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Interview on Public Radio International's 'The World Radio Program'

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
January 7, 2003

QUESTION: What do you need to hear to satisfy you and the administration that war with Iraq is not necessary?

SECRETARY POWELL: You know, the President is anxious to find a peaceful solution to this problem. The international community is looking for a peaceful solution. That's why the President took it to the United Nations.

What we would like to hear, not just the US, but what the whole international community would like to hear, that Saddam Hussein fesses up, cooperates fully with Dr. Blix, the head of the UNMOVIC inspection group, and Dr. El Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and provides them full and complete information on all the programs that Iraq has had over the years and that Iraq continues to have. And if he would turn it all over and not try to deceive, not try to hide, then we'd be on our way to a peaceful solution.

And so we are supporting the inspectors in every way that we can, providing them information, providing them other materials that might be useful to their efforts, and hope that they continue to do the kind of job they're doing now and intensify their work.

And we will wait and see what they report first on the 9th of January later this week and then the formal report that they will provide on the 27th of January, which is not a final report but it's a formal presentation of their first two months' work.

QUESTION: So if they say they have found nothing, then does that mean there will be a peaceful solution and no war?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, it depends on what they say they have found and how much more work they have to do. They may have found nothing to that point. The question is what else are they going to have to do to ascertain whether Iraq does or does not have these weapons of mass destruction, as we believe they do.

I would be surprised if they would come up with a clean bill of health after just two months. They can certainly come up with a bad bill of health after two months if there is no cooperation or if we see the kind of action such as was evidenced when Saddam Hussein put forward that flawed declaration a few weeks that the whole world saw was flawed. That was certainly not an indication that he is cooperating fully.

QUESTION: To that end, we've been hearing a lot of hint that the United States has compelling evidence of illicit programs in Iraq. Has the US yet shared that intelligence with the inspection team?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have put out a number of papers, both classified and unclassified, to a variety of audiences, and we've put out unclassified information to the American people and the international community, and we are providing information to UNMOVIC and to IAEA that will help them do their work. So we are working closely with them and sharing with them. We want them to be able to do their work and we're trying to help them every way we can.

QUESTION: I want to talk a little bit about a post-Saddam Iraq. A lot of people -- some people say that if the rampant lawlessness and the warlordism of Afghanistan right now, at least outside of Kabul, the capital, is any indication, then a post-Saddam Iraq is not a very promising one despite US assurances right now.

Can the US ensure a different outcome for Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, first of all, let me tell you your premise. Afghanistan is not quite the way you describe it. While there is a problem out in the countryside and we haven't totally solved the problem, increasingly President Karzai is extending his control over the country. We don't have rampant warlordism. Most of the country is reasonably stable, by Afghanistan standards. We have a problem in some parts of the country. A national army is being created, a national police force is being created, the judicial system is being created. And in just about one year, we have gone from nothing back then to a government that is now starting to function.

So, the glass may not be full yet in Afghanistan, but it certainly isn't empty, and I think we should be proud of our accomplishment.

In Iraq you have a different situation where you wouldn't be working with a country that has absolutely nothing going for it at the beginning, having been run by something like the Taliban, but you have an educated population, there is a middle class in Iraq, and above all, there is a source of income for the people in the country, a source of income that comes from oil, oil money that would no longer be wasted on weapons and threatening one's neighbors, but on improving the country.

So I think the circumstances are quite different and the international community would have a different time of it, and I suspect an easier time of it, than we had in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, today gave another supportive speech about the relationship between the US and Britain. Perhaps you heard some of that.


QUESTION: But he also urged the US to adopt a broader agenda to include the Middle East peace process, poverty in the Third World, and global warming. Do you expect the United States eventually to give greater priority to these issues as a kind of payback for Europe's support for any kind of war against Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: We give greater priority, not as a payback but because it's the right thing for the United States to do. When you say we ought to do more on poverty, the United States contributes more than any other nation on the face of the earth right now with respect to aid programs assisting countries around the world.

President Bush put forward about a year ago the Millennium Challenge Account which will increase our aid funding to developing nations by some 50 percent. We are the largest provider of food to the World Food Program. We are feeding people all over the world. In fact, the need is even greater than ever and we are encouraging our European friends to give more than they're currently giving.

With respect to the Middle East peace process, we certainly are engaged and wish we could find a solution more quickly than we have been able to in the past two years and, in fact, years before that. And we are working with the British and other friends to do more.

So I don't think the Prime Minister was suggesting that we are not involved in these issues, but that we all have to do more, and I am in constant touch with the British Foreign Secretary on that.

