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December 04, 1997


DECEMBER 2, 1997

ASD Bacon: Good afternoon and welcome. We have Secretary Cohen of the United States joined by Senator Warner, who's a longtime member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on a visit. And, also, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton. Secretary Cohen will make a brief statement, and then we will open it up for questions. We also have here, Ambassador Robert Hunter, whom you all know, and we can throw all of the tough questions to him.

Please identify yourself and your news organization when you ask a question. Thank you.

Secretary Cohen: Thank you, Ken.

This morning I discussed with the NATO Defense Ministers a matter of growing concern to the United States, and that's the spread of weapons of mass destruction. I focused primarily on Iran and Iraq. These are not distant concerns. Both countries have shown a determination to develop long range missiles that could reach countries even in Europe. Both Iran and Iraq have used chemical weapons against each other. Iraq has used chemical weapons against its own people.

Iraq has also produced large quantities of VX, a nerve gas so deadly that just one drop will actually kill a person within minutes. It has also produced large amounts of deadly biological agents—Anthrax and Botulinum toxin.

United Nations inspectors fear that Iraq may be stockpiling deadly chemical and biological weapons. In addition, they are worried that Iraq is retaining the ability to produce such deadly substances. Maintaining stockpiles or productive capacity violates UN Security Council resolutions. That is why it is so important that UN inspectors receive unfettered access to all Iraqi facilities.

Iran is working aggressively to develop the capability to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the means to deliver these weapons. this proliferation worries all nations who are devoted to peace and the security of their people. The United States is working with Russia, China and other nations to slow the growth of this proliferation. We urge our allies to do the same.

This afternoon we addressed the situation in Bosnia. There was broad agreement that the NATO directed force has done an outstanding job. The killing has been stopped for two years; the children are back in school; farmers are harvesting their crops; and workers are starting to return to their factories. But we agreed that much more must be done between now and June, when the current SFOR mission will end.

Many ministers highlighted the need to build a stronger police presence in Bosnia. I believe that this should be a priority over the next six months. We agreed that the military authorities should study force options after the SFOR mission ends in June. The United States supports this study, without prejudice, as to what the NATO role will be after June.

I'd like to take just a couple of minutes to explain the current U.S. position on Bosnia.

President Clinton has made no decision on U.S. participation after June of '98. He agrees that the United States shares an interest in the continuing stability and peace in Bosnia, but that the United States has made no decision on how the United States will participate—be it diplomatic, economic or militarily—after June.

The international community has to intensify efforts to make Dayton work between now and June of '98, and Congress has set some very severe conditions for U.S. involvement beyond the June date. As a result, Congress is going to ask these questions: What will be the mission of a post SFOR force? Would it be a country-wide presence deterrence only, and what size force is needed to meet that defined mission? Can Europe play a larger role in a post SFOR force? What impact would a continuing U.S. presence have on other U.S. commitments around the globe? What will be the cost? The impact upon U.S. readiness and morale? How can we avoid permanent military involvement in Bosnia, and what steps can we take to make sure that the mission will end?

These are just a few of the questions that all members of Congress are going to want answers to. Over the next month or so, President Clinton is going to be consulting closely with Congress and our allies as he reaches his decision.

President Clinton earlier this month held a meeting, actually last month, for some two hours with key members of Congress, one of whom, is here today with us, Senator John Warner of Virginia. I would say to those who are in this press conference, that it was, perhaps, one of the most thought provoking and really good exchanges -- intellectual exchanges -- that I have witnessed during my former years on Capitol Hill, some 24 years which I spent in the House and the Senate. Nonetheless, there was no consensus that emerged from that meeting. A great deal more has to be done before any such consensus can be built. The President has taken the first step to try to consult with members of Congress to see whether or not such a consensus can be formulated, but that is in the process of the first stages. Much more needs to be done, and there will be no answer on that until, certainly, several more weeks or possibly two months -- but before March of next year. As General Clark has indicated, a decision would have to be made by that time.

With that, I will yield to my former colleague from the Senate for any statement he would like to make.

Senator Warner: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. First, it's a privilege for me to join with you — a friend of many, many years, 18 years, side by side in the Senate.

I was in attendance at that meeting, and I share the views of the Secretary. That was one of the best consultative sessions between any President and the senior members of Congress that has taken place in many years. The President urged those of us who could to visit Bosnia to, and I've just returned from my fifth visit over a period of several years to join my colleague here, today and to come and share with him my views.

He quite properly stressed in the meeting today, that first, Congress is an equal partner with the President of the United States in the decisions regarding such future deployment as our nation may make following SFOR. Secondly, he did it in straight forward and tough terms, as he should. The current thinking in the Congress requires an uphill fight, but I say to you, my friend, you're the right man, at the right time, in the right place to develop these options and to develop them in such a manner that they can, I hope, be accepted by the Congress. I've committed to my colleague to work with him to do our very best to present a case to the Congress because the decision that's going to be made will affect the outcome of NATO for many years to come, if not the critical decision. It will affect the destiny of Europe for many years to come. So, it's got to be the right decision. I'm confident that we can work together to make it happen.


