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Condoleezza Rice Interview With the Jack Rice Show

Interview With Jack Rice of the Jack Rice Show

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
November 2, 2006

(1:08 p.m. EST)

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you for joining me.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you.

QUESTION: I certainly appreciate it today. We're looking at North Korea right now. They stay they're coming back to the table. The best card they have is that nuclear device that they just tested. Why would they ever, ever, under any circumstances, want to give that up?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that what we've seen is that when the international community speaks with one strong voice, perhaps countries begin to see that they don't have very good options. And the North Koreans are -- have been slapped with sanctions under Resolution 1718, Chapter 7 sanctions, China joining in those sanctions. We have been working with our partners around the world to use defensive measures to guard against some of the North Korean financial activities and other activities that are funding their illicit networks. And so perhaps they are beginning to realize that whatever value they may think the nuclear weapons program has, it's just going to deepen their isolation. But we'll have a chance to see when they come to the talks.

QUESTION: It seems to me that there is a struggle going on in the U.S., not just the Administration but I mean on all sides of this, that we should deal with confrontation and isolation on one side, or engagement on the other. And some have said you're the one who has actually been pushing the engagement side, actually more consistent with what we're seeing from the Germans, the French and the British. Can you talk to me about that?

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SECRETARY RICE: Sure. Well, first of all, I don't see the policy -- I don't see engagement as a policy. It is a method of dealing with a problem. And I don't see isolation as a policy. That's also a method of trying to get to an end. And so our view has been that you need to get an international coalition of states that are prepared to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that requires isolating a state, as North Korea is facing that isolation, as Iran will face that isolation if they continue down the path that they are going.

Sometimes it's useful to offer engagement, as we've done. The Iranians have not taken us up on it. The North Koreans recently have. And so I think we make a mistake if we look at these as sort of bipolar choices.

QUESTION: I know that Ambassador Hill has just made some pretty significant breakthroughs talking with the North Koreans, with the Chinese, and apparently they're coming to the table. Others have said, you know what, there is no chance of success, the North Koreans are great at pushing this right to the edge, stepping up to the talks, and then walking away. Are there carrots and sticks to sort of force them, to keep them at the table?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there are certainly both carrots and sticks. First of all, the major stick now is that we do have under Resolution 1718 sanctions on North Korea, including sanctions on luxury goods for their elites, who love to get luxury goods while the people try to scrounge and find food. And so we do have sticks. We have sanctions.

We also have -- the North Koreans can look at the potential of integration into the international system. They can look at the potential of economic assistance, energy assistance. But they're going to have to give up their nuclear weapons in order to gain that benefit.

QUESTION: We've been talking about North Korea and it would seem there's one country who is also looking at North Korea right now, and that is Iran. Iran is seeing how we're treating them and it would seem to me that if I were running Iran, the first thing I would do is I would do everything in my power to acquire that weapon as fast as I can because then I would get that same sort of treatment, rather than the fear of some sort of attack from either the Israelis or from us. Am I wrong?

SECRETARY RICE: The North Koreans have had this capability for a very long time. What Iran will do if it keeps -- and perhaps this should have been stopped earlier. I would be the first to say that, you know, it's been 30 years with North Korea and we haven't been able to do anything about it.

But the Iranians will only deepen their isolation if they continue down this road. And Iran is not North Korea. Iran is very integrated into the international economic system. They need the financial network of the international system. They need the trade that the international system can provide. And so the Iranians will never benefit from continuing to pursue a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: We're talking with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This just came out this morning. Russia and China indicated they would not support the draft UN resolution imposing tough sanctions on Iran. If we can't get the Russians and the Chinese to the table -- very close partners with the Iranians -- then how do we have the ability to isolate them at all?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there's some negotiating going on here. Russia and China have agreed that we will have Chapter 7, Article 41, it's called -- that's the sanctions measures inside the United Nations -- and they have agreed, agreed to this when we were recently in London. Now we are negotiating about what they will be, what those sanctions will be. And this statement relates to a particular draft that the Europeans put forward. But we'll get a sanctions resolution.

QUESTION: How confident can we be about the Iranians? We look at a key House committee report that just came out, I guess it was just a couple of months ago, talking about the CIA -- my former employer, in fact -- and other intelligence agencies, and this is a quote, "lack the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments. If we don't know what they have, aren't we potentially in the same position and making the same sorts of mistakes as we made with Iraq before we went in?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Iraq was a special circumstance in which we once had a lot of information and then it appears that information went cold over time when the inspectors were kicked out. We actually with the rest of the world have a common view of where Iran is going and a common view that if they learn to enrich and reprocess they will be further along the road to being able to create a nuclear weapon. So the key here is to stop them from getting that very key technology. This is not a question of whether or not they have stockpiles of weapons or how many weapons they may have. That's not the issue with Iran. The issue right now is to keep them from getting the essential technology that could allow them to build a nuclear weapon, and on that the world has agreement.

QUESTION: Well, I sure appreciate you jumping around the world with me. Just one last question for you, and that's about Iraq right now. We're trying to deal with Prime Minister Maliki and he seems to be asserting some more independence here. We've been looking in Sadr City and elsewhere. How is it that we continue to develop that relationship? And it appears that there is some conflict between he and Ambassador Khalilzad.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, in fact they have a very good relationship -- Prime Minister Maliki and Ambassador Khalilzad. But he is the Prime Minister of Iraq. We've looked to the day when you would have a prime minister who wants to take things into his own hands, who wants to lead Iraq. There's no doubt that we will sometimes have different ideas and we will work them out because we're good friends. But I can assure you, their relationship is excellent. I've been with them. Their relationship could not be better. But it's a good thing that the Iraqis are trying to take more responsibility for their own security.

QUESTION: Are you still enjoying yourself as Secretary of State?

SECRETARY RICE: I am. I'm having a great time. It's a great job and I enjoy it every day.

QUESTION: One last question if I can. Do you ever sit back in the middle of the night when no one is watching and think to yourself, "How the heck did I get this job?" And I'm not talking about qualifications. I'm just talking about just a normal person.

SECRETARY RICE: All the time. All the time. I wonder quite how did this come about. Yeah, it's a long, long chain of good luck and blessing, I think, but I'm very fortunate to be doing it at this point in time.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you for joining me.


Released on November 2, 2006


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