Bill Clinton photo

Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials

December 01, 1994

The Briefing Room

2:01 P.M. EST

MR. SPALTER: Good afternoon. And, yet, more briefing. Today we will be reviewing the upcoming CSCE Summit and the trilateral signing of the NPT accession.

Let me just give you a very brief logistical overview of what the day will look like. The President will arrive in Budapest after leaving here Sunday evening, arriving Monday morning. There will be a brief opening ceremony at the CSCE plenary. He will then speak, he will listen to President Yeltsin's speech. He will then go directly to the trilateral signing ceremony on NPT accession, following which -- excuse me -- he will then do a group photo, a bilateral with the Hungarian leadership, and then it will be wheels up. It is likely that a statement will be made by the President on departure, and will return to Washington Monday evening.

Today we have a BACKGROUND briefing with senior administration officials.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, good afternoon. This is going to be, as you all know, a very brief trip, but it's also a very important one. It is part of a broader effort that we have been making since the beginning of this year in particular to develop the whole European security system, and if one goes back to January with the NATO summit, with the launching of the Partnership for Peace and the decision in principle by the Allies regarding the expansion of the Alliance, the events in Budapest will be a kind of a culmination in our efforts to build an inclusive European security system that we hope can provide for greater stability and prevent future crises of the kind that we're seeing in former Yugoslavia.

The President's attendance at the Budapest Summit will come on the heels of the decision today in Brussels by the NATO foreign ministers on the expansion of the Alliance where the allies agreed to initiate a process of deliberations within the Alliance on the issues relating to expansion, and they laid out some important principles that will be guiding that process, making clear that NATO will expand, but this is going to be part of a larger European security structure that involves many different institutions -- the European Union and in particular the CSCE.

So CSCE has been around, of course, since the Helsinki Accords in 1975, but no one would say it's a household word. But we see it as an increasingly important mechanism for dealing with conflict and the worst effects of nationalism in post-Cold War Europe, and we want to see the CSCE strengthened to be even more effective in preventing conflicts, in providing mediation efforts before conflicts get out of control, and in overseeing peacekeeping efforts in Europe when preventive measures fail.

And in this regard, we want to see the CSCE evolve increasingly into becoming kind of the first line of defense for European security problems, consistent with the notion in the U.N. Charter that regional organizations should take the lead in addressing problems in their region.

The President will give an important address on arrival which will address our overall approach to European security, the tasks that we see for the CSCE as it is further strengthened, how this relates to the continued importance of NATO as the primary instrument for U.S. engagement in Europe, how it relates to the process of NATO expansion, and how we want to see the CSCE become more capable of preventing future Bosnias.

Among the specific results of the summit that we're looking toward are, first of all, agreement on principles to guide peacekeeping operations in Europe, and this is an important element of building a better relationship with Russia in the post-Soviet era. We're hoping that the summit will establish certain rules of the road for the conduct of peacekeeping operations so that these are consistent with international standards and under the political oversight of the CSCE, rather than carry it out unilaterally.

We also expect that the summit will strengthen the CSCE's efforts in protecting national minorities, where it has already done some good work in the Baltic States and in Moldova in defusing tensions before they become a serious crisis.

The CSCE will agree on the new framework for arms control measures and confidence-building measures in Europe, focusing on regional measures, given that we already have the CFE Treaty and other continent-wide regimes. We hope to establish a role for the CSCE in the former Yugoslavia, not so much in dealing with the immediate crisis which is in the hands of the Contact Group, but over time to provide for a regime after a settlement has been reached for reducing armaments in the region and for promoting reconciliation and reconstruction in the region. We also hope to enhance the CSCE's role in the economic area as part of our larger efforts at promoting reform and economic integration.

