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Transcript: Condoleezza Rice on Fox News Sunday

Following is a transcribed excerpt from Fox News Sunday, Nov. 10, 2002.

SNOW: So what's the problem? Bad tactics or outmoded ideas? We'll ask one of the leading Democratic moderates, Senator Evan Bayh.

And a post-election breakdown with Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

This is the November 10th edition of Fox News Sunday.

Good morning from Washington.

Syrian and Saudi Arabian officials are saying today, they believe Iraq will accept a resolution passed unanimously Friday by the U.N. Security Council. An Iraqi newspaper owned by Saddam Hussein's son Uday, says the inspectors are welcome. So far there's been no official word from the government in Baghdad.

The resolution imposes a series of deadlines on Saddam Hussein. Here are some of the key dates:

Next Friday, Iraq must agree to abide by the U.N. resolution, no if's and's or but's.

November 18th, admit an advanced U.N. weapons inspection team.

December 8th, document all programs to develop or deliver weapons of mass destruction.

December 23rd, let weapons inspectors begin their work.

And February 21st, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix must submit a report to the Security Council detailing the inspection team findings.

President Bush says the deadlines gives Saddam a final chance.

SNOW: So what happens if Saddam Hussein misses any of these deadlines? For answers, we turn to the president's national security adviser, Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

Dr. Rice, first, any word yet on whether Iraq officially has accepted the resolution?

RICE: No, we have no official word from the Iraqis. But they are not accepting the resolution, they're simply acknowledging, because they don't have a right to accept or reject. This is a Chapter-VII action by the United Nations, and so Iraq can acknowledge, and should acknowledge now, that it intends to cooperate fully.

SNOW: By Chapter VII, you're referred to the chapter of the U.N. Charter that provides for the use of force to implement resolutions adopted by the Security Council.

RICE: That's right.

SNOW: We already have 16 such resolutions on the books. Why hasn't Chapter VII kicked in on any of them?

RICE: Well, we can't account for the last 11 years. We can only account for what has happened since the president's September 12th speech, very powerful speech in which he challenged the U.N. Security Council not to behave like the League of Nations and, I think, convinced them not to behave like the League of Nations.

This president has been deadly serious about the intention and insistence that Iraq will face serious consequences should they not comply again. And I think you're seeing that the world believes it.

SNOW: The president has said no tolerance if Saddam Hussein fails to abide. So if Iraq says during the course of the week — and by Friday it still has to submit to the resolution — "Well, we submit, but we've got this concern here or there," would that trigger serious consequences?

RICE: Clearly the Iraqis should not try and get into a negotiation with anybody about this. On seven days from now, the Iraqis should acknowledge that they are going to cooperate and cooperate fully. They should do so, and that's all that needs to be done here. There doesn't need to be any further explanation. The resolution couldn't be clearer. It doesn't need further explanation.

SNOW: Well, there is some ambiguity. Our U.N. ambassador, John Negroponte, speaking the other day, assured the French and others that there are, quote, "no triggers or automaticity" — which is a hard enough word to pronounce...

(LAUGHTER)

... but what it meant was that there was nothing in that resolution that automatically would trigger the use of force. Is that correct?

RICE: What automaticity means in this case is that we have agreed to come back to the U.N. Security Council for a meeting, for a discussion of the circumstances and for a discussions that the Security Council may wish to decide what it wants to do.

But there are two very important facts. The president has made clear that he reserves the right to act on behalf of the interest and the security of the American people, and indeed world security, should there not be a decision to take force there.

And secondly, this is a discussion not about whether there has been a material breach. This is a discussion of serious consequences following a material breach, because there is a material breach the next time Saddam Hussein violates his obligations.

SNOW: Thirty days after the adoption of the resolution — this would be December 8th — Saddam has to provide a full accounting for weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. If he says, "We have none," would serious consequences automatically follow?

RICE: Well, if he says, "We have none," we're already going to know that this is not a regime that is changing its stripes, because everybody knows that there is much that is unaccounted for from the old inspections regime. We have, of course, a lot of information about what has been going on in Iraq.

