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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > February

Press Conference from U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

Secretary Colin L. Powell
U.S. Embassy Auditorium
Tokyo, Japan
February 23, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome. It's a great pleasure to be back in Tokyo. In the course of my brief visit, I've had excellent conversations already with Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Kawaguchi, and I look forward to my conversations later this morning with Minister Ishiba of the JDA as well as conversations I will be having with coalition party leaders in a little while.

Our relationship with Japan is among our most important and certainly one of the most robust we have in the world. The United States-Japan alliance remains fundamental to peace and prosperity, not just here in the Asia-Pacific region, but in our judgment across the globe. Our alliance has demonstrated enormous strength and flexibility since the attacks of September 11th. We greatly appreciate Japan's resolute participation in the global counter-terrorism campaign. Japan has done a great deal. For example, Japan has frozen the assets in Japan of about 350 terrorists and terrorist organizations. Japan has increased attention to border and maritime security, and it has acceded to all of the United Nations anti-terrorist conventions. This is an example of the commitment that the Japanese government, the Japanese people have made to our global war against terrorism.

I want to particularly recognize Japan's ongoing support to Operation Enduring Freedom, which is our military operation in Afghanistan. I also want to take note of the key contributions that Japan has made to humanitarian reconstruction and refugee relief efforts in Afghanistan. The Conference on Afghan Reconstruction just concluded here yesterday in Tokyo has been yet another outstanding example of Japan's contribution to the international effort in Afghanistan. For our part, as part of yesterday's conference, we reaffirmed our intention to provide $10 million for this part of the international effort. This is on top of many, many hundreds of millions of dollars that the United States has contributed to the Afghan effort over the last year and a half. Japan is working with us on other programs in Afghanistan, such as clearing up financial arrears and rebuilding the Kabul-to-Kandahar-to-Herat ring road that will bring this country together - politically and economically. This is a very important road and I once again thank the Japanese government for its contribution to the construction of this road - the rebuilding of this road.

In my conversations with the Prime Minister and with the Foreign Minister, as you might expect, we spent a considerable amount of time discussing the situation in Iraq and the challenge that will be facing the United Nations in the days ahead. I indicated to the Prime Minister that the United States, working with the United Kingdom and other nations, would be tabling a resolution sometime early next week that will ask the United Nations to take note of the fact - as the Security Council to take note of the fact - that Iraq still is not complying - that Iraq is not taking advantage of the one last chance given to it by U.N. Resolution 1441. The resolution that will be tabled will be a simple resolution, directly to the point, and once it has been tabled there will be a period of consultation among Security Council members - among international leaders around the world - before a judgment is made with respect to bringing that resolution to a vote or whatever other action the Security Council might consider.

The bottom line, however, is that time is running out for Iraq. We cannot sit by and idly let Iraq continue to thwart the will of the international community. The issue is not more inspectors. The issue is not more time for inspections. The issue is disarmament. The issue is Iraq complying with the will of the international community and participating in its disarmament and allowing the inspectors, or those who are there to monitor their activities, get on with their work - give them everything they need to do their work. Iraq still has not identified the errors in their declarations and how to fix those errors in their declaration. They keep saying: "Just read the declaration again." We've read it again; it still fails. It is an inaccurate declaration that does not comply with the requirements of 1441.

Iraq's still not accounted for the terrible materials that we know they have: anthrax, boutulinum toxin, the missiles that they have, the other weapons that we know they have, the programs that they have had underway over the years. It is these programs that Iraq must come forward and let the monitors and the inspectors know the disposition of or what happened to them. It's not a matter of the inspectors wandering all over Iraq looking for these materials, looking for these programs. So we face the same problem that we faced at the beginning when we first put 1441 forward, and that is Iraq is still not complying and time is drawing to a close when the international community - the Security Council - must show its relevance by insisting that Iraq disarm or that Iraq be disarmed by a coalition of forces that will go in and do it.

