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Powell Interview With Mike Chinoy of CNN

Interview With Mike Chinoy of CNN International TV

Secretary Colin L. Powell
China World Hotel
Beijing, China
October 25, 2004

MR. CHINOY: Well thanks very much for joining us Mr. Secretary.


MR. CHINOY: Let me begin by asking you, how is rejecting direct talks with North Korea helping to prevent that country from developing and expanding its arsenal of nuclear weapons?

SECRETARY POWELL: We've seen what happens when we have direct talks with North Korea. By entering an agreement as they did in 1994. Capping a nuclear weapons program at Pyongyang, but not getting rid of it, a plutonium program. And while everybody was watching this capped program, they were off developing another way of producing a nuclear weapon. So we have seen this scheme before. And we decided that a better approach was to involve North Korea's neighbors. Why shouldn't they be involved? Why shouldn't it be multilateralize this? Are they not at a greater risk than the United States from a nuclear North Korea? The answer is yes. They agreed. They all came into the six party framework. And So everything that North Korea is asking for security guarantees, assistance - all of this is achievable through the six party framework and frankly, I would argue to the North Koreans that they're better off getting a security agreement from all of its neighbors and the United States, as opposed to just from the United States, And, they're better off working to get assistance from all of its neighbors and the United States, and not just the United States. The North Koreans desperately want to make this a U.S.-North Korean problem to see what else they can ask us for, to pay them, to reward them for their misbehavior. And we have chosen not to do that, not to get caught in their trap again. We need a situation where they are going to get rid of their weapons- the whole program and every aspect of the program -in a complete and verifiable manner, and we will provide the security assurances that they are looking for and they will also benefit economically. And I hope they will eventually come to the conclusion that it is in their interest to do this.

MR. CHINOY: But why not accept, at least initially, a freezed capture, to stop what they are doing now, because the longer that you go on without some kind of agreement, don't you risk the danger that the more the North Koreans will be able to produce nuclear material?

SECRETARY POWELL: And the longer the North Koreans are in distress economically while they continue this process of stringing it out. A freeze is a way to begin, but we can't just stop with a freeze because that which is frozen can be unfrozen. There has to be a commitment to go from the beginning all the way to the end. And they have not yet made such a commitment.

MR. CHINOY: Haven't the Chinese and the Russians and the Japanese and the South Koreans all indicated that they would like to see the U.S. engaged in some kind of direct, bilateral dialogue with the North Koreans- either in the six party context or outside of it but to have that bilateral dialogue?

SECRETARY POWELL: Within the six party discussions, we have had an opportunity to talk to the North Koreans. But we don't want undercut the six party discussions by having negotiations. But the North Koreans know what is expected of them from the United States and from the others. And I have met with the North Korean Foreign Minister, we have good conversations. But they want more than good conversations; they want some benefits and rewards for their incorrect behavior. They want free aid. And they are trying to make it just something between North Korea and the United States. That's why they want to have direct talks. We don't think that's the way to go. It's been tried before and, it wasn't successful. We want to see this solved in a multilateral context and involving all of its neighbors. You must allow me to smile a moment because all of your questioning has been: why aren't you unilateral? Why are you multilateral? Why are you bringing others to the party? But we are often criticized for being unilateral and for not involving others and just making it the United States against someone. In this case, it is a multilateral problem, and it requires a multilateral solution.

MR. CHINOY: You're talking about trying to get another round of the six party talks going sooner rather than later and to get the North Koreans to agree to come back. But the United States is either going to have a new president-elect shortly or a second Bush Administration is going to have some changes in its own foreign policy advisory structure and so on. Under those circumstances, what do you think you could realistically achieve in another round soon and what incentive is there for the North Koreans to come back before they are clear about the future direction of American North Korean policy?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think they are going to see that much change. First of all, I am reasonably confident that there will be facing four more years of the Bush administration. And President Bush certainly isn't waiting for the election to change his policy; his policy is a very clear and firm: We are going to solve this through the six party framework. Even though some on the other side have said they would immediately enter into dialogue, I'm not sure that they would find that to be the right thing to do. North Koreans would be rubbing their hands at the opportunity to be rewarded for bad behavior. I think that any American president would not leap at that opportunity.

MR. CHINOY: Does the Bush administration have a kind of red line, a point beyond which if North Korea goes, there is really going to be trouble? And if so, what is it?

SECRETARY POWELL: No we don't have any red lines. The president has made this clear, that we want to solve this diplomatically. A red line suggestion after which there would be some sort of a conflict, there no need to think in those terms right now. We have all options. We have never taken any option off the table. But North Korea is a country that is in distress. It needs assistance, it needs economic assistance. I don't know how many times the president and I have talked about this, where he said he really wants to help the North Korean people And instead of trying to find a solution so that we can the North Korean people, the North Korean government continues to cling to these weapons programs. Even though they say they want to denuclearize. They say they want to eliminate them from their inventory. But they are trying to see what benefits they will get. The benefits they will get is a security agreement where we can enshrine, all six parties enshrine, a security arrangement for North Korea that deals with their concerns about so-called hostile attitude. We have no hostile attitude. We have no intention of invading North Korea, attacking North Korea, Why would we?