So, the best thing that Saddam Hussein can do is to issue a declaration that is full and fair and complete. We will see whether, in that early test of his willingness to cooperate, he passes the test.

SNOW: And if he doesn't?

RICE: Well, I think we won't get into hypotheticals here, but it's been pretty clear that...

SNOW: Well, this is a hypothetical that's of real interest to the American people.

RICE: .. the next material breach, the next material breach by Saddam Hussein has got to have serious consequences. I think it's pretty clear what that may mean.

But the calendar that is laid out here is one to test not whether Hans Blix and El Baradei can go around the country and hunt and peck and find something, but whether this time Saddam Hussein intends to cooperate. We do not need to waste the world's time with another game of cat and mouse.

SNOW: In other words, he must lead inspectors to all of the weapons of mass destruction in the systems, rather than their having to find them?

RICE: He has to lead the inspectors to facilities. He has to provide access to people who know what's going on in these programs.

One of the most important elements of this resolution is that Iraqi citizens who may have been involved in these programs should be able to speak freely, and that will be a patriotic thing for them to do. If they will come forth with information to the inspectors, that has the best chance of helping disarm Saddam Hussein. So, this is incumbent on him, not on the inspectors.

SNOW: But when it comes to getting testimony from those people, one of the key concerns of the United States has been getting them out of the country, because that has been fatal in the past when people talk about Saddam Hussein. In fact, we saw when he tried to open up his prisons, it turned out a lot of prisoners weren't alive anymore.

RICE: Exactly.

SNOW: The question is, will Hans Blix remove these people and their families, especially scientists involved in these programs? He said that there are practical difficulties. Do you expect him to solve them and get those families out of Iraq so they can give full testimony?

RICE: Well, there are practical considerations in exactly how this would work, and so we are more than prepared to work with Dr. Blix and we are working with him on protocols for how that might be done.

But there's no doubt that if you want to give information about illicit weapons programs of Saddam Hussein, you're taking your life into your hands. We understand that.

SNOW: So you expect those families to be taken out of the country?

RICE: We expect those families and people who are capable of offering that kind of information to be protected.

SNOW: The Washington Post and New York Times are reporting that the president has, quote, "settled on" a military strategy and a military plan for Iraq. True?

RICE: The president has made no secret of the fact that he intends to use force if the Iraqis cannot be brought into a compliance in other ways. And so, it wouldn't surprise anybody that he is assessing the military options before him.

SNOW: But he has not settled on a single option?

RICE: But anybody who would be able to actually tell you what's in a military plan, of course, is not going to go out and talk about it.

(LAUGHTER)

The president has a lot of options before him. He talks to his military planners. He talks to Secretary Rumsfeld. I would not pay any attention to details here. But I would say that the president is very much keeping the military option open.

SNOW: Based on what you know about developments in Iraq, if Saddam should come under some pressure from the United States, do you think domestic opposition could now bring him down?

RICE: Well, there's always a chance that this very brutal regime, faced with the fact that it can no longer behave in the ways that he has — secretive, hunt and pecking with the inspectors — it has been exposed to now that Saddam Hussein is going to be held to account by the international community, and we will see what affect that has in Iraq.

SNOW: Is he weaker at home now than he was 10 years ago? One year ago?

RICE: Well, I think it's hard to judge, but clearly there are a lot of interesting things going on in Iraq. I don't think that you can say that this prisoner release was because of his tremendous philanthropy and good will toward the prisoners, many of whom, as you point out, have already been executed. And so, the Iraqi people simply deserve better than Saddam Hussein.

The one thing that we do not want to forget as we go down this road in a disarmament resolution is that he undertook other obligations too. He undertook obligations not to repress his people. He undertook obligations not to attack his neighbors. He also has to be held...

SNOW: Return prisoners of war and other property and that sort of thing?

RICE: ... to be held to return prisoners of war and other property. So he has to be held to account for those, as well.