We also spent time last night with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister talking about North Korea. In the spirit of our strong alliance and close coordination efforts, we discussed the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. North Korea's lifting of the freeze on its plutonium production facilities at Yongbyon and its pursuit of the uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons violate its promises to the countries of the region - its promises to the world that we would have a nuclear weapons free Korean Peninsula. We agreed that the North must verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Unless North Korea ends its program, it cannot expect the benefits of relationships with the outside world. The outside world stands ready, willing and able to assist North Korea with the problems that it faces internally - economic problems and simple problems of not having the ability to feed its people. We stand ready to help, but that help can only come when North Korea has abandoned its programs to achieve a nuclear weapons capability - something that the international community thought it had done years ago. We had provided assurances - assurances from the United States, assurances from others in the region and in the international community - that no one was thinking of invading or attacking North Korea. But nonetheless, North Korea continued to pursue nuclear weapons programs and that is a concern to all of us. Japan has underscored this message in its contacts with North Korea, and we appreciate the leadership role that Japan is playing.

I reaffirmed to the Prime Minister and to the Foreign Minister my government's willingness to engage in discussions with North Korea over how it can address the international community's concerns about its nuclear weapons program. The United States and Japan agreed that these concerns and these conversations and discussions must be addressed in a multilateral context for the simple reason it is not just a U.S.-North Korean problem, it's a problem that affects the entire reason. It's a problem that effects the entire world, as evidenced by the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency referred the matter by a vote of 33-0-2: thirty-three for, nobody against, and two abstentions. And their board of governors referred the matter to the United Nations Security Council a few days ago.

We also discussed our shared concerns about North Korea's missile programs - missile programs which would give North Korea the means to deliver weapons, both conventional and other weapons, beyond its borders, which of course is a matter of particular concern to our Japanese friends.

In my conversations with the Prime Minister and with Minister Kawaguchi, we also touched on the serious problem of abductions. The abduction issue in Japan is a very, very sensitive one and a serious one; and I conveyed to the Foreign Minister, particularly, my concern over this issue - my sympathy - for the families of those who have not returned and my concern over the families that remain separated as a result of this issue these so many, many years. We support Japanese government efforts to find answers to the outstanding abduction questions that remain.

The United States and Japan are working together on a host of other issues of importance to the world community. The United States and Japan stand side-by-side in the fight against infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and, of course, HIV/AIDS and malaria and similar diseases. We are partners in an important and ambitious water initiative in Africa to bring clean water to the people in Africa, something that so many of us take for granted.

So that Japan can continue to fulfill its potential as a key alliance and global partner, I expressed my strong support for Prime Minister Koizumi's economic reform agenda. We want Japan to succeed in returning its economy to a strong and sustainable growth path. Reform is the only way to realize long-term economic recovery in Japan. Indeed, a vibrant Japan and a strong partnership between Japan and the United States will, in my judgment, remain crucial to stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe.

I'd like to thank my Japanese hosts for visiting with me on this weekend and I look forward now to your questions. And let me begin with George Gedda.

QUESTION: George Gedda of AP. In light of the U.S.-Japan defense treaty, is the United States contemplating doing anything additional to help Japan defend itself in light of the new security situation involving North Korea?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, as you know, we have a series of dialogues that take place on a regular basis with Japan. 2+2, the two defense ministers and two foreign ministers, met not too long ago, and later this morning, I'll be meeting with the director of the Japanese Defense Agency to see if there is anything else that needs to be done. At the moment, I don't view the threat situation as having changed greatly, and I don't know that there are any new elements to our security relationship that should be put in place in right now. But I would look forward to the discussion I'm having with the JDA a little bit later on this morning. In the back, Sir, yes Sir.

