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DoD News Briefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)
September 02, 1997 2:15 PM EDT

[DoD clarification can be found in brackets, where applicable]

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. I am as prepared as I ever will be to take your questions. Charlie?

Q: Could you bring us up to date on what's gone on with Udrigovo, is it? The U.S. troops, the television transmitter?

A: Yeah, let me deal with that briefly. First of all, you probably saw that there has been a statement issued by the Stabilization Force in Sarajevo about an agreement that's been reached by the Principal Deputy, High Representative Jacques Klein and the commander of SFOR, Gen Shinseki. They announced this agreement that was signed by Maj Gen Grange and by [Gen Karisik, Deputy Minister of Interior and Mr. Drago Vukovic] of the Serb side dealing with the Serb Radio and Television, which has been known as SRT.

This is an agreement that contains several points. It basically says that Serb Radio and Television will refrain from inflammatory reporting against SFOR and international organizations supporting the Dayton peace agreement.

It says that Serb Radio and Television will provide one hour of programming during prime time each day, without exception, during which other political views will be aired; that is other than the Republik of Srpska, Pale, views that have been, we believe, intensely anti-NATO and intensely anti-Dayton.

Another provision is that Serb Radio and Television will provide the High Representative one half hour of prime time during the next few days to introduce himself and explain the events that took place recently in Brcko, Banja Luka, and other cities. This will be an unedited half hour and not be commented on in advance of its airing by the Republik of Srpska TV commentators.

In addition, the Republik of Srpska agreed in this document to participate in a full and consistent manner in what is known as the Media Support Advisory Group, which is run by the Office of the High Representative, that's Ambassador Westendorp, to discuss and regulate the media in accordance with the spirit of the Dayton accord.

Here again, this is designed to prevent the Serb media from taking inaccurate rhetorical flourishes against the Dayton peace process as they have been doing, and using the media to stir up the population against the Dayton peace process. We can give you copies of this.

And finally, the SFOR forces are still at the tower at Udrigovo securing that facility and ensuring that it will not be used to incite the population in the Republik of Srpska to violence against SFOR or the international community.


Q: Those SFOR troops at the tower are US troops, are they not?

A: Yes.

Q: And what's the situation now in terms of violence? And have any U.S. troops been hurt since the two sergeants were injured in Brcko?

A: I am not aware that other U.S. troops have been harmed. Basically, the demonstration that had as many as 300 Serbs around the tower has subsided. It was -- if you compare this to what happened in Brcko last week, if that was a 10, this was probably a two or a three in terms of severity and seriousness.

So it was not something as dramatic or as dangerous as the earlier demonstration where two American soldiers were injured.


Q: Ken, why were the -- were any negotiations with Serb supporters of the indicted war criminal Karadzic in this whole incident anyway? Doesn't that legitimize their -- their being?

A: Well, our view on the illegitimacy of the indicted war criminals is clear, and because of that, last year we got Karadzic to agree to relinquish his political role. What we are talking about here is another step to calm tensions in Srpska and in trying to move the peace process forward by stopping the types of annoying, obstructionist demonstrations that have been going on and getting people to focus on what's really at stake here. And that's building a foundation for lasting peace in Bosnia.

We felt that the broadcasts were incendiary, that the broadcasts were inaccurate, and that the broadcasts have unnecessarily stirred up the Serbs against the Dayton peace process and against the advantages of the process and; therefore, we have been working with the required authorities to get that policy changed. We think this agreement is another step in that direction.


Q: There was a report on Reuters that U.S. troops were arming themselves with wooden clubs that had been fashioned from tree branches. I was just wondering if that was -- if that was the case and whether or not that this indicated that U.S. troops felt they needed some other kind of weaponry and whether they might be issued police batons or something like that?

A: Well, first of all, I talked to LTC Jim Cronin in Tuzla about that report this morning. And I believe the report was probably a confused account of the -- of activities the troops were taking to secure their positions on the hill, which is known as Hill 562.

As you know probably from your time with the military, humvees, the vehicles that the troops drive around in, have what are called pioneer kits on them, and those kits have shovels, they have digging blades which can be put onto a handle, a mattock handle, and they also have axes on them. And the soldiers were using this equipment, the shovels, the digging blades and the axes to prepare their positions and I think there was probably some confusion about their being armed with clubs. They were not armed with clubs. I think these were just the tools they were issued.

