Transcript: Condoleezza Rice on Fox News Sunday

Following is a transcribed excerpt from Fox News Sunday, Feb. 16, 2003.

TONY SNOW, FOX NEWS: U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan decreed Saturday that the U.N. Security Council must pass a new resolution before any one may take military action again Saddam Hussein. According to press reports, American and British diplomats are working on such a resolution this weekend.

Also on Saturday, protesters numbered in the hundreds of thousands, took to the streets in London, Rome, New York and elsewhere around the world to speak out against a potential war with Ira.

Opponents outnumbered supporters in some European countries, but here in the U.S. our latest Fox News Opinion Dynamics Poll shows strong support for military action to disarm Iraq.

What next? For answers, we're joined by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.


SNOW: Nice to be with you.

Let us talk about the resolution. What's in it?

RICE: We have not yet drafted the resolution. We're working it with different parties, with our friends. We will see. As the president said, we would welcome a second resolution if it in fact affirms the obligations that the Security Council undertook in 1441.

We don't want a Security Council resolution that somehow is a delaying tactic. This should really reaffirm 1441 because we believe that we have all of the authority necessary under 1441 and several other U.N. Security Council resolutions, to impose serious consequences on Iraq if necessary.

SNOW: Do you think the Security Council is reading 1441 in a serious and literal way?

RICE: I do believe that the Friday session showed that were some in the Security Council who were not reading the letter nor frankly the spirit of 1441.

1441 is actually a very simple resolution. It says if Iraq fails to comply, fails to take advantage of this final opportunity to discharge its security obligations, then it will face serious consequences. Iraq was supposed to file a full and complete declaration about its weapons of mass destruction and their programs...

SNOW: On December 7th.

RICE: ... on December 7th. Instead, they filed a declaration that everybody knows was a joke -- 12,200 pages of nothing.

They have not cooperated with the inspectors. They give a little bit here on process, a little bit there to show that a few people can be interviewed in a hotel, which is clearly monitored.

But when it comes to answering the tough questions about VX or anthrax, or those mobile biological laboratories, that now many people have told us exist, the Iraqis have failed to do that.

So they're not cooperating. They're deceiving.

SNOW: They're deceiving. The Security Council is not enforcing its own resolutions. Why on earth would you file at 18th -- Security Council resolution number 18? Is there some magic words that would make them change their behavior?

RICE: Well, it's a very good point that this would be the 18th resolution. And of course, this would be at the end of 12 years, not three months.

If our friends and allies believe that it would be useful to have a Security Council resolution that affirms the Security Council's willingness to act under 1441, then we're open to that.

It's not that we need. What we must do now though is the Security Council has got to make clear that its resolutions are not going to be serially abused in the way that Iraq has done for the last 12 years.

And when you have talk about more time or more inspectors, or maybe we could just enhance the inspectors, the Iraqis have got to be reading what Saddam Hussein said: "What we need is more time so that we can split the Americans and the British off from others."

He's played this game before. He will continue to try to deceive, and he will continue to try to split the Council.

SNOW: Back in August, Vice President Dick Cheney made a prediction about this. I want to play the prediction and then ask you a question about it.


RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With Saddam's record of thwarting inspections, one has to be concerned that he would continue to plot using the available time to husband his resources, to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons programs, and to gain the possession of nuclear weapons.


SNOW: Now I take it, based on what you've seen, that you think the U.N. Security Council has played into Saddam's hands?

RICE: I'm fearful that if we let this go on for terribly much longer, if we continue to talk about process rather than substance, that indeed we will play into Saddam Hussein's hands, or at least the Security Council will.

The president has made very clear that he will not play into Saddam Hussein's hands, but somebody has got to say that after 12 years of this kind of behavior, it reached it's height -- by the way, in 1996 with negotiated agreements between the inspectors and Saddam, that he eventually ended up violating so badly, that they had to leave in 1998.

How many times do we have to watch this movie?

SNOW: You recall in the Gulf War, President Bush, the first President Bush, set a deadline. Is this president going to set a deadline?

RICE: We are in a diplomatic phase where we're discussing how best to bring this to conclusion. We've not determined that there needs to be a deadline, but I think that we are determined that the Security Council cannot continue on this path for very much longer.

SNOW: So at some point, if there's no change, there's going to be another report from Hans Blix on March.

RICE: Well, conceivably, what we need now though is for the world to unify and to stop talking about whether we should go to war, whether we shouldn't go to war, and to say to Saddam Hussein, "It is time. If you're ever going to comply, this is the time."

RICE: Now, I have to tell you, we're all skeptical of anything he might do at this point.

SNOW: The French and Germans are saying inspections are working, we need more time, we need more inspectors.

