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

Secretary Rice's Interview With Lars Larson of The Lars Larson Show

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
October 25, 2006

(3:40 p.m. EDT)

QUESTION: How are you doing, doctor?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm doing just fine. It's good to talk to you.

QUESTION: Well, it's good to talk to you as well. Listen, things have been busy around the world and you've been hop-scotching around the world, taking care of all kinds of fires that need to be put out. Why don't we start with North Korea? And congratulations, by the way, on getting China to take some actions against that guy.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'll tell you, the Chinese have been really very good and they have been implementing the resolution. And they voted for a tough resolution against the state with which they've had longstanding relations. But you know, it really does speak to the wisdom of the President's policies starting three years ago of making China a real partner in dealing with North Korea, rather than doing what some have argued we should do in just dealing with this bilaterally with the North.

QUESTION: Well -- and in fact, if you dealt with it bilaterally, they probably would have said that the President wasn't including enough people in the talks.

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) I think you're right. We can't win. We're either too multilateral or too unilateral.

QUESTION: Now, Dr. Rice, the President got a lot of criticism, still does, for having described a group of countries as the "axis of evil." It seems to be coming true.

SECRETARY RICE: It seems like a pretty good analysis, doesn't it, in retrospect? Yes. You know, what the President was noting was that there were some countries that were not responsible actors in international politics, closed systems, varied non-transparent systems where they were speaking weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them and where they had links to terrorists. And in all of those cases there's a great threat to international peace and security. But we deal with each one on its own terms. Obviously, with North Korea, you have a coalition of regional states that is leading. With Iran, we have partners who I think will come to a Security Council resolution in the next few weeks. And with Iraq, where it was more than weapons of mass destruction, it was a Saddam Hussein who had caused two wars in the region, used weapons of mass destruction, we were still in a state of war with him, it was -- the decision to overthrow him was the right one.

QUESTION: So Doctor, if the Russians are doing billion dollar deals with one member of the "axis of evil," how long till we put them on the same list?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, they -- a lot -- first of all, a lot of countries have relations with Iran, have trade relations with Iran. Iran is actually pretty integrated into the international economy. Some of our best friends have relations with Iran. But I think you will start to see that as Iran is exposed for the activities that it's engaged in, as Iran is under Security Council resolutions, people are going to begin to think twice about whether economic relations with Iran make sense, whether or not the potential damage to your reputation of taking Iranian assets or investing in Iran makes any sense. And I think you will start to see people reconsider.

QUESTION: But at this point, if the Russians are doing business and that kind of business, not just -- you know, they're not just selling foodstuffs and things like that. As I understand it, they're giving the Iranians things that make them more dangerous.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, in fact, they have been pretty responsible in terms of the civil nuclear program. They have this reactor. The Iranians say they want a civil nuclear program. They just want to be able to get energy for their economy.

QUESTION: Should we believe that?

SECRETARY RICE: I don't believe it because the Russians have said to them, fine, we'll give you civil nuclear energy, a power plant, but you have to give the fuel back, which really does diminish the proliferation risk. If your listeners can imagine that you have a power plant but you don't have the fuel which would allow you to divert that fuel to the making of a nuclear weapon, that's the safest way for a country to have civil nuclear power and not have the technology to build a nuclear weapon.

But the Iranians won't accept that. They say they have to have the ability to make the fuel themselves. And that's what makes everybody realize that there's more going on here than just a civil nuclear program.

QUESTION: Because it doesn't make sense that they would need to make the fuel themselves if all they were looking for was electric power plants?

SECRETARY RICE: Exactly. That's precisely the point.

QUESTION: All right. So then with regard to North Korea, North Korea and Iran also do business. How do we know that North Korea hasn't already supplied Iran with a bomb and Iran is simply sitting back saying, "You test it, Mr. Kim," and when we see it working we'll know that what we have in our hands is what Ahmadi-Nejad has been saying he's wanted all along, or is not saying he wants but is not willing to admit that, but that he doesn't already have a bomb and he's just waiting for the North Koreans to show that it works?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we don't have any evidence of that kind of transfer, but we do know that the Iranians and the North Koreans have had -- have worked together in programs. There's been advice and technical assistance. But I'll tell you, now that we have this resolution that gives people the right to inspect North Korean cargoes and to monitor what is coming in and to detect for radiation, I think we're in a better situation, too, to detect whether or not anything -- or what is going on between North Korea and Iran.

In a sense, the net that we've put around North Korea is also going to help us to capture any transfer of materials or any cooperation between Iran and North Korea.

QUESTION: Even though they still have airplanes going in and out?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, they do, but there is the matter of use of air space. If there's a suspicious cargo, a country can deny air space.

QUESTION: Would we stop it?

SECRETARY RICE: It has happened. It has happened in the past with the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is an initiative, Lars, that 80 countries are signed onto, which means that if you see a suspicious cargo, one of those countries can deny overflight rights. They can stop a plane from leaving. They can hold a ship in port. A lot of that has happened.

