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Powell Interview on Russia's ORT

Interview on Russia's ORT

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

(9:15 a.m. EST)

MR. SUKHOI: Thanks for this opportunity. And what now, Mr. Secretary? What are the chances for peace and war now, after the latest developments?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think there is always a chance for peace, and peace will come if Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime do what they have been asked to do by the international community for the last 12 years, and that is to completely comply with all their obligations to disarm, to get rid of their weapons of mass destruction, to make the strategic decision to disarm. They haven't done that.

They keep doling out little pieces of weapons. They keep reluctantly responding to the demands of the UN. They keep pretending that they are disarming, that they are doing things for the inspectors, when, in fact, they are doing the minimum necessary to try to keep the pressure off.

They're now destroying some missiles. Well, there's nothing wrong with destroying those missiles, but we know why they're being destroyed. It's because there are large American and United Kingdom and other forces assembling in the region, not because suddenly they have decided they have to comply and they realize they've made a mistake for all these years. It is simply military pressure and the threat of force that is causing them to do what they are doing now.

What we would like to see them do is to come clean, let everybody come out to be interviewed that need to be interviewed, give all the documents over, account for everything, not try to game this every day with a little bit more, a little bit less, a little bit more, a little bit less. One day, we'll destroy the missiles. The next day, well, maybe we won't destroy the missiles. This is the game they have been playing for so many years, and the game has now come to an end, and it must come to an end soon.

MR. SUKHOI: What about the position of Russia? How do you account for the fact that Russia, together with France and China, just say that more time should be given to inspectors?

SECRETARY POWELL: We talk to our Russian colleagues regularly. I speak to Foreign Minister Ivanov every few days, and President Putin and President Bush are in very close contact with each other. And we understand the Russian position and of course we respect the Russian position, but there is a disagreement. We believe that the issue is not more time for the inspectors or more inspectors; the issue is: Has Saddam Hussein made a strategic decision to come to into compliance with the United Nations resolutions? And we have seen nothing to suggest that he has made such a decision.

There is also a disagreement between us and Russia as to how serious the threat is. Are these weapons of mass destruction a threat to the United States, a threat to the Russian Federation, a threat to the region? We sincerely believe these weapons are a threat and the intention of this man, Saddam Hussein, to deploy such weapons is a threat to the region and to the world at large, especially after 9/11 when we are deeply concerned that terrorist organizations are looking for these kinds of weapons of mass destruction to conduct horrible attacks throughout he world, attacks that are not just directed at America but could be directed at Russia, as well. Russia has been forced to deal with terrorism, just like the United States has been forced to deal with terrorism, right in our own capitals.

MR. SUKHOI: What about the second resolution in the Security Council? Are you going to push with this? And what are your instructions to Mr. Negroponte?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I always try to keep my instructions to Mr. Negroponte somewhat private, but I think it is no secret that we believe this resolution is appropriate. We are now waiting for Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei to report to the Council on Friday. And after we have heard their reports and consulted with our friends on the Council, our colleagues on the Council, and I'm sure I'll be consulting with my Russian colleagues, then I believe in the very near future after the 7th of March a judgment should be made as to whether or not it is time to seek a vote on this resolution.

MR. SUKHOI: Yeah, well, I have one minute, sir. What can you say to the Russian viewers? March is a time for war or April for time for war, or no time for war?

SECRETARY POWELL: We would prefer not to have a war. Nobody wants war. President Bush does not want war. President Putin does not want war. No sensible person wants war.

But sometimes, when you have a regime like Saddam Hussein s, which has essentially said, I don't care, I don't care for the past 12 years what I have been told to do. I am a dictator, I am a despot, I do terrible things to my people, I'm developing these weapons of mass destruction and I don't care what the rest of the world thinks. When you're faced with that kind of a situation and when you have laid down the rule in Resolution 1441 that he must comply, and he still does not comply, then, unfortunately, war becomes an option. This man must be disarmed for the safety of the region and for the safety of the world, and he will be disarmed -- peacefully, hopefully, but, if necessary, the United States is prepared to lead a coalition of the willing, a coalition of willing nations, either under UN authority or without UN authority, if that turns out to be the case, in order to disarm this man. And it will be a peaceful world, a less threatened world, if he is disarmed and it ll be a better future for the people of Iraq if that's what it comes -- if that's what comes in their future.

MR. SUKHOI: Thanks a lot again. I am running out of my time.


MR. SUKHOI: All the best, good luck. [End]

Released on March 4, 2003

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