On the broader issue of whether they have a full range of weapons necessary to deal with crowds, they did have tear gas and they used that tear gas. They have recently requested other non-lethal weapons and those have been issued. Specifically, those are in the process of being issued, they have been shipped over to the theater, specifically, 40 millimeter sponge grenades which are designed to knock people down in crowds when hit in the chest or the abdomen at a range of 30 meters, 15 to 30 meters, and also some dye marking kits which are basically they look like hand grenades or little water balloons in a way filled with dye that can be thrown at people in crowds, the leaders or the agitators of crowds, so that they're marked with this dye and they can be located later on by law enforcement authorities who will be called in to follow up on illegal activities promoted by agitators.

So those are two non-lethal pieces of equipment that are in the process of being issued. They were recently, as I said, shipped into the theater over the weekend and training teams arrived yesterday and will begin training troops in Bosnia, U.S. troops in Bosnia, to use this equipment.

Q: Well, does this sort of show that the mission of the U.S. troops there is getting more into quasi-police functions when talking about marking people so that they can be picked up by law enforcement and this sort of crowd control techniques, does that show that the mission is expanding into police areas?

A: The SFOR troops and before them the IFOR troops have always had very broad authority to create a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and this is just one more aspect of that. They're basically in the last -- I mean, you'll see over the next two weeks, I think, a lot of preparation for the elections that will take place on September 13th and 14th, the municipal elections.

There are a number of things that SFOR is doing to promote effective elections. One will be to provide freedom of movement. Another is to help with the movement of election materials, ballot boxes, ballots, et cetera. In some cases, SFOR troops will actually deliver this voting equipment working side by side with the OSCE, will deliver it to the polling places in Bosnia.

And the third thing that will take place is that after the elections are over, but before the votes are counted the SFOR troops will secure the ballot storage sites to make sure that there can't be any tampering with the election results.

Q: Is it your analysis that the increase in violence and demonstrations is the direct result of those upcoming elections and that perhaps one particular party is trying to exert its influence on that process?

A: Well, I think that's in part the explanation. Another explanation is that in the last few months, SFOR is clearly working harder to push the peace process forward and to clear out some of the impediments to a smooth functioning of the Dayton accords. And one of those impediments was the special police brigades that the SFOR troops have worked very hard in the last few weeks to subdue and to disarm, to take the weapons away from. There are a number of inspections going on.

Yesterday, I think there were 11 inspections of police stations to make sure that there weren't illegal weapons on hand and there were weapons and ammunition picked up and taken into cantonment as a result of those 11 inspections. So these inspections are going on every day and they're analogous to the types of inspections that have been going on at the heavy weapons storage areas for months prior to the focus on the special police brigades.

So, one, pressure on the special police brigades; two, pressure on the broadcasts, to make sure that the broadcasts to the greatest extent possible are not used to stir up anti-Dayton furor. And I think what we're seeing is a reaction to both of those initiatives as well as, I think, efforts to disrupt the elections.

Now, it's clear that the mob that appeared at Udrigovo was not a spontaneous group of people who just happened to be walking by and gathered around the broadcast tower. They came in busses. Their leaders were carrying hand-held radios and communicating with each other, so these seemed to be organized opposition to what SFOR is trying to do over there.

Q: How confident are you that the scheduled elections will take place?

A: I have seen no indication that they won't take place. I think a lot of work has been done by the OSCE with support from SFOR to lay the ground work for these elections. This is a very important step in the democratization process in Bosnia.

We had the national elections last fall and now these are the municipal elections to elect mayors, et cetera. It's tricky and it's difficult, but we are working very hard with local authorities and we're working very hard with the OSCE to make these elections succeed.

Q: How many U.S. troops are involved (inaudible)?

A: I think in -- first of all, as you know, the number will increase and I do not have at my fingertips -- yes, I do, at my fingertips. In Bosnia, there are 9488 U.S. troops as of last week. That may have increased slightly. It will go up to probably 10,500 or 11,000 before the elections are over.

Q: How about the overall SFOR figure? Will that increase from 31,000?

A: I'm afraid I don't have a good figure on that. We're hoping -- right now, we plan that tomorrow at 11:45 a senior defense official will come down and talk to you about Bosnia and he will have all of these figures at his fingertips, I'm sure.

