Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


5-8Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Satellite Photographs of Missile Program / Space-based Remote Sensing

DPB #2
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2000, 12:35 P.M.


QUESTION: Jamie, the Federation of American Scientists published --

MR. RUBIN: I remember them well from my former life, yes.

QUESTION: You remember them. They run a website and they published some --

MR. RUBIN: Just like the State Department Public Affairs Bureau runs a website

QUESTION: They are both very nice.

QUESTION: But never with satellite photos.

MR. RUBIN: You never know.

QUESTION: Actually, you did have some satellite photos.

MR. RUBIN: We did have some photos when we did presentations.There you go. See?

QUESTION: Now you're saying that you're admitting they were satellite photos, not just national technical --

MR. RUBIN: Okay, Eric go to it.

QUESTION: Let me get you out of this bind.

MR. RUBIN: Thank you.

QUESTION: So they published what are acknowledged to be satellite photos from a commercial satellite company which, although it is commercial, has a resolution that hasn't been commercially available before. And they published some photographs of some of these suspected long-range missile sites in North Korea.

And I wonder, number one, the FAS' analysis of these photographs were that these were fairly shabby launch sites based on the conditions of the roads and on numbers of buildings, et cetera. I wonder if you could comment about that? But I wonder if you could also comment more broadly about the implication of the availability of commercial "spy satellites" material?

MR. RUBIN: Let me respond to your first question. It may take me a few minutes to respond to your second question.

On the first question, we certainly welcome the entrepreneurial analysts' effort to assess the capabilities of other countries, and we recognize the serious effort that organizations like the Federation of American Scientists make in this area and other areas. But it is our judgment from a panoply of intelligence sources and methods that go far beyond this rather limited capability that the Federation of American Scientists has put on its website that there is a genuine threat and a risk from the potential missile program of North Korea. We believe this is a real danger that we are dealing with.

So far, we feel we've dealt with it rather well to date in getting North Korea to agree, during the period of our discussions with North Korea, to not conduct further tests. But to suggest that this isn't a problem because the equipment isn't as modern as American equipment, we recognize that this isn't that kind of level of technology. But, nevertheless, we believe there are risks and there are threats. We don't believe we've been exaggerating the threat, and perhaps the FAS might be underplaying it a bit.

With respect to the general issue, there was a policy put forward in 1994 on space-based remote sensing that allows US companies to commercialize remote sensing imagery, provided it is consistent with national security and foreign policy objectives. Space Imaging Company and all US commercial remote sensing companies are regulated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency. The restrictions on imagery collection and dissemination are contained in the particular license. Space Imaging's operating license did not prohibit the issuance of these images. The US retains the right at all times to restrict such commercial imagery for national security or foreign policy reasons.

And so let me say again in response to your first question, we have no doubt in our minds that North Korea has developed and deployed missiles capable of striking our forces and friends and allies in the area, and is working on increasing the range of its missile systems. We take this threat very seriously and, as I said earlier, we're taking and pursuing a variety of measures to deal with it.


QUESTION: Shabbiness really has nothing to do with it, does it? Jonathan and I heard, I think, an expert on North Korea this morning and he described the missile program as sort a flat bed truck with enough power to deliver at least one deadly missile. I'm not sure how slick an installation it is --

MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry, are we on North Korea or the Middle East?

QUESTION: We're on North Korea, but let's switch to the Middle East.

MR. RUBIN: I thought you said Middle East.

QUESTION: Is there a - well, I mean, you didn't address the shabby. I don't what shabby has to do with it.

Is there a legal barrier to --

MR. RUBIN: I think I did address the potential danger.

QUESTION: Oh, you think there's a danger, yes.

MR. RUBIN: Okay.


(The briefing concluded at 1:15 P.M.)

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