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Rice Interview On the Bill Cunningham Show

Rice With Bill Cunningham of the Bill Cunningham Show

Interview With Bill Cunningham of the Bill Cunningham Show
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
November 2, 2006

(1:30 p.m. EST)


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, welcome to the Bill Cunningham Show.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you, Bill. And thanks for that great introduction, my goodness.

QUESTION: And I understand you're a Browns fan, is that correct?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm a Browns fan and we won a football game last week.

QUESTION: Well, that's good. They're not winning too much and you know we do the Bengals games here. We're heard of course in Ohio, Cleveland, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan and Tennessee; but nonetheless, we don't have good feelings about Cleveland here in Cincinnati.

SECRETARY RICE: I'll tell you, I like the Bengals, too, how's that?

QUESTION: Well, now you're politically correct. (Laughter.) Let's talk about -- to my left I was watching Fox News about half an hour ago and I saw these missiles flying out of Iranian airspace in order to demonstrate how tough they are. We live in a difficult, difficult age. How big of a risk do you think it is that the Iranians are going to attack Israel or get nuclear weapons and cause havoc all over the world?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the Iranians are a threat and that's why the international community's got to be strong in resisting their ambitions. We -- on their nuclear program what we're trying to do right now is stop them from get the technology that would be able to lead to a nuclear weapon, so-called enrichment and reprocessing technology.

As to the missile test, yes, I think they're trying to demonstrate that they're tough. But the Iranians also I think are not unaware that the security environment is one in which if they actually were to do something Iran would suffer greatly and so I think they probably understand that. But yes, they're trying to say to the world you're not going to keep us from getting a nuclear weapon. The world has to say to them, yes, we will.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, North Korea about three weeks ago seemingly tested a nuclear device or at least tried to test one. It may not have come off completely. Can we say now -- can you say as the Secretary of State here in America -- that the North Koreans have nuclear weapons?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I -- certainly we do believe that that was a nuclear test. We don't know -- it was relatively small and we don't know why, but it was a nuclear test. The North Koreans have been trying to build a nuclear program for almost 30 years, so this has been around a while. And we now have, I think the right group of states -- China, Russia, South Korea, Japan and the United States -- that can convince the North Koreans either they have to give up their nuclear weapons or they are not going to get any benefits from the international system and it's a big breakthrough to finally get sanctions on North Korea that China supported. That's a major step for China.

QUESTION: Of course, America now are the new Greeks, we're the new Romans, we're the new Egyptians, we're the dominant power in the world. But isn't it fair to say that in this case the Red Chinese probably have more influence over the North Koreans than we do because of their proximity, their oil, their refugee concerns, et cetera? Isn't it fair for us to say to the Chinese, you guys are in charge of this one, you take the ball and we're going to help you; but isn't it fair to say the Chinese have more steam than the Americans?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think there's no doubt that China has probably greater leverage with the North Koreans than any other state. And that's why it's so important that we have the six-party framework. It's why it's so important that China was willing to use sanctions against North Korea. You know, you've heard people say, well, it should just be the United States talking directly with North Korea.

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that just doesn't take account of the point that you just made: China is the country with real leverage with the North Koreans. So we have to work with China and we've been pretty successful.

QUESTION: Now I read some where the Chinese main concern is in two areas: One is refugees. They don't a million North Koreans coming across the border. But the other thing is that the Chinese know that if the North Koreans actually get information about the world that they don't have, they're going to look more like South Korea over the next ten to 20 years instead of North Korea. And as a consequence, democracy, freedom, opportunity will overtake the entire Korean Peninsula and the Chinese do not want that because they'd rather have a buffer between freedom and them, which is North Korea. Do you buy into that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think at one point that was Chinese thinking. But what they don't need is a state that is dangerous on the Korean Peninsula setting off nuclear devices, testing missiles. That makes North Korea a liability on the Korean Peninsula and I think that's why you've seen the Chinese reacting the way that they've been reacting.

I do believe that if North Korea ever opens up, you are going to have a very different circumstance there because you can't possibly convince the North Korean people that they're living in paradise if they had information about the rest of the world. And so I think it will be a good thing when the North Korean people have some access to the rest of the world.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, some experts have said that the best thing that you can do is perhaps allow South Korea or Japan to go nuclear, maybe even Taiwan. Is that in the cards?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I think it's not in the cards, because, you know, no one really knows what the implications would be, what the outcome would be of further nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia. But I can assure you, it probably wouldn't be good. It's just a security environment where if countries start choosing the nuclear path, you're going to have a lot of very insecure states. And what we've done, and what I did when I went out to Asia two weeks ago, is to remind everyone that the United States has defense commitments to defend Japan and to defend South Korea, that we will do so, that we will do so with the full range of our capabilities, and that that means that they can rely on the American security umbrella to deal with threats like the North Korean nuclear test.

QUESTION: Two more questions. You speak Russian. You're an expert on Russian diplomacy and Russian culture. There's some speculation that Vladimir Putin will not step down at the end of his eight-year term and seek to seize power. What's your read on that and would that be a positive or a negative for America?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think that the Russians need to follow constitution and that means their President has two terms and that President Putin will allow elections and somebody to replace him. And he says, he keeps saying to -- not just to us but to the Russian people that he will not run again for President because it would be against their constitution. It'd be a real step back if that were to happen, but he says he's not going to do it.

QUESTION: Now lastly, on the internet today it says here, and of course the internet's never wrong, it says, "Russia and China indicated today that they will not support a draft UN resolution imposing tough sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt its nuclear enrichment program." Of course, I -- because of the contracts between and the contacts between Iran and Russia and China, that certainly makes sense to me. As the Secretary of State, if Russia and China does not go along are we stymied?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think they will go along. As a matter of fact, they are pledged to -- from the last resolution we had -- that we will seek sanctions under a Security Council resolution. I think what you're seeing there is you're seeing negotiations right now. They don't like the draft, the resolution that the Europeans have put forward, and so you're seeing some negotiation but I think we'll get a resolution.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as an American living in the heartland -- Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana -- which beats throughout America, I'm proud to have you as our Secretary of State. Stay there at least two more years and run for President in '08.

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) Well, thanks. I don't want to do the last but thank you very much. It was a pleasure to be with you and with your listeners.

QUESTION: You're a great American.

SECRETARY RICE: Take care.

QUESTION: God bless you.

2006/990

Released on November 2, 2006

ENDS


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