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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 > October

Interview on CBS's Face the Nation With Bob Schieffer

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Bangkok, Thailand
October 19, 2003


(10:30 a.m. EDT)

MR. SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, the President is in Bangkok this morning for an economic conference and several hours ago, he met with China's president to talk, among other things, about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Secretary of State Powell was with him in those talks, and we talked to the Secretary about all that earlier this morning. The Secretary believes it will be possible now to reach some sort of agreement that will satisfy North Korea's security concerns, but he says flatly there will be no formal treaty.

He also talked this morning about the increasing casualties in Iraq. Here's a portion of the interview now, beginning with the Secretary's answer to why the United States does not want a formal treaty guaranteeing that we will not invade North Korea.

SECRETARY POWELL: We believe that, it would be much better to have an agreement and not a treaty that would have to go to our Senate for consummation, or a pact. We have not done non-aggression pacts of this type. We believe that we could provide the kind of assurances that the North Koreans say they are looking for without getting it into the formal process of a treaty. And we want it to be done in a way that involves all of the other parties in the region. The North Koreans have, for a long time, tried to make it a bilateral issue between the United States and North Korea. And we have insisted that there are other nations that have an equity in this, especially North Korea's neighbors.

And so the six of us working together, North Korea and the other five, working together, should be able to come up with assurances in a form that the North Koreans can be satisfied with and in return, we would expect North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. It gains nothing from this nuclear weapons program. We will not be threatened by it or be made afraid as a result of this program, and it does nothing for them at a time when they are in such economic need and have such difficulties as feeding their own people.

So all six parties have a mutual interest in a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and the President has made it clear we have no intention of invading or attacking North Korea, so I think there is a solution to this problem that doesn't involve a treaty that will require Senate ratification, but agreements that parties can enter into that will solve this problem, if there is good will on the part of all the parties.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right, well, let's shift. Again, today, Mr. Secretary, sad news from Iraq. Two more Americans have now been killed. That brings the total, I think, since the President declared that major operations were over, more than 103 now, if memory -- if my figures are correct -- have died in combat, plus 197, I think it is, in non-combat deaths. That puts it up around 200 people now since the first of May, and I wonder, should the American people expect this casualty toll to continue at about this same rate?

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't answer that; I can't look into the future. What's clear though, is that we still have a dangerous environment in Iraq. There are still remnants of the old regime who do not want to see progress. But I am confident that our military leaders there and the wonderful young men and women who are serving their nation so proudly, will ultimately get the security situation under control, and they will be helped over time by the creation of a new Iraqi police force, a new Iraqi army that will increasingly take on these security responsibilities and relieve our troops of these responsibilities.

But meanwhile, while we regret these losses -- and I mourn for every young man and woman who is lost in combat -- we must not overlook the good things that are happening with respect to the restoration of the infrastructure, Iraqi youngsters going to school. There is now life once again in the cities of Iraq, and there is stability in a number of parts of the country, even in the presence of the instability that we see in the central part, the Sunni Triangle, and some of the difficulties we're having in parts of the Shia community.

And so, it's going to take us time, and we have to persevere, and there will be casualties and we regret each and every one of them, but not one of these casualties is a life lost in vain, or an injury sustained in vain. We are doing this for a better world, a better region, and I think history will be a good judge of our, not only our intentions, but our accomplishments.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, there are a couple of fairly disturbing reports on the front pages here today. One from The New York Times says that the State Department, your people, foresaw much of the trouble that is now plaguing Iraq, and they had a much more dire assessment of what might happen after we topple Saddam Hussein than we were told at the time that it happened. This story also says that the Pentagon disregarded most of this information.

SECRETARY POWELL: I've just seen the headline -- I've had a chance to glance at the story, but the story's referring to a year-long study that was done under State Department auspices called the Future of Iraq and all of that material was made available to the Pentagon, made available to General Jay Garner who was the original head of the reconstruction office. And so they had all that information available. How they used it, what parts they found useful, what parts they didn't find useful, I can't answer. And without knowing what specific recommendations were not accepted, according to the New York Times story, I won't be able to comment in any more specificity about it.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, what --

SECRETARY POWELL: But it was a good, solid piece of work that was made available to the Pentagon and I -- I'm quite sure parts of it were used. I just don't know how extensively it was used.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, it appears that the public statements that were being made by officials when the war -- when the major combat was concluded -- were not reflected by this study. But it leads me to another headline that's been in the paper over here, and that is, this week Senator Kennedy, who is obviously a critic of this war, says the American people were told lie after lie after lie in the buildup before the war and in those days after. What kind of response would you make to Senator Kennedy?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have to -- I have to disagree strongly with Senator Kennedy. The American people were not told lie after lie after lie. The American people were told that we have a dangerous situation in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was ignoring 12 years of UN resolutions, that he had and was developing weapons of mass destruction, and I think Dr. Kay's report certainly suggests that there are programs for the development of weapons of mass destruction. We're still looking to see what stocks may be there, but let there be no doubt about what Saddam Hussein's intentions always were. He had weapons of mass destruction, he has used weapons of mass destruction, and the President determined that it was not a risk the world should have to face any longer.

And now we have no longer a debate on this subject because he's gone, that regime is gone, it's not coming back. We have difficult work ahead of us, but we should also be quite proud of what we've accomplished so far. That dictatorial regime is gone. There will be no more mass graves being filled by his victims. The infrastructure is being restored. Children are going to school. Civil life and active life is returning to the streets of the cities of Iraq, and the Congress has demonstrated its commitment to this effort by the supplemental $20 billion that has been passed to assist in the reconstruction effort. We got a unanimous resolution from the UN this week which supports the approach that we are taking, and dozens of countries, some 32 countries now, or about that number, are standing alongside us in Iraq because they believe in what we are doing.

So while we will have a debate about this, as whether we should have fought the war or not -- and that debate will continue -- we did fight the war and we did prevail in that war, get rid of a terrible regime. And now let's come together and build a new Iraq, and let's stand together and finish this job now that we've begun it.


Released on October 19, 2003

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