Questions from the Committee to the US
Embassy on US policy with respect to the war against terrorism
US POLICY AND
1. Does the United States claim what Richard
Haass described recently
as "a right of preventative self-defence" against states
which harbour and arm terrorists? If it is contended that the
US has a right in international law to preventive self-defence,
please set out in extenso the legal bases for the exercise
of such a right. What limitations, in the Administration's judgement,
are to be set on its exercise?
2. Some analysts have suggested that US
commercial interests and private citizens overseas may become
targets of action by Al Qaida. What can the United States do to
protect these interests and individuals from attacks by terrorists?
To what extent would the US be prepared to extend such protection
to the commercial and private interests of its coalition partners
if they too were threatened?
3. Do the existing Security Council resolutions
authorise military action against Iraq if Saddam refuses to allow
weapons inspectors to return unimpeded?
If the US were to use existing Security Council
resolutions to provide legal cover for military action against
Iraq, which specific resolutions would apply?
If it were contended that existing UN Security
Council resolutions do not provide sufficient legal authority
for military action against Iraq, would the US seek an additional
resolution before taking such military action?
4. What must Saddam Hussein do to avoid
US military action against his regime? Do the US and the UN share
an understanding of acceptable terms for the return of UN weapons
inspectors to Iraq? If the Iraqi regime and the UN were to reach
an agreement over the return of weapons inspectors, would that
satisfy the objectives of the US Administration with respect to
5. Does the United States have compelling
evidence linking the Iraqi regime with Al Qaida? If so, what is
the nature of that evidence?
6. What, in the US Administration's understanding,
is the definition in international law of "unlawful combatant"?
Does the Administration distinguish between fighters for Al Qaida
and fighters for the Taliban, and accord different status to each?
7. The Committee has heard assertions that
every person who has joined Al Qaida is criminal, because Al Qaida's
purpose is to commit "war crimes." However, it appears
that, given Al Qaida's loose, informal structure, it is difficult
to prove that detainees are "members" of the organisation
and therefore to prosecute them. How does the United States expect
to prove that the "unlawful combatants" currently being
held at Guanta«namo Bay are criminals?
8. For how long will "unlawful combatants"
be detained at Guanta«namo Bay? Under what circumstances
might they be released or returned to their home countries? What
assurances would be sought from the combatants' home countries
as to their treatment before their repatriation?
9. When, and under what circumstances, will
the US return the five British citizens currently being detained
at Guanta«namo Bay?
10. Under what circumstances would the US
Government support the dispatch of international observers or
a military operation for peace enforcement to Israel and the Palestinian
Territories? Would the US be prepared to commit military and/or
civilian personnel for such operations? What other kinds of support
would the US Administration be prepared to provide?
11. Has the use of force by the Israeli
government against the Palestinians in Jenin and elsewhere been
necessary and proportionate to the threat they face.
12. Are you convinced that Yassir Arafat
is in control of the Palestinian Territories, and can limit the
violence being perpetrated by Palestinian militants? If he is
no longer in control, can negotiations to end the violence take
13. To what extent has the escalation of
violence in the Middle East increased anti-US sentiment in the
14. The United States has invested heavily
in ensuring Israel's security: in 2001 alone, the United States
provided almost US$2 billion in military grants to Israel. Given
this relationship, what is the nature of America's leveragefinancial
and militaryover the Israeli government? What lessons does
the US Administration draw from Ariel Sharon's refusal to withdraw
the IDF from West Bank towns, despite President Bush's request
that he do so?
15. To what extent has the escalation of
the Palestinian-Israeli conflict weakened the international coalition
16. The United States Ambassador to Afghanistan
said on 10 April 2002 that "nothing that the Interim Authority
and international community are trying to do in Afghanistan will
work without stability and security." Are you confident that
this stability and security can be established without the extension
of the International Security Assistance Force beyond Kabul? Are
there any circumstances under which the US would commit troops
to ISAF? If the US is not prepared to commit its own troops, it
is prepared to commit to funding troops for the force from poor
17. To what extent has the United States
already accomplished its objective of ending the use of Afghanistan
as a base for the training of terrorists?
18. By including Iran in the "axis
of evil," the United States has ruled out the prospect of
negotiation with the government of Iran. In the absence of such
negotiation, how does the US expect to end the threat from Iran,
and to obtain assistance from Iran in the war against terrorism?