Q. I'd like to ask Senator Warner and the Secretary also -- Charlie Aldinger with Reuters, there are those who say that if the Senate feels that the possibility of new violence in Bosnia, and perhaps a spread elsewhere in Europe is not in the U.S. national interest, what is? I mean is that not a provincial feeling that the United States should just wash its hands and leave Bosnia?

Senator Warner: First no conclusion that we are washing our hands and leaving it. I think quite properly there has been dialogue and discussion and debate, but I have not heard any Senator stand and say let's declare victory and go. Not at all. They are prepared to deliberate this decision very carefully. And is it a heavy that the Secretary and indeed the President has got to carry? Yes.

Q. Bill Drozdiak, Washington Post. Mr. Secretary a day after that meeting you mentioned Secretary of State Albright said, indeed, that a consensus was emerging for some kind of a follow-on force that would require an American contingent. Given the assessment by General Clark, recently, that the tasks will require some kind of follow on force, otherwise the risk would be a resumption of war. Why is there such reticence on the part of the Pentagon, in particular, to admit that there will be an American presence that is required?

Secretary Cohen: General Clark has said there will be a need for a follow on force. I don't think anyone is disputing, there will be a need for some kind of international force. He has yet to say whether it would be his recommendation or certainly to that, to the President who must make the ultimate decision in conjunction with Congress, as to whether the U.S. will participate and in what form. So yes there should be an international presence, it remains to be seen exactly what size, what shape, what commitment many other countries are prepared to make, and that has yet to be decided.

So the President is not going to be in a position to make a decision until he sees a series of options that are going to be undertaken now by the Military Committee, as such. They could run all the way from leaving in June of 1998, all the way to staying at the current numbers. And so those series of options will then be examined and the President will have to make a determination in consultation with members with of Congress as to whether or not that is something that the United States can commit to.

Secondly, I'd point out that we have global commitments. We not only committed to helping to maintain peace and stability in Bosnia . We have some, almost 20,000 forces now in the Gulf. We have almost 40,000 in South Korea. We have 100,000 spread throughout the Asia Pacific Region as well as throughout Europe itself. So we have many commitments. This is important, but we also have to weigh what the additional expense is going to be, what the impact will be upon the military, the morale, the readiness, and other activities that are being carried out on a daily basis.

These are the standards that have been set by Congress. Congress has written these standards into the law. And the President must now certify that there is a national interest in remaining in Bosnia. He must certify as to how many troops, if any, will be committed, for how long, for how much, and what the impact will be upon morale, and also readiness throughout the entire force. So, these are now Congressional mandates that the President must meet otherwise the funding stops in June of '98. Under those circumstances I think it's only prudent that I lay out the case and say what the President has to meet in order to get continued funding.

Q. Jamie McIntyre with CNN. Secretary Cohen, you came with a message that America's European Allies needed to do more particularly in the area of the international police force. How would you say that message was received?

Secretary Cohen: I think it had mixed reaction. I think there is, there are those who agree, and express their agreement with me that much more that had to be done with respect to the IPTF. Some felt that the Europeans were carrying enough of the burden, but I would point out that the United States contribution, financial contribution, is about 5 to 6 to one to any of the other European countries. That we have contributed roughly 15 million dollars per year at a total of 30 million dollars in the past 2 years. That far out-weighs any contribution by any individual country or the totality of all the other countries combined. So we have made an enormous financial contribution, we also have committed some 220 personnel to the IPTF. Again, far in access of any other single European country. So I think that we have done a great deal, and I think that the Europeans are going to have to do more in the way of financial support, and from a personnel point of view, if we are going to make the IPTF really work, and that is the key to success in Bosnia's having a highly effective and well trained police. And if we don't have that it will call into question whether or not the military should be called upon to carry out police functions and I can assure that is something that the military does not support, nor do members of Congress support.

Senator Warner: I'd like to follow on and say how I agree with the Secretary on that. It is clear to me that what is most desperately needed in that region now that the first, IFOR then SFOR has restored the infrastructure, that the people can now live a reasonable life, is foreign investment to create an economic structure -- free enterprise system, jobs it is as simply as that. They desperately need jobs. But to have those jobs, and to have that investment you have got to restore a form a rule of law. That's being done very slowly, but integral to that, is the essential need to further stop the flow of influence from both Belgrade and Pale to an infrastructure of hard liners that are still remaining there, and intransigent against the efforts of the forces, against the efforts of hundreds of NGOs who are trying to help, that has got to be in my judgment a reaffirmation of NATO, and again I hope NATO will make a strong statement to live up to those accords as it relates to the war criminals.

Q: ZDF. German Television. Mr. Secretary did your NATO colleagues take up your statement on Iraq? Will there be any results, any consequences besides listening to your statement?

Secretary Cohen: Well I think most were very grateful that I made a presentation dealing with the proliferation issue. It is something that almost to a person, they said needs to be spread, in terms of the information. That most people are unaware of the nature and the degree of the threat that exists in the world today, and what needs to be done in order to try to defend ourselves, certainly the United States and our Allies as well.