QUESTION: I'm Sato Suzuki with TV Asahi of Japan. Mr. Secretary, the people in Japan have been watching the Iraqi situation with great seriousness. Despite our government's basic support for the U.S. position on Iraq, the evidence that you presented to the Security Council has failed to convince the majority of the Japanese people that you need to go to war now. So do you have anything new, anything different, that you can present to the Japanese people, and could you please try again here today and explain to us why a war is necessary right now?

SECRETARY POWELL: To go to the last part of the question: A war is not necessary. It is Saddam Hussein who is putting in place conditions that will perhaps result in war. It is Saddam Hussein who has accumulated these horrible weapons. The presentation that I gave to the Security Council on the 5th of February was a summary of evidence that we have and it was a summary, really, of evidence that has been known for a long period of time. I tried to put it all together in a way that people could see it. But it is not just an idle accusation or a lack of evidence; the evidence is there. If the evidence was not there in the beginning, Resolution 1441 wouldn't have passed in the first place. If you read the resolution, the resolution begins saying that Iraq is in material breach of its obligations - remains in material breach - and for years it has been denying the truth. We know that they have been experimenting with weapons of mass destruction of a nuclear kind. We had to catch them in lies to prove that they had certain chemical facilities and chemical materials available. We had to catch them in a lie to show back in the mid-nineties that they had biological materials - they were working with anthrax and boutulinum toxin. All of these have a singular purpose, and that is to destroy large numbers of human beings. So this evidence is not new evidence. What more evidence does one need? We know they have this material. This issue before us is they have not accounted for the material - they won't tell us what has happened to it. We have evidence that, and I tried to put forward some of that evidence on the 5th of February, that this material remains within Iraq - and we must assume it is there until they can demonstrate to us that it's not there.

If they were serious about disarmament - and this is right to the Japanese people - if Iraq was serious about disarmament, if they were not trying to deceive us as they have for the past twelve years, they would be doing everything in their power to bring forth all the documentation, all the information, let us interview anybody that we wanted to interview, and interview them anywhere that we wanted to interview them to make sure they were not being intimated. If Iraq was serious, they would be showing us where all the missiles are and not wondering whether the inspectors would find something or not find something. If Iraq was serious, this matter could be over in a short period of time. We would see full cooperation. If I was in the position of Saddam Hussein and I was trying to persuade the United Nations that I had no weapons of mass destruction, you would not have to ask me to bring forward scientists and engineers. I would bring them all forward; I'd line them all up in front of UNMOVIC headquarters and say: "Here they are. Take them anywhere you want. Ask them any questions you want. We will have nobody minding them. We will have no tape recorders so that we could get retribution later. Go take them and find out all you want. What documents do you need? We will bring back documents from all the places we've sent them in the homes of scientists."

