Daily Press Briefing - May 14, 2012
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Travel of Deputy Secretary Burns and Deputy Secretary Nides
- Land Route Issue
- NATO Summit Invitation
- United States Condemns the Assassination of Arsala Rahmani / Commitment to Afghan-Afghan Process of Reconciliation
- Dalai Lama
- Police Training Program / Iraq's Increasing Self-Reliance
- Commitment to Achieving Peace
- NORTH KOREA
- Concern about Proliferation Activities
- Chen Guangcheng
- Presidential Election Monitoring
- KOREAN PENINSULA
- Support for a Nonnuclear Korean Peninsula
- 40th Anniversary of the Reversion of Okinawa
- Concerns about Nuclear Activity Intentions
- Encourage Closer Security Cooperation among the Gulf Countries
- Reduced Forces / Resilience of the U.S.-Japan Relationship
Daily Press Briefing
12:51 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: Happy Monday, everyone. I have a couple of things at the top. We’ve got both of our deputies traveling this week. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns will travel to Stockholm, Sweden and Tallinn, Estonia, May 14-16. In Stockholm, he’ll be leading the U.S. delegation to the meeting of deputy ministers of the Arctic Council, where they will be launching new efforts to address climate change, adaption in the Arctic, and they’ll be standing up a new secretariat. He’ll also be meeting with Swedish officials to discuss bilateral issues and their participation as ISAF members in the NATO summit.
He’s also going to be giving remarks at a tree dedication commemorating the centennial of the birth of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. He’ll then go on to Tallinn, Estonia, where he’s going to meet with Estonian officials on bilateral and regional issues, and in preparation for the NATO summit.
QUESTION: What kind of tree is it?
MS. NULAND: I don’t know what kind of tree it is. Let us find out for you, Matt. But it should be strong and lush. Okay.
Then we have Deputy Secretary Tom Nides who’s traveling to Mexico City, Merida, and Cancun, May 15th and 17th. During this trip, Deputy Secretary Nides will focus on global tourism and bilateral regional economic cooperation and prosperity. He’s going to be discussing the U.S.-Mexican economic relationship. He’s also going to give a speech at the American Chamber of Commerce. And he will represent the United States at the G-20 tourism ministerial in Merida and in Cancun. Let’s go with what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: Do you have any updates on the status of the discussions with the Pakistanis over the reopening of the transit – of the supply routes? The foreign – the Pakistani foreign minister said this morning that they think that they have made their point now with the shutoff of the routes, and – which many are taking to be a suggestion that they’re about ready to allow you guys to start using them again. What is the status of that? And is there any update on whether they will be going to Chicago or not?
MS. NULAND: Our team is still in Islamabad working on the land route issue. My understanding this morning is that they have made considerable progress, but they are still working. They are not yet finished with the Pakistanis. I don’t have any further update from what we said on Friday with regard to an invitation to Pakistan from NATO for the summit in Chicago. You heard what Secretary General Rasmussen had to say, but I don’t have anything further.
QUESTION: And then just on – well, on the talks, who is – who’s got the lead on this? Is it you or is it the Pentagon?
MS. NULAND: My understanding is that --
QUESTION: And so when you’re saying “our team,” who is that?
MS. NULAND: -- is that it’s an interagency team I believe the State Department is leading. It’s at a technical level, but let me get that for you, Matt.
QUESTION: Is --
QUESTION: Still on Pakistan?
QUESTION: Just to follow up?
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Is Pakistan – during those meetings there, is Pakistan attaching any sort of preconditions before they’re able to open these routes, like levying new taxes or something like that?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I’m not going to get into the substance of the discussion, but we’re having a full review with the Government of Pakistan on how this transit system works, and all of the issues are on the table in that context.
QUESTION: And how important is that to the invitation about the – Chicago summit?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you heard what Secretary General Rasmussen said. He didn’t make a direct link. He did say, however, that this is something that we want to resolve, that we think is important to resolve, and it’s important for support for Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Okay. And lastly, Foreign Minister Khar this morning said that there will be problems for Pakistan if land routes are not reopened. So has something been conveyed by that interagency team or the U.S. Administration to Pakistan during those meetings or otherwise to prompt that kind of a statement?