19. What effect did the inclusion of Iran
in the "axis of evil" have on the domestic political
balance of that country?
20. To what extent has the inclusion of
North Korea in the "axis of evil" jeopardised South
Korean policies towards reconciliation with the North?
21. From which sources are terrorists most
likely to obtain weapons of mass destruction? Are you satisfied
that countries which might be a source of weapons of mass destruction
to terrorists are co-operating adequately with the UN Counter-Terrorism
22. Are you satisfied that Russia is doing
all it can to counter terrorism, and in particular to prevent
the exodus of scientists trained in the development of weapons
of mass destruction?
23. Commentators have described to us some
of the "root causes," which make terrorism against the
United States appealing to many young people in the Arabian peninsular.
These include high and rising unemployment, poor and inadequate
public education, repression and corruption perpetrated by governments
in the region, and the absence of unifying visions of Islam other
than that put forward by Osama bin Laden. Commentators have also
noted the growth of pan-Arabian media, which often link the suffering
of the Iraqi people and their "Arab brothers," the Palestinians,
to US policies in the region. Can the US do anything to address
these "root causes"? Can we win the war against terrorism
without addressing these causes?
24. Does the recently leaked Nuclear Posture
Review statement include any significant changes to US policy?
25. In what circumstances does the US regard
it as legitimate to make first use of nuclear weapons, as postulated
in the latest Nuclear Posture Review statement?
26. Is it correct, as reported in the UK
the US has started work on a nuclear "bunker buster"
Foreign Affairs Committee
17th April 2002
Reply from the US Embassy to the Committee's
1. Thank you for your recent letter and
the questions it conveyed from members of the Foreign Affairs
Committee. I understand the recent visit by several Committee
members to the United States was productive and useful. We in
the Embassy were happy to assist you in arranging that visit and
stand ready to facilitate further visits and consultations with
US officials. And, we would like to take this opportunity to renew
our standing offer to continue our close consultative exchanges
with you and the Committee on an informal basis.
2. I should point out to you that, as a
matter of policy and practice, US officials abroad do not participate
in formal question-and-answer exchanges for a formal legislative
record. In light of the exceptionally close US-UK relationship,
however, we have sought to provide herewith responses to your
letter to the extent we are able, drawing on public policy statements.
They are grouped in the main as were your questions.
US POLICY AND
3. In the 21st century, the principal aim
of American foreign policy is to integrate other countries and
organisations into arrangements that will sustain a world consistent
with US interests and values, and thereby promote peace, prosperity,
and justice as widely as possible. The integration of new partners
into our efforts will help us deal with traditional challenges
of maintaining peace in divided regions as well as with transnational
threats such as international terrorism and the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction. It will also help bring into the
globalised world those who have previously been left out. In this
era, our fate is intertwined with the fate of others, so our success
must be shared success.
4. We are doing this by persuading more
and more governments and, at a deeper level, people to sign on
to certain key ideas as to how the world should operate for our
mutual benefit. Integration is about bringing nations together
and then building frameworks of cooperation and, where feasible,
institutions that reinforce and sustain them even more.
5. It is important to point out that these
ideaswhat President Bush has termed "the non-negotiable
demands of human dignity: rule of law, limits on the power of
the state, respect for women, private property, equal justice,
religious tolerance"are not narrow American values
that benefit Americans only. To the contrary, they are universal
values that people everywhere would benefit from. Nor is integration
merely a defensive response to the world we live in. Integration
is, in fact, a profoundly optimistic approach to international
relations. As Secretary of State Colin Powell likes to point out,
we live in a time of historic opportunity. With war between great
powers almost unthinkable, we can turn our efforts from containment
and deterrence to consultation and cooperation. We can move from
a balance of power to a pooling of power.
6. Establishing new norms for this new era
will be equally important to success. The right to self-defense
is an international norm that none deny. But over the past decade,
we have seen an evolution in how the international community views
sovereignty. Simply put, sovereignty does not grant governments
a blank checque to do whatever they like within their own borders.
Instead, the principle that sovereignty carries responsibilities
is gaining ground.
