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Remarks at Stakeout at the United Nations

Secretary Colin L. Powell
New York City
February 14, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm ready for a few questions, whatever you may have.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: How did the tone of today's meeting come across to yourself? And given the tone of the meeting, which many people thought was against proceeding with a second resolution right now, giving the inspectors more time, how does that come to you in terms of your work on a second resolution? Are you planning to ahead with one?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think it was a very good, spirited debate which continued in our private session, and I found it very useful and helpful. We all, of course, congratulated Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei and their teams for the work that they are doing under very challenging conditions.

What it came down to is the following proposition that we discussed this morning, and more in the private session, and that is that robust inspections have to be matched by cooperation and compliance. And no matter how robust you make the inspections, no matter how many inspectors you put in, unless there is compliance and cooperation on the part of the Iraqi regime, they really haven't accomplished anything.

And while we noted some progress on process, frankly, I was not satisfied that we have seen anything with respect to real progress on substance. A few more people have been interviewed. We still have them coming with tape recorders -- and guess who gets a copy of the tape when they leave. We heard this morning about a decree from Saddam Hussein that says everybody is supposed to cooperate. Isn't that very convenient the morning of our meeting?

So it's more of the same game-playing, in my judgment, that's going on. Two commissions that have been formed that are going to go look for things that they should have been producing for the inspectors all along. More of the games being played.

And so I think we have to take that all into account as we make a judgment as to whether or not they are complying, are they cooperating, and in my judgment, they still are not complying or cooperating. And I think both inspectors, at the end of their statements, indicated clearly that they have not yet seen the kind of level of cooperation that would bring this matter to a conclusion.

And so we will continue to debate this issue within the Council, among Council members. And with respect to action on another resolution, will go back to Washington, consult with my colleagues, consult with the President, and talk to other members of the Council and make a judgment in the not too distant future.

But I have not yet seen what we all hoped to see when Resolution 1441 was passed, and that is Iraq coming forward, cooperating and complying with the demands of the Council that it disarm itself of its weapons of mass destruction and allow the inspectors to do their work in verifying and monitoring that disarmament.

I'll give you a perfect example. I talked about the declaration, which was a failed declaration, in December. Nobody defended that declaration. And when it was the Iraqi Perm Rep's opportunity to respond, his answer to all of the gaps, all the things that were missing: Read it again. That's what he said. This is not what we were looking for.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Dr. Blix challenged quite a bit of the American intelligence information, including information about the overhead satellite images, said that this shell game of components moving around the base, see no evidence that this is happening.

Is this sort of -- I mean, one gets the sense that this presentation tend to make it much more difficult for you to make a case that there is a need to move towards a military response.

SECRETARY POWELL: No. I don't think Dr. Blix challenged a great deal. What he said was on the satellite photo that I used last week that highlighted four spots in that large complex that we believed chemical weapons were stored in, he said, based on his analysis, there could be an alternative explanation to the activity that I highlighted, and that is certainly his judgment to make.

I have quite a bit of information in addition to the one satellite photo that I showed which at least convinces us that there were prohibited munitions at that site and the place was sanitized.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you going to agree to a March 14th meeting and have you shared with Mr. Blix the information that convinces you that that photograph is indeed as you interpreted it.

SECRETARY POWELL: We will provide as much information as we can to Dr. Blix since it seems to be a matter in contention, although it's historic now because they have been there and they have not seen anything and see no evidence of the presence of those weapons. And so I could certainly share more information with him, but it would be of a historic nature.

With respect to another meeting on the 14th, as proposed by my colleague Dominique deVillepin, the Council decided to not make a decision on that at this point and let us all go back to capitals, reflect on it.

As you know, the inspectors will be reporting again to the Council, probably in permanent representative session, not minister session, on the 1st of March. So we did not make a conclusion or reach a conclusion with respect to another foreign ministers meeting.


QUESTION: The applause at the end of the Villepin spot, speech were interpreted by some as anti-American applause. How did you feel when everybody started applauding at the end of his speech?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, everybody, you know, people are free to express their emotion, and they did. And I listened carefully to what Dominique said and I'm quite sure that he listened carefully to what I said. We are friends, we agree on many, many things and we often have strong disagreements. And as you can only do with a friend of 225 years, you do it with respect and you do it with the understanding that sooner or later we'll find a way forward and the friendship will continue as it has for the last 225 years.

None of this is personal. We're trying to get to the right answer. Both of us are trying to get to the right answer, and often this produces fireworks and disagreements which have to be argued out and debated. And that's what the United Nations was created for and what alliances are created for.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Did the events of the day make you more willing to negotiate a compromise or more determined to go it alone, and is there any truth to the possibility of accepting to buy consensus, if you will, through a two-week wait with an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein?

SECRETARY POWELL: We didn't talk about a compromise. We listened to the inspectors, which was the purpose of the meeting, and people commented on what they heard and the current state of play with respect to this matter and how 1441 is being implemented. And now we will retire back to our capitals, talk to our heads of state and government, and we'll be in touch with each other in the days ahead and decide what next steps are appropriate.


QUESTION: When you said that you have more evidence regarding the links between Iraq and terrorist organizations, were you referring to new evidence and evidence that you may yet present in a new format, or is this something that's already been presented?

And one other thing. Could you comment on the --

SECRETARY POWELL: No, one. We have a lot of information. We are not trying to overstate the case, but we think that we have sufficient information, intelligence information, that suggests that there are linkages. But I don't want to overstate the case. I think I gave an accurate presentation of the material that we have, that which we could make available, last Wednesday when I spoke before the Council.

I now have to get to a meeting. Thank you.

Released on February 14, 2003

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