Daily Press Briefing November 29, 2010: Iran, DPRK, WikiLeaks
Philip J. Crowley
Daily Press Briefing
Department Secretary Clinton Meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu
Secretary Clinton Made a Number of Calls Over the Weekend / Will Continue Diplomatic Outreach / Will Not Talk About Any Particular Cable / Policies are Set Here in Washington / Sharing of Information Across Government Agencies / Digitalization of Information / Value the Perspective Diplomats Provide / Working Group / Ongoing Investigation / Information was Stolen / This is a Crime / Will Hold the People Responsible Accountable / Reviewed Who Has Access to Documents and the Networks / Letter from Legal Adviser Harold Koh / Mr. Assange/ Conversations with News Organizations / We Decry This Release / Release has Put Lives at Risk
Secretary Clinton Conversations with Counterparts in the Region / Six-Party Process U.S. Wants to See North Korea Cease Its Provocative Behavior IRAN Offered Date and Location to Iran, Decry acts of terrorism
2:05 p.m. EST
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Obviously, I’m sure the Secretary of State answered all of your questions on that particular subject. Let me mention just briefly a couple of other things before coming back to the issue that I’m sure you’re focused on today.
The Secretary this morning had a very productive session with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu. They did talk about the WikiLeaks issue, and the foreign minister appreciated the direct and candid comments that the Secretary provided. They also talked about a range of regional issues from Iran, where the foreign minister indicated that Turkey continues to support and encourage Iran to join in the P-5+1 process, and we continue to hope that we can lock in early this week a location for first meetings of the P-5+1. They talked about Cyprus, the Balkans, and other regional issues from Lebanon where we shared – continue to share concerns about the situation in Lebanon to ongoing dialogue between Turkey and Israel.
QUESTION: P.J., just a couple short things on the whole WikiLeaks fiasco. One, have you gotten any formal complaints or protests from foreign governments about this? I realize it wasn’t you that released them, but are you aware of any formal (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I am confident that from embassies first and in succeeding days, we will hear reaction from various governments to bring you to the present point. The Secretary made a number of calls over the weekend to her counterparts. And from Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg, Under Secretary Bill Burns, the assistant secretaries, ambassadors, we did everything we can to reach out to governments in advance of the anticipated release of these documents. We will be doing follow-up calls during the course of the week.
We’re conscious of the fact that probably the stories that we’ve seen today are not the last ones to be reported on this subject, so we are going to continue this diplomatic outreach for as long as it takes. But I would expect that we will be having feedback from governments during the course of this process. I’m just not aware of any particular feedback at this point. Obviously, the Secretary had a chance to talk to Foreign Minister Davutoglu, as she indicated when she met with you earlier. She will have a number of conversations this week with her counterparts and other leaders during the OSCE Summit. So we’ll be getting some feedback.
QUESTION: Okay, and then the second thing is that do you – there is a lot of stuff in these cables that talks about the – what diplomats report back.
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a diplomatic term, “stuff.”
QUESTION: Yeah. (Laughter.) Talks about what diplomats – what American diplomats are expected to report back to Washington about their host government or foreign – other foreign leaders. There’s been a lot of handwringing, at least in Europe, about this kind of – about some of this kind of reporting in terms of the German political scene and the candid assessments of foreign leaders as well as this intelligence-gathering or gathering of biometric data at the UN. Will any of that change or are these going to continue to be kind of standard operating procedure for diplomats abroad? Or are you --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, and I’ll just establish the principle up front that we’re not going to talk about any particular cable.
In our conversations with our counterparts around the world, I think there is, in diplomatic circles, an understanding that this is what diplomats do. We have our diplomats posted around the world, many in challenging circumstances. They are trying – they’re interacting with government officials; they’re interacting with members of civil society; they’re trying to interpret events on the ground. These events are increasingly at a more rapid pace than perhaps might have occurred in the past. They report back what they see, what they hear to the State Department here in Washington and to other agencies across the government. Many of these reports are raw, unvarnished. They provide on-the-ground perspective. They inform policies. They inform actions.
But as the Secretary made clear, policies are set here in Washington. The information that is collected and provided is useful. In some cases it’s accurate. In some cases it’s not. In some cases it might be a vantage point from one foxhole that might – may or may not necessarily represent a broader perspective.
But this is what diplomats do. We’ve very proud of what our diplomats do. We will learn from this experience. As the Secretary has said, we’ve already made adjustments in how we – the access that we provide to our reporting documents. But we will not change how we do diplomacy around the world.
