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Powell Interview on CBS's Face the Nation

Interview on CBS's Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
January 19, 2003

MR. SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We are pleased this morning to have with us in the studio the Secretary of State. Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming. I'll get right to it. Yesterday, we saw tens of thousands of demonstrators converge on Washington -- a fairly large crowd, I would say, a very large crowd considering that the weather was in the 20s. They say we should not go to war against Iraq.

I would just like to ask you this morning, what do you say to those people who say we shouldn't?

SECRETARY POWELL: What I would say to them is that the President is trying every means not to go to war, but the decision to go to war is in the hands of Saddam Hussein. This is a man who has had weapons of mass destruction, who has used them against his own people, used them against his neighbors. The international community, the United Nations, under UN Resolution 1441 and many previous resolutions, have said disarm. If he disarms, there will be no war. So the burden is on him.

But what is clear is that the international community cannot allow Saddam Hussein to continue to deny his responsibilities. And now today, Dr. Hans Blix of UNMOVIC and Dr. El Baradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency are in Baghdad to give them one last chance to disarm and to cooperate with the inspectors in that disarmament process. And if he does that, then war can be avoided. But we cannot step back from this challenge.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, Mr. Blix has said that it may take several months more to come to some sort of definitive conclusion about whether he has disarmed or not. President Chirac of France said yesterday, and these are his words, "Wisdom requires that we grant the inspectors' request for more time."

Should we give them more time?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the next step in this process is to receive a report from the two chief inspectors, Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei. Next Monday, the 27th of January, they will appear before the Security Council. We should listen carefully to what they say, and then I am sure the Council, the Security Council, will consider what they say, and so will President Bush.

What we have to make a judgment on now is whether or not Saddam Hussein is serious about disarming, and is he cooperating with the inspectors in that disarmament process. If he is not, if he is continuing to try to hide things, if we have to keep discovering rockets that were undeclared that were supposed to carry chemical warheads, if we continue to find that documents having to do with nuclear weapons have been hidden in the homes of scientists, then it doesn't make any difference how long the inspection goes on because they're not going to get to the truth because Saddam Hussein does not want them to get to the truth.

And that's the judgment, and it's going to be a very important judgment for the Security Council to make and for President Bush to make.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, now, you say in an interview that I believe is being published today in Berlin that by the end of January -- and you're talking about the 27th -- it will have been convincingly proven that Iraq has not been cooperating.

What is it that you want them to do, Mr. Secretary, that they're not doing?

SECRETARY POWELL: What I said in the interview is that I believe a persuasive case will be there, and I think that persuasive case is there now, that they're not cooperating. What we wanted from them under UN Resolution 1441 was a full, complete and accurate declaration. Nobody in the Security Council is saying that the declaration they put forward is full and complete. There are questions about what they did with anthrax that they had, with botulinum toxin, with all kinds of horrible biological and chemical agents that they have not accounted for. They have not fully accounted for all of the weapons that they have that can deliver such materials. They have not fully reported to the Council on what they might or might not have been doing with respect to nuclear weapons development.

So what we want is a full disclosure on the part of Iraq. The inspectors should not be sneaking around trying to find out who might have something hidden. If Iraq were serious, they should be presenting everything that they have. I mean, the chemical warheads that were found earlier on the rockets this week, the question of whether that's a smoking gun or not is not the issue. The issue is, once again, here are items, dangerous items that were not reported by Iraq that should have been reported. They should have been destroyed.

And so that is what we are looking for: full cooperation on the part of Iraq in its disarmament. It says it's disarmed. It should be willing to put forward documents, to make witnesses available, to let planes fly over and reconnaissance missions to assist the inspectors so that the inspectors can work with the Iraqis in presenting the case to the international community that Iraq is disarmed. Disarmament is what it's all about.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, I think just yesterday Hans Blix told Dan Rather that they had not found a smoking gun as yet. And as I listen to you this morning, it seems to me that what you're saying is it's not that we have to find weapons of mass destruction, it's just that they're not cooperating; that would be justification enough to take action.

SECRETARY POWELL: It is their responsibility under 1441 to cooperate fully with the inspectors in the disarmament process. Dr. Blix says he has found no smoking gun, but he has also said that all he is getting from the Iraqis is passive cooperation: catch us if you can; if you find something, we might admit it, but we're working hard to deceive you, to hide things, and make it harder for you to get to the truth.

