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Newsmaker: Condoleezza Rice

February 11, 2004 at 12:00 AM EST
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RAY SUAREZ: In his speech today at the National Defense University, President Bush offered proposals for cracking down on the international black market in nuclear weapons technology. The president called on countries with civilian or military nuclear enrichment and processing technology to stop selling it to non-nuclear nations. He also called for strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency.

To discuss the president’s plan and other issues, we are joined by his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Welcome back to the program.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Thank you.

RAY SUAREZ: Well, in the plan offered this afternoon, what is contemplated to be the enforcement power? How is this going to work?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, the plan as offered today that we hope that others will take up and discuss and add ideas to is really a plan to try and get serious about the problems of weapons proliferation.

And of course, the nonproliferation treaty provides — the nuclear nonproliferation treaty provides the framework for doing that. And what the president talked about today were ways to close loopholes in the NNT; ways to strengthen the IAEA — for instance, saying that it should have a special committee that is really capable of looking at verification and compliance issues; that there should be a U. N. Security Council resolution, which the United States is working very hard to have passed at the United Nations, which would criminalize in individual countries the trafficking in weapons of mass destruction technologies; and ultimately, that the world just has to be very serious about holding states to compliance with their international obligations.

I will say that after 12 years of Iraq defying the international community, refusing to carry out its obligations that were entered into after Iraq lost a war of aggression, we did lose some of the credibility that the international community had for enforcement of its resolutions. Now, after the action in Iraq, which enforced the will of Resolution 1441, which told Iraq that if it did not disarm it would face serious consequences, now that Iraq has faced those serious consequences, I think we’re on stronger ground in terms of other states recognizing that the continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction will bring only isolation and unpleasant consequences, not great power status in international politics. And we’re seeing, Ray, some very good effects of that, for instance in Libya, where Colonel Qaddafi has made the right choice to voluntarily give up his weapons of mass destruction.

RAY SUAREZ: What are the inducements for nations that may either be on the selling end or in the market place looking for either the materials or the technology, the inducements to comply?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, the inducements are several. First of all, for states that are seriously simply trying to acquire civilian, peaceful, civilian nuclear power, the president’s proposed that there be a source of fuel for them at a reasonable cost so that they do not have to enrich and reprocess fuels, which is the — by which one can build a nuclear weapon.

It’s also the case that full enjoyment of membership in the international community, and all of the benefits that come with that, really should be for states that are in compliance and that are not dealing in these terrible weapons and trying to acquire them. I think that when we see a state like Libya that is trying to make amends — it has said that it wants to voluntarily give up its weapons — we will see that states like that do find an open door to better relations with the United States and others. So it really is both a carrot and a stick.

On the stick side, if you are not living up to your obligations, if you are trading in these terrible technologies or if you are under the guise of civilian nuclear uses pursuing weapons of mass destruction, then you should be an international outlaw, outcast, and the international system should not deal with you.

If, on the other hand, you are prepared to play by the rules, and in the case of a state like Libya, willing to try and reverse decades of bad behavior, then there ought to be an open door to better relations.

RAY SUAREZ: Will you contemplate what you just called an “outcast” status for a country like Iran, which insists its program is peaceful, dedicated to the generation of electricity and also says it doesn’t want international interference in its affairs?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, clearly, Iran is object number one, state number one that needs to be dealt with in this regard. The Iranians have said that they will try and get in line with their international obligation, signing the additional protocol, but they’ve not promised to give up their enrichment and reprocessing activities. And they need to do that, because if they want civilian nuclear power, they don’t need to reprocess and enrich uranium.

And absolutely, if Iran does not live up to its obligations, if it does not carry out the promises that it made to France and Great Britain and to Germany, if it does not carry out the obligations it’s undertaken with the IAEA, then, indeed, it should be put in a category of states that are not complying and should suffer the consequences of that.

RAY SUAREZ: Over the past couple of weeks, we found out that one of the greatest proliferators of recent times is probably Pakistan. Is the American administration confident at this point that Pakistan’s military arsenal and its technology are both under lock and key in a way that they can’t find their way into hostile hands?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, what we found is that there was a network operating out of Pakistan that represents a different path than a rogue state simply acquiring this technology on their own. But this A.Q. Khan network is, it’s a kind of underworld, nuclear underworld — entrepreneurs in the world’s most dangerous technologies — and operating out of Pakistan.

