Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing: Building Nuclear Reactors in Iran

March 2, 1995

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

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MR. PELLETREAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Feinstein. To summarize the statement I've submitted for the record, we continue to view Iran and Iraq as the chief threats to security in the Middle East, as well as to U.S. interests in the region. Over the past two years, the administration has led the world in applying substantial pressure on both countries, with some measure of success. We have expended enormous political, economic, and military resources to countering real and potential threats from Iran and Iraq. We do not, however, treat the two countries in the same fashion. Each poses different challenges. Therefore the tools we use are different. This is what we mean by dual containment.

U.S. policy toward Iraq remains constant. We seek full compliance with all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions passed after Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990. The United States has argued to the Security Council that the Council must be assured of Iraq's long-term peaceful intentions, which to date are demonstrably anything but peaceful. We are absolutely opposed to modifying sanctions until Iraq demonstrates overall compliance with its obligations under the resolution.

President Clinton recently dispatched Ambassador Albright to Security Council capitals to express his determination to maintain sanctions as long as Iraq falls short of full compliance. As a result of U.S. leadership, a solid core within the Council concurs with our insistence on the standard of full compliance. We fully expect that the sanctions will remain intact when the Council again reviews the issue on March 13th.

Iran continues to pursue policies that we find abhorrent and are a threat to vital American interests. We are convinced that Iran will have no reason to change its behavior until the world community exacts a sufficiently high economic and political price. Our policy, therefore, is aimed at pressuring Teheran to halt its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, its sponsorship of terrorism and violence designed to undermine the Middle East peace process, its attempt to destabilize countries of the region, and its record on human rights abuses.

The United States enforces the strictest unilateral trade regime against Iran in the world, as established by U.S. law and regulation. Iranian exports to the U.S. are banned, with some limited exceptions. We also maintain a stiff and comprehensive embargo against U.S. exports to Iran of military and dual-use items. We deny any government export credits, loan guarantees or export insurance for Iran. And we have led efforts to stop all lending to Iran from international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, since 1992.

Iran's behavior places it outside the realm of normal relations, and requires focused collective pressure if we are to be successful in obtaining a change in Iranian action. There are no U.N. or multilateral sanctions directed against Iran, and there is no detectable international sentiment to apply any. Thanks to U.S. leadership, nearly all of our industrialized partners cooperate in our effort to prevent Iran from acquiring arms and items controlled under multilateral non-proliferation regimes.

Most nuclear suppliers, including our major allies, have assured us that they will not engage in any nuclear cooperation with Iran, even under safeguards. Russia and China remain exceptions, as they place more faith in the safeguards regimes than we do. We remain engaged with both governments on this issue. Our concerns regarding Iran remain high, and we continue to look for means that will allow us to intensify pressure on Teheran. The administration is engaged in a comprehensive inter-agency review of the tools available to us that will allow us to demonstrate our determination to send the clearest possible message to Iran that the American people reject Teheran's policy of violence and terror.

Mr. Chairman, before we turn to questions, let me also briefly address concerns that U.S. efforts to contain these states may ultimately drive them together. We doubt this is a realistic prospect. This is an historical enmity between these two societies that reaches back more than a thousand years. Despite the occasional coincidence of views, their mutual enmity remains. The appalling toll of the Iran-Iraq war is still fresh in people's memories on both sides. POWs from each side are still being held by the other side. As I've stated, the success of our policies toward both of these countries requires not only firm U.S. unilateral action, but the collaboration of other influential governments and a willingness to stay the course of constant pressure on both regimes.

My colleague, Dr. Nye, will point out it's also essential that we maintain an effective military presence to be in a position to respond quickly in the event either Iraq or Iran actively threatens other countries in the region. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.



Assistant Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense


MR. NYE: Mr. Chairman, it's a pleasure to appear before you and Senator Feinstein. And I should say I will be brief in my oral presentation so we can turn questions. You have my written statement.

Either Iraq or Iran, under their current hostile regimes, could pose a serious threat to the Gulf. Let me first deal with Iraq, and then I'll turn to Iran. On Iraq, it's worth noting that Iraq lost about half of its conventional military capability during the Gulf War, but it still possesses the largest military force in the region, and would be an immediate threat to the moderate Gulf countries were it not for the continued involvement of U.S.-led coalition forces. Despite its humiliating defeat in '91, Saddam Hussein continues to defy the international community. Baghdad has rebuilt much of its conventional military industrial infrastructure. If U.N. controls were removed, it would resume production of prohibited ballistic missiles and chemical and biological weapons within a year, and develop nuclear weapons in less than a decade.

In support of national policy toward Iraq, U.S. forces working with our coalition partners maintain security, no-fly and no- enhancement zones, help sustain and protect the people of Northern Iraq, enforce sanctions, support the U.N. Special Commission, retaliate when necessary against Iraqi infractions. While much of this activity has received considerable attention, two areas -- sanctions and enforcement -- support for UNSCOM -- deserve to be better known.