QUESTION: So the answer – the short answer to my question was no, it’s not going to change anything?
MR. CROWLEY: I liked my answer better.
QUESTION: Well, is that --
MR. CROWLEY: No. I mean we --
QUESTION: No. You --
MR. CROWLEY: It’s a very valid point. As the Secretary said, in some cases people leak information because they think there’s been wrongdoing. This is information that helps people understand how we conduct the foreign policy of the United States day in and day out in difficult assignments around the world. We’re very proud of our diplomats. We do – we think they do an excellent job of helping inform policy. We’re not going to change what we do.
QUESTION: Okay. So their instructions from Washington won’t change. And then the corollary to that is that – are you concerned at all that some people might water-down or be less candid in their appraisals of people because of this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think the Secretary last night sent a message to the troops, if you will. And we’ll be making clear that we value the diplomatic work that is done at posts all over the world. We’ll – we are going to – we have already and we will continue to look to see how information is stored, who has access to that information, both within our department and across the government. But certainly, without getting into any specific cable, what you see here is information that is very, very important to the conduct of the foreign policy of the United States.
QUESTION: P.J., specifically on that question of how this information is stored, the understanding that we seem to have is that post 9/11, in an effort to avoid stove-piping, they brought a lot of this information together under the DOD. Does the Secretary have a view at this point – I know Jack Lew said each organization, agency, now has to study, put together a team. But does the Secretary believe that it is a good idea for State Department cables and other communication to be in a system along with DOD?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have stood here and we’ve talked about whole-of-government efforts on our policy. There’s a great deal of interaction between the State Department and the Defense Department and across other agencies of government. So you do have to share information to be able to have a common perspective on the development and execution of both a foreign policy that includes a military dimension and a civil dimension. So the sharing of information is vitally important to the coordination and conduct of our national security policies. That should not change.
I think the other phenomenon – one phenomenon, of course, is the imperative after 9/11 of a need to share. And we will evaluate that imperative against the need to protect or the need to know. And so this will be something that we will be reviewing, and there is obviously tension between those two approaches.
I think the other thing we’ve learned here is that it is not just the greater coordination and interaction across agencies, but it’s also the digitization of the information that is – comes into the State Department. If you go back probably 25 years, these were done by paper and teletypes and so on and so forth. We do have a digitized system that allows us to report in real time. That has great value and benefit.
But we have taken steps to review who has access to the networks and the databases on which our information and the information of other agencies is resident, and we will tighten up those access standards as we go forward. But we are – have been for many months reviewing the implications of this expected release.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: P.J. --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. Charlie.
QUESTION: With all respect, you didn’t answer Matt’s question about whether the language – whether you expect that the language from people reporting from the field to change – or I’ll use the word to soften, but that’s my word – or do you expect them to be as frank as they have been in the past?
MR. CROWLEY: I thought I did answer that question, which is we value the perspective that diplomats provide. We value the fact that they can have a wide range of contacts. We do understand that when we have a conversation with a diplomat and report on that conversation, that conversation is based on trust and confidence that the information will be protected.
And the real damage here is not that necessarily things will change inside the Department of State. We obviously are cognizant of the fact that the release of this information, which we condemn, violates the trust and confidence that we – with which we carry on our daily duties. We are going to have to reassure our contacts, other government officials, members of civil society, that in the future we will protect the information and confidences that they provide us, and we’re determined to do that.
QUESTION: P.J., the only people that seem to be happy or not embarrassed by the leaks are the Israelis. In fact, they feel that they are vindicated, because it shows that there are countries who want to strike Iran far more emphatically than they do. Any comment on that?
MR. CROWLEY: I don't think anybody is happy that this information has become publically available.
QUESTION: P.J., did you hear any angry words from any diplomat or from any country? And if Secretary has spoken with --
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, that question has already been asked. We will continue our diplomatic outreach. We do expect, unfortunately, more information to come forward in the coming days. So we were going to continue our conversations and we will – we’re determined to make sure that the protagonists here are not successful in undermining the international system through which we collaborate and help to collectively solve global challenges.
As the Secretary said, this is really an attack on the system through which we are in daily contact with other countries, we identify common interests, we work through difficult issues, and we help solve these issues for the benefit of our people and the people around the world.
QUESTION: There is some information – can I just follow up --
MR. CROWLEY: Mary Beth.