MS. NULAND: Well, I haven’t seen her statement, but I think you know this is an issue that we’ve been working on for a long time, that it’s an issue that is something that we’ve tried to cooperate with Pakistan on for a long time. The Secretary and Foreign Minister Khar spoke – I think it was a couple of days before Ambassador Grossman traveled to Islamabad to kick off the whole reengagement strategy. And it was in that context that we began the formal negotiations on the GLOCs. So it’s good news if Foreign Minister Khar is making positive statements about the importance of this for Pakistan, for Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan, for their relationship with us. But as I said, we haven’t yet completed the negotiations.
QUESTION: Just to follow up with this?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: At the same time, she also said, and also the prime minister of Pakistan, that before doors are opened, certain demands must be met by the U.S., which were given beforehand. Is there any comments? Or what are those demands? Or is U.S. ready to move forward?
MS. NULAND: Well again, I think I said here that there is a full discussion underway about all aspects of this, but we haven’t yet come to a conclusion on all the pieces.
QUESTION: Can I ask you --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- something different one – related to Pakistan. Do you have any comments or any information that former Pakistan ambassador to U.S., Mr. Haqqani, he’s seeking U.S. citizenship or maybe he has applied for the U.S. citizenship?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have any information on that. But that, in any event, would be a question for the Department of Homeland Security.
QUESTION: Just going back to the negotiations for a second?
QUESTION: Pakistan --
MS. NULAND: No – yeah.
QUESTION: The interagency – one of the demands – that the Pakistanis have had for a long time before they would reopen this was an apology for the – full-on, not this kind of half apology regrets that this and previous administrations are so fond of using. Do you know if the team that’s there is – do they have the power or authority to apologize on behalf of the United States if that is indeed a Pakistani demand to reopen the supply lines? Or is that issue, as far as you’re concerned, done?
MS. NULAND: Well, the team that’s working on this is a technical team. They are looking at the issues of how you move things from here to there and what the terms for moving them are.
QUESTION: Okay. So they couldn’t – they wouldn’t be in a position to offer an apology if you just --
MS. NULAND: That question is outside their purview. But I think as --
QUESTION: But in – so, okay. Regardless of whether it’s outside or inside their purview, and you’re saying it’s outside, but is that issue for the United States done now? Is that – that’s over?
MS. NULAND: I think we’ve said that we very much regret this incident and we want to move forward and we want to reengage.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Last week, students and parents of Afghanistan urged the Government of Pakistan to – as you know, 4 million textbooks of Afghanistan are lying stranded at the Karachi airport after those routes were closed following November 26th incident. This issue has been taken up by the Afghan president himself at the highest level, but nothing has made – nothing – new progress has been made so far. Are you aware of the issue, and why the children of Afghanistan are suffering through no fault of theirs?
MS. NULAND: I wasn’t aware of this issue, but it makes sense in the context of the land routes being closed. And it speaks to the larger issue that it’s not just about support for the ISAF mission; it’s about support for Afghanistan in general, and in this case the children of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Staying on Afghanistan?
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Any comment on the --
QUESTION: Has the U.S. taken up this issue with the Pakistani authorities?
MS. NULAND: On the particular issue of the textbooks, I don’t have any information. But as I said, we are working very hard on the land routes.
QUESTION: As you’re aware, an Afghan peace negotiator was killed over the weekend. Any comment on that? And what does it say about your strategy of Afghan-led talks to try to find a political end to the conflict?
MS. NULAND: Arshad, I think the White House actually issued a statement on this issue on Saturday or on Sunday. But let me just reiterate here that the United States strongly condemns the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council member Arsala Rahmani. The High Peace Council has been working for a durable and long-term peace in Afghanistan, and those who attack members of the Peace Council are out of step with the Afghan people.
With regard to the larger question of our efforts to try to foster an Afghan-Afghan process of reconciliation, we remain committed to trying. It’s the Afghan – it’s the Taliban who have put a pause on the talks, as Ambassador Grossman and others have made clear.
Moving on? Still in the region?
MS. NULAND: Go ahead.
QUESTION: The Dalai Lama, in an interview last week, said that he has information that there have been plans to kill him, assassinate him, and the plans have been made in the Tibet region. Do you have any information on that? Have the Tibetan authorities informed you, shared that information too?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have any particular information, but I think you know where we stand on the Dalai Lama. He’s obviously a Nobel Laureate, internationally revered religious and cultural figure, and we would call on all to protect him and protect what he stands for.
QUESTION: If he has asked the U.S. for any additional – any kind of protection or if he has discussed this issue with the U.S. officials?
MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, neither is the case.