Q: Were U.S. troops also deployed into Doboj on the radio transmitter there? There was some talk about that. Do you know anything about that?

A: I don't know the answer to that. Do you have the answer to that? We'll check.

Q: I think on Friday the North Atlantic Council was opening some sort of meeting to approve a request to give military commanders more authority to go after incendiary media outlets. What was the outcome of that meeting and what is the authority of SFOR to close down an offending radio or TV station?

A: On Saturday the North Atlantic Council issued a statement in response to a request from the high representative. And the request was to authorize SFOR to provide the necessary support to suspend or curtail any media network or program in Bosnia whose output is in persistent and blatant contradiction to either the spirit or the letter of the peace agreement.

And basically the NAC approved that request from the high commissioner. So they have authorized SFOR to go ahead and take actions that are necessary to, as it says, spend or curtail programming that is hostile to the spirit of the Dayton Accords.

Q: What does that action consist of?

A: Well, I think we've seen some of that action in the last couple of days: (1) We've seen the willingness to actually take over stations for a while; and (2) we've now negotiated this agreement with the Commander, US Commander, Maj Gen Grange, and others have negotiated this agreement which was announced in Sarajevo today that deals with the content of the Republic of Srpska broadcasts.

Q: If you have the agreement, why do you still need troops at the transmitter?

A: Well, first of all, the agreement was just signed today and, secondly, we've learned in Bosnia that actions speak louder than words.

Q: Another question on the special police. One of the issues was whether Karadzic's body guards would be required to comply with the requirements for special police, and I believe Karadzic's people have said they're not special police and so there was a lot of argument.

What is the state of play on that right now? Are Karadzic's body guards in any way in compliance with these requirements? Are there any ultimatums to the body guards to comply? Where does that stand?

A: Well, you're right that police forces are not supposed to guard indicted war criminals, and Karadzic has claimed that his body guards are body guards and not police forces. I don't know where that stands. Right now he continues to be guarded. There have been inspections of police operations in Pale, just recently as a matter of fact. And there have been inspections for compliance with the Police Weapons Rule, which is that police should have weapons that are appropriate for police and not weapons that are appropriate for military forces.

Q: So what is the bottom line in this?

A: The bottom line is that Karadzic is an indicted war criminal and should be in the Hague on trial.

Q: What's the bottom line on the body guards?

A: The bottom line is right now he still has body guards. We are continuing to -- SFOR is continuing to check in Pale, but he remains guarded and his guard force has not been dissolved, certainly.

Q: Have there been threats to his guards?

A: Some of his offices in other areas and police forces in his offices have been inspected for compliance with the weapon rules which is that they have police weapons and not military weapons.

Q: Are they in compliance with those rules?

A: They were according to the latest inspection, yes.

Q: Was this an IPTF inspection or was this an SFOR inspection?

A: It was SFOR.

Q: So, what, French troops rolled in there?

A: They were troops operating in the French sector, yes. Yes?

Q: I'm still confused at to why SFOR signed a formal agreement with Serb opposition forces? I mean just last week US officials were saying that just one legitimate governing authority in the Serb Republic, and that's the Bosnian Serb President Plavsic. So why did we negotiate an agreement with the people trying to get rid of her?

A: We signed this agreement with a general who reports to President Plavsic. This agreement was signed by Maj Gen Grange and a general whose name I can't read here because he's written right through his name. But he is in the Army which is under the control of the President.

Q: What assurances are there if it were signed by someone loyal to Plavsic that the hardliners are going to --

A: As I said, we're looking for actions. We're not looking for -- we're looking at actions, not words here. I think that the SFOR policy dealing with the media is pretty clear and that SFOR has shown the willingness to go in and temporarily take over broadcast facilities that we think are violating the spirit of the Dayton Accord.

So this agreement has been signed. We expect the agreement to be followed, but we'll have to wait and see whether it's followed or not.

Q: But this agreement then has nothing to do with Karadzic's people? Is that correct? It's signed by Plavsic?

A: I, frankly, will have to get the identity of the people who signed this agreement because I can't -- not only can't I not read their names, but they're meaningless to me. So I can't -- I will get the answers to these questions for you.

Q: Has Plavsic approved this herself, or do you know?

A: She certainly has been in favor of cutting down the tone of the anti-Dayton rhetoric from the Serb media.

