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Powell Interview on CNN's American Morning

Interview on CNN's American Morning

Secretary Colin L. Powell New York, New York September 13, 2002

MS. ZAHN: Secretary of State Powell, welcome. Good to have you with us on American Morning.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. Good morning, Paula.

MS. ZAHN: Do you think war is inevitable?

SECRETARY POWELL: War is never inevitable, and the President did not come to the United Nations yesterday to declare war. We came to the United Nations to lay out a case against a regime and an individual leading that regime that for ten years has violated UN instructions, has violated international law. And everybody has been suggesting that the United States should present its case to the world community, and that's what the President did today: He put the problem square where the problem belongs, before the United Nations Security Council.

MS. ZAHN: If you are able to get a resolution together that will get inspectors back into Iraq, do you think Saddam Hussein might surprise the world and comply?

SECRETARY POWELL: I gave up predicting what Saddam Hussein might or might not do many, many years ago. And we are not focusing on the inspectors at this point. We want to talk to members of the Security Council this morning, my colleagues from the 14 other countries of the Security Council, make sure they understood the President's speech, the determination and the power behind his speech, and see how they would like to proceed. I think we need resolutions that record this indictment against Saddam Hussein and talks about actions that would be required of the Iraqi regime and what actions the international community might take in the event that he continues to violate yet another resolution.

But this resolution, or resolutions if it turns out to be more than one, they have to be tough, they have to have deadlines on them, and they cannot be resolutions of the kind we've had in the past that the Iraqis can simply walk away from with impunity.

MS. ZAHN: So are you saying these initial resolutions will not then set any sort of timetable for inspectors to go back in?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we'll see what they set. But they have some ideas that go beyond just the issues of inspectors, and I'll be presenting those ideas to my colleagues in the Security Council.

MS. ZAHN: Let's talk, though, about what you might have to face down the road, and that is the issue of inspections. Vice President Cheney has said he thinks inspections are dangerous, he thinks they would provide a false comfort. How much faith do you have in restoring the concept of legitimate inspections, if that's the way this resolution reads over time?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's very accurate, as the Vice President noted, to view inspections with some skepticism. The first seven years of the inspection regime, they found out quite a bit. They destroyed a lot of material. But they didn't find out everything, and it was only later we discovered some of the other things that Saddam Hussein was doing. So inspections in and of themselves won't solve the problem entirely, but they are a tool that can be used and I think the Vice President was correct in saying we have to be skeptical and we should not think that just because you got inspectors back in this problem is solved. It's just one tool that could be used.

But the issue of inspectors is not uppermost in our mind here in New York this morning with the Security Council. The nature of the indictment that's been laid before the international body on what Saddam Hussein has been doing for the last ten years and to try to achieve consensus within the Security Council on what we should do about it and how we can put a deadline on our actions so that he cannot continue to just walk away from these obligations and to treat the United Nations with this kind of disrespect.

MS. ZAHN: So as you're trying to achieve this consensus, can you explain to us this morning why you think the UN has allowed for Iraq to violate more than 16 longstanding resolutions?

SECRETARY POWELL: Because in the course of this 11- or 12-year period when these violations occurred, the United Nations was not prepared to take action against the violations. President Clinton in 1998 executed air strikes against Iraq, but that didn't solve the problem, and the UN did not have sufficient inclination or strength, I guess, political strength at that time, to take any more aggressive action.

This time, President Bush feels very, very strongly that you cannot just look away, you cannot allow Iraq to flout the will of the international community. And we must come together to deal with this crisis or it tends to make the United Nations somewhat irrelevant. We can't have an irrelevant United Nations. It's a powerful, important international organization. It has a mandate from its founding charter that instructs it to deal with issues like this. And that is the point that President Bush was making yesterday.

MS. ZAHN: We have 20 seconds left. Do you believe that the UN has the inclination this time around to make these resolutions stick?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think that the UN will take it much more seriously this time around because of the determination shown by President Bush to make sure we do something this time and not let Saddam Hussein walk away. And I'll be testing that proposition in the course of today and in the days and weeks ahead as we structure these resolutions.

MS. ZAHN: We wish you luck. We know the weight of the world is on your shoulders and we know how treacherous it is to get things through the Security Council when you're trying to create some kind of consensus. Thank you very much for dropping by this morning. We appreciate your time.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Paula.


Released on September 13, 2002

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