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Transcript: Colin Powell Talks WMD on Fox News Sunday

Following is a transcribed excerpt from Fox News Sunday on June 8, 2003.

TONY SNOW, FOX NEWS:  Secretary Powell, the controversy of the week in Washington has to deal with weapons of mass destruction. First I want to play you a little clip of your testimony in February before the United Nations Security Council regarding weapons of mass destruction possessed by Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more, and he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction.

Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Do you still stand by each of those statements?

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. I spent -- not only have I been studying this for many, many years, but, as I prepared that statement, I worked very closely with the director of central intelligence, George Tenet...

SNOW: Who was sitting right behind you.

POWELL: Sitting right behind me.

That statement was vetted thoroughly by all of the analysts who are responsible for this account. We spent four days and nights out at the CIA, making sure that whatever I said was supported by our intelligence holdings. Because it wasn't the president's credibility and my credibility in line, it was the credibility of the United States of America.

And we are sure of what we said, because he does have this kind of capability.

Now, suddenly this week there's a big firestorm about, well, we haven't found anything yet. Well, we are going to intensify our search.

In my statement, I also said they are masters of deception and hiding. So we are sending in an Iraqi survey group of 1,300 people who will be looking in all the places, they'll be exploiting all the documents, they'll be interviewing people.

And I would put before you exhibit A, the mobile biological labs that we have found. Now, people are saying, well, are they truly mobile biological labs? Yes, they are.

POWELL: And the DCI, George Tenet, director of central intelligence, stands behind that assessment.

And my best justification for the fact that they are -- well, he said they were biological labs -- is, if they were not biological labs, I can assure you, the very next morning, the Iraqis would have pulled them out and presented them to UNMOVIC and presented them to the whole international press corps to demonstrate what they were, if they weren't that.

SNOW: So you have no doubt that there were weapons before the war. How about now?

POWELL: There can be no question there were weapons before the war. They have had weapons throughout their history. They have used chemical weapons. They have admitted that they had biological weapons. And they never accounted for all that they had or what they might or might not have done with it.

And it is the considered judgment not only of this administration, it was the judgment of President Clinton's administration, it's the judgment of a number of nations around that world, that they had these weapons. And when we passed Resolution 1441 unanimously, it was the unanimous judgment of the Security Council that Iraq was in violation of its obligations.

Now, we have to do the intensive search that is ahead of us, and the Iraq survey group will be adding that. And I'm sure more evidence and more proof will come forward as we go down this road.

SNOW: There have been allegations in this town that the books were cooked. In fact, one of your former aides, Mr. Thielman (ph), is quoted as saying that he does not believe that the evidence was fitting. Let's pull up his quote, if we can, just to see if -- never mind, we don't have it with us, so we're not going to pull up that quote.

In any event, there have been arguments that the intelligence was bogus, and that specifically, the vice president, by going over to the CIA was in fact inflicting political pressure on people to alter and to doctor their assessments. True or false?

POWELL: False. I mean, the vice president, by going over to the CIA and spending a lot of time there, was delving in, as I know Dick Cheney does -- I've worked with him for many years. He delves into a subject. He wants to get to the bottom. He wants to get to the truth. And I have heard no suggestion that he went over there and said, "This is the answer I want." He went over there to learn.

I can tell you stories from the Gulf War back in 1991, the first Gulf War, when he was my boss as secretary of defense and I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He did the same thing with me. He would bore in and bore in on our military plans and what we were doing. It's his style to make sure that he has all the information available to us in his mind so that he knows what he's talking about. That isn't politicizing, that's doing a good job.

SNOW: On Capitol Hill, a number of people have said throughout that they were promised intelligence that it would make it beyond a shadow of a doubt, clear to them that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, and they are saying that they never got that...

POWELL: No, no, please. They were briefed consistently and repeatedly last year. George Tenet was up testifying. John McLaughlin went up there repeatedly. We have presented information. We have put out classified documents, the Central Intelligence Agency has. We have given briefings up on the Hill. I presume Congress knew what it was doing when it passed the resolution supporting the president last fall.

And so if Congress needs more information now to reaffirm their judgment of last year, the administration stands ready to provide all the information that we have to them.

SNOW: Have you seen the Defense Intelligence Agency report that...

POWELL: I've seen the summary that has made all the news.

SNOW: The summary that has made the news indicates that as of September, the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, was unable to pinpoint production sources for weapons of mass destruction and, furthermore, was unable to find any battlefield deployments. True?

POWELL: No, not true. The sentence that has gotten all of the attention in this two-page, unclassified summary talked about not having the evidence of current facilities and current stockpiling. The very next sentence says that it had information that weapons had been dispersed to units. Chemical weapons had been dispersed to units.

So there was a question as to whether or not you are talking about chemical weapons that are being dispersed or a production facility. And there is a judgment call there.

But the considered judgment and the official judgment of the director of central intelligence, who is the one responsible for gathering all this information and in making a judgment is that they had weapons of mass destruction of the kind that we had described: Nuclear capability, in the form of individuals with the knowledge and the commitment on the part of Saddam Hussein to continue moving toward a nuclear capability, even though he wasn't close to one at the time, we don't believe; chemical weapons and biological facilities of the kind we have demonstrated with this lab.

SNOW: You have talked about making available to Congress information. What about to the American public? When is the public going to see more of the kind of intelligence that led you and other senior White House officials to believe that Saddam had that...

POWELL: Tony, I think we've put out a lot. And my presentation on the 5th of February was unclassified, on television, live around the country and the world. I think the American people got a good, solid assessment.

I boiled down what could have been a presentation of many, many hours and days to one hour and roughly 20 minutes, where I presented the best information we had on weapons of mass destruction, on the terrorist activities of this regime, and the human rights abuses of this regime.

And I stand by that presentation, and there is much more information that is available. And I'm sure that, as the intelligence community feels that it is appropriate to declassify this information, it'll be made available to the public.

I don't think that the public is as upset about all this or as concerned about this as is the media, which has had a feeding frenzy for the last week.

SNOW: Iran, big problem?

POWELL: Beg your pardon?

SNOW: Iran.

POWELL: Iran is a problem. It continues to support terrorism. It continues to develop, we believe, the capability to produce nuclear weapons, and this is troublesome.

But there is a lot of churning taking place inside of Iran. A very young population that realizes that its political and religious leaders are not pointing it in the right direction toward a better future.

And I hope that, if we keep making the case to the Iranian people that we are not your enemy, that there is a better life awaiting you if you abandon terrorism, abandon weapons of mass destruction development and put pressure on your political leaders and your religious leaders to allow more innovation within the Iranian society, within the Iranian economy, to start changing the policies of the past, I hope the political and religious leaders will begin to respond to this kind of pressure.

SNOW: All right. Secretary of State Colin Powell, I know you've got a lot of globetrotting to do. Thanks for joining us, and good luck.

POWELL: Thank you, Tony.