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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

Press Briefing on Board Plane

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

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, everybody can hear all right? Well, I've had a busy morning so far, with the agreement on the treaty that the President and President Putin will be signing in Moscow at the end of next week, I guess it is now. We got very, very close when Igor Ivanov was here Friday before last, and I think you noted from our remarks at that time we had narrowed the differences considerably.

And then last week, per phone calls and analysis and both sides examining their positions, converting the language into the other's language so that everybody had an absolutely clear understanding of what we were talking about, then Foreign Minister Ivanov and I had conversations late last week, Friday. And then Under Secretary Bolton, as you know, went to Moscow over the weekend and met this morning with Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov. But when they met, it was really just to make sure that both sides had a total and complete common understanding of what had been agreed to last week.

So there really wasn't any new negotiation this morning in Moscow. It was just the two sides looking over the text, conforming the different -- the two languages and then shaking hands. And John Bolton called me at two minutes before 7:00 -- as a matter of fact, it was 6:30 this morning -- to tell me we had the deal. And then a little after 7:00, about 7:25, I called the President and advised him that we had an agreement. And as you know, the President announced it at 8:25. And President Putin issued a statement about the same time, and I think President Putin has probably made more of an announcement since then.

I also talked to Foreign Minister Ivanov twice this morning, between 7:00 and 8:00, as we orchestrated the announcement, and obviously both sides are pleased with the agreement. It's a good agreement.

In a nutshell, what it does is that it takes the two unilateral statements that each of the presidents made last year. President Bush's was made in November at the Washington summit. He did it in his press conference, you may recall, when he said 1,700 to 2,200. And then President Putin made a similar statement the following month, in December, responding to President Bush's November statement.

We have taken those two statements, and the intent of the two presidents, and written it into a very short treaty that -- I don't know, but it's single-spaced. I doubt if it's more than three pages long. And it essentially it makes it a binding agreement between the two sides that, at the end of the treaty period, both sides will be down to between 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads.

Until that time, and until we start going down to those lower levels, START applies going down to 6,000, and launchers are involved in that. But in this new agreement, the agreement focuses on deployed warheads, not launchers. This means that both sides are free, as they go down to the 1,700 to 2,200 number, to make their own determinations as to how those numbers will be spread across their launcher fleets. Both sides are free to continue to destroy launchers or whatever they choose to do with launchers.

But launcher destruction is not an essential part of this agreement. It's not part of the binding -- this new binding agreement. Each side will make its own determination with respect to launchers. But what the Soviets will get out of this is -- I'm sorry, Russians -- when you're my age, you know, every now and then. What the Russians get out of this is predictability, something that will go beyond the tenures of the two presidents. It shows that both sides can cooperate on the strategic forces, even after we had the disagreement on the ABM Treaty withdrawal last year.

You'll find in the perambulatory section of this agreement a reference to offense and defense by referencing the two presidents' Genoa Statement of last year, as well as the Washington press conference statements, where there was a reference to offense and defense. But there is no other reference to missile defenses or defenses in any way at all in the treaty, merely a perambulatory reference to the linkage between offensive and defensive -- offense and defensive systems as contained in the Genoa Statement of last year.

I think both sides are very pleased with the agreement. I think both peoples should be pleased that we have been able to take this important new step in US-Russian relations. And I think both the Senate, and I hope the Duma, will find this to be worthy of ratification, and that is certainly my expectation. I have spoken to a number of Members of Congress this morning, and so far the reaction that I'm getting is quite positive. Of course they have not yet read the treaty, haven't thought about it, but the initial reactions are quite positive.

And it's a culmination of work on the part of a number of people in both governments, and I look forward to celebrating with Foreign Minister Ivanov tomorrow night, where we will not spend our time arguing about deployed warheads, but we might even have a drink or two. And I'll answer whatever questions you have.

On other matters, this morning I also talked to Prime Minister Sharon and to Chairman Arafat to discuss the situation, to let them know that we were pursuing our agenda with respect to improving security, with respect to economic reconstruction, humanitarian efforts, working with the Palestinians to help them rebuild and also transform the Palestinian Authority. And we were going forward with our work concerning a political dialogue as we get ready for the meeting that we will be holding in the summer.

And that was essentially the message that was given to both the Prime Minister and with Chairman Arafat. The Prime Minister and I discussed the decision made by the Knesset -- I'm sorry, by the Likud Committee yesterday -- and of course he reaffirmed to me, as he has I think already publicly, that he remains committed to moving forward to achieve that ultimate vision I think most people have of a Palestinian state.

