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Transcript: Condoleezza Rice on 'Fox News Sunday'

The following is a transcribed excerpt from "Fox News Sunday," Sept. 7, 2003.

TONY SNOW, FOX NEWS: The Bush administration has asked the U.N. Security Council to consider a resolution that would give the United Nations a larger role in Iraq's reconstruction.

Key points of the draft reportedly include a multinational force under unified — meaning American — command, assistance from member states for military forces, and financial assistance from banking institutions for the Iraqi Governing Council.

France and Germany say the draft does too little to transfer political authority to Iraqi citizens. They also say the U.N., not the U.S. and the coalition of the willing, should assume primary responsibility for building up Iraq.

For more, we're joined by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Dr. Rice, first I want to ask about the United Nations resolution. When did the president decide that he wanted to go before the U.N. again?

DR. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Tony, more than two months ago the president asked Secretary Powell to start exploring what would make sense, in terms of bringing resolutions before the United Nations.

And this is one in a series. We had Resolution 1483, which was right for the time, Resolution 1500, and now we believe that this is now the right time to have a resolution that may give to some states that have made it clear to us that they need such a mandate the ability to perhaps contribute more to the effort in Iraq.

But the president's been thinking about this some tent's been thinking about this some time, and it's really several weeks ago that Secretary Powell began exploring this. There was a united, coherent process in place to try and bring about a resolution that we thought would address some of the concerns of others, and we put that forward a few days ago.

SNOW: The primary aim, then, is to permit nations like India, perhaps Turkey, Pakistan, to commit troops, because they say they need the U.N. stamp of approval.

RICE: Well, there are really several elements to it. Yes, we would like to empower nations that would like to contribute to Iraq, but believe that they need some kind of U.N. mandate. Some of the countries that you've mentioned, but there are others.

It's also important...

SNOW: Which others?

RICE: Well, there are other countries that may not be able to contribute troops, but it's important to have financial contributions, for instance. And I would not underestimate the importance to international financial institutions of a next step in work with the United Nations.

But again, this is in a series of resolutions that we've had with the United Nations, and we believe this could enhance the international role in Iraq.

SNOW: This will not be the last resolution, then?

RICE: It will probably not be the last resolution, because events are evolving on the ground in Iraq, and it's important that the U.N. role keep pace with those events as they evolve.

SNOW: Are the German and French going to sign up?

RICE: Well, we will see. But we have had, with the Germans, the French, the Russians, others, very good conversations in which they have said they want to look at the resolution, they want to study it. We expect that they may have ideas that they would like to put forward. Everybody wants to do this in a cooperative spirit.

But we think the important thing here is to recognize that the United Nations, which the president said all the way back when he was with Prime Minister Blair in Ireland, would have a vital role, has been active in Iraq, will be active in Iraq, and the international community, which has been active in Iraq, will perhaps be more active now with a U.N. resolution.

SNOW: The American general in command in Iraq says that they don't need any more troops. So why are we worried about getting more foreign troops?

RICE: The purpose, Tony, is also to increase the participation of the international community. This is something that we all need to do together.

The president is going to tell the American people tonight that we are still in the midst of the war on terrorism, that Iraq is a central battle in the war on terrorism. And the war on terrorism is against people who are against freedom and against civilization.

RICE: That is the task and that is the struggle that every country in the world who values freedom, values security, wants to be a part of and should be a part of. And so that is why this U.N. resolution is important.

I should also say that we're looking not just at numbers of troops — that's, of course, important — but the composition of forces is important. We have been through a period of time in which we fought a big ground battle. We don't need large tank armies. We need forces that can patrol. We need more police forces. And the mix of skills that can come from the international community can be very helpful to the American effort.

SNOW: The following question on this: Isn't it true also the Germans and the French want to make some money off this? They want access to contracts.

RICE: People want to be involved in the future of Iraq, obviously in the future reconstruction of Iraq. But we all need to stay focused on the Iraqi people.

This is a population that has been through the greatest horrors, having this brutal dictator. If we can all stay focused on what it will take to reconstruct Iraq, to create an Iraq that is stable and prosperous and therefore a linchpin for peace in the Middle East, we will come to solutions about how to do that: the role of the U.N., the role of other countries, the role of the coalition authority, and most importantly, the role of the Iraqi people themselves.

SNOW: Let's talk about the Iraqi people. First, we are told in today's Washington Post that Al Qaida had been infiltrating and setting up operations in Iraq. Is that true?

