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#11 - JRL 7064
From: Andrei Sitov <WashTASS@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 16:39:06 EST
Subject: Rice interview

Dear David:

The transcript of Dr. Rice's interview as prepared by the White House is available in English (it was actually carried by Gazeta on its website alongside the Russian translation). I think it was a great interview; it deserves to be presented in its original form on the JRL.


Andrei Sitov

Dr. Rice's Office

9:32 A.M. EST

Q I've been waiting for this day since October 2000.

DR. RICE: Oh, my goodness.

Q When we spoke on the phone. Maybe you remember at that time?

DR. RICE: Yes, I remember.

Q I gave Anna the story I did that time. So I appreciate this opportunity. Thank you very much, Dr. Rice.

DR. RICE: Oh, of course. I'm very glad to do this.

Q A lot has happened since that time. And more than a fair share of share of tragedies. Do you, does the President ever say to yourself, why us? Or maybe it's a sign that he was chosen for this -- not only by the people -- but, in a way, by a higher power?

DR. RICE: Well, the fact is that we have to deal with the circumstances in which we find ourselves. And you have to try and deal with those circumstances forthrightly and with clarity of purpose and with an understanding that we have responsibilities to next generations to try and resolve some of the difficult problems that we've had.

We're fortunate to have good partners in what we're trying to do. Russia has been an excellent partner in the war on terrorism. Russia, perhaps, understands better than many the impact of terrorism on a society. And President Putin was one of the very first people to call President Bush on 9/11. And I think President Bush was one of the first people to call President Putin when the Moscow theater events happened. So, yes, we have a lot going on. It's, in many ways, a chaotic world. But we have the means, the world has the means to deal with the difficulties. We just have to have the resolve to deal with these difficulties.

Q On Iraq, is tomorrow the D-Day that everybody is waiting for?

DR. RICE: Tomorrow is an important day because we will hear again from the inspectors. We have no doubt that the Iraqis are continuing their behavior of the last 12 years, that they continue to defy the United Nations. They continue to try and deceive the inspectors. This has not been going on for three months; it's been going on for 12 years. And the inspectors will need to report tomorrow on Iraqi cooperation -- but Iraqi cooperation on substance.

There are some hard issues that we need the Iraqis to answer: What happened to the anthrax that the U.N. believes that Iraq had? What happened to botulinum toxin? What happened to all of that bacteriological media, to VX and nerve gas? We need to have answers to that. And they have provided no answers and no evidence to help. So it's an important day. But we are in a diplomatic phase now in which we are consulting.

But let me just say, we all -- particularly the members of the Security Council and most particularly the permanent five members of the Security Council -- have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of Security Council resolutions. You cannot have a situation in which the Iraqis continue to violate their obligations. And they have violated 1441 every day since it was passed. We have an obligation -- the Security Council has an obligation to say, enough is enough, and to insist on enforcing its resolutions.

Q So does this mean that you are ready to veto a proposal for more inspections?

DR. RICE: Well, I hope it won't come to that. But more inspections, more inspectors is not the problem. If Iraq cooperated, we would not need more inspectors. We have 108 inspectors. They are not there as detectives to try and go and find something. The Iraqis are supposed to tell us that they are disarming, show that they are disarming, and the inspectors are supposed to verify that disarmament. And so we have enough inspectors. That's not the problem. We need Iraqi cooperation.

Q When the D-Day comes, will there be a public announcement here? Or maybe some private warning to key allies such as Russia?

DR. RICE: Well, we have to see what the President decides to do. So far we're still in consultations about how the Security Council might carry out its obligations. But we will consult -- as we have over the last months. And we will certainly consult with our friends and allies.

Q Russia -- can this situation around Iraq damage America-Russian relations do you think? And generally, where are we going with it now, with the relationship?

DR. RICE: Well, we should not permit the situation in Iraq to damage U.S.-Russian relations. What it requires is that the United States and Russia act responsibly concerning Iraq, that we recognize together that this is a major part of the war on terrorism, to deal with weapons of mass destruction, to deal with a regime that is harboring terrorists -- including a terrorist, Zarqawi, who has a poisons network that is actively trying to kill -- not just Americans -- but also Russians. We know that he had operations in Chechnya and in the Pankisi Gorge that were intended to kill Russians. And so our relationship needs to be one in which we actively, together, take on these kinds of challenges. And this can make it stronger to take on this challenge together.

Q Building up on this, the U.S. has now come to recognize the terrorist problem that Russia faces in Chechnya. When will this recognition be formalized? And what is your attitude to Maskhagov at this point?

