United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing: General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman, JCS

Presenters: General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman, JCS
November 17, 1997

Secretary Cohen: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to welcome President Nazarbayev and Defense Minister Altnybayev. This is the President's third visit -- I thought it was only his second, but his third visit to the Pentagon. It has given us an opportunity to discuss some important bilateral and regional issues.

The United States and Kazakhstan share a determination to work for peace and stability in Central Asia. Our countries are successfully reducing the threat from weapons of mass destruction. Through the Nunn/Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, we have supported Kazakhstan's visionary decision to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and to become nuclear free. We are currently working both bilaterally and through the Partnership for Peace program to build new structures for regional stability in Central Asia.

In September, the Central Asian peacekeeping battalion known as CENTRAZBAT held its first exercise with troops from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kurgistan, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, and the United States. The agreements that we have just signed will advance our relationship even further.

The Defense Minister and I signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement that outlines plans for high level visits, additional progress on cooperative threat reduction and defense conversion, and U.S. assistance for professionalizing the Kazakh military with particular emphasis on English language instruction and training for an NCO Corps. General Shelton and Minister Altnybayev signed a military contract plan for 1998 calling for over 40 events and exchanges.

Dr. Warner earlier had signed two agreements covering emergency response and control of nuclear materials. Copies of these agreements are available as you leave, and Dr. Warner's staff will be available to answer any questions you might have.

In closing I'd like to note that our defense ties constitute just one part of the broader relationship between the United States and Kazakhstan. Earlier today President Nazarbayev met with Vice President Gore to discuss a wide range of issues. It was the fourth meeting of the U.S./Kazakhstan Joint Commission. Tomorrow he's going to meet with President Clinton.

Mr. President, once again, let me thank you very much for taking the time to join us here at the Pentagon during this very important commission meeting that's taken place during the last two days. And to indicate to the American press corps that indeed, notwithstanding all of the distance you have traveled to come here, you are very much wide-awake and completely alert.

President Nazarbayev: Dear Secretary, dear ladies and gentlemen. Secretary Cohen has all outlined in great detail what we have accomplished and what we've done today, the agreements we've signed, and I completely agree with him in his estimate.

Our visits to the United States of America are taking place within the framework of our program of cooperation between the United States and Kazakhstan, and our visit to the Pentagon is part of this program, too. It's part of the official working visit in the course of which we are planning to sign very important documents which will predetermine the economic and political cooperation and development of our country.

I would like to point out also that the Republic of Kazakhstan is the second largest CIS country with enormous natural resources, and this is why our major goal, our major reason for being here, and our major strategy is providing peace inside the country as well as outside the country in our region.

We don't have any territorial problems or any territorial conflicts with any countries of the world. Our major goal is the preserving of our territorial integrity and stability in our region.

But despite the fact that our country is a peaceful country, nevertheless, our major goal, and it's a very important goal, is to have very educated highly professional military forces. I think in this respect, we can take advantage of the great expertise of the United States of America.

We have a very successful example of our cooperation over the last few years, particularly in the area of the liquidation of the ballistic nuclear missiles and silos, and silo launchers. Also we see a lot of success in the conversion under the auspices of Nunn/Lugar program.

Currently there are six projects being implemented in this area and we are very happy to find out that the Congress of the United States has approved the PfP program, the United States participation of the Partnership for Peace program, and we are hoping that there will be a separate Partnership for Peace program developed specifically for the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Q: Mr. President, what's your attitude to Iraq? Have you discussed this problem today with your American colleagues? Do you have any advice to the Americans? (Laughter)

A: (Inaudible)

Q: On the way here I promised to the President that the Iraq issue will be left outside the framework of our meetings, but nevertheless what's your opinion, was the repeat of the question.

President Nazarbayev: My position with regard to Iraq is as follows. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations and I think all countries of the world should respect the decisions made by the United Nations. The countries that do not do that should really try to obey because this is the only way for the preservation of peace and stability in the world.