But one has to understand that Pakistan has had a complete reorientation of its foreign policy under President Musharaff since Sept. 11, a reorientation that has made Pakistan a valuable, extremely important ally in the war on terror. It is, after all, how we caught Kalid Shaikh Mohammad, one of the most important of al-Qaida’s field generals. It is a state that is moving to try and repair relations with India and to move to dialogue with India. It’s a state where President Musharaff has given really remarkable statements about the importance of Pakistan refusing to be involved with extremism. It has withdrawn its support for the Taliban and we’re clear that Pakistan is trying to be on the right side of these issues.

And in this case of weapons of mass destruction and the Khan network, it is with Pakistan’s very strong engagement that we have been able to now damage and hopefully put out of business the Khan network. Pakistan has given its assurances as recent as this weekend to Secretary Powell that it intends to cooperate fully and to give us access to all the information made available out of the interviews and investigations that it is doing of the Khan network. The goal now has to be to break up this network, to learn who its customers were, to know where its tentacles are and were, and to make certain that this doesn’t happen again. And in that, we have a very good partner in Pakistan.

RAY SUAREZ: Turning now to Iraq, in the past two days, there have been two extremely bloody, very deadly car bomb attacks with a death toll of around 100. And they were targeting elements of Iraqi society that were cooperating with the American administration and starting to set up Iraqi institutions. If those kind of attacks continue, could that put the hand-over and the calendar for the hand-over in jeopardy?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The Iraqis are making good progress toward the June 30 deadline, the June 30 transfer of sovereignty. It’s an important date from the point of view of the Iraqis because it’s a first step on the road to political development toward democracy. The people who are trying to stop that are clearly worried that when Iraq becomes prosperous and democratic and stable, that their grand designs to try and harm civilization, to try and roll back the clock to a day when freedom could not exist in this part of the world, they’re clearly worried that their designs are going to be very much harmed by an Iraq that is stable. And that’s what’s happening.

And we have every reason to believe that these are principally foreign terrorists, that these are people associated with al-Qaida. We saw recently the release of the memorandum about al-Zarqawi, a man who, by the way, was operating in Iraq before the war. Al-Zarqawi was operating — his network operating in Baghdad, ordering, probably, the assassination of Mr. Foley, the U.S. aid worker in Jordan. This was the network that was planning poison attacks throughout Europe. He’s known Iraq before. He’s been there before. He’s operated there before. And he and people like him have come back because this now is the central front in the war on terrorism, and when we succeed in Iraq, we will deal a very big blow to the designs of these terrorists.

RAY SUAREZ: But in the case of some of these recent attacks, attacking police recruits, army trainees, if there is an attempt to keep the Iraqi populace from joining those institutions which would represent the new regime, could that endanger American plans in that region?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I believe the Iraqi people are tougher than that. I believe that the Iraqi people want a better future, that they understand that they are going to have to win their own freedom. They are going to have to win their own stability and their own prosperity. They are signing up and serving in the civil defense forces, signing up and serving in the police.

Yes, they’re taking enormous risks, and when we talk about the security situation we have to realize that Iraqis are taking tremendous risks for their own future. But they are aware that they are taking risks for a far better future. And I think you’re going to continue to see the Iraqis sign up for those posts, continue to see the Iraqis try to make a better future for themselves and their children.

But these are foreign terrorists. There are Iraqi Baathist, ex-Saddam loyalists who are still trying to do what they did to their fellow citizens for a long time, and that is oppress them and preserve their own privileges. But the entry of these foreign terrorists into Iraq means that they understand that this is the central front on the war on terror. And I can assure you that if they were not fighting the violent Jihad in Iraq, they would be fighting it someplace else. They’re going to be defeated and we have every reason to believe that the Iraqi people are tough. And we will stay with them and by their side as they fight to achieve a free and democratic and prosperous Iraq.

RAY SUAREZ: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, thanks for being with us.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Thank you, good to be with you.