Again, I'll turn it over to the folks who will explain about the denuclearization aspect of the President's visit. But, again, to emphasize: The CSCE is already doing important work, some of it little-known, but we do feel that the crisis in former Yugoslavia, which will, of course, be very much in the background of the discussions, illustrates the need to come up with a more effective approach to managing European security problems, and at the same time, as NATO expands, to develop other institutions which are inclusive, which are universal, include all of the states of Europe and the former Soviet Union, so that we are able to deal with the crises in a more proactive, preventive manner.

Q: Are these peacekeeping forces instead of U.N. forces, or do they go --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The goal that we have set forth -- and it's being pursued in the context of the NagornoKarabakh situation right now -- is that the CSCE, which decided in 1992 that it could lay down the mandate for the conduct of peacekeeping operations in Europe and organize and run the peacekeeping mission, that this should become increasingly the model that is applied in Europe. This doesn't necessarily preclude the use of the U.N., but we would like to see the CSCE developed as the overseeing body in Europe for this kind of thing.

Why don't we go to the statements from the other briefers, and then we'll all answer questions.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I wanted to do two things this afternoon. First to briefly tell you about the ceremony that will bring Ukraine into the NPT and bring into force the START I Treaty, and then talk a little bit about where we are on force structure for each of the countries in the former Soviet Union where nuclear weapons are deployed. There were quite a few questions on that when we had the Ukrainian President visiting 10 days ago, so I thought it would be of some interest; we've had some recent figures come in on that.

First of all, the ceremony at which Ukraine will accede to the NPT and START I will be brought into force is the culmination of the President's efforts over the last two years to ensure that after the breakup of the Soviet Union, three new nuclear weapon states -- Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine -- did not emerge from that breakup. Those are the three countries where nuclear weapons were left, essentially, when the Soviet Union broke up.

This ceremony, in essentially ensuring that those three countries become non-nuclear weapon states, represents a major victory for nonproliferation worldwide. It really, I think, addresses in a major way the threat of nuclear war in the future. We might, instead of having this situation, seen emerging a group of nuclear weapon states in Eurasia where we have seen some destabilizing situations and dangers developing in terms of how nuclear weapons are controlled and overall maintained in secure situations; and, instead, we have countries both committed and actively participating, as we saw last week in the case of Kazakhstan's cooperation with us, to get nuclear materials under safeguards here in the United States. Instead, we have countries who are truly committed to the goal of denuclearization and truly committed to a responsible future in this regard.

The mechanism for accomplishing this has been the Lisbon Protocol. In May of 1992 during the Bush administration, these five countries -- Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the United States, signed up to an arrangement that essentially turned the START I Treaty into the mechanism for ensuring that the weapons would be removed from these countries, their launchers destroyed, and they would not remain with nuclear weapons on their territory.

The second part of the Lisbon Protocol was that Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine agreed to accede to the Nonproliferation Treaty as non-nuclear weapon states. But these were all steps that had to be agreed to by their national parliaments. And over the last two years, an emphasis of the Clinton administration has really been to work very closely with these countries to ensure that they did, in fact, move forward with their denuclearization commitments.

Now, as far as the ceremony in Budapest is concerned, the last of the three countries to accede to the NPT -- Ukraine -- will, in fact, hand over its instrument of accession to the NPT. Ukraine's parliament voted on this only two weeks ago, and we are extremely pleased that happened, as you'll recall, before President Kuchma arrived for his visit on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. So that will be a really excellent, I think, step at this ceremony.

Just to remind you -- Kazakhstan acceded to the NPT in February of 1994, and Belarus was the first that acceded to the NPT in July of 1993. President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan visited Washington in February at the time of the Kazakhstani accession, and Mr. Shushkevich, who was at that time the head of state of Belarus visited Washington in July of 1993 when the Belarusian accession took place.

So Ukraine will join in Budapest, and then each of these three countries will formally receive from the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia security assurances. And this will be, I think, important because it really recognizes these three countries in their overall independence and sovereignty, territorial integrity as being an important focal point for the three NPT depositary states -- the U.K., the United States and Russia.