I'll stop there and take whatever questions you have. Let me just point out that we are on our way to a NATO meeting, and I'm looking forward to putting another piece in place, and that is to conclude work on NATO-Russia, the NATO-Russia Council, as it will be called, which I think is a step forward in bringing Russia closer to the West, and the West closer to Russia. It is another agreement that serves the interests of both nations, the United States and Russia, and of course the NATO allies, and I think by extension, the entire Euro-Atlantic community.

And there were a few outstanding issues over the weekend. I think most of them have been resolved. When I land in Reykjavik, there may still be one or two little items that have to be dealt with. But for the most part, I think we're in pretty good shape for that out there, and we'll be able to conclude it tomorrow.

And I'll stop there.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, no doubt that there was a breakthrough this morning, but you still have this problem of the Russian transfer of sensitive technology to Iran. I understand there have been discussions on that as well. Could you tell us where you stand?

SECRETARY POWELL: It is an old issue. Foreign Minister Ivanov and I have talked about it extensively over the months. We continue to believe there are proliferating activities that are taking place within Russia that are unhelpful. Those of you who were watching Moscow Television yesterday, the Foreign Minister and I were on a great show, Vremya, for 40 minutes, and this came up. And we noted on that show that there continues to be a difference of opinion on this issue, and we'll pursue it. They want more facts. We think we've given them facts. We'll do as much as we can to make the case that anything which supports Iran's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction is troublesome for us, and it is something we'll have to continue to discuss with the Russians at every level.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there was an issue about storing or completely destroying warheads in the arsenal of the United States. How is that being solved in the treaty right now?

SECRETARY POWELL: The question is, what do you do with warheads that are no longer deployed? When a warhead is -- there are many, many more warheads in the inventories of both countries than we need. Removing these from the inventory through disabling, destruction, and then finally breaking it into its final components, then disposing of the components, is a time-consuming, expensive process, and you can only do so many of them a year.

Both we and the Russians are constrained by our capacity to get rid of these. As warheads come off their launchers, as we go down and there are no longer a requirement for those warheads, they will initially be sent into storage. Some will be kept as spares or for test purposes, others will be disassembled on the way to destruction, and those judgments will be made by the two sides as they go forward.

We want to help the Russians, and you know the Nunn-Lugar program and similar cooperative threat reduction programs are intended to help the Russians get rid of this kind of capability. And I think the same philosophy applies to us. Let's not hang onto anything that we no longer need. But you do have to keep some spares. You do have to protect yourself against a technical problem that might come up in your fleet of warheads. And otherwise, I will leave it up to the Pentagon to describe how they do that, and of course it's a very sensitive and highly classified matter.

But the treaty, this new treaty, does not tell either side what they have to do with those warheads, other than they will no longer be on the launch points above 2,200. And the number is not necessarily 2,200. Each side will have to make a judgment of what number they want to settle on in that range between 1,700 and 2,200. And they have ten years. The length of the treaty is ten years. They have ten years to make this judgment.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: The treaty expires at the end of ten years, subject to re-extension on the part of the parties. So we're free to extend it if that's what the two parties want to do.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there was supposed to be a second document signed at the summit regarding strategic (inaudible). Where does that stand?

SECRETARY POWELL: There is a political document that we're working on, and it's coming along pretty well. There are some outstanding issues that Foreign Minister Ivanov and I will be talking about tomorrow evening. I don't even know what they will be able work out. John Bolton is spending most of the day -- he had a celebratory lunch with Mamedov, and I had to kick them both back into the conference room -- "Get back to work" -- working on the political document.

So that, plus other documents that are being worked, I'll have a better idea on tomorrow night. Why don't you ask me that at the press conference tomorrow afternoon or whenever I have one?

QUESTION: Is Bolton coming to Reykjavik?

SECRETARY POWELL: Bolton is -- I don't -- you know, is John coming to Reykjavik? I don't know. I don't think so, no. I don't think I need him anymore. (Laughter.) For this. You almost had me, Todd.

No, his work is done, and he's a pretty happy camper. So he'll be going back to Washington, and Igor of course is coming to Reykjavik.

QUESTION: Former President Carter is presently in Cuba for a visit. Your opinion about this trip? Is it something which could be helpful to improve US-Cuban relations, or unhelpful, or --

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, President Carter is there on a private visit, and President Carter always presents wherever he goes a powerful message on human rights and democracy and economic freedom and taking care of people. And so I'm quite sure that's the kind of message he will present to the Cuban Government, and I'm sure they will have messages they wish to present to him.

