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Colin Powell Briefing On Iraq Weapons Inspections

Colin Powell Briefing On Weapons Inspections Agreement


On-the-Record Briefing

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC October 1, 2002

(5:45 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I wanted to say a few words about the developments in Vienna today. Let me begin by saying that let there be no doubt in anyone's mind that the United States will continue to pursue a new UN resolution with the Security Council. We believe strongly that we have to keep moving in this direction because, as we have seen in the last several weeks, pressure works, and we have to keep the pressure up.

A new UN resolution will give Dr. Blix and the UNMOVIC team and the IAEA the most rigid procedures, the highest standards for Iraq to meet in order to satisfy the international community that they do not have or are not developing weapons of mass destruction and that which they do have can be destroyed by UNMOVIC. We will not be satisfied with Iraqi half-truths or Iraqi compromises or Iraqi efforts to get us back into the same swamp that they took the United Nations into back in 1998.

Pressure works. We're going to keep it up. We're going to work with our partners in the Security Council to put in place a new resolution, a new resolution that also has to have associated with it consequences for failure on the part of the Iraqis to act and to respond to the requirements of the international community. That's what makes this situation different and that's why we need a new resolution, so that we can have consequences associated with failure to perform on the part of the Iraqi Government.

We look forward to receiving a briefing from Dr. Blix, as a member of the Security Council, when he briefs the Security Council later this week. Dr. Blix is doing a fine job, but he needs to be in receipt of additional guidance and instructions from the Security Council in the form of new resolution language. And so we will continue to work with our Security Council colleagues to come up with such language in the form of a resolution.

We have to be mindful of what we have seen over the last several weeks: a firm position taken by the President of the United States, firm resolve on the part of the international community that we will not turn away from Iraq's continued violation of existing resolutions. And the way to make sure that that is the case is to put down a new, strong, tough resolution of what we want, not what Iraq wants, but what the international community must have to deal with this issue of weapons of mass destruction. And we must link in with that resolution consequences if there is continued violation of earlier resolutions on all sorts of subjects, as well as any violation of this new resolution.

So we will continue to drive forward on the track that we started on the 12th of September when President Bush gave his very, very important and vital speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

Questions?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, about ten days ago you said that if the UN inspectors prepared to go back without a UN resolution, the United States would try to thwart that. Could you elaborate on what you meant by "thwart" and does that remain US policy?

SECRETARY POWELL: The inspection team, UNMOVIC, is an agent of the Security Council. We are a member of the Security Council. Our position right now is that UNMOVIC cannot simply go back in under the former terms of reference. We can even see today that there were still places that are off limits, that were not talked about, that were not dealt with. There are still issues in debate. And so we don't want to get into a negotiating situation with the Iraqis under these old terms. That's why we need a new resolution with clear terms, tough terms, high standards, because we are determined to solve this problem once and for all.

And therefore, within the Security Council, I hope we will have discussions over the next couple of weeks -- beginning today, frankly, we had discussions in New York today on the elements of a resolution -- with different points of view being heard. But I hope that as a result of that process we will come up with strong new instructions for Dr. Blix, and Dr. Blix, as an agent of the Security Council, will carry out what the Security Council instructs him to do. And that's exactly what Dr. Blix has said and that's what he said in his press conference today and what he told the Iraqis. He was discussing modalities of inspection today, but he also made it clear that he is waiting to see whether or not he gets new instructions from the Security Council. And our position is that he should get such new instructions in the form of a new resolution.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could the discussions with the Iraqis have come after the approval of a new resolution?

SECRETARY POWELL: It was up to Dr. Blix to work out certain technical details and modalities, which is what he did. But as Dr. Blix made it clear, the only discussions he could have was on the basis of the old resolutions. But we have made it clear that those old resolutions are what got us in trouble in the first place.

So we believe that Dr. Blix, in order to do his job well, is deserving of new instructions, strong instructions, and the strongest support possible from the Security Council in the form of a new Security Council resolution that is not going to be negotiated with the Iraqi Government but will be debated among the Security Council members, and I hope will be agreed to. And that will be the instructions that Dr. Blix will carry out, and the AIEA.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if it doesn't go your way, is the State Department planning to draft or in the process of drafting a backup resolution, a second resolution, if it comes to that?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have a resolution before our colleagues in the Security Council. We haven't tabled it. Informal discussions are taking place. And as you have heard me say on many occasions before, it's a resolution that talks about the violations that Iraq has committed over the years; two, what Iraq must do in terms of an inspection regime, a tough inspection regime, not negotiated with them but imposed upon them, as it should be; and finally, we believe in that resolution there should be a statement of the consequences that might flow from continued violation.

