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Powell Urges All Nations Aid Iraq's Reconstruction


Powell Urges All Nations to Aid Iraq's Reconstruction

September 28 interview on ABC's This Week

In an interview on ABC's This Week September 28, Secretary of State Colin Powell called upon the nations of the world to "come together and help reconstruct Iraq and give the people of Iraq hope and a better future."

Powell said the United States hopes enough countries will contribute forces to create a third multinational division in Iraq, but said he was not sure whether or not that will be possible. He noted that troops from 31 nations are already in Iraq.

Regarding President Bush's proposed $87 billion ($87,000 million) supplemental appropriation package for Iraq, Powell said that two-thirds of the money would support U.S. troops, while $20 billion ($20,000 million) would go toward Iraq's reconstruction.

"This [$20,000 million] is a sound investment in a country that has been devastated by 30 years of bad rule, by dictatorial rule," Powell said.

"Saddam Hussein is gone. He is not coming back, and he left a mess," he continued. We have "an obligation to help the Iraqi people fix their infrastructure, so that they can build a nation that rests on a foundation of a constitution, on the foundation of democracy with elected leaders, with an open economy."

When asked whether or not coalition forces were justified in invading Iraq, given the lack of progress so far in finding weapons of mass destruction there, Powell said that "the president went in and conducted this war because there was every reason to believe, and I still believe, that there were weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs to develop weapons of mass destruction."

Powell said Saddam Hussein's regime "was also a regime that supported terrorist activity and it was a regime that had abused the human rights of its own people."

"I don't think we have anything to be regretful about," he said. "The mass graves are now being opened for people to see. The destruction that Saddam Hussein wrought upon his own people, his own infrastructure, is now obvious and we have an obligation. And so, I have no second thoughts about what we did."

In response to a question about Russia's work on a nuclear power plant in Iran, Powell noted that a year ago "everybody thought the United States was being unreasonable by insisting that Iran be held to account for what it was doing. Even the Russians thought we were a bit unreasonable."

"[O]ver the past year, the evidence that has come forward, that is now before the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] has made it clear to the world that there is something going on in Iran, with respect to nuclear weapons development. It goes beyond their nuclear power industry. The IAEA has now concluded this. Russia is now working with us," he said.

Following is a transcript of the interview, as released by the Department of State:

(begin transcript)

Interview on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopolous

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
September 28, 2003
(11:30 a.m. EDT)

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Now to our headline of this morning. Secretary of State Colin Powell, fresh off his appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.

MR. LETTERMAN: Let's assume that he wins a second term. Would you be his Secretary of State? Would you like to continue, or have you, in fact, told him that you would not continue?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have enjoyed my job enormously, and I will serve it at the pleasure of the President.

(Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: How long do you want to do this?

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Looks like you were having fun.

SECRETARY POWELL: We were having fun. It was a good interview. I enjoyed it.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Now, I know you were also up to much more serious work in New York this week, up at the United Nations. The President spoke to the United Nations. He met with several foreign leaders. Have you made any progress on getting a new UN resolution on Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I think we have. The President had good meetings with Chancellor Schroeder of Germany, and President Chirac of France, and a number of other leaders.

What was important about our work in the UN this week was that all nations have now come together and said, "Let's put the past behind us, the disagreements of the spring, as to whether this was a war that we should have fought or not. The war was fought; Saddam Hussein is gone; that evil regime has been eliminated. And now let's all come together and help reconstruct Iraq and give the people of Iraq hope and a better future.

Now the question is: How much are each of them willing to contribute?

We are working on a resolution. I think we'll gather support from most members of the Security Council. And let's keep in mind that we're receiving a lot of support already; 31 nations are in Iraq with us now with troops. And so I think we'll get more support, but it remains to be seen how much support we'll be able to get.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: But the overwhelming majority of troops still are U.S. troops.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: And when you were on this program just a few weeks ago, you said that you were working on getting new troop commitments from India, from Pakistan, from Turkey. Have any of those countries given you those commitments?

SECRETARY POWELL: They are waiting to see what the resolution looks like, and they have not yet made commitments. The Turks are in serious conversations with us. They will have to take it to their parliament. We had good conversations with President Musharraf this week in New York about it, and he still has it under consideration.

Bangladesh is another nation that has it under consideration. The South Koreans have also expressed some interest in the idea. So there are some nations around. But I would not want to suggest that we're going to get a huge number of troops out of this. There aren't that many countries around with standing armies that are able to dispatch large formations halfway around the world the way we are able to do.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: There had been hope that there would be a third international division, 10 to 15,000 troops. Can we expect that many?