The Department of Defense plays a role in sanctions enforcement by intercepting and diverting vessels in the Persian Gulf attempting to export Iraqi petroleum and other products in violation of Security Council Resolution 661. The last six months have seen an upsurge in Baghdad's efforts to evade these export sanctions. Despite the subterfuges being used to escape detection, those apparently involving Iranian complicity, the U.S. Navy has caught and diverted at least 12 sanction busters since October. And the cost of being caught is not cheap.

It includes the loss of vessels use for many months, legal penalties and even confiscation of the vessel itself.

The Department of Defense has also played a major role in the activities of the U.N.'s special commission, as the task of destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ensuring that these programs could not be reestablished in the future. DOD has furnished a large number of inspectors, advisory expertise, equipment and other support to enable UNSCOM to carry out its mission, which are indispensable in ensuring that Iraq cannot again endanger the security of the Gulf.

The other principle threat to the Gulf is of course Iran. Iran harbors ambitions of establishing hegemony over the Persian Gulf and exportings its unique brand of radical schism not only in the Gulf but throughout the Islamic world. Iran has not hesitated to pursue these twin objectives with every means at its disposal, including subversion and terrorism. Iran has been the most vocal and active opponent to the Middle East peace process, it is the sponsor of several groups most vehemently and violently opposed to it.

While Iran's overall conventional military capability is limited, recent purchases demonstrate its desire to develop an offensive capability in specific missionaries that endanger U.S. interests. We are especially concerned about recent procurements of Russian Kilo submarines and Chinese and North Korean missiles. We are also closely watching the Iranian military build up on the disputed islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs.

Iran is dedicated to developing weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. In another forum I am prepared to discuss the details of these efforts. I merely note that we learned -- what we learned in Iraq is how a country can evade international controls to pursue clandestine weapons programs. This experience makes us skeptical about the ability of normal inspections to effect similar programs in Iran.

Although there are differences in our approaches pertaining to Iraq and Iran, our policy in engagement with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, helps meet both these threats. The United States pursues a three-tiered cooperative approach with the GCC states, strengthening local self-defense capabilities, promoting GCC and inter-Arab defense cooperation, and enhancing the ability of U.S. and coalition forces to return in a time of crisis.

This last tier has seen considerable progress in the last four years. We now have access or defense cooperation agreements with five of the six chief GCC members, providing the framework for pre- positioning peace time and crisis access facilities and combined exercises. Pursuant to these agreements we now have equipment for one Army brigade, which is now pre-positioned to shore in Kuwait, another Army heavy brigade and a Marine expeditionary brigade which pre- positioned afloat, and further equipment ashore and afloat for other Army, Navy, Air Force units. At this time we have about 20,000 troops in the Gulf. Over the next several years pre-positioning in the Gulf for Army forces will grow to a full heavy division set.

In summary, Mr. Chairman, the United States has vital interests in the Gulf, which Iraq and Iran present the principle threats. U.S. forces in concert with those coalition partners are taking steps in accordance with the carefully constructed regional strategy to ensure that neither Iraq nor Iran can dominate the Gulf, endanger the sovereignty and security of our partners, or control the flow of oil on which producers and consumers depend. Thank you.

SEN. BROWN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Do you want to go ahead?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Mr. Chairman, first of all I have been very privileged to have Ambassador Pelletreau give me a briefing and I had the experience of sitting next to Secretary Christopher at dinner last night and I told him I thought you were one of the brightest, most knowledgeable, mature in judgment people I had met in Washington. Now if that gets you sent to a small atoll in the Pacific I apologize.

MR. PELLETREAU: That's a very high standard --

SEN. FEINSTEIN: I want to thank you for spending the time with me. I don't know Dr. Nye, but I was reading your remarks and there's one part I wanted to ask you about. It's the bottom of page two and you point out that although there's some overlap in our strategy, the presence of U.S. forces in the Gulf serves as a deterrent against adventurism by either Iran or Iraq. There are significant differences in our approach. And then you go on to say one of the most obvious is that while there's considerable international consensus on the need to contain Iraq, there is no comparable consensus on Iran. Could you go into that in a little more detail?

MR. NYE: Yes, Senator, I think it refers to the fact that during the Gulf War we had a broad coalition, we had U.N. resolutions, and indeed Saddam Hussein dramatized his aggressive intent by crossing a border and essentially committing a very blatant act of aggression. In Iran you have a much more ambiguous situation. Iran after all has not committed any of those flagrant abuses. And we do find in the issue which Senator McCain was referring, for example, that Iran under the non-proliferation treaty would have a right to import the light water reactions which are being discussed.

The problem is that assumes that Iran is a country in compliance with all its obligations. We believe that Iran is not in full compliance, we believe that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, which essentially is in violation of that, but it is not one -- it's not an assessment that is shared by all other countries. This relies upon evidence which we can't share in open session.

So in the case of Iraq you have a country which committed a blatant aggression, crossed a border. We had a broad coalition, wide spread support for the U.N. resolutions. In the case of Iran we have a country where there intentions, which we suspect, we think we have some evidence of why these intentions are indeed suspect, but not all other countries share that appraisal.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Are you saying then that our allies in Europe aren't concerned by Iran's striving to achieve a major nuclear capacity?

