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Interview on Germany's N24

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
February 20, 2003

MR. PRIVITERA: Mr. Secretary, you want -- the U.S. and the U.K. wants to introduce a second resolution, probably as early as next week. Can you tell us a little bit more about what's going to be in this resolution and whether there is a timeline or an ultimatum for Saddam Hussein?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're still working on the specific language of the resolution, but I think the language of the resolution will clearly point out Iraq's failure to comply with Resolution 1441 and it will point to the responsibility that the UN has to act in the face of that Iraqi lack of compliance. I wouldn't expect the resolution itself to have a timeline, but time is running out.

The issue, in our judgment, is not more inspectors or a longer period of inspection. The issue is Iraqi compliance. And even just over the past week we have seen statements made by Iraq last week at the UN saying that they were going to do certain things, but those things have not happened. It's a continued pattern of Iraqi noncompliance, non-cooperation, deceiving us, pretending they're giving us something when they're not giving us something.

And the real issue therefore has to be compliance. I think the statement that was put out by the European Commission earlier this week is a good statement. It described the problem. It says the burden is on Iraq, Iraq must disarm. And it also indicated that it may be necessary to use force, but force is a last resort. America sees that in the same way. Force should always be a last resort. But you can't take force off the table. It has to be a resort. If there is no possibility of the use of force, then Iraq will never comply. Iraq will play all the games in the world, just as it has for the last 11 years.

MR. PRIVITERA: The European Council also didn't put a timeline on this decision and many, particularly the Germans and the French, are saying let's keep inspectors in, ultimately they will be able to disarm Saddam Hussein; and if not, at least he's in a box, he's contained, he's not going to use weapons of mass destruction while inspectors are in.

What do you think about that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think that's the right approach. I mean, it says why should there be a timeline? Because we have seen 12 years go by without compliance, and 1441 was passed by the Security Council with specific standards for Iraq to meet, and they have not met those standards, and 1441 anticipated that if they didn't meet those standards, serious consequences would follow.

Now, some of the members of the Security Council take the position that, well, just let the inspectors go on forever and ever and ever. But what they're really saying is let Iraq get away with it; we will never hold them to account, we will never force them to disarm, and let the inspectors stay there forever, and doesn't that take care of the problem? In our judgment, no. Saddam Hussein has demonstrated the intent repeatedly over the years to develop these weapon and to use these weapons, and he has used these weapons against his neighbors and against his own people.

We don't want to take the chance now that those weapons could also get into the hands of the kind of terrorist organizations that we saw working around the world, especially on 9/11 but since 9/11. They are a threat to Germany, they're a threat to France, they're a threat to England, they're a threat to the United States. And we believe that now that we have got this energy behind 1441 and we have forces in place, and without those forces there would be no inspections taking place, this is the time to bring this matter to a conclusion.

Those who say, well, let's not even consider the use of force. If it hadn't been for the presence of force, then no inspections would be taking place at all. So there's some inconsistency with this abhorrence to the use of force, but at the same time saying let inspectors continue their work. In the absence of force, there would be no inspectors there in the first place.

MR. PRIVITERA: How do you want to convince a reluctant ally like Germany in the Security Council to back the U.S. position?

SECRETARY POWELL: I hope that when we put a resolution down and we discuss this resolution in the weeks ahead, and it has to be done in a fairly short period of time -- this can't go on for months and months -- we will persuade enough members of the Council to vote for the resolution.

Germany has taken a position that they see no circumstances under which the use of force is justified. I don't know whether Germany will shift that position or not, because in voting for the European Council resolution there's also a suggestion that the possibility of force is there. So Germany will have to reconcile this matter in their own way, but clearly Chancellor Schroeder has been very firm that he does not see the use of force as a way of solving this problem.

We have a different point of view, and we will see whether or not the use of force is determined to be appropriate by the Council. The United States has always said that if Iraq does not do it peacefully, we believe the Council should act, and if the Council does not act, the United States reserves the right to use force with other willing coalition partners to disarm this regime.

It is not something we desire to do. It is not something we want to do. It's not something we look forward to do. But we are convinced that the threat is real, the threat is not going away unless Iraq cooperates and complies fully, or it is disarmed through the use of force. That will deal with the threat, one of those two ways. But one way or the other, complying or through the use of force, Iraq must be disarmed.

And when it happens, one way or the other, the region will be safer, that regime will be gone, we will not have a regime in Baghdad that threatens its neighbors, we will have stability in the region, the people of Iraq will be using the treasure that it has in oil for the purpose of benefiting the population and not developing weapons of mass destruction. The consequences of such action might be good, rather than bad.

MR. PRIVITERA: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.



Released on February 20, 2003

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