DR. RICE: Well, the formalization in terms of terrorist groups on list is being worked through our own legal processes. We have certain processes that we have to go through in order to do that. But we are doing it with a view to making certain that if there are terrorist groups there, that we are supportive of cutting off their financing and designating them as terrorists. We want to be responsive when Russia tells us that there are terrorist groups. We want to be responsive in what we do. And we're working that through our process.

You know that we have long believed that a political solution to the crisis in Chechnya is the only possible solution. And it will have to be determined through political processes who is a part of that situation. We would encourage Russia to look for legitimate Chechen partners to work on the situation in Chechnya. It is not something that can really be resolved militarily. But our only goal and our only role here is to help -- to the degree that we can -- to encourage a political solution to the situation.

Q Is Russia part of an old Europe or a new Europe? (Laughter.)

DR. RICE: Well, Russia is certainly part of Europe. I believe the U.S.-Russia relationship belongs very much to the 21st century. It is a relationship that is built on a foundation of understanding of what the real threats are to international peace and stability now, an understanding that terrorism is the great threat that we all face. I think an understanding; but of the weapons of mass destruction threat, we need to do more in the U.S.-Russian relationship to deal with countries that are determined to get weapons of mass destruction. We are actively in discussion with Russia about Russian cooperation with Iran and not allowing that to contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We are in discussion with Russia, of course, as a member of the Security Council, about Iraq -- where we must not let a country that has violated its obligations so willingly get away with it. We must hold them accountable.

I have to say that on North Korea, which is a major concern for the region, we need better cooperation and active cooperation from the neighborhood, from the Asian powers. And Russia, of course, is not just a European power, it's an Asian power, as well. And we believe that the North Korean problem is not an American problem to resolve. The North Koreans would like nothing better than to insist on bilateral resolution of their problems with the United States. It is not an American problem. The prospect of North Korea going further up the ladder of nuclear escalation is a serious problem for Russia, for China, for Japan, for South Korea, and for the entire world.

We were disappointed that Russia abstained from the IAEA decision to send the North Korean problem to the Security Council. But it is now going to be extremely important that Russia not abstain from an active role in resolving this issue. The North Koreans are wrong in what they're doing. We all have to be willing to say that they're wrong. And we have to be willing to hold them to account.

Q Are you looking here for a regime change there?

DR. RICE: We're looking in North Korea for them to stop being a threat to peace and stability and to finally live up to the obligations that they have to nonproliferation treaty, to an agreement for a non-nuclear Korean peninsula. They have many agreements which they're violating. We're looking to try and do something about North Korean exports of missile technology. They have become the world's most important supplier of missile technology. It would certainly be a good thing if the North Korean regime cared more about its citizens. It is a very brutal regime where its citizens are concerned; the people are starving to death. But the United States has been one of the major donors of food assistance to North Korea because we care about the North Korean people. So we just need to work on this together. We can't pretend that the problem does not exist.

Q On NATO -- how extensive and long lasting is the damage to your relations with France and Germany? And can it basically reshape the alliance as a whole?

DR. RICE: Well, it was a very sad day for NATO that an ally -- Turkey -- asked for consideration of its defensive needs in event of a conflict and that three members of the alliance said no. I don't understand how, given the fact that NATO is a collective defense organization of democracies, how those countries could have said no. I hope that they will change their minds. I hope that they will allow planning for the defense of Turkey, should it become necessary.

But it's a strong alliance. It has been made much stronger by the enlargement of NATO. And it's been made much stronger by its growing relationship with Russia. So it is an alliance that has a lot of work ahead of it to deal with the threats of the 21st century. But it's a strong alliance, and I think it will get back on track.

Q Why do you need to define American national greatness through military strength -- like you do in the national security strategy? I remember you telling me that Russia should not do this with its --

DR. RICE: Yes. We don't define American strength, American national greatness through military strength. Military power is one element of American national greatness. But America's strength is really in the kind of society that we are, the fact that this is a great multi-ethnic democracy where people largely live together tolerantly, where all religions are welcome, where people worship freely, where minorities are fairly treated. We didn't have a very good history with minorities. We've gotten stronger in our integration of minorities. America is also strong because of its economic power.

In fact, if I had to point to one single element of American national greatness, it would be the ability of people to be upwardly mobile in America. I was a professor at Stanford. And in any class that I taught, there would be a student whose parents were wealthy; there would be a student whose parents were just middle class; and there would be students whose parents didn't go to college and who might have been immigrant children. That's America's greatness. Our military power is only a small part of that.