7. We saw this in the humanitarian interventions
of the past decade, such as in Kosovo. When governments violate
the rights of their people on a large scalebe it as an
act of conscious policy or the byproduct of a loss of controlthe
international community has the right, and sometimes even the
obligation, to act. Since 11 September, behind President Bush's
leadership, we have seen similar changes in how the international
community views states' responsibilities vis-a"-vis terrorism.
Countries affected by states that abet, support, or harbour international
terrorists, or are incapable of controlling terrorists operating
from their territory, have the right to take action to protect
8. The US has demonstrated that it can and
will act alone when necessary. By the same token, we do not take
lightly the costs to ourselves and to others when we forego participation
in some multilateral initiative. We will give consultations every
reasonable chance to produce an acceptable outcome. But if we
conclude that agreement is beyond reach, we will explain why and
do our best to put forth alternatives. We have shown this commitment
in policies ranging from developing a new strategic framework
to protecting the environment. And we will continue to do so.
9. As for possible additional al-Qaida targets,
the US is committed to the protection and welfare of its citizens
overseas and the safe and secure operations of US commercial interests
abroad. The US cooperates with like-minded states in combating
terrorism in all its forms and in protecting citizens and commercial
interests. It will not come as a surprise that primary responsibility
for these matters rests with host governments. There is a wide
variety of programmes in place to do that.
10. We continue to work toward advancing
the comprehensive strategy the "Quartet" reaffirm following
its recent meeting: (1) security and freedom from terror and violence
for both Israelis and Palestinians; (2) serious and accelerated
negotiations to revive hope and lead to a political settlement;
and (3) economic and humanitarian assistance to address the increasingly
desperate conditions faced by the Palestinian people. This strategy
has broad support both in the region and in the international
11. We remain closely engaged with the parties
and all regional leaders to advance this strategy. We are working
with Russia, the EU and the UN on the possibility of convening
an international meeting to continue the work that began with
President Bush's 4 April speech.
12. We are also working with the EU, Russia,
and the UN on ways to advance the international community's security,
humanitarian, and economic reconstruction efforts and to reconstitute
the Palestinian Authority in a non-corrupt, more democratic, and
more transparent manner. We have not yet decided on specific timing
or venue for an international conference, but we believe that
an international meeting at the ministerial level can be convened
in the early summer.
13. On a third-party monitoring mechanism,
we have always maintained that it could be useful if both sides
agree to such a function, and Secretary Powell has reiterated
that once security meetings and political discussions begin, monitors
could be useful as part of a confidence-building effort. The Mitchell
Committee recommendations also outline a possible role for monitors.
14. On Jenin, the Secretary has expressed
our serious concerns about the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian
people, and we have called upon Israel to respect humanitarian
principles and to facilitate access by humanitarian organisations
and service. It was this concern for the situation in the territories
that led the Secretary to announce last month an additional $30
million US contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),
and $62 million in accelerated assistance for health care, water
system repairs and emergency food aid.
15. On leadership, we believe it serves
our interests, Israeli interests, and the interests of the Palestinian
people and the other nations in the region if we continue to work
with all the Palestinian leaders and to recognize who the Palestinian
people look to as their leader.
16. We are not unmindful of the problems
that exist within Chairman Arafat's leadership or the problems
that exist within the Palestinian Authority. Our objective as
we move forward will be to make the point to the Palestinian Authority
that, as they reconstruct themselves, they must do it in a way
that is transparent, non-corrupt, and does not tolerate violence
or support terrorism. This is the time for Chairman Arafat, all
Palestinian leaders, and the Palestinian people to make a judgement
to move in a new direction.
17. Chairman Arafat must also exert maximum
efforts to confront terror and violence. He and the Palestinian
Authority should also work with the international community to
rebuild strong, accountable, democratic, and market-oriented institutions
for the Palestinian people.
18. Chairman Arafat must show leadership
and move in a new direction to denounce terrorism and violence,
and do everything in his power to stop terrorist activities and
to stop the incitement that breeds such activities.
19. US policy is clear: we support a Palestinian
state; we support Israel with secure borders; we support each
at peace with the other. Whatever the criticisms or anti-American
sentiment in the region or farther afield, we shall persevere
in encouraging peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict
while also pursuing the war on terrorism to a successful conclusion.
20. Let me first underscore that the important
issue is what Iraq must do to bring itself into compliance with
UN Security Council Resolutions and established international
21. Saddam Hussein's regime remains a threat
to the Iraqi people, to Iraq's neighbours, and to international
peace and stability. As the President and Secretary of State Powell
have many times underscored, Iraq is a country that not only pursues
weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but has shown no reluctance
to use themeven against its own people.
