16 December 2001
Transcript: Powell Says U.S. Withdrawal from ABM not Creating Crisis
or Arms Race
(Secretary of State interviewed December 16 on "Meet the Press")
U.S. plans to withdraw from the U.S.-Russia Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty, announced December 13 by President Bush, are not creating a
crisis in the U.S. relationship with Russia and are not creating a new
arms race, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Interviewed December 16 on the NBC television program "Face the
Nation," Powell pointed out that U.S. officials discussed the matter
with Russian officials for 11 months before the ABM announcement, and
that the two nuclear superpowers have now agreed to bring their
nuclear arsenals down even below the levels that existed before the
ABM treaty was signed in 1972.
The Russians "regret our departure" from the treaty, he said. "But
they understand that we have been saying for a long time ... we would
have to get out of the constraints of this treaty."
"So there is not going to be an arms race with the Russians and it is
not going to be a crisis in our relationship," he said.
Asked about perceptions of U.S. unilateralism on this and other
issues, Powell, said the charge is not fair. "We spend an enormous
amount of our time, the President's time, my time, [Defense] Secretary
Rumsfeld's time dealing with our friends around the world, pulling
coalitions together, working within NATO, assisting the EU in their
efforts, working with our friends in Asia."
Powell said that when U.S. national interests are not served by
participating in multilateral efforts, or in efforts that do not seem
to the United States to serve the purpose that others think they do,
"we have to speak out, we have to defend our interests."
Speaking specifically of the Biological Warfare Convention protocol,
"we have said repeatedly over the last year that we had the most
profound difficulties with this new protocol," Powell said. "And what
we have done now is to work with our partners in Geneva to suspend
this negotiation for a year. And I have committed to my colleagues in
the conference that I will spend this next year and the United States
will spend this next year trying to find a way to move forward with
the Biological Warfare Convention protocol."
On the Middle East conflict, Powell said recent U.S. efforts towards a
resolution -- President Bush's speech at the United Nations in
November, Powell's own November speech in Louisville, Kentucky, and
Senior Advisor Anthony Zinni's mission to the region -- "all of that
was blown up by these terrorist organizations on the Palestinian
Powell said the terrorists "are attacking [Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yasser] Arafat just as surely as they are attacking the
people of Israel and the state of Israel. And Mr. Arafat has to act
Powell made his comments before Arafat's television speech the same
day calling on the Palestinian terrorists to end their attacks. Powell
said Arafat remains relevant to Middle East peace efforts because he
remains the lawful head of the Palestinian Authority, and is so
recognized by the United States. But he said the failure to end the
violence is with the parties in the region, and "Especially, I have to
say, on the part of the Palestinians for not getting the violence
On Afghanistan and the anti-terrorism campaign, Powell said that in
response to the revelations on the Usama bin Laden videotape released
to the public December 13 about connections to several figures in
Saudi Arabia, the United States has talked to the Saudi government
about the matter.
While the Saudi government stripped bin Laden of his citizenship years
ago, "there are connections that are troublesome, and we are in
discussions with the Saudis about these various connections and how
institutions in Saudi Arabia and charitable organizations in Saudi
Arabia have been used over the years to provide financial support to
these kinds of organizations," Powell said, adding that "the Saudis
have been very cooperative. And it is troubling and it is troubling to
them as well," he said.
Asked about the recent terrorist attack on the Indian parliament and
its likely effect on Indian-Pakistani relations, Powell noted that
Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff immediately condemned the attack
and said he is taking action against likely perpetrators.
"I think the Indian Government clearly has the legitimate right of
self-defense," Powell said. "But I think we have to be very careful in
this instance because if, in the exercise of that right of
self-defense we have states going after each other, we could create a
much more difficult situation, a situation that could spiral out of
control. So we are encouraging both sides to share information with
each other and to come together in this campaign against terrorism and
not escalate it to a level where it could get out of control."