So those security assurances will be the second piece of the ceremony, and then finally, the five Lisbon Protocol countries -- U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- will bring the START I Treaty into force. So those are the three parts of the ceremony that will take place in Budapest.

Now, let me just close by saying a few words about where are on force structure overall. Ukraine, at its high-water mark, right at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union, had 1840 warheads on its territory. Seven hundred of those have now been deactivated by taking them off the missiles or otherwise removing them from operational status. You may recall there are some airlaunched Cruise missiles in Ukraine. So there are 700 that have been deactivated; of those, 360 have gone back to Russia, and that was under the trilateral statement that was signed in January of 1994 in Moscow. An additional 340 are in storage and are being prepared for transport.

There are a series of trains that have been taking these warheads back to Russia to be destroyed, and so the remaining warheads are in that cue, so to speak.

Kazakhstan is down from its high-water mark of 1,410 to 600 at the present time. All of the 370 bomber warheads in Kazakhstan have now gone back to Russia for dismantlement, and 440 of the 1,040 SS-18 warheads have gone back to Russia for dismantlement.

Belarus -- the 81 SS-25 warheads are down now to 36 still in Belarus; 45 overall have been removed and taken back to Russia. Russia -- the current number is 7,074 warheads at the present time. So those are just some basic facts and figures. Since I got a lot of interest in that last time, I thought I would lay them out, and I'll be happy to answer any questions.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My comments pertain to the entry into force of the START I Treaty, and I wanted to focus them briefly in three areas. First, an historical perspective on how we got here with START I; second, a little bit on what START I does itself, why it's important in its own right; and, third, and perhaps most important, to emphasize the extent to which the entry into force of START I opens the door to much more far-reaching progress.

In terms of the history, entering the START I Treaty into force really sort of completes a saga that began four presidential terms ago, almost two decades ago. The START I negotiations began in 1982. You will recall that the birth of START I really was the failure of the Carter administration's effort to get the United States Senate to ratify the SALT II Treaty. President Reagan had campaigned against SALT II, saying it wasn't real arms reduction, it was simply arms limitation, and he made a great deal of putting the R in the word "START," the word R meaning reductions.

With the start of the negotiations in 1982, however, it wasn't an easy road ahead, and the negotiations to complete the treaty ended up taking 10 years and spanning both Reagan terms and well into the Bush term of office. In fact, the initial U.S. proposals in START I were so one-sided that the talks quickly bogged down and many in Congress themselves had great concern about whether this was going to work out.

So the story of START I through the '80s is a story of a lot of issues that most of you covered -- the MX Missile debates, the nuclear freeze, the nuclear build-down -- a lot of executive congressional interaction trying to come up with a flexible position that still achieved reductions.

And that was finally culminated in the signing of the START I Treaty by President Bush in 1991. The United States Senate moved within a year in 1992 to approve the START I agreement. But it waited until the circumstances that arrived simultaneous with the completion of START I were settled. Those circumstances being that START I was completed just as the Soviet Union broke up.

So it took another six months after the START I Treaty was signed in 1991 to complete the Lisbon Protocol five-nation agreement that my colleague described that turned this bipolar U.S.- Soviet treaty into a multi-party, five-nation treaty. But even then, of course, the work still wasn't done. And what the Clinton administration has concentrated on at the highest-priority level for the last two years is trying to realize the benefits of this treaty by completing this meticulous process of checking off not only the ratification of START I in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, but those countries' accession to the NPT. And, as my colleagues emphasized, with Ukraine's action two weeks ago, we've finally come to this end of the road for START I, 14 years after General Rowny was sent to Geneva was sent to begin these negotiations.

What does it matter, might be your second question, because a most of you know, even though START I has not been formally in force since the Lisbon Protocol, both the United States and Russia and in related ways through the trilateral agreement and others, the other three countries have been moving to either deactivate or remove nuclear weapons in a very steady process.

