The Beeb once had (and perhaps still has) a great segment called “without comment” in which clips of incredible things are played. Here’s your print version of our own “without comment” today, from yesterday’s jaw-dropping daily State Department presser discussing the suspension of food aid to North Korea.
QUESTION: But what about the whole idea that you don’t link food with political discussions?
MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve talked about this before. We talked about it on the day that this initially came up. We don’t link food with the nuclear issue, but we do have to have confidence in the commitments that the government is making to us with regard to the monitoring situation before one could go forward. This is a government that turned around in a matter of weeks and undid what it had said on the nuclear side, so how can one have confidence in what they’ve said on the monitoring side? And we’re not going to send food to a country where it might be diverted to the elites. That’s not what the American taxpayers want to support.
QUESTION: But that does make it sound like it’s a link.
MS. NULAND: There’s a link in the sense that we don’t have confidence in the good faith of the government.
QUESTION: I’m confused by that because you said that nutritional assistance, not food aid, would be done in such a way that it would be impossible to divert. You were talking about baby vitamins and things like this.
MS. NULAND: But again, we have to be able to get it in in the way that we’ve agreed, we have to be able to distribute it with the groups that we’ve agreed, we have to be able to have the monitoring ourselves on it that we’ve agreed to. All of that requires the government’s cooperation.
QUESTION: Well, have they said that they won’t cooperate on that particular issue?
MS. NULAND: We haven’t had those conversations. We’ve simply said: Do not have your space launch here.
QUESTION: So how do you know that they wouldn’t keep their word if it were a matter of –
MS. NULAND: Because we have no confidence in their good faith right now.
QUESTION: But I don’t understand on it. I’m sorry. Just – I don’t understand how this is not linking your dissatisfaction with them on the nuclear and political issue and the food assistance. You don’t know whether they would make good on their commitments to allow monitors and food, on the food, because you won’t talk to them because you’re mad at them about the nuclear issue.
MS. NULAND: We don’t have confidence in their good faith. If they want to restore our confidence in their good faith, they can cancel the plans to launch this satellite.
QUESTION: No, but how is that not linking it, Toria?
MS. NULAND: We – as I said, we have concerns about whether one can make a deal of any kind with this government. It’s a – they are separate issues, but they come together at the point of whether the government’s acting in good faith.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) said that this missile is based on old technology; that is, actually, it is in existence. That’s old SCUD engine. And what the Koreans are doing is really posturing, so why make such a big deal out of it?
MS. NULAND: It’s not a matter of what they’re putting in the sky. It’s a matter of how they launch it, which uses ballistic missile technology, which is precluded under UN Security Council Resolution 1874.