Following is the State Department transcript of Powell's interview:
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
December 16, 2001
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Interview on NBC's Meet The Press with Tim Russert
December 16, 2001
QUESTION: Joining us now, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Mr.
SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, Tim.
QUESTION: Reports on the wires that al-Qaida has fallen, that the
Eastern Alliance Afghan troops, along with US bombing, have destroyed
them. They are either dead or taken captive. And yet, no sign of Usama
bin Laden. What can you tell us?
SECRETARY POWELL: I can tell you that that part of the campaign is
going very well. Al-Qaida is, if not totally destroyed, well on the
way to being destroyed in Afghanistan. Let's remember that there are
many al-Qaida cells still active around the world that we will have to
go after. This is a long-term campaign.
With respect to Usama bin Laden, we have no reason to believe that he
has either been killed or captured yet, of course. We don't know where
he is at this moment. He might still be in that area that the Eastern
Alliance forces are closing in on. He might be somewhere else. We
QUESTION: There were reports a few days ago there was a voice heard on
some intercepted communications. They thought it was Usama bin Laden,
but it could have been the old trick of playing a pre-recorded tape
just to throw us off.
SECRETARY POWELL: It could have been that. It could have been him.
It's not known. And we have never been able to confirm that it was his
voice. So there was a report that is out there. It's about five or six
days old now. So I don't think it's fresh information that is
QUESTION: Sixty-two percent of the American people tell Newsweek
Magazine that unless we get Usama bin Laden, this will not have been a
successful operation. Do you agree with that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it will be a successful operation because
we've destroyed al-Qaida in Afghanistan and we have ended the role of
Afghanistan as a haven for terrorist activity. That is a success.
We, of course, want Usama bin Laden and as President Bush said, we
will get him. Whether we get him this week, next week, whether it
takes us one year or two years, we will bring him to justice or
justice will be brought to him. And the American people have been told
by the President we need to understand that we have to be patient. But
as far as his effectiveness in Afghanistan, as the head of this
organization, that has been destroyed. Now we have to go after the
rest of the organization.
That is why the President has made it clear from the very beginning;
this is not a one-shot deal. It is a long-term campaign against
terrorism, and the first phase of it is against al-Qaida and we are
being very successful in this first phase.
QUESTION: US troops will stay in Afghanistan for the unforeseen
SECRETARY POWELL: US troops will stay there until they have
accomplished their mission, which is to defeat the Taliban -- well
under way -- destroy al-Qaida -- well under way -- and do everything
they can to find Usama bin Laden. There will come a time when that
mission will have been completed. The international security force is
arriving under a UN mandate, and I expect that most US troops will
leave at that time, although some troops may remain involved in
enabling the international security force to get in and to help
QUESTION: We will not be part of the UN security force?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't expect that you will see US combat troops
there for any length of time as part of that international security
force. But to get that kind of a force into a remote place like
Afghanistan, the US has certain capabilities that I am sure will be
called upon by the force and by the United Nations.
QUESTION: On Thursday, our government released a tape that had been
found in Afghanistan of Usama bin Laden. I want to show you just a
small portion of that right now, and for our viewers as well.
Colin Powell, why is that man laughing?
SECRETARY POWELL: He is laughing because he has been responsible for
the death of thousands of innocent citizens and, in his warped, evil
mind, he thinks this is some reflection of a faith, a faith that he
has degraded, a faith that tolerates no such action. He is taking
credit and he is sharing and laughing, gleefully enjoying the fact
that he was responsible for the loss of thousands of lives. And as
more and more people see this tape and more and more people later that
evening or the next day reflect on the nature of this man, the nature
of his cause, they will see how truly evil he is and this cause is.
And I am sure that more and more people will understand the importance
of us sticking with this campaign against his organization and similar
organizations that kill innocent people in the name of false causes.
QUESTION: When you first saw him in that tape, what was your physical,
SECRETARY POWELL: Mad. Absolutely outraged to listen to this man talk
this way and to claim that he was representing some faith: Incarnate
evil right there. No question about it.
