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Powell Interview on Fox News Sunday with Tony Snow

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC February 9, 2003

MR. SNOW: Secretary Powell, Germany and France evidently are putting together a proposal. Have you seen it yet?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I have not seen it. I have just read press reports about the proposal. But I assume it is some variation of what the French proposed at the UN on Wednesday after I finished my presentation, and that is some combination of additional inspectors and additional reconnaissance.

But, and this is the point, it is not more inspectors that we need; it is more cooperation--far more cooperation from Saddam Hussein --is what we need. And it is not what we have been getting. So it is not the need for more inspectors; it is the need for Saddam Hussein to come into compliance with the basic requirements of UN Resolution 1441.

MR. SNOW: It appears that Germany, France, now Russia, are still going to push through a resolution of this sort. Would you support it?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I will, you know, not comment on a resolution that does not yet exist, but we have to keep our eye focused on the ball. The ball is Iraqi noncompliance, not the need for more inspectors.

MR. SNOW: A lot of Americans think that the Germans and French in particular are merely trying to get in the way and bollix up the works for the Bush administration. What's your view?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think they are not following what the resolution called for, what 1441 called for. [Resolution] 1441, which passed 15-0, with the French voting for it, said that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and they are in material breach of 16 previous resolutions. The French agreed to that.

And we said we were giving Saddam Hussein one last chance by this resolution. He has had that one last chance now for 3 months. If he does not now come into compliance and do what he is supposed to do--turn over all the documents, bring people forward for interviews--if he actually did what he was supposed to do, you would only need a handful of inspectors.

So more inspectors does not answer the question. And what France has to do, and what I think Germany has to do, and all the members of the Security Council have to do, is read 1441 again. This lack of cooperation by Iraq and the false declaration, all the other actions that they have taken and not taken since the resolution passed, are setting -- all set the stage for the UN to go into session and find whether or not serious consequences are appropriate at this time.

MR. SNOW: If the UN were to adopt a resolution, the Security Council were to adopt a resolution calling for more inspectors and more UN forces, would that demonstrate to you that the UN, in fact, is losing credibility and relevance?

SECRETARY POWELL: I do not think that is going to be the issue before the UN. The issue before the UN is going to be whether or not Iraq is faithfully complying with 1441. We have had more than enough time to measure Iraqi compliance, and all we have seen is noncompliance.

This coming Friday, the 14th of February, Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei will report once again on the extent of Iraqi cooperation or non-cooperation, and I think at that point the Council is going to have to start to come together and make a judgment as to what next steps should be. And I do not think next steps should be "let us send in more inspectors to be stiffed by the Iraqis."

MR. SNOW: Is it any coincidence in your mind that this action, which I think may fairly be called a stalling action, is being supported by the three nations--France, Germany and Russia--that have the most extensive commercial ties right now with Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: I do not want to attribute a particular motive to them. They clearly have been doing everything they can to see if more time could not be given to Iraq to comply. If I thought Iraq was going to comply, then that would be a reasonable approach.

But Iraq has demonstrated over the last several months that they have no intention of complying. So how much longer do we need to measure this noncompliance? The resolution was clear. What we had is three months of noncompliance. And if the inspectors show once again and demonstrate once again, as they did the last time they reported, that that noncompliance continues, then I think it is time for the UN to clearly understand the seriousness of the situation and for Iraq to understand that serious consequences are going to follow.

MR. SNOW: Do you believe that the United Nations would, in fact, pass a second resolution, then, authorizing the use of force based on the assumption that next Friday Iraq will not have complied with 1441?

SECRETARY POWELL: I cannot predict what the United Nations will do, but I think the record is pretty clear as to what Iraq has not been doing. And more and more, with each passing day, Iraq is in greater material breach of the resolution, and I hope that the UN will do its duty. I hope that the UN will not slip into irrelevance by failing to step up to its responsibilities at this moment in history.

MR. SNOW: And if it does not take action against Iraq pending the report on Friday, it will slip into irrelevance, in your view?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think that if the United Nations, faced with continued Iraqi noncompliance, does not do something about that noncompliance--other than just say, "well, keep non-complying and we will send three times as many inspectors in to watch you non-comply," then it will be slipping into irrelevance.