Q I admire this. I certainly hope that we come up with this. But at the same time, there is this troubling question of America basically acting like the old Soviet Union, believing that, we know best -- what's best for the world, and we'll force it down your throat whether you want it or not. It's so troubling to me, here, as an observer, as someone who admires this society, the strengths that you just described. So what do you say to critics that see your policies in this light?

DR. RICE: I would say, look at what we have done. Even after the attack of September 11th, the President took the time to build a coalition of countries to help liberate Afghanistan. On Iraq, we're in the Security Council to try and deal with Iraq.

Now, it is true that the President put Iraq onto the agenda of the international community in a very dramatic way by going to the United Nations and saying, we cannot allow this to stand. But somebody had to do that. After 12 years, we couldn't allow this to continue. We have good partners in the war on terrorism. We listen to ideas. We cooperate across law enforcement and intelligence. We have good partners there. The United States has put forward a positive agenda with developing countries. The President's decision to put $15 billion into fighting AIDS over the next five years, to increase American foreign development assistance by 50 percent. America is a generous country that has always believed that its power is important, but its values are even more important.

Q If something goes terribly wrong in Iraq, will you -- will the White House be prepared to accept responsibility?

DR. RICE: Well, we all have a responsibility for what happens in Iraq. We have a responsibility for having allowed Saddam Hussein, for all of these years -- 12 years, to continue to pursue his weapons programs. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people for the fact that they have lived in this tyranny for all of this time. You know the United Nations actually gave Saddam an obligation to stop repressing his people. We've done nothing about that. We have an obligation -- the Security Council does -- to deal with the fact that the Iraqi people have lived under sanctions for 12 years because we cannot deal with Saddam.

(Interruption to proceedings.)

Q Are there any ex-Soviet countries among the states that you talk about the possible exile for Saddam Hussein?

DR. RICE: We are not in conversations with anyone about exile for Saddam Hussein. Look, if he choose to leave, I think everybody would be very happy.

Q Secretary Powell said yesterday that you are.

DR. RICE: No, we are not trying to find a place to exile Saddam Hussein. There are people who are talking about exile for Saddam Hussein. But the United States is not out seeking a place to exile Saddam Hussein -- no. We would be very happy if he chose to leave with his top friends.

Q Would you pursue him?

DR. RICE: Look, we'll have to see what the international community wants to do about this. But if he wanted to save the Iraqi people even more misery and leave, I think that would be a good thing for the world.

Q Coming back to Russia, are you confident about the passage of the Moscow Treaty and the repeal of the Jackson-Vanek Amendment soon?

DR. RICE: I'm quite confident that the Moscow Treaty will pass -- I hope very soon. The Jackson-Vanek -- we're working very hard. And you know that the President is committed to the repeal of Jackson-Vanek. And we need to make certain that there are no more problems that make the atmosphere difficult for Jackson-Vanek. The poultry dispute that we had last summer really did make the atmosphere very difficult for the passage of -- the repeal of Jackson-Vanek. But we're working very hard on it and I hope that we'll be able to finish it soon.

Q I save this for last because it was something that was troubling me, you said in one of the interviews recently that you really believe that the Soviet Union should have been taken care of like you're dealing with Iraq now. Do you --

DR. RICE: I said no such thing.

Q What did you say?

DR. RICE: First of all, I certainly didn't say that. I don't remember -- I think someone asked me about the nuclear weapons of the Soviet Union.

Q Right.

DR. RICE: And I said, perhaps we should have reacted to Joseph Stalin's building of the bomb. That doesn't mean that we should have invaded the Soviet Union. That's a crazy notion.

Q As I said, it was troubling to me. I'm done.

DR. RICE: Yes, and you can be certain that I didn't say that. I'm a student of the history, and so you can be certain that I did not say that.

Q Thank you very much. The Russians -- as you know, they keep asking me about your Russian studies.

DR. RICE: Yes.

Q Do you keep up Russian?

DR. RICE: Very little, very little these days. (Speaking Russian.)

Q But we do hope that it will be an additional tool for you to --

DR. RICE: It is. I do read quite a bit still. And I chit chat with others once in a while. And I use it when I go to Russia.

Q When you go to Russia, do you usually use it there?

DR. RICE: Yes, I do use it when I go to Russia.

Q Do you plan to go to Russia any time soon?

DR. RICE: I hope so.

Q With the President in May?

DR. RICE: I hope so. Oh, we'll definitely go with the President in May. And for me to be able to go to the 300th anniversary of the birthday of St. Petersburg -- for a Russia specialist? This is going to be one of the great moments for me. I think it's going to be a wonderful party. It should be. St. Petersburg is a great city. I spent more time in Moscow, so I know Moscow better. But it's going to be a wonderful chance to be there for the 300th anniversary. I'm very excited about it.

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