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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Washington File

13 June 2003

Powell Confident 1,300-Person Team Will Find Iraqi WMDs

(12 June Associated Press interview) (3830)
Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated the Bush administration's
view that the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons
of mass destruction, and said that after the work of a 1,300-person
"exploitation" team is completed in the country, "the world will see
what we were talking about."
Powell, speaking in a June 12 interview with the Associated Press,
said Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was
documented "over a period of many years." Intelligence agencies in the
United States and in other countries continued to maintain that Iraq
had WMDs during the Clinton administration, he said.
"This isn't something that was overblown or made up in the basement of
the CIA late one night. These were real weapons and real programs that
Saddam Hussein refused to come forward and explain to the world," said
Powell.
The secretary said the United States is sending a 1,300 person
"exploitation" team "that will lead us, not only, we believe, to
weapons that still exist, but to the programs themselves."
"I think that we will be able to demonstrate convincingly through the
mobile labs, through documentation, through interviews, through what
we find, that we knew what we were speaking about," he said.
Turning to the Middle East, Powell said that despite the surge in
violence between Israelis and Palestinians, the road map to peace is
"intact" and "remains the way forward to a peace deal."
He said that both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian
Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas remain committed to moving forward, and
that he has been speaking to leaders in the Arab world and Europe
urging them to apply pressure to terrorist organizations such as Hamas
and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Turning to North Korea, Powell said that the Pyongyang government "may
enjoy the prospect of being a nuclear holding nation but it is not
going to do them any good. We will not be frightened into taking
actions that we believe are inappropriate."
"The South Korean, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Australians, the
United States, Russia, all of us are saying the same thing. We do not
want nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea has not
found a friend or anybody willing to support its position," he said.
The secretary said the United States was also carefully watching the
conflict in Liberia, and said France had evacuated U.S. and other
citizens from Monrovia.
He said he was pleased that many African leaders had recently told him
they want to be a part of the global war against terrorism.
"They have suffered from terrorism, and they recognize that terrorism
is a crime against civilization," he said. "And if you want to have a
better relationship with the rest of the world, especially, with the
United States, this has to be part of our bilateral dialogue."
Following is a transcript of Secretary Powell's interview with the
Associated Press:
(begin transcript)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
June 13, 2003
INTERVIEW
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
By The Associated Press
June 12, 2003
Washington, D.C.
(3:00 p.m. EDT)
QUESTION: The trip to Jordan, the stop in Jordan, any chance you'll go
on to Israel and talk to the Palestinians?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have some flexibility in my schedule, Barry. But I
haven't made any decisions yet. As you know, I am leaving Monday to go
to Cambodia for the ASEAN Regional Forum, and then I will continue
around to Dhaka in Bangladesh, and then on to Jordan. But there is
some flexibility in my calendar, and I will decide what I do when we
get closer to the moment.
QUESTION: Okay, would you describe -- because people freely write
about, I did today -- the tattered road map?
I don't know why I did that, but they write about the road map being
jeopardized. Is the road map in trouble by your --
SECRETARY POWELL: The road map is intact. The road map remains the way
forward to a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis. It lays
out the steps both sides have to take. Even in the presence of the
violence that we have seen over the last couple of days, both leaders
-- Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas -- remain committed
to moving forward. I have spoken to both of them just within the last
30 minutes, and so we are continuing to drive on. We have to drive
through this surge of violence.
I have been speaking to leaders all during the course of the day,
Foreign Ministers in the Arab world, some Foreign Ministers in Europe
and elsewhere, for all of us get together and apply pressure to Hamas,
and to make sure that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the
other organizations responsible for this kind of terror realize that
they will not prevail, that we are going to keep moving toward peace,
and that it is important for every leader who is interested in peace
to convey that same message to them.
The problem right now is these terrorist organizations who are trying
to keep the Palestinian people from achieving their desire, which is a
state of their own.
QUESTION: Abbas -- I asked Richard [Boucher] today and he kept a
little distance from it -- Abbas is described as the target of these
militants. They want to make life difficult for him. At the same time,
the Israelis are asking him to do more, and polls show he doesn't have
a lot of support in the first place.
Do you think he can magically somehow take on the militants and also
have support?