Q: Mr. Secretary, a senior U.S. official traveling with Secretary Albright today said that the United States was discussing with France and Britain the possibility of somewhat easing the oil for food program. Is this concession on the part of the United States, is that a carrot to get Iraq to come across on the inspections?

Secretary Cohen: I'm not familiar with the statement itself, but it appears from what I've learned of that statement, it is simply a restatement of our current policy. Our policy, I believe, is very clearly stated in Resolution 1137, in that Iraq must comply unequivocally with the provisions of the Resolution, and our position is there should be no bargaining in any way until Saddam Hussein is in complete compliance with all the resolutions. At that point, obviously, we have indicated before that our concern and our quarrel has never been with the Iraqi people, it has been with what Saddam Hussein in fact has done to his neighbors and the threat he has posed to regional stability and well beyond the region.

So we were the originators of the 986 Resolution which allowed oil for food, because we have demonstrated our concern and compassion for the Iraqi people. There may be ways, sometime in the future, in which there are opportunities to help in other ways, but there can be no such trading or any carrot in order to get his compliance. He must comply and there should be no compensation or any carrots offered in order to entice him to do what he is legally obligated to do.

Q: So this modest expansion is nothing new?

Secretary Cohen: We are not seeking any deal in order to insist that he comply with his obligations. There should be no question about that. He must allow the inspectors back in without qualification. He cannot determine composition of those inspectors. He must comply with the obligations that he is under. At some time in the future, obviously, all countries would be interested in exploring ways in which the suffering that he has imposed upon his own people might be alleviated, but there can be no carrots dangled for Saddam Hussein in this case. He must comply with existing obligations.

Q: Mr. Secretary, the stated objective of the United States throughout the course of this situation has been to change Saddam Hussein's behavior. Do you believe that there is a military option that can realistically be expected to change his behavior?

Secretary Cohen: We have, in fact, changed his behavior by containing his aspirations. We have changed his behavior by not allowing him, for example, to move south, that would pose a threat to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, and also in the north. So to the extent that he has had desires to move his military operations south and threaten his neighbors, we have changed that.

We have, in fact, following the Gulf War, changed his behavior in the sense that the UNSCOM inspectors, the UN Special Commission were, in fact, able to destroy large amounts of chemical and biological weapons as well as cut up his missiles. So his behavior has been changed as a result of the military action that was taken during the Gulf War. It has been changed since that time by his efforts whenever he has made an effort to expand or enlarge his aspirations, they have been denied. So in a sense, military options have in fact changed.

If you're asking a more fundamental question as to whether or not military operations can ever modify one's behavior, I think that remains to be determined. I think what it takes is really united action on the part of the United Nations to isolate Iraq, to send a very strong message to Iraq that it cannot violate the UN's requirements with impunity. I think that will have, in combination with the ability to back that up through military action if necessary -- if he should threaten the U-2 flight, for example, and attack that aircraft -- I think the power of our military to respond is a very significant factor.

So we don't seek to use military power to encourage a change in behavior. We seek to achieve it through peaceful means and we'll continue to try to do so.

In sum, we have altered his behavior, if not his ambitions. Much will determine in the future whether the ambitions have been altered as well.

Q: Have the U-2 flights taken place or...

A: The U-2 flight is scheduled to take place. The time is reserved, of course, and set by the UN, not by the United States.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you will agree that any kind of agreement should be supported by a certain amount of budget, so we would like to ask you to quote what's the budget for the agreement signed by the Department of Defense with the Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan.

A: Secretary Cohen: We'll get it to you. Our check is in the mail. (Laughter)

Q: Have you discussed the issue of providing the security in the area of strategic oil pipelines, KTK and other companies?

A: President Nazarbayev: Your meetings are actually conducted under the auspices of military technical cooperation, so therefore you did not discuss those issues. Also, there is no need to provide security and defense in any shape or form to the oil pipelines in Kazakhstan. I think if we decide to put the pipelines through Iran or Iraq, then I will have to talk about the security together with Mr. Cohen.

