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Interview on Russia's RTR Television

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

MR. PISKOUNOV: Mr. Secretary, during the last days, Baghdad took many steps about the United Nations demand. Baghdad let U-2 aircrafts fly over the territory of Iraq. Saddam Hussein officially banned production of weapons of mass destruction.

Did it make any changes to the situation and do you think the necessity of war is postponed?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I think these changes have been minor and not that serious. I am pleased that the U-2s are now flying. But the decree he put out banning weapons of mass destruction was a decree put out to private citizens who don't have them in the first place. It didn't apply to the government. So it's this kind of game that he plays all the time.

What he needs to do is comply, to bring forward all the documents that he has, to fix all the errors in the declaration that he submitted, to bring forth all the missiles that the inspectors keep finding and tagging, to account for what happened to the nerve agents and the biological agents and all of the other terrible things that he's had for these years. He should be coming forward with that, and not just grudgingly, every few days slipping out something to see if he can keep the United Nations from acting, to see if he can just keep the inspections going on and on and on, but never really complying.

The challenge that we have before us now, and my colleague and I, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and I have spoken about this many times. The challenge we have now is not just how long the inspections should be or how many inspectors there should be assigned to the task, but is Iraq complying. And I'm sorry, the evidence before us is that Iraq still tries to deceive, to divert attention, and is not yet complying. And unless there is compliance in the near future, I think the Security Council has to meet and decide whether or not serious consequences are called for.

QUESTION: Last weekend, there were huge demonstration all over the world, including New York City and San Francisco, voices of dissent. What impact do the demonstrations have on your decision in the administration?

SECRETARY POWELL: We watch these demonstrations carefully. We know that there is great anxiety, that there are many, many people who do not want to see war. We don't want to see war. They don't think war is the right answer.

War must always be a last resort, but it must be a resort. If the international community is to have any standing, if the United Nations is to have any meaning, it must be able to impose its will when faced with a nation like Iraq that simply ignores the will of the international community.

And so I understand that people are hoping that war can be avoided. I hope it can be avoided. But the one who has the power in his hands to decide whether there will be war or peace is Saddam Hussein. If he complies, or if he leaves the country tomorrow, there will be no war. The problem is he has shown no signs of leaving the country and he still shows no signs of complying by coming forward with the documents, with people to be interviewed, with the materials that we know he has, with the mobile biological laboratories, with all these things that have been documented and are facts, not speculation. He still has not come forward and said here they are, I no longer want to have anything to do with these kinds of weapons, I'm changed. He's not changed, unfortunately, so far.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, about international terrorism. Russia values its partnership with United States. Russia respects your position, though disagree. But there is perception of double standard in American approach to the problems of terrorism. Even after mass and horrible attack in Moscow theater, Chechen terrorists organization not on the terrorist list.

How do you respond, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are very sensitive to the threat that Chechen terrorists present to Russia. I've spoken with Mr. Ivanov about it many times and with Mr. Putin many times. Recently, we added three organizations to our terrorist list, three Chechen organizations, and we are doing everything we can, working with Georgian authorities and we're working with our Russian colleagues to help them in the war against terrorism, but, at the same time, seeing whether or not a peaceful solution can be found to the situation in Chechnya. We know how deeply felt this situation is to all Russians, especially after the tragedy that occurred in the theater in Moscow. And so I stay in very close conversation and touch with Foreign Minister Ivanov on this matter.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Appreciate it.


Released on February 21, 2003

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