Yeah. Please. Moving on?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: I realize this was addressed by the Embassy yesterday, but I just want to get from here – you know what I’m talking about, yes? – in terms of the elimination, or reported elimination, of the Iraqi police training program. This – the report said that it was being considered that the whole program could be – could vanish, that it could go away. The Embassy, while it denied that, didn’t say that it wouldn’t be substantially cut or whittled down to a mere fraction of what it originally had been planned to be. Can you just clarify what exactly is – what are the plans for the police training program?
MS. NULAND: Well, first let me clarify we have no intention to cancel our police training program in Iraq. What we are engaged in, in collaboration with the Iraqis, is a right-sizing exercise for this program along with all of our programs. As you know, we are absolutely committed to, first of all, supporting Iraqi self-reliance. So if they tell us they need less support, we are going to downsize. And in this case, they are asking us to continue the advisory and training program but to downsize it, and also to saving the U.S. taxpayer money wherever we can.
So I can’t give you a final size for this. We are in the evaluation process now, working with the Iraqis. But we do anticipate we’re going to be able to downsize it considerably while continuing to be able to support the Iraqis on the police training side.
QUESTION: Okay. This is the second time in – since the beginning of the year that this particular publication has written something about the Embassy which you had a serious dispute with. Both times it has been cast – the reports have cast these reductions or slashing of personnel as serious miscalculations by the Administration in terms of its Iraq policy. What’s your feeling about that, that characterization of it?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, it’s important to appreciate that we are in a new phase with Iraq. We’re in a phase where it is up to the Iraqis to decide precisely what kind of footprint they want by foreign support, foreign countries offering support, offering assistance in the context of their overall approach to their sovereignty. So we very much need to respect that this is a collaborative decision how much support they want on the police training side.
So we’re trying to be in step with their increasing self-reliance. We’re trying to do this in a negotiated, phased, managed way. But we’re also trying to make clear to Iraqis that we think we have valuable training, valuable advice to offer, as we do to some hundred countries around the world. So we’re going to work this through, but I think folks need to get on the program that we have a sovereign Iraq who’s going to make its own decisions about how much outside support it wants.
QUESTION: All right. So you agree or disagree with the characterization that this is – that this represents a serious political – or a serious policy miscalculation?
MS. NULAND: Well, of course I’m going to disagree with that. Thank you.
QUESTION: Was the report correct that the Administration has spent $500 million so far on the police training program?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have the total amount here, but as you know, we’ve been involved in police training from the beginning of the Iraq operation, as far back as 2003. I can take the question if it’s of interest to you to sort of tote it all up. But we were involved in police work ourselves, police training for the Iraqis from the beginning, the standing up of their own professional police forces. I don’t think anybody in that country wanted to submit themselves to the old Saddam-ite police, so it needed a bottom-up work and cleansing. So --
QUESTION: One other thing. The report alleged that much of the training provided by the United States, and in particular by the State Department since the departure of the U.S. military from Iraq, was not helpful to the Iraqis, that it consisted of retired or late-in-their-career American state troopers telling war stories about how they conduct their activities in the United States.
And it cited one anecdote in which it said that the two key indices of someone possibly going to – planning to launch a suicide bombing were: one, that they would withdraw a lot of money from the bank; and two, that they’d go out and get drunk. And it suggested that those were perhaps not very apposite indicators for Iraq where: one, a lot of Iraqis don’t have bank accounts; and two, a lot of Iraqis don’t drink. Do you – how do you address the criticisms in the story that regardless of how many millions were spent on this, that the training wasn’t actually all that useful?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, I’m not going to get drawn into parsing the anecdotes in a story with which we took considerable issue, both in its macro assertions and in many of its details. We had considerable difficulties with that story, as the statement from Embassy Baghdad made clear.
With regard to the integrity of the police training that we do – we have done in Iraq over these many years, we stand by it. The Iraqis have a new, modern, more democratic police force largely as a result of the support of the international community led by the United States. I’m obviously not in a position to speak to every individual involved in this, but all over the world we rely on the expertise of retired officers from the United States, from other countries, who are willing to participate in these training programs. And they participate on the basis of their experience in democratic law enforcement, not to hang around and tell inappropriate war stories. So we stand by the program. And if you’d like more on the numbers, et cetera, we can get you a separate briefing.
QUESTION: Can I just – the last one this?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just given the severity of the differences that you had with this, has there been any contact between the Department or anyone – any senior officials in the Department and the editorship of the publication in question?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not going to get into our discussions with the --
QUESTION: Well, have you asked for a correction or clarification or --
QUESTION: Or a retraction?