MR. NYE: I think we have been able to persuade a number of our allies that there are matters of concern regarding Iran, and these countries are not now exporting nuclear technology to Iran. For example, in the past Germany had supplied reactors -- (inaudible) -- but has agreed not to complete those reactors which were left unfinished and again damaged during the Iran-Iraq war. But when it comes to non-nuclear technologies, and when it comes to other exports, we are not always able to persuade everyone of our view. And in the case of the Russians, as Senator McCain said, there is a different view about whether it's appropriate or not appropriate to export light water reactors.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: As I understand it, we maintain a very significant military presence in the area, and correct me if I'm wrong, but an aircraft carrier, battle groups and 10,000 to 15,000 troops, over 100 aircraft and significant amounts of pre-positioned equipment in several countries. I trust that it's viewed that this kind of strength is necessary, is in fact a deterrent. What would be in your opinion the impact of any significant reduction or removal of our forces?

MR. NYE: Well, Senator, I think we had a good test of that last October. No one knows quite what was in Saddam Hussein's mind when he moved his forces south, but this is a man who has taken enormous risks in the past. We know that sanctions were putting him in a very difficult position. I think it's credible to believe that he intended to cross into Kuwait, perhaps to create an incident which would allow negotiations which might have relieved him of U.N. sanctions.

In any case, the ability of the United States to quickly match up forces with the pre-positioned equipment in Kuwait showed an ability to deter him from crossing that border. In that sense we were able to not only bring in units of the 24th Infantry to match up with pre- positioned equipment, we were able to bring in air reinforcements, naval reinforcements. I think we've showed the states in the Gulf that we can respond very quickly and with preponderant force. So our belief is that it would be a grave mistake when you have a region as critical to our interests as the Gulf, in which we have this deterrent capability now, to reduce those forces.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: You don't think that the Gulf states then, in their peninsula shield forces, can put together enough manpower and strength to handle it themselves?

MR. NYE: Well alas the Gulf states, when you add together their populations and their GNPs, are about the size of something like New Jersey. Now I was born in New Jersey, so I have nothing against New Jersey, but I wouldn't want to have to fight against Iraq. No, the Iraqis now have a dominant military position. And while we have been encouraging the Gulf Cooperation Council states to work together, and they have made contributions -- indeed Kuwait has greatly improved its position since 1990 -- and when I was with the Secretary of Defense we went up to visit these Kuwaiti positions in Northern Kuwait last October, and they have made impressive progress -- but we can't rely on them alone to be able to front the adversary as powerful as the Iraqi military.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Either one of you -- and Ambassador Pelletreau we talked a little bit about the Straits of Hormuz and the Iranian submarines and the fact that they have really been very good about permitting travel back and forth, but let me ask this question of either one of you -- what do you believe is Iran's intent in building up their military strength in the Gulf Islands?

MR. NYE: Why don't we each take a part of that. Well I think if you look at what Iran has done these islands have been disputed since the British withdrew in 1971, Iran has had forces on the islands for quite some time. The difference is since last October when we introduced forces to meet the threat from Iraq, Iran felt it was a threat to them as well. So I think the build up was probably in response to the American build up. However, when the Americans removed their forces that had been added for vigilant warrior, the Iranians did not reduce their forces.

I suspect that one of the reasons may be that this is also convenient for them in asserting their territorial claims. So in other words, the immediate cause last October for the build up may have been something to do with our additional forces in the region. But when we drew down the forces, I think the interesting note is that the Iranians did not make a mutual draw down or a reciprocal draw down.

MR.. PELLETREAU: That deal was reinforced by the fact that Iran has not responded to any of the various suggestions put forward by the United Arab Emirates for a peaceful resolution of their difference in the question of sovereignty over Abu Musa. The United Arab Emirates have suggested direct discussion, they have suggested taking the issue to international court of justice, and Iran just stiffs them on it. And that would reinforce the interpretation that they see this opportunity to put additional forces on the island as a way of reinforcing their claim.

MR. NYE: I might just add that some of the forces however have been there for some time. It is worth noticing that the Hawk air defense battery has been there before. It's not as though this is new. There have been some additions, changes, but one shouldn't think is all of a sudden something totally --

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Is it true that Iran -- excuse me, Iraq is once again manufacturing poison gas?

MR. NYE: I have not seen any indications of that. In fact it would be very difficult for them to re-launch such a program under the current monitoring regime that is being put in place.

MR. PELLETREAU: I think, Senator, our concern is not that they are doing it now when you have the UNSCOM in place, but if you remove UNSCOM it would move sanctions they could rapidly use.

SEN. BROWN (?): Secretary Nye, obviously the reports, if they are accurate, about the purchase of submarines by the Iranians, the acquisition of missiles, the build up of a variety of other forces around the Straits of Hormuz are significant. What can you tell us about how accurate those reports are that have appeared in the press, and how significant they are for U.S. policy and operations in that part of the world.

MR. NYE: Well since mid-October, as I mentioned to Senator Feinstein, Iran has moved several thousand troops to the islands of the southern Gulf. They had about a thousand troops there before and those units are from the revolutionary guards, regular army, navy, marines and air force.