Yes, Susanne?

Q: I have a question on those non-lethal items. Are they going to all the troops in Bosnia or specific units, can you say at all?

A: Well, they'll go to units to be used as necessary. Right now, not enough has been shipped over to go to every troop in Bosnia, but they'll be deployed with troops as their commanders consider necessary.

I want to be very clear about these non-lethal weapons. Just as in Somalia, these weapons are to supplement their normal lethal weapons that they would carry -- M-16s and other weapons. They are not in place of those weapons.

What they do is expand the range of options available to any commander on the scene to allow him to call for the use of non-lethal weapons if necessary, just as the commander recently used tear gas at Udrigovo.

Yes, Brian.

Q: Just a quick follow-up on that. Are these new weapons that you've discussed, I guess my question is why aren't they there already?

A: They're there because they were just requested by the commanders, and the request has been granted.

Q: What is the amount that we're talking about here?

A: Pardon?

Q: What is the amount?

A: I don't think I want to get into the amount, at this stage. But it's a substantial number, but not enough to supply every American soldier in Bosnia with, say, a die marker grenade. But there are quite a few of them.

Q: Are these two things that you mentioned, are these simply examples of non-lethal weapons that they have, or are these, in fact, the only two non-lethal weapons that have been issued up to this point?

A: These are the only two that have been shipped over there at this stage.

Q: Ken?

A: Yes.

Q: Were there any weapons -- we talked about the commanders -- that were not sent to them?

A: Not that I'm aware of, no.


Q: Different subject.

A: Let me just finish here. This agreement that was issued today in Sarajevo was signed by Maj Gen David Grange, who is the U.S. commander, as you know, of the forces in Multi-national Division North.

It was signed by Srpska Radio and Television editor- in-chief Drago Vukovic and by the Deputy Minister of the Interior, General Karisik.

And we can get you -- I don't know whether I can get you more information on who those people are or not, but those are the people who signed the agreement.

Q: Just finally, is it expected that this agreement will end the SFOR takeovers of broadcast facilities? Is that expected, or will there be more SFOR takeovers?

A: If the Republic of Srpska adheres to the terms of the agreement and stops obstructionist and inaccurate, disturbing broadcasts that interfere with the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords, it will stop the takeover of broadcast facilities.

Q: But, in the meantime, American troops or SFOR troops will stay in control of the transmitter tower for the indefinite future?

A: SFOR troops right now are in the area and, as the agreement says, "Serb compliance with this agreement and restraint from violence will enable SFOR forces to return to their normal deployment patterns."

So if this agreement is complied with, we will no longer stay in the position to control the --

Q: For the moment, the troops are staying within the barbed wire containment?

A: My belief is the troops are still in that area, yes --

Q: Okay.

A: -- in a position of control. Whether they're right at the base of the tower or several hundred meters away, I don't know. But they're certainly in the area and ready to respond to any problems quickly.

Q: Still on the agreement, what was the final outcome of the confrontation in Brcko? Who is now in control of the Brcko Police Station; forces loyal to Karadzic or forces loyal to Plavsic?

A: I don't know the answer to that question. My understanding is the IPTF pulled back when they encountered the difficulties and they have kept the station under observation, but I don't know whether they've been back in there since then.

Q: Are you going to get an answer for me?

A: Yes. Yes, I will. Yes.

Q: The Chief of Staff of the Greek Army General (inaudible) was here at the Pentagon today (inaudible). Do you have anything on that?

A: Let me tell you why he was here. He is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and on his way to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he stopped off to meet with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I assume it was just part of the continual contact we have with Allied military officials when they come through town.

Q: A document prepared by Strategic Assessment Center for OSD is talking about war (inaudible) Cyprus for the S300 Russian missiles. Since this particular document was signed also by the DoD official named Harold Rhoads, I'm wondering if it reflects also the DoD opinion.

A: Harold Rhoads says he has no recollection of working on any report concerning the S300 missiles.

Q: Not at all?

A: That's what he has told me.

Q: Another subject?

A: Yes.

Q: Ken, I understand the drought in North Korea continues without any substantial rain and is affecting South Korea as well; but, on top of the drought, the 21st of August, there was a very damaging tidal wave coming into the agricultural areas on the Yellow Sea, affecting North Korea's breadbasket. Some 700,000 metric tons of corn and a lot of livestock apparently have been lost. Can you comment or confirm this loss?