SECRETARY POWELL: I believe that he can do more. He said he would do
more. He has done quite a bit already. I mean, this was the Prime
Minister of the Palestinian people who got up there and said publicly
before the world that the armed intifada must end.
QUESTION:  Right.
SECRETARY POWELL: But he has limited capability. We want him to use
that limited capability as effectively as he can. We want to build up
his capability so he can do more, but we have got to get moving. We
have got to move faster. He has to move faster, and he and I talked
about that in the course of our conversation this afternoon. I expect
him to be taking more aggressive steps in the near future to deal with
this.
But as you know, he does have political problems. One of the problems
that we believe he has is that some of the forces in the Palestinian
Authority are not under -- some of the forces are not under his
control. So we want to bring pressure to bear on President Arafat, as
well, to support Prime Minister Abbas in his efforts to build up the
capacity of the Palestinian forces to deal with terrorist activity in
Gaza, initially, and then in the occupied territories. So we want to
continue -- we are going to continue to enhance his ability to use the
capability that he does have and providing more him capability.
QUESTION: If you can go to Iraq for a minute. The case you made at the
UN centered around actual weapons, actual chemicals that Iraq was
thought to have. And now it seems in defending the military action in
Iraq, the emphasis is on a weapons programs, why that rhetorical
shift?
SECRETARY POWELL: First of all, if you go back and read my transcript
of my presentation, you will see that I spoke to all elements. I spoke
to the presence of weapons. I also spoke to gaps in knowledge, what
previous inspections said they might have and did have and what
happened to it. Where is it now? And we also talked about programs, so
we were interested in all aspects of it.
The biological weapons labs that we believe strongly are biological
weapons labs, we didn't find any biological weapons with those labs.
But should that give us any comfort? Not at all. Those were labs that
could produce biological weapons whenever Saddam Hussein might have
wanted to have a biological weapons inventory.
So I think you have to look at both, the weapons themselves and the
exploitation efforts that we have underway are going continue. And we
are going to look at every part of that country, every bunker that we
can get into, every bunker we find. And we are going to examine all of
the documents. And we are going to conduct interviews that will lead
us, not only, we believe, to weapons that still exist, but to the
programs themselves, we want to find and rip up weapons and programs,
and want to make sure we know what intelligence exists within Iraqi
society. There are nuclear scientists there.
Saddam Hussein kept them together so that if the opportunity presented
itself, he could recreate a nuclear program. We want to make sure
those scientists are no longer kept together in a cell, a cell of
scientists working together, but that they go on and find other things
to do with the information they have inside of their head and with
their intelligence.
QUESTION: But it doesn't seem that anyone wants to actually say right
now that they are confident there were actual weapons in Iraq.
SECRETARY POWELL: We believe there were weapons in Iraq. We have solid
judgment of the intelligence community behind us. And we believe in
due course, when the exploitation is completed -- by exploitation I
mean sending in the large team that is prepared to go in now, some
1,300 people -- when their work is done, the world will see what we
were talking about.
QUESTION: The credibility cliché that somehow credibility has been
damaged, U.S. credibility?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think so. I think our credibility is intact.
I think that we will be able to demonstrate convincingly through the
mobile labs, through documentation, through interviews, through what
we find, that we knew what we were speaking about.
But let's go back a little further. It is not just the United States
that made a claim on the 5th of February, when I made my presentation.
Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, used weapons of mass
destruction. It was documented over a period of many years.
At the end of the first Gulf War in '91, we found weapons of mass
destruction and destroyed those we found. As late as 1998, there was
no question in anyone's mind. President Clinton spoke out forcefully.
His intelligence leaders, his Director of Central Intelligence said
that there were weapons. Other intelligence organizations in other
countries have said so, so this isn't a figment of somebody's
imagination.
This isn't something that was overblown or made up in the basement of
the CIA late one night. These were real weapons and real programs that
Saddam Hussein refused to come forward and explain to the world. And
if he didn't have weapons of mass destruction, it would have been an
easy thing for him to make an honest declaration after 1441 resolution
was passed. And it would have been easy for him to come forward and
say, "Here, go anywhere, any time, any place, I'll provide anything
you want" as opposed to continuing these deception efforts.