RICE: I think that the evidentiary basis here is not so strong. But we are getting pieces of evidence, certainly, that Al Qaida is interested in Iraq and may be trying to operate there.

There are clearly foreign fighters coming into the country. There's no doubt about that.

But Tony, nobody would be surprised if Al Qaida is trying to set up operations in Iraq. They know that Iraq is the central battle now in the war on terrorism. They know that if Iraq becomes stable and prosperous that they will have been dealt a mortal blow. And it would not be a surprise that Zachawi (ph), who is mentioned here, would be operating in Iraq because as told the American people before the war in Iraq, Zachawi (ph) had been operating in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's regime.

He was the one who got medical treatment in Baghdad. He was the one who left his network in Baghdad to carry out operations. So it would not be at all surprising that Zachawi (ph) is there.

SNOW: Do you believe, because this is continually a subject of debate, that there was a link between Al Qaida and the regime of Saddam Hussein before the war?

RICE: Absolutely. And Zachawi (ph) made the coming back to his old stomping ground. But we know that there was training of Al Qaida in chemical and perhaps biological warfare. We know that the Zachawi (ph) was network out of there, this poisons network that was trying to spread poisons throughout...

SNOW: You're talking about the Ansar al-Islam base in northern...

RICE: Yes. And there was an Ansar al-Islam, which appears also to try to be operating in Iraq. So yes, the Al Qaida link was there. And maybe they're trying to reestablish it.

SNOW: What about the reports that Al Qaida and much of its key leadership is now hunkered down in Iraq with the protection of the — I'm sorry, in Iran — with the protection of the Iranian government?

RICE: We have said clearly to the Iranians that we believe that there are several key members of Al Qaida who fled to Iran. We don't know their exact status. Sometimes you hear that they've been detained. But we've asked that the Iranian government do what is right here, which is to transfer these people out.

SNOW: But they haven't done it. You surely don't expect them to do it. They haven't...

RICE: Well...

SNOW: ... after the request from the Saudis. They haven't done it after a request from the Egyptians. They haven't done it after a request from their own neighbors. Certainly, they're not going to do it after the great Satan asks.

RICE: Well, we have a lot of people asking, not just the United States.

And Iran is going to have to make some choices. I don't think Iran in the long run will want to be associated with Al Qaida. And they obviously have some work to do to convince the world that they are really fighting terrorism. Iran has been a source for terrorism. This is also unsurprising, but we continue to tell the Iranian government, "Turn them over."

SNOW: And if they don't, what do we do?

RICE: Well, we'll continue to tell the Iranian government to turn them over.

SNOW: The reason I ask that, I get a lot of people who send us e-mails and talk to us and say, "Look, Iran's a big problem, and the administration doesn't seem to place them in the same league as Iraq or even North Korea." Why is that?

RICE: Different circumstances require different solutions. And Iran is a complicated place. It is a place where the Iranian people have repeatedly expressed their desire for freedom. And the president has associated himself with those aspirations.

SNOW: So our administration believes that, in fact, regime change is possible from within, and we don't want to mess it up?

RICE: Well, certainly, this is a place that has had elections, where the people of Iran have expressed themselves, where there continues to be a flow of people back and forth. There is a lot here that could support freedom. We want to be certain that we always use the right tools in the right circumstances.

And with Iran, there's no doubt that this is a regime that poses very difficult problems, not just for the United States, but for the rest of the world.

RICE: If you look at what they're doing in their nuclear program now, where the International Atomic Energy Agency has been, I think, surprised and alarmed at some of the things they found in Iran, people are taking a second look at Iran, and we're encouraging that second look.

SNOW: Would that also include a trip back to the Security Council for some censure for Iran?

RICE: Conceivably. The timing of that will need to be right.

But we are in constant discussion with all of the states that have relations with Iran, as well as the international institutions, about the challenge that Iran poses.

SNOW: Middle East: Mahmoud Abbas has resigned. He said he's not coming back.

We have said — that is, the United States has said, "We're not going to deal with Yasser Arafat." Is there any conceivable successor appointed by Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas with whom we would work?

RICE: The key here is to focus on the institution of the Palestinian prime minister and what it's capable of doing.

Mahmoud Abbas, who is a really fine man, has said very clearly that he was not given the authority and the powers to do what he needed to do on behalf of the Palestinian people. So the next prime minister, whoever that is, is going to have to have the authority to unify the security forces and to fight terror, or it won't be possible for the Palestinian people to move forward.

