RAY SUAREZ: Now, to the U.S. Russian accord to cut back on nuclear warheads. Twelve years ago, the U.S. and the Soviet Union each deployed about 10,000 so-called strategic warheads, atomic weapons made for long-distance use. But those 1990 totals have dropped over the last decade, as a result of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Today those numbers are about 6,000 each for the U.S. and Russia, which took over most of the Soviet Union's weapons. And today's agreement between the U.S. and Russia would bring the totals down further, to the 2,000 range over the next decade. With me now to discuss the nuclear deal, along with other news in U.S. foreign policy, is Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's National Security Adviser. Welcome to the program.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Thank you, nice to be with you.
RAY SUAREZ: Along with the raw reduction in the number of warheads, what else is in the agreement?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: This agreement is very simple; it is an agreement of about three and a half pages. It was negotiated over a period of about five months. And it really represents a new era in U.S.-Russian relations. It codifies what President Bush and President Putin have decided independently are the levels needed to defend their countries.
And what this treaty does is now to put that in a legally binding agreement, but to do so in a way that doesn't look like an agreement that would you make with an enemy like the Soviet Union, but rather more like a defense planning guidance with the Russians, and so it's a very different kind of agreement. But it does keep in place the START I verification measures so that both sides have confidence that these reductions are actually being made.
RAY SUAREZ: That phrase "like the agreement you would make with an enemy." The Soviet Union is gone. Russia is no longer the United States' enemy?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Russia is not the enemy of the United States. In fact, we're moving through a period of time now where we're seeing that we have more in common with the Russians in terms of security concerns than in conflict. We are partners in the war against terrorism. Russia has been really a stalwart partner in the counter-terrorism campaign.
We share, I think, many concerns and work together and are trying to work together on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We have a lot of work to do together, including in fields like the economy, where we have every desire to see Russia fully integrated into the international economy.
This is not the relationship with the Soviet Union. Russia is a different power, a potentially very constructive player in international politics. And this agreement, while important for what it does in reducing the nuclear arms of the two sides, is also important for what it says about what can be achieved when there is trust in a relationship.
RAY SUAREZ: During the negotiation period, the Bush Administration expressed the desire for something more informal, while the Russians wanted a codified and spelled out agreement. How did it end up this way?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, as the president said, we believed that it was not necessary to have a treaty because we are in a new phase of U.S.-Russian relations. But the president listened to his Russian partner. President Putin said that he thought it was important to have the codification, a legally binding agreement that would go past the two presidencies.
President Bush listened to that. He thought that was a good argument. In some ways, this is a transition from the old relationship in which we had to dot every "I" and cross every "T" where arms control agreements were hundreds if not thousands of pages where they took years and years and years to negotiate to something that's really rather simple; that says we need to reduce our arms-- our offensive nuclear weapons to 1700 to 2200. We will verify on the basis of Start I.
We will have periodic consultations every six months or so to talk about how we're doing and to have transparency into each other's defense planning. This is a very different kind of arrangement. The president is comfortable with it. His team is comfortable with it. But he was listening to his Russian partner who said that a treaty was important to Russia. And we think this is a very good outcome.
RAY SUAREZ: One other point the two sides had different views of let's say, is just what would it mean to take a warhead out of service? The Russians wanted something slightly different from what the United States wanted. Whose version of the future prevailed on that point?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I think we and the Russians are in complete agreement that this is the right way to go about this. There are several things about what happens to the warheads. The first point to make is that if they're not on carriers, if they're not on delivery vehicles, they can't be used. So when you remove warheads from delivery vehicles, you are making the nuclear arsenal smaller. That's a simple fact.
RAY SUAREZ: But they're not being dismantled.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The second point is that we will clearly destroy some warheads. Others will be put into storage. Some will be kept for spares or to test for reliability. But the disposition of warheads is something that we are prepared to continue to discuss with the Russians, but this treaty does not have to deal with that question.
And no arms control treaty has ever demanded the destruction of nuclear warheads. It would be hard to verify. This treaty is going to be carried out in the same way that for instance, the START II Treaty, which would have cut these offensive force totals to 3500.
RAY SUAREZ: Which was not ratified?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Which was not ratified. But that treaty was going to be fulfilled in the same way. You retire some platforms. The United States will, for instance, retire 50 Minutemen ICBM's - Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. You can convert some platforms to non-nuclear uses. We will do that with some of our Trident submarines.