SECRETARY POWELL: That is a possibility, but I can't tell you we're going to be able to achieve that. But it would be very helpful to our efforts to have a third international division. And that's still our goal. And we haven't abandoned that goal.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: You went through this list of countries. You didn't mention India. The President also met with the Prime Minister of India this week. And it was reported after he met with both, the Prime Minister of India and President Musharraf of Pakistan, that the President didn't even ask those leaders for troops. How come?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we have already expressed to those leaders that we would be most interested in seeing them provide troops.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: But wouldn't it help if the President brought it up in the meetings?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President has already conveyed to them, in other ways and in other fora, that it was useful for them to consider providing troops. And in my conversation with President Musharraf, I had a direct discussion on this, and he knew I was speaking for the President. There were broader issues that had to be discussed as well in the meetings with both Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: General Abizaid was up before Capitol Hill, and other military officials were up on Capitol Hill this week saying that if they didn't get this commitment for a third international division soon, they would have to call up more reserves.

Do you think it will be prudent now to plan as if this third division isn't going to come through?

SECRETARY POWELL: I will yield to my Pentagon colleagues what would be prudent or not prudent. But I think what General Abizaid was signaling was that this mission places a high demand on the active force, and we have to be prepared to use our reserves. Whether reserves in the quantities General Abizaid suggested would be needed, with or without a third multinational division, remains to be seen, but I will leave it to the Pentagon to decide.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: When you think you'll know whether you're going to have commitments?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think within the next few days, we will come up with a second version of the resolution, based on the consultations we had last week. We'll begin to share that with our friends on the Security Council. I can't tell you when the resolution will be passed.

I'm anxious to move quickly because we've got a donors conference coming up at the end of October. And whether that resolution, in and of itself, will generate more troop support in a timely manner, I can't say. We'll have to get the resolution. And there are some nations who have said the resolution will be helpful, but they'd consider sending troops even without the resolution.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: You mentioned the donor conference. That leads to the second big question. How much money will the United States get from overseas?

And I want to start out by talking about the President's request for $87 billion from the Congress. Our latest ABC poll -- and I'm going to put it up there right now -- shows that the American public right now is against it, 61 percent against. What do you say to those 61 percent?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would say to all Americans that this is a worthwhile investment, and we should all come together to support the President's request. Two-thirds of the money is to support our troops, who are performing so nobly in Iraq, and we should not deny them what they need to get the job done.

The most controversial part of the request -- and I think reflected in the poll -- is the $20 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq. This is a sound investment in a country that has been devastated by 30 years of bad rule, by dictatorial rule; that rule is now gone. Saddam Hussein is gone. He is not coming back, and he left a mess.

And we have, I believe, an obligation to help the Iraqi people fix their infrastructure, so that they can build a nation that rests on a foundation of a constitution, on the foundation of democracy with elected leaders, with an open economy. We can already see the Governing Council of Iraq moving in this direction, new cabinet ministers moving in this direction.

An army is being formed. Infrastructure is being replaced. We want to fix the oil sector, so that they can sustain and fund themselves over time. And so this is a worthwhile investment. And I think we will make that case to the American people.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: But, as you know, Ambassador Bremer ran into a buzz saw up on Capitol Hill this week from Democrats and Republicans. And a lot of Republican members of Congress including, say, Senator Susan Collins from Maine, have said that this $20 billion should -- at least a portion of it -- should be loans not grants.

SECRETARY POWELL: We don't want to saddle the Iraqi people with any more debt right now. They are suffering under a huge load of debt left over from the regime of Saddam Hussein. And I think we have to be very careful about putting more debt on them, so that they are able to rebuilt their land, and to fix their infrastructure, and to become --

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: But that debt goes to France.

SECRETARY POWELL: -- become participating members of the international community.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: That debt goes to France. It goes to Saudi Arabia. And Senator Collins and others have asked, "Why should the American taxpayers subsidize payoffs to France and Saudi Arabia?"

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, debt is debt. No matter who it goes to, it is a crushing burden on the nation and the people who have that debt.

And we have experienced in the past where, after a conflict, we have saddled the defeated nation, in this case Iraq, people who were oppressed by this guy for all these years, saddle them with new debt, which makes it harder for them to fix the sins of the past, to fix the infrastructure that was destroyed in the previous 30 years. And I think Congress ought to be very careful before they start insisting on this kind of a tradeoff because it may not serve our interests in the long term.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Ambassador Bremer also estimated -- and I want to share this as well, that the five year costs for reconstructing Iraq, according to the World Bank, would be $60 billion.

Now the President has a $20 billion request. And the best estimate is that over five years about $20 billion could come from Iraqi oil as well. That leaves a $20 billion hole. So you're going to have to come back to the Congress next year for more money.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, not necessarily. First of all, the World Bank -- Ambassador Bremer was suggesting what might be the range of needs for reconstruction, but we're waiting to see what the World Bank actually formally reports. But there will be a need in the future. It doesn't mean that the American taxpayer has to pay it off.