If he didn't have weapons of mass destruction or the capability to
produce them, on the 6th of February, you tell me why, after watching
me make this presentation and go on at some length about this van that
we had never seen, but we believe existed, why didn't he come out the
next day, pull that thing out in front of the whole world press corps
and say, "Powell doesn't know what he is talking about. Here it is and
we use it to make hydrogen gas for birthday balloons or weather
balloons." He didn't do that. He kept it hidden. He brought back -- he
brought out all kinds of other vans to try to deceive us, but this van
was kept hidden.
Why? Do you want to give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt?
Well, we didn't, and now we don't have to worry about it anymore. We
don't have to worry about those weapons of mass destruction because
Iraq has been liberated and the Iraqi people are free.
QUESTION: Well, there was that statement from Mr. Chalabi, a day or so
ago, where he said that Saddam Hussein is actually still alive and
somewhere in Iraq. Do you believe that to be the case?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have no idea whether he is alive or dead. And if
Mr. Chalabi knows that he is alive and knows where he is, I suggest
that Mr. Chalabi tell us about it.
QUESTION: He says he has shared information along this vein with the
United States.
SECRETARY POWELL: I can't substantiate his claims. He makes new ones
every year, every day.
QUESTION: North Korea, they seem to be -- well, they are -- more open
about their intentions, and the U.S. has meetings with them. We were
told there wasn't -- there was a report of a recent meeting --
evidently, it isn't so.
But are you getting more alarmed about this? And I know what you want.
You want multilateral talks with them. But what are we doing lately to
try to stop this menacing situation?
SECRETARY POWELL: These are the same claims they have been making.
They change their claim a little bit with each passing day. Some days
they say they have reprocessed all of the rods; other days they say
they are on the way to doing it; some days they say they have nuclear
weapons; other days they say they are developing them. We accept them
at their word, as they gave that word to us, to Assistant Secretary
Kelly in Beijing not too long ago, that they have nuclear weapons.
And by so admitting it, if they do have nuclear weapons, they now
bring down the disdain of the entire international community and all
of their neighbors. And so they may enjoy the prospect of being a
nuclear holding nation but it is not going to do them any good. We
will not be frightened into taking actions that we believe are
inappropriate. And I think the North Koreans should be taking a look
around and noticing that the Japanese are stiffening their positions
with respect to North Korea.
The South Korean, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Australians, the
United States, Russia, all of us are saying the same thing. We do not
want nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea has not
found a friend or anybody willing to support its position.
And so, we will continue to communicate to the world that the United
States seeks a diplomatic solution, a political solution, and we feel
confident one can be found. But it has to be found in a multilateral
forum with the principal neighbors of North Korea and the United
States participating in that forum, not for the purpose of ganging up
on North Korea, but for the purpose of bringing everybody into the
room who has an equity in this problem.
North Korea's nukes are more of a direct threat to Japan, South Korea,
China, Russia and neighbors in the region than they are to the United
States of America, and all of us demand that this problem be solved. I
believe it can be solved in a peaceful way. They changed their
argument in recent days to say that another reason for having a
nuclear deterrent is, one, to deter us; but, two, as a way of cutting
their conventional forces and saving money. Well, that is an
interesting new argument, and I hope they do cut their forces because
that is also a very destabilizing factor.
QUESTION: It sounds a little bit like the Iranian argument. I got the
impression that they needed -- you know we had a briefing yesterday,
and we were told that -- 200 years of fuel capacity. That it's
nonsense that any nuclear -- but I also got the --
SECRETARY POWELL:  Do you mean Iran?
QUESTION: Iran. But I got the impression that maybe Russia is
beginning to come the U.S.'s way on this.
SECRETARY POWELL: We have been in discussions with the Russians about
the Iranian nuclear power programs, and we expressed our concerns to
the Russians. I have since, in my recent conversations with Russian
officials, and President Bush's conversations with President Putin,
that Russia now shares our concern. We were all waiting for the IAEA
to provide an assessment next week, and after that we will be in
contact with our friends and allies, especially, with the Russians, to
see what other steps might be appropriate.
QUESTION: But it's not going to the Security Council? Well, the
expectation is that it would.
SECRETARY POWELL: I have heard of lots of different expectations about
this. But our position right now is we are not going to prejudge what
we might or might not do. Let's wait and see what the IAEA says, and
then we will make an assessment of what they say, consult with our
friends who have an interest in this matter, and then make a judgment
of what our next step should be.
