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International Security | Arms Control

25 July 2001

Mahley Says Absence of Protocol Will Not Undercut BWC

Says U.S. will pursue ways to strengthen the convention

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) can be strengthened "in a number of ways" and the United States does not believe that the absence of the Biological Weapons Protocol "in any way undercuts or otherwise reduces the efficacy" of the convention, says Ambassador Donald A. Mahley.

Mahley, the U.S. special negotiator for chemical and biological arms control issues, told reporters at a press conference in Geneva July 25 that the prohibitions in the BWC "remain the solemn obligation of the 143 states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention. Not having a protocol does not relieve any of those 143 states parties of the obligation they have undertaken, both not to have biological weapons and to create domestic structures that will punish anyone who does biological weapons activities in their territory."

Mahley spoke shortly after his formal statement to the Ad Hoc Group of States Parties to the BWC, currently meeting in Geneva, in which he announced that the United States cannot support the draft protocol intended to strengthen the BWC because it would "not improve our ability to verify compliance" with the treaty's global ban on biological weapons and "would put national security and confidential business information at risk."

Mahley dismissed the notion that the U.S. decision was based on pressure from the pharmaceutical industry. "To say that the United States decision was based on lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry is incorrect. The United States decision was based on an assessment both substantive and political by all the agencies of the United States government about whether or not this document, in our judgment, would satisfy the security objectives that we had for it at an acceptable cost to the United States."

Mahley said the United States continues to pursue ways of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention and is working on proposals, which it hopes to have ready for the BWC Review Conference in November.

Following is the transcript of Mahley's news conference:

(begin transcript)

Press Conference By Ambassador Donald A. Mahley
Special Negotiator for Chemical and Biological Arms Control Issues

July 25, 2001

Palais des Nations Geneva, Switzerland

John D. Hamill, Public Affairs Counselor, U.S. Mission Geneva: We are pleased to have with us Ambassador Donald Mahley who is the head of the United States Delegation to the Ad Hoc Group of the Biological Weapons Convention. As you all know, Ambassador Mahley has presented the U.S. position earlier today, so I think we won't go through any repetition of that but will open the floor immediately for questions. I would just ask that you identify your institutional affiliation when you ask the question. Thank you

Question: Ambassador Mahley, you have said that the United States cannot go along with this because the whole inspection and verification mechanism is fatally flawed. Sounds a bit like Kyoto, for that matter, and that the U.S. would work on new more effective ways to give some kind of teeth to the Biological Weapons Convention. In what way would the United States, in what terms are you thinking to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention so that nations don't cheat?

Ambassador Mahley: Thank you. First of all, let me make one correction. I very carefully scrubbed my speech and the phrase "fatally flawed" never appeared in it anywhere. That is not one of the terms that I used this morning. But that aside, the real question is what kinds of things do we think would help strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. Let me start out by going into some more generic terms and then I will try to answer your question. Strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, to us, can happen in a number of ways. It can happen first of all by greater universality and adherence to the convention. That is one of the things that we pursue, as other states parties and depositories do, and that we certainly will continue to do. Secondly, the idea of compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention to us is divided into several generic objective categories. One of them is trying to get more information that would let us identify situations that might be of concern to the Biological Weapons Convention. Now that, of course, in the current Protocol draft is what they try to do with declarations. We think that there are other mechanisms that you have to pursue and we will try to provide that kind of an increased information base. Secondly, we think that there ought to be, indeed, ways to raise the kind of concerns that you have to public consciousness so that people are more aware of the norm. We think for example that there may be things to do in terms of codes of ethics and other kinds of activities that would be enduring means of trying to remind people of the fact that biological weapons are not things to do. One of the things is that when we say we want to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, what we are trying to say is that we want to strengthen both the norm and the practice of repressing biological weapons proliferation. That also means, for example, that we think we ought to reinvigorate other tools we already have, such as the Australia Group, and I think I noted in my address this morning that we intend to be doing that at the meeting of the Australia Group in October of this year.

There are other things that we think can happen that are not appropriate for the Ad Hoc Group, and that should be pursued by other organizations with competence. For instance, we believe that increased capability to resist disease, among other things, lowers the probability that a biological weapons attack would be successful, and therefore in some ways lowers the desirability of biological weapons for a potential proliferator or for a terrorist. We think that those are things that could be pursued as well. Those are sort of generic ideas that we have in terms of trying to strengthen the objective by both multilateral and other means in terms of achieving that end state. Now, I am not prepared at this point to go into any great elaboration on any of those because, among other things, one can have a lot of ideas, and you have to think about them for a while before you know that they are good ideas as opposed to empty ideas. We intend to be consulting with other countries and begin pursuing a number of those in the very near future.