As you know, there are other members of the Security Council who would prefer to deal with that consequences issue in a separate resolution, and they are entitled to their view and we will discuss their view within the Council. But we have our position and it's the position we're holding to.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there were some countries, of course France and Russia, that didn't want a resolution and wanted to see what comes out of these inspections. How much progress have you made on convincing them that there should be a resolution at all? Do you have the agreement of Russia, France and China that there should be a resolution with new, stronger standards, including full access also to presidential sites? Do you have that already?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have made some progress and we have heard some strong views coming back from some of our partners, and we will work all this out in the course of our negotiations. What I think everybody understands is that this is not something we can turn away from.

Secondly, the old regime did not work. The old inspection regime did not work. They tied it up in knots. And before we declare that everything is okay today because of two days' worth of discussions on technical modalities, not one inspector has stepped foot in Iraq and not one thing has changed since 1998. And we are absolutely convinced that we can make the case that a new resolution with tough standards is appropriate, with consequences associated with further violation so that we're not back here a year from now talking about this all over again.

I think there's a common understanding among the Security Council members of these elements. There are discussions taking place and there are debates and different points of view as to how these elements should be packaged and what further referral should be made to the Security Council. And that's what the debate revolves around and what the elements should be in the inspection regime, and there is discussion and debate about that.

QUESTION: Is there a difference of view about presidential sites being fully open?

SECRETARY POWELL: All sites. The Iraqis are the ones who said without conditions. The Iraqis are the ones who said unfettered. But they're always shaving. They're always shaping what they said yesterday the next day. And so this is what we cannot allow to have happen this time, where they are able to pick and choose and say one thing one day, something else the next day. What we have to do is speak with a loud, clear, coherent voice from the United Nations Security Council, and that is what Iraq will have to do and those are the instructions that will be given to Dr. Blix, and we will see what happens after that.

So I think there's an understanding that we have to deal with this now and not next year, and to deal with it now you need to have the strongest resolution we can come up with and we have to have consequences associated with continued violation, and especially violation, obviously, of a new resolution.

One more.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what Dr. Blix did today, or what he said he did, was to secure Iraq's commitment on cooperation under the old rules, the already existing resolutions. After the adoption of the new resolution, do you think that Mr. Blix's team will have to talk again with the Iraqis to make sure that they will agree to these new terms? And if so, then wasn't today's meeting in Vienna useless?

SECRETARY POWELL: Dr. Blix has done an excellent job and he cleared out quite a bit of the underbrush that existed with the old resolutions and might give us something to work with on the new resolutions. The Iraqis made some concessions, but they made -- in other areas they made no concessions. It was the same old -- the same old stuff. And so we want to have a fuller discussion with Dr. Blix to see what he thinks was accomplished, but we have made it clear that we do not believe the inspection regime that existed previously is adequate to the demands of the day and adequate to the challenge we're facing right now with continued Iraqi intransigence.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I just want to clarify something, if I can. Will the United States work to prevent the return of inspectors until a new resolution is passed? And also, is it now a nonstarter for the -- is a two-resolution solution a no-go for the United States?

SECRETARY POWELL: What I've said is that we're pressing forward on a one-resolution solution. We think it's best. We think we've got a convincing case of that, and so do our United Kingdom colleagues. Other nations have a different point of view. That's why you have consultations. That's why you have a negotiation. We want to hear those points of view and we want to see what can be achieved and we will see which argument prevails.

With respect to the inspectors going back in, there is nothing -- there is no magic calendar as to when they have to go in. They should go in when they have the authority to do their job. And we believe that Dr. Blix and his team of professionals are deserving of the strongest possible authority and the ability to do their job and to do it right, and that will only come from a new resolution that keeps the pressure up on Iraq and a new resolution that has linked to it consequences so that we can get to the bottom of this once and for all.

QUESTION: Are you prepared to prevent the return -- their return?

SECRETARY POWELL: I've really answered your question. We do not believe that they should go back in under the old set of resolutions and under the old inspection regime, and therefore we do not believe they should go in until they have new instructions in the form of a new resolution. Thank you.

[End]

Released on October 1, 2002


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