This first increment that we're asking for, $20 billion, is a necessary jumpstart, in order to get this country up and running, to put in place security, so that they can take over responsibility for their own security of facilities. We can build an Iraqi army. We can build an Iraqi police force back up, border patrols, all of which reduces the burden on our troops, and we can start bringing our folks home.

So a good part of this is for security, another part of it is for infrastructure, oil, so that we can repair the oil sector, so that they can start generating more revenue than they're able to generate now. And so, the package was designed in a way that will fix security, fix infrastructure, especially oil and other vital facilities needed for the economy to start going, and that will also allow us to build up an economic structure in Iraq, so it can get back to where it was 30 years ago, as one of the bright spots, economically, in the Middle East.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Finally, when you saw those headlines in The Washington Post this morning, this House letter of Congressman Porter Goss and Congresswoman Jane Harman saying the intelligence when you went into Iraq was faulty. There were significant deficiencies. Are you still confident that the intelligence was as good as it could have been?

SECRETARY POWELL: Let me answer it this way. Two weeks ago today, I was in Halabja. Halabja is a city in northern Iraq, where, and on a Friday in March of 1988, Saddam Hussein gassed the people with VX, with sarin, nerve agents, and it killed 5,000 people in one day; that was 15 years ago.

Now, if you want to believe that he suddenly gave up that weapon and had no further interest in those sorts of weapons, whether it be chemical, biological or nuclear, then I think you're -- it's a bit na?e to believe that.

For the next 10 years, inspectors, after the Gulf War, especially since 1991 through 1998, that seven year period, were looking for the infrastructure, looking for these weapons. We found a lot of these weapons after the Gulf War in 1991, and we destroyed a lot of them, but a lot was left over.

And then in 1998, President Clinton and his administration, came to the conclusion that there was still an infrastructure, there were still weapons there, there were still facilities to produce such weapons, and conducted a four day bombing campaign in late 1998, based on the intelligence that he had; that resulted in the inspectors being thrown out.

So from 1998 until we went in earlier this year, there was a period where we didn't have benefit of UN inspectors actually on the ground. And our intelligence community had to do the best they could, and I think they did a pretty good job. And to say that, well, since you don't have positive information, or you don't have information that satisfies us, we should assume that all of these weapons are gone or they weren't there in the first place, defies the logic of the situation over the years, and what we know about this regime.

In 1999, the UN inspectors put forward a report and said, "There is so much that we haven't been able to learn, that has been denied to us by the Iraqis." And so I think the intelligence community has done a good job. And when Congress requested the intelligence community's assessment last fall, Director Tenet went up and provided to the Congress a National Intelligence Estimate that had all of this information in it.

If people are now questioning that, I'm quite sure that Director Tenet will be able to explain it. And as you saw from the CIA, they do not accept the premises in the letter from those two Congresspersons.

MR. WILL: Director Tenet was sitting right behind you at the UN on February 5th, when you deployed our evidence for the Security Council. And you said the following, "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

Has anything happened, and did we learn anything in the 172 days since Baghdad fell, that would cause you to say it wasn't solid, and we have to have a new understanding of what solid intelligence is?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, the presentation I made on the 5th of February, with Director Tenet sitting behind me, was a presentation we had worked on for five solid days, really, to go through the NIE that he had presented to the Congress the previous fall, updated through February, and we sat with the analysts.

We challenged everything that they wanted me to say. We scrubbed it. We didn't put anything forward that we didn't believe was solid. But it was the product of the intelligence community.

Now, in the 170-odd days since the fall of Baghdad, we all would like to have seen, you know, solid material coming forward and warehouses full of the material. But Dr. Kay has spent several months now, with a very large, competent team looking into this, and he will give us a preliminary report this week, and the world will see what Dr. Kay has found out.

MR. WILL: I want to ask you, just an example of what they must be doing on the ground over there. You said, on February 5th, "In mid-December, weapons experts at one facility were replaced by Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work that is being done there."

Experts at one facility, this was to be a second facility, "that was related to the weapons of mass destruction. Those experts have been ordered to stay home from work to avoid the inspectors."

Now, we knew, I gather, where those two facilities were. Have we visited them, and what have we found?

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't answer that specifically, George, because I don't follow what the inspection group is doing on a day-to-day basis. And I would have to wait until we hear from David Kay.

MR. WILL: Well, you said also, "We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails, a defector's eyewitness account of these mobile production facilities, as corroborated by other sources."

You said, "There were seven, perhaps, 18. We found two that some people dispute even whether they were that."

Can you tell us anything at all about what we found, with regard to these?

