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Powell Interview on Spain's TVE

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC March 4, 2003

(9:25 a.m. EST)

MR. SANCLEMENTE: Mr. Secretary, thank you for visiting us. What's more important, the unity in the Security Council or a deadline?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would like to see unity in the Security Council maintained, but the most important thing is to see Saddam Hussein disarmed. The Security Council came together when they passed Resolution 1441 last fall and they said that Saddam Hussein must now disarm, he must come into compliance, this is his last chance. That's what the resolution says. And if he does not come into compliance, if he does not take this last chance, he must face serious consequences.

I hope that there will be unity in the Security Council, or as much unity as we can generate, when the vote comes, if that vote does come, to say, you know, Saddam Hussein has lost his last chance. So I would like to see unity in the Security Council and I hope that the Security Council members will realize that they must keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein, and if he has not complied, they must be willing to step up to the task, as difficult as it may be and as unpleasant as it may be and unappreciated as it may be in European public opinion, to take the necessary military action to disarm Saddam Hussein. He cannot be allowed to walk away from the will of the international community after 12 years of ignoring the will of the international community.

MR. SANCLEMENTE: Are you pressing for a vote, even in the case where you have not the nine votes?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we don't know whether we have nine votes or ten votes, or more. Over the next week or so, I think there will be very intense diplomatic discussions with all of the members of the Security Council and we will see what each of us thinks the vote count is, and then a judgment will be made as to when the resolution should be brought to a vote.

We are all waiting to see what Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei say on Friday, and then over the weekend we'll be consulting to get a collective judgment of where the different nations on the Security Council stand.

Each nation on the Security Council is a sovereign nation, free to make its own choice, respond to its own political dynamic and listen to its own people. But leadership sometimes means that you listen to the people but sometimes you have to do something that doesn't enjoy public opinion at the moment but it is nevertheless the right thing to do for improving the stability of a particular region, in this case the Gulf region, or for protecting the people. Strong leaders sometimes have to make these kinds of difficult decisions in order to try to achieve a better world, in order to try to achieve the chances for peace and to put down the potential for terrorism and to put dictators in their place.

MR. SANCLEMENTE: There is still a chance for peace in two or three days? Do you believe that Saddam Hussein would change his mind?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's unlikely. He has demonstrated for 12 years that he doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks. He intends to have weapons of mass destruction. He will manipulate public opinion. He will manipulate the world's opinion. He will do everything to make it look like he is cooperating and complying, when it is obvious that he is not cooperating and complying.

The issue is not more inspectors, the issue is not longer inspections, the issue is has he made a decision that we all can see and understand that says I'm going to provide anybody you need to be interviewed, I'm going to provide all the documents you need to find out what I did with my chemical and biological weapons, I'm going to destroy all of this infrastructure, I don't want any more weapons of mass destruction, I'm turning it all in, I will tell you everything you need to know. That's what he has not done. That is what I was hoping, praying he would do after 1441 was passed. But that is not what he has done. He continues to deceive. He continues to hide things. He continues to pretend he's destroying something here while he's protecting the ability to make more somewhere else. This is not what we are expecting from Saddam Hussein, but, unfortunately, it's what we got, and we must not step back from the difficult choices that may be ahead to disarm this dictatorial regime.

MR. SANCLEMENTE: But has he time in two, three days or one week --

SECRETARY POWELL: He has time, but I think it is -- you know, it is -- your guess is as good as mine. I have not seen anything to suggest that he understands the seriousness of this issue or the determination of the international community. So I don't know that he can make a choice that would prevent the international community from facing the difficult issue of should we use force.


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Released on March 4, 2003

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