13 May 2004
U.S. Lauds Libya's Move to Curtail Trade with WMD Proliferators
State's Bolton calls announcement "an important step forward"
The Bush administration welcomed Libya's May 13 announcement that it would not deal in military goods or services with countries that it considers "of serious weapons of mass destruction proliferation concern."
Speaking at the May 13 State Department briefing in Washington, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said Libya would also announce a pledge to renounce trade in missiles and related equipment and technology with countries that are not members of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
The announcement is "an important step forward and an indicator of Libya's seriousness in abandoning weapons of mass destruction proliferation and rejoining the international community," said Bolton.
Bolton said Libya was including North Korea, Syria and Iran among the countries with whom it had renounced all military trade.
"[W]hen a state like Libya, which was pursuing weapons of mass destruction and advanced delivery systems, not only gives up the pursuit of those assets but says it's not going to have military dealings with other states that are pursuing weapons of mass destruction, I think that's a very important step forward," he said.
He said the United States is satisfied with the progress that has been made thus far in implementing Libya's decision to give up its weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration is working to remove chemical weapons agents and Scud B missiles from the country, he said.
The May 13 announcement, he said, is "a continuing example of Libya's openness and transparency in giving up weapons of mass destruction, [and] we hope this will be a productive example for others in the region and around the world."
The under secretary said North Korea had provided Libya's Scud missile arsenal, and has been one of the main sources of ballistic missile technology proliferation throughout the world. "They have used the hard currency earnings from that proliferation to finance their nuclear weapons program," he said.
Bolton also described Iran and Syria as "very serious proliferant states."
Following is an excerpt from the May 13 State Department briefing:
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a brief announcement, and that is that Under Secretary John Bolton is here with me to make a brief announcement.
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Thank you, Richard. I have a very brief prepared statement on the subject of Libya, and then I'd be happy to address a couple questions on it.
Today, the Libyan Government issued the following statement. I am now quoting from the Libyan statement:
"As part of its efforts to strengthen peace and stability in the world, in the context of which Libya announced in December 2003 that it renounced programs, materials and equipment which might lead to the production of internationally banned weapons or delivery systems, as classified by the MTCR, Libya wishes to announce officially the application of this decision to its military dealings with other states.
"Libya will not deal in any military goods or services with states which Libya considers to be of serious weapons of mass destruction proliferation concern." Close quote on the Libyan statement.
Libya has also indicated that it will shortly announce its pledge to renounce trade in missiles and missile-related equipment and technology with countries that are not members of the missile technology control regime.
The United States welcomes this statement and regards it as an important step forward and an indicator of Libya's seriousness in abandoning weapons of mass destruction proliferation and rejoining the international community. We are particularly pleased that Libya has now committed to ending all military trade with states of serious weapons of mass destruction proliferation concern.
That's the end of the prepared statement. I'd be happy to answer a couple of questions.
QUESTION: Do your lists -- does your list and theirs match up? And who are these states --
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- as you understand Libya to mean?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Yes, we have discussed this question expressly with the Libyans and do have an understanding of what it covers. And that's why this is a particularly important announcement because the Government of Libya has assured the United States and the United Kingdom that its renunciation of all military trade with states of serious WMD proliferation concern includes North Korea, Syria and Iran.
We welcome Libya's announcement that it has decided to give up military trade with North Korea, Syria and Iran. All three of those countries are indeed states are very great proliferation concern, especially North Korea, which uses its exports of military technology to finance other dangerous activities. Libya's renunciation of military relationships with such proliferators is an important step forward.
QUESTION: How much business do you believe Libya was doing with these three countries? How big a provider was it, or an importer, either way?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, North Korea had been the provider of Libya's Scud Missile arsenal, which included five Scud C's, which have been removed from Libya pursuant to the Libyan December declaration, and several hundred Scud B's, a lower range ballistic missile which Libya has agreed to, as part of its general commitment not to have missiles that go beyond the MTCR parameters, 500 kilograms, over 300 kilometers, to bring those missiles within those constraints or to eliminate them.
QUESTION: Is that the --
QUESTION: Yeah, I was just wondering what -- why you're making this announcement on behalf of the Libyans?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I didn't make the announcement on behalf of the Libyans. I quoted the Libyan announcement and responded to it.
QUESTION: Which was, what, transmitted to your people in Tripoli?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: It was made in Tripoli earlier this morning.