SECRETARY POWELL: What we did find, the van that we did find, pretty much is as I described. It would be when I presented that on the 5th of February.

And even though there are differences within the overall intelligence community, the Director of Central Intelligence, examining all of the material with respect to that van and examining counter-arguments as to what it might be, stands behind the judgment that what we found was positive evidence of a mobile biological weapons lab, and it has not been discounted sufficiently.

MR. WILL: What we look for, in part, are precursor agents and dual-use facilities because the capability allows us to infer, perhaps, an intention.

Is it possible we could go out within five miles of this studio in downtown Washington and find both, that is, an industrial society has --

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

MR. WILL: -- chemicals, and a microbrewery could be a dual-use facility.

SECRETARY POWELL: It certainly could, and we'll see what David Kay says. But one of the ideas in the intelligence community, one of the beliefs in the intelligence community is that in order to deceive the inspectors, Saddam was working on "just in time" facilities, a microbrewery, something that looks perfectly benign, but it will only take 48 hours to turn this benign facility into the most terrible kind of factory that could produce biological agents. It would not be difficult. You could do it just as you described, within five miles, five blocks of this location.

MR. WILL: And another asset that we now have in custody, I gather, that might be useful to us, concerns the report before 9/11 -- before 9/11 -- Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker, met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent and diplomat named Ahmed Al-Ani.

He, I gather, Ahmed Al-Ani, is in our custody in Iraq. Have we asked him, did he meet with Mohammed Atta? What can you tell us about that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't tell you anything. I mean, that really is something that the intelligence community is examining. I am sure that all of these questions, which are perfectly logical, are being asked. But they're being kept close, so that you can use the answers to one question to go back to another source, and see if you can get it corroborated.

MR. WILL: The New York Times reported this week that after you met with them, someone said, "Mr. Secretary, if you had known we were not going to find weapons of mass destruction, say, 172 days later, would you personally still have supported the war?"

The New York Times said, "You smiled, extended your hand, and said, 'Nice to meet you.'"

SECRETARY POWELL: It was a question being asked as I was walking out of the room, heading to another appointment. The fact of the matter is that the President went in and conducted this war because there was every reason to believe, and I still believe, that there were weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.

And it was also a regime that supported terrorist activity, and it was a regime that had abused the human rights of its own people. And I don't think we have anything to be regretful about. The mass graves are now being opened for people to see. The destruction that Saddam Hussein brought upon his own people, his own infrastructure is now obvious, and we have an obligation. And so I have no second thoughts about what we did.

MR. WILL: Is it your view that the destruction of Iraq, and the torture and the mass graves were sufficient grounds for this war, absent evidence of weapons?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it could be -- a case could be made that it was sufficient grounds. But the President had a broader set of factors that he took into consideration, and we led with weapons of mass destruction. But in my presentation, I also spoke about terrorist activity and human rights abuses and the evil nature of this regime, as has the President throughout this period.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: There is also concern about weapons of mass destruction, as you know, in Iran. This week the International Atomic Energy Agency found for the second time, evidence of weapons grade uranium in Iran.

And, yesterday, I spoke with the Foreign Minister of Iran, yesterday, in New York. And he said that Iran would be willing to accept full IAEA inspections, but they are not willing to give up their peaceful nuclear enrichment program. Is that enough for the United States?

SECRETARY POWELL: We need Iran to adopt the additional protocol that they have been asked --

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: He said they would.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, then make it public and do it. But that, in and of itself, isn't enough. We have to have all questions, with respect to their nuclear weapons programs answered.

A year ago, everybody thought the United States was being unreasonable by insisting that Iran be held to account for what it was doing. Even the Russians thought we were a bit unreasonable. And over the past year, the evidence that has come forward, that is now before the IAEA has made it clear to the world that there is something going on in Iran, with respect to nuclear weapons development. It goes beyond their nuclear power industry. The IAEA has now concluded this. Russia is now working with us. Russia --

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: They didn't say though they would stop helping Iran build their reactors.

SECRETARY POWELL: We didn't ask them to stop building a nuclear reactor. What we have said to them is we have got to make sure that any reactor that is provided to them, the fuel cycle for that reactor, and how the material that might go into that reactor gets used and fed back into the overall nuclear fuel cycle system of the world, those questions have to be answered.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Finally, sir, there was one other story in The Washington Post this morning saying -- we talked about that as well -- the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether White House officials, other Administration officials, leaked the identity of a CIA agent to newspaper reporters. Does this concern you, and do you believe it should be investigated?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think that the CIA has an obligation when they believe somebody who is undercover was "outted," so to speak, has an obligation to ask the Justice Department to look into it. But, other than that, I don't know anything about the matter.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, George.


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