QUESTION: Secretary Rumsfeld today in Brussels said that the United
States is willing to (inaudible) the process of funding for a new NATO
Headquarters building if Belgium does not rescind its law of allowing
prosecution for war crimes, that someone is trying to pursue such a
prosecution against General Franks.
Do you think that that would be a wise move given the tensions already
that had existed in NATO over this war in Iraq, and the fact that the
whole discussion of old and new Europe seemed to have found its way
back on to the screen, as well?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, with respect to the building, I am not sure of
the funding status of the building. But let me say that what Secretary
Rumsfeld was saying is something that I have also said. And that is if
Belgium uses this law that they have in their books to put at risk
American officials, then it makes it difficult for us to travel freely
to Belgium without having some concern about being, shall we say,
detained, or, in some way, approached by Belgium authorities about the
charges leveled against us. It is not only General Franks; it is yours
truly.
QUESTION:  Yes  --
SECRETARY POWELL:  Yes, I --
QUESTION:  You took a chance.
SECRETARY POWELL:  In fact, I was before Franks.
QUESTION:  And we went there.
SECRETARY POWELL:  And we went there and took a chance.
QUESTION:  Okay.
SECRETARY POWELL: But the fact of the matter is the Belgium Government
knows that this is a problem, and we are not threatening the Belgium
Government. We are just saying to them, to our Belgian friends, that
this is the problem. And we hope you can find a solution to it because
it does it make it a little awkward for senior American officials to
travel to Brussels or other places in Belgium while there is a
potential legal risk or legal liability hanging over our head. So I
hope the Belgium Government will find a way to deal with this fact.
QUESTION: Can I have one quick one. You pretty well described what you
want from Abbas. What do you want from Sharon -- you say you talked to
him today? Did you make any reinforce or make new requests?
SECRETARY POWELL: We want everybody to fulfill the commitments they
made at the summit at Aqaba. Restraint on the part of both parties,
the steps forward with respect to security, the denouncing of
terrorism, the taking down of outposts, which Mr. Sharon started to
do.
QUESTION:  Started to do, yes.
SECRETARY POWELL: So the Israelis side has started to take some steps.
I know the Palestinian side is trying to take some steps now, and I
hope they will be able to take those steps aggressively and promptly.
But I didn't put down any new demands because everybody knows what is
expected.
QUESTION: Regarding Africa -- and you're going to see President
Museveni this afternoon. How is the anti-terror campaign going when it
comes to these African nations? I mean, theoretically, that entire
continent could become one gigantic hiding place, for lack of a better
term, for wanted terror operatives.
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't see that happening. I think most of the
nations in Africa realize that they don't want to become a safe haven
for al-Qaida or terrorists organizations. What does it do for them
except get them in trouble in the eyes of the world community?
There are some places where it is a little more difficult to monitor
what is going on, and maybe slightly more receptive to the presence of
this kind of activity. But I have been pleased that the African
leaders that I have been in touch with and speaking to in recent
months want to be part of the global war against terrorism. They have
suffered from terrorism, and they recognize that terrorism is a crime
against civilization. And if you want to have a better relationship
with the rest of the world, especially, with the United States, this
has to be part of our bilateral dialogue.
QUESTION: What about within the continent itself? I mean, is it -- if
it's possible to intervene in some place like Iraq, isn't it also
possible to intervene in a place like Liberia with what's going on
there now?
SECRETARY POWELL: We are watching carefully what is happening in
Liberia, and we also note that in a number of countries there have
been peacekeeping forces. I wouldn't quite use the word
"intervention." But in Northeast Congo, the United Nations has asked
more forces to go, and then the French have responded, the French have
responded in Cote D'Ivoire.
And we have sent a small team of experts in to help protect our
facilities in Monrovia, and the French assisted in the evacuation of
American and other European citizens from Monrovia. And so, we are
constantly reviewing potential contingencies plans for the United
States or the United States in coordination with other members of the
international community to provide forces when it is deemed by
political leaders that forces are required.
QUESTION:  Would the United States be willing to provide --
SECRETARY POWELL: I can't answer in the abstract without a particular
problem put to us. Fortunately, in number of places in Africa where
there is a need for forces, those needs are being satisfied by African
forces or by European forces. And that's good. It's a shared
responsibility.
QUESTION:  Thank you.
SECRETARY POWELL:  Thank you.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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