They've also deployed operational ESS-3 Seersucker anti-ship missiles -- that's a newer version of the Silkworm, with a range of about 90 kilometers -- and on the disputed islands of Abu Musa -- (inaudible) -- they've got the Hawk missile battery, those these are indeed old missiles. They're surface-to-air missiles at a 25-kilometer range.

We believe that these are a concern to shipping. We think it is also a concern in terms of the reading of the Iranians intentions, as Ambassador Pelletreau said. We also believe that if worse came to worse that our military capabilities are more than adequate to cope with them, but we prefer that they not be there.

As for the Kilo submarines, I think we feel the same way. As you know, they have two Kilo submarines, with a third one scheduled to be delivered. Again, the threat of the Kilo submarines is one which is a threat to shipping in the gulf. If it became a matter of a conflict, it's not something that the American military could not deal with, but it is a -- what you might call a nuisance and thereby a concern.

So, yes, we are concerned. I don't want to sound too alarmed in the sense that in terms of our capabilities, these are not up to what we would call the state of our art, but if it's short of that type of a (sic) all-out conflict, they do present a threat to other nations in the region and to shipping in the gulf, so, yes, we're concerned, though, as I mentioned, if it came to a use of force that it would not be something we could not cope with.

SEN. BROWN: Obviously, the straits are very strategic, but play an important part in our ability to project force into the gulf. The Kilos, as I understand it, are diesel --

MR. NYE: Yes.

SEN. BROWN: -- but could this imperil our ability to operate a carrier task force within the gulf?

MR. NYE: Our feeling is that we could basically cope with the Kilos if it were an American-Iranian situation, and I would imagine we'd want to do that before putting a carrier in the way of danger.

SEN. BROWN: One of the concerns I think we've had with the potential of renewed hostilities along the Kuwaiti border is that while American troops are there either on the front line or close to the front lines that, at least in the past, Kuwait did not have a significant portion of its own population trained in military affairs nor apparently able to help defend their own country. I don't want to diminish the Kuwaiti effort -- certainly, at least it's my understanding that they have made a very significant contribution to helping us station troops there and to helping provide or pay for their own defense. What kind of progress are they making, though, about committing their own people and training their own people for that endeavor?

MR. NYE: When we visited -- when Secretary Perry and I visited Kuwait in October, we were very impressed by what we were shown. This is not the same country that essentially was taken by surprise in 1990. The Kuwaiti forces were much better trained. They are in the process of purchasing much better equipment, and they moved their troops forward very rapidly. They would be the first line of defense.

In addition to that, Kuwait is exercising its troops with our troops. The units of the 24th division, which actually fell in on the prepo equipment in October, had been in Kuwait exercising with the same Kuwaiti troops just six weeks before, so these were troops that had been working together very effectively.

Kuwait is paying for the prepositioning of a heavy brigade. They're, indeed, paying for the military instruction there and also the maintenance of the facilities, and so in that sense, we feel that Kuwait really has done a great deal to pull its socks up and contribute to its own defense, but it's worth remembering, when all that is said and done, Kuwait is a very small country next to a very large, overarmed, very hostile country.

SEN. BROWN: Are the Kuwaiti troops primarily Kuwaiti citizens?

MR. NYE: Yes, they are. It was quite interesting -- we went out in the field and had MREs with them, were introduced to them. A very diverse and interesting set of people, but there is a good esprit de corps. We felt -- we felt very impressed at our military officers there who'd been working them and training. This is really quite a different Kuwait than the Kuwait of 1990.

SEN. BROWN: Thank you.

Mr. Secretary, we've saved the toughest questions for you. You've heard Senator McCain's concern. I think it'd be helpful to the committee if you could walk us through the administration's thinking on the issue, particularly with regard to why the law does not apply, and if it doesn't apply, why does it not apply to our situation with regard to Iran and the transfer of technology dealing with the reactors?

MR. PELLETREAU: Well, I'd be pleased to do that. I think that we and Senator McCain have absolutely the same objective in mind, and the objective is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, and in our response to Senator McCain, which he referred to and which we would be pleased to provide a copy for the record -- SEN. BROWN: Thank you.

MR. PELLETREAU: -- we have made clear that we are respecting and following the law which he helped to pass and we have -- let me just read a portion of our response: "The Iran-Iraq act states that it shall be U.S. policy to seek agreement from other countries to oppose the transfer to Iran of any goods or technology that could materially contribute to Iran's acquisition of nuclear, chemical, biological, or advanced conventional weapons. Indeed, the administration has actively opposed nuclear cooperation with Iran by Russia and other nations, regardless of whether the cooperation would materially contribute to Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons."

Then the letter goes on to say, "However, the detailed sanctions and waiver provisions of the Iran-Iraq act apply solely to transfers of advanced conventional weapons. With respect to nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, the Iran-Iraq act defers completely to other statutes," and then, "based on the information available at this time, we have concluded that sanctions against Russia are not currently mandated under any of these statutes."

