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Powell Interview on CBS's This Morning

Powell Interview on CBS's This Morning

Interview on CBS's This Morning

Secretary Colin L. Powell New York, New York September 13, 2002

MS. CLAYSON: Secretary Powell, good morning.

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, Jane.

MS. CLAYSON: After the President's speech yesterday, does it seem like the UN Security Council is ready to take action against Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the UN Security Council realizes that they have a problem they have to deal with, and in my conversations this morning with the Permanent Members, as well as the Elected Members of the Security Council, 15 in total, I will make the case once again that we have to work on resolutions that hold Iraq to account. And they can't be resolutions of the kind we've seen in the past. These have to be resolutions, or a resolution that has a deadline to it and that has firm standards to it and that would be tough, very tough.

MS. CLAYSON: Well, if the President gets his way with a Security Council resolution within a matter of weeks, how much time, Secretary Powell, would you give Saddam Hussein before taking military action in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the President's goal in New York yesterday was not to predict military action or when it might or might not occur. It was to bring the problem to the United Nations. It is the United Nations that has been offended and violated by Saddam Hussein's actions. So I think there will be a deadline in whatever resolution we come forward with -- at least I'm going to press for a deadline -- but I don't want to put a time dimension on it now because I think that's really something for me and my colleagues in the Security Council to discuss, to debate and see how it comes out.

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MS. CLAYSON: Let me ask you about international support, Secretary Powell. Britain and France are already on board with a tough resolution. China seems to be keeping quiet through all this. But how concerned are you about Russia's support, given that they have been one of the most vocal opponents of war with Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, obviously I'm very interested to see what the Russian reaction is going to be. I had some conversations with Foreign Minister Ivanov yesterday. We have to understand, the President gave the speech late yesterday morning; it takes time for that information to be sent back to capitals, for cabinets and prime ministers and presidents to reflect on it. And so today I will begin to get a reaction, I ll lay down some ideas before my Security Council colleagues today, and I'm sure they will take the weekend to reflect on what we talk about and to consult with their capitals, and then next week the strong work begins, the hard work begins, the heavy lifting begins. And I'm sure the Russians will look at this with the greatest seriousness and I hope that we'll be able to bring them along.

MS. CLAYSON: But if you don't get Russia's support, and therefore UN support, will the US go at this alone?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President has made it clear that he views Saddam Hussein and the actions of the Iraqi regime to be absolutely abhorrent and not something that can be looked away from, and so he has always preserved the option to act unilaterally to protect the United States. But he has not declared war on anybody at this point. At this point, he has brought a serious problem to the United Nations and he is asking the Security Council to take action on it and he is reserving his options and his responsibilities to act as President of the United States to protect the people of the United States.

MS. CLAYSON: Secretary Powell, you're working a lot of foreign support. What about support here at home? Are you comfortable going ahead here without full congressional support?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we have just started to make the case before Congress. I expect to be testifying before Congress within the next two weeks, as will my other colleagues in the Administration, especially Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. And I am confident after we make the case we will get the support that the President will need.

The American people want to hear from us. They will be hearing from us. They heard from the President yesterday. And I'm confident we will be able to get the congressional support required.

MS. CLAYSON: You mentioned, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Over the last few months, there have been ongoing reports of a rift in the Administration over Iraq. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has been pushing for military action; you've been more cautious. In fact, it's the cover story of Newsweek this week with the headline, "The War Over the War."

Do you think that this split has hurt the President's cause?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think "this split" is much ado about nothing that has entertained the media throughout the summer. There is no "war within the war." We have views that we present to the President, we are all united behind the President, and it is a great deal of August hype.

MS. CLAYSON: Have you come around to the view that military action is necessary in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: It was not necessary for any of us to "come around." People like to characterize what they think my views are all the time or what Don's views are, but we express our views to each other. And I think what I've just said is that I think it has been much over-hyped and much ballyhooed.

MS. CLAYSON: Secretary of State Colin Powell, I appreciate your time this morning, sir. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Jane.


Released on September 13, 2002

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