QUESTION: Excuse me.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Is it correct that the State Department has set up sort of a war room or some crisis room or something like that to deal with this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – as with any major event, whether it’s an earthquake on the one hand or something of a global scale like the release of these documents, we have set up a working group or a task force, if you will, and we are in continual contact with our posts around the world, assessing what is happening, reporting back on follow-up conversations that we are having with governments and with members of civil society. We took, we thought, aggressive action in anticipation of the release to warn our contacts of what was coming, and we’ll continue to have an ongoing dialogue with them as we manage this.
QUESTION: And is this like a 24/7 type --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, we –
QUESTION: -- war room sort of thing?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you’ve been around the State Department. We frequently put together these kinds of operations when you have crises that are going to endure for a period of time.
QUESTION: P.J., wasn’t that task force set up more than a week ago, or aren’t there several?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, the preparations were made several days ago when we had an understanding of what was coming. I believe it went into force on Friday.
QUESTION: P.J., you mentioned all material that comes in that is generally opinion, but – the Secretary addressed that, as you have now. But what about the information that goes out from the State Department? Is that not policy? A message that goes out under the name of the State Department to the diplomats in the field, such as at the United Nations, is that not the very policy that you are talking about that is being made here in Washington?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, not every document that leaves the State Department is a policy statement. In some cases, it might be seeking information from a particular post.
QUESTION: But even when it’s allegedly titled “Policy Statement?”
MR. CROWLEY: Hang on, let me – I should establish a point since you mentioned this issue. We have hundreds of thousands of cables that go out from the State Department every single year. By tradition, any cable that leaves the State Department goes out under the name of the Secretary of State. That doesn’t mean that the Secretary of State is the author of each one of these cables.
QUESTION: So a couple of things. You just said that you established task force and working groups like this in the event of crises. Just to be clear, so the State Department considers this release of documents a crisis?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is a significant challenge. We’ve – it has global significance. We will do everything we can to make sure it does not undermine the close cooperation that we have with many, many countries, the alliances that we have with partners and friends around the world. We take this seriously because it has real-life ramifications, as the Secretary outlined.
QUESTION: She also --
MR. CROWLEY: We – go ahead.
QUESTION: She also outlined that there – that she assured the American people that there would be aggressive action against people who were responsible for leaking this information, these documents. Is there consideration at this point for some – charging the WikiLeaks people or charging the news organizations who put this information out --
MR. CROWLEY: Well --
QUESTION: -- as opposed to the (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: There – as I think the Attorney General has said today, there is an ongoing investigation. We’re supporting that investigation. We will hold the people responsible for this action accountable, and that investigation continues.
QUESTION: A follow-up. Did you see any country --
QUESTION: A follow-up, a follow-up.
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Hold on, Goyal. Goyal.
QUESTION: A follow-up on her thing. The Secretary said that this information was stolen. So are you pursuing this as a crime, as a thievery of some sort?
MR. CROWLEY: This information was stolen.
MR. CROWLEY: And the provision of classified information to someone who is not authorized to have it is, in fact, a crime. And we are treating it as such.
QUESTION: So in this case, would, let’s say, WikiLeaks be accused of robbery or something like this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, don’t – let’s not get ahead of the investigation. Someone within the United States Government with access to this information downloaded it and provided it to parties outside of the U.S. Government. We believe that is a violation of regulations, that’s a compromise of information, and that is a crime. And we are investigating it as such and we are prepared to prosecute if we can build a case. And that is an effort that is ongoing.
QUESTION: Congressman King has also said that he’d like to see WikiLeaks declared a terrorist organization. Is that a discussion that’s taking place at State right now?
MR. CROWLEY: We are treating this seriously. We see it as a crime. But the disclosure, unauthorized disclosure of information, in and of itself is not a terrorist act.
QUESTION: P.J., you just said someone within the U.S. Government with access to the information downloaded it. Are you referring to Bradley Manning? And are you ruling --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not referring to anybody. I’m just saying that --
QUESTION: And are you ruling out that – anyone outside of the government?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m not – there is an ongoing investigation. What you do know, what we do know is that this information was resident inside a U.S. Government database, on a U.S. Government network. It was downloaded and then released to somebody who was not authorized to have it. That is a crime, we – and we are investigating and we are prepared to hold anyone responsible for this accountable.