It is in North Korea's interest to find a way forward because the nuclear weapons program that they have been working on have not given them any added security. They are developing weapons that would be very difficult for them to use, very difficult for them to try or sell to anyone. In the meantime, they are not getting the kind of benefits, the kind of investment, the kind of assistance they could receive from the international community if they made a firm commitment in the six party framework to get rid of these programs.

MR. CHINOY: You've been pushing for some time to bring the case of Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council and yet, Iran, unlike North Korea, doesn't yet have a bomb and unlike North Korea hasn't withdrawn from the non-proliferation treaty. So, why push to bring Iran to account before the UN and not do the same with North Korea?

SECRETARY POWELL: Those are two different issues. We still have our ways to approach North Korea; we're using the six party framework. The Security Council is there. In the case of Iran, The IAEA continues to find misbehavior on their part. They have not met the commitments they made to the EU-3. The EU-3 - the three foreign ministers of the European Union are in the lead on this, Britain, France and Germany- They are still working with the Iranians. And if the Iranians are not forthcoming, then I think it is time for a referral. They are going on for a long period of time, and I think the situations are different. And I don't see a need to consider a Security Council referral, at this time, of the North Korean problem.

MR. CHINOY: Last year President Bush said in the presence of China's Premier and I quote, "the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan, that's President Chen Shui-bian's, indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo which we oppose." It's clear China, even today, still feels that way about President Chen. Do you still feel that his comments, his actions, his attitude indicate that kind of direction and does it worry you?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have made it very clear to the authorities in Taiwan, to President Chen Shui-bian, that we do not support independence for Taiwan. Our One-China Policy, resting on the Three Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act, has served all of the parties quite well for a long period of time, and we would not support anything that would change that approach.

We want to see both sides not take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking. And we think that this is the time for both sides to reach out to each other and find ways to discuss these issues. We were hoping that we would see an improvement in cross-straits dialogue, but our position is rather clear, we do not support independence for Taiwan. That would be inconsistent with our One-China Policy. And There is no doubt by either Chen Shui-bian's mind or any other Taiwanese leader's mind that that is a firm US policy that is not going to change.

MR. CHINOY: We've just had another bad day in Iraq. This horrible attack on the police recruits. You've lost one of your own diplomatic colleagues. With the possibility that significant chunks of the country may be too violent, too unstable, to hold an election, and with the UN having committed so few people, are you concerned, should there be concern, that these elections early next year might lack legitimacy and could that damage the efforts by the U.S. to promote the idea of democracy throughout the Middle East?

SECRETARY POWELL: We don't know yet whether we will have a complete and full, free and fair election throughout the country or not; we are certainly planning on one. It is not the UN that is a pacing item here. Iraqis are running their own election. But, we do want to see a greater UN presence to assist them with that.

We did have a difficult day. I mourn for the loss of the fifty Iraqi soldiers who had just been trained. Trained for what? Trained to defend their own country. Trained to protect their people. And these murderers ambushed them and murdered them all in cold blood. That is what we are fighting. We are fighting these kinds of individuals. We are not going to turn away from this fight and let this sort of terrible, terrible action take place again. Let these kinds of terrorists and murderers take over this country. We got rid of a terrible regime, and we're not going to allow another to come back. And so we will stay the cause and stay the course.

And of course I regret very much the loss of one of my people. A Diplomatic Security Agent, Mr. Ed Seitz, who served so proudly and for his nation. And, diplomats loose their lives just as soldiers do.

MR. CHINOY: In the early 1990's you spelled out a series of guidelines for the future of US military intervention abroad, which was dubbed the Powell Doctrine, and it emphasized the need for well-defined objectives, strong support from the American people and a clear-cut exit strategy. Based on what we know now about things in Iraq and based on where things stand now, do you believe that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is consistent with what people came to call the Powell Doctrine?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well the Powell doctrine is nothing but common sense- have a clear political objective- and we did. Get rid of this terrible regime, which we accomplished. And then consolidate in the aftermath of that. And give the Iraqi people an opportunity to have a free, fair, open election to elect their own leaders. That is what we are doing now. We have some time to go before we accomplish that. We have an insurgency that we have to put down. But that is our goal. That is our objective, to get rid of this regime and allow Iraq to become a democracy through free elections. And so we are still pursuing that objective. And it is an objective I still think we can achieve.

MR. CHINOY: OK Secretary Powell, thanks very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. 2004/1157 [End]

Released on October 25, 2004

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