MS. NULAND: We have made absolutely clear in our public statements and in our messages to that publication how we feel about the story.
QUESTION: But does that mean that you’ve asked for a retraction or a correction or some kind of – I mean, after the first one, you demanded one. And you were quite open about it, and you got one.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think we’re still working on that set of issues.
QUESTION: Change topic?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yes. Victoria, today marked the 64th – or Palestinians marked the 64th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe. I wonder if you have anything to say to them at this day as they continue to languish in refugee camps for the past 64 years despite a very clear resolution calling on them to return to their homeland.
MS. NULAND: Well, broadly, as you know, I hope that they would appreciate how hard we are working ourselves, how hard we are working as a member of the Quartet, to try to foster and support a process where Israelis and Palestinians will get back to a table and work with each other on the resolution of these long standing issues: a lasting peace where both Israelis and Palestinians can live together, can be democratic, can be secure, can be good neighbors to each other.
In that regard, I think you know that Secretary Clinton spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the end of last week. She’s also spoken with President Abbas on Saturday just prior to the meeting that President Abbas had with the Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molho. They have now had an exchange of letters. They have now had a joint statement issued by both the Israelis and the Palestinians in which they both reemphasized their commitment to achieving peace. So let us hope that this will give us some foundation to continue to move forward towards the goals that the Palestinian people seek and that the Israeli people seek.
QUESTION: Do you feel that the Palestinians are closer today than they were a year ago to sort of ending the occupation?
MS. NULAND: I’m not in a position to give this a report card. It’s difficult. It’s always been difficult. But we all have to keep rolling up our sleeves and working on it.
QUESTION: Okay. But lastly, do you feel that as time goes by, there’s more progress that is being made?
MS. NULAND: I think that we are cautiously optimistic that this exchange of letters, the positive joint statement that was issued, can give us some foundation to move forward. That is our hope. That is what we’re going to work for.
QUESTION: Hi. The UK’s Daily Mirror reported that North Korea has apparently been --
QUESTION: No, wait. Can we just stay the Palestinians for one second?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have any – you were asked a couple times – or maybe Mark, while you were away – about the hunger strikes among the Palestinian prisoners. And are – now, apparently, there’s a deal to end that. Do you have any comment about that at all?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’ve seen – I saw the reports just before coming down that after intensive efforts over the weekend, there may now be some sort of an agreement. Frankly, we don’t have any official information about that. But as we always do, we call on all sides to seek a resolution, to refrain from escalating the situation. So we look forward to hearing about any kind of a brokered arrangement.
QUESTION: I believe the people have brokered an agreement.
MS. NULAND: That was the report that I also saw, but we don’t have any official information.
Nicole, on to DPRK.
QUESTION: I was going to ask about this report in the UK’s Daily Mirror that North Korea is selling weapons of mass destruction to Syria and Iran through a mining company, apparently. I’m just wondering that – they cite the British Foreign Office as a source, and I’m wondering if the State Department has seen the same activity and shares the same concerns.
MS. NULAND: Well, I can’t speak directly to the Daily Mirror account. I will say that we have long had concerns about this entity KOMID as North Korea’s premier arms dealer and its main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons that are designated under UN Security Council Resolution 1718. And we continue to urge the international community to abide by these resolutions.
We remain extremely concerned about North Korea’s proliferation activities and related equipment. North Korea has for many years tried to market its missile technology and its equipment, and these exports undermine security in the region, and they earn revenue that the regime uses to fuel its own weapons program. So it’s very dangerous activity, and we’ll continue to work with all of our partners to stop this kind of proliferation.
QUESTION: Staying in the region, Japan real quickly. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the Okinawa reversion. I was wondering if the State Department has any statement on that, especially in light of the fact that there are still multiple bases on Okinawa.
MS. NULAND: I think I do, somewhere here. I did have something on Okinawa, but I am not finding it for you. Let me get that for you after we finish here, okay?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything new to report today except that we have continued throughout the weekend to remain in close contact with him, in close contact with his family. My understanding is that he is continuing to work with his government on his travel arrangements, and we look forward to welcoming him here.
In the back, Tejinder.
QUESTION: Do you have any communication with the Indian Foreign Ministry or Indian Embassy about the deportation of a 30-year-old Indian American woman who was adopted when she was just three months old, and now she is being deported? Do you have any --
MS. NULAND: If it’s a deportation case, again, I’m going to send you to the Department of Homeland Security for any update on that.