Now, this is the position that our lawyers have given us as the interpretation of the act. Out of our respect for Senator McCain, I would say we would like to study the additional analysis he has had prepared and take another look at this in light of that analysis that he just referred to.

SEN. BROWN: I appreciate your willingness to review that. Perhaps -- I hope you would share with us any conclusions that you come to in that area. Just to, I think, try and be specific -- CRS report to us on this quotes the statue -- language I know you're familiar with -- but says for the form of government of any independent state that the president determines has on or after the date of enactment of this chapter knowingly transferred to another country, and then under b, any material equipment or technology that would contribute significantly to the ability of such country to manufacture any weapons of mass destruction, and they list a variety of kinds.

Is it the thinking of the administration, at least currently, prior to your review, that the assistance with regard to nuclear technology does not involve technology that could contribute significantly?

MR. PELLETREAU: I think that what you're quoting from is from the -- is the Freedom Support Act, not the Iran-Iraq act as such.

SEN. BROWN: That's correct.

MR. PELLETREAU: And I think we need to analyze further what the relationship of the Freedom Support Act is to the Iran-Iraq act. The Iran-Iraq act as such, in its sanctions and waiver provisions, applies only to advanced conventional weapons, and how these other acts tied in -- tie in is, frankly, a legal question that I'm not -- don't feel I'm on good ground to give you an answer -- (inaudible) --

SEN. BROWN: Well, I appreciate your frankness, and at least as I understand this particular statute, it deals with technology both in the nuclear area, the chemical area, and the biological weapons area, and I think it would be helpful, at least for our deliberations, to focus on whether or not their transfer of nuclear technology does impact this area, and, obviously, we'd appreciate hearing any conclusion you come to in that area.


SEN. BROWN: You've heard our discussion -- or at least a reference to the Russia answer to Iran, the Iran deal, and that the Russian response or criticism, at least as I understand it, is that our arrangement with North Korea was similar to the Russian arrangement with Iran. They claim, in fact, that the technology in North Korea is better than what Iran would receive.

Now, my understanding is that there's a difference in the background of these two countries and what they had before, but I'd appreciate your comments on those Russian responses and your thoughts about the validity of that criticism.

MR. PELLETREAU: Well, we do believe there are important distinctions between North Korea and Iran. Under our framework agreement with North Korea, they have agreed to abandon an existing nuclear weapons infrastructure which is based on gas-graphite reactors in exchange for light-water reactor technology that is less efficient for plutonium production. The -- North Korea has agreed to limit its nuclear fuel cycle and will neither reprocess spent fuel for plutonium nor enrich uranium. Thus the North Korean nuclear agreement results in a large net nonproliferation gain.

With respect to Iran, its nuclear infrastructure is now at a fairly rudimentary stage, and the provision of light-water power reactors to Iran would give Iran capabilities they don't currently have, and that would result in a large net nonproliferation loss. That's what we see as the essential difference. Acquisition of these reactors in the Iranian case would broaden Iran's nuclear infrastructure and would provide training and potential technology that over time could form the foundation and be useful for a nuclear weapons program.

MR. NYE: Senator, might I just add a point on that? I think the -- I've been puzzled by why people make this comparison, and I think maybe they're fixing too much on the technology and not the circumstances. Proliferation is a lot like a staircase, and if you think about the North Korean situation, you've had a country which basically was on the final step. It had three -- it had 8,000 spent fuel rods out of a reactor, which if it had been reprocessed within six months could have given you enough material for six bombs. By trading that and making them dismantle that and substitute for it two light-water reactors, we essentially bought a decade. We sent them back down the staircase, if you want, or they agreed to go back down the staircase.

So essentially it's a very different proposition, that in the North Korean case, giving them these reactors was a way to move them back down the staircase away from a clear and present danger. Our concern about the Iran -- Russian reactors to Iran is that because they're way down the staircase in the first place, I think it's moving them up a step or two, but it's the diffusion of that technology to their general program and its possible conversion that worries us. It's not at all comparable to the North Korean situation.

But I think you used that metaphor about the staircase, and here is the country North Korea just about to stick its foot across the threshold to get six bombs and we sent them back 10 years' worth of steps. That's a net plus.

SEN. BROWN: I appreciate your response to that. I must say, I think you've made a point that is appropriate and is a valid distinction.

Let me ask you to respond to this concern, though. At least it's my concern. If I understand it correctly, North Korea has not exactly been a model of complying with the NPT. I also am advised that Iran has been subject to inspections and apparently has gone under more than just the periphery, just the preliminary inspections, and has allowed that, so that there is a distinct contract between both countries in their compliance with inspections.

Now, I'm not suggesting that there's a difference in the level that they've complied. That would presuppose actions on their part that I'm not sure are fully identifiable by the (mere?) inspections. But reactions to that? Is there a difference between the two countries in the attitude they've taken towards compliance? And does that indeed indicate North Korea has been an offender while Iran has not?

MR. NYE: I believe that North Korea violated its NPT obligations and that by having a nuclear weapons program, it was in violation. And as I said, it has come very close to being able to make a good number of bombs out of the material taken out of its (sector?). And what I think is good about the agreement that we signed, the framework agreement, is that it will not only dismantle what they've done, but it will bring them back into their NPT compliance position at some point as we go along in the process.