Q: Mr. Secretary, would the United States agree to any change in the composition of the inspection team? Iraq has suggested that if they reflected the composition of the permanent members of the Security Council, that that could be a way out of this conflict.

Secretary Cohen: I don't know how many different ways I can express this. Saddam Hussein, Iraq, is not in any position to demand a change in composition of the UN inspectors. That is a decision that the United States itself will make. It will not be done under the threat of any kind of intimidation by Saddam Hussein. I have drawn the analogy of the person or the individual having been convicted of a crime, and dictating to his parole officer the terms and conditions of his parole status. That is simply unacceptable under our law, under international law, under every sense of decency. He cannot dictate this.

Secondly I'd point out that the composition, if you look at the numbers, we represent only 14 percent of the total number of inspectors included in the inspection regime. If Saddam Hussein is able to say that we want fewer Americans, then the next suggestion will be we want fewer British or we want fewer French, we want fewer Australians, we want fewer Swiss, fewer Swedes, and whatever he should demand.

Again, I point out there's something Orwellian about all of this. Saddam Hussein can claim that he somehow has been victimized by the inspectors that are looking for weapons that are illegal, that are trying to make sure he does not reconstitute his capability in developing such evil chemicals and nerve agents such as VX, or sarin gas, or anthrax. So for him to complain that he is operating under unfair conditions really is Orwellian in nature. It's the equivalent of saying that war is peace; that freedom is slavery; that ignorance is wisdom; that love is hate; and two plus two equals five or six or seven or whatever he dictates. That sort of perversion of language is a precursor to a perversion of our cognitive thinking, so he is not in a position to call for this, in my judgment. Only the United Nations can make that decision, and I don't believe it should be made under duress or coercion.

Saddam Hussein holds in his hands the key to economic liberation and that's called compliance. It's very simple. He need only comply with the UN resolutions and there will be opportunities for the people of his country to be relieved from the suffering that he has inflicted.

Q: Does Dr. Warner have the answer on the budget question?

A: I'll have answers on the budget question. For foreign military financing for non-lethal types of equipment, $1.5 million will be available to Kazakhstan in FY98. For the international military education and training, $550,000 for FY98 in order to support the training, both there in Kazakhstan and by Kazakh officers here in the United States.

As far as the Partnership for Peace participation of Kazakhstan, that would be assisted by our Warsaw Initiative Funds. The total of that is nearly $100 million, but it's used by many, many different countries, and we will develop over the year the appropriate amount made available.

Finally, with cooperative threat reduction, we've appropriated in the past a total of $172 million -- $134 million have already been obligated and the remaining $38 million will be used to finish the work of reducing the nuclear legacy both in the ICBM bombers and nuclear testing that was done in Kazakhstan.

Q: Mr. Cohen, what is your assessment of the level of training of the Kazakhstani companies who participated in the center of that exercise? What do you think was the level, in your opinion? And also, it was mentioned that there will probably be developed a special program of Partnership for Peace just for Kazakhstan. Maybe you can tell us a few words about that.

Secretary Cohen: I think in terms of assessing the level of training on the part of the Kazakhstan military, I will yield to the man who's remained silent, General Shelton.

General Shelton: CENTRAZBAT '97 I think was a great exercise. In fact as Secretary Cohen said, there were seven nations that were actually participating in that exercise. Kazakhstan did a great job and I think as we continue in this cooperative effort that we will see it get even better in the future. Of course we're programmed to do that again in '98 along with about 40 other initiatives within our two forces.

Q: The second question was to the President of Kazakhstan with regard to the separate Partnership for Peace Program.

President Nazarbayev: The Partnership for Peace Program in general is the collaboration between CIS countries and NATO in conducting of the exercise. This program will be a separate collaboration between Kazakhstan and NATO and actually it will be all about conducting the exercise, too.

Press: Thank you.