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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 > 2004 > February

Interview on USA Radio with Melanie Smith

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
February 11, 2004

(4:45 p.m. EST)

MS. SMITH: The President's plan, he wants new global measures to protect against nuclear proliferation. Can you sum it up for us? Can you give it to us in a capsule, please?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, very much so. The President took the opportunity of a speech today to talk about all we have been doing to crack down on proliferation and to make sure everybody understood the danger that existed. And he spoke a great deal about this A.Q. Khan network that was operating out of Pakistan and how we've shut that down now with the help, of course, of President Musharraf who actually did the shutting down.

But he said we've got to look at this in another way. We've got to make sure that we have control of the fuel cycle, that means the nuclear fuel cycle, that doesn't go to people who might divert that fuel cycle to weapons. We need to do a better job of supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency in doing their job. We've got to pass resolutions in the UN that bring international law to bear on these kinds of proliferating activities. We have got to expand our own programs to help countries get rid of these kinds of materials so they won't be spread around the world.

So it's a rather comprehensive approach to a problem that the President's been dealing with since the beginning of the Administration.

MS. SMITH: And one of the ways he proposed to help this spread, to stop this spread, United Nations security resolution to help control that -- that's what the President wants. Do you expect to see cooperation from the UN to see it pass and what will encourage the international community to adhere to that?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're working on it hard. The permanent members of the Security Council have some -- some of them have some concerns and I'm working with the Russians and the Chinese to deal with the questions they have raised. In principle, everybody is for it. But there are always these kinds of diplomatic problems you've got to work your way through so that everybody has a chance to express their concerns. But I think we'll be able to get it in due course. I spoke to the Russian Foreign Minister this morning and I'll be speaking to other foreign ministers of the Security Council over the next week or two.

MS. SMITH: To kind of help set things in motion, what is the U.S. going to be able to do to help other nations follow in their footsteps?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I hope that we can make a persuasive case that, one, this UN resolution is right, and secondly, I hope that with what we have done with Libya, by persuading them and also more than persuading them but kind of giving a little push in what they saw us do in Iraq, that it's time to get rid of these useless weapons that they were developing and suddenly become a respected member of the international community.

I hope this is an example to North Korea. I hope it's an example to Iran that it's time to take a hard look at what they're doing, what they're wasting money on, that they are not going to intimidate us with these weapons and these weapons are sources of instability and they ought to stop doing this and come into the international community, comply with the existing UN resolutions and rules, and hopefully with new UN resolutions that will give them more encouragement to abandon these programs.

MS. SMITH: On North Korea, the steps of course still taking, diplomacy and such. But what are the next steps with North Korea?

SECRETARY POWELL: With North Korea, we will be meeting with them as part of the six-party talks that will reconvene in Beijing on the 25th of February. North Korea knows what we need for them to do and that is to end their nuclear program permanently and in a verifiable manner, and we know that they want from us security assurances that we're not going to attack them. We're prepared to provide those assurances. And they also want economic benefits from the United States and from the other members of the six-party group.

And it's not that we're not willing to help them but we're only willing to help them once it's absolutely clear that they're giving up their program and they're not just sort of suckering us into giving them economic benefits but then later we discover they haven't gotten rid of the program.

MS. SMITH: Question, you touched on Pakistan, the President touched on Pakistan, specifically AQ. Khan, the top scientist that's now been pardoned. Does this situation in any way change Pakistan's status as a U.S. ally? Does it maybe call into question their allegiance, and any concerns that they may have in any way aided or are still aiding the enemy terrorist groups?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, well let's stick with the A.Q. Khan piece for a moment. With the action of the Pakistani Government last week, we really are now going to rip up this network by its roots and take down all of its branches.

I've talked to President Musharraf on this. I talked to him last Friday evening, and he has assured me that they're going to rip it up and all the information they find out about what A.Q. Khan has been doing, they will share with us.

He provided a conditional amnesty to Dr. Khan because Dr. Khan occupies a special place in Pakistani history and life. He's a national hero. Whether you agree that that's a good idea or not, he is. And so President Musharraf gave him a conditional pardon, assuming that he cooperates and he does everything that he committed himself to do.

I also think that it strengthens the relationship between the United States and Pakistan because we've pressed them on this issue and they have now responded to that friendly pressure. And I think we can convert this into other mutual efforts to go after terrorists, to roll up the Taliban remnants that are still hanging around the Pakistan-Afghan border. And so I think it strengthens our relationship, doesn't weaken it.

MS. SMITH: As far as who A.Q. Khan may have sold those secrets to, do you get a list of those? Does the U.S. Government get access to that?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, we will. And I have those assurances from President Musharraf. And we know quite a bit, of course, on our own without getting it from anyone else.

In other words, we know, we have a pretty good idea in our intelligence system as to who he was dealing with and we are hopeful that much more information will be forthcoming and President Musharraf says when that information is available, he will share it with us.

MS. SMITH: Can you switch hats to WMD real quick?

SECRETARY POWELL: I beg your pardon?

MS. SMITH: Can we talk about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?


MS. SMITH: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Information that you used before the United Nations and the President's references to WMD capabilities in Iraq that was prior to Saddam's ousting -- intel that's now being called into question for its accuracy because no stockpiles have been found, is there concern that the investigation that has been launched, Dr. Kay's findings, that they'll turn out to be the final conclusions, I mean, that there weren't any active WMD programs in Iraq prior to the U.S.-led action, and is the Administration going to allow the head of the CIA to kind of be the fall guy with the bad intel?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're not looking for a fall guy. We're looking for the truth, and the truth is that he -- Saddam Hussein clearly had the intent to have such weapons and never got rid of that intent. He maintained the capability to develop them at a time of his choosing. What we weren't sure about -- and not sure about now is whether they actually had stockpiles.

We thought they did. All the evidence available to us, and nobody was shaping any evidence for political purposes, all of the intelligence information available to us led us all to the conclusion that he had stockpiles of these weapons, but those stockpiles have not been found.

Dr. Kay says he doesn't think they are there, but all the other things we talked about were there: long-range missiles being developed, unmanned aerial vehicles being developed. The capability was still there, and Dr. Kay has said even though we may have been wrong -- he thinks we were wrong -- but I'll say we may have been wrong with respect to the stockpiles, Dr. Kay is confident we did the right thing and he supports the action the President took. Keep in mind that Dr. Kay thought there were stockpiles when he started on the job last summer.

MS. SMITH: And so the investigation continues to try to --

SECRETARY POWELL: The investigation will continue and we'll find out whether or not, well, one, the inquiry will continue. The Iraqi Support Group will continue their work to examine all the documents we have and the sites that remain to be looked at, and then we have a number of panels looking into how we gathered the intelligence.

Director Tenet and the CIA has a panel and now, as you know, the President has appointed a commission, and two committees of Congress are looking into this, so we'll find out whether we were right, wrong, and if we were wrong, why were we wrong?

MS. SMITH: Very good. I look forward to hearing the President talk about this even more in 2005. I plan to.

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay. Thank you very much, Melanie.

MS. SMITH: Thank you.


MS. SMITH: Yes, thank you. Good answer. Bless you.


MS. SMITH: I appreciate your time. Bye.

Released on February 11, 2004

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