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Interview with Condoleezza Rice - 2003-02-27


MR. STEARNS
Ms. Rice, thanks for being with us.

DR. RICE
Nice to be with you.

MR. STEARNS
The Security Council is facing some tough choices on Iraq. There are some States who believe President Bush is more interested in regime change than disarmament. What do you say to those States? Why should they support the U.S. Resolution, which says that Saddam has missed his final opportunity, over the French memorandum, which would intensify those inspections?

DR. RICE
I would remind all States that we have been in this struggle with Saddam Hussein not for four months, which is the time at which resolution 1441 was passed, but for 12 years. And to say that there needs to be more time now or more inspections is simply going to get us back into the same kind of game that we've been in with Saddam Hussein for that 12 years.

He has successfully held off disarmament. He has successfully split the council. I would remind [you] that resolution 1284, which was passed in 1999, actually the French and the Russians and the Chinese abstained from that resolution. And so this is a long, long period of time, and it's really time for the Iraqi people to have an opportunity to rejoin the international community. It's time for the world to be rid of the threat of this homicidal dictator with weapons of mass destruction. And it's time for the region to have a chance to return to a more normal life.

MR. STEARNS
Do you see any reason why Saddam Hussein would disarm now, at the 11th hour, or is war now just a matter of time?

DR. RICE
We certainly always hope that the Iraqis will somehow decide that they are finally going to, after 12 years, live up to their disarmament obligations. It wouldn't be hard. We know what it looks like when a country wants to disarm. It looks like what South Africa did -- to invite the international community in -- not to try to hunt and peck and find things, but to actually expose completely the entire range of weapon systems and people and programs, research programs, so that the world can see that disarmament is actually taking place.

But I would have to say that that would mean a Saddam Hussein who had tremendously changed his spots. It's hard to imagine now. And I would expect that he is going to engage in some game-playing over the next couple of weeks. He'll start trying to show a little bit of cooperation, a little bit of progress. Perhaps he will bring out this weapon that he destroys or that weapon that he destroys. Because now that he is under tremendous pressure, he has a lot of incentive to again get back into this game. But the world should not be fooled. We need total and complete disarmament.

MR. STEARNS
Are there Security Council members who perhaps inadvertently are abetting that game-playing by offering to give him more time?

DR. RICE
I have to say that offering more time at this point really only plays into Saddam's hands. I won't question anyone's motives. I think everybody is trying to do this according to their own views of the situation. But if you just look at what Saddam Hussein and his regime said after the Friday meeting in the Security Council, they took tremendous heart in a Security Council meeting in which there seemed to be more focus on avoiding tough decisions than on taking tough decisions.

Tariq Aziz said all of the good people of the world were in the streets protesting. And of course the good people were in the streets not protesting for Saddam Hussein but I can guarantee you that that's how the Iraqis played it and that's how they played it to their own people. And so it's extremely important that the world stand with one voice, say to Saddam Hussein: you were given a final opportunity to disarm and it is time to do that or to face the consequences.

MR. STEARNS
If the U.N. proves irrelevant in the President's mind on Iraq, is there any reason for the United States to continue to be a member of a costly irrelevance?

DR. RICE
Well, certainly the United Nations is a tremendous institution. It's one that the United States helped to create. Of course, it was founded, and its founding conference was, in San Francisco. And so it does many, many good things. And certainly the programs of the United Nations -- UNICEF, we've just rejoined UNESCO -- we believe in the United Nations.

But what will lose its relevance is the Security Council, what will be shown to be more like the League of Nations than the United Nations is the Security Council. It's the enforcement mechanism that gives the international community a way to stand up to the horrible dictators, to those who are proliferating weapons of mass destruction, to those who are threatening peace and security. It is the Security Council that gives the international community the ability, as one, to stand up to that.

And if we allow Saddam Hussein to continue to defy the Security Council in the way that he has, the Security Council will be severely weakened.

MR. STEARNS
Ms. Rice, thanks very much for being with us.

DR. RICE
Thank you.

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