Q: A follow up, if I may. What do you mean by a higher resistance to disease?

A: One of the things that compounds the effectiveness of a biological weapons attack, if one were to occur, is a general state of debilitation or lack of disease resistance on the part of the target population. If one corrects that, then one automatically lowers the potential effectiveness and the immediacy of spread of biological weapons attack and we think that is also, while not a biological weapons convention matter itself, nonetheless something which helps in terms of the biological weapons threat situation around the world.

Q: I just wanted to be sure. This document that you along with all the others have been working on for six and a half years, is this now formally dead? Other Ambassadors seem to think that this has closed the chapter on the draft protocol, and that they don't really know how it is going to continue. Or is there someway you can salvage something out of the protocol?

A: I think, first, I would differentiate between the protocol and a protocol. We do not rule out the prospect that there might be something that would be a protocol that might in some way be useful, but that would certainly be radically different from the current draft. As far as the United States is concerned, our assessment of the current draft is that it contains a number of problems that we believe make it not able to achieve its current objective. We have looked very carefully at trying to find a way to fix the text. We can't find a way to do that. So as far as this draft is concerned, I'm not prepared to pronounce death or life, in terms of it. That is a matter for the Ad Hoc Group to decide. It is not a matter for the United States to decide. But as far as the United States is concerned, we are not as a country going to be able to support it.

Q: As far as I understand it though, the Ad Hoc draft has to be a consensus document, and therefore if the U.S. doesn't support it, it is effectively dead in the water unless you produce something which has an addendum which says the U.S. doesn't go along with any of this. When you talk about a protocol, are you suggesting that there is a possibility that this or another ad hoc group at the next conference to start this process again? Is that what you are suggesting?

A: I am suggesting that I think that that is a matter for discussion at the Review Conference in November of this year, which is a review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. Certainly that is something which we will be conducting consultations on between now and then and which we will look at in terms of a way forward for the Convention. Whether it is this Ad Hoc Group, another Ad Hoc Group, whether its another document, whether it is some different approach, whatever the case may be, I think that is one of the things that we will have to try to determine in terms of a way to actually achieve the objectives that I think all of us in the ad hoc group and all of us in the Biological Weapons Convention agree to.

Q: And is the U.S. in favor, then, of this process continuing in some form, a multilateral negotiating body?

A: I think that would answer that in the same fashion that I put it in the statement this morning, and that is that the United States continues to be in favor of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention by all means available including multilateral ones.

Q: After your speech apparently certain delegations seem to wonder if it is still necessary to continue meeting in Geneva the next few weeks. What is your opinion? They are waiting for your new approach.

A: I think again that those are actions which the Ad Hoc Group will itself take under consideration. I think that there are a number of pieces of work that the Ad Hoc Group still has in front of it, and that as far as the United States is concerned, we are perfectly prepared to participate in those. We would like to see them come to an appropriate conclusion.

Q: I would just like to ask if you see any possibility to come to a new protocol or draft protocol in the coming four weeks or is there no chance? The second question is, could you name us a few of the elements from the Australian Group that you mentioned before that would be in the interest of the United States approach.

A: First of all, to answer your question about whether we could devise a new protocol in the next three to four weeks, no. We said at the last session of the Ad Hoc Group, the 23rd Session, that we recognized that the Composite Text, or the Chairman's text, CRP.8, was the text that was available to us between now and November. Having radical changes between now and the Review Conference this November -- which was taken by a number of people as the target or deadline for concluding these negotiations -- was just not possible. We have examined the text very carefully, and as I said this morning, we do not believe that it can achieve its objective nor do we believe that it can be fixed. So the idea of coming up with a new protocol within the next four weeks I think is well beyond the scope of the best efforts of the entire group.

