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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2006 Secretary Rice's Remarks > September 2006: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Interview By Sarah Nakasone of Belo Corporation

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
September 8, 2006

QUESTION: So, Secretary, given the sectarian violence in Iraq and the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, is there a global war on terror working and are we safer now than we were five years ago?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, we are clearly safer now than we were, but we're not yet safe. And we are in the middle still of trying to deal with the many circumstances that produced the attack on September 11th. Yes, it's very tough to help an Afghanistan to come out of years of civil war, the regime of the Taliban, the home of al-Qaida. But when you look at the videotape that al-Qaida recently produced, they don't have that ease any longer to territory in Afghanistan. We have an Afghan Government that's fighting them. We've liberated the Afghan people and they are now fierce warriors against terrorists, not a safe haven.

In Iraq, yes, it is very tough going. But an Iraq that is going to be stable and democratic will be an Iraq that is a part of a different kind of Middle East that will be an antidote to the ideologies of hatred that produced September 11th.

So yes, we are safer, but we've still got a lot of work to do.

QUESTION: You know, recently Iran has defied the United Nations. Given that Russia, China, possibly France now, may not be on board with tough economic sanctions, what's next? What's the solution to this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, I would not jump to a conclusion that our -- those -- the six parties who told the Iranians that you have to accept this package or we will go to sanctions -- that is a discussion that is underway and I think we will get a UN Security Council resolution. That's the understanding among the six parties and I think we will get it.

The Iranians had a chance. In fact, they still have a chance. All they have to do is suspend their uranium enrichment activities, and they can have negotiations and a very favorable package for the Iranian people. But what we're not going to do is to allow Iran to continue to defy the international system, and I think you will see action in the Security Council very soon.

QUESTION: What type of punishment does that mean?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, in the first analysis I think you will start to see efforts by the Security Council to cut off access to the materials that could be used in a weapons of mass destruction program. We had a very good resolution on North Korea that cut off the access to certain kinds of materials, certain kinds of financing, and there are many options like that that are available on Iran.

QUESTION: And the peace right now in the Middle East is so fragile. Given the fact that Hezbollah has said it will not be disarmed, how do we expect to move forward with that?

SECRETARY RICE: Again, these things take time. It's very tempting to take a snapshot and say, oh, here's where things are now, it must mean nothing is going to work in the future. And the one thing that I would just warn is that when you are in the midst of big historical changes it isn't a straight line.

But if you look at Lebanon today, you're talking about a Lebanon in which Hezbollah has been knocked back out of the south, in which the Lebanese army is deployed into the south of that country for the first time in decades, in which you have international forces patrolling not just the south of the country but also the sea borders, you have international assistance for the Lebanese at their airports to help enforce an embargo.

I think the notion that Hezbollah won this is really pretty far-fetched and I believe Hezbollah itself is beginning to admit that a little bit in that Nasrallah recently said, well, perhaps he wouldn't have kidnapped the Israeli soldiers if he had known what destruction it was going to bring on his country.

QUESTION: So you don't think that Iran and Syria are helping to rearm Hezbollah?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly think Iran and Syria want to rearm Hezbollah, and they have been warned by everyone in the international system that they would be breaking an international arms embargo to do so. There are measures in place to try to stop them, but I have no doubts that they will try to rearm Hezbollah. It's why it's so important that there be great vigilance against Iran and Syria and that Iran and Syria be called to account for going against the international consensus that any arms ought to go only to the Lebanon Government and its authorized security forces.

QUESTION: Do you think that Iran is trying to bully the world right now and divide the international community?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm quite certain Iran wants to divide the international community. But you know what, they've failed every time they've tried to do it. They tried to divide the international community before the International Atomic Energy Agency came out and told them they had to suspend their programs. They tried to divide the international community before the Security Council resolution back in July that told them that that suspension of their programs was mandatory.

And yes, they're going to try again, but they're not going to succeed because the international community has given Iran an opportunity to have a better path and to cooperate and negotiate. And at every turn Iran has refused, and the international community is going to respond to that.

QUESTION: Recently when you went to Iraq, you said that it's now the time for the Iraqi Government -- for the government to start governing. How well do you think the government is doing? Yesterday we had a change-over with the military.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. I think the Iraqi Government -- first of all, it's a remarkable government. It's a unity government with a Kurdish president and a Shia prime minister and a speaker of the house who's Sunni and it's a unity government. It's hard. They have determined enemies. And it can always be the case that the person who can set off a car bomb can appear to be causing chaos in the country. And it's a lot harder to see the kind of steady progress on the political front they're making in getting their laws in place, in getting their economy back on its feet, in doing the foreign policy to get support in the region.

But this is a good government and they are taking more responsibility every day. They're taking more responsibility for their own security. They have brave security forces who are fighting for security in Baghdad, alongside Americans. And so I think we need to express confidence in them and give them a chance. They've been in power a very short period of time.

QUESTION: And just a last question. What can we expect to hear in the President's prime time speech on Monday?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the President will of course want to, first of all, acknowledge the hurt that our country experienced on September 11th. I don't think any American will ever forget that pit in the center of our stomachs when we heard or saw that planes had gone into our buildings, the devastation that people felt to see the families of these victims. But also the pride in the heroism of people who went back into collapsing buildings or the passengers of the flight in Pennsylvania who wrestled, literally wrestled, the plane to the ground rather than let it attack another building.

So it is a time for remembering, remembering our pain, but also remembering the heroism, perhaps remembering how much we felt our unity as a country; but also then looking ahead, looking ahead at all that has been accomplished in that five years, the improvements we've made in homeland security, port security, airport security, the improvements we've made in intelligence sharing, the improvements we've made in being able to get information to stop attacks; and also I think the pride in having liberated 50 million people from tyranny and having created new allies in the war on terror.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.


QUESTION: I'm being told my time is up.


QUESTION: I appreciate your time. Thank you. It's an honor.


Released on September 11, 2006

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