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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 24, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow
James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:38 P.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: Good afternoon, welcome. Just a couple of miscellaneous items from the morning briefing. There was some curiosity about the national background of the three soldiers that the President visited today, who were to become, and have become naturalized American citizens: Specialist Noe Santos-Dilone is from the Dominican Republic; Specialist Sergio Lopez, originally from Mexico; and Private First Class Eduardo Leal-Cardenas, originally from Mexico.
And with that little bit of trivia, I'm ready to take questions.
Q WTO talks have collapsed. Where does that stand? Is there any bringing them back? Does the U.S. offer stay on the table? And who's to blame for this?
MR. SNOW: Well, rather than pointing fingers, let me tell you what's happened. The Doha round talks have been suspended. President Bush at the G8 made it clear that the United States was willing to make concessions at the table if some of our other allies wished to do so. They did not. So flexibility is something the Americans -- we're still willing to be flexible, and we remain committed to the objectives of freer trader and, especially -- this is a development round; this is designed to provide aid to developing countries and we think that's very important. We think it's a missed opportunity for those parties.
But on the other hand, the stuff that was on the table at Doha would never have been approved by Congress. And, realistically, we have to make sure that we have something. The United States, at this point -- especially on agricultural subsidies -- has done a good job. Our average tariff on agricultural products is 12 percent. For the EU it's 24 percent. For WTO countries it's 62 percent.
So in days and weeks ahead you're going to see Ambassador Susan Schwab and Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns continuing to reach out to other nations and try to achieve the objectives of the Doha round. It would be wrong to say that they have collapsed, but what they have been is suspended. Now, one of the other things is -- well, I'll leave it at that.
Q On Lebanon, there seems to be two tracks that have emerged. There are those calling for an immediate cease-fire; there are those calling for a sustainable cease-fire. And the sustainable camp says there's a risk -- if you just call for an immediate, you'll be back here in three weeks or three months. Isn't it worth the risk if you stop innocent Israelis and Lebanese from being killed; isn't it worth taking that risk while you try to bang out something more sustainable?
MR. SNOW: The question is whether that's a fool's errand, Jim. The idea that you suspend -- number one, there's a notion that somehow both sides are going to suspend, and we remain deeply skeptical that Hezbollah is going to abide by any such agreement. But the more important thing is, sustainable really does matter, because as we've seen in some places, if you allow terrorists to proclaim victory and to continue to take root within a country, you actually encourage further misbehavior. There's no place on the record where as a result of a negotiation a terrorist organization has said, okay, we give up, great treaty.
So instead I think the most important thing is to put into place conditions where you'll have a sustainable cease-fire. What does that mean? It means that Hezbollah not only returns the soldiers, not only returns the rockets, but either decides or lacks the capability to weaken the government of Lebanon by operating independently of that government and serving as a rogue force that is capable of not only seizing territory, destabilizing within Lebanon, threatening the Lebanese government, threatening the Lebanese people, but also threatening the peace of the region.
So the sustainable cease-fire is one that is not going to enable Hezbollah to declare victory, but instead will allow the people of Lebanon to look forward to peace and prosperity.
Q If you -- I don't think there's any disagreement about the goal, even the folks calling for an immediate cease-fire want to see something sustainable. The point is, what do you do in the interim -- this risk everyone is talking about, that you could be back there in three weeks? So what? So you're back there in two weeks. In the meantime, you've had three weeks less of --
MR. SNOW: No, you're assuming that there are three peaceful weeks. And I'm not going to take out the crystal ball. I'm telling you what our position is, which is --
Q About your position, though, if they're not peaceful weeks, doesn't that, in some way, also insulate the administration, the Israelis from criticism from people saying that response is disproportionate. Doesn't that improve and strengthen your position to say, hey, we tried it, we called for it, and it didn't happen?
MR. SNOW: I don't think continued civilian deaths strengthens anybody's position. What you're saying is if there are further civilian casualties, it strengthens our position from a debating point of view.