So I have no problem with President Carter's visit. I have been privileged to accompany President Carter on a number of delegations over the years. He and I went to Haiti and talked a general out of power. We supervised elections in Jamaica. I co-chaired elections with him in Jamaica, and I also co-chaired elections in Nigeria with President Carter. And this is a new chapter in the work he's been doing in his life after the presidency.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in a briefing the other day, a senior administration official talking about this upcoming trip, talked about the kinds of things you're going to be discussing with the NATO members, what the United States wants from them in terms of greater participation, greater capability, interoperability and all that kind of stuff. What do you expect to hear from your European colleagues about the level of vapors that they're feeling now about American foreign policy, or unilateral -- the vapors, or whatever you want to call it -- vapors, you know. I mean, where does that stand in terms of their feelings about Americans?

SECRETARY POWELL: This may sound self-serving, but I think we're in pretty good shape. I mean, when you look at what I've been doing for the last two weeks on a number of issues -- the Middle East, strategic issues, solving the problem at the Church of the Nativity, solving the problem in Ramallah -- I have been in near constant contact with my European colleagues. I guess I've talked to Igor Ivanov seven times in the last week. I've talked to Javier Solana. Richard could give you the numbers. I've talked to him six times in the last week. I talked to Josep Pique at least five times last week. I've talked to Jack Straw. So I'm in constant communications with them. They know what I'm doing. I know what they're doing. We had the Madrid Quartet again in Washington week before last where we made a little news on a Thursday afternoon, you will recall. You will recall, will you not, Todd? I'm afraid you will recall. Yes, Todd. So we're working together.

Now, does that mean they don't get annoyed when we say we are going to notify the depository of the ICC, the treaty, the International Criminal Court treaty, that we're no longer going to be bound by its purpose and objectives? They would rather we not do that. We have a disagreement. Does that mean we are unilateralist, running off on our own? No, it means that we have a disagreement on a point of principle, as far as we're concerned. We're standing up for our principle. But they knew it was coming. We talked about it for years. They knew our problem. And now we're acting on our principle. So we think they understand that just because we have a disagreement and we're not going to yield on what we believe is in our interest and in the interest of the world, I don't think they see that as the United States is going off on its own.

We have worked very, very hard to try to erase this view that we are unilateralist, just doing anything we please and we don't talk to our friends about it. If you look at the President's schedule, he has had a steady stream of visitors coming into the Oval Office, going to Crawford, coming for working visits. And they are European visitors, African visitors. They are visitors from the Middle East. And I think the President has been deeply involved in consulting with our friends around the world and listening to our friends around the world. I think all the members of his national security team have been doing likewise, and I know I certainly have for the last -- well, I want to say the last 16 months, but especially the last few weeks.

I mean, when you look at how we solved the Church of the Nativity, it got hung up three times. The British helped us first, and it got hung up again. We got back in it. It got hung up again. We went to the European Union. Solana and I were on the phone half of the night with Josep Pique trying to find places to send these Palestinians. And they got Cyprus, and then they figured out how to solve it. They haven't solved it today -- it's going to take another few days -- but we got them out of the Church. But that took the United States, it took several agencies of the United States, it took me talking as action officer directly to Pique, directly to Solana. And at that level of coordination and personal contact with each other, I think that it's given us reassurance that we are in a good relationship with each other. And my meetings here this week I think will reinforce that, and I think the President's trip next week to Moscow and to the other places he's going, and especially to the NATO-Russia summit the week after, will reinforce that as well.

And I might also add the President is very much looking forward to this trip. It's not only an opportunity to build an even closer relationship with President Putin, but to see Russia himself for the first time and to be exposed to Russian culture and society -- very much looking forward to it. And now that we have some concrete things to show the world -- a treaty, a political document that I think will be rather comprehensive -- it's going to be, I think, a very successful meeting.

QUESTION: One little question. You said the conference that "we're" having. That doesn't indicate any change that the US --


QUESTION: You said conference "we're" holding.




QUESTION: Okay. "Meeting" we are holding. I'm focusing on the "we're." Nothing has changed?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I didn't mean --

QUESTION: Okay, okay. Then that's not my question. Then my question backs up to Todd. When we got briefed last week, we were told that the US is going to talk a lot about the capability gap with the allies and is going to push them to upgrade their capabilities and their spending. How is that going to happen? Is that going to be formal -- a formal framework of asking them for this, or just --

SECRETARY POWELL: It's going to be a formal agenda item. It's not just the US pushing them; it's Lord Robertson, the Secretary General of NATO, putting this on the agenda. We have to talk about this. It's a discussion we have frequently, but we believe that the NATO members have to do a better job of rationalizing their defense expenditures and of meeting the obligations that are waiting out there in the future with the right mix of capabilities. So it is not just the US lecturing; quite the contrary, it's NATO recognizing the reality that they have to do a better job of developing the capabilities needed for twenty-first century deployments.