The significance of START I being entered formally into force in terms of the treaty itself is threefold: First, because the treaty is now formally in force, countries will have to physically destroy the launchers rather than just take warheads off of missiles or take missiles out of silos. So it's the irreversibility of this process of actually destroying the launchers.

Second, with START I comes an extremely complex notification system where virtually all movements of strategic forces on either side here has to be reported through the nuclear risk reduction centers. So with the entering the force of START I, we make a giant step for transparency, and through transparency, confidence-building and stability.

And the third issue has to do with the verification regime, which is unprecedented in terms of its level of detail and complexity -- twelve separate kinds of inspections that will now kick into action with the entry into force of this treaty. The treaty itself reduces strategic nuclear delivery vehicles from the peak levels of the Cold War by about 40 percent. It will remove, physically, the launchers that account for about 10,000 nuclear warheads, and that's a giant step under anyone's measure.

But I would like to close, then, with turning to the third part of my presentation, which is the real payoff from entering START I into force formally, and that is the opening of the door to the road ahead, because we've been stuck, if you will, with regard to START II, an even more far-reaching treaty than START I, since it was completed and signed by President Bush in January of 1993 by the fact that the Russian parliament had refused to consider ratification of START II until START I was in force.

With this step Monday in Budapest, both President Yeltsin and President Clinton have pledged, in their summit communique in September, to set the objective of exchanging the instruments of ratification of the START II Treaty by the next summit, which would be in the late spring or early summer of next year. So we will now be turning to the new Senate, and President Yeltsin will be turning to the Russian Duma, in each case to ask those legislative bodies to proceed with ratification of START II as the first priority in the coming year.

If we achieve that, and can exchange the instruments of ratification of the START II Treaty next year, President Clinton and President Yeltsin agreed at the September summit that both sides would move immediately to begin deactivating or otherwise removing from combat status the warheads whose elimination will be required by the START II Treaty without waiting for the full START II Treaty to run its course through the year 2003.

So we could be in a position late next spring of having START II in hand and having both countries moving immediately to begin taking those warheads off of an active status.

And, finally, with the entry into force of START II, we can begin the negotiations on the next round of strategic arms reduction and limitation, START III. In fact, we're not going to wait for START II to be in force; we're already discussing at the diplomatic level the broad outlines of a framework for a possible START III agreement.

So, START I really then opens the door for rapid movement to START II and beyond, and that's the real payoff Monday in Budapest in terms of this treaty.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, we'll all take your questions.

Q: The Russians seem to have much bigger ambitions than you have for the CSCE, and there seems to be a big discrepancy between Moscow and Washington. Do you think you will be able to find a compromise, and how do you see the relations between the CSCE and NATO? Obviously, the Russians would like in the long term to have NATO subordinate to the CSCE. How do you plan to resolve this problem?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think our positions are not that far apart. Certainly, the Russians have, in the past, set forth a very maximal agenda for CSCE whereby it would become kind of the preeminent European security organization, effectively dominating over all other organizations, including NATO. That, of course, is not acceptable to us. We consider, for the United States, NATO still to be the number one organization from our point of view, but we certainly want to increase the role of CSCE in dealing with the kinds of problems that I think concern the Russians as much as they concern us.

And so I think we've seen already in the negotiations leading up to Budapest that the Russians have not fallen on their swords on their maximal agenda, which is not to say they won't pursue it after Budapest, but we are going to agree to a number of steps to streamline CSCE's decision-making to raise the level of some of the bodies to set forth a new station of the mission of the CSCE. We may even agree to change the name to signify that we are entering a new phase now, transforming it from a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe to an organization.

But we still believe that CSCE's strength lies in its flexibility, the fact that it is a politically-based rather than a legally-based organization, and that it can be strengthened within those parameters. So --

Q: How do you see the relation between NATO and CSCE in the future?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we see them as very complimentary; they perform different functions. They really are not in competition. CSCE is not, and will never become a military organization. In speaking about its role in peacekeeping, we're talking about establishing the political mandate for an operation, providing the political direction, defining the mission and the parameters of the mission, helping to organize participants, but that the actual military component would be provided either by a coalition of member states or possibly by NATO.