They're not supposed to be making it harder. They're supposed to be assisting in the disarmament process to demonstrate to the world the truth of their statements. They say they don't have any weapons of mass destruction. If that's the case, why did Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei -- why did they succeed in finding these rockets, whether their warheads are filled or not with chemical agent? They are there. They are a potential weapon that could be used in the future.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So just to make sure I understand what you're saying, you're saying a lack of cooperation would be reason enough to take military action?

SECRETARY POWELL: What I am saying is that Iraq has an obligation under 1441 and earlier resolutions to disarm. And one way to demonstrate that they are disarmed or are going to disarm is to cooperate with the inspectors and help the inspectors do their job. The issue is not just the inspections. The issue is disarmament. And we will get a full report from Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei next week as to how that process is going.
Time is running out. We can't just keep bouncing this ball down the street. I think the Security Council will be anxiously awaiting the reports of the two chief inspectors, and after we have heard what they have said and seen what they have provided, the Council will have to make its judgment as to what happens next, and the President will have to make his judgment.

MR. SCHIEFFER: But, Mr. Secretary, I don't think you would disagree if I said to you that that view is not prevalent right now among UN Security Council members. I mean, there are quotes all over every paper you read this morning, where the view in the UN is that the case for using force has become less, rather than more, compelling.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, let's wait and see what the case looks like after the inspectors have presented the results of their work. But I think everybody who signed on to UN Resolution 1441, all 15 members of the Security Council, understood that if we were not getting to disarmament then the Council would have to come back into session to make a judgment as to what next steps should be.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And to go back to the question I asked you earlier, when President Chirac says wisdom requires that we may -- that we should grant the inspectors more time, if they ask for more time on January 27th, what would be the US administration's attitude?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will wait and see what they say and what they ask for and what they believe their needs are. I heard what President Chirac said. But wisdom demands that Iraq be disarmed. Wisdom demands that these kinds of weapons not be allowed to remain in the hands of an individual like Saddam Hussein or a regime like the Iraqi regime.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about reports that the Saudis and the Turks have launched a diplomatic effort to try to force Saddam to step down. They've offered such things as exile, amnesty for him and for his extended family. What do you think of that? Do you think that has a chance of succeeding?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, all I know is that I've read these reports. I don't know if there have actually been such offers or not, and so that's all I can say about it. I don't know the truth of these reports. But --

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, if he left --

SECRETARY POWELL: If he were to leave and take with him members of his family and the ruling regime, then, in effect, we would have a different regime. And the challenge before us then would be to see whether or not that new regime would commit itself to eliminating weapons of mass destruction, satisfying the international community that they are interested in the welfare of their people and not in threatening their own people or threatening their neighbors, then we would have had an entirely new situation presented to the international community and we might be able to avoid war. So I would encourage Saddam Hussein, if he is getting any messages of this type, to listen to them carefully.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me shift to the President's statements this week and the legal brief that the administration filed coming out against the affirmative action plan for admissions at the University of Michigan. I've discovered that back during Campaign 2000, you said that you believe affirmative is still necessary. You said you will continue to speak out for it. And you said at that time, and I quote you directly, "There is a case now pending, of course, with the University of Michigan that I hope the university wins."

So do you take the other side that the President took in his statement this week and in the briefs he filed?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President and I have spoken about affirmative action and the need for diversity in our universities on many occasions, long before I came in government, when he and I would talk about youth programs. And we have a common desire, the President and I, and I think Dr. Rice and all of us in the administration, to see our universities as diverse places, where all members of the public served by the university have a chance to participate in the educational activities of the university.

How best to achieve that is a challenge and has always been a challenge. I am a strong believer in affirmative action. The President likes to call it "affirmative access."

In the Michigan case, whereas I have expressed my support for the policies used by the University of Michigan, the President, in looking at it, came to the conclusion that it was constitutionally flawed based on the legal advice he received. And he also had the benefit of advice from Dr. Condi Rice, his National Security Advisor, who was a provost of a university for six years.

And so he came down on that side of the issue and I understand why he did. But I do know that he is absolutely committed to diversity, and the manner in which the brief has been filed to the court allows the court to make its choice on the Michigan case but doesn't go to the underlying issues.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
[End]


Released on January 19, 2003

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