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Powell Interview on the United Kingdom s ITN

Interview on the United Kingdom s ITN

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC March 3, 2003

(9:35 a.m. EST)

MR. SMITH: Thanks for seeing us. When you're seeing the Iraqis come up with information, it seems, on anthrax, VX nerve gas, we've seen Saddam destroy missiles over the weekend, Dr. Blix is telling us quite this is significant disarmament. Is he wrong?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, things are being destroyed, and perhaps documents are coming forward. I haven't seen them yet. But why didn't they do it four months ago? Why didn't they do it four years ago? Why didn't they do it 12 years ago when they were supposed to? Why are they kind of doling it out now?

They're not doing it because the inspections have suddenly become effective or they're suddenly threatened by a UN resolution. They're doing it because a powerful allied force is assembling in the region, consisting, for the most part, of the U.S., the UK and some other nations participating in it.

MR. SMITH: Nevertheless, it changes the propaganda battle.

SECRETARY POWELL: It changes the propaganda battle but it doesn't change reality. Reality is that they are still trying to deceive, they are still trying to send us down ratholes. Realty is they have not made a strategic decision to comply with 1441.

They were given a last chance to do so and they have not complied. The inspectors are not the means of getting them to comply. They were supposed to comply. And if they haven't complied, then they've lost their last chance and they should face the serious consequences that were called for in 1441.

MR. SMITH: You're a military man. We all remember you as a four star general. I mean, you know the battle plan now. How much of a setback is not having Turkey, not having access to Turkish --

SECRETARY POWELL: It's a disappointment. It will require readjustment of our plans. I don't know whether or not the Turkish parliament will have an opportunity to reconsider this in a time frame that --

MR. SMITH: But you're putting on serious pressure for them to --

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we are talking to them. We are, of course, in constant contact with our Turkish colleagues. But even if we aren't able to persuade the Turkish parliament in the necessary time available to us to change their minds, our military authorities have options that will still make it absolutely certain that we'll be able to perform this military mission in an efficient, effective way and achieve our objective.

MR. SMITH: Diplomacy. I mean, the word is today that you're not going to push a second resolution if you don't have the votes next week. Everything we're hearing is that you'll go to war regardless of whether you have a second resolution, that key word "regardless."

SECRETARY POWELL: Well --

MR. SMITH: And Tony Blair will be with you. Is that how you see it?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the word -- I don't know whether this is the revealed world or out of all your newspapers, but, in fact, we are going to listen to Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei on Friday when they make their report, we'll consult with our friends and colleagues over the weekend, and then we'll make a judgment as to how to pursue a second resolution. We want to push for a second resolution and we are --

MR. SMITH: And Tony Blair will be with you regardless of a second resolution?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are pushing for a second resolution, and I won't speak for Prime Minister Blair. But we understand the importance and usefulness of a second resolution, not only to Prime Minister Blair but to all of us. We'd like to see a second resolution. But President Bush has made it clear from the very beginning that if there is not compliance, he believes the UN should act, and through the second resolution is one way, but there is sufficient authority in 1441 and earlier resolutions if willing nations and members of a willing coalition feel it is necessary to act to protect the stability of the region to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction. And, frankly, we're going to be creating a better life for the Iraqi people once they are through with this problem and through with Saddam Hussein.

MR. SMITH: The price of this war is already high, isn't it? I mean, if you look out there -- divided UN, I mean, bitter divisions in Europe. You've got Tony Blair's government in London probably seeing the most serious crisis of confidence arguably since he came to power. I mean, this is serious collateral damage, isn't it, already?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's not --

MR. SMITH: Do you see it that way?

SECRETARY POWELL: It is a serious situation and I won't make light of it, but at the same time, what we are doing and what Prime Minister Blair is doing and President Bush is doing, what Prime Minister Aznar is doing, what Mr. Berlusconi is doing, and so many other European nations are doing, is stepping up to this challenge of leadership. Either the international community's will has meaning or it does not have meaning, and in 1441 a clear standard was laid down and it said Iraq is in violation, it is guilty, it's been guilty for 12 years, it must come into compliance, if it doesn't come into compliance, serious consequences must flow. Everybody knew that that meant. It means military action would be required. And leader after leader has stood up to stand behind the meaning of that resolution, to include President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.

And even though I understand the political difficulties that they are all facing, and President Bush has his own set of political issues here, if it is clear that this is something that has to be done, and we do it and we do it well and efficiently, as I'm quite sure we will, and weapons of mass destruction are removed from Iraq and the Iraqi people realize there's a better life for them with the removal of this dictator, I think public opinion will quickly shift in the other direction and it will be seen as wise, enlightened, bold leadership, and all political leaders will benefit from it.

MR. SMITH: Last one, very briefly. What does your instinct tell you? How long are you going to wait?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would say that time is running out. We'll wait and see what they say on Friday and then I will say in --

MR. SMITH: Days?

SECRETARY POWELL: -- in the not too distant future. We're not talking a long period of time. I don't want to get pinned down on days or weeks or a week, but certainly I think next week we would have to give very serious consideration as to what the next step should be. [End]

Released on March 4, 2003


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