MR. SNOW: Well, no, that is -- no, that is if you call for a cease-fire that is unenforceable, that is not enforced and people suffer, that is the practical consequence. The point is, there's no give on this. The United States believes in a sustainable cease-fire. Secretary Rice is in the region talking about it. She had a very good meeting today with key leaders in Lebanon and they talked about that. They also talked about humanitarian assistance and a number of other topics.
So I think the notion that you have a cease-fire that, at this point, is unenforceable, does not really get us to the point we need to be at. You do not want to give -- you simply don't want to go there.
Let me add something. I'm going to switch this slightly, and you can come back on me if you wish. Secretary Rice also has been speaking with the Lebanese and others about humanitarian assistance. And later today she will be announcing a major U.S. commitment, a significant U.S. commitment in terms of humanitarian aid. And at the order of the President, humanitarian supplies will start arriving in Lebanon tomorrow by helicopter and by ship. We are working with Israel and Lebanon to open up humanitarian corridors.
Also, Secretary Rice did get a full briefing from the Lebanese on the situation, as far as they see it, an on-the-ground reporting. She heads next to Israel, where she is going to meet with Foreign Minister Livni, Prime Minister Olmert and the Defense Minister Peretz, and head after that to Rome.
Q Will the humanitarian aid mute the criticism, do you think, from --
MR. SNOW: You know what, that's not -- the humanitarian aid really is -- this is not a device designed to mute criticism, it is a move that is designed in recognition of the fact that innocent men, women and children are being hurt. And that is an awful thing. We have compassion for all of them, and we want to start giving them as much help and aid as possible, as quickly as possible. And we're calling upon our friends and allies to do the same thing.
It is clear that there are humanitarian concerns that need to be addressed, and will continue to need to be addressed in Lebanon, and that's one of the two missions. Secretary Rice is there to talk about conditions for a sustainable cease-fire and a sustainable peace. And people in that neighborhood know it; they have been through peace agreements that did not yield peace. They understand it, and they understand the importance. And I think the reception she has received -- I guess that's redundant, isn't it -- the reception has been respectful and supportive. So what you're going to see now is a number of our allies meeting in Rome in a couple of days to build upon that.
Q Quickly, in what amounts and by what means will you be delivering this?
MR. SNOW: I'm going to let Secretary Rice handle the honors on that one.
Q To sort of follow on Jim's point, when so many other world leaders and entities are saying we need a more immediate cease-fire, and the U.S. persists in this view that it must be sustainable, is it not then for people to infer that the U.S. views that crushing Hezbollah is more important than the short-term loss of civilian lives and civilian structures?
MR. SNOW: No. Again, I think what you're posing is a false choice. If you can guarantee for us that Hezbollah somehow would stop rocketing, then maybe you'd have a point. But Hezbollah started this. You've got to keep in mind, the aggressor in this case is not Israel, it's Hezbollah. Hezbollah crossed over into Israeli territory and kidnapped two soldiers. It has been rocketing Israel, but it has been ratcheting up in recent days. Nasrallah has made it pretty obvious that he considers a war against Israel, and as a consequence, I think a lot of people -- look, we would like a cease-fire tomorrow, we would like a cease-fire immediately, but it has to be a cease-fire that is going to stand the test of time so that people in that region -- and people in Lebanon in particular, a country that has been hard hit by occupying forces and by frustrations of its democratic aspirations, deserves a shot in having the freedom and democracy its people deserve. And the only way that's going to be possible is if there is no longer an internal threat of the sort that we've witnessed in recent weeks.
Q What did the Secretary then communicate back to the President today?
MR. SNOW: I'm not sure -- I'm not party to conversations she's had directly with the President. My conversations with State, though, indicated that, again, she was very happy with the talks with the Lebanese officials; that they were cordial, they were friendly, and that they were very good sessions. I mean, I know that's sort of diplo-speak, but they really were good sessions. Because everybody has got a shared aim -- we want that government to succeed; that government wants that government to succeed. And the hard, practical work of making it happen really is the top item on the agenda for us all.
Q You say you don't discuss military strategy with Israel, but have assurances been sought that they will kind of hold their fire while this humanitarian aid is coming in?
