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Powell Interview on Germany's RTL

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

(9:30 a.m. EST)

MR. LANG: Secretary of State Powell, there is word that the U.S. intends to push the resolution to a vote next week, even if you don't have the nine votes yet. Is this accurate? Can you confirm it?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we are going to wait and see what Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei report to the Security Council on Friday, and then over the weekend we'll consult with our friends and colleagues on the Security Council. I'm sure I'll be talking to my colleague, Joschka Fischer. And then early next week, we'll make a judgment on what we have heard, make a judgment on whether it's time to put the resolution up to a vote, and nobody really knows who has the votes until the votes are actually taken.

This is not an easy vote for those nations on the Security Council, but the United States feels that it is appropriate to move forward with a vote in the absence of compliance on the part of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime. We have not seen the kind of compliance that we expected when 1441 was passed. We believe that he has missed his last chance to comply. And it is not clear that he can do anything in the next several days or week or so that would give us and give the world any assurance that he is truly trying to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction.

MR. LANG: What is your strategy towards Turkey now? Are you still expecting a change of mind there?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we don't know. Turkey faced a very difficult situation in their parliament. Turkey and the United States have been close friends for many years and we'll be close friends for many years in the future.

If we make a judgment in the next several days that the Turkish parliament really is not in a position to deal with the requests that we have made to it in a second parliamentary session, then we have alternative plans that will allow us to conduct any military operations that the President might order. We'll still be able to accomplish our mission.

MR. LANG: In general, has the time for diplomacy run out yet?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's getting toward the end. We have had diplomacy with Saddam Hussein for 12 years. We have been waiting for 12 years and we have passed resolution after resolution after resolution. They were simple resolutions: Please give up weapons of mass destruction, use the wealth of the Iraqi people to benefit the Iraqi people, not to develop weapons of mass destruction.

And time after time, resolution after resolution, he ignored the will of the international community. When the inspectors were starting to get close in 1998, he created conditions so that they had to leave. And finally, in the fall of 2002, the international community came together, a 15-0 vote for the Security Council. Resolution 1441 said this is your last chance, disarm, come into compliance, and if not, there will be serious consequences.

Now the debate before us is, well, shouldn't we have more inspectors? The inspection teams have not asked for more inspectors. Should we not give inspections more time? How much more time would be necessary if he's still not complying and cooperating? The only reason he's doing these small steps that you see is not because of inspections or because of the resolution; it's because there is a powerful force assembling and he's trying to keep that force from being used.

MR. LANG: Speaking about Germany, the German position is well known. What could our government else to do ease the tensions a bit?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know. Germany feels strongly that military force should not be used in this situation under any circumstances. I regret that position. I think it is not the correct position. But it is nevertheless the strong position of Chancellor Schroeder and the German Government and it reflects the will of the German people, and I respect that. Germany is a democracy that makes its own judgment as to what its position will be.

But I hope that Germany will understand our position and that if it is necessary that there be a conflict in order to disarm Iraq, I hope that Germany can assist in the aftermath in helping the Iraqi people build a brighter future. There will be a brighter future for the Iraqi people once they have disarmed themselves, one way or another, of these weapons of mass destruction.

And so Germany still has a role to play. This has been a difficult issue between the United States and Germany, but we have been through so many things together over the years that the relationship will survive this problem. We have German troops in Afghanistan. We are cooperating with Germany in so many different ways. And they are, of course, one of our strongest friends and allies and will remain so.

MR. LANG: Still, some people in Germany are concerned that the Americans might be reducing the military as an outcome of these tensions.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, nonsense, nonsense. We are constantly looking at our presence in Europe, where our bases are, where should they be, what makes sense. And so General Jones, the new Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and the Commander of our forces in Europe, is examining the disposition of our bases and forces. This is perfectly understandable. It will be done in full consultation with the German Government. But it is not in response to this issue. This is something that has been underway for some time. And we are constantly reviewing our base structure in Germany. As you may recall after the Cold War ended, we reduced our presence in Germany by, oh, I guess, 60 or 70 percent, which was appropriate. So that's all. That is part of our regular restructuring and transformation study activities.

MR. LANG: Okay, thank you very much. Appreciate your time.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. [End]

Released on March 4, 2003

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