22. Because of the vigilance of the international
community, this regime is no longer the conventional threat that
it was 10 years ago. That said, we remain concerned about Iraq's
efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and we continue
to work closely with our allies and the international community
to secure Iraq's compliance with its UN Security Council Resolution
obligations to declare and destroy fully its WMD.
23. We are not able to discuss what we know
from sensitive intelligence. We note, however, that Iraq has long
been on our State Sponsors of Terrorism List, and we continue
to be focused on Iraq's support for international terrorism.
24. As the President and Secretary have
also said, we continue to have all our options available regarding
Iraqand we will not wait on events, while dangers gather.
We maintain a credible force in the region and always have the
ability to use force if that is the right thing to do. There is
no question that the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people,
as well as international and regional peace and security, would
be substantially better off without Saddam's regime.
25. The United States is treating and will
continue to treat all of the individuals detained humanely and,
to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity,
in a manner consistent with the principles of the Third Geneva
Convention of 1949.
26. Many detainees at Guanta«namo pose
a severe security risk to those responsible for guarding them
and to each other. Some of these individuals demonstrated how
dangerous they are in uprisings at Mazar-e-Sharif and in Pakistan.
27. These aggressors initiated a war that,
under law, they had no legal right to wage. The right to conduct
armed conflict and lawful belligerency is reserved only to states
and recognized armed forces or groups under responsible command.
Private persons lacking the basic indicia of organization or the
ability or willingness to conduct operations in accordance with
the laws of armed conflict have no legal right to wage warfare
against a state.
28. The members of al-Qaida fail to meet
the criteria to be lawful combatants under the law of war. If
they choose to violate these laws and customs of war and engage
in hostilities, they are unlawful combatants. And their conduct,
in intentionally targeting and killing civilians in a time of
international armed conflict, constitutes war crimes.
29. The President has determined that the
Genva Convention applies to the Taliban detainees, but not to
the al-Qaida detainees. Al-Qaida is not a state party to the Geneva
Convention; it is a foreign terrorist group. As such its members
are not entitled to POW status. Under the terms of the Geneva
Convention, however, the Taliban detainees do not qualify as POWs.
Therefore, neither the Taliban nor al-Qaida detainees are entitled
to POW status. Even though the detainees are not entitled to POW
privileges, they are being provided many POW privileges as a matter
of policy. Of course, the detainees will not be subject to physical
or mental abuse or cruel treatment.
30. We are pleased to see that the European
Parliament stated that it "agrees that the prisoners currently
held in the US base in Guanta«namo do not fall precisely
within the definitions of the Geneva Convention."
31. As we have repeatedly stated, these
were no ordinary domestic crimes, and the perpetrators cannot
and should not be deemed to be common criminals. And in bringing
these abusers to justice, the United States will continue to honour
and uphold the rule of law and work within the norms of the global
community in answering the challenge that faces us all. In doing
so, we will continue to uphold relevant legal standards of treatment
with respect to the detainees in our custody.
32. No decisions have been made on the disposition
of the detainees currently being held. The fate of the detainees
will be determined on a case-by-case basis. We will investigate,
we will determine which cases are the most important to prosecute,
and will bring those who bear responsibility to justice.
33. The (International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) has been key to providing the stability and security
necessary for the rebuilding of Afghanistan. It has made possible
the rebirth of civil society, and it has allowed the Interim Authority
to organize the upcoming Loya Jirga that will allow the Afghan
people to determine their future government institutions.
34. The US strongly supports ISAF, which
complements the efforts of coalition forces to eliminate the last
vestiges of Taliban and al-Qaida from Afghanistan. The US also
supports the Turkish decision to take over leadership of ISAF
and is seeking Congressional approval of funding to help provide
logistical support, strategic lift, and communications equipment.
The US is working to ensure Turkish needs are met, and ISAF and
the US Central Command regularly work out mutually satisfactory
arrangements on military issues.
