Transcript: Powell on Fox News Sunday

Following is a transcribed excerpt from Fox News Sunday, Feb. 9, 2003.

TONY SNOW, FOX NEWS: Good morning from Fox News in Washington.

German and French officials confirmed today that the two countries will present a peace plan to the United Nations Security Council at the end of the week. The proposal calls for flooding Iraq with U.N. troops and weapons inspectors. Russia announced that it would support the plan as well.

In Iraq, the two chief weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, met for a second day with members of Saddam Hussein's government, including the vice president. Iraq also handed over more documents to the duo.

Here to discuss what happens next is Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Secretary Powell, Germany and France evidently are putting together a proposal. Have you seen it yet?

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: No, I haven't seen it. I've just read press reports about the proposal. But I assume it's some variation of what the French proposed at the U.N. on Wednesday after I finished my presentation, and that's some combination of additional inspectors and additional reconnaissance.

But it misses the point. It's not more inspectors that we need, it's more cooperation, far more cooperation, from Saddam Hussein is what we need. And that's not what we've been getting.

So it isn't the need for more inspectors, it's need for Saddam Hussein to come into compliance with the basic requirements of the U.N. Resolution 1441.

SNOW: It appears that Germany, France, now Russia, are still going to push through a resolution of this sort. Would you support it?

POWELL: Well, we'll -- I will not comment on a resolution that does not yet exist, but we have to keep our eye focused on the ball. The ball is Iraqi noncompliance, not the need for more inspectors.

SNOW: A lot of Americans think that the Germans and French in particular are merely trying to get in the way and bollocks up the works for the Bush administration. What's your view?

POWELL: Well, I think they are not following what the resolution called for, what 1441 called for. 1441, which passed 15 to zero, with the French voting for it, said that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and they're in material breach of 16 previous resolutions. The French agreed to that. And we said we were giving Saddam Hussein one last chance by this resolution.

He has had that one last chance now for three months. And if he does not now come into compliance and do what he's supposed to do -- turn over all the documents, bring people forward for interviews -- if he actually did what he was supposed to do, you would only need a handful of inspectors. So more inspectors doesn't answer the question.

And what France has to do and what I think Germany has to do and all the members of the Security Council have to do is read 1441 again. This lack of cooperation by Iraq and the false declaration and all the other actions that they have taken and not taken since the resolution passed are setting -- all set the stage for the U.N. to go into session and find whether or not serious consequences are appropriate at this time.

SNOW: If the U.N. were to adopt a resolution, the Security Council were to adopt a resolution, calling for more inspectors and more U.N. forces, would that demonstrate to you that the U.N. in fact is losing credibility and relevance?

POWELL: I don't think that's going to be the issue before the U.N. The issue before the U.N. is going to be whether or not Iraq is faithfully complying with 1441. We've had more than enough time to measure Iraqi compliance, and all we've seen is noncompliance.

This coming Friday, the 14th of February, Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei will report once again on the extent of Iraqi cooperation or noncooperation. And I think, at that point, the Council is going to have to start to come together and make a judgment as to what next steps should be. I don't think next steps should be let's send in more inspectors to be stiffed by the Iraqis.

SNOW: Is it any coincidence, in your mind, that this action, which I think may fairly be called a stalling action, is being supported by the three nations -- France, Germany and Russia -- that have the most extensive commercial ties right now with Iraq?

POWELL: I don't want to attribute a particular motive to them. They clearly have -- are doing everything they can to see if more time cannot be given to Iraq to comply.

If I thought Iraq was going to comply, then that would be a reasonable approach. But Iraq has demonstrated over the last several months that they have no intention of complying. So how much longer do we need to measure this noncompliance? The resolutions was clear.

POWELL: What we have is three months of noncompliance. And if the inspectors show once again and demonstrate once again, as they did the last time they reported, that that noncompliance continues, then I think it's time for the U.N. to clearly understand the seriousness of the situation and for Iraq to understand that serious consequences are going to follow.

SNOW: Do you believe that the United Nations would, in fact, pass a second resolution then authorizing the use of force, based on the assumption that next Friday Iraq will not have complied with 1441?

POWELL: I can't predict what the United Nations will do. But I think the record is pretty clear as to what Iraq has not been doing.