NATO decided in '92 to offer its services to the CSCE in peacekeeping. NATO is, at the hard end of the security spectrum, is a military as well as a political alliance, and through Partnership For Peace, it's extending military cooperation to the East, and through its eventual expansion, we hope to further consolidate stability in Europe the way that it did for its own 16 members in the post-war decades.

So NATO can help assist the CSCE in doing what it can do best, and they really have a very complimentary function.

Q: I don't know if you already talked about this, but in terms of peacekeeping, are you going to be discussing this 2000- man Nagorno-Karabakh peacekeeping force at this meeting?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the meeting, of course, was a culmination of a long review conference, which began in September where the serious negotiation has been going on a whole range of issues that will be, we hope, consummated at Budapest. Nagorno-Karabakh and the question of a peacekeeping force to implement a settlement there has been among the issues on the table. It's also being discussed outside the immediate fora in Budapest -- bilaterally with the Russians, with the parties to the conflict, through the Minsk Group, which is the CSCE's ad hoc group that's tried to spearhead mediation efforts to bring the conflict to an end. Whether we'll have a decision on Monday on the establishment of a multilateral force under the CSCE or whether that will still be unresolved, we don't know yet. It's a very complex issue. If it isn't settled by Monday, we will continue to work the problem.

Q: But you're not going to be pushing.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are pushing on it now. It's a very important issue in terms of the future role of CSCE and the future relationship between Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union.

Q: In principle, is the Russian proposal acceptable to you, in this proposal by which they would send peacekeepers from Russia and the neighboring states, excluding European countries, Western European countries, or could it be a mix of both or --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we think that it should be a broader mix of forces, a truly multilateral force. And we have been, I think, quite encouraged by the response of many states in Europe regarding their readiness to contribute to such a force. So we think we could have a force that would be made up in roughly-balanced fashion of countries from Western Europe and Central Europe on the one hand and countries of the CIS on the other. That's what we think is the best thing for everyone concerned, including for the Russians. And we believe that it should be the CSCE that provides the political direction to the operation. So these issues are still under negotiation. So I don't want to give you any sense of the state of play, because it's really a fast-moving one.

Q: When you mentioned the efforts to strengthen CSCE as -- (inaudible) -- to increase security in Europe and resolve disputes -- (inaudible) -- we heard pretty much the same talk and same themes three years ago at the CSCE summit in Helsinki. And there were all these brave statements at the same time that Bosnia was already going up in flames. And it was felt at the time that the CSCE's failure to play a stronger role in Bosnia, really -- its credibility at the beginning of its post-Cold War function. Now, three years later, things are much worse. Can you address yourself to the timing of the summit, vis a vis, what's happening in Bosnia today and what credibility, if any, CSCE has.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the timing, of course, was set by the previous summit which agreed to have summits every three years. And they will revisit that whether they have them every two years or every three years. But on the substance of your point, there's no question that had CSCE or -- and potentially other organizations -- been engaged more effectively at an earlier stage of the Yugoslav crisis, we might have averted the worst.

Institutions are only as effective as the political will of the member states permit and the ability of those states to arrive at a common approach. And that, unfortunately, was lacking as the Yugoslav crisis began to spin out of control back in '90, '91, '92. So as I said, CSCE does need to do better if it is going to become a credible and durable institution for the longer term in preventing future Bosnias from reaching the sorry state that one sees today in the former Yugoslavia. We think that, however, one shouldn't dismiss the contribution CSCE has made even in the former Yugoslavia until a year, year and a half ago, CSCE had monitors in Kosovo, in the Sandzak, in Vojvodina, who were providing a stabilizing influence discouraging deprivation of minority rights and other persecution in those areas.