35. A key to eventually making ISAF unnecessary
is the formation of a capable, multi-ethnic Afghan National Army
that the US and other statesparticilary ISAF contributing
nationswill train and support as appropriate. Coalition
forces have made tremendous progress in denying terrorists the
use of Afghanistan as a base and source of support, succor, and
financing, but the fight is not over in eradicating all the terrorist
36. There has been no fundamental change
in US policy toward Iran. Change hinges on Iran changing policies
of major concern to us.
37. Despite some positive Iranian actions
on Afghanistan, particularly its contribution to the success of
the Bonn Conference, other Iranian actions in Afghanistan and
especially in the Middle East are extremely damaging.
38. We continue to see the Iranian presence
in southern Lebanon as providing destabilizing military support
to Hizballah. Iran's continuing support of deadly weapons to Hizballah,
especially longer-range Katushya rockets, directly undermines
US, EU and Russian efforts to reduce violence and resume negotiations
in the Middle East.
39. We have no doubt that Iran seeks to
attain nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction,
advanced conventional weapons, and long-range missiles. We are
concerned by the apparent willingness of some to overlook or understate
Iran's WMD intent and the inherent dangers that result.
40. We continue to seek international cooperation
in our effort to address Iranian pursuit of WMD systems, in particular
on enforcement of export controls, cooperation on interdiction,
and in international fora.
41. We have delivered forceful messages
to Iran on the need to stabilize Afghanistan, end support for
terrorism and for groups violently opposed to the Middle East
peace process, end development of WMD and ballistic missiles,
and end human rights abuses.
42. We have also urged all concerned to
insist on concrete, verifiable cessation of Iran's objectionable
activities in these areas of concern as a pre-condition for increased
economic and other cooperation. We believe that if Iran continues
to act in damaging ways, there should be negative consequences
for Iran's external and trade relations.
43. During his visit to Seoul February 19
to 21, the President reiterated US support for North-South dialogue,
which we believe is key to reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.
He also stressed that the US has no intention of invading North
Korea. However, he has not denied the obvious truth as to the
nature of the regime in Pyongyang.
44. We were pleased with the positive results
of South Korean Envoy Lim Dong-won's recent visit to Pyongyang,
particularly North Korea's pledges to resume family reunification
meetings and high-level dialogue. It is also a positive sign that
North Korea has resumed discussion with the Japanese Red Cross
45. North Korea has informed the US through
its UN Mission that it is prepared to begin talks with the US.
We are working to determine the timing and other details. We continue
to provide humanitarian food assistance to the people of North
Korea, to coordinate closely with our allies, and to maintain
our strong, defensive posture on the Peninsula.
46. It is not possible in an unclassified
letter to discuss the detailed information we possess about possible
connections between terrorists and WMD. We can say, however, that
we are continually seeking to improve international cooperation
in staunching possible proliferation and in denying terrorist
access to WMD, including through the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee.
47. When the President spoke about the nexus
between support for terrorism and WMD development, Iraq was obviously
one of the countries of most concern to us. Iraq is on the US
State Sponsors of Terrorism list, and we continue to be focused
on Iraq's support for international terrorism. We are also very
concerned about Iranian and North Korean WMD developments and
support for terrorism. There are, of course, other states such
as Syria, Libya, and Cuba whose potential for WMD development
and proliferation is of great concern to us.
48. As for Russia, we continue to believe
there are proliferating activities that are taking place there
that are unhelpful. Specifically, anything which supports Iran's
efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction is troublesome
for us, and it is something we will continue to discuss with the
Russians at every level.
49. The Nuclear Posture Review is a wide-ranging
classified analysis of the requirements for deterrence in the
21st century. This review of the US nuclear posture is the latest
in a long series of reviews since the development of nuclear weapons.
It does not provide operational guidance on nuclear targeting
50. The Department of Defence continues
to plan for a broad range of contingencies and unforeseen threats
to the United States and its allies. We do so in order to deter
such attacks in the first place.
51. Of particular significance in the new
Nuclear Posture Review is President Bush's decision to reduce
operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons by two-thirds,
a decision made possible by the new strategic relationship being
developed with Russia. The US and Russia have conclude an historic
treaty to the effect which will be signed later this month.
52. We hope that the foregoing is useful
to the Committee's work. I look forward to our continued interaction
in furtherance in the US-UK partnership.
Embassy of the United States of America
4 The next world order, "Nicholas Lemann, The
New Yorker, 1 April 2002 Back
The Independent, 19 March 2002 Back