MR. SNOW: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says the longer this drags out, the more likely war is. Do you agree? And if so, why?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think that there has to be a limit to this. I mean, if there is not compliance--I keep coming back to the word because that is the word. The word is not "inspections," the word is "compliance." If Iraq complies, then there will be no war. But Iraq has "non-complied" and you cannot just keep this state of noncompliance going.

So what Secretary Rumsfeld is saying is you have to draw a line at some point, you have to bring it to an end.

MR. SNOW: So you are not impressed with the moves Iraq has made in the last couple days in its meetings with Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei?

SECRETARY POWELL: They have made no moves that I know of. The only thing I have heard is that there have been serious conversations and a report last evening that some additional documents were turned over, but we do not know what those documents are.

But if they are real, serious documents, they should have been turned over months ago. We cannot have a situation where Iraq sort of dribbles out a little bit in the hope that it can buy off the United Nations and lead the United Nations down some path to irrelevancy.

MR. SNOW: The United States has supplied intelligence information to the UN inspections teams. Is it not true that those teams have only used a tiny fraction of that intelligence?

SECRETARY POWELL: I cannot answer that. I do not know how much of the intelligence that we have provided to them they have used. But we have provided quite a bit and I just do not know exactly how much of it they have used. But we are cooperating with them fully.

MR. SNOW: Well, it's telling that you wouldn't know how much they used. You could be able to track their movements and get some sense, so it's pretty clear that there is--

SECRETARY POWELL: I did not say the United States Government does not know.

MR. SNOW: Yeah.

SECRETARY POWELL: I am just saying that I do not follow the exact numbers on a day-by-day basis. There are others in my Department and in our government, of course, who do.

MR. SNOW: Iraq is arguing that the evidence you laid out Wednesday is bogus and they have been taking reporters to various sites that you presented satellite imagery. What is your response?

SECRETARY POWELL: I fully expected them to do that. We knew they would jump into a PR game on Wednesday afternoon, and they did. And I can assure you that each and every piece of evidence that I put down we have multiple sources for, and it is solid material. And the fact that they run a few reporters out there and show the reporters what they want the reporters to see does not undercut the material that I presented last Wednesday.

MR. SNOW: Let's talk about the link between Iraq and al-Qaida. You've talked about that. Is there any direct evidence that Saddam Hussein has transferred weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaida?

SECRETARY POWELL: There is evidence that over the years al-Qaida has sought training and information, and perhaps material related to weapons of mass destruction in the manner that I described in my presentation on Wednesday. I do not want to overstretch the point, but I do not want to underplay it. It is that very nexus, that very possibility, that causes us such concern, and I tried to make that case Wednesday. Terrorists, non-state terrorists who can find a haven in a place like Iraq, and in that haven they cannot only find a safe place to operate but they can perhaps find these sorts of terrible weapons and technologies that they can use to threaten the world.

MR. SNOW: Is it your view that Ansar Al-Islam* in Northern Iraq is, in fact, busy trying to put together factories for the manufacture of such things?

SECRETARY POWELL: We do know that the facility that I described in my presentation on Wednesday has been used to develop poisons, and not just from a picture of that facility but a lot of other source material we have that shows that things that come out of that facility and have transited through various parts of Europe and Central Asia, reaching Western Europe.

MR. SNOW: So, in that case, in fact, Iraq has helped al-Qaida distribute these?

SECRETARY POWELL: One has to be a little careful here because that part of Iraq is not under Saddam Hussein's direct control--although we do know that Iraqi intelligence officers have been working in that area and there are connections that are of concern to us.

MR. SNOW: All right. Carl Levin, who is going to be on our show later, has said that the United States--I want to show a quote to you that pertains to this--he says, "Secretary Powell disclosed that al-Qaida has been producing and exporting poisons and toxins from a laboratory in Northeastern Iraq that is beyond the control of Saddam Hussein." He continues: "I favor prompt and forceful U.S. military action to deal with that problem as we have done in attacking al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan and Yemen."