QUESTION: I want to show you a photograph of Zacarias Moussaoui. He is
the so-called twentieth hijacker. He never got onboard a plane but has
been indicted now. And yet he will be part of our criminal justice
system; he will not be a military tribunal person. Why?
SECRETARY POWELL: As the President has always said and the Attorney
General has always said, there are many tools available to the United
States Government to bring people to justice. And because the
President created the option of using a military tribunal did not mean
that all other ways of bringing someone to justice were null and void.
And so in this instance, the Attorney General and the US attorneys
responsible for this case made a judgment that it was appropriate to
bring him before a court of law, civil court of law as opposed to a
military tribunal. It seems perfectly reasonable to me. The President
always said the tribunal was an option in those unique cases requiring
the particularities, the particular aspects of a military tribunal. So
I don't see anything terribly unusual about what the Attorney General
QUESTION: Democratic Joe Lieberman, Democratic Senator, had this to
say, and I'll put it on the screen: If we will not try Zacarias
Moussaoui before a military tribunal, a non-citizen alleged to be a
co-conspirator in the attacks that killed 4,000 Americans, who will we
try in a military tribunal?
SECRETARY POWELL: We will try who the President determines needs to be
tried before a military tribunal. Because there are certain
circumstances with respect to sources and methods and with respect to
the nature of the charges against that individual as appropriate and
based on the recommendations that the President will receive from the
Attorney General and I'm sure the Secretary of Defense and others. So
it is not a one-size-fits-all, because you are a non-alien, you
suddenly go before your -- or, rather, you're an alien and you
suddenly go before a military tribunal. That is what justice is all
about. Look at the circumstances, look at the case, look at the
evidence, look at what we're trying to accomplish and put it before
the right forum.
QUESTION: I want to show you John Walker. This is a man who, at age
20, decided to fight against the United States of America, to fight
for the Taliban. When you were 20 years old, you were actively
considering -- well on your way to a military career. What is your
sense of John Walker?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know enough about this young man to make a
judgment. All I know is that in a misguided manner, he went and joined
the Taliban. But once it became clear at the very beginning of this
campaign that he was now going to be fighting against America, his own
nation, that was a time for him to leave this. And so now he is going
to have to pay the consequences of his action.
QUESTION: Is he a traitor?
SECRETARY POWELL: I will let a court decide that. But, certainly, it
would -- based on what I have seen so far, his actions would move in
that direction. But I would let a court make a judgment. I think he
has shamed himself, he has shamed his family and now he has to pay the
consequences for his action.
QUESTION: He is talking to US officials. Could he help himself by
SECRETARY POWELL: It depends on what information he might have that
would be useful. But I would encourage him to cooperate in every
possible way as he is being interrogated by US authorities.
QUESTION: Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi
Arabia. In that same tape that we've been talking about of Usama bin
Laden -- and I am going to show a small piece right now -- here he is
walking into the room. He is the taller person heading in there. And
now he leans down and hugs this gentleman who is now reported to be
legless. At first we were told the gentleman on the right of your
screen was Sheikh Gilmati. The New York Times says he is now Khaled
al-Harbi from Saudi Arabia.
How did someone with no legs get from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan in a
position to meet and hug Usama bin Laden?
SECRETARY POWELL: Obviously, there is a connection between the two
with sufficient formality to it that they were able to transport him
there, get him access and move him into the country. And it's
troublesome. And I know for a fact that our intelligence agencies are
making sure we know who this individual was and are tracing him down
and determining what those connections might be and where that trail
might take us.
QUESTION: What have the Saudis told you about him?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have had no direct discussions with the Saudis
about that particular individual, but I'm sure our intelligence
agencies are talking to the Saudis about him. We are trying to get a
firm identification of him, so there is no question about who we are
QUESTION: Let me show some more of this tape, and you'll see it here.