MR. SNOW: The Israelis have been -- we've been talking about opening up humanitarian corridors. I honestly don't know, Tom, precisely what happens there, but you want to make sure that you do have safe passage. I think it's also safe to say that people who are carrying humanitarian supplies are going to do it where it's safe to do so.
Q Is there any contact with anyone in the Bush administration with anybody -- Israel's military about specific targets?
MR. SNOW: No.
MR. SNOW: No -- well, I don't know about "never," but as I've said, there's not joint planning going on here.
Q No, no, I mean after the fact. You know, why did you target this, why did you target that?
MR. SNOW: I am not aware of conversations of that sort. I'm not sure they'd be particularly fruitful. I think the most important thing right now, again, is to realize the situation that gave rise to this current situation and try to address the root causes.
Q Can you tell us -- I talked to you earlier about this -- is there anything about the health status of Saddam Hussein?
MR. SNOW: Yes, and here's what we know. Saddam Hussein was put on a feeding tube. He agreed to it earlier today. He and several others -- let me just flip to my notes -- have been on a hunger strike, or been refusing meals since July 7th, since the evening of July 7th. They have been receiving -- they've been getting coffee and also water with vitamins and minerals ever since. So, let's see, three of his co-defendants have, in fact, continued to refuse meals. There is -- his health is not in jeopardy. They remain in good health. And, again, he willingly accepted the feeding tube today. It will be in, at a minimum, until Thursday. It has to be in for reasons that I don't understand for 72 hours.
Q I don't know the specifics, but how does one willingly accept a feeding tube?
MR. SNOW: I guess, you say, do you want a feeding tube? And he says, yes. And they say, okay, we're going to give you one. This apparently was a consensual feeding tubing. (Laughter.) I understand your question. I wasn't there. I'm just telling what I know.
Q Thank you, Tony.
Q Tony, could I just ask you to stay on Iraq? With Prime Minister Maliki coming in tomorrow, what is the President hoping to get out of this visit, given the fact that Democrats are on the Hill saying that it is in a civil war; the violence has gotten worse while everyone has been focusing on Israel and Lebanon, that the situation on the ground in Iraq is getting worse.
MR. SNOW: Well, look, it's pretty clear that there is an attempt in Baghdad to create as much chaos and havoc as possible, and it's important to make sure that we address this. We've talked about this recently. The focal point right now for terror in Iraq is the area in and around Baghdad, and that obviously is going to be a high priority for the President and the Prime Minister. I'm not going to get into back-and-forthing with members of Congress. It's an election year.
But I think the real business right now of trying to move forward in Iraq is to make sure that Prime Minister Maliki and his Cabinet and his government are able to move forward with being able to have full control over the country, and to assume full responsibility for their own government. And that has always been the U.S. mission. It will continue to be the mission. And as often happens, conditions on the ground force one to adjust strategies and adapt to changing realities, and that's what we're trying to do.
In terms of specifics -- and I know many of you want to know specific deliverables -- I'll leave that to the principals to announce. But it is worth saying that there is continued consultation, as there has been.
Q Since the President's visit to Baghdad, the one secret trip, since then, has the President been satisfied with the progress on the ground?
MR. SNOW: Well, I think -- I don't want to characterize satisfied or dissatisfied. It is clear that there is -- that there is work to do to secure Baghdad. And General Casey has made no secret of that, and other spokesmen in Baghdad have made no secret of that.
So now we're working with the government to say, okay, what can we do. What can we do to go ahead and get into those neighborhoods, deal with sectarian violence, but also deal with the fact that in some cases, there really is just gangs of rowdies?
The point is, is that the people in Baghdad and the people in Iraq deserve better than to live under conditions where terrorists or thugs are able to disrupt life on a daily basis with random acts of violence that are designed to shake their will and the possibility of democracy. The President believes in making sure that the commitment to democracy and the promise of democracy comes true in Iraq, and that will be -- again, that's kind of the focal point of his talks with Prime Minister Maliki.