SECRETARY POWELL: We are constantly reviewing military options and targets, and it is not just a matter of a military act. You have to think of a military act at the same time that you consider the political, diplomatic, and other consequences of such an act, and how good a target do you have. So I can assure you that we are constantly reviewing our military options, but I never discuss them publicly.

MR. SNOW: But that would be a military option, then?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are constantly reviewing our military options, Tony.

MR. SNOW: All right. There is also fear that Saddam Hussein, in a time of war, might unleash weapons of mass destruction. You've spent your life in the military, for the most part. In the past, when leaders have issued such orders to their generals, as Hitler did at the end of World War II, the generals have said thank you very much, but I prefer to live.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

MR. SNOW: Is it not your view that Saddam may, in fact, issue such an order but his generals, valuing their lives more than his, probably won't act on it?

SECRETARY POWELL: If they were wise, they would come to that conclusion. I can't tell you what an Iraqi general might do. But it would be very foolish of them, and we have made it clear that there would be consequences in any conflict for those generals who would use weapons of mass destruction against coalition forces.

We faced this problem before. We faced it during the Gulf war. And one of the great concerns I had as Chairman at that time was that they might use chemicals against our forces. They did not. But we made it clear there would be consequences if leaders in the Iraqi armed forces did that or if Iraq did it as a nation.

MR. SNOW: Why did we withdraw our last point of contact, the Polish Interests Section in Baghdad, from our dealings with Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: This is a judgment the Polish Government made and we respect their judgment, and they have been enormously helpful to us over the years.

MR. SNOW: All right. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had some fairly scathing comments to make about the possibility that NATO might not come to the aid of Turkey, which is a NATO member. Let's play that quote and I want to follow up on it.

"Turkey needs to be looked after in this instance. They're an ally and they're a friend and they're the only country that's a moderate Muslim country in NATO. They're the only country that borders Iraq. The idea that NATO would deny them NATO support in that circumstance, in my view, is inexcusable."

MR. SNOW: Is this now a test of NATO's credibility? Germany, France, and Belgium say they are going to act to veto any direct action in support of Turkey.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, first of all, I agree totally with Secretary Rumsfeld. It is inappropriate for NATO to be presented with a request like this, where all that is being asked for is for planning assistance and start to make plans to assist Turkey if it becomes threatened by Iraq in the course of a conflict that is all that's being asked for. And for three NATO nations to say with respect to a fourth nation "we will not even consider that at this time because of a dispute, really, we are having within the United Nations Security Council about what follows next," I think is inexcusable on the part of those countries, and I hope they will think differently by the time they have to make a judgment tomorrow--whether they will "break silence," as it is called. This is the time for NATO to rally and to stand behind one of our NATO colleagues that may be put at risk, not by the United States but by Iraq. And so I hope that the Germans and the French and the Belgians will think differently about this over the next 24 hours.

MR. SNOW: Final question. Republican Senators Lugar and Hagel are saying that the United States should engage in direct talks with North Korea. South Korea is saying the same thing. Will we?

SECRETARY POWELL: Eventually, there will be talks between the United States and North Korea, I believe. But I believe it should be within a multilateral setting. This is a multilateral problem.

Imagine you are the Secretary of State. You are criticized when you are unilateral and then you get criticized when you are trying to make something multilateral and people say it should be unilateral. In this case, what North Korea is doing is of concern not only to the United States, but to South Korea, to Japan, to China, to Russia, to the IAEA, 35 nations that came together and condemned North Korea's actions.

We should not let North Korea dictate the terms under which these conversations take place. I think there will ultimately be conversations, but I think other nations have a role to play.

Take China, for example. China has said that it is their policy that the Korean Peninsula not be nuclearized, in fact, it be denuclearized. Well, therefore, China should play an active role in making sure that that is the case. And they have considerable influence with North Korea. Half their foreign aid goes to North Korea. Eighty percent of North Korea's wherewithal with respect to energy and economic activity comes from China. China has a role to play, and I hope China will play that role.

MR. SNOW: Secretary Powell, thanks for joining us.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. [End]

Released on February 9, 2003

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