QUESTION: Yeah, but they said that about – that the child rights activists in India have written to the foreign minister of India, Mr. Krishna, about this, and he is supposed to have contacted this building.
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything for you on that, Tejinder. If that changes, I’ll let you know.
QUESTION: If you can take the question, and send you the details?
MS. NULAND: I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we have our folks look into it, if we have anything for you in particular, but it sounds like a DHS case to me.
QUESTION: Yes, please. Egypt.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
MS. NULAND: Well, first let me say that we are delighted that Egypt is allowing international monitoring and Egyptian witnesses for the election. This is a very, very important step. We do not plan to have an official U.S. witness delegation, however.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea if you are going to support other NGOs or other groups or congressmen or other delegations or --
MS. NULAND: I don’t have any information about U.S. participation in the witness --
QUESTION: You are just welcoming it?
MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Welcoming? You said delighted. That’s – I haven’t heard that before. You’re delighted? Really?
QUESTION: If you’re so delighted, why not – why shouldn’t the United States send an official delegation? I mean, it’s a great thing that they’re inviting people in. Why shouldn’t the U.S. --
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously our Embassy will be there and will be taking a look-see on election day. But I think we considered that in this case, it’s best to have others do the witnessing.
QUESTION: But what about the admittance of – would you encourage or discourage members of nonprofit groups that specialize in election monitoring, some of which have had very significant problems in Egypt in the last several months – would you discourage them from going, given that, at least as far as I’m aware, there has been no resolution to your concerns about the ambiguities in Egyptian law under which groups and individuals are prosecuted?
MS. NULAND: Well, it’s a decision for those groups to make whether they want to participate in this.
QUESTION: So you don’t have any advice to them one way or the other?
MS. NULAND: Not from this podium.
QUESTION: But is that one of the reasons why there won’t be an official observation mission?
MS. NULAND: I think that our sense of this is that our Embassy staff can appropriately give a – get a sense for how things go on election day. I think you know that our hope is for a free, fair, transparent election in which as many Egyptians as possible participate, but I don’t think that there is an intention to do any U.S. monitoring. That might be --
QUESTION: Well, so given your delight, you can expect them with unrestrained glee to be running out into the – watching the streets of polling places of Egypt? Do you know how many people from the Embassy would be doing this?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t think you should think about this as an official American witness or monitor operation. As all of our embassies do around the world when there’s an election underway, I’m sure that they will be in contact with their various Egyptian friends and contacts for a sense of how the day went, but we are not mounting an official monitoring operation.
QUESTION: Toria, are you aware of any U.S.-funded NGOs that may have coached or trained the presidential contenders for the debates?
MS. NULAND: I am not aware of anything like that. I don’t – that’s not the kind of work that we do, as you know.
MS. NULAND: We don’t work with individual candidates in that sense.
QUESTION: Would the government mind for the Carter Center to monitor the election?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t have any information about any individual NGOs participating. If I get more on that, we’ll let you know.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- the House Armed Services Committee last week approved an amendment that could allow for tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea. Does the State Department have a reaction to the possibility of adding more nuclear weapons to the peninsula?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, our policy remains support for a nonnuclear Korean Peninsula, so we don’t have any plans to change that policy. Tactical nuclear weapons, in our view, are unnecessary for the defense of South Korea. So we don’t have any plans or intention to deploy them there.
QUESTION: I have a related question on --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
MS. NULAND: Again, I had something earlier today on Okinawa to mark the anniversary, and I have to tell you that I cannot find it, so we’ll have to circulate it for you a little bit later. I apologize for that.
QUESTION: So I have a question. In the year of 2000, there was a G-8 summit in Okinawa. President Clinton made a speech that United States was going to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces in Okinawa. It’s been 12 years, but only the discussions have been going on, that – without any significant implementation. So what is your response to that?
MS. NULAND: With regard to the resolution of the --
QUESTION: No, reducing the footprints of U.S. forces in Okinawa.
MS. NULAND: Well, we spoke about that about a week and a half ago just before Prime Minister Noda was here about the updated arrangements that we’ve now been able to conclude with the government. So we’re pleased about that, and now all sides have to implement it. And I have found my 40th anniversary statement; it was buried deep under lots of other fabulous Asian issues.