And more and more, with each passing day, Iraq is in greater material breach of the resolution, and I hope that the U.N. will do its duty. I hope that the U.N. will not slip into irrelevance by failing to step up to its responsibilities at this moment in history.

SNOW: And if it does not take action against Iraq, pending the report on Friday, it will slip into irrelevance, in your view?

POWELL: I think that if the United Nations, faced with continued Iraqi noncompliance, does not do something about that noncompliance, other than just say, "Well, keep noncomplying and we'll send three times as many inspectors in to watch you noncomply," then it will be slipping into irrelevance.

SNOW: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says the longer this drags out, the more likely war is. Do you agree? And if so, why?

POWELL: Well, I think that there has to be a limit to this. I mean, if there is not compliance -- I keep coming back to the word, because that is the word. The word is not inspections; the word is compliance.

If Iraq complies, then there will be no war. But Iraq has noncomplied, and you can't just keep this state of noncompliance going. So what Secretary Rumsfeld was saying is you have to draw a line at some point. You have to bring it to an end.

SNOW: So you are not impressed with the moves Iraq has made in the last couple of days in its meetings with Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei?

POWELL: They have made no moves that I know of. The only thing I've heard is that there have been serious conversations and a report last evening that some additional documents were turned over, but we don't know what those documents are.

But if they are real, serious documents, they should have been turned over months ago. We cannot have a situation where Iraq sort of dribbles out a little bit in the hope that it can buy off the United Nations and lead the United Nations down some path to irrelevancy.

SNOW: The United States has supplied intelligence information to the U.N. inspections teams. Is it not true that those teams have only used a tiny fraction of that intelligence?

POWELL: I can't answer that. I don't know how much of the intelligence that we provided to them they have used. But we have provided quite a bit, and I just don't know exactly how much that they've used. But we are cooperating with them fully.

SNOW: Well, it's telling that you wouldn't know how much they used. You could be able to track their movements and get some sense, so it's pretty clear that there's a substantial amount...

POWELL: I didn't say the United States government doesn't know.

SNOW: Yes.

POWELL: I'm just saying that I don't follow the exact numbers on a day-by-day basis. There are others in my department and in our government, of course, who do.

SNOW: Iraq is arguing that the evidence you laid out Wednesday is bogus, and they've been taking reporters to various sites that you presented satellite imagery. What is your response?

POWELL: I fully expected them to do that. We knew they'd jump into a PR game on Wednesday afternoon, and they did.

I can assure you that each and every piece of evidence that I put down, we have multiple sources for. And it is solid material.

And the fact that they run a few reporters out there and show the reporters what they want the reporters to see does not undercut the material that I presented last Wednesday.

SNOW: Let's talk about the link between Iraq and Al Qaida. You talked about that. Is there any direct evidence that Saddam Hussein has transferred weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaida?

POWELL: There is evidence that, over the years, Al Qaida has sought training and information and perhaps material related to weapons of mass destruction in the manner that I described in my presentation on Wednesday. I don't want to overstretch the point, but I don't want to underplay it.

It's that very nexus, that very possibility that causes us such concern. And I tried to make that case Wednesday. Terrorists, non- state terrorists, who can find a haven in a place like Iraq, and in that haven they can not only find a safe place to operate but they can perhaps find these sorts of terrible weapons and technologies that they can use to threaten the world.

SNOW: Is it your view that Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq is, in fact, busy trying to put together factories for the manufacture of such things?

POWELL: We do know that the facility that I described in my presentation on Wednesday has been used to develop poisons, and not just from the picture of that facility but a lot of other source material we have shows that things have come out of that facility and have transited through various parts of Europe and Central Asia, reaching Western Europe.

SNOW: So in that case, in fact, Iraq has helped Al Qaida distribute these?

POWELL: One has to be a little careful here, because that part of Iraq isn't under Saddam Hussein's direct control. Although we do know that Iraqi intelligence officers have been working in that area, and there are connections that are a concern to us.

SNOW: All right, Carl Levin, who's going to be on our show later, has said that the United States -- I want to show a quote to you that pertains to this. He says, "Secretary Powell disclosed that Al Qaida has been producing and exporting poisons and toxins from a laboratory in northeastern Iraq that is beyond the control of Saddam Hussein."