With respect to climate, there is a different view between those who felt that the Kyoto Protocol was the way to go and the United States position and the position of a number of countries that that was not the economically viable way to go. And so those who believe in Kyoto are ratifying and bringing themselves under that protocol and we are looking for other ways to achieve this common purpose that all nations have, and that's to reduce the emissions from our industrialized and industrializing countries that create global warming.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I'm assuming that you were involved in the talks today among the US and South Korea and Japan over what's happening in North Korea. Is that the case?

SECRETARY POWELL: I've been following the talks closely. They are held at Assistant Secretary level with the South Koreans and the Japanese, but I have been intimately involved in what's been taking place.

QUESTION: Could you tell us what's transpiring there, the latest?

SECRETARY POWELL: It was a good meeting and we're about to issue a statement from the meeting. And all three delegations called upon North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons programs, to reiterate -- we reiterated our intention, our mutual intention to pursue a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the problem, and making the point to North Korea that its future relations with the whole international community hinges on its taking prompt and verifiable action to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program and to come into full compliance with its obligations.

The world is pretty united behind this. I mean, we've got the two nations that I mentioned today, Japan and South Korea, here. Yesterday, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 35 nations, to include all of the permanent members of the Security Council and nations as diverse as Cuba and Iran, all came together, calling on North Korea to meet its obligations.

A lot of people say the United States should enter into a dialogue. The President said yesterday and I've said repeatedly that we are willing to talk. We are willing to enter into a dialogue. But we can't enter into a dialogue where the North Koreans sit across the table from us in complete violation of their obligations and say to us, " P < misbehaving?? stop to us for order in give you will What>

We have to put the burden of this problem where it belongs, and that's on North Korea. North Korea has deceived the world for years now as to its nuclear intentions, and while we thought their nuclear development capability was bottled up at this place called Yongbyon, they were busy working at another place we haven't located yet to develop the capability to enrich uranium.

So they were deceiving the world. And you can't reward that kind of behavior. But at the same time, we recognize that North Korea is a country in difficult economic straits and we want to help, but in order for the international community to help, they have to foreswear their efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.

QUESTION: But, presumably, North Korea would have to, in any accord, allow inspectors back into the country. And given that Saddam Hussein and Iraq has allowed inspectors back there and the US is still threatening war, might that, do you think, be a disincentive for Kim Jong-il to allow them back into North Korea?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think so. He had inspectors there and he had the inspectors looking at one place for eight years while he was doing something somewhere else. And so inspectors have a role to play and it's not inspectors being present in Iraq that is encouraging us to go to war. We're not trying to go to war. We're trying to solve a problem.

And if the United States was bent on going to war, we would not have introduced the resolution in September at the United Nations calling for the inspectors to go back in. That's what we did. We introduced that resolution. The President made a powerful speech. We ultimately got a 15-0 vote for that end. If we were looking for a war and we didn't care what anyone else thought or what the inspectors might find, we wouldn't have gone to that trouble. But we were trying to avoid a war, find a peaceful solution, and rally the international community to this problem in Iraq. And that's the same thing we're doing with respect to North Korea.

In Iraq, the problem has been going on for 12 years with multiple violations of UN resolutions. In the case of North Korea, everybody thought that they were complying with their obligations. It's only been roughly two and a half months since we turned the tables on them and said we know what you're doing; and expecting them to deny it, we were quite taken aback when they said yes, we're doing it. And now the international community is mobilizing to let them know that that kind of behavior is unacceptable in this day and age and we cannot walk away from the obligation of the international community to prevent such behavior.

QUESTION: I just have a final question for you. You had mentioned a little bit earlier about the aid that the United States gives in terms of foreign aid. I know that we're giving food aid, in fact, to North Korea. If I'm not wrong, I believe we're the largest supplier of food aid right now for North Korea.

We still, though, get lots of signals from around the world that there is much visceral hatred of the US, and I'm sure you hear some of that in all of your travels in many parts of the world. Do you feel as though you understand where that hatred comes from, and is that a foreign policy concern of yours?

SECRETARY POWELL: It is a concern. There are people who sometimes don't understand our motives. There are people who want us to solve very difficult problems that are not that easy to solve. A lot of the invective that is directed towards us comes out of the Middle East and the fact that the conflict between Israel and Palestinians continues, Israelis and Palestinians continue, and we have not been able to find a solution to that problem.

I also find, however, that people, at the same time, admire America and respect America and know that we are a nation of great diversity. And so while I'm troubled by the phenomena that you suggest, and it is a foreign policy concern, we are working hard to improve our public diplomacy efforts. And as we solve problems, as we get on top of crises, I think we can turn that image around.

That is one of the costs of being the most powerful nation on the earth. You not only get respect, but occasionally you generate resentment because you can't solve everyone's problems all at once.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, good to speak with you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

Released on January 8, 2003

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