To our regret, President Milosevic ejected those monitors and the situation is rather tenuous. But this is an example of something that we hope to do in the future -- to reinstate those monitors and provide other kinds of assistance that can avert any further spillover of the conflict in former Yugoslavia. And in the other areas to act sooner so that we don't run out of options.

Q: In terms of the credibility, if you could address that, with the electorates in the member countries of CSCE, never mind the states who are going to be in Budapest on Monday, do you have any kind of foundation, political foundation, in the various home countries of these member states to keep CSCE going, or isn't there a growing unreality about the whole thing? Because here you have a summit, you've got 53 world leaders, including Clinton, at the same time that there's total impotence by these same people, be they in CSCE, UN or in NATO to deal with Bosnia?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, if we judged every institution, every country by the standard of Bosnia, then we would all just fold up our tents, I suppose. The fact of the matter is, CSCE has done many important things, and is doing them today. If one looks at, for example, the tensions that arose over the treatment of the Russian minorities in Latvia, in Estonia, in Moldova, CSCE through its very proactive approach of bringing in mediators, missions of long duration, having a high commissioner on national minorities who can be dispatched on short notice to a situation and provide mediation services, has defused tensions that could have escalated. CSCE has been working doggedly on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through the Minsk Group. And we think we're at least within reach of a political settlement that could end the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis. CSCE helped in another part of the Caucasus in South Ossetia in stabilizing and ending a potentially bloody conflict there.

And, of course, let's go back to the very beginning. CSCE when it was created set forth the basic human rights standards, the norms of behavior, that it is fair to say helped bring about the end of the Soviet Bloc and at least we hope permanent triumph of democracy in the former communist world. It was the -- the ideals and the principles that CSCE represented that had that effect. And those same principles, I think, give CSCE its moral authority. What we're trying to do now is to give it more practical teeth to bring those into effect.

Q: Do you have anything on this report coming out of Brussels that Kozyrev is saying that he's going to put off signing the partnership agreement between Russia and NATO out of concern that they're bringing in the Central Europeans too fast, I guess?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I don't know about that because supposedly that meeting with Kozyrev and the North Atlantic Council was supposed to happen about an hour and half ago. So either it happened, or it didn't. I don't know.

Q: So you don't have anything --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm just not up to date. But I think that we have been quite open with the Russians and consulted with them during President Yeltsin's visit in September, and intensively since then, explaining exactly what we were trying to do at this NATO meeting. We are beginning a process which will be a gradual, evolutionary one. It will be transparent. It will focus on the, as we say, the why and how of NATO membership. It's not going to set any timetable at this stage. We're not choosing candidates, and indeed, the U.S. position is that all members of the Partnership for Peace are potential candidates for NATO membership -- and that includes Russia.

At the same time the NATO ministers reached agreement on an important intensification of NATO's direct partnership with Russia, both within Partnership for Peace, and beyond it -- given Russia's importance and political weight, and taking into account areas where it has a special contribution to make to global security. So we think that this is a strategy that emphasizes our desire to have an inclusive relationship between NATO and all the Partners for Peace, that when NATO expansion occurs, it's not going to be directed against Russia, but part of the broader policy of integration.

CSCE fits into this larger policy as an institution where Russia is a member. Other institutions are expanding in their own fashion -- the European union has more limited geographic horizons as far as it's expansion, but when you take it all together, we think that we can achieve an overall European security system in which Russia feels a part, and not the odd man out.

Q: I have one question. Just in general, it takes a tremendous effort to get the President overseas for basically seven hours of meetings, and it was a decision so late -- that they made rather lately to go in the first place. And some people in the White House were arguing that he shouldn't have gone. My question is, what is going to be accomplished by taking him and all his entourage over there for seven hours that could not have been accomplished otherwise?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, by not staying overnight of course, we save on hotel bills. (Laughter.)

