Rice Interview With Al Hunt of Bloomberg TV
Interview With Al Hunt of Bloomberg TV
November 4, 2006
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you for doing this interview. I know that it's your fourth interview in the past week. Is that tied to the fact there's an election in America next week?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, no. I'm just out doing what I always do, which is trying to explain American policy. I've always thought that it was an important part of the role of Secretary of State to get out and talk to Americans in any way possible about our foreign policy.
QUESTION: Let me ask you one question that was in the papers the other day that the U.S. took down a website with sensitive material on Iraq's nuclear program after experts warned that it could be useful to terrorists. Was that a mistake to have that up in the first place?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, John Negroponte is looking into it, the Director of National Intelligence. Obviously there was an effort to make available to people the many, many, many documents that have been found in Iraq related to a whole host of issues and not just to the weapons of mass destruction program. But obviously John is taking a look at it. It's been down now so that there could be time to review it. And we'll see whether or not it should have been there in the first place. But it does show there is an awful lot going on.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about domestic politics in Iraq for a moment. Mike McGavick, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Washington said this week that we have to get our troops home. Lincoln Chafee the Republican candidate in Rhode Island had a TV ad bragging he voted against the Iraqi war. Kay Bailey Hutchison who has supported the war in an easy re-election said: If I knew what I know now, if I had known back then, I wouldn't have voted for the war. And dozens of Republican candidates say Don Rumsfeld ought to be sacked. Are you losing your political base in this country?
SECRETARY RICE: Those are all fine people. But the idea that we somehow now -- because things are difficult in Iraq and they are. Americans can see on their screens the difficulties in Iraq, but the stakes are very, very high in Iraq. The stakes are high because the terrorists know that an Iraq that America abandons to chaos, an Iraq that America abandons to terrorists, is really going to be in the middle of the Middle East, in the most important part of the Middle East, a foothold from which our strategic interests will never recover against those of the terrorists. So the debate in this country about how we go forward, about tactics and about what good ideas we may pursue in the future, those are all important things to debate and important things the Administration wants to look at because we're constantly trying to adjust how we go forward, adjusting to changing circumstances on the ground. But there is one thing that is very clear, the President has laid out a course that we are going to finish the job in Iraq and leave an Iraq in which the fundamentals are there for a stable and democratic Iraq and that's not going to change.
QUESTION: You mentioned stability and you mentioned chaos in that answer. The New York Times published a chart this past week, a Pentagon chart, which has stability on one side, chaos on the other side, and it shows a steady continuum in Iraq of it moving closer to chaos.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I haven't seen that chart. But I do know that it is a lot easier to simply focus on what is clearly a problem, the violence and (inaudible) the sectarian violence around Baghdad.
QUESTION: Do you think that Prime Minister Maliki is doing what he should do to stop it or do you think he's beholden to those militias?
SECRETARY RICE: There is a lot of instability and violence in Iraq. We can all see that. There is also a political process in Iraq that has been building over the last three years to give the Iraqis institutions to deal with their differences by compromising politics rather than by violence. That's harder to show. So while it was easier to show that those people were out voting, you had a constitutional process you could see those milestones. But the milestones that are harder to see I think Americans should know are going forward. The Iraqis are going to have a hydrocarbon law which talks about how they will divide the revenues from their most important resource: oil. Oil could be a source of political instability or it could be a source of political unity. And I believe this hydrocarbon law will be a source of political unity.
QUESTION: Well, picking up on that, there is an increasing chorus of people saying we ought to divide Iraq. We ought to have a three-way partition in oil to be equally distributed between those three partitions. Is that a feasible approach?
SECRETARY RICE: Probably most of them are not Iraqis who were saying that. Iraqis want to have one country because they know that not only is it difficult and probably even less stabilizing to have three parts, but what are you going to do with a mixed city like Mosul or a mixed city like Baghdad or very mixed areas in which tribes are both Sunni and Shia? You know, this is a place where the social fabric is actually pretty integrated. You'll talk to an Iraqi and he'll say my wife is a Shia. So where do they belong? In what part of the partition do they belong? That's why Iraqis are working toward a unity government.
Now to be sure, it's difficult. And to answer your question about Prime Minister Maliki, he is I think a devoted patriot, a good man. He has a tough political coalition around him that he's always trying to respond to. And we have said, in no uncertain terms to the Iraqis, that they're going to have to make these difficult political decisions, overcome their political differences so that the sectarian violence has no political basis.
QUESTION: But within the context of one Iraq, you do think there's some kind of oil distribution?