A: I'm looking at my book at Tab 5, and I've open to Tab 5, and it's empty. So I will have to tell you I can't comment on these specific weather reports, but I think it's well known that there is a food shortage in North Korea and that the North Koreans recently sent a delegation to the United States to look at our agricultural techniques. They went to a goat farm. They went to a corn farm. We have supplied large amounts of food aid to North Korea, and the international community has as well.

So this is something through the World Food Organization, that's being worked on, but, unfortunately, international organizations cannot control the climate or the growing conditions in North Korea.

That's all I can tell you. I don't have specific meteorological information about North Korea now.

Q: Ken, could you talk about -- is the Secretary considering allowing a test laser attack on a satellite?

A: That question has not reached the Secretary yet and no decision has been made, and I think it's premature to talk about it until a decision is made.

Q: But is there anything that would bar such an exercise? Under what conditions does this depend on doing or even considering it? Is Congress telling them to do so?

A: Well, first, we have a national space policy, and that policy says: "The U.S. will develop, operate, and maintain capabilities to ensure freedom of action in space and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries."

So we have a national space policy that allows us to consider ways to protect our assets in space and to control space to the event necessary to protect our national security interests.

General Estes, the Commander-in-Chief of Space Command, gave a very detailed speech on this last Spring, and I'd be glad to get you a copy of that if you can't get it off of DefenseLINK, where we got it. But that outlines aspects of our national space policy.

There is no treaty, and there is no legislative injunction against conducting such an experiment, but the decision to go ahead with this experiment has not been made, and the Department will have to weigh the pros and cons of proceeding at this stage. That hasn't been done yet.

Q: Are you saying that the question is going to be stopped before it even gets to the Secretary, for instance?

A: I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that decisions haven't been made. Usually decisions are made at a number of levels, and this decision has not been made yet.

Q: What level is it at?

A: Well, it has to be made, first of all, by the Acquisition and Technology people, who have the first line of authority on this. But this is under consideration. No decision has been made.

Q: Would the ability to knock out a satellite with a ground-based laser represent a big leap forward in that kind of technology?

A: Well, there are a number of ways to deal with potential problems in space. They don't all involve lasers. There has been one project underway for a while, an Army project that involves using a kinetic-energy vehicle to attack satellites. That is also under development. That's been supported by Congress over the years.

So there are a number of things we're looking at, but I think it's premature to say how dramatic it would be if this single experiment went forward at this stage. For one thing, it would just be speculative to say how the experiment would come out.

It's a long-distance issue, the laser. It is a powerful laser, but it's difficult to shoot lasers over long distances through the atmosphere. One of the things that the Department will have to look at is whether this is the way we want to go in dealing with space programs and whether this is a technically feasible project.

Q: Is this in any way related to the airborne laser that --

A: Now, the airborne laser is part of the Theater Missile Defense System, and that's basically designed to shoot a target that is moving through a parabolic flight path. That's an entirely different challenge than this.

Q: Ken, isn't one of the major -- you said the space policy was partly formulated to protect, as you put it, protect our assets in space. Isn't one of the problems there that if you develop such a weapon, it might spark a race to develop weapons by others, and in turn then put the United States' space assets in danger. Isn't that one of the things to consider here, or will this decision go forward one way or the other, without consideration to that?

A: In all complex decisions there are many considerations: Some are technical, some are political, some are diplomatic, and some have to do with the basic architecture of the program and whether the experiment fits into where we want to be in 10, 15, 20 years. So there are a number of considerations here. I don't think I should get into all of them at this stage, but suffice it to say that the decision has not been made yet.

Q: Would one of them be whether or not this might spark others to develop such a weapon and in turn --

A: Certainly, policy makers have to think broadly about responses to tests, but that's not to say -- to forecast in any way how this decision will be made. It has not reached the point for a decision yet, and I can't predict when the decision will be made, but, as I say, there are a number of considerations.

Q: On that same question, given that the decision has not been made, can you at least tell us what type of test is being discussed? Would this actually take down a real live satellite out of operation, so it doesn't work any more? How would such a test work? On a satellite? Would test it on something else.

A: No, it would be tested on a satellite that is reaching the end of its life or may have reached the end of its life, but there are satellites that go up and perform jobs for a certain amount of time and then they wear out. And that's the target that would be used here if the test goes forward, but that's an "if". The decision has not been made.