Iran is formally in compliance since the inspectors of the IAEA have not found a violation. On the other hand, the inspectors have said, the IAEA has said, that it cannot ascertain what is going on in places that it hasn't inspected. So there is a difference of degree between North Korea and Iran.

SEN. BROWN: I appreciate that. Senator Feinstein.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I wanted for just a moment to talk Scuds. And, you know, you mentioned the treaty with North Korea. And I suppose one has to accept that it's better to buy them out of a gas graphite reactor and confine them to a light-water reactor than it is to go to war with them. Having said that, they remain a major exporter of advanced conventional ballistic missiles to people who are not our allies. And I must say it causes me a lot of concern. I am told that with the Scud-Cs, they sent several hundred improved Scud-Cs to Iran. Is that true?

MR. NYE: Senator, I can't verify the number. But, yes, they have been sending Scuds to Iran. And we also are concerned about their missile exports, and it is indeed something we're raising with them. So I share your concern.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: And that they're expected to sell Iran several hundred Nodong One missiles with a range of 600 miles?

MR. NYE: Well, the Nodong One is not yet in production.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: When it's completed.

MR. NYE: I don't know whether that number that you cite is correct, but it would be a matter of great concern to us if that were to go forward. And again, it's something I think you will have to include in our -- and indeed are now including in our dialogue with North Korea.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Because it seems to me that one is less inclined to agree with the treaty on the nuclear reactors if they keep exporting these kinds of real weapons of destruction to people who use them, given the chance.

MR. NYE: We feel the same way. The nuclear framework agreement dealt with one part of the very complex problem. The other is their nuclear -- I mean, their missile exports. Yet another is their conventional posture on the peninsula. They still have 1.1 million men under arms right along the demilitarized zone. That is another concern, which is why just earlier this week the Defense Department, at least the East Asian strategy report, which was reported in the Washington Post, I think, last Tuesday, said we are not removing any troops from Korea, indeed from East Asia as a whole, because we feel that the framework agreement, while it has addressed part of the problem, has not been able to solve the whole problem. Therefore, there's no reason to (bar?) our troops until we've resolved the whole problem. So I think we would agree with your approach.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Ambassador Pelletreau, do you have any comments on that?

MR. PELLETREAU: (Only?) that we have begun discussing with North Korea the discussion of initial shipments. And the agreement we have reached improves our ability to talk to the North Koreans seriously on this issue. And we will be doing that and urging them not to make any further transfers and focusing specifically on the Nodong, which has not been introduced to the region. And we'll make clear to them, as we have already, that there will not be able to be any improvement in our bilateral relations unless the issue of such transfers is resolved.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Does Iran and Iraq have -- well, other than the Scuds -- any other missiles capable of a range of 600-plus miles?

MR. NYE: I don't think they have something capable of over 600 miles. The Iraqis had modified the Scuds that they'd imported, but let me just check. (Consults with staff.) I'll get you the exact answer to that, Senator, but I think --

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Appreciate it. Thank you very much.

SEN. BROWN: Thank you. Secretary Nye, I appreciate -- you came prepared to talk about the Middle East, and particularly Iran and Iraq. And we have cast you a bit afield here with the questions about North Korea, and I appreciate your filling me in on it. There is one thing I'd like to ask, if you can help me on it. We've talked about the benefit of the arrangement with North Korea in that it may well move them away from crossing that line, as you put it. My impression is that we don't really have an inspection for five years with North Korea that will guarantee us that it has indeed moved them back of that line and that we don't have a full inspection, the most thorough inspection, until sometime later than that. Is that accurate?

MR. NYE: There are two types of inspections to distinguish, Senator. One is inspection now of their compliance with the agreement. That we have. Second is the inspection --

SEN. BROWN: On an immediate basis.

MR. NYE: On an immediate basis. The second is inspection of the suspect waste sites where they believe they had taken the materials' waste from the reprocessing that they had done several years ago. That is what waits for five years. The right of the IAEA to -- or not the right; the ability of the IAEA to go in and see what's in those waste sites does not occur until the transfer, or just before the transfer of the first nuclear components. And that's probably about five years. So it's worth keeping those two types of inspections in mind because sometimes people say there's no inspection for five years.

In fact, the most important inspection, what they're doing now, we get right away. What we don't get is essentially the historical inspection, the one that tells us what they did, and fast. Now, both are important. Both are provided for. But if you think in terms of clear and present danger, the more important inspection is the one that relates to the clear and present danger. That we get right away. The historical inspection, which is to say, what did they do in the past, that we don't get for about five years.

SEN. BROWN: Now, is there a further delay for special inspections?

MR. NYE: That is the special inspections I'm referring to. Now, there's the special inspections which North Korea -- which the IAEA asked North Korea for which were to look at these waste sites. When people leave, they have the material from the reprocessing that was done in contravention to their obligations. That special inspection would not occur for five years. On the other hand, it's worth pointing out that merely will answer a question about the past. It does not relate to the ability to verify compliance with the current agreement.