And then the remainder of the warheads you can put in storage or you can destroy. But this is no different in that sense than the way warheads have been dealt with in every other arms control treaty.
RAY SUAREZ: This phases in over ten years. How will the two sides check that on each other' compliance with the treaty?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, there is no particular requirement to be down to any level at any point in time. Again, this is a different kind of arrangement between countries that are establishing levels of trust. We will obviously talk about what is being done. For instance, when we are getting ready to retire a system, we would say to the Russians, we are retiring 50 Minutemen. The Russians have ways of observing that.
We would expect the same kinds of reports on progress from the Russians. But this treaty does not require the sides to be down to specific levels at specific points in time. But they are pledged, the Presidents are pledged in this treaty; and in fact legally bound, to be at 1700-2200 by December 31, 2012.
RAY SUAREZ: But will there be Russians visiting missile silos in the United States? Will there be American technicians and military observers in various places in Russia watching these missiles go out of use?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, first of all, there are extensive verification measures already provided for in the START I Treaty. And one reason that we've kept those measures in place was so that all of these very elaborate measures didn't have to be renegotiated. They are now a part of this treaty as well, the verification measures.
We also anticipate that, as our relationship grows and as it becomes a different kind of relationship, there may be additional transparency measures that the two sides want to employ. But I can tell you that even in getting ready for this treaty, we've already had more exchange of data about the future, what it is we are planning to do with our nuclear forces, than at any other time in certainly U.S.-Soviet relations or now in U.S.-Russian relations. So there is a lot of data that is being exchanged.
People can look. There are clearly still national technical means. But there are also many verification measures that are available through the START I Treaty that will be available to the parties in this treaty.
RAY SUAREZ: For a long time in the post World War II period, the whole idea about nuclear weapons was that they were unthinkable to use. That's what made them so effective by one theory. What do we have them for now?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, in part, as the president said, we are liquidating a legacy of the Cold War. We certainly don't need them at the levels that we've had them. You showed in that little chart earlier on, 10,000 nuclear warheads at about the time the Soviet Union collapsed -- and now, coming down to 6,000, still far too many. And the President said all the way back in the campaign that there were far too many, and that he was prepared, if necessary, to unilaterally reduce the number of American offensive nuclear weapons because there ought to be a sense of what is sufficient to defend the country.
The truth of the matter is that there are still other nuclear powers in the world, small though they may be. It is still a somewhat uncertain future. And it makes some sense to have this draw down take place in an orderly fashion over a period of time. But the most important stabilizing factor in the U.S.-Russian relationship now is not so-called strategic stability, how the nuclear weapons have deployed or one way or another, but the fact that we and the Russians are increasingly moving toward a common security agenda. And it is truly unthinkable now that we and Russia would go to nuclear war somehow over the relatively smaller issues that still divide us.
The huge numbers came out of a period of time in which the Soviet Union was deep into Europe, in which there was great concern about a Soviet conventional move against Europe out of East Germany. NATO would try to respond, would be overwhelmed because the Warsaw Pact was conventionally superior, and you would have to go nuclear.
It was always a long shot, so to speak, that that was going to happen. But in an era where Poland is in NATO and Germany is unified, the arguments about strategic stability and the number of nuclear weapons simply don't make sense.
RAY SUAREZ: Could you have imagined this as a young student learning Russian and trying to think about a future in diplomacy?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I was one of the high priestesses of arms control. I used to count how many warheads could dance on the head of an SS-18 along with everybody else. But, no, it would have been impossible to imagine that with a Soviet Union that was a deep adversary of the United States.
The fact is that one reason that these arms control treaties became a kind of talisman against something bad, became in fact the centerpiece of so many summits between American Presidents and Soviet Presidents everybody would wait for that moment when the treaty was signed. They became that because the only thing practically that the Soviet Union and the United States agreed about was that they didn't want to annihilate each other. Everything else was in conflict. Everything else was a zero sum game. This is very different now.
And we expect that this treaty marks a real turning point. It is short. It is really just a codification of what the two sides want to do. And we believe that it's a transitional measure to a day when arms control will play a very minor role in U.S.-Russian relations if a role at all. We ought to be talking instead of about how many warheads we retain, we ought to be talking about integrating Russia into the international economy so that it can play a productive role.