Now with respect to the Australian Group, recall that the Australian Group is a group of like-minded countries that coordinate their national policies with respect to export controls. What they do, therefore, is they coordinate their policies with respect to areas of equipment and technology that are potentially of concern as having dual use directly as weapons of mass destruction. We think that there are ways to both expand that in terms of its scope of equipment and material, we think that there may be ways to expand the membership and get more people involved in the Australian Group coordination. We think that there are a number of ways in which that group, as one of the tools of non-proliferation, can indeed be strengthened and reinvigorated. Let me also emphasize that that is one tool of a number of tools. What we believe is that the entire tool box ought to be used, and certainly one of the things we are not prepared to do is to have one of those taken away.

Q: I was wondering if you could elaborate a bit what are your ideas after the November meeting of the Convention, what ideas are in your mind on how to revive the process after November?

A: I don't think I'm prepared to elaborate on those at this point. As I said, there are some ideas that are floating around. I am not going to put those out right now since we have not conferred on those with anybody else, and therefore to take the chance that if there is a good idea, that somebody is going to kill it because it looks like it is made in the United States. Second, I am not going to take a chance on the idea that a brainstorm that we think we have in Washington may turn out on further reflection and the introduction of other views not to be such a brainstorm but rather some other kind of a phenomenon which is not worth pursuing. So I think that I would prefer to put a little more substance behind that before we start to elaborate.

Q: I'd like to understand how you think killing the efficacy of the Biological Weapons Convention will enhance the ability of the world to keep tabs on countries such as Iraq which are suspected of creating these weapons, and also the hurdle of challenge inspections which seems to have been overcome in some measure in the Chemical Convention's situation? Why is it not possible to devise some means whereby on-site challenge inspections can also work so that it doesn't interfere with industrial secrets?

A: Let me correct, again, what appears to be an assumption in front of one of your questions, and that is, how can you undercut the efficacy of the Biological Weapons Convention. Let me re-stress that we do not believe that the absence of this particular protocol in any way undercuts the efficacy of the Biological Weapons Convention. The prohibitions in the Biological Weapons Convention remain the solemn obligation of the 143 states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention. Not having a protocol does not relieve any of those 143 states parties of the obligation they have undertaken, both not to have biological weapons and to create domestic structures that will punish anyone who does biological weapons activities in their territory. So therefore this is not something which in anyway undercuts or otherwise reduces the efficacy of the Biological Weapons Convention.

Now the second question you had is about challenge inspections and how can you say that challenge inspections cannot be done? Challenge inspections, "investigations" as they are called in this protocol, of suspect sites including undeclared suspect sites, you will notice in my statement today, was not one of the areas that the United States said it had a great difficulty with. We do believe, in the area of challenge investigations, that if they could be directed at areas of particular suspicion, that those might be instruments and tools that could have some effect, or at least some value. However, we do not believe that their position in the framework of this protocol leaves them with the capability of being effective. And so therefore this particular protocol is not in our judgment a means of trying to successfully implement that instrument.

Q: You mentioned a couple of times in your speech that some of your concerns had been raised in earlier negotiating sessions, but what you have left unanswered is, were these ignored by other states, or where these concerns compromised away in the effort to reach mutually agreeable language?

A: Yes. Now I realize that is not a very useful answer. A negotiation is a very complex operation as you well know, and in the process of that negotiation there are a number of things that we put down as positions that we thought were very important, which indeed by the nature of the negotiation became compromised. Now, we expect some of that to happen in the course of the negotiation. However, the other point is that the other part of your question is also correct. There are a number of positions that we put down as a part of the negotiation, starting as early as 1995, and which we have consistently stated throughout the negotiation, were positions that were absolutely required to be a part of the protocol in order to have a hope that the United States could become a party to it, and that the United States could actually ratify that Protocol. Those positions have in some instances been ignored by some countries in this negotiation. Now they have been ignored because other countries disagreed with the United States, or because other countries came to a conclusion that the United States would indeed be prepared in the endgame to compromise those positions as well. Obviously in the instance that other countries came to the conclusion that in the endgame we would be prepared to comprise those positions, they erred in their judgment.

Q: Mr. Ambassador, two questions. Number one, when you talk about exploring alternative approaches, do you plan to come up with concrete proposals by the November conference? And secondly, when you talk about developing other ideas, and your remarks today regarding greater universality and greater resistance to disease, looking a this protocol, it seems to me that we are not mutually exclusive. They could co-exist. So the second question would be, do you plan to rewrite the core part of the current Composite Text including visits and challenge inspections?