SEN. BROWN: I appreciate that. I think it's helpful. One last question. Secretary Pelletreau, let me draw your attention to comments that have been made about Iraq, at least what we read in the paper, particularly the Los Angeles Times; it had a report indicating there was evidence found by the U.N. on a biological weapons program that was much larger than we had previously thought involving even the potential development of cholera and tuberculosis and the plague. In the paper the U.N. official who reported on the weapons cover-up was described, and I quote, as "optimistic for the first time that Baghdad will be in full compliance this year," referring to the U.N. sanctions resolutions, and possibly this spring, thus, in effect, optimistic that the trade restrictions would be taken off. Share with us your thoughts on the kind of pressure that we're getting to end the trade restrictions and any thoughts you might have as to our ability to maintain those restrictions.

MR. PELLETREAU: Well, the curious thing about the way the Iraqis treat Dr. Ekeus and putting in place of a weapons monitoring regime is that they promise full cooperation and say they've given us everything that -- or given him everything relating to their past programs until he comes up with something that they haven't given him. And then they say, "Oh, yes, we forgot about that," and come clean on that. And then you wait for the next thing to be uncovered and then you find another little element of reverse amnesia here that I think does not increase anybody's confidence in the way in which they are complying with the one aspect of the Security Council measures that calls for a monitoring regime to be put in place.

President Clinton sent Ambassador Albright to Security Council capitals to reinforce with other governments his determination that the United States will stand firm on requiring full compliance with all the provisions of the Security Council resolutions, not just weapons monitoring but accounting for the missing and all the provisions of those resolutions before we begin to consider the lifting of those sanctions. And we're a long way from that case now. We've found a good deal of support -- in fact, solid support -- in the capitals that Ambassador Albright visited. So we are confident that as we come up to the next review on March 13th, the Security Council will again find Iraq not in compliance with the Security Council resolution and will extend the sanctions for an additional period.

SEN. BROWN: Am I right in thinking that Russia is now or at least has voiced a view that sanctions should not be renewed and that France has questions about it and that there are others as well?

MR. PELLETREAU: Up to this point, France and Russia have joined the rest of the Security Council in unanimously approving the continuation of sanctions. But both countries are suggesting that Iraq needs to be encouraged to comply with all the sanctions and therefore that the Security Council should be making positive noises and taking positive recognition of what Iraq has done. Quite frankly, there is so much that Iraq has not done that this position does not strike us as justified at all.

The only reason that Iraq has recognized Kuwait's borders, which is one thing that it has done, is because the Security Council stayed firm on requiring that measure. And it's the view of the United States, firmly held and widely shared by members of the Security Council, that we need to see overall compliance by Iraq with all the measures required by the Security Council resolutions before we'll begin looking at lifting those sanctions.

MR. NYE: I might just add to what Ambassador Pelletreau said, Senator, that we believe that before the war Iran had stockpiled anthrax and botulin toxins for weapons purposes. We do not believe that those capabilities were destroyed during the war. We believe they still exist, yet they have not been properly declared to -- (inaudible). Therefore, we think it would be totally inappropriate to lift sanctions until that is cleared up, as well as until Iraq is in compliance with the other requirements under the U.N. resolutions. So this is just to echo and reinforce what Ambassador Pelletreau said. And I think that that type of evidence that they haven't complied, which Ambassador Ekeus mentioned last week, may make those countries which otherwise were arguing that it's time to change the position on sanctions to think again.

SEN. BROWN: Senator Feinstein.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to ask a couple of questions on northern Iraq. We haven't discussed the Kurdish situation at all. For the last four years the United States has led a coalition effort to protect the Kurdish population through Operation Provide Comfort and the enforcement of the no-fly zone. Is the United States and its allies prepared to continue protecting the Kurds in northern Iraq indefinitely -- first question -- until we see a change of regime in Baghdad? What is the nature of the United States security commitment to northern Iraq? And specifically, what would the United States do if Iraqi forces launched a significant military operation north of the 36th parallel?

MR. PELLETREAU: We have provided humanitarian support to the Kurds in northern Iraq for four years. We are proposing to continue it in the next year. It is not an easy operation to sustain. It requires the cooperation of Turkey. It requires considerable intrepid action by individuals who are in the humanitarian business, as well as our small number of military personnel who are in northern Iraq.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Ambassador, let me just interrupt you.


SEN. FEINSTEIN: You said it depends on the cooperation of Turkey and you said that we are committed for the next year to sustain it. I trust that means we sustain it regardless of what Turkey does?

MR. PELLETREAU: Turkey needs both to support it -- it would be extremely difficult to sustain it if Turkey decided not to support continuation of Provide Comfort.

MR. NYE: Turkey -- it would be very difficult to sustain without Turkish bases. We spend about $100 million a year on Provide Comfort, but it depends very heavily on the use of Turkish bases. Provide Comfort is not very popular in Turkey.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Is not what?

MR. NYE: Is not very popular in Turkey, because a number of Turks are concerned that it infringes on Turkish sovereignty and makes their problem of --

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Could you speak -- pull the mike closer to you?