SNOW: The president has said if Saddam blows this, quote, "final chance," there will be an international coalition. Interestingly, he didn't say a U.N. coalition. Are we prepared to move forward even if the U.N. Security Council expresses reservations?

RICE: The president has reserved all of his options to use the full authority that was granted to him by the United States Congress.

SNOW: So that is "yes." OK, having said that, who's with us right now?

RICE: Well, everybody is with us right now. The...

SNOW: But I'm talking about on the military side.

RICE: The U.N. Security Council resolution provides now an international forum, an international way to carry this out.

But I think that you would find that the Security Council, when it is brought back to discuss the next material breach, is going to be in a very serious mood. If you notice, in the Security Council resolution, it says that in this meeting, serious consequences will be recalled, the fact that the Iraqis have been told before that serious consequences face them.

So I expect that we will be able to do this in a quite multilateral way.

SNOW: Let's talk about inspections for a moment. First, I want to play a quote from the vice president a few months ago where he expressed skepticism about inspections. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with U.N. resolutions. On the contrary, there's a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow back in his box.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Are we not falling into precisely that trap?

RICE: No. When you look at the resolutions or the Security Council inspections regimes that have been placed in Iraq before, those are the dangers that you have to worry about, because over time they eroded into negotiations with Saddam Hussein. Over time, inspections of certain sites were taken off-limits. He got to have hours and lists of who was coming. It had really deteriorated into something that was something of a farce. And ultimately, he expelled or he acted in such a way that the inspectors left.

Now this time, the character of this inspection regime is different and its purpose is different. Not only does it have important elements like a declaration, so that you know what he says has happened and then you get a chance to go and look, it does include the ability to bring people out. And it is an inspections regime that is intended to test his willingness to cooperate, not to test the ability of Hans Blix and Dr. El Baradei to find something in Iraq.

SNOW: You've mentioned a number of times that he has to provide a full accounting by December 8th. If on December 9th, somebody finds something somewhere else, does that constitute a material breach?

RICE: I would assume that the next time that Saddam Hussein demonstrably gives false information, he's going to be held in material breach, because we have to have a zero-tolerance view of the Iraqi regime this time. This is a regime with a very long history now of deception and deceit, and we don't need to waste the world's time waiting around to let them prove over and over again that they don't intend to cooperate.

SNOW: Based on the track record, what is the likelihood that Saddam Hussein will make good on everything demanded of him?

RICE: Let's just say, I think you have to be skeptical.

SNOW: OK. Very skeptical?

RICE: Very skeptical.

SNOW: All right. Yemen — there was a strike last week on a vehicle Al Qaida members, including one American citizen. Who authorized that?

RICE: The president has given broad authority to U.S. officials in a variety of circumstances to do what they need to do to protect the country. We're in a new kind of war, and we've made very clear that it is important that this new kind of war be fought on different battlefields. But it's broad authority.

SNOW: So he did not specifically authorize this?

RICE: The president's authority is broad, not specific.

SNOW: All right. Did the CIA director approve of this?

RICE: I'm not going to get into operational matters here.

SNOW: Well, the question a lot of people have is you've got one commander in chief. If this authority is spread out across different levels of government, it seems that that might, in fact, raise constitutional questions.

RICE: I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here. There are authorities that the president can give to officials. He has done that, but it's broad authority, and he's well within the balance of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority.

SNOW: It's a little unusual for the United States to be taking strikes within sovereign territory of a nation with which we are not officially at war. Is Yemen a big problem?

RICE: I am not going to get into operational matters here. We've had very good cooperation with the Yemeni on a variety of things. President Salih has been here and talked about that.

But it's a new kind of war. We're fighting on a lot of different fronts. We have a lot of allies in this war.

SNOW: North Korea has said it's no longer part of an agreement it conducted with the United States some years ago regarding nuclear development.

Number one, does it have nuclear weapons?

RICE: We don't know whether the North Koreans actually have a weapon. There are different assessments of that. We know that of the two routes, that there — the plutonium route — that there was concern about the potential for a nuclear weapon in very short order.