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Remarks With Director General Dr. El Baradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
January 10, 2003

(2:40 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Dr. El Baradei just had a good conversation over a number of key issues that are before the world today. We've talked about the situation with respect to Iraq, with respect to North Korea and also some of the nuclear activities that are taking place within Iran.

With respect to Iraq, we reviewed the report that he gave to the Security Council yesterday, and he briefed me on his forthcoming trip with Dr. Blix to Iraq to present to Iraqis their need for additional cooperation, better cooperation, the kind of cooperation we've seen so far, and to fill in the gaps that have been noted in the information they have been providing. And I look forward to the Director General's presentation to the Security Council on the 27th of January. That'll be a very important presentation, the first official presentation after several months of inspection work.

On the subject of DPRK, North Korea in its announcement today that it intends to withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty, the United States condemns this action on the part of North Korea and also finds it very, very unfortunate.

This past Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors, 35 nations unanimously agreed to give North Korea a chance to come into compliance with its international obligations and North Korea has thumbed its nose at the international community. This is very regrettable. It's a sad statement on the part of the North Koreans of the respect in which they hold their own people. This makes it more difficult to find a solution.

Nevertheless, we will continue to search for a solution. We will continue to be open to the opportunity for talks, but talks that will deal with this problem -- a problem created by North Korea -- not by the international community, and not by the United States. It is their failure to comply with their obligations and their failure to do what they were supposed to do under not only international obligations, but the Agreed Framework entered into with the United States. And we hope that the North Korean leadership will realize the folly of its actions, will realize that the international community and the United States will not be intimidated and we will continue to work for a peaceful solution, not only on behalf of the American people, but on behalf of the people of the world.

The Nonproliferation Treaty is an important international agreement, and this kind of disrespect for such an agreement cannot go undealt with. And so, I look forward to continuing to work with the Director General and his colleagues as we deal with these very difficult and important issues.

Mr. Director General.

DR. EL BARADEI: Thank you very much, Secretary Powell. As the Secretary just said, we had very good and useful meeting reviewing many issues of international concern in the area of nonproliferation or proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In the case of Iraq, I've told the Secretary that we are inching forward but not as fast as we would like to be, and we still would like to see more proactive cooperation on the part of Iraq. Iraq has been cooperating well in the area of process but not as much in the area of substance. We'd like to see more evidence, more documentations, more interviewing of people, more physical evidence of destruction of item they've said they have disposed of.

We are going, Dr. Blix and I, to Iraq on the 19th and 20 of this month basically to impress on the Iraqi that we cannot continue to have open questions, that this process has to come to a closure as soon as we can, that the international community is pretty much fed up with the process of Iraq disarmament which have lasted for almost 12 years, and we will then be reporting to Security Council on the 27th of January, updating the Council on where we are at this time.

On -- with regard to North Korea, I think this -- the step by North Korea today to announce their withdraw from the NPT is, again, continuation of a policy of defiance. I think they have to understand that it is only through compliance and not through defiance that they will be able to move forward with their needs -- security and otherwise.

We are, obviously, going to give diplomacy some time to work. I understand that there's a lot of diplomatic demarches in different capitals. Ultimately, however, if it doesn't succeed, the matter will have to go to the Security Council. But I hope we will be able to defuse the situation before we have to go to the Security Council.

Withdrawal from the NPT is a very serious issue. This is a cornerstone of the whole nuclear arms control regime, and a country cannot just walk out without ramification because challenging the integrity of the nonproliferation regime is a matter that can affect international peace and security. And we are obviously going to continue to cooperate closely, Secretary Powell and the Agency to make sure that we are resolving these issues, if we can, through peaceful means and we'll do everything possible to move forward.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, have you heard anything from this Governor Richardson, anything positive you could tell us about?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I have been in touch with Governor Richardson on a regular basis. I spoke to him last night and I spoke to him twice today so far. Let me just put in perspective how this unfolded.

The North Koreans approached Governor Richardson and asked for a meeting because they had some ideas they wanted to put on the table. Governor Richardson contacted us and I returned his calls and we discussed the matter and thought that it would be useful for him to hear whatever ideas the North Koreans had.

Governor Richardson, as you all know, has a past relationship with North Korea and has done work with them and they know him and he knows them. So in order to not deprive ourselves of any useful information, we suggested to Governor Richardson it would be okay for him to go ahead, and we made it possible for the North Koreans to see him.