So let me take this from the top: As you said, it’s the 40th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa. The reversion of Okinawa was one of the most significant achievements in the history of U.S.-Japan relations. Due to its geographic location, Okinawa plays a crucial role in the defense of Japan and the preservation of peace and security in the region. U.S. forces on Okinawa are ready to respond to regional contingencies, including humanitarian crises and international disasters. That said, we recognize the impact that our bases have had on local communities and we’re committed to addressing them, as we said in our recent statement at the time of the 2+2 meetings. And as we mark this important 40th anniversary milestone, we recommit ourselves to strengthening the connection between Japan and the United States in Okinawa through people-to-people ties.
QUESTION: Okay. I got one.
MS. NULAND: More?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: There were reports over the weekend – well, one specific with a – that had a drawing of some kind of a chamber that Iran is allegedly using for – or could be using it in its nuclear weapons or attempt to get nuclear weapons. And I just wanted to make sure I – is it the Administration’s position that Iran does have a military nuclear weapons program that under – that it is attempting to develop nuclear weapons in a military program? Is that the position of the U.S.?
MS. NULAND: The position of the U.S. is that we’ve had concerns about Iran’s intentions with regard to its nuclear activity, that we are calling on Iran to participate with the IAEA to make the kind of transparent, open access to all of its facilities that would reassure all of us with regard to its intentions. It claims its facilities are peaceful; if they’re purely peaceful, then there ought to be no difficulty allowing full inspection thereof. So our issue is one of concern; I don’t think we’ve made a judgment one way or the other, but our issue is one of concern, particularly in the context of all of the difficulties that we’ve had getting compliance with international obligations, getting access for the IAEA, and much of the reporting that we have about activity, it – whether it’s at Parchin or at other places.
QUESTION: So your assessment is that you don’t know or --
MS. NULAND: We --
QUESTION: -- you’re concerned? You --
MS. NULAND: We have concerns about some of the activity that we know about and why it would be ongoing if, in fact, the program is purely peaceful, because some of the things we’ve seen are inconsistent with a peaceful program.
QUESTION: All right. Well, what about in terms of a military component to it? Are you – does the United States believe that Iran does have a military component to its atomic activities?
MS. NULAND: Again, much – some of this activity that we’ve seen is not consistent with a peaceful program. It is consistent with a military program, so we have concerns.
QUESTION: Well, when you speak specifically about this picture that is believed to be, I think, expressives – I’m going to say it wrong – explosives compression chamber – that perhaps the Iranians – there has been concern over the last few months that Iran was testing a nuclear trigger device. Do you believe that specifically Iran is taking steps to test any components of a – I’m not necessarily saying a nuclear weapon, but that they’re making any steps to test any components of a nuclear weapon?
MS. NULAND: Elise, I have to tell you, I haven’t seen the picture that you’re referencing, and frankly, I’m not sure whether I could get into a full assessment of what we believe without getting into intelligence information anyway. But if we have any more to say on this picture that I understand is circulating now, we’ll get back to you.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: They just concluded their meeting in Riyadh – the Gulf Cooperation Council countries; it’s a consultative meeting – and they have agreed to a new security pact apparently to counter whatever activities Iran might have. Are you concerned that this actually – one, do you have any coordination – as the U.S. – have any coordination in the creation of this new security arrangements? And second, will – are you concerned that this may accelerate a new arms race with Iran?
MS. NULAND: Well, I haven’t seen the announcement from the GCC, but I think you know that we have, for a number of years, encouraged closer security cooperation among the Gulf countries. When the Secretary was in Riyadh earlier this year in that GCC-plus-U.S. format, it was very much designed to try to strengthen the cooperation they have with each other on issues like missile defense, on coastal security, these kinds of things. So the degree to which they’re taking steps on their own, that’s a good thing, and it gives the potential to be more efficient if they collaborate and cooperate with each other on security and to make them all more secure.
QUESTION: But you would be leery of an accelerated arms race with Iran?
MS. NULAND: Again, the posture of those nations and our work with them is primarily designed to provide external defense and external security against threats that they face from wherever they come. This is not directed in an offensive manner in any way.
Okay. Please. One last --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: I think the discussions to reduce the footprints of U.S. forces started in 1996. And why do you think it’s taking so long time to implement – to reduce the forces? Because of the importance of Okinawa?
MS. NULAND: Well, forces have been reduced quite a bit over the years. There are very, very complex issues, as you know. There are national issues. There are local issues. There are human issues. There are security issues. There are environmental issues. There are lots of stages that have to be gone through by both sides. So I think what’s most important is the resilience of the U.S.-Japan relationship and our commitment to each other that’s kept us working at it and kept us staying in a collaborative mode and allowed us to get to the stage that we’re at now.
Okay. Thank you very much.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:26 p.m.)