RICE: I don't understand how anybody can say inspections are working. Hans Blix and ElBaradei sit there and talk about the need for more Iraqi cooperation.

They talk about their inability to answer certain critical questions about what happened to VX, what happened to anthrax, what happened to botulinim toxin.

The inspectors were never sent there to be detectives. The inspectors were not sent there to give him a final chance to be inspected. They were sent there to verify his disarmament.

SNOW: It is your view, then, that this inspections regime is a stalling tactic.

RICE: The inspectors are doing their very best under extremely difficult circumstances. But 1441 was set up not as a test of the inspectors but as a test of Iraq's willingness to comply.

SNOW: And we have also said that if Iraq does not comply, sooner or later it may mean that we need to use arms.

RICE: That's right.

SNOW: So is not the practical effect of an approach that, in fact, extends the process, is not the practical effect to let Saddam escape his obligations and therefore to make war more likely?

RICE: We've certainly been willing to allow inspections to go forward that were in the context of 1441. But 1441 talks about a final opportunity to comply, and sooner or later, we believe sooner, the Security Council is going to have to say that he has not taken that final opportunity to comply, and the Security Council is going to have to act, or the United States will have to act with a coalition of the willing.

SNOW: Is a coalition of the willing ready to go?

RICE: The coalition of the willing is preparing. We have been preparing for some time. We are in a period now, a diplomatic window, in which we should be discussing how the Security Council can best carry out its obligations.

But Saddam Hussein shouldn't read into what he's seeing over the next, last couple of days that somehow he's going to get away with it again, which is, I'm afraid, after listening to the Iraqis say what a good meeting it was on Friday that that may be exactly what he's reading.

SNOW: How much time does Saddam have left?

RICE: Weeks, not months.

SNOW: That's what Secretary Powell said, so not months, that would mean less than one month?

RICE: Weeks, not months.

SNOW: All right, all right. Now, let's talk a bit about inspections. The other day Hans Blix said of a particular presentation that Secretary Powell made about decontamination units near what he thought were biological weapons facilities, he said, well, they could be something else.

But he didn't say what they could be. Did that strike you as gratuitous?

RICE: Well, I know that Hans Blix wanted to give his views of this. He also said, by the way, that this was an excellent presentation and a very helpful presentation.

But let me say that when you look at 30 sites that have been cleaned up in this way, where you have a before and an after in which they have been grating the ground and making sure that nothing could be there, you have to give the Iraqis an awful lot of benefit of the doubt to think that this is just routine.

And that it just happened to come as routine measure when inspections are on the table is rather odd.

SNOW: Isn't it true that they have not made use, that is the inspectors, of all the intelligence we've given them?

RICE: Well, the inspectors have been given a lot of intelligence. There is an absorption capability issue. It's not a huge inspection team, but we think it's an adequate one if the Iraqis were complying.

We also offered other reconnaissance platforms that the inspectors have not yet taken advantage of, and most importantly, we think that taking advantage of interviewing people outside the country, where they might be free to speak, would probably be the very best, because we've really learned over the years that you get the most information about the Iraqi programs from people who have defected.

SNOW: But you've got to take their families out, too?

RICE: And we were prepared, we are prepared to do that.

SNOW: Now, Hans Blix has said, "Well, you have intelligence we don't have," but you've just said that we've passed on or we've made offers and they haven't used it.

RICE: No, we've passed intelligence, we're working very well with the inspectors. We're trying to give them the intelligence that we think is most actionable, that is freshest, that actually might yield something.

But the real key here is that intelligence is not a substitute for Iraqi compliance -- 1441 said we should give intelligence and reconnaissance and so forth, but the core of 1441 is not to make this a hunt-and-peck intelligence game for the inspectors, it is for Iraq to comply and for their compliance to be verified.

SNOW: Secretary of State Powell said the other day that he would be presenting more evidence, further evidence of links between Al Qaida and the government of Iraq.

When can we expect to see that?

RICE: Well, we are, of course, continually learning more about these links between Iraq and Al Qaida, and there is evidence that Secretary Powell did not have the time to talk about.

But the core of the story is there in what Secretary Powell talked about. This poisons network with at least two dozen of its operatives operating in Baghdad, a man who is spreading poisons now throughout Europe and into Russia, a man who got medical care in Baghdad despite the fact that the Iraqis were asked to turn him over, training in biological and chemical weapons.

RICE: The core of the story is there.

And it really should surprise no one that Saddam Hussein would be more than willing to cooperate with an enemy of the United States like Al Qaida. And it was very interesting that Osama bin Laden gave a kind of cheer to the Iraqis in exactly this way, saying that Al Qaida...

SNOW: No coincidence.

RICE: No coincidence. It's no coincidence.