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Publicly.
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: The Libyan Government.
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. But in what way? Was it communicated directly to you guys?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: As you say, I don't speak for the Libyan Government. I don't have this transmitted --
QUESTION: No, I'm just --
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: My understanding is it was announced publicly.
QUESTION: But this came -- but this statement that you got here came from your interests -- whatever, your liaison office that you -- that you have in Tripoli?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: You know, where did the electrons come from? I don't know.
QUESTION: Mr. Bolton, Libya -- Pakistan was the source for the Libya and the relations in the technology and missile and nuclear and all. Do you think that Libya will continue to deal with Pakistan?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: The question of Libya's dealings with the other countries that I've indicated is that we have discussed with the Libyans the three countries that I've named. The announcement they will make on missiles will restrict it further to MTCR member countries.
And that's what we have to say about it.
QUESTION: Is the Libyan decision preceding now an imminent restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, the course ahead has been determined by prior negotiations. I'm limiting my comments today to the subject of this further elaboration of the Libyan commitment to foreswear weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: Can you give us an update on exactly where the Libyans are now in terms of having given up existing WMD programs? Do they have anything left? If so, what?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Yeah. There are still some aspects of the chemical weapons program that need to be eliminated. Obviously, the agent itself is a highly dangerous substance and has to be eliminated under conditions of appropriate health and safety regard, and we're still working on that. The issue of the Scud B's remains, although the -- and the question of what we call phase three, or the longer term implementation issues. But we're working ahead on that. We're satisfied with the progress we've made. This announcement today is a further step in that direction.
QUESTION: What's the chemical agent that you alluded to there?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Various kinds of chemical weapons agents.
QUESTION: Right here?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Second row.
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Second row.
QUESTION: Oh, Nicholas.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, John, how much of that was actually negotiated in detail with the United States or Britain, or how much is -- is it simply an unilateral decision, good gesture, or what?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: We discussed this with the Libyans. That's why we have an understanding on what countries are covered. And this was something that's a further indication of the nature of the relations and the cooperative aspect of the work that they've been doing to eliminate their weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: How much business do you think that this will choke off from Syria, Iran and North Korea? I mean, were these -- was Libya a major purchaser?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, I think, particularly, with respect to North Korea, the sales of the Scud B's and the Scud C's over a period of time was a pretty substantial money earner for the North Koreans. And, as we know, North Korea has been the world's greatest proliferators of ballistic missile technology. They have used the hard currency earnings from that proliferation to finance their nuclear weapons program.
So this is a symbol by Libya of a decision not to have any further purchases from North Korea of any military goods or services, particularly on the missile front. It is consistent with what we have urged other states in the region to cut off their purchaser relationships with North Korea, as part of our overall effort to squeeze North Korean WMD sales to reduce the amount of money they have for their nuclear weapons program.
QUESTION: John, can I follow up? But in terms of -- so, in terms of the effect, are you hoping this will have more of a symbolic effect with other countries of the region? Or do you think that this will significantly curtail North Korea's -- or any of these other states proliferation programs?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: I think that the -- it has an immediate impact by definition because Libya will not engage in any purchases. And I think as an example, a continuing example of Libya's openness and transparency in giving up weapons of mass destruction, we hope this will be a productive example for others in the region and around the world.
QUESTION: Can I just ask --
QUESTION: Can I just ask the practical effect with Iran and Syria? Were there continuing, or were there military sales?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, not to get into the specifics, the point is, Iran and Syria are very serious proliferant states, states we consider, in the case of Iran, of sufficient concern. We've been trying for some time to get the matter referred to the UN Security Council.
So when a state like Libya, which was pursuing weapons of mass destruction and advance delivery systems, not only gives up the pursuit of those assets, but says it's not going to have military dealings with other states that are pursuing weapons of mass destruction. I think that's a very important step forward.
And, I guess, Richard, did you want --
MR. BOUCHER: Last one, on this side.
QUESTION: Will this, the renunciation, sir, will it automatically translate into delisting Libya from the State Sponsors of Terror?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: No, that's really a very separate question.
QUESTION: How will that come up? How will that be --
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: That's being handled in a separate track. I'm just addressing the WMD issues.
QUESTION: Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Okay. Thank you very much.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you very much on that topic. Thank you, Under Secretary Bolton, in particular, for coming
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