A: Let me take that, if I can, in sort of a reverse order. One of the things that we are not attempting to do at the moment is to unilaterally rewrite the core of this text. Even if we could rewrite the core of this text, we believe that a number of the elements that are a part of this text are simply not applicable to the objectives that this protocol ought to be seeking. With regard to some of the other things that I have suggested today, as possible ways to go about trying to strengthen the biological weapons convention, you are absolutely correct, those are not incompatible with a protocol. They certainly could co-exist along side it. But as I have said, we believe we have to focus on the objective of trying to make the world safer from biological weapons. In so far as there are other ways, other than a protocol, to do that, we are certainly prepared to pursue them. One of the things is that we do not believe this protocol works to that objective. We believe that it has more downsides in terms of activities than it has upsides in terms of trying to address that objective.

Now, with respect to your question about are we going to have these things for the review conference in November, it is our intention to do so. Until we have completed some consultations and done some more work, I don't have anything that I can tell you is an accomplished package that is sitting in my hip pocket ready to be put on the table. I think the United States recognizes that if we don't have it done by the review conference in November, we may well be having another press conference just like this at which someone is going to be asking me why not. So that's certainly a time frame that we have very clearly in our mind.

Q: Ambassador, two questions. One, does the United States want a protocol or not? Do you think it would be better to simply go on without one at all? And secondly you have spoken in general terms in the context of declarations for example, about other mechanisms. At what point, if at all, is it the United States intention to come forward with a detailed list of proposals which in your view fill the bill?

A: First of all, to answer your first question, I consider it a hypothetical. Do we think that not having a protocol is not better than having one? I don't know. What I do know is that we believe not having this Protocol is better than having one. And this Protocol is the only Protocol that we have been able to do a detailed assessment of, and therefore we believe that this is something which does not accomplish the purpose. At what point will we come forward with proposals? I'm tempted to revert to an old ad in the United States that used to run with Orson Wells for one of our vineyards in California saying "We will sell no wine before its time," and tell you that we will come forward with proposals just as soon as we have proposals that we feel have been fleshed out sufficiently that they have a sufficient amount of merit and a sufficient amount of body that they can be reacted to constructively or at least in detail by other countries and other parts of the world.

Q: What kind of reactions do you expect to the refusal of this protocol? After Kyoto and after ignoring the ABM treaty more or less, there will be harsh reactions from other countries probably.

A: Well, I don't expect that other countries involved in this negotiation are going to leap with joy at the idea that six and a half years of work is not going to come to fruition. On the other hand, I do not believe that this is, or should be interpreted as, part of a larger overall scheme of anything. This is a decision that was taken with great time and effort in terms of reviewing the decision by the United States government based on the specific objective merits of the material that we had in front of us with this protocol. It was a decision based on our assessment of the inability of this document to achieve its objectives. It is not a statement about a general nature of the United States action in the world. It is not a statement of a general United States attitude. It is a statement of a specific assessment of a specific security issue by the United States.

Q: A couple of questions if I may. The first one is, on the basis of the current national positions on the protocol, would you expect to achieve agreement on this innovative approach you are advocating based on the consensus of all the BWC parties or would you be seeking something more like the Australia Group, something which is more voluntary and not necessarily all inclusive? And the second question is, to take your analogy of the wine, isn't there a need for speed with some kind of verification regime? Isn't the threat of use of biological weapons becoming greater and if you like, can we wait for a more mature wine that you are advocating?

A: With respect to your first question. I don't want to say that we have, or would be proposing, or would be thinking of proposing, a proposal. I don't think that that is correct. I think that there may be more than one idea that we have that we would try to use in terms of melding a number of tools together to try to work on the biological weapons problem. Now in that respect, one of the reasons that we are not trying to put those forward yet is that we believe that some of the ideas we are examining, and again we are only examining them preliminarily, but some of those ideas are much more appropriate for other fora than the Ad Hoc Group. Some of them do indeed act on the basis of like-minded countries acting in concert, so in that sense, would we expect those to get consensus by all the members of the Biological Weapons Convention, we can hope, but we have more realistic expectations and would say probably not. On the other hand, I think there are some of the ideas we have in the drawing board stage that if they do indeed turn out to have merit, would have merit as universal applications that we would try to bring to an appropriate forum including potentially the Biological Weapons Convention, for universal adherence. So I think there is a mix that goes into that. Certainly if we were to try to look at any radically different proposal or something that would be an appendage to the Biological Weapons Convention itself, that would again have to come back into a forum that would be open universally to all parties to the Biological Weapons Convention.