QUESTION: Should we arm Japan?

SECRETARY RICE: I think the Japanese have made clear that they don't want to go nuclear; that they are prepared to rely on the U.S. security umbrella because they believe that the United States will defend them. And one of the things that I did when I was in the region was to say that the United States reaffirms those commitments to defend Japan. I think the Japanese realize that we would be talking about some potentially uncontrolled reactions on the Korean Peninsula and they don't really -- or in South -- in Northeast Asia and so they really don't want to go down that road. And we can provide the security umbrella that would make very clear to North Korea that it cannot take advantage of our allies.

QUESTION: We're talking to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice, let me read you a quote and tell me if the quote is accurate and what you meant by it:

"I believe that there could be no greater legacy for America than help bring into being a Palestinian state for people who have suffered too long, who have been humiliated too long, who have not reached their potential for too long and who have had so much to give to the international community and all of us."

SECRETARY RICE: I fully believe it.


SECRETARY RICE: And so does the President. That's why the President --

QUESTION: Humiliated by who, Doctor?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, I do. I think if you look at life for average Palestinians, there are daily humiliations associated here. And it's because there isn't a security environment in which Israel can feel secure. It's because terrorism has come from those regions. But there is no doubt that the long lines that people have to wait in, the inability to move around, the inability to have an economic life, these are things that shouldn't happen. But Israel ought to be able to live in security and peace, too. And that's why a two-state solution, one that would have both Israel and the -- Israelis and Palestinians having their own state, their own democratic peaceful, non-terrorists states, that's why that would be best not just for the Palestinians but also for the Israelis.

QUESTION: I guess what I wonder, Doctor, is if the Palestinian people face daily humiliations because of the very leaders that they now have the capability to choose, if you choose leaders that create a situation where you're humiliated on a daily basis because your leaders can't control the terrorism that comes from within ranks, then, you know, I guess I don't feel sorry for people who choose leaders that put their people in that position.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, one of the leaders that they choose is Abu Mazen, who is somebody who does denounce terrorism and works against it. But it is true that Hamas that won the elections, won it largely because of corruption in other parts of the leadership, has not signed on to the international principles including recognition of a right of Israel to exist and that's why Hamas is finding itself isolated and unable to govern. But every poll shows that large majorities of Palestinians just want to live in peace with Israelis and large majorities of Israelis just want to live in peace with Palestinians.

I think that we have to separate and push aside the extremists so that people who want a better life and want to live in peace can do so.

QUESTION: We're talking to Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

Dr. Rice, if the United States Congress has now passed a bill and the President is about to sign it to build a border fence between the United States and Mexico, shouldn't we also demand that the Mexican Government do more than they have done, stop aiding and abetting illegal entry into our country and start helping us with our border security?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, in fact, we do make the point all the time to the Mexican Government that it's a shared responsibility for that border, that it is extremely important that Mexico take a position that the United States has the right to enforce its laws and that Mexico do nothing to aid and abet people who break those laws. And --

QUESTION: But when you make that point, Doctor, it doesn't seem like they listen to you because the Mexican Government actively aids illegal entry.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have -- whenever we've seen any evidence that there are circulars or pamphlets that are telling people how to evade the law, the Mexican Government has tried to act against those. They know that they can't flaunt American law.

I will say we've had better cooperation with the Mexican Government under the Fox administration than we'd ever had in the past on all these issues, including border security related to terrorism.

But the President believes in a comprehensive approach to immigration. We have to defend our borders. We're putting enormous amounts of resources into border security and into enhancing the capacity of the border guards to deal with the situation, new technology on the border, and also to be able to have a humane policy for people who are already here and are doing work that Americans won't do. But it has to be a comprehensive policy and you should have no doubt we do very much impress upon Mexico its responsibilities to help us defend our laws and defend our borders.

QUESTION: So, Doctor, the most serious question though is if a coalition of broadcasters could get together and demand that the NFL agree to reward you in retirement with the NFL Commissioners spot, would that be enough to get you to run for President?

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) No, I couldn't wait that long. No, I think I know what my strengths are and I'm just delighted to be in this position at this time working with this President.

QUESTION: Oh, now that's --

SECRETARY RICE: But that's enough.

QUESTION: You are a diplomat, but, Doctor, you know that there's a coalition of people out there who would like to see you run either as Vice President in preparation for an eventual run as President or to run for the top job in '08. Why are you -- why do you have no interest in that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, you know, I'm greatly appreciative that people even think of me in those terms. But I have to tell you, I think if you have to persuade somebody to be President it's not a good thing. It's a --

QUESTION: I differ with you, Doctor. I think we should draft presidents. Instead of taking all the people who want the job, I think those people should sometimes be excluded. I think we ought to draft presidents.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there are an awful lot of good people who want the job, so let's back them.

QUESTION: All right, Doctor.


QUESTION: Thank you very much for taking the time.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you and with your listeners.

QUESTION: Nice to talk to you as well, Doctor.


Released on October 25, 2006

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