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Interview on Germany's ZDF

Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage
Interview by Eberhard Piltz
Washington, DC
October 20, 2003

2003/1066
(10:30 a.m. EDT)

QUESTION: Mr. Under Secretary, how important is this conference in Madrid for the American Administration?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think it's more important for the Iraqi people than it is for the American Administration. This is an opportunity to show the breadth and the length of international support for Iraqi recovery, and in that regard I hope we'll have good attendance and good support.

QUESTION: What do you make of it that especially, by example, Germany is not sending a cabinet minister but just a high bureaucrat?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, Germany will have to make their own decision how they want to move forward. I saw the comments of the Chancellor right after the UN Security Council Resolution 1511. And these are sovereign decisions which Germany makes, so we respect them.

QUESTION: So do you not expect that the negotiations will bring up more money, but Germany says we are decided we give 100 million, not more?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, my understanding was Germany was going to pay their fair share of the European Union contribution. That was what I was told by one of the officials of the Federal Republic of Germany.

This is not a matter of negotiating. We are there to show support for the Iraqi people. And if Germany wants to negotiate, that's fine. We're not negotiating. We're just going to go and try to demonstrate our own support and hope that others will make their own positive decisions.

QUESTION: In figures, what kind of money are we talking?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, in figures, I won't talk.

(Laughter.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: It would be silly for me to try to set a target. We're coming, we hope, with $20 billion plus. Both the House and the Senate in the U.S. have decided there will be a very robust contribution. We have some differences in the two houses we have to iron out, but we'll do our part.

We're thrilled that the Japanese Government has made a decision to add at least $1.5 billion in grant, and then I understand more in low-interest loans and similar grants. Spain has stepped up to 300 million. The UK has been fabulous with 900 million over several years. And we're just very hopeful that people will do the best they can to show support for Iraq.

QUESTION: From the outside, it's not very easy to understand at the moment who is in charge of the Iraq policy in Washington. We have a new memorandum giving the Security Council some sort of authority. Can you explain the situation to us?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think, clearly, the Department of Defense, because of their security responsibilities and the need to assure the success of the CPA, is in charge. But the National Security Council here and Dr. Rice have been given the job to make sure things are moving ahead and coordinating the activities among and between the various agencies of the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: Everybody is talking about the sort of disharmony between the Foreign Ministry and Defense on the other side. Would you comment on that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yes. They've been singing that song for three years. I've served in previous administrations. I remember the disharmony that was alleged during the Weinberger-Shultz era, and this is nothing new.

I think the fact that the President enjoys having people with strong views around him, presenting their views to him, allowing him to make the most competent decision possible, is sometimes mistaken as disharmony.

QUESTION: But you say the fact that it is not new doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I would use a different term. I would use a term called "creative tension." This is not a new phenomenon and it's something that I think the American public should welcome. As I say, the President likes people with strong views. He's not afraid of making a crisp decision when presented with strong views, even if they are opposing views.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, sir. I've got two more questions, which I'll ask for this other program.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sure.

QUESTION: First one is about the Niger uranium procurement, allegedly, by Iraq. Why has this appeared in the President's State of the Union Message even if the Foreign Ministry warned against the truth of that story?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I don't think it was the State Department who tried to get that removed from the State of the Union. My understanding was the intelligence communities tried to. And my understanding is it was just a dropped ball, and people have taken responsibility for that, and that's the end of the story, as far as I know it.

QUESTION: Second question. The U.S. Government presented the intercepted aluminum tubes as evidence that Iraq has a nuclear weapons program; however, State Department's intelligence service had told the Secretary that these tubes were not suitable for uranium enrichment. Why did he use it in his speech before the UN?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The State Department intelligence unit had taken a footnote in an estimate, an intelligence estimate, which noted, in their views, the evidence was not persuasive. But the Central Intelligence Agency, particularly, was very strong in their view that this material, these aluminum tubes, could be used in nuclear programs; hence, the decision was made to go with it.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, sir.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, sir.


Released on October 21, 2003

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