Q Can I follow --
Q May we follow on Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Let me just -- let me -- I'll call on you. Go ahead.
Q Does the President believe that Prime Minister Maliki's plan for securing Baghdad has not worked or is not working?
MR. SNOW: Again, rather than characterizing -- I know a lot of you guys want me to hand out report cards. In fact, Wendell tried to do it this morning; it's the Fox angle today. I'm not doing report cards. I think -- we realize that he's got some real work ahead in securing Baghdad, and that needs to be done, and it needs to be done in a way that is going to provide stability in the city, so people can go about their daily affairs without the fear of terrorism.
Q So what will the talks center on between the President and --
MR. SNOW: I think you've got -- I'm not sure that they're going to "center" on anything. They're going to cover a lot of ground. And, again, I'll let the President and the Prime Minister, when they go before you guys tomorrow, characterize exactly what the focal points are. But you know what it is. You've got economic development, you have reconciliation, you have security, and you have sustaining democracy. Those are all parts of the picture in Iraq, and they have been.
The agenda items that we had when we went to Baghdad are the same ones we have now: getting services up and running; electricity; trying to make sure that they are able to get oil out of the oil fields and begin to make money off of it. All of those things, very practical matters in terms of sustaining Iraq diplomatically, democratically, economically, politically -- those are all important. And I guarantee you, each and every one of those is going to get some time as the two men meet, and also as the Prime Minister makes his way around Capitol Hill and around the country.
Q Obviously, in the last couple of weeks, there's been a U.N. report of a hundred people dying a day in Iraq, 6,000 in the last two months, the number of major attacks in Baghdad up 40 percent on a weekly basis. Does the administration think that Iraq is now in a civil war?
MR. SNOW: No. I don't want to get -- you're talking about in and around Baghdad. I know the Prime Minister has a piece today where he talks about turning Muthana province over, and there are several other provinces that are going to be under Iraqi control they think relatively soon. You have -- I think there's an attempt, and it's very alluring to politicians here to try to make the situation sound like civil war everywhere. No, there are parts of Iraq where life is proceeding with a fair degree of normalcy, where people are enjoying greater economic opportunity and they're enjoying the fruits of democracy. You've got a problem in Baghdad, and that is -- it's absolutely critical to address that.
Q Yes, but it's not the politicians here who are calling it a civil war, it's politicians in Iraq. Iraqi politicians are saying --
MR. SNOW: Well, I'm not going to get into the labeling game. I think the most important -- because I don't know where you go with that, except you get a headline: "Administration says civil war." And it deflects from the real purpose here, which is to figure out how to create civil peace, and that is really the prime objective of everybody in the United States, every American who is working in and on the issue of Iraq.
Q This new report that's come out from the American Bar Association that's very critical of signing statements. You've got the president of the ABA saying this report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy; and you have Senator Specter saying just a couple of weeks ago, it's a challenge for the plain language of the Constitution. If the President does have concerns about the constitutionality of certain provisions in the law, why doesn't he either work with Congress ahead of time, or just veto it? We know he can veto --
MR. SNOW: Keep in mind -- actually, in some ways, if you've read the signing statements -- because these have been cast as acts of civil disobedience, and they're not. The President does not have the luxury of practicing civil disobedience. The laws that have been enacted must be executed by the government. A great many of those signing statements may have little statements about questions about constitutionality. It never says, we're not going to enact the law. Furthermore, quite often, there are suggestions about ways to proceed that would be absolutely consistent with the congressional intent, and at the same time, consistent with the White House's views of the constitutional rights and privileges of the executive branch.
We have not had time to digest it. The ABA got it into -- was issuing press releases before we got a hard copy. Give us a little bit of time to take a look, because we're being bombarded with quotes without having been given access to the document, itself. I think it's probably -- in fairness to them, we'll take a look. And you can follow up in coming days, because I'll keep asking our legal counsel.
Q I have one other one, on Hezbollah. Hezbollah is not going away. I mean, Israel is not going to bomb them out of existence, they have seats in parliament. Do we have any kind of a back channel to them? Is there some way that we can, perhaps, speak with them?
