[Excerpt - only Iraq related item]
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
March 27, 2001
15 UN Sanctions on Iraq
15-17 US Policy on Sanctions/Cooperation with Regional Countries
16 Cooperation with Congress
_MR. BOUCHER_: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any
statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.
_Q_: But we say the same thing about Iraq, and we are looking at retooling
_MR. BOUCHER_: I think in Iraq you have had a much broader set of
sanctions. You have had a set of sanctions that, as the President has said,
are crumbling and need to be refocused in order to achieve their purpose.
I think there is quite a distinction between the kinds of measures against
the Taliban itself versus the need to make the measures against Iraq more
effective in achieving their own purpose, which is to stop Iraq from
getting weapons of mass destruction.
_Q_: I'd like to continue on Iraq, if I could, please. Change of subject.
_MR. BOUCHER_: Fork in the road.
_Q_: Could you explain to us how the US thinks that these retooled
sanctions will work, and why you think that they will be effective in
cutting down on the smuggling that takes place routinely there among Iraq's
_MR. BOUCHER_: At this stage, the important thing, I think, to say is
we know that we have general support from the nations involved, that we
know that the direction is clear. We have broad international support on
the need for strong controls to prevent Iraq from getting weapons of mass
destruction or revitalizing its military capability. We have support for
the idea of enabling civilian goods to reach the Iraqi people.
We will be looking at various aspects of the policy in order to determine
how to implement it. We have to target and focus on weapons of mass
destruction and the equipment to make them. We have to ensure that Iraq
doesn't acquire money on the black market so it can acquire weapons on the
black market. And we have to make sure that smuggling is indeed cut down,
eliminated as much as possible.
This is a very intense process that is going on right now in terms of
looking at the specific steps that we and others can take to achieve those
goals. I would say it is not set in stone at this point. We are looking at
all kinds of mechanisms and ways of working with other governments to
achieve those goals, but we haven't finally come down to a set of
_Q_: Is it necessary to have the cooperation of all of Iraq's neighbors
order for this to work?
_MR. BOUCHER_: It's important to have the cooperation of Iraq's neighbors
where there are significant flows of trade or goods or money or whatever.
It's important to have the cooperation of as many as possible of Iraq's
neighbors. We do think that all of Iraq's neighbors have a very strong
interest in eliminating or not allowing him to develop a capability that
will threaten them. Let's go back to the basic premise that Iraq has been a
threat to its own people and to all of its neighbors, and that all of its
neighbors have an interest in making sure he doesn't rebuild that
_Q_: Richard, were you somewhat dismayed, then, that King Abdullah came
today and called for lifting -- complete lifting of the sanctions?
_MR. BOUCHER_: I don't think I want to comment on any particular individual's
statements and how they are being interpreted because I haven't had a
chance to study them. I would go back to what I have said before, though.
We have been in close touch with governments of the region. As you know,
the Secretary has talked to King Abdullah over the weekend about various
I think it is important -- we will see him in Washington in a week or
We do have broad international support for the kind of strong controls on
Iraq's ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction that we think are
necessary to prevent him from becoming a threat.
_Q_: How much pull have you got in Congress on this, and do you really
congressional support for many of the reforms that you envisage, or is this
something that the Administration can do on its own?
_MR. BOUCHER_: We always work with Congress. We always enjoy the support,
when we can, of Congress. We consult very, very closely with Congress. I'm
not sure that these specific steps, as they are being worked out, require
any specific action of Congress. I would have to see in the end, when we
develop the final package of measure and steps that we wish to take, if
there are any which require that.
_Q_: Is there broad support for this direction, though -- I mean, as
say there is in the region and the countries involved? Is there the same
_MR. BOUCHER_: I don't really have any polling or views or opinions
Congress beyond what we heard during the series of hearings that the
Secretary had over the last few weeks. I would say that there were quite a
number of Members who expressed support for what he was doing.
_Q_: Richard, Iraq's neighbors are saying that while they understand
need for tighter financial controls and they want to ease the economic
sanctions, in order to tighten the financial and military controls, they
need to see an economic benefit and they need to see diplomatically their
own situation improving.
Could you talk about the balance between helping you contain Iraq, but
helping Iraq's neighbors?
_MR. BOUCHER_: I don't think there is any contradiction between an
international effort to stop Iraq from posing a new threat to the region
with weapons of mass destruction or rebuilding its old threat to the region
and its own people, in terms of its own military capability. Everybody in
the region has that interest, in addition to us. As the Secretary has
pointed out many times, the weapons that Saddam Hussein has, that the Iraqi
regime has, are a direct threat to the children of the region even more
than they are to the United States.
So we don't see that anybody has a problem with that. In order to make
an effective policy, you need to have, as I said, control of money that he
might use on the black market to acquire weapons and control of smuggling.
We have talked to individual governments about the kinds of steps that
might be necessary. I don't think there is anything incompatible between
taking those steps and making sure that the Iraqi people can obtain the
civilian goods that they need. And so the economic benefits of such sales
of civilian goods would accrue to the countries involved. The economic
benefits of a civilian relationship with the Iraqi people would accrue to
the countries involved.
So I don't think there is any contradiction between focusing and targeting
on weapons and effectively controlling the threat while maintaining
economic relationships with the Iraqi people that may indeed benefit some
of the countries involved.
_Q_: Thank you.
_MR. BOUCHER_: Okay, thank you.
Released on March 27, 2001
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