The reason he decided to go -- and it was a difficult decision because of the pressures on his schedule -- the Summit of the Americas coming up a few days later, other important political commitments here at home. But he decided that it was important both for the symbolic demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the CSCE and to a broader engagement in dealing with European security problems, I think particularly because of the continuing agony we face in trying to grapple with the Bosnian crisis, to show that we are very much seized with developing mechanisms that can do better in the future. And at the same time, he sees this as a platform to personally deliver, in the most authoritative terms, our vision of how European security, transatlantic security, should be handled in the future. So he can --


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll finish this point. I think the short time permits him to accomplish a hell of a lot. The speech will only take 10 or 15 minutes, but that will -- and then 52 other leaders will follow him in succession. But that statement, I think, will be a very important one to chart the course for the future. And if he had stayed longer, certainly he could have had some additional meetings on the side with other leaders, but there will be other opportunities for that. But he felt that the importance of CSCE and our engagement in Europe justified even the brief flying visit that he's going to make.

Q: Is there only one bilat?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There is a bilateral -- a formal bilateral with the Hungarian President and Prime Minister together.

Q: And that's the only one --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's the only one scheduled.

Q: Is there a lunch --

Q: Why no meeting with Yeltsin?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The schedule didn't permit one.

Q: When you say one formal bilateral, do you mean there will be other informal meetings or --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There have been no other meetings formally scheduled. We would anticipate that he'll have conversations with the other leaders as they move about between sessions and to the so-called family photo that they will be taking that there will be opportunities for at least brief conversations.

Q: So there will be time to talk to Yeltsin a little bit --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: A little bit. It will just -- of course, during the ceremony, which is the other big reason why he's going, there will be at least a few moments for idle chatter.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My colleague's last comment is the other half of this. Certainly an important consideration in the President's decision was this moment in history that will be culminated on Monday. My colleague can talk to the historical significance of a ceremony at which three countries that found themselves with very large nuclear stockpiles on their soil are willingly agreeing to divest themselves of all nuclear weapons and accede to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states.

That is a phenomenal advance for our nonproliferation policy and the future of the Nonproliferation Treaty and one on which President Clinton's been working hard with the highest priority for two years. He would naturally want to see that through to the final culmination.

And the other part of it, as I tried to stress with regard to START I, is the fact that at this point in history they can exchange the instruments of ratification at the head-of-state level and nail down this achievement in START I and open the door for START II and START III. And all of that is possible because he is going to go there and make it happen at the head-of-state level.

Q: precisely would be diverting of the security guarantees to Ukraine and how would they be different from the trilateral agreement they already subscribed --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me be clear that the security assurances will be extended not only to Ukraine but also to Belarus and Kazakhstan as well. Each of these countries will receive equal security assurances. They are the positive and negative security assurances of the NPT. And, shorthand form, if one of those countries was threatened with attack by nuclear weapons or attacked, we would undertake immediate action with the U.N. Security Council on their behalf, in addition to which we pledge not to be involved ourselves in an attack using nuclear weapons on their territory. So those are the positive and negative security assurances under the NPT.

In addition, there are a number of assurances that get to the independence of sovereignty and territorial integrity of those countries assuring them of that, assuring them against economic coercion. And finally -- and this is where these assurances differ from what was in the trilateral statement -- Ukraine asked for, sought and received the possibility of a consultative mechanism under these assurances. And we believe that is indeed very important. It, in fact, adds an additional mechanism for Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan should they feel in any way a sense of concern about economic coercion, about threats to their sovereignty, that they can return to the forum involving Ukraine -- involving the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia, and seek to redress whatever they perceive to be as a problem. So that is a very important advance, I think, beyond where we were with the trilateral statement.

Q: Are all three presenting their accession papers to the NPT, or just Ukraine.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Just Ukraine. As I said, when the President of Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev, came here in February '94, he brought with him his instrument of accession and deposited it with the United States. The same was true when Mr. Shushkevich came here in July of '93. So they have acceded at this point.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 2:44 P.M. EST

William J. Clinton, Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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