QUESTION: But P.J., do you see any outside hand --
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Goyal --
QUESTION: On this, you just mentioned about you are going to hold them accountable. All the WikiLeaks articles which are appearing in the media are not coming from the WikiLeaks site itself. They are coming from New York Times and other media which are also releasing. And are you planning anything – because the Secretary said it’s stolen – so are you planning anything against the media?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’ve gone as far as I’m going to go on this particular line of questioning. We are investigating aggressively, and we will hold those responsible accountable.
QUESTION: And about – in India there is this one news that has come out is about that Secretary Clinton said that the G-4 countries are self-proclaimed seat-grabbers for UNSC. Would you like to comment?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m not going to comment on the contents of any cable.
QUESTION: P.J., could you just give us a rundown of who the Secretary has called? And did she call anybody else today or was it all previous to the release?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that she’s had any calls today. She had a number of calls over the weekend. I think we’ve got a list. I’ll give it to you.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: How many reset buttons State Department is going to (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: We don’t think that we have to reset anything here. We have relations with many, many countries around the world. We have – and these relationships are based on mutual interests, mutual respect. We cooperate and collaborate with friends and partners on a range of issues. What you see here is the breadth of our engagement around the world and the breadth of the foreign policy of the United States. Where we do have tensions or differences, we engage and work through those wherever we can. We’re not going to change our policy as a result of this and we’re not going to change our commitment to engage the world both in the pursuit of our interest and the pursuit of common interests.
QUESTION: P.J., were you under immense pressure by the Saudis and the other GCC countries to pursue a more vigorous and more aggressive posture towards Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: We continue to cooperate with Saudi Arabia and a range of countries in the region. We all see a danger with the direction that Iran is on. We want to see Iran change direction and play a more constructive role in the region and around the world --
QUESTION: So they are --
MR. CROWLEY: -- and live up to its international obligations.
QUESTION: They are pressuring you to take more aggressive action toward Iran?
MR. CROWLEY: We are fully engaged with Saudi Arabia and many other countries. We all see the danger posed by Iran in a similar way.
QUESTION: WikiLeaks in their tweet to reply to the Secretary’s comments just now has said Hillary says U.S. taking in course aggressive steps against us, take some yourselves. What exactly they mean by that?
MR. CROWLEY: I have no idea. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: P.J., what I was asking just quickly, one, you still have not repaired from the last leak and now comes this statement – State Department leak and what – where are we heading next? And second, if Secretary has spoken with anybody in India or Pakistan because some information is there between the two countries?
MR. CROWLEY: We have had multiple conversations with officials in India. And like India and other countries, we’ll continue those conversations in the coming days.
QUESTION: And finally, do you see any outside hand? You said somebody in the U.S. Government, but is there an outside --
MR. CROWLEY: Goyal, again, we are investigating all of these issues.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Can I just have – kind of not related to WikiLeaks, but --
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. Are we done with WikiLeaks?
QUESTION: No, hold on, hold on.
QUESTION: No, just one more.
MR. CROWLEY: Darn. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: P.J., you spoke generally about the role of diplomats overseas providing candid information to Washington. Is part of that role to gather personal information on the people and sources they come in contact with?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think as Ambassador Rice emphasized and the Secretary emphasized, diplomats are diplomats, and they are not intelligence assets. But by the same token, and this is something that our diplomats do and the diplomats of many, many other countries do, in the course of the normal conduct of their duties they come across information. And if that information is useful and valuable, they provide it to the appropriate people within the United States Government.
QUESTION: So would it be inappropriate if State employees gathered personal information, say, frequent flyer number of a government official, and then passed it on? Would that be wrong?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – you’re now into a particular document that I won’t discuss.
QUESTION: The Secretary said that she’s directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department in addition to the DOD actions. What are those specific actions?
MR. CROWLEY: We’ve reviewed, in light of this, who has access to our documents and we’ve reviewed the networks on which these documents are available. I can’t go any further than that.
QUESTION: When did that review start?
MR. CROWLEY: It started weeks ago when we first learned of this.
QUESTION: The October – so it started after the October WikiLeaks release, but before this one? Or did it – was it --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we’ve known about this for some time. We’ve been investigating and cooperating in trying to first assess the potential impact of this and how it happened and what we should do to prevent a reoccurrence. And we’ve taken steps and will continue to work across the government, as we need to, to protect the information that is important to us.
QUESTION: How long have you known about this? How long have you known about (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, the compromise happened months ago. And we have been working diligently with other agencies of government to assess the impact, understand what might have been downloaded and provided outside of the government. And we’ve been prepared for this day for some time.