MR. SNOW: Well, with whom would you speak?
Q I don't know with whom you'd speak --
MR. SNOW: Again, that's one of the -- the problems when you're dealing with a terrorist organization is, you don't have a central office, because they hide.
Q Maybe Nasrallah.
MR. SNOW: Well, Nasrallah, himself has been hiding and running. The fact is, we have spoken publicly about what Hezbollah needs to do, and we've spoken publicly about what Syria needs to do. And we have also consulted our allies and said, look, everybody join in; let's try to put as much pressure as we can on Syria and Iran so Hezbollah stops firing rockets, returns the soldiers. Because as long as you have an independent terrorist organization operating against the sovereignty of the country, it's not part of the host country, it's a parasite. It is an organization that is directly weakening the government itself, and weakening that government's ability to assert effective control throughout its land.
So the point is, Hezbollah -- it's not as if the word is not getting out. The members of Hezbollah know exactly what the United States and the international community -- and I would hasten to add, the Arab neighbors have said the same thing; they may have critical remarks about Israel, but they have all criticized Hezbollah, as well, and many have quietly, and some less quietly passed messages onto Syria and Iran.
Q You don't think that there's a possibility that they may be looking for a way to save face?
MR. SNOW: Certainly haven't indicated yet.
Q Thank you, Tony. After the briefing Thursday when we discussed the President's speech to the NAACP, I spoke to Mr. Roy Innis, the Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, who remembered talking to you at one of the national conventions several years ago.
MR. SNOW: I've known Roy for years.
Q Right. And his organization, CORE, has invited the President to address them in New York every year since he's been President, and he's declined. And he expressed disappointment with the President speaking to a group that's been critical of him, the NAACP. Can you tell us -- I know you mentioned the Urban League, but can you tell us any other civil rights groups, or perhaps churches in major cities the President --
MR. SNOW: He's spoken at many churches. I'm not going to give you -- you know, I'll let you go back and do the footwork on it, and I appreciate you passing on Roy Innis' reservations.
Q Tony, back to WTO. Has the President talked to Susan Schwab today on the --
MR. SNOW: I don't know if he's talked to her, but I'll --
Q Does he intend to, and ask her to rework the U.S. proposal?
MR. SNOW: No, no, no -- I can answer that question right now. The U.S. went and said, we are willing to show flexibility. And the other people at the table were not. The United States is not going to come and put down another proposal without a clear indication that all parties are going to bargain in good faith on this, and it did not happen.
Q What do you need to get in the way of a signal that there is going to be some new negotiations?
MR. SNOW: Well, I can pass that on to Sue, who I talked to -- actually I think she just finished a press call a couple of minutes ago, so you may want to call over to USTR and take a look at the transcript of that.
But she and Mike Johanns are going to continue doing everything they can to try to lower tariffs and to lower trade barriers, and especially open up the opportunity and the promise of economic growth, especially to developing nations. We've got to keep in mind that this was designed to help developing nations. And we consider this a real lost opportunity for nations that are struggling to build the economic might, because we think we ought to do everything in our power to make sure they do it, and that, in fact, has been our characterization of what's going on.
Q Well, are the others not getting the message then, or what?
MR. SNOW: Again, I'll let Sue provide the diplomatic and proper answer to that.
Okay, Ivan, you wanted something on Iraq. Go ahead.
Q I did. First of all, my apologies. We, as Brett will tell you, the Pentagon press corps are less urbane.
MR. SNOW: Yes, okay.
Q There is an independent British newspaper quoting a senior Iraqi official who claims that the experiment in the new government of Iraq has failed, and therefore we have to go to plan alpha to separate three different countries within Iraq. I would assume your comment would be ho-hum or negative, but it is an official statement, apparently, by --
MR. SNOW: An official statement by an unnamed person. That doesn't qualify as an official statement, that qualifies as an anonymous quote to which I will not react.