Q: So this would not just be a test of the satellite's ability, perhaps, to track and hit the -- the laser's ability to track and hit the satellite, but, if it were approved, would be a test to try to destroy the satellite, to burn it up, in effect, burn up its ability to operate.

A: If the test took place, it would produce two types of information. First, it would give us some data on the vulnerability of our own satellites and, secondly, it would give us information on space control systems that we might be able to develop in the future, if we wanted to develop them.

Q: It was announced that the U.S., Israel and Turkey are going to have a joint military exercise in November in the eastern Mediterranean. Do you have anything on that?

A: A joint military exercise in the Mediterranean?

Q: In November--it was announced.

Q: The 16th of November until (inaudible).

A: Yes. This isn't new. We've talked about this here before. This is a humanitarian search and rescue exercise involving the navies of three countries with maritime interests in the Mediterranean -- the United States, Israel and Turkey.

Q: Different from the previous one that was discussed in the past?

A: What I believe was discussed in the past, and I would have to go back and review the record, was a determination to have a trilateral maritime exercise. This is the exercise. This is a humanitarian search and rescue exercise involving naval assets of the three countries.

Q: One more question. (Inaudible) Turkey (inaudible) participated in a joint exercise with American (inaudible) from August 5th to 28th. Do you know what this was about?

A: Yes. This is the red flag exercise that they have at Nellis Air Force Base all the time that involve U.S. Air Force and allied planes. Basically, our allies request to come and participate in these exercises and Turkey has requested to participate in this exercise or did request to participate in this exercise. So they came because they asked to come. If other countries would have asked to come, they could have come.

Q: Other allies.

A: Yes.

Q: A question. Why are the (inaudible) or why now?

A: I'm sorry, you're asking about the --

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: Well, this laser has been out there for some time in New Mexico.

Q: Why now?

A: That's a question you'll have to ask the Army, but it's been out there. They've been testing this laser on a variety of things and I guess they felt that there was a satellite reaching the end of its life and it might be an appropriate time to try to test it. But, as I say, the decision to go ahead with this has not yet been made.

Q: This satellite, then, it does have life? I mean, there's a laser test to tell if (inaudible)? Is that correct? Or is it dead? Tell me, why don't they use a target, some kind of a target that has sensors to measure the effect?

A: Well, I think you have to assume that the satellite would be able to measure some of the effects, that we would have ways of measuring the effects.

Q: On the seismic event in Russia, has there been any determination yet by the department?

A: No. There has not been any determination as to what caused that seismic event in Russia and it remains a mystery. One of the issues that has emerged now is exactly where it took place -- whether it took place in water or whether it took place on land. And experts now have competing views on whether it took place in water or took place on land. Some experts believe it could have been an earthquake, others believe that it had the characteristics of an explosion.

You might ask what are we doing to try to resolve this. Well, a lot, but sometimes technology doesn't always yield quick and easy answers. Basically, there were several seismic stations that registered some indications that were read by some analysts as a potential explosion.

There are many other seismic stations in Europe and other places that aren't tied in -- that are tied into different networks and we're now in the process of going back and trying to reconstruct or retrieve the data that they gathered on, I believe, August 16th when this event supposedly took place, to try to find out what pictures they present and, over time, all of this and other information will be thrown together into a big computer which will try to make sense out of it, and then probably a bunch of analysts will sit down and try to make sense out of it as well.

Q: Are you satisfied with the explanations that you have gotten from the Russian government so far on this issue?

A: The Russians have said that nothing took place in that test site. We are continuing to look at all of the seismic and other information available.

Q: So that sounds like you're not totally satisfied, you're still curious.

A: Well, on the one hand, we have some technological information that some people have interpreted as a possible explosion. Some people have interpreted it as an earthquake. So there are various interpretations for this seismic evidence that was generated on August 16th.

The Russians have said that there was no explosion in that area. It's a piece of information. We're looking at all the information available and the reason it's taking so long is it turns out there's more information available in other seismic monitoring posts and universities and all sorts of places other than in the initial three observation points. So we're trying to gather as much of that information as possible and figure out exactly what happened.

I don't think this will be done immediately. I think it's likely to take some time.

A: PARTICIPANT: Thank you.

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