Because the conversation is so familiar, "thanks to Allah." What is
the stand of the mosque there in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden asks. Then
the Sheikh says, they're very positive. Bin Laden: The day of the
event, the exact time -- precisely at the same time -- he's trolling
for information -- another sheikh, Bahrani, gave a very impressive
sermon. Thanks be to Allah, says bin Laden. He told the youth you were
asking for martyrdom and wondered where you should go, suggesting they
go join bin Laden, and Allah was inciting them to go, thanks be to
Allah, bin Laden says. His position is very encouraging. When I paid
him the first visit a year ago, he asked me, how is bin Laden. He
sends you his special regards.
And then bin Laden goes on, what about Sheikh al-Rayan. And honestly,
I didn't have a chance to meet with him, the other fellow says.
In that same interview, bin Laden asks about three or four other
sheikhs from Saudi Arabia. It appears that bin Laden is very closely
associated with Saudi Arabia, gets a lot of money from there. Isn't
that of grave concern to us? And what do we tell the Saudi Government.
SECRETARY POWELL: We talked to the Saudi Government about this. Let's
also remind ourselves that the Saudi Government stripped him of his
citizenship many years ago and made him an exile in his own country,
in his own society, and disavowed him. At the same time, there are
connections that are troublesome, and we are in discussions with the
Saudis about these various connections and how institutions in Saudi
Arabia and charitable organizations in Saudi Arabia have been used
over the years to provide financial support to these kinds of
organizations. And this is what we are in contact with the Saudis
about to pull all of this network up. And the Saudis have been very
cooperative. And it is troubling and it is troubling to them as well.
QUESTION: Have the Saudis done everything they should have done to cut
off funding for Islamic fundamentalists?
SECRETARY POWELL: At this point, every request we have put before the
Saudis, they have responded to positively. They have taken action and
they are going to do more as we give them more information to act
upon. So they have been cooperative.
They realize this is not just something having to do with the United
States; it is a threat to them as well. And if they want to be a
responsible member of these coalition and to participate in this
campaign against terrorism, they have to do everything that is
required, and they have been forthcoming.
QUESTION: Israel. Prime Minister Sharon says that Yasser Arafat is now
irrelevant. Do you agree with that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, he is not irrelevant, because he is the head
of the Palestinian Authority and made head of the Palestinian
Authority through a process that came out of the Oslo Accord of 1993,
and it is somebody that we recognize as the head of the Palestinian
Authority, and he is seen by the Palestinian people as the leader of
the Palestinian people.
But as President Bush said the other day, and we have been saying
repeatedly, as the leader, he has to lead. He has to act like a
leader. And we have been putting pressure on Mr. Arafat to act like a
leader and get this violence under control, to go after these
organizations such as Hamas -- terrorist organizations that are
destroying the dream of peace for the Palestinian people and the
We created circumstances as recently as just a month ago, when I gave
my speech in Louisville, when President Bush spoke at the United
Nations General Assembly announcing a vision for a Palestinian state
as an American position. We then created a way for the two sides to
talk to each other. We sent General Zinni over to try to get that
dialogue going. And all of that was blown up by these terrorist
organizations on the Palestinian side. They are attacking Mr. Arafat
just as surely as they are attacking the people of Israel and the
state of Israel. And Mr. Arafat has to act against them.
QUESTION: We have given Mr. Arafat a list of people he should arrest.
Has he followed up and arrested those people?
SECRETARY POWELL: The Israelis have identified people who have been
involved in this kind of terrorist activity. The names have been
passed to the Palestinians and they have not arrested many names on
that list. And very often those they do arrest are seen to be free in
just a few days' time.
What we said to Mr. Arafat is this isn't going to get us anywhere. And
you saw it well up this week when Mr. Sharon took the action that he
did. And he has the responsibility to defend the people of Israel and
we are going to stay in touch with both sides. As you know, we are
bringing General Zinni back for consultations, and he will be home for
a while. But we are not disengaging and his mission has not ended. We
are just bringing him home for consultation until we can see how
circumstances develop over the next several days or weeks and when he
might be able to go back and serve a useful purpose.