QUESTION: Change of topic?
QUESTION: No, no, no.
QUESTION: Have you got an idea of exactly what is in the documents with the relation to the region of India and Pakistan, that area?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, I don’t think I can answer that question without getting into the contents of documents, which we won’t do.
QUESTION: No, but the Secretary’s talking to the counterparts. On what basis she is talking?
MR. CROWLEY: As a colleague --
QUESTION: Just sweet --
MR. CROWLEY: -- friend and --
QUESTION: No, like sweet nothings.
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Is she saying hello, hi, bye?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we have called governments to warn them about what was happening, and we will continue to answer any question that they have as this continues.
QUESTION: No. I just want to know what exactly has the State Department spoken with Delhi, with New Delhi.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ve had multiple conversations through Ambassador Roemer. I think Under Secretary Burns and others have been in touch with their counterparts in India.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on an earlier question, is it your belief that all of the gathering of biometric data is legal on the part of diplomats?
MR. CROWLEY: Diplomats – we both promote democracy, the rule of law, and we obey United States law.
QUESTION: P.J. --
QUESTION: International law – also there’s international law --
MR. CROWLEY: Again, our diplomats don’t break the law.
QUESTION: Okay. Hmm. (Laughter.) I’m not sure about that. I think diplomats have in the past --
MR. CROWLEY: Endorsed by the Associated Press.
QUESTION: I think they have in the past broken the law.
MR. CROWLEY: You’re --
QUESTION: Maybe not on instruction from Washington, but diplomats are like everyone else and they do break the law.
MR. CROWLEY: And if and when those rare occasions occur, they are dealt with appropriately.
QUESTION: Right. And on Saturday night, you released this letter that Harold Koh had written to Mr. Assange, which said that you would not cooperate with WikiLeaks in redacting or identifying, or I think his term was nominating, any specific people or places, things that should be removed or redacted from these documents.
One, have you had any – has there been any further contact with Mr. Assange on this since his letter – his reply to Harold Koh through the U.S. Ambassador in London on Sunday?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
QUESTION: Okay. And secondly, it’s my understanding, or at least The New York Times says that it did cooperate with the State Department in removing, redacting some information that was deemed to put people at risk. Is that correct?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me – there are two issues there. First, obviously, Mr. Assange made an offer to the State Department after releasing information to other organizations, who, like Mr. Assange, did not have authorization to have this information. So if he was truly interested in the welfare of ordinary people and sources of information that are now at risk because of this release, he could have done this several months ago.
We have had conversations with news organizations that are in receipt of documents. We have expressed our concerns about the welfare of particular individuals who are cited in documents. We have outlined for news organizations the national interests that are potentially compromised by this release. But we continue to underscore that this release is damaging and does put individuals at considerable risk.
QUESTION: Right. But – so my question is why, since you just said that you did cooperate with news organizations, or at least point out to them stuff that they should redact, and I think in many cases they did do that, why cooperate with them and not with WikiLeaks itself? It seems to me that if you were truly concerned about these people at risk, you would have told them they’re going to publish everything online, whereas the newspapers and magazines are going to select what they want to --
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as --
QUESTION: So --
MR. CROWLEY: I mean --
QUESTION: Isn’t it better late than never?
MR. CROWLEY: Mr. Koh delivered the bottom line of the United States Government, which is that this information should not have been released and should be returned to the United States.
QUESTION: All right. Well, that’s trying to put the horse back in the barn.
MR. CROWLEY: It is our information, it’s our property, and that is our position. And he came to us at the eleventh hour and made an offer to address concerns, but that is after he had already released information to entities that themselves were not authorized to have it.
QUESTION: Right. But I guess my point is that if you are still concerned that people are at risk, why not accept that offer to put – to eliminate that risk rather than just saying no, we’re not going to --
MR. CROWLEY: Matt, I think our Legal Adviser’s letter answered your questions.
QUESTION: Well, no, actually, it didn’t answer the question.
QUESTION: Matt, I’m not – (inaudible).
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, Matt’s question, that by saying – denying this, saying no, aren’t you okaying the release?
MR. CROWLEY: No, we abhor this release. We decry this release. This release has put lives at risk. That has been our clear, compelling position of the United States Government throughout this unfortunate process.