Q Yes, Tony, I have a two-part question on the same issue. You and the President have seen the massive media coverage of a male midshipman at the Naval Academy who for months faced the possibility of life imprisonment because a female midshipman charged that he raped her, which charge the court marshal found to be untrue, even though Midshipman Lamar Owens is still facing the possibility that Academy Superintendent Admiral Rempt may disregard the court marshal's recommendation of no punishment.
And my question, the first -- does the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, who, himself, was so maligned by Dan Rather, believe this male midshipman should be punished when court marshal testimony disclosed that the female mid, on the night she claimed rape --
MR. SNOW: All right, all right, all right. This has gone on way too long.
Q Can I finish?
MR. SNOW: No.
Q Seven drinks in two hours.
MR. SNOW: This is purely silly. The Commander-in-Chief delegates authority to his commanders and he trusts them to do the right thing. And I'm not going to re-litigate that case from here.
Q No, but I just --
MR. SNOW: Period.
Q Could I ask my other one? Does he believe it wise or just to give immunity to a female midshipman who charges a male with rape, however false the court ruled the charge?
MR. SNOW: Boy, I am glad I asked for that one.
Q You want to evade that one, right?
MR. SNOW: I don't want to answer it. This is purely -- this is not a question to be posing to the President of the United States. It's not only undignified --
Q But he's the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.
MR. SNOW: He is the Commander-in-Chief and I would refer everything back to the Naval Academy, in which the President has full faith. Now, perhaps you don't, Lester, so you can go over there and apply for the job.
Q Tony, not to bring up last week's news, but the issue of whether embryonic stem cell research is murder came up yesterday on "Meet The Press." You said, I believe, last week that some people regard this as murder and the President is among them.
MR. SNOW: Yes, well, I --
Q Does he believe this is murder?
MR. SNOW: I overstepped my brief there, and so I created a little trouble for Josh Bolten in the interview. And I feel bad about it. I think there's concern. The President has said that he believes that this is the destruction of human life.
Let me make another point that's related to that because one of the real shames was that the United States Senate had an opportunity -- I'm sorry, the United States House had an opportunity to pass a bill that would have enabled researchers to proceed along the lines that everybody wants.
As you know, a lot of the debate about embryonic stem cell research has to do with pluripotency, the ability of a cell to adapt to repair or deal with diseases and injuries to any part of the body. There is research ongoing that opens the possibility that one might be able to take adult stem cells and make them pluripotent. Please do not -- you're the former science reporter, so you will understand the vagaries of that far better than I.
But the President certainly does not oppose the promise of pluripotency. The President certainly does not oppose stem cell research. But he does find -- he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans. I will go ahead and apologize for having overstated -- I guess, overstated the President's position.
But on the other hand, I think it's also important in this particular case to keep in mind that when it comes to stem cell research this President was the first to allow the use of embryonic stem cell lines, and he has supported -- more than any other President in American history -- research into embryonic stem cell research, and also shares the goals that Senator Frist and others have talked about, which is unlocking the possibility of pluripotent cells.
Q So the President does not regard this as murder?
MR. SNOW: He would not use that term.
Q And the corollary question that's emerged on Capitol Hill and elsewhere is, if it is murder, do you then shut down in vitro fertilization clinics?
MR. SNOW: Well, as you know, they're not the recipients of federal money. We're talking about the use of federal money on things that are morally -- that some people consider morally objectionable and some do not. It's one of the reasons why, as you know, we've allowed states to make their own decisions. And a number of them have, in terms of assigning states resources for use in embryonic stem cell research.
Q Thank you, Tony. Does the President support a NATO force, a permanent NATO force between Israel and Lebanon, and for that matter, between Gaza and Israel?
MR. SNOW: Again, we get into the point where there are a lot of proposals making the rounds. And rather than trying to cherry-pick or make a comment on any specific proposal, let's wait until we have the conditions for the sustainable cease-fire, obviously, being conducted parallel to those efforts by Secretary Rice, our consultations with allies that are designed to figure out the best and most practical way to make sure that there is stability in southern Lebanon so that the government of Lebanon is able to function effectively.
