27 June 2002

U.S. Will Work with UN to Aid Earthquake Victims in Iran

U.S. to provide $300,000 in humanitarian assistance

The United States is working with the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance to earthquake victims in Iran, according to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. Boucher made his remarks during the regular noon briefing at the State Department June 27.

Boucher said that following the June 22 earthquake in Iran, the Iranians made their needs known to the UN. In response, the United States has agreed to provide water purification systems, blankets, and personal hygiene kits containing soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Boucher put the value of the U.S. aid package at $300,000.

In a June 22 statement, President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the many victims of the earthquake in Iran, and said, "We stand ready to assist the people of Iran as needed and as desired."

Following is an excerpt from the June 27 State Department briefing containing Boucher's remarks on assistance to Iran:

Q: Any news on assistance to Iran for the earthquake people?

MR. BOUCHER: Actually, I think we've defined working with the United Nations, and they would be Iranians, defined the kind of things that we're going to provide. We'll be providing six 10,000-liter water bladders, two water purification systems, each capable of supporting 10,000 people per day, 5,000 wool blankets, 12,000 personal hygiene kits. That's soap, laundry detergent, toothbrush, toothpaste, things like that. Total value of the aid is approximately $300,000. It'll have to go out with the air freight, take some other — work out some other procedures, and UNICEF will handle taking the stuff and delivering it.

Q So you don't — you're not planning to use U.S. planes for this -

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's contracted transport. And then — .

Q So, well, how — what exactly is the status of all this equipment? You've agreed to give this, and they've agreed to take it?

MR. BOUCHER: We've agreed to give it. We're getting it together. They — this is — we've agreed with the United Nations that among the things that Iran has said it's needed, the United States will supply these. We're working with the United Nations now. We have these supplies. We'll be contracting for the transport and delivering it to the United Nations so that they can handle the distribution.

Q Does that mean, Richard, that apart from the original offer and the Iranian — the original official offer and the Iranian official response to you guys that everything else has been done through the U.N.? In other words, the Iranians go to the U.N. and say, We need this -

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. I think that's what I explained yesterday. The Iranians had said they're interested in what we've provided, would we please talk to the U.N. about how it fits, because they've given the overall plan to the U.N.

Q Right. But the — but the U.N., it takes, what, the Iranians — the Iranian wish list, basically, and then divvies it up between all potential donors? Or do the Iranians specifically say, We want from the U.S. — whatever it is that they -

MR. BOUCHER: We want American water bladders?

Q Yeah. They didn't say that. (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. I think it was done, you know, in consultation. Now, obviously the U.N. and we and the U.N. and the Iranians are in consultation to make sure that what we can provide, what we have, is what they need and fits the bill.

Q Yesterday the Pentagon said that Iranians apparently are no longer allowing tankers carrying smuggled Iraqi oil to use their territorial waters. Can you tell us if there's been any sort of diplomatic contacts on this issue lately and if there's any -

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to see if there's anything we can say on it. I don't know, frankly.

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