SNOW: So, unless this next prime minister has independence from Yasser Arafat and has control of all nine of the security apparatuses — the security organizations — no deal?

RICE: The Palestinian Authority has made some progress. For instance, on the financial side, these finances have been cleaned up very effectively by their finance minister. That was causing the flow of aid.

But on the security front, the Palestinian Authority has been hamstrung — the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, the prime minister and his team, have been hamstrung by internal bickering inside the Palestinian Authority.

It is not surprising. Yasser Arafat has been an obstacle to peace before; he's an obstacle to peace now.

People need to say that a Palestinian state is not going to be born of terror. A Palestinian state is only going to be born in circumstances in which the Palestinian leadership fights terror. And they need not just the will, which I'm quite certain this Abbas government had, but also the means.

SNOW: That means Yasser Arafat has to step aside.

RICE: It means that Yasser Arafat should finally recognize that he should no longer be an obstacle to peace for his people.

SNOW: President Bush extracted from Prime Minister Sharon a promise not to, effectively, kidnap Yasser Arafat and take him out of the Palestinian areas. Do we still — is it still the administration's that Israel should do nothing to Yasser Arafat?

RICE: We continue to believe that no good would be served by such a policy if it were pursued. But we do believe that all of those who want peace need to speak clearly with one voice.

There are two obstacles, central obstacles, to — on the Palestinian side to peace. One is the internal politics of the Palestinian Authority. So those who want peace need to tell the Palestinian leadership, "Get an empowered prime minister and let him work."

The other is Hamas and the rejectionists. And it is a good thing that this week the Europeans have made a political decision — the implementation still to follow, but a political decision to declare Hamas a terrorist organization, to freeze their assets. This is extremely important, because the Palestinian people are not going to get to statehood through Hamas, and they're not going to get to statehood through a Palestinian leadership that is not in power.

SNOW: Ariel Sharon has also said members of Hamas are marked for death. Do we support that, the United States?

RICE: We just — we ask Israel to be certain that it's always thinking about the consequences for tomorrow; that it's always thinking about building a Palestinian partner.

We need to keep the focus here on fighting terror. We need to keep the focus here on creating a Palestinian leadership that can get that job done.

SNOW: Does the administration or does it not condemn the attempt to kill the leader of Hamas?

RICE: American policy on this is unchanged.

But again, the focus here has to be on getting a Palestinian leadership that is capable and willing to fight terror. Nobody can ask Israel or any state to live in terror. And the Palestinian people need the Palestinian leadership to fight terror.

The one thing that we are saying quite strongly to the Israelis is that they also have responsibilities. It's important to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. It's important to lift closures, where possible.

We were in a very good period of time, in which the Israelis were turning over cities to the Palestinian Authority. We need to get back to that so that the 200,000 people who apparently went to the beach in Gaza during that period can get back to their daily lives.

SNOW: North Korea. Six-nation talks. Everybody says, "Boy, this is going swell," then North Korea said, "Nope, sorry, we're not going to have any more talks, and by the way, we're going to start testing nuclear devices." Made the Chinese lose face.

Question is whether Chinese opinion and the Chinese attitude has changed toward North Korea, and whether China now is going to step up and place greater pressure on the government in Pyongyang not only to cease and desist, but also to turn over nuclear material and once and for all dismantle its nuclear program.

RICE: The president had an important insight when he said that the United States should not take on this issue with North Korea bilaterally, but rather we needed to get involved all of the states who had both interest in a non-nuclear peninsula, and had instruments that they could use to bring that about.

The six-party talks is a great forum for us, because what you had out of that was five states that were unified in their view that the North Koreans have got to give up their program, their nuclear program, if they ever hope to enter the international community of states.

The North Koreans had to have heard that message, they had to have seen that they are isolated on this front. We will see what they do. But anything that they do that continues to try and escalate this only deepens their isolation.

SNOW: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the chances that North Korea will, in fact, break down its nuclear program?

RICE: I believe we've got the best chance that we could possible have. Given the six-party format, given the fact that you've got all the relevant states there, and particularly China there, with whom the North Koreans have a lot of interest, I think you've got the best chance now to get an enduring strategy.

It will take a long time, Tony. This is not something that's going to come to fruition overnight. But the president has put in place a fundamentally strong strategy that gives us the best chance to get the North Korean program dismantled, and to do it in a way that cannot be — where it cannot be reinvigorated the way that it was after the agreed framework.

SNOW: Condoleezza Rice, thanks for joining us today.

RICE: Thank you very much.