We ought to be talking about the progress and trials of democratic institutions in Russia. We ought to be talking about our common security agenda in fighting terrorism. We ought to be talking about a closer relationship between NATO and Russia. That's the real agenda now of U.S.-Russian relations. But no, I could not have imagined it when I started to study the Soviet Union in the late '70s.
RAY SUAREZ: Let's move quickly to the Middle East. The Likud Party passed a resolution over the weekend that says "No Palestinian state will be established west of the Jordan River." Does that make everybody's job more complicated now?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, we will leave the internal politics of Israel to the Israelis and to Prime Minister Sharon. I will note that Prime Minister Sharon said that he will do what he believes is right for Israel. He will not be driven by politics. Our view is quite clear. There is only one way to bring peace ultimately to the region and that is to have two states: Israel and Palestine living side by side in a secure environment.
The Palestinian people deserve to have a state in which they can live in peace. Now the process to get there is what we need now to spend the time on. And one of the elements of getting there will be institutional reform of the Palestinian Authority. It needs a unified security apparatus, which is accountable. It needs transparent, financial and economic relations so that monies that go in for reconstruction or monies that go in to rebuild the Palestinian areas are clearly spent on those tasks.
It needs political reform because it is true that a Palestinian state cannot, as President Bush has said, be built on a foundation in which there is substantial corruption and in which there are links to terrorist organizations that are troubling. So there is a long process here to be carried out. But we have absolutely no doubt, and President Bush was the first President to perhaps say it as clearly as he has, that the long-term peace in the Middle East depends on two states.
RAY SUAREZ: Today the unusual spectacle of a Cuban band playing the Star Spangled Banner was played out on the runway of Jose Marti Airport in Havana. What is the status of the Carter trip to Cuba?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, I myself have talked with President Carter prior to his trip. He has been a long time fighter for human rights. And it is our expectation that he will use this opportunity to talk about human rights in Cuba, to do it in a way that perhaps gives some succor and some sense of being connected to the United States to all of those people who are caught in the tyranny of Fidel Castro's regime.
This is a regime that is murderous on its political prisoners, that does not allow political opposition; that has parliamentary elections coming up in the fall that really ought to be elections that are free and fair and internationally observable and recognizable. This is a country that still will not allow direct payment of wages from foreign companies to its workers. This is a country in which entrepreneurship, if you can start a business, it's only so that the government really owns that business.
There is a lot of work to do in Cuba to make it meet anything like the kinds of international standards that are being asked of everybody in the world. You know, the Organization of American States has the Cuban flag still there. But the Cuban chair is empty because Cuba is the only country in the hemisphere that is not democratic. The need to speak out about that -- the need to tell people in Cuba that they are not forgotten by the rest of the world is extremely important - and we expect that President Carter will do that. President Bush himself will talk about that very shortly in a speech.
It is extremely important that Castro not get the idea somehow or the view that people have forgotten that he is the only tyrant in the western hemisphere and that as great democracies, we have a responsibility to say that.
RAY SUAREZ: The ante appeared to have been up understand by the Administration last week when Undersecretary of State Bolton listed Cuba with other countries developing weapons of mass destruction. And, in particular, he mentioned the possible bio weapons program in Havana. Do we, as a country, have this sort of nailed down, the evidence? Are we sure they're transferring technology to other countries?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: There is plenty of reasons to be very concerned about what the Cubans are doing in this area. And what Undersecretary Bolton was doing was putting it on the agenda. Now how it's dealt with will depend in part on what Fidel Castro is willing to do. I will say that you can't show someone a biotech lab and be assured that they're not creating weapons of mass destruction.
That's not how biological weapons work. They're actually very easy to conceal. You need multiple measures to make certain that biological weapons are not being developed and transferred. But Undersecretary Bolton and I believe Secretary Powell today confirmed again our deep concerns about this issue.
RAY SUAREZ: Will you want to talk to Jimmy Carter when he comes back?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Absolutely. I've talked to President Carter several times since we've been here. I'm very much interested in what he finds when he's in Cuba. He is someone, as I said, who has spoken out about human rights.
And he'll have the opportunity to do that, I hope, because the Castro government is the one government in this hemisphere that is not made even the slightest move toward the basic political freedoms that the people of this hemisphere are now enjoying. I look forward to talking with President Carter. We talk about other things frequently.
RAY SUAREZ: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Thank you for being with us.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Thank you very much.