QUESTION: When you sent General Zinni over as a Mideast envoy, you
said he would stay as long as it takes. You have now recalled him.
SECRETARY POWELL: We weren't going to leave him there without ever
bringing him home. So he has come home for consultations, but he is
still our special envoy for that purpose. And he will do whatever it
takes. But, you know, it is not up to General Zinni. The failure is
not General Zinni's. It is not the United States Government's.
The failure at this point, on this Sunday morning, the failure is with
the parties in the region. Especially, I have to say, on the part of
the Palestinians for not getting the violence under control. If the
violence gets under control, goes down to zero or as near zero as you
can make it, and when you speak out against this kind of violence,
when you stop incitement in the press and when you show this kind of
positive movement to get the violence down, then I think you will get
a response from the Israeli side and we can start to move forward.
Mr. Arafat will be speaking to his people today and let's hope he
gives them that message.
QUESTION: Will Arafat survive this?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know. Many people have written him off
previously. But he is still here and he is still recognized as the
leader of the Palestinian people.
QUESTION: India and Pakistan. The Indian parliament was blown up.
People were killed, parts of it. The Indian Government said Pakistanis
did this, they found the bodies of the terrorists, they were Pakistani
citizens, and that Pakistan must move against two terrorist
organizations that live in and are harbored, they say, by the
Pakistani government. The Indian Government is threatening
Would we allow, accept, understand, if the Indian Government
retaliated against Pakistan?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think it is important to note that President
Musharraf immediately -- the President of Pakistan, immediately
condemned the attacks in New Delhi and said that he is taking action
against the two organizations that have been tentatively identified as
terrorist organizations that might have been responsible for this.
I think the Indian Government clearly has the legitimate right of
self-defense. But I think we have to be very careful in this instance
because if, in the exercise of that right of self-defense we have
states going after each other, we could create a much more difficult
situation, a situation that could spiral out of control. So we are
encouraging both sides to share information with each other and to
come together in this campaign against terrorism and not escalate it
to a level where it could get out of control.
QUESTION: How dangerous is the situation now between India and
SECRETARY POWELL: I think it is very tense. It has the potential of
becoming very dangerous. I think that the Indian Government, Prime
Minister Vajpayee, made it clear that he was allowing some time to
pass in order to get a reaction from the Pakistani Government. And the
Pakistani Government is taking some steps now. But what we don't want
to do is to see the rhetoric get so ratcheted up that the rhetoric
then is followed by action, which lets the whole situation go out of
QUESTION: Iraq. Why do we import a million barrels of oil a day from
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, under the Oil For Food program, Iraq is
allowed to sell oil as a way of generating income to serve the needs
of its people. And we are an energy-consuming nation and we have needs
for oil and we get that oil in many places and Iraq is a large
provider of oil not only to the United States but to other nations as
well. And our imports are controlled under the Oil For Food program
which allows civilian goods to go to the people of Iraq and there are
rather stringent controls, which are in the process of being tightened
QUESTION: Do you think that is a good policy?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it is a policy that had to be adopted some
years ago in order to let Iraq use its oil to provide for the needs of
its people but do it in a way that constrains their ability to develop
weapons of mass destruction. A better policy would be not to have an
Oil For Food program and to see the Iraqi regime let inspectors in and
make sure that they are not developing weapons of mass destruction.
And an even better outcome would be for the Iraqi regime to
essentially leave power in due course.
QUESTION: Will we insist that Saddam Hussein let the inspectors in?
SECRETARY POWELL: That has been our position and remains our position.
It is not just the United States' position; it is the position of the
United Nations. And the resolution just reauthorizing the Oil For Food
program for another six months makes that point.
QUESTION: But he keeps saying no. Are we endlessly patient?
SECRETARY POWELL: Then the sanctions will remain in place and we will
control close to 80 percent of all revenue available to the regime.
The other 20 percent is what he gets through various cross-border
smuggling and other kinds of activities.