We would not see this continued pattern of deception, which has not changed in twelve years. And it's time for us to stop saying, "Well, gosh, give us new evidence." The evidence is there. The evidence is clear. The evidence has been there for these past dozen years, and especially we have evidence up to 1998 when they threw out the inspectors. And so, it is not enough any longer to say, "We don't want to take action because we don't see enough evidence or more evidence." It is time to take action. The evidence has been clear. They are guilty; 1441 says they are guilty, and 1441 said if they don't fix this, if they don't comply now, if they don't cooperate now, then serious consequences must flow. We are reaching that point, where serious consequences must flow.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, from CBS News. You know, just following up that question for a moment, after 9/11, the whole world turned to us and said, "We're Americans like you," including the French. Last weekend we saw the largest series of antiwar, anti-American protests - in London certainly in its entire history. This follows what you have talked about at the Security Council; it follows what's happened with the inspectors; it follows what's happening in Iraq. There seems to be a disconnect, I guess, between what America believes it should do, and what the rest of the world is perceiving. And I wonder why that is and if it isn't just a touch frustrating for you, since you're the man who is presenting and preparing this policy, and you've stood in front of the Security Council and tried to convince the world.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, I would prefer it if there were rallies saying that Iraq must disarm, but I have also seen previous situations in my professional career where on the eve of potential conflict there was a strong outpouring of support against that conflict. Nobody wants to see conflict. And when conflict is potentially in the near future, there will always be an outpouring that says, "Isn't there some other way?" I wish there were some other way. I have worked hard throughout my career to find ways other than conflict to solve problems, but sometimes you can't avoid it, and you must continue to do what you believe is the correct thing to do and the correct policy, even in the presence of demonstrations. People are free to demonstrate, and they don't see the danger the way we see the danger. We've studied this information for years. We've studied the evidence for years, and we continue to see Iraqi deception, Iraqi diversion of inspectors, Iraqi efforts to hide, Iraqi efforts to confuse. And all that does is persuade us that they continue to have these weapons and they are trying to hang onto them, and they have lost none of their intention to develop these kinds of weapons. And even though it might not be in all places the most popular thing to do, there are a number of world leaders who have stood up - such as Prime Minster Blair, such as Mr. Aznar of Spain, Mr. Berlusconi of Italy - a number of leaders who have stood up in many, many nations of Europe. Yes, there is public resistance in Europe and elsewhere. It's a difficult call for many people, but these leaders are standing up because they know they don't want to wonder a couple of years from now, when Iraq suddenly pops out and demonstrates in a way that can convince everybody that they had these weapons. They don't want to be in the position, and President Bush has made this clear - he doesn't want to be in the position of saying, "Why didn't we do something about this when we had mobilized the whole world?"

I also need to point out that 15 members of the Security Council sitting in session on the 8th of November, knowing what they were doing, said that Iraq is guilty, Iraq has to come into compliance, and if it doesn't, Iraq must face serious consequences. And that was not an idle statement on their part. We debated that statement for seven weeks, in the knowledge that the day might come when we have to make a judgment that Iraq has not complied, is not cooperating, and it is time for serious consequences.

QUESTION: I'm Ogata from Kyodo News Washington. I think you'll put the resolution on the table Monday or Tuesday, but how long can you wait for the vote? Can you wait for a matter of weeks, or it's a matter of days? That's the first question. And what kind of support are you looking for from the Japanese government? Are you asking Mr. Koizumi to support or push or put pressure on the (inaudible) countries? That's the second part of the question, thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: On the second part of your question, the Prime Minister and I discussed this last night, as I did also with the Foreign Minister, and we hope that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, because they have been supporting our efforts, will continue to support those efforts. And as part of that support, in their conversations - normal diplomatic and head-of-government/state conversations - they will continue to support our efforts. And I hope that once they see the resolution, they would find it the appropriate thing to do to show support for that and to contact members who might be voting one way or another and express their support. That's part of diplomatic effort. There will be other nations, I'm sure, that will be calling around with a different message. And so, yes, we are into a period of intense diplomacy beginning after the tabling of the resolution next week, and we would hope that those who support our efforts would use their good offices to show that support. It isn't going to be a long period of time from the tabling of the resolution until a judgment is made as to whether the resolution is ready to be voted on or not. And I don't want to speculate as to how long that period of time might be, but one can see that Dr. Blix will be reporting to the Council on the 7th of March, and I would assume that once he has made that report, everybody will have one last opportunity to make a judgment. And shortly after that judgment will have to be made as to what the Security Council should do.

