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Armitage Interview on NBC's Today Show

Armitage Interview on NBC's Today Show

Interview on NBC's Today Show

Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage Interview by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show New York City September 13, 2002

MR. LAUER: Mr. Secretary, Good morning to you.


MR. LAUER: The President said basically to the members of the Security Council, "We want you to take swift and decisive action," but he didn't exactly say what it is he wants them to do. What does he want them to do?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Clearly, in the first instance he wants to find that Saddam Hussein and his regime are in material breach of all the existing resolutions. Second, we want to get Saddam Hussein to make a decision -- whether he'll disarm and destroy his weapons and allow, most probably, intrusive inspections or choose another route.

MR. LAUER: You talk about intrusive inspections. Would the administration be on board if the Security Council passes another resolution -- I should say yet another resolution to negotiate the terms of those inspectors going back in?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We're not very inclined to negotiate the terms. We -- the Secretary of State has been ordered by the President to work as rigorously as possible with the Perm 5 members and the other elected members of the Security Council and hopefully get one resolution that will allow us to resolve this issue.

MR. LAUER: But if the Security Council says "we want those inspectors back in" and they do strike a deal with Saddam Hussein, will the administration sit by patiently while that happens?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we'll have to see what -- what deal. I don't think the Administration has a huge amount of patience. I think there was quite a bit of urgency in the President's speech yesterday.

MR. LAUER: The Vice President last month called resuming inspections "dangerous" and "a false comfort." Is that still the way we feel?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, the problem with past inspections has been that they were relatively feckless and they were evaded, or the Saddam Hussein regime was able to evade them. If inspections can go anywhere, anytime, any place without resistance, then they wouldn't be as feckless and they wouldn't be as dangerous.

MR. LAUER: You said a second ago, "we don't have much patience." Is there a deadline in your opinion, Mr. Secretary?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, there's a deadline in our opinion for getting a resolution and it's got to be a resolution with teeth, as I've indicated; and it's days and weeks and certainly not months.

MR. LAUER: And a deadline for getting inspectors into Iraq if that's the result of that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. But as I say, there's a sense of urgency. When the President said, " the world has to act deliberately and decisively," he's not kidding.

MR. LAUER: Okay. Basically what the President was doing yesterday was speaking to France, China, and Russia. We know that Great Britain is on board. We know what we're thinking. What reaction have you gotten from those countries?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The overnight cables looked quite good. First of all, they were all pleased that the President was willing to take it to the United Nations and, certainly, they're willing to engage in the discussions and we're quite hopeful they'll be on board, but it's not just a matter of those three countries. There are 10 other elected members of the Security Council and we want to get them on board, as well.

MR. LAUER: They're happy that he took this case to the United Nations. Would it be fair to say, though that this administration doesn't have an awful lot of faith in the United Nations backing up its resolutions with force?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. It's fair to say that in the past the United Nations has not backed up the resolutions on Iraq. The President has enough faith to take it back to the United Nations one more time to give the world a chance to prove that the United Nations is going to fulfill the vision of the founders and be a force for justice in the world or it'll likely go the way of the League of Nations.

MR. LAUER: Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State. Mr. Secretary, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.



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