QUESTION: Let me show you what Secretary of Defense -- now Vice
President Dick Cheney said back in 1990: It's far better to deal with
Saddam now while the international coalition against Iraq is intact
than it will be for us to deal with him in five or ten years from now
-- which is now -- when the members of the coalition have gone their
disparate ways and when Saddam has become even more -- even better
armed and more threatening.
In hindsight, should we have not gotten rid of Saddam Hussein ten
years ago at the Persian Gulf War?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it would have been desirable if he had not
survived the Persian Gulf War. And less than a month after Secretary
Cheney said those words, we went into Kuwait and threw the Iraqi army
out. We did deal with him at that time. He is no longer the threat to
the region that he was ten years ago. We all would have been better
off if he had not survived.
But we have to remind everyone that the mission of the coalition and
the mission of the operation at that time as authorized by the United
Nations, decided by President Bush 41 and by the United States
Congress was to kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait and to restore the
legitimate government of Kuwait, and all of that has been
It has been an untidy ten years since, but at the same time we have
succeeded in keeping him constrained but not totally been able to keep
him from trying to pursue these weapons of mass destruction. And
that's why it is important to try to get the inspectors back in and
that's why we continue to believe that a regime change is a sensible
QUESTION: But we could have finished him off.
SECRETARY POWELL: We could have invaded Iraq and broken up the
coalition and destroyed the mandate that was given to us by the UN.
But that was never the original intent of the mission and it was not
what we set out to do.
QUESTION: Senator John McCain, Senator Jesse Helms, Senator Trent
Lott, Senator Richard Shelby, Henry Hyde the Chairman of the House
International Relations Committee, wrote a letter to the President.
And let me show you on the board. It says: As long as Saddam Hussein
is in power in Baghdad, he will seek to acquire weapons of mass
destruction. We believe we must directly confront Saddam sooner rather
than later. Let us maximize the likelihood of a rapid victory by
beginning immediately to assist the Iraqi opposition on the ground
inside Iraq, providing them money and assistance already authorized
Congress has authorized and appropriated $97 million to help fund
insurgent groups in Iraq. Will the administration give that money out
and help foment a revolution?
SECRETARY POWELL: Most of that money has been given out and used, and
not directly for the purpose of putting in place an armed opposition
inside of Iraq. And we are continuing to examine the feasibility of
such options, how such plans might unfold, and staying in touch with
not only the members of Congress who signed that letter, but Iraqi
opposition leaders. And, in fact, recently an American delegation from
the State Department was in northern Iraq discussing activities in
that part of Iraq with Kurdish leaders.
So we watch this carefully. We look for opportunities and we
understand the sentiment contained in that letter and what the
Congress has told us to do with the $97 million that has been
QUESTION: Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The President has said within
six months the United States will withdraw from that treaty. Senator
Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said
this: Unilaterally abandoning the ABM treaty is a serious mistake.
There is no missile defense test the US must conduct in the near
future that would require us to walk away from a treaty that has
helped keep the peace for the last 30 years. Is that accurate?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't agree with the senator. The fact of the
matter is, sooner or later a test will come along, whether it is in
the next six months, eight months, nine months, ten months, a test
will come along that will hit the limits of the ABM treaty. And for 11
months, we have worked with the Russians to see if we could find a way
that would give us the flexibility we needed to do all the testing
required to develop a missile defense system. And we were unable to
find a way to move forward. So under the terms of the treaty, we have
notified the Russians that we would be leaving the treaty in six
This is not a crisis in our relationship with the Russians. They
regret our departure. But they understand that we have been saying for
a long time -- even the previous administration said in due course we
would have to get out of the constraints of this treaty. And so the
Russians recognize that. We don't have a crisis. And instead of an
arms race breaking out, the Russians at the same time they took note
of our notification said, let's work together to reduce the number of
strategic offensive weapons that we both have.