And I did point out that the need to start increasing their own budgets and allocating resources necessary to protect their soldiers and also their citizens, as we are doing in our budgetary process and planning, and that I have added a billion dollars to almost three and a half billion that has been included in our five year plan for defensive equipment, for new types of protective garments for our soldiers in the field, and for theater missile defenses that we are developing. And also for programs that we are now alerting some major cities in America, about 120 cities are under a program now where we are trying to help integrate federal officials, with local officials as to what could happen with the potential of a terrorist attack using Sarin gas as it took place in a Tokyo subway using VX or Anthrax or some other deadly type of poison, how they have to react and what the crises response should be. So this was welcome news as a matter of fact to virtually all of the members, and I advised them that we have a report that I released last week in Washington, that I will help to disseminate to them as well so they can get the message out. And this raises a concern on the part of the people who should become aware of this, that this is not tomorrow's threat; it's today's threat.

And in terms of raising the awareness level on the part of the Europeans, people world-wide, as to the nature of the threat, and what needs to be done. And it also gets into the area of technology transfer. We have to be much more careful about the kinds of technology that we transfer to Regimes that are considered to be adversarial or unstable. And that gets into the dual use technology. Some of which that can be used to make chicken feed and can be turned to make Anthrax or other deadly poisons.

So they were very grateful for it. I think they will obviously have to look at their own budgetary restraints, how they are going to allocate their priorities. But my message was that this is not something that is in the year 2020. This is here and now. We have had terrorist attacks in Tokyo, we had one terrorist bombing in New York with the attempt to blow up the Trade Center. One of the terrorist indicated he had hoped to kill at least 250,000 people in that bombing attack. Cyanide gas was not released but there was an effort made to do that. So it's a threat that's real, it's here, and now and we need to be prepared for it.

Q: Secretary Cohen, [I am from] Romanian private television station, Antenna 1. My question is about enlargement. First of all I'd like your comments concerning the price that has been decided today. And secondly if you could say what about the other applicant countries, and of course, maybe it is not the moment, but what about Romania. Normally, Romania is considered that from defense point of view, as one of the most well prepared. Thanks.

Secretary Cohen: Well let me answer the Romanian question first. As we indicated in Madrid, that the door is open. The first selection that included only the three was not the last. That as long as countries who are eager and willing to become part of NATO and measure up to NATO's high standards, then they obviously are candidates for future accession, and so it was indicated during our deliberations in Madrid that obviously Romania was very much in the running in the next round of consideration.

There is no guarantee, that Romania, Slovenia, or anyone else would be granted accession, but obviously the door's open and to the extent that they perform and continue to perform as they have, then the chances are good that they would be considered as viable candidates.

With respect to the amount, the costs of enlargement -- it is bound to be a subject of some concern in terms of the amount that has been suggested, but let me explain a more complicated situation.

When we made our estimate last spring, we based that, and we are estimating again, we based that upon four countries coming into NATO itself, only three were granted accession. Secondly, we considered and we talked about 27 to 35 billion dollars. That covered the totality of all the costs involved. The costs that would be born primarily by the new countries coming in, the costs that would be born by the existing NATO members non-U.S. but NATO members, who have to reform their militaries consistent with a pledge made in 1991 that they would go from a force that was largely a stationary [force]and designed to really halt a thrust across the central front from the former Soviet Union, to one that is highly mobile and flexible and can be rapidly deployed. Those were costs that were also included, and then we got to the third category.

In that third category the estimate was roughly five to seven billion in that category. The Committee has come up with a recommendation of about a million [billion] three, billion and a half. And so there is a discrepancy between the numbers that we estimated and the ones that they have gone out to make a determination.

They have used a different method of calculating it, but ultimately what we have to satisfy ourselves of and look at the numbers in terms of what material changes have to be made, what needs to be up graded in these three countries in order to make them fully capable of carrying out their missions under Article 5 of the NATO Charter. So I think that will explain the discrepancy. It looks as if it's 1.3 or 5 billion compared to 27 or 35. That would be the wrong calculation. It really is at 1.3 or 5 compared to the 5 to 7; and, again, ours was an estimate, theirs is based upon an analysis, and I think that we have to satisfy the members of the Senate in that regard, and Senator Warner again would playing a key role as we present these numbers to him and to other members.

Q: (Inaudible), German Radio: Secretary Cohen, do you think the crisis like Iraq are also a task for NATO? Do you think NATO should take more global responsibility?

Secretary Cohen: Well, I would like very much to see other NATO members involved in dealing with the issue of Iraq and Iran, as far as the proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction, to have them involved and helping us to enforce the UN sanctions. We would always welcome more support in that regard. We have the support of many nations, but in particular, as far as enforcing the sanctions against Iraq, we would welcome other nations to participate. Right now, I think that's perhaps calling on NATO to cross too much territory to get there. I think what we need is their moral support, their strong backing in the United Nations when resolutions come up for debate and when the question becomes one of, are we willing to lift sanctions? The answer should be a resounding, no. Not until there is full compliance, and there, the NATO members ought to speak with one voice saying, this is important. This is serious. This affects not only Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and that whole neighborhood of countries, it affects everyone globally. I would hope that NATO would speak with one voice and be in the affirmative; that they stand behind the UN and the United States.

Thank you.

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