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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2002 > May

On Camera Interview

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Gander, Newfoundland
May 13, 2002

SECRETARY POWELL: Let me begin by taking this opportunity to thank the people of Newfoundland for the great support that they have provided to us after the events of September 11 last year. The hospitality that you showed all of the passengers who were diverted here from their in-flight tracks was something that meant a lot to all of us. Itís well-known Newfoundland and Canadian hospitality. So on this occasion let me take the opportunity to thank you for the hospitality you showed all these people in distress in a time of great tension and danger. Thanks.

QUESTION: Could you give us the tick-tock again of how you learned about this, and how these talks progressed and how you feel this is going to work?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think we had a very good relationship with the Russian side as we negotiated the final elements of the new strategic treaty. A week before last on Friday, we had the Russian negotiating team in the State Department with the entire interagency US team, and we came very, very close. We had one or two outstanding elements and both sides went back to review these elements over the weekend. Then last week, through a series of discussions and phone calls we came closer and closer so that by last Friday I knew that we had an agreement and I spoke to Foreign Minister Ivanov about it.

Under Secretary John Bolton of the State Department went over to Moscow over the weekend to have discussions this morning, Monday morning, with Deputy Prime Minister Mamedov, so that both sides could take a final look at the agreement, conform the two treaties in the two different languages. This morning at 6:30, Under Secretary Bolton called me and let me know that it was an agreement, that it was a deal. Shortly thereafter, I called the President and informed him. Then we made arrangements to have the announcement made.

QUESTION: What were the things that were hardest to come to agreement on in the end? What are the things that are left out of this treaty? You said that it was very short. It doesnít talk about launchers? It doesnít mention ABM, I believe. Do you feel itís comprehensive enough?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, itís a very straightforward, rather simple treaty by arms control standards. I doubt that itís more that two or three pages long in its final, singled-spaced version.

What it does is it takes what the two presidents committed themselves to last year. President Bush at the Washington summit said that the United States was willing to go down to 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads. A month later, President Putin said that the Russian Federation would be going down to that level. He said 1,500 to 2,200, but then we settled at 1,700 to 2,200 for both sides speaking of warheads.

The treaty that has just been completed documents that and puts in it in the form of an internationally binding legal agreement that both sides will now take to their legislatures. In our case, it will go the Senate for ratification and in their case, they take it to the Duma. Thatís what it deals with. It deals with the warhead level both sides will be down to, deployed warhead level theyíll be down to, at the end of this treaty period, roughly, I would say ten years. An exact date isnít in the treaty, but it does not deal with what one does with oneís launchers or how one configures oneís force.

With respect to warheads that are no longer on launchers, as the result of this treaty, each side has the option of destroying those warheads, of putting them in storage, in one way or another dealing with those warheads, separate from the provisions of the treaty. The treaty deals with warheads and not the launchers and does not deal with where the warheads go, or how they will be disposed of, stored or kept in place if they might be needed for test purposes or for replacement purposes.

The bottom line is at the end of this treaty period, both sides will be able to verify that the other side only has between 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads on launchers. It does not talk about missile defense, it does not constrain missile defense activities in any way, although there is a reference in the perambulatory section of the treaty to offense and defense as the two presidents discussed it at the Genoa G-8 meeting last year.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on a different subject, but staying within the hemisphere, as you know, former President Carter is in Cuba today. He has said today, that although he got a briefing from State Department personnel and perhaps from other government personnel before he left, that no one had briefed him that Cuba had BW or CW capability. He said he asked specifically if Cuba had been involved in sharing information that could be used for terrorist activities. He was told no. Do you know anything about the briefings he got and why this might have been so even though others at the Department have actually said this?

SECRETARY POWELL: I donít know what briefings President Carter may have received. Iím sure we made ourselves available to him. As Under Secretary Bolton said recently, we do believe that Cuba has a biological offensive research capability. We didnít say that it actually had such weapons, but it has the capacity and the capability to conduct such research. This is not a new statement, I think that it is a statement that has been made previously. So Under Secretary Boltonís speech which got attention on this issue again wasnít breaking new ground as far as the United Statesí position on this subject goes.

QUESTION: After this very contentious Likud party meeting, do you believe that Sharon will still hold to establishing a Palestinian state eventually? And what if Netanyahu wins in the election?

SECRETARY POWELL: I will let Prime Minister Sharon speak for himself, of course, but my understanding is that he is still committed to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state that will live side by side at peace with the Jewish state, Israel. The Likud Party committee meeting was that -- a committee meeting. It was noted that before they took the vote, in a straw poll, some 80-odd percent of the members of that committee also said that ultimately they probably would have to deal with the reality of a Palestinian state. So I think we have to keep moving in that direction and make sure that remains our vision to see if we can move forward to create, through peaceful discussions and negotiations, a Palestinian state, that will live secure and in peace with the Jewish state, Israel, that also will be able to live secure and at peace with its neighbors.

Released on May 14, 2002

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