SECRETARY RICE: I think that you will see that there will be -- I don't think it will be a distribution so much among the groups, but rather they are not going to have such a centralized system with the use of that resource. And that's probably a good thing because we do know also that a centralized system around oil tends to produce corruption, tends to produce (inaudible) where you have booms and busts in budgeting because the resource is held centrally. So I think they'll actually come up with a system that may be superior to many that are used in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Washington Post diplomatic columnist David Ignatius wrote that you plan very soon to make a big push for a broader effort in the region; that in order to stabilize Iraq you're going to try to bring in Syria and Iran, and you are going to try to bring pressure on Israelis to make concessions to the Palestinians as part of a much broader package.
SECRETARY RICE: I don't know where that comes from because I don't think there was any secret that, going all the way back to the United Nations General Assembly, the President has talked about making a push in the Middle East in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli piece of this. It's really would help a great deal if the Palestinians resolved their own political crisis so that you have a government to work with that has (inaudible) would have called it, "international acceptability" meaning --
QUESTION: But are we talking about a push anew after this election?
SECRETARY RICE: This is a part -- what we're talking about is a policy that we've been pursuing for some time. Of course we need a regional perspective on Iraq. That's why we've been working on something called the International Compact for Iraq. I met in New York with more than 30 other countries who are supportive of trying to move the Iraqi democracy forward. That international compact, by the way, those meetings have been attended by Iraq neighbors like Syria and Iran even back in September. So, yes, we need a regional approach to Iraq, but that has been our intention for some time and it's been our policy for some time.
QUESTION: Do you think it's possible to make any progress when it comes to Iran either on the regional issue or the nuclear issue as long as President Ahmadi-Nejad is in power?
SECRETARY RICE: It's hard to tell what's going on inside Iran's politics. We have to deal with Iran's behavior. And what we did was to give Iran, along with five other countries, give Iran a real chance to not just deal with their desire for civil nuclear power. If that's what they want, they've been offered a way to get civil nuclear power. What the world is not prepared to see them have is the access to the technology of enrichment and reprocessing that leads to the ability to build a nuclear weapon. We gave them a pathway to do that.
In addition, that pathway included the possibility for the first direct talks between the United States and Iran in 27 years. And for reasons that I don't fully understand, the Iranians have not been able to meet the one condition -- a condition that's been there for a couple of years now -- that they suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities so that negotiations can begin. So that opportunity was there. That opportunity is still there. But we're going to have a Security Council resolution that does recognize the fact that Iran has not yet given in to the will of the international community.
QUESTION: Turning to the other grave problem -- nuclear weapons -- North Korea. Former President Jimmy Carter, who has been intimately involved in this as you know, said in a Bloomberg interview that it is -- and I quote -- "completely false" that North Korea cheated on the 1994 deal to freeze nuclear weapons until 2002. So for eight years they basically kept that deal.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we know that not too long after they signed that deal, yes, they've frozen their plutonium program and they've begun the search for a highly enriched uranium route. Now I guess you can quibble about whether it is cheating to close off one route to a nuclear weapon and start another route to a nuclear weapon. I would call it cheating. And the fact that the North confirmed --
QUESTION: So you think Jimmy Carter is just wrong?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it was confirmed. The North Koreans confirmed to our representative at the time that indeed they were pursuing a highly enriched uranium program. Now they then backed off that, having said it at the table where any number of people heard them. But I want to look to the future. Because we have put together a coalition of states in the region that have leverage with North Korea, that reacted to the North Korean nuclear test by passing a very strong Chapter 7 resolution that sanctioned North Korea for its behavior, we now have a chance to actually make negotiations work. There's a very short time after the passage of that resolution, North Korea was ready to come back to the talks. We've left that path open and now we've sent two senior diplomats to the region, Nick Burns and Bob Joseph. They will go out and talk about the implementation of Resolution 1718 but also about how to make the six-party talks really fruitful when we go back to the table.
QUESTION: Final question, and the tough stuff. The National Football League season will be halfway through this weekend. Your Cleveland Browns are only 2 and 5. We know that they're not going to the Super Bowl.
SECRETARY RICE: Even I know that.
QUESTION: Which two teams are going to the Super Bowl?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think if you look at it right now, probably the Chicago Bears out of the NFC, although Atlanta I think is a good challenger there. And out of the AFC, I'd like to think the New England Patriots look awfully steady and Tom Brady looks like he's getting used to his new receivers.
QUESTION: Can we come back just a week before the Super Bowl and get a prediction?
SECRETARY RICE: I think -- no, this is not a prediction, it's just an analysis.
QUESTION: Oh,Okay. Very diplomatic, Madame Secretary. Thank you very, very much.
SECRETARY RICE: It's a pleasure to be with you.
Released on November 4, 2006