And he will be calling at the end of the day when these meetings are over to give me a full report, and then we will take that report into account as we move forward to see whether or not any new elements have been introduced into the equation. But this, I think, is a one-time shot for the Governor. As he has indicated, he is not an emissary or does he intend to be, nor does he intend to be an envoy in this matter. As a brand new governor, he's got a lot of work to do and so I will be in touch with him later this afternoon.


QUESTION: Secretary Powell, do you think it's time to refer this situation with North Korea to the UN Security Council and if not, what not? And for the Director General, you said you want to give diplomacy a chance. How much more time do you think is reasonable to give the North Koreans before you would want to move this to the UN?

SECRETARY POWELL: It will ultimately have to go to the Security Council. When and through what process and what one would ask the Security Council to do at that time remains to be determined.

DR. EL BARADEI: Andrea, I think what we are talking about is matter of weeks. It's not -- it's not an open-ended invitation for cooperation. If we do not see signs of cooperation on the part of DPRK quite soon, then obviously, we'll have to move to Security Council.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if the inspectors come back on January 27th with the same assessment, like the one they provided yesterday, will you still be willing to move ahead with your military plans? And to Dr. El Baradei, do you see under any circumstances Iraq being capable of producing nuclear bombs while the inspectors are doing their work there?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, since I don't know what the inspectors will say on the 27th, I think it would not be appropriate for me to make a judgment as to what we would say at that time, what actions we might take. But let there be no question in anyone's mind, I think the international community, through Resolution 1441, has spoken clearly.

Iraq must be disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction. And I think the United States Government, President Bush, both the government and President Bush and the American people, and I think the people of the world have spoken that this has to be accomplished. And if it isn't accomplished peacefully under the provisions of 1441, then I think the Security Council has to take the action that's indicated and determine whether or not force is appropriate.

And President Bush has also made it clear that we reserve the right, the United States reserves the right, in the absence of international action to disarm Iraq, to act with like-minded nations to disarm Iraq. And we are positioning ourselves for whatever eventuality might occur. And as the President has also said, he hopes for a peaceful solution, but we will be ready to act otherwise if that is what is required to make sure that Iraq is disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction.

DR. EL BARADEI: On Iraq nuclear capability, we have been out of Iraq for four years. We have just started our inspection seven weeks ago. We still have a lot of work to do. As I've just mentioned, the more Iraq cooperate actively with us, the better we will be able to provide positive assurances to the Security Council. So we still -- it's still work in progress and we are not yet able to come to a conclusion on that issue.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you concerned by reports that Russia may have provided GPS jammers to Iraq, that this is a matter that could be subject to sanctions or not, and have you contacted the Russians about these concerns?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am aware of the various reporting, but I have nothing that I want to say about it or add to the story right now. We would be -- we, of course, would be concerned.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you prepared to call the situation with North Korea a crisis at this point?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's a very serious situation. Characterize it in any way you wish. I think it's a very serious situation. The one thing I will say is that we're not going to be intimidated. We're not going to be put into a panic situation. We're going to work this deliberately. We're going to continue to consult with our friends and allies. We're going to continue to try to find a diplomatic solution, and as the President said, if there is seriousness on the side of the North Koreans to solve this problem, we are ready and willing to listen.

But we will not enter into any kind of talk or dialogue where North Korea has given any impression that they have any choice but to come into compliance with their obligations to the international community.

QUESTION: Interviewing the Iraq scientists, how can you see? Do you believe the Iraqi will accept to send them to Cyprus, the Iraqi scientists, to interview them for Dr. El Baradei.

SECRETARY POWELL: Would you like to take that one?

The UN resolution is clear that they should be made available and we are working with the inspection teams to work out modalities where people can give the information they have that might lead to the truth in a way that they can do so safely. And one way to do that safely is to remove them from the country so that they're not subject to threats and intimidation, nor are their family members. And we're working with both the Director General and with Dr. Blix to work out the modalities of how that might be possible.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have the North Koreans given --

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't tell where it's coming from.

QUESTION: Have the North Koreans actually given Mr., Governor Richardson any new ideas in the meetings so far, and if so, what are they?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't want to make any statements at this time about what they have discussed with Governor Richardson since I want to wait and get a full report from Governor Richardson at the end of the meeting and before the North Koreans return to New York to their mission at the UN.

Thank you.

Released on January 10, 2003

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