With respect to biological weapons, their threat is increasing, so therefore don't we have to have some kind of verification regime now as opposed to waiting for something better? Let me first remind you that from the United States perspective, since 1994, the subject of the negotiations in the Ad Hoc Group has never been a Verification Protocol. It has been a protocol of transparency, it has been a protocol to try to enhance confidence and compliance, but it has never been a verification protocol, because, again, the United States does not believe that the Biological Weapons Convention is verifiable by what we mean by that word, and we do not know of a way to make it so. And that has been a consistent United States position since 1991 in the review conference then. So in that sense it is not a verification regime. So if the question is do we believe that this regime of transparency needed to be adopted anyway despite its flaws and it was the best we could get, until we could get something better, the answer to that obviously is no, because we believe that the flaws and the difficulties in this particular approach outweigh any potential benefit you get for more information that might be of transparency value.

Q: How do you explain that the United States and the European Union, who on paper you would think have reasonably similar interests, can take such radically different approaches, one saying that this is a document that isn't perfect, but you can do it, and the U.S. saying that this is a document that has no use whatsoever, you've got to tear it up? Follow up question, the Composite Text is also based on something called the Rolling Text that has a huge number of items in it. Are you suggesting that that also is no longer a basis for discussion?

A: With respect to the Rolling Text, as I indicated this morning in my statement, we believe that the move by Chairman Toth was appropriate, because we believe that in terms of the Rolling Text itself, that we had exhausted the Friends of the Chair operation and the ability to try to go through that bracket by bracket and try to reach any kind of a resolution. Now the Composite Text is based on the Rolling Text, so many of the flaws that we find in the Composite Text, flaws and errors and problems which we believe are not fixable, we also would find in the Rolling Text because it has the same inherent structure. So in that sense I do not believe that the United States would find going back to the Rolling Text a constructive way to try to resolve these issues and come up with a document on that basis that we could agree with any more than we can agree with a Composite Text. With respect to the question about the U.S.-European Union split on this, I am not sure that that split is quite as stark as you would characterize it, because I haven't heard any of my European Union colleagues say that they thought that this was the perfect protocol. I think that what I've heard them say is that this is a protocol which still has a great number of difficulties but which nonetheless is one which they on balance thought they could subscribe to because they thought it did more good than harm. I think our judgment (is) based in part on a different assessment of what the risks are, based in part on a different environment in which the United States operates, based in part on a somewhat more rigorous assessment, I believe, in terms of some of the value that can be obtained with respect to the compliance measures parts of the protocol. I think the United States has simply come to a different conclusion, although I think again that the United States and European Union are conducting their assessments on the basis of trying to reach the same objectives.

Q: Mr. Ambassador, when you talk about the importance of the Australia Group, are you looking at kind of a regime like Austria Group Plus with the current export control regime having verification system input into it? On the other hand, isn't such export control regime exactly the type of institution that countries like China, Iran, Pakistan have criticized over the years? Secondly, when you say that not having the current Composite Text is better than having one, are you indicating that with this current Composite Text and proposals the U.S. would be giving out more information than gathering information?

A: Part of your first question is easy, which is: are we looking for an AG+ which is an AG with verification measures attached to it? The answer is no. That I think would be something largely hypothetically impossible in the international system. Because if you had verification measures, as you call them -- I won't call them verification measures, but nonetheless you used that term -- that is something that of course would require the consent or the agreement of the people who are going to be subject to the verification measures. If that is something more than the people who were like-minded and participating, then that of course would be in plain terms, dead on arrival. So no, we are not looking at that. Second part of that question: is not that what other countries have been criticizing? The answer to that is yes. And one of the things that we have said all along is that we are not about to give up one of the tools in the non-proliferation toolbox. So that is fine, there are some countries that criticize it, and we will just have to deal with those criticisms.

With respect to the question of whether or not this really means that we think we are giving up more information than we are getting, that's a question which is phrased I think incorrectly. We believe that there remains some risk of giving up legitimate information that would be expensive to the United States or to United States firms. We do not believe that National Security information and Proprietary Information are in our judgment adequately protected by the current procedures. Now, that doesn't mean that we think we would give up more of that in absolute terms, than information that we get. But what we do believe is that the information that we might get from this Protocol would not be information on which we could base a relevant judgment about confidence and compliance. So no matter what the volume of information that the protocol might generate, it would be information that did not have a security purpose to the United States.

