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Interview With Radio France

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
February 19, 2003

QUESTION: The question is, only today President Bush made a statement about a second resolution. Why and when is he going to lay down a second resolution, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY POWELL: We haven't made a decision yet, but we are examining the possibility of a second resolution. We believe that one is certainly appropriate. Iraq, in our judgment, clearly is in material breach, and, because it is in material breach, one should consider serious consequences.

But there are other nations that disagree, to include France and Germany, and so we will discuss it with our colleagues at the Security Council and make a judgment as to when it might be appropriate to lay down a second resolution and what purpose it would serve. But we haven't made a decision yet, to answer your question specifically.

QUESTION: And what you are saying here, the second resolution will be -- what will it constitute? What will constitute it?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I can't really say yet because we are still discussing it here within our Administration and discussing it with various friends and partners on the Security Council. So it would be premature for me to say what is in it until we actually have a resolution that we are ready to put forward.

Let me just say that we are looking at the possibility of a second resolution, as the President said, but the actual content and timing for putting down a resolution is still under consideration.

QUESTION: Do you intend to lay down this resolution before or after March the 1st?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it is the same question and I have to give the same answer, and that is we haven't decided yet what the content of such a resolution should be or when we would lay it down.

QUESTION: It sounds as if the French are definitely out of the game or is there still a chance they could come aboard, or what -- what do you expect from the consultation with France?

SECRETARY POWELL: We stay in close touch with the French. We had, obviously, discussions with them last Friday in New York when we had the debate, both the open debate as well as the private debate, and then we had other opportunities to discuss the issue with the French.

I take note of the European Commission statement yesterday that once again reaffirmed that Iraq must comply with the will of the UN. Iraq must disarm. There is a question as to how much time Iraq should be given to disarm. We believe time is running out. It is not a matter of more inspectors or a longer inspection process. Our French colleagues suggest that is the issue. That is not the issue, in our judgment. The issue is: Is Iraq complying? Are they taking action on the specific issues we have brought to their attention -- the destruction of prohibited missiles, accounting for the anthrax and the VX and the botulinum toxin and all the other horrible weapons that they had in their possession?

This isn't speculation on the part of the United States. We know they had these weapons. The previous inspection regime said they had those weapons. They have acknowledged having had those weapons, but they won't tell us what has happened to all of that material.

I think we owe it to the international community, we owe it to the world, to get the right answers, to get the correct answers, and Iraq must comply. And it cannot be a satisfactory solution for inspections just to continue forever because some nations are afraid of stepping up to the responsibility of imposing the will of the international community.

I might also add that the only reason Iraq has participated in any inspection activity has been the threat of force, and it has been the United States, the United Kingdom, and very few others, who have been willing to put their soldiers on the line to convey that threat of force in order to get Iraq to do what little it has already done.

And so we are working with our friends and allies to see about the content of a second resolution and when one would table such a resolution.

I would also point out that many of us believe, the United States certainly believes, that there is probably enough authority in Resolution 1441 to take action if Iraq does not comply and does not cooperate.

QUESTION: What do you think about the date of March the 14th or the 15th, suggested by the French, in order for Hans Blix to report again before the Security Council?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we already have a date for him to report again. He will be reporting at the end of the month, and we can see where we are at that point. My colleague, Dominique de Villepin, suggested another meeting of the Foreign Ministers on the 14th of March, but I was reluctant at this point to agree to such a meeting until we had seen what progress we have made with Iraq and also heard from Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei at the end of the month.

We can't just keep meeting as foreign ministers to listen to reports about how Iraq is thinking about cooperating or is cooperating on process. It is not process that we are looking for; it is compliance. And compliance will come about when Iraq decides, when Iraq decides, that it must disarm, and we will know that very quickly. They will start to tell us where the nerve agent went. They will tell us where the missiles are. They will cooperate. They will give people to the inspectors to be interviewed freely and openly, without minders, without tape recorders taking down their words.

This is what we need, not more inspections that are an excuse for not taking action, as opposed to compliance, which will satisfy the international community that Iraq is truly disarmed. The inspectors tell us repeatedly that Iraq is not yet taking the actions that suggests it understands it must comply and disarm.

QUESTION: Right. But what is the gap, according to you, between the French and -- France and the United States? What is the gap that we need to breach and the (inaudible) understanding, and what is your feeling about the anti-Americanism and the anti-French movement these days? What is your commentary about this? It's such a pity.

SECRETARY POWELL: France believes that more time should be given to the inspectors and that there should be more robust inspections, more inspectors, more technical assistance to the inspectors. That is not objectionable, except the real issue is not more inspectors or more inspections, but compliance. And that is what we have not seen.

And last Friday, France argued strongly for more inspectors, and I argued back and others of my colleagues argued back that what we need to see is compliance, not just more inspections, and we can't use more inspections as an excuse for taking action. France says that that is not its position, but it is pressing now for more inspectors and more time for the inspectors, and we believe that time is running out. We cannot allow Iraq to continue to play a game of hide-and-seek and essentially escape the judgment of the international community while we are conducting inspections forever or trying to recruit more inspectors.

This is not a trivial matter. The materials that we believe Iraq has, and Iraq has admitted that it has, are dangerous materials, dangerous for the people of the region, dangerous for the people of the world, especially in this modern world after 9/11 where we see that these kinds of weapons in the hands of a terrorist organization are deadly and could affect any nation in the world, not just the United States, not just the region of the Middle East, but could affect France and other European nations.

There is debate now between France and the United States, but I am confident that France and the United States will remain close, will remain friends. We have been friends for 225 years, through many difficult times, and we will find a way through this difficult time.

QUESTION: Yet there have been some damages already.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, certainly there have been some problems in the relationship with rhetoric on both sides, but, you know, democracies are free to express their views, and we have always found that we are able to resolve our differences; and the alliance, the NATO alliance will continue and the transatlantic alliance, and especially the friendship and partnership that exists between France and the United States will continue, even in the midst of this disagreement and after this disagreement.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, my last question will be the following one. Do you have some more evidence that you are ready to give to the inspectors?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have given the inspectors a great deal of information and we are giving them more and always examining new information that comes in to make available to the inspectors.

I have to also point out, however, that we should not think Iraq is not guilty because people say, "Show us more evidence, give us more information." Iraq is guilty by its own admission. It has these weapons. It has acknowledged that it has these weapons. We are trying to find out what happened to them. What did they do with them? Where did the bombs go? Where did the missiles go? Where did the rockets go? Where did the nerve agents go? Where did the biological agents go?

So Iraq is already convicted. It is already guilty. The evidence is overwhelming. And all nations in the Security Council, to include France, agreed with that when we passed Resolution 1441. We all unanimously agreed that Iraq was in breach of its obligations and we were giving it one last, final chance.

Our position, the United States position, is that Iraq is not taking that one last, final chance, and we cannot just keep inspecting or adding more inspectors forever where the challenge is: Are they complying? And so far, our judgment is that they are not complying.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: You're welcome. Thank you.


Released on February 19, 2003

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