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Powell Remarks to the UN Security Council

U.S. Department of State Office of the Spokesman (New York, New York)

For Immediate Release November 12, 2001


New York, New York November 12, 2001

1:07 P.M. EST

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me begin by expressing my thanks to you, sir, and to the Secretary General and to all of my colleagues for your expressions of solidarity and your condolences in this tragic incident of this morning. The reports that I have so far suggest preliminarily that it is an accident, and let us hope that turns out to be the case even though it is nonetheless a tragic event for those who lost loved ones. The majority of those aboard were Dominicans, on their way back to the Dominican Republic. And so a special note to our Dominican friends here at the UN for this loss of life.

I also want to express my thanks to Jamaica and Ukraine for their leadership in convening this session. And, Mr. President, since this is my first appearance before the Security Council in this room as Secretary of State of the United States of America, I am sure you will understand it is a particular treat and an honor, sir, to have Jamaica in the chair as president.

Mr. President, fellow ministers, friends and allies in the coalition against terrorism, action is needed and action is needed now. Two months ago yesterday, citizens from many of the nations present in this room were victims of savage attacks by terrorists here in New York. All of your delegations saw and felt the results of that violence, the wreckage that still smolders less than two miles from this chamber.

Yesterday, President Bush joined by Secretary General Annan and the President of the General Assembly, Foreign Minister Han, commemorated at the site the loss of over 500 of your citizens and the thousands of other innocents who lost their lives on that day. Those who seek to define terrorism need look no further. No one can defend such heartless acts against innocent people. This was not about a clash of civilizations or religions; It was an attack on civilization and religion themselves. This is what terrorism means.

And now let me share with you what the United States is doing about it and what we hope others will do. The United States is taking the fight against terrorism directly to the terrorists and to their supporters. We have declared war on all terrorist organizations with a global reach.

As President Bush made clear to the General Assembly, because these organizations are global, we need the support of all of our partners in the international community. Specifically, we need the help of police forces, intelligence services and banking systems around the world to isolate and eradicate our common enemies wherever they may hide.

The United States is grateful that so many nations and so many international organizations have responded so quickly and so forcefully. The American people were heartened by worldwide solidarity after the attacks. The swift action taken by this body and by the General Assembly on September 12th made clear that the perpetrators and supporters of terrorism will be held accountable.

The Security Council took a critical step forward by its adoption of Resolution 1373 a little over two weeks after the attacks. Resolution 1373 is a mandate to change fundamentally how the international community responds to terrorism. It requires us to cooperate to target terrorists' ability to solicit and move funds, to find safe haven, to acquire weapons and to move across international borders.

For many, implementation will involve complicated and difficult challenges to their financial and legal systems, changes to the established ways of doing things, changes aimed at choking off the funding and weaponry that sustain these terrorist groups, changes in the way we cooperate to find and bring terrorists to justice and to safeguard borders. The Security Council has already gotten off to an excellent start by setting up a committee under able chairmanship to make the call for concerted action and reality.

States are starting to work together to cut off the financial resources that are the oxygen of terrorist groups. We have already seen council members support the immediate freezing of the assets of over 120 persons and entities that the United States identified to the United Nations Afghan Sanctions Committee. The council is well situated to coordinate specialized training and assistance to help countries deal with rapid financial flows and regulatory loopholes.

To be effective, 1373 demands a new resolve. As President Bush said, its obligations are urgent and binding. States must now work together, both bilaterally and multilaterally. But the war on terrorism starts within each of our respective sovereign borders. It will be fought with increased support for democracy programs, judicial reform, conflict resolution, poverty alleviation, economic reform and health and education programs. All of these together deny the reason for terrorists to exist or to find safe havens within those borders.

The United States stands ready to provide technical assistance ranging from aviation security to financial tracking measures and law enforcement. We welcome initiatives by others in these fields and we are ready at any time to exchange information about terrorism and to cooperate in other ways to combat the common enemy, the common threats that we all face.

There is more. We must consider the integrity of international transmission systems such as the mail system. We must consider the essential nature of the Internet when phones and mail fail. A few weeks ago, such subjects might have elicited little attention. Today, we can understand that inaction can have grave consequences.

In each of these areas, there are important roles for the United Nations and for each of our countries to play. We are grateful for the help of the many who have joined in the fight. We believe out of this great tragedy, a new common purpose has arisen. No greater threat to international peace and security exists in the world today. And, through this body, we have established and are establishing the tools to build a more robust defense. It is time now to put those tools to work.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

END 1:15 P.M. EST (###)

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