Q: I was wondering if you could elaborate to what extent your decision to pull the plug on the draft text was linked to the strong lobbying in Washington by pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry and could this turn into a public relations nightmare for the U.S. biotechnology industry like what we saw in Europe with Monsanto?

A: Certainly throughout the negotiations the pharmaceutical industry in the United States has appropriately expressed its concerns and its interests. But I think, and I am speaking now completely out of school because I cannot speak for the pharmaceutical industry, but I think that if you look at the published opinions in the pharmaceutical industry you do not find them diametrically opposed to any kind of an international agreement. To say that the United States decision was based on lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry is incorrect. The United States decision was based on an assessment both substantive and political by all the agencies of the United States government about whether or not this document in our judgment would satisfy the security objectives that we had for it at an acceptable cost to the United States. And an acceptable cost to the United States goes much further than simply the cost of the pharmaceutical industry although that is indeed a component. And so the answer is I would not attribute our decision to lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry.

Q: You made a distinction between national security information and proprietary information that you believe is not adequately protected. Is there any guarantee, are there any controls that the United States is willing to offer on the proprietary side? Is there anything you can do to assure people that private companies are not going to be carrying out activities in the biological weapons field that would violate the convention itself? And number two, you said that you thought these four weeks of the Ad Hoc Group still had important bits of work to do. What are those?

A: Number one, with respect with what guarantees can the United States government give that United States firms will not violate the Biological Weapons Convention. It is illegal that the United States firms violate the Biological Weapons Convention. We have in the United States domestic legislation which outlaws activities with biological weapons; we have legislation in the United States which outlaws the support by any firm or individual in the United States of bio-terrorism or actions to support bio-terrorism. We have federal law enforcement agencies in the United States as well as State and local law enforcement agencies in the United States which very vigorously enforce United States laws and so therefore I think that the United States can give very firm assurances that we have, as we are required to do by the Biological Weapons Convention, implemented our domestic legislative program that says that we have outlawed all such activities by firms or individuals in the United States, and we enforce our laws to the best of our ability.

The second thing is that when we say that there are other things to be done for the next four weeks, what are they? Number one, there may be reason for the Ad Hoc Group to discuss in greater detail some of the issues that I raised on the floor this morning, if members of the Ad Hoc Group want to get in private session further and more elaborate details in terms of what it was that the United States means by some of those objections. Number two, this is the last scheduled session of the Ad Hoc Group prior to the review conference in November. One would think that the Ad Hoc Group would want to make some kind of a report which could be noted by the Review Conference in November. That report has not yet been written. I think there is a fair amount of work to be done to characterize what has happened over the last 6 and a half years, that the Ad Hoc Group can turn its attention to.

Q: Another issue is that of momentum, and of course this got kick started back in 1991 after the Gulf War as I understand it. Isn't there a danger that even though you have had other growing threats during the intervening ten years that you are going to loose the momentum to start all over again as it were?

A: We certainly hope not, and we see no reason why that is necessarily true.

Q: I would like to ask if there could be any way it could be hooked to the current administration's opinion on these negotiations that these conclusions have been reached and one would think that with the length of the negotiations all political parties and all political points of view inside the United States would have been more or less sympathetic. I suppose the short question is, will there now be political war inside the United States or wars in the newspapers about these conclusions, one way or the other?

A: I am not a political creature, and I am not prepared to address whether or not there are going to be political wars in the newspapers in the United States. I have seen a lot of political wars in the newspapers in the United States in my lifetime which had absolutely no basis in any objective fact whatever. And so therefore, depending on the nature of politicians, you can see a lot of things go on that you don't find a reason for. So I don't have the foggiest notion what's going to happen with that.

With respect to the first part of your question. it does make an important note and that important note is that the problems that the United States has with this protocol are not political problems, they are substantive problems. And they are substantive problems that the United States has had with this protocol with several of these issues since the inception of these negotiations. And in case no one has got a good political history of the United States at hand, yes, these negotiations were carried out for a great length of time under a different administration than the current one. And I was the representative of the Ad Hoc Group under that administration as well as this one. And I made the same points then that I am making now. These are national problems, these are not political problems, and I would certainly hope that we don't have a political war over it but I am not prepared to make a prediction on that.

(end transcript)

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