Part of that -- and this is part of the discussion with the Saudis over the weekend -- is to make sure that the Lebanese armed forces are able to operate effectively throughout all parts of the country.
But at this point, I'm simply not going to -- I'm not in a position, because, as you know, anybody can come up with -- there are lots of proposals floating around, and rather than trying to express preference for one or the other, why don't we wait until people have come together and have come up with a more or less unified view on what they think is going to be the most effective way to achieve that aim.
Q -- Lebanese forces haven't been effective for a long time.
MR. SNOW: Yes, but you create conditions in which they can be effective.
Q Just to follow up on the Saddam Hussein question. Is he in a hospital, or is he being given the feeding tube in detention?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. I'll find out. I'll get the detail for you.
Q Have they monitored his weight loss?
MR. SNOW: I suspect they are. I mean, I suspect what they're doing is monitoring all aspects of his condition. But, again, I don't know that for a fact, so let me just try to go ahead and get real facts for you, rather than guessing.
Q And is he capable of eating? I mean, is he able to eat normal food?
MR. SNOW: Well, he has decided not to eat normal food since the 7th. So what we do know is that he has been receiving liquids since then, and a feeding tube today. I honestly -- I don't have the medical acumen to be able to answer the question.
Q Thank you. You said earlier that humanitarian aid would only be carried to places where it is safe.
MR. SNOW: I said it's likely that humanitarian -- the groups are going to try to go where it's safe. But even there, I don't want to prejudge. I don't know exactly where and how. That's something that people are working out. I do know that humanitarian supplies will start arriving on the ground tomorrow.
Q Ultimately, though, can the safety of the forces delivering that kind of aid be guaranteed?
MR. SNOW: That's a question you'll -- let me toss that off to the Pentagon, because they're just going to have much more in the way of operational smarts, or the State Department. I don't know.
Q Tony, two questions. One, this morning Washington Post reported that Pakistan has expanded its nuclear program, but over the years nuclear experts and think tanks have also been saying that A.Q. Khan network is expanding beyond Pakistan. Also last week, there was hearing on the Capitol Hill. Many congressmen on the International Relations Committee, they were worried about that (inaudible) and other arms sales to Pakistan, like in the past, will go in the hands of Chinese. And they were really worried about China's expansion of nuclear race with the U.S. And this nuclear expansion by Pakistan, some experts are saying this is punishment for U.S. and India for civil nuclear agreement.
MR. SNOW: I'm completely lost. That has too many moving parts. Let me just --
Q -- China (inaudible) Pakistan.
MR. SNOW: In other words, what you're saying is we're selling stuff to the Pakistanis, they're giving it to the Chinese. You know what, I don't even want to answer it, because I don't want to get out of my lane. That one, I'll just have you call the Pentagon, let them give you a straight answer on it.
Let me tell you though, in response to the article in The Post today, we continue to discourage the expansion and modernization of nuclear weapons programs, both of India and Pakistan. We also support a fissile material cutoff treaty that we have introduced to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. We're continuing on all the states that produce fissile material to observe a voluntary production moratorium, as we have in the United States for a very long time.
And as I said earlier, we are hoping -- we have known of these plans for some time. Pakistan is not a party to the nonproliferation treaty, nor is India. But on the other hand, we discourage military use of the facility.
Q Tony, on humanitarian supplies, really quick. If this administration already knew the severity of the situation, with evacuating Americans from that area, why not begin humanitarian supplies then, instead of now?
MR. SNOW: Well, number one, April, I love the second-guessing. The United States is first to the scene, and the question is, why not earlier? The fact is, we're first to the scene, and we are actively encouraging allies throughout the region and throughout the world to join us, because we do think it's important. You have to find out ways in which you safely can transport it. We have been working on developing what they refer to as humanitarian corridors. And I don't want to be second-guessing the operational timetable under which people proceeded here.
Q But there's a second guess as you yourself said, this was not devised to meet criticism.
MR. SNOW: Yes, it's devised to get humanitarian aid there as quickly as possible. And that's what we're doing.
Q Thank you.
MR. SNOW: Thanks.
END 1:15 P.M. EDT
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