MR. NYE: Sorry. A number of Turks believe that it is an infringement of sovereignty and threatens the problem they face in their own southeast in terms of the Kurdish insurrection that they're facing there. On the other hand, without Provide Comfort, if there were an attack in northern Iraq, this would probably mean even more Kurdish refugees fleeing into southeastern Turkey. So the government of Turkey has been cooperative. They voted an extension of Provide Comfort just recently -- I believe it was in December -- for six months. But we do have to have that extended or that authorization extended regularly, and it would be very difficult to continue the operation without it.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: I think when we talked, Ambassador Pelletreau, I asked the question how many Kurds were there. I thought you said a million and a half. Is that right? MR. PELLETREAU: Three million, all told.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Three million.


SEN. FEINSTEIN: How do they separate in numbers into the factions?

MR. PELLETREAU: The two largest factions, DUK and KDP, are, I would say, roughly equivalent in size and are much larger than the Islamic faction that are more of a splinter factions within northern Iraq, although they're larger in other Kurdish areas in other countries.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: So the fighting between them is really major -- could be major in its impact.

MR. PELLETREAU: It is major in its impact, Senator.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Then let me ask you this question. Is there any indication of who planted the car bomb that killed dozens of people last week?

MR. PELLETREAU: We don't have any definite indication at this time.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Will the elections take place in May as scheduled?

MR. PELLETREAU: Our best estimate is that the fighting will probably disrupt those elections and cause some delays.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: So let me ask you this. What are the implications for the future of our efforts to really sustain a Kurdish minority?

MR. PELLETREAU: Our efforts are -- first of all, in the humanitarian field, these would continue. And they have been making considerable progress since we began. When we began, there were Kurdish refugees in Turkey living out on barren mountains in the winter. Now those Kurds have moved back into traditional Kurdish areas and they're re-establishing themselves in villages and on farms so that population is becoming much more stabilized and settled again. So there's a lot of improvement in their situation. But we have never supported the idea of independent Kurdistan. We have always told the Kurdish leaders that their long-term future lies in greater autonomy and arrangements worked out with the government of Iraq.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Now, with respect to that autonomy, what is the likelihood that either the KDP or the PUK could negotiate autonomy with Baghdad? MR. PELLETREAU: There's a long history of Kurdish negotiation with the authority in Baghdad. And at times, relative areas of autonomy have been worked out. I don't see that happening in the immediate term with this Iraqi government. This Iraqi government has practiced a particularly vicious form of repression against the Kurds of the north by closing off the borders between the rest of the country and the Kurdish areas and by refusing to send electricity north into those areas or allowing any trade or commerce to go across those areas, and thereby making the Kurdish population very dependent on this international humanitarian relief coming in. But in the long term it's quite conceivable that such negotiations could take place again between Kurdish leaders and the government in Baghdad, whatever that government is.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Is it possible that this fighting, which, as you pointed out, is so intense and so major in scale, could give Baghdad a military excuse to take action?

MR. PELLETREAU: I don't think anybody can be confident in predicting just what Baghdad or Saddam Hussein might or might not do. We have pointed out to the Kurdish leaders the self-defeating aspect of this inter-nacine fighting between them when there are larger problems a little further on the horizon that should be commanding their attention. But some of this rivalry has been a clan rivalry that is traditional. Some of it is tied up with what kinds of fees and tolls they're able to extract from Turkish trucks or others in the region and who's in a preferred position and who occupies the dominant or preferred position in the major towns and cities in the Kurdish areas. The fighting has been particularly intense, for example, in and around the town of Erbil; who will control that very significant town in the Kurdish area.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: It's really just such a tragedy because, you know, united we stand, divided we fall. I think that's really true here. And when people are fighting amongst themselves, it's very hard to rush to their defense against a greater enemy.

MR. PELLETREAU: It is a tragedy, and we have been active in trying to urge that they settle their differences peacefully and end any armed conflict between them.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Do you think there's a possibility of that, or do you believe it's going to escalate?

MR. PELLETREAU: They seem to come closer and they recognize the value of it, and then something sparks off more fighting. I think there is a possibility of it, and we'll continue our efforts in that regard. But the animosities are also proving very resistant to deal with.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much. It's been very helpful, and I really appreciate the comments of both of these gentlemen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. SEN. BROWN: I certainly echo your sentiments. This has been a very helpful session. I just have one last question, and I ask it because I think clarity sometimes can be very helpful in dealing with this, although I confess it's an effort to put words in your mouth, so you'll want to be on guard. You've indicated the U.S. is opposed to eliminating sanctions in Iraq when we come up to the renewal date. I assume that the exception would be if -- absent acceptable progress, which hasn't been made yet. Is the U.S., without acceptable progress, willing -- ready to veto an effort to lift sanctions?

MR. PELLETREAU: We don't feel that a veto would be required because a large majority, in our view, of the Security Council will continue to vote for maintaining sanctions. However, if it was required at a later date, if the support began to slip, the president has made clear that the United States would use its veto power.

SEN. BROWN: Thank you for very helpful testimony.