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Richard Haass Interview on Canada's CBC Television

Interview on Canada's CBC Television

Richard N. Haass, Director of Policy Planning

Washington, DC January 29, 2003

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, thanks for joining us. It is nice to see you. Let me ask you this.

With the Secretary of State ready now to go to the Security Council, and against the backdrop of what the President said last night, in some ways, despite the inspections and so forth, are we back to where we were when the President went to the General Assembly in October and said, "Look, this is going to happen, and it would be better if the UN signs on, but if the UN doesn't sign on to disarming Iraq, we're going to do it anyway"? So basically, have we turned back the clock in some ways?

AMB. HAASS: Not really, because what's happened in between, I think, is terribly important. We had the passage of Security Council Resolution 1441, which the Security Council unanimously agreed that Iraq must come into compliance with its international obligations, must disarm itself of all weapons of mass destruction; so I think we now operate from a very different base.

And just earlier this week, two days ago, you had the chief UN weapons inspector, Mr. Blix, essentially say that Iraq continues to fall short of meeting its obligations. Above all, it's not provided the factual or informational basis that inspectors need in order to carry out their jobs.

So I actually think we're in a much different place now.

QUESTION: Well, tell me, then, how this is likely to work. You have the Secretary of State going on the 5th of February. You have Mr. Blix coming back on 14 February with his next report. If he doesn't corroborate in his report what the Secretary of State says, what happens next?

AMB. HAASS: Well, again, what the Secretary of State is prepared to do a week from today is lay out, in somewhat greater detail, ways in which Iraq is not meeting its obligations.

We will show, for example, ways in which they are clearly working against both the letter and spirit of the inspections process, ways in which they are moving materials around, ways in which they are intimidating individuals such as their scientists, rather than allowing them to cooperate with the inspections effort.

Mr. Blix earlier this week said essentially similar things, consistent things with that, said he did not have the information he needs to proceed.

We'll see if, over the next two weeks or so, the Iraqis give him that information. So far, alas, there's no evidence the Iraqis are prepared to be open, to be forthcoming, and I expect Mr. Blix, who is an honorable, honest man, if he doesn't get the information, in two weeks he will again report that he is essentially, his hands are tied behind his back. He can't be expected, as the Secretary put it the other day in Davos, to look under every roof or examine every truck in a country that is the size of California.

QUESTION: And the President said last night it's not a scavenger hunt, the Iraqis should be forthcoming with what they have. But, supposing on the 14th, Mr. Blix gives a more positive report than the Secretary of State has given on February the 5th; where do we go from there? Is there a contretemps at that point?

AMB. HAASS: Well, a more positive -- I don't think so. A more positive report itself is not enough. Sometimes in life, situations are black or white, and Iraq either has to comply with its international obligations or not.

If they, for example, squeeze out a little bit of information, that still doesn't make it possible for the inspectors to do their job.

So I think what you're going to see from the United States, and you're going to see, I believe, from quite a few other governments, is a demand that Iraq comply in full. Absent such compliance, then I think the President made clear last night that, unfortunately, we are moving closer to where we'll have no choice but to resort to force to bring about Iraqi compliance.

QUESTION: Is there any opportunity beyond February 14th for Mr. Blix and his team to continue inspecting and report back again, or is that, in a sense, as far as the United States is concerned, the final report, and then the decision would have to be made?

AMB. HAASS: I can't give you the timetable for the simple reason that no such timetable like that exists. I would simply draw your attention to the fact that the President and the Secretary of State have increasingly said that the time is running out, and quite honestly, if Saddam Hussein isn't prepared by then to give a full rendition of what it is he has, it's hard to make the argument that more time alone is going to help.

This is a guy who's had more than a dozen years now to meet his international obligations. He hasn't. Why anyone thinks, then, several more months or years would do the trick is impossible for me to understand.

I would also add, we simply don't have the luxury to wait. Why should we want to live months or years under the threat of Saddam Hussein using or worse yet, even, giving to some terrorist group like al-Qaida, handing off to them chemical or biological weapons?

QUESTION: The Canadian government has been critical of Saddam Hussein, says he has to comply with the UN resolutions, but it has not gone as far in support of the United States' position as, say, the United Kingdom or Australia.

Our Foreign Affairs Minister, Bill Graham, is meeting with Secretary Powell tomorrow. What message does Secretary Powell have to Mr. Graham?

AMB. HAASS: Well, I think it's consistent with what the President obviously said last night, what the Secretary has been saying, what I try to say here on your program today, that it's important that time not simply be allowed to drag on, that Saddam Hussein be brought into compliance one way or another.

We're still open to a diplomatic outcome, a peaceful outcome, but quite honestly, time is running out, and we would hope that Canada would join the international community, not simply in insisting that Iraq meet its obligations, but if Saddam is unwilling to do that, that Canada would find ways to support the United States and other likeminded nations in ultimately forcing Saddam Hussein to meet his obligations.

QUESTION: In some ways, Canada has a heavier weight at the United Nations than its population would suggest, so how important would be Canadian support, if invasion went ahead without Security Council support?

AMB. HAASS: I think it's important. Canada is a friend, an ally. It's a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. So I think political support, diplomatic support would be important. So, too, would various forms of military support.

And then afterwards, there will be a tremendous challenge to the international community in rebuilding Iraq politically, economically, militarily, in meeting humanitarian problems, and I would think there, as well, Canada could perform very important functions, as it has in other parts of the world.

QUESTION: Ambassador Haass, I know you're busy, and I appreciate your time now. Thank you very much.

AMB. HAASS: Thank you.

[End]

Released on January 29, 2003


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