QUESTION: Well, Mr. Assange says that in response to – in response to Harold Koh’s letter, he said that your refusal to cooperate indicates that your security fears are fanciful – his word, and by not cooperating with him and thereby allowing or thereby giving him – not giving him the opportunity to redact this sensitive information, aren’t you complicit in it yourself?
MR. CROWLEY: No. Well, we’re --
QUESTION: I mean, you had the chance to take people’s names out and --
MR. CROWLEY: Look, I’m not going to – I’m not going to debate this. We provided our perspective to Mr. Assange on – in Harold Koh’s letter.
QUESTION: Different subject. There’s a wire report in out in Asia that says the U.S., Japan, and South Korea are going to meet in Washington next week – foreign ministers – to talk about North Korea. Is that true? Can you confirm it? Meeting in Washington?
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: On that same subject –
MR. CROWLEY: Just to – we – the Secretary in recent days has had conversations with counterparts including China, Korea, and Japan, and we will continue to consult. I’m just – we’ll confirm and get back to you that such meeting has been confirmed.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you are opposed to the Chinese idea of having an emergency Six-Party talks meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: We will continue to consult with our partners in the Six-Party process. That said, we need to see North Korea cease its provocative behavior. That’s our focus at the present time, and we will respond appropriately if North Korea ceases its military action against South Korea and takes other steps to ease tensions in the region.
QUESTION: Okay, well, wait. Just I don’t want to put too fine a point on this, but haven’t they ceased their provocative behavior? When was the last provocation?
MR. CROWLEY: I think the shelling of South Korean territory resulting in the death of civilians and military constitutes a provocation.
QUESTION: And that happened on what day again?
MR. CROWLEY: That happened last week.
QUESTION: And that’s –
MR. CROWLEY: And we –
QUESTION: And so they have stopped that provocation, correct?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, that remains to be seen, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, wait a second. We need to see North Korea cease its provocative behavior.
MR. CROWLEY: Again –
QUESTION: Can you point to an incident of provocative behavior –
MR. CROWLEY: Matt, if you –
QUESTION: I’m not saying that that wasn’t provocative or whatever you guys want to call it – act of – violation of the armistice or whatever, but I’m not – what provocative behavior are they engaged in right now that prevents you from having a Six-Party talks meeting?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, all right. Let’s separate those two things for a second. We want to see North Korea cease its provocative behavior. There is a well-documented sweep of provocations that we’ve seen this year and last year, from the sinking of the Cheonan right up to recent days and the shelling of South Korean territory. Those are serious provocations for which North Korea has yet to take any responsibility for the deaths of South Korean sailors, marines, and citizens.
But just prior to North Korea’s shelling of South Korea, we also had the revelation of information regarding ongoing nuclear activity that is in violation of not only international obligations of North Korea, but also its commitments under the 2005 joint statement. So what we are looking for is fundamental changes in North Korea’s behavior. If we see those changes, then we’ll react accordingly.
But we want to see North Korea live up to its international obligations, cease its provocative behavior, take on a more constructive posture. Then we’re in a position to evaluate whether discussions can be fruitful.
QUESTION: Oh, okay. So in this case, ceasing provocative behavior would include a taking of responsibility for the Cheonan and --
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to --
QUESTION: -- the shelling?
MR. CROWLEY: -- detail a list. I’ll just say that our position is that discussions – there has to be some prospect that discussions will be constructive and have constructive discussions. The broad environment has to be taken into account.
QUESTION: Different topic. You were saying at the beginning you’re trying to lock in a date for the Iranian talks. There is a report out of Reuters out of Tehran today that the Russians have been told that December 5th in Geneva works for the Iranians. Is that something you’re hearing? And on the side of --
MR. CROWLEY: We have offered a date, we have offered locations to Iran, and we are waiting a confirmation by Iran that not only the dates are right, but the location is acceptable.
QUESTION: But you haven’t gotten a confirmation, as far as you know?
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible).
QUESTION: A different topic. Do you think that – today, do you think that Pakistani nukes are in safe hands?
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: P.J., do you have (inaudible) for Secretary brief this weekend with the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan?
MR. CROWLEY: All right. I took that question. That is something that we have discussed, and I’ll – if we – if that meeting has been confirmed, we’ll announce it shortly.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: President Ahmadinejad today accused Israel and Western governments of – behind killing a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist. Is there any comment from the State Department?
MR. CROWLEY: All I can say is we decry acts of terrorism wherever they occur, and beyond that, we do not have any information on what happened.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:49 p.m.) Full Text of briefing