boris Yeltsin has always been popularly elected, and he's always been committed to holding elections on schedule, publicly. But the impression was fairly strong that Mr. Clinton was talking about the progress in the democratic ideals.
And I would also challenge the fact that the press in Russia is getting freer, because, certainly, what has been happening since the war in Chechnya indicates that it's quite a reverse process that has happened since, particularly, the outbreak of the war in Chechnya.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me make two comments in that. We are -- when we think about the process of democratic reform and the reform process broadly, we do try to stand back and look at that and see what the trend lines are.
I think we would all argue that the "devolution" of power, if you will, from the center since the reappearance of an independent Russian state has been only slightly less than remarkable, that is to say there is much greater power vested at lower and lower levels, and that, I think, comports with notions of democratic reform.
I would stand by my statement that I think the media in Russia is among the freest in the world, and it's certainly never been freer in Russia.
Q Can you take us to tomorrow in terms of the meeting that the President intends to have with some of the other leaders here? Will the issues that came up today come up tomorrow, and how does this fit into the whole political process?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't tell you what this script will look like exactly tomorrow, but in a sense, that's the idea. That is, we want this opportunity in order to enable the President to engage with a broad spectrum of Russian political leaders on issues that are of importance to them, also gives us a chance to convey to them how we understand our policy. So we anticipate a highly interactive program which will allow both sides, if you will, to learn more about the other.
Q Is there anything that he hopes he can get in that session that he could not get today?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What he hopes to get, I think, is a full picture of the development of Russian political social and economic life. That is the logic of our policy, that, ultimately, what we seek is a relationship with the Russian people, that must be the foundational element of a broad-based relationship. So it's consistent with that argument.
Q Can you identify who these people are that he's meeting with?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not sure if the list has been finalized.
MR. MCCURRY: I think they're still putting the group think they are still putting together. We'll try to have that available tomorrow. Let's have one last question.
Q If I could follow up. Does the President have Yeltsin's support for this meeting tomorrow?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President does not need Yeltsin's support, in our view, in order to meet with this group, but there's certainly no indication that -- yes. They are certainly aware of it.
Q On another subject -- did Bosnia come up at all between Clinton and Yeltsin?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Bosnia came up in an intensive way, my understanding is, in the meeting between the Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister.
Q No, I mean Clinton and Yeltsin -- they never discussed Bosnia at all?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The short answer is no. It was understood in advance that they had a very full agenda of things that they were going to concentrate on and that Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Kozyrev -- the Middle East, Bosnia and several other issues.
Q I hoped that there might be a chance to ask questions about the actual documents that came out. But should there be a question about the actual documents, will there be an opportunity to talk to someone in answer to those documents?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, you can go to the press office and relay a question if there's anything that is ambiguous. We've covered, I think, a lot of the language. I think with this briefing, now you'll understand some of the nuance in the language that's reflected in the documents which are now available. Correct? Yes, they are now available.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END5:50 P.M. (L)