QUESTION: Is this the first time this will be formally on the agenda?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we talk about capabilities at every (inaudible), I donít know if itís the first time, youíll have to ask Beth or somebody, I donít think so.

QUESTION: Question on the Likud vote yesterday. How much of a setback is that, how much of a problem is it as far as reinforcing the perception among the Arab world that the Israelis are not ever going to deal with the question of Palestine?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I would rather have not seen that vote because I think the correct vision moving forward is the recognition that we ultimately must have a Palestinian state. We cannot stay in this position of enmity forever, and to think that you could just go on forever with these people living in an occupied territory and having no right to a state of their own, I donít think thatís a vision that we believe in, and most of the world does not believe in that vision. Weíll see whether that reflects the views of all of the Israeli people in due course. Itís a democratic nation that will make its own judgment, and this is the view of the Likud party at this time. I donít think it changes Prime Minister Sharonís basic thinking about this subject where he was inclined to move forward to a Palestinian state at some point in the future.

QUESTION: Just a very quick, technical one. You said that the treaty itself does not contain a reference to the ABM. Is there a possibility that there will be a reference to it in the political statement? Is that part of the remaining outstanding issues that you have to deal with?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have to look at the political statement, and again, I donít remember there being a reference. Weíll let you know. Iíll let you know before you finish your story.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, I just want to clarify what you were talking about with the treaty, arms control, the numbers are 1,700 to 2,200 and the numbers which are deployed and the numbers which can be stored is negotiated some time within that ten year period?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, there is no negotiation on, and there is nothing in the treaty, on how many are stored. The treaty exclusively talks about 1,700 to 2,200 and the simplest terms, what it says, is that both sides, at the end of this treaty period, will only have somewhere between 1,700 to 2,200 nuclear weapons deployed on launchers. Meaning occupying a bus seat on a Triton missile or on a fixed hard point on a bomber, and thatís what it means.

Now, with respect to storage, even before this treaty came alone, there were always more warheads than anybody really needed any longer for the number of launchers you had left, because it takes a long time to dispose of the excess warheads. But the treaty does not mention destroyed warheads at all.

The guys who are working on it now, Iím not sure when weíre actually going to show it to you, but youíll see it is very simple. Article I, after perambulatory section, Article I talks about what I just described. President Bush said 1,700 to 2,200, President Putin said 1,700 to 2,200, and Article I codifies that. It says thatís it.

And then Article II makes a reference back to START and reconciles coming down from START and into this new agreement.

Article III, I think, talks about an implementation committee, so that as we go forward, it will meet twice a year to see how weíre doing and to talk about various issues having to do with transparency, predictability, what are your plans for coming down, and then any issues that might arrive in the course of the treaty period. Then all of the rest of the articles are housekeeping articles - writen abrogation under supreme national interest and the kinds of things that are standard in any agreement, and then itís all over in about 3 pages.

QUESTION: One triple last question. Chairman Arafat, you have said in the last 3 or 4 weeks, several times youíve called on him to take more steps, to be active against terrorism. You spoke to him this morning. Have you seen him do anything yet to come around to what you want him to do? Any specific steps?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think after the bombing of last week that caused us all such distress, he issued a very immediate and powerful statement, he arrested some individuals, some suspects, and he has been working with his security people. He spent today going to various places, checking the level of damage that had been inflicted upon the Palestinian Authority. I think that he has been speaking in a responsible way since he got out of the Muqatah, he had some strong words initially, but I have found him to be speaking in a more responsible way in recent days, and so weíre working with him. As weíve always said, it isnít what he says, itís what we see happening.

So the book is still out, but compared to where we were a couple of weeks ago, we have quite a few things in motion. You have the Arabs meet as foreign ministers on Thursday, and then President Bashar Assad and President Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdullah met Saturday, pretty good statements coming out of that. I have been in contact with Prince Saud, my colleague from Saudi Arabia, almost every other day for the last two weeks. I spoke to him yesterday, again.

So weíve got quite a few things going. The Madrid Group is starting to take action, with Mr. Martinos and Mr. Larsen in the region working with our guys. George Tenet is now starting to put together his plan for his trip, and so weíve got a little bit of movement here.

That terror incident last week was a great tragedy and our hearts as always go out to the families of those who were lost. But so far, we havenít seen a massive response on the part of the Israelis, and they did not go into Gaza, and so we can continue to move ahead without that kind of a disruption. So I think some things are starting to move along in a somewhat positive direction. Iíve learned to control my optimism. But weíre not going to give up, we canít give up.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Youíre welcome.

Released on May 13, 2002

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