QUESTION: Welcome back to Japan, Mr. Secretary. My name is Takahata from Mainichi Shimbun, Japanese newspaper. My question is on another of your allies, next on the itinerary, South Korea. We are very glad that the Japan-U.S. alliance is very firm and helping each other, but recently various things are reported on South Korea, especially the younger generation tend to think that their long-term future, both in terms of history and culture, belongs to the continental Asia, centering around China, rather than the Pacific Ocean powers like the U.S. and Japan. Those are, I think, lying beneath the recent very unfortunate things, and also reported gap between the U.S. and South Korea, on how to cope with North Korea, and so on. So I would like to ask your diplomatic strategy on how to deal with South Korean allies in coping with North Korea. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: One of the reasons for my trip to Asia at this time is to be at the inauguration of the new president, President Roh, and I think my presence is an indication of the importance that we put on our relationship with South Korea. And I will convey to President Roh and to the people of South Korea during my brief stay there how committed we are to South Korea. The United States has been a strong friend and ally of South Korea for the past 50-odd years, and we will continue to be so. We believe that the United States must continue to play an important role in the Pacific region, and especially in East Asia. We will maintain our presence on the Korean Peninsula for as long as that presence serves a need, not only for our efforts on the Korean Peninsula, but for regional stability.

There is nothing inconsistent with South Korea seeing the United States and Japan as good, strong, important friends, and also reaching out and having a strong, important relationship with China. We have and important and strong relationship with China; why shouldn't South Korea? I don't find these elements inconsistent with each other.

I know that there are some South Koreans who perhaps don't remember the history of the 50-year relationship, and I think that we need to do a better job of describing to them how this 50-year alliance has so benefited South Korea. It is with this security alliance between the United States and South Korea, and the United States and Japan, and Japan and South Korea, that has created conditions for solid economic growth - has brought South Korea clearly into the camp of democracy - and so they have benefited greatly from this alliance, and they will continue to benefit greatly from it in the month ahead.

There are always stresses and challenges in a relationship, and that is certainly the case with South Korea, but I think the relationship still remains strong. We will cooperate and coordinate with our South Korean friends on all of the issues moving forward, whether those issues have to do with North Korea or taking a look at how our forces are deployed within South Korea. We will do nothing that is not in the closest coordination with our South Korean friends, and I understand there is a major rally planned in South Korea later this week, and surprisingly it's a pro-U.S. rally, not an anti-U.S. rally.

MODERATOR: We have time for one more, why don't we go down here?

QUESTION: Nicholas Kralev, Washington Times. Mr. Secretary, can you share some more details about your conversations in regards to your ideas about multilateral talks with North Korea, and especially, did you share any ideas with the Japanese government, and did they have any for you?

SECRETARY POWELL: We still believe strongly that the solution to the problem with the North Koreans or the DPRK has to be in a multilateral forum. Japan understands and shares that view. We had put down one idea of five-plus-five. Our Japanese friends have some variations on that idea, and we're in discussions with them, but we believe strongly that we have to get it started in a multilateral forum. It is not just a U.S.-DPRK problem. That's the way the DPRK, the North Koreans, would like to pose it and present it. That's what happened last time when we thought the problem was solved last time. But what we can't lose sight of is that everyone thought that between the South and North non-nuclear agreement of 1992, followed by the various agreements that North Korea entered into the United States, or statements that were made, assurances that were given - everyone had thought that put the nuclear genie back into the bottle at Yongbyon. And everybody looked at Yongbyon and said, "Great, the nuclear genie is bottled up, but not removed - still there." And then we discovered that during most of this period, since the agreed framework was signed in 1994, North Korea had been developing another technology to develop nuclear weapons. This should be of great concern to all of us as we think about entering into a discussion. As we enter into a discussion, it should be multilateral, so that we can find a way to put in place assurances for all of the parties - North Korea and all of the parties of the region, and other interested parties in the world - that as we solve the problem this time, we find a solution that will remove the nuclear potential on the peninsula and at the same time, provide assistance to the North Korean people to the real problems they are facing - problems of starvation, problems of an economy that doesn't work. You can't eat plutonium. You can't eat enriched uranium. And as long as you pursue those technologies, those who can help you grow the things that you can eat, and develop an economy that will assist your people, can't help you. And so we'll have to find a way forward, and the way forward has to include all the countries in the region and all the countries that have an interest. The United States recognizes its obligation within that context, and is prepared to discharge its obligations.

Thank you.


Released on February 23, 2003

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