SNOW: Also, Osama bin Laden has released a series of tapes. One of them said, and it was translated today in Saudi Arabia, that he knew that there were 10 weak spots that Al Qaida could hit in the United States.

RICE: Well, I don't know what he's referring to, but I do know that the president begins every day with the director of the FBI and with the director of Central Intelligence, going over the threat matrix with the Homeland Security people.

We are working very, very feverishly to try and disrupt and to deal with vulnerabilities inside the United States. It's not a perfect science as to how to do it. But there is enormous effort going into it. And Americans should know that this is the principal preoccupation of the government.

SNOW: It may be, but some Democrats are being critical. Let me show you something said just the other day by Tom Daschle, the Senate minority leader, and Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.

Quote, "We are deeply concerned that your administration has failed to commit the resources needed to address America's urgent homeland security needs."

They are arguing that you're not giving money to firemen, to policemen, to first responders, and that the president, in fact, in the words of Senator Daschle, is giving tax cuts to the rich rather than aid to people who are trying to provide homeland security.

RICE: This is not either/or. America's economy, of course, has to recover too. And the president has provided resources, resources that we believe are adequate to the task, to first responders and to others. And much of this must be reorganizing the way that we think about the defense of America.

And by the way, this didn't start as a problem in 2001 when President Bush was elected. The defense of the American homeland, and the problems with the defense of the American homeland, goes back a while. And the need now to deal with those vulnerabilities, this president has done more to try and deal with those vulnerabilities than many in the past.

SNOW: So how does he react to a critique like that? You said it's his principal preoccupation. You've got leaders of the opposition party coming out and saying he's more worried about rich constituents.

RICE: Well, I think he reacts as I do, which is that it's simply not an argument to be taken seriously. The president of the United States must and is doing everything that he can to defend the homeland. We must seek out terrorists and rogue states with weapons of mass destruction abroad, to try and lengthen the distance between the American homeland and them. And he has to help to -- this economy to recover. Those are not either/or. We must do it all.

SNOW: Speaking of which, Al Qaida operatives, including bin Laden's son, now are reported to be in Iran. Is Iran still part of the axis of evil?

RICE: Well, there are reports of this, and we have consistently said that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism. That's one reason that the president singled them out in his State of the Union.

And we have called on the Iranian government, particularly that part of it that is elected, to act like elected officials and to worry about the concerns and the needs of the Iranian people rather than supporting terrorism. And it's not a new thing with Iran; it's been there for a while.

SNOW: A couple of quick points. There are some press accounts saying that the administration is rattled by street protests that occurred in the United States and around the world yesterday. You rattled?

RICE: No. Nothing could be further from the truth. People have the right to protest. People can say what they think.

But the fact of the matter is, they're not saying what they think in Baghdad, because that's a regime that cuts people's tongues out if they say what they think.

SNOW: Do you think the protesters are naive?

RICE: I just think that it would be worthwhile to step back -- it's fine to protest -- but to step back and to remember the true nature of the Iraqi regime, to remember how they rape and torture, to remember how they kill women in front of their families to make a point, to remember that he's acquiring and has acquired weapons of mass destruction, that he's used chemical weapons on his own population and on his neighbors, and to ask yourself, "Do you really want this regime to go unchallenged for the next 12 years, as we've done for the last 12 years?"

SNOW: Senator John McCain said in the first segment, in response to reports now that North Korea not only is getting Yongbyon nuclear plant up but now it says it may even create four larger nuclear plants, says, "The Chinese have to act, but we also ought now to give the Japanese the right of self-defense, including nuclear weapons." What's the administration position?

RICE: The administration's position is that we believe that the Asian balance of power could be affected by what is going on on the Korean Peninsula, but that right now we still have an opportunity through diplomacy and through strong action by the neighbors, who by the way have a great deal at stake, to stop the North Koreans from this escalation that they're on.

Now, I know that the North Koreans would like nothing better than for this to become a bilateral problem between the United States and North Korea. But of course, the Chinese have an enormous stake in this. The Russians have an enormous stake. The Japanese have an enormous stake.

And what the regional neighbors and the world need to do is to organize themselves to pressure the North Korean regime into stepping back from where it is going. We believe that this is an opportunity -- and in fact, the referral of the North Korean issue to the Security Council was a very good step the other day.

SNOW: Will we oppose Japan re-arming?

RICE: No, I don't see any evidence that the Japanese think that this is in their interest. And the key here is to get the regional powers to recognize that what they all say, that we need a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula, that we've all got to work for it, we've got to work for it in a united fashion, and that we cannot allow the North Koreans to again get back into a kind of bilateral discussion with the United States that produces an agreement that the North Koreans have no intention of carrying through.

SNOW: Condoleezza Rice, thanks for joining us.

RICE: Thank you very much.