He continues, "I favor prompt and forceful U.S. military action to deal with that problem, as we have done in attacking Al Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan and Yemen."

POWELL: We are constantly reviewing our military options and targets. And it isn't just a matter of a military act, you have to think of a military act at the same time that you consider the political, diplomatic and other consequences of such an act and how good a target do you have.

So I can assure you that we are constantly reviewing our military options, but I never discuss them publicly.

SNOW: But that would be a military option, then?

POWELL: We are constantly reviewing our military options, Tony.

SNOW: All right. There is also fear that Saddam Hussein, in a time of war, might unleash weapons of mass destruction.

You've spent your life in the military, for the most part. In the past, when leaders have issued such orders to their generals, as Hitler did at the end of World War II, the generals have said, "Thank you very much, but I prefer to live."

Is it not your view that Saddam may, in fact, issue such an order but his generals, valuing their lives more than his, probably won't act on it?

POWELL: If they were wise, they would come to that conclusion. I can't tell you what an Iraqi general might do, but it would be very foolish of them.

And we have made it clear that there would be consequences in any conflict for those generals who would use weapons of mass destruction against coalition forces.

We faced this problem before. We faced it during the Gulf War. And one of the great concerns I had as chairman at that time was that they might use chemicals against our forces. They did not. We made it clear that there would be consequences if leaders in the Iraqi armed forces did that, or if Iraq did it as a nation.

SNOW: Why did we withdraw our last point of contact, the Polish (inaudible) in Baghdad, from our dealings with Iraq?

POWELL: This is a judgment the Polish government made, and we respect their judgment, and they have been enormously helpful to us over the years.

SNOW: All right. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had some fairly scathing comments to make about the possibility that NATO might not come to the aid of Turkey, which is a NATO member. Let's play that quote, and I want to follow up on it.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Turkey needs to be looked after in this instance. They're an ally, they're a friend, and they're the only country that's a moderate Muslim country in NATO, they're the only country that borders Iraq.

The idea that NATO would deny them NATO support in that circumstance, in my view, is inexcusable.


SNOW: Is this now a test to NATO's credibility? Germany, France and Belgium say they are going to act of veto any direct action in support of Turkey?

POWELL: Well, first of all, I agree totally with Secretary Rumsfeld. It is inappropriate for NATO to be presented with a request like this, where all that is being asked for is for planning assistance and start to make plans to assist Turkey if it becomes threatened by Iraq in the course of a conflict.

That's all that's being asked for. And for three NATO nations to say, with respect to a fourth NATO nation, "We won't even consider that at this time because of a dispute, really, we're having within the United Nation Security Council about what follows next," I think is inexcusable on the part of those countries.

And I hope they will think differently by the time that they have to make a judgment tomorrow whether they will break silence, as it is called. This is the time for NATO to rally and to stand behind one of our NATO colleagues that may be put at risk, not by the United States but by Iraq.

And so I hope that the Germans and the French and the Belgians will think differently about this over the next 24 hours.

SNOW: Final question, Republican Senators Lugar and Hagel are saying that the United States should engage in direct talks with North Korea. South Korea is saying the same thing. Will we?

POWELL: Eventually there will be talks between the United States and North Korea, I believe. But I believe it should be within a multilateral setting.

This is a multilateral problem. Imagine you're the secretary of state. You're criticized when you're unilateral, and then you get criticized when you're trying to make something multilateral, and people say it should be unilateral.

In this case, what North Korea is doing is of concern not only to the United States but to South Korea, to Japan, to China, to Russia, to the International Atomic Energy Agency, 35 nations that came together and condemned North Korea's actions.

POWELL: We should not let North Korea dictate the terms under which these conversations take place. I think there will ultimately be conversations, but I think other nations have a role to play.

Take China, for example. China has said that it is their policy that the Korean Peninsula not be nuclearized -- in fact, be denuclearized. Well, therefore, China should play an active role in making sure that that is the case. They have considerable influence with North Korea. Half their foreign aid goes to North Korea. Eighty percent of North Korea's wherewithal, with respect to energy and economic activity, comes from China. China has a role to play, and I hope China will play that role.

SNOW: Secretary Powell, thanks for joining us.

POWELL: Thank you.