So there is not going to be an arms race with the Russians and it is
not going to be a crisis in our relationship. In fact, if you go back
to 1972, at the time the ABM treaty that people are so in love with,
some people are so in love with, was signed at the same time that the
SALT I reduction agreement was signed, we had about 2,000 weapons. In
the next 20 years, in the existence of the ABM treaty and SALT I, we
went up to 12,000 weapons. So it didn't end the arms race; the arms
race continued during the entire period of the ABM treaty which was
supposed to keep this from happening. And now we are bringing those
weapons back down to much, much lower levels than existed even at the
time the treaty was signed. And we will continue to lower those
numbers in the absence of the treaty, which will disappear in six
QUESTION: Criticism continues of the Bush Administration that, when it
comes to the ABM treaty or it comes to the Germ Warfare conference or
the Global Warming conference, that we like to go it alone, that we
walk out of conferences many times and say, no, I'm sorry, we're not
going to participate. And that gets the label "unilateralism." Do you
think that's fair?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I don't think it's fair. I mean, this is the
same administration that saw the President go to Warsaw and make a
powerful speech about the enlargement of NATO. We spend an enormous
amount of our time, the President's time, my time, Secretary
Rumsfeld's time dealing with our friends around the world, pulling
coalitions together, working within NATO, assisting the EU in their
efforts, working with our friends in Asia.
The President in the midst of this crisis went to Shanghai to
participate in the APEC summit meeting. And so I think we can show a
very good record of being a good multilateralist to the extent that
that label has some cache these days. But where our national interests
are not served by being multilateral or participating in something
that we know is not in our national interests and we don't think
serves the purpose that others think it serves, we have to speak out,
we have to defend our interests.
And we have done that with respect to the ABM treaty, which had to be
a unilateral decision; there are only two parties to it. And with
respect to the Biological Warfare Convention protocol, we have said
repeatedly over the last year that we had the most profound
difficulties with this new protocol. And what we have done now is to
work with our partners in Geneva to suspend this negotiation for a
year. And I have committed to my colleagues in the conference that I
will spend this next year and the United States will spend this next
year trying to find a way to move forward with the Biological Warfare
QUESTION: We have worked together in America's Promise, Alliance for
Youth, the notion of service to our country. Tom Friedman last Sunday
wrote a very interesting column and he talked about the need to now
take advantage, if you will, of the atmosphere, the feelings that
exist in our country post September 11th. And let me show you his
column: "Ask Not What" is the headline.
It is clear there is a deep reservoir of energy out there that could
be channeled to become a real force for American renewal and
transformation and it's not being done. Imagine if the President
announced the Manhattan project to make us energy independent in a
decade on the basis of domestic oil, improved mile standards and
renewable resources. Imagine if the President called on every young
person to consider enlisting in some form of service, Army, Navy,
Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Peace Corps, Teach for America,
Americorps, FBI, CIA. People would enlist in droves.
Should the President ask for more sacrifice?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think the President has been doing a very
effective job in talking to young people. I mean, getting youngsters
of America not old enough to be in the Army, but young enough to have
a quarter or a half a dollar to contribute that money, to give to the
children of Afghanistan. I think he has done a great job in supporting
youth serving organizations and getting people more in touch with
their communities. So I think he has been a leader in this regard.
I think it is clear that we are so proud of our military that people
are now stepping forward to join our military in greater numbers. They
are also stepping forward to find out more about the CIA and how they
could be part of this exciting organization.
So I think we have touched into the soul of America, got rid of some
of the scandal attention, where we focused all summer long on various
little scandals that, in retrospect, were irrelevant to what was
really happening in this country. So I think the President is
committed to grabbing hold of this idea, grabbing hold of this
promise, and I think you will see more of that in the weeks and months
QUESTION: And also a chance to become energy independent so we don't
have to worry about Saudi Arabia and Iraq and their oil?
SECRETARY POWELL: The President put out an energy plan long before
September 11th. It was one of the first things this administration
did. The President gave the task to the Vice President and we put out
an energy plan for America, the first time one has been done in
decades, and it was placed before the American people, it was placed
before the American Congress.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Colin Powell, thanks for joining us.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)