State's Armitage Attributes Positive Developments to Steadfast Policies
December 24, 2003
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage dismissed the idea that recent actions on the part of Libya, Syria and Iran were a reaction to the capture of Saddam Hussein but asserted that they are the long-term fruit of persistent policies aimed at bringing these nations into the international mainstream.
Speaking in a December 23 interview on National Public Radio, Armitage said, "The Libyan question, the discussions there, started over nine months ago. The Syrians, we've been hectoring them to do the right thing for the last seven months. And Iran decided to accede to the additional protocol regarding nuclear inspections following the visit of the three foreign ministers of the European Union."
He continued by affirming, "I think that the fact the Bush Administration has engaged in muscular multilateralism is in the back of the minds of all those three countries."
Specifically, the deputy secretary was referring to Libya's recent decision to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program, Syria's seizure of $23 million in suspected Al-Qaida assets and Iran's signature of the additional protocol regarding nuclear inspections.
In the same interview, Armitage welcomed the measures being taken by the Pakistani government to address the issue of Pakistani nuclear scientists who were allegedly involved in the proliferation of nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya.
He said, "I saw a statement from Pakistan today where the government said [the scientists] may have been motivated by personal ambition and greed. So if that's the case and they were evading the laws of Pakistan, I hope the Pakistanis will wrap them up, and I think they will."
Following is the text of the interview:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
December 24, 2003
Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage
On National Public Radio with Juan Williams
December 23, 2003
MR. WILLIAMS: We are joined now by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Mr. Armitage, thanks for joining us.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Good morning. Happy holidays.
MR. WILLIAMS: Tell me a little bit about the latest that's coming out of the interviews with Saddam Hussein about his ties to other countries who may have supported his regime.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: He is, as I understand it, not being totally cooperative in discussions about those matters. Particularly who was supporting him trying to evade UN sanctions is something that we've very interested in, but I don't think we've got to the bottom of that yet.
MR. WILLIAMS: Deputy Secretary Armitage, do you believe that the capture of Saddam Hussein set off a chain reaction of Iran allowing surprise nuclear inspections, Libya agreeing to disarm its nuclear weapons, and finally Syria seizing $23 million believed to belong to al-Qaida? Is this part of the benefit of preemptive action by the Bush Administration?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, you've just asked two questions. The capture of Saddam Hussein didn't have anything to do with the above. The Libyan question, the discussions there, started over nine months ago. The Syrians, we've been hectoring them to do the right thing for the last seven months. And Iran decided to accede to the additional protocol regarding nuclear inspections following the visit of the three foreign ministers of the European Union.
But I think that the fact the Bush Administration has engaged in muscular multilateralism is in the back of the minds of all those three countries you named.
MR. WILLIAMS: So you think it really has changed the dynamic taking place on the world stage?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, that's certainly our hope. We think it has.
MR. WILLIAMS: In Pakistan, a scientist is now identified as the source for nuclear proliferation in Iran, Libya, North Korea. What should the Pakistanis do with him? What is the U.S. telling the Pakistanis to do?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we've had good discussions with the Government of Pakistan about this. They are in the process of interviewing, and interrogating, if you will, at least three nuclear scientists. And I saw a statement from Pakistan today where the government said they may have been motivated by personal ambition and greed. So if that's the case and they were evading the laws of Pakistan, I hope the Pakistanis will wrap them up, and I think they will.
MR. WILLIAMS: But it's not the case that the U.S. feels that it's supporting Musharraf, who was recently the subject of an assassination attempt, at the cost of possibly turning a blind eye to nuclear proliferation?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, that would really be against our long-term interest. President Musharraf has pledged that there won't be these transfers. In the last two years that I've been working closely with him, we have not seen such transfers, and I believe him.
MR. WILLIAMS: How quickly will the United States ease sanctions against Libya?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, I suspect it'll be a while. Saying something is not the same as doing something, and the "doing something" I'm referring to is getting rid of all these weapons and limiting the delivery systems, as well as making it clear to all of us, particularly the families of the Lockerbie victims, that terrorism is a thing of the past.
MR. WILLIAMS: Well, how can they prove that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: First of all, they've got to open up clearly and completely to international inspectors, and they've got to agree with the advice given to them by the international community, and they've got to follow through on all their commitments made to the Lockerbie families. So we'll know it pretty quickly.
MR. WILLIAMS: Just a moment, let's talk about the missions undertaken by former Secretary of State Baker.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Right.
MR. WILLIAMS: What did Germany, France and Russia get in exchange for writing off so much of the Iraqi debt?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The only thing I think they got in exchange is the fact that -- first of all, they haven't written off any particular amount of Iraqi debt. They've all agreed to substantial reductions within the Paris Club and --
MR. WILLIAMS: Wait, wait. Explain the Paris Club to me.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The Paris Club is a list -- I think it's -- or a group of 18 creditor nations who generally make loans in concert, or reduce or restructure loans in concert. And that's what the Germans, the French and the Russians have basically agreed to do, but they haven't put a figure next to it. We've still got some negotiation.
And Mr. Baker offered them nothing other than the opportunity to participate in the rebuilding of a free Iraq.
MR. WILLIAMS: So there is or is not a quid pro quo that says those countries will now be able to get contracts for reconstruction efforts in Iraq?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: They have always been eligible for subcontracts. I know of no change in the policy regarding prime contractors. They are not eligible.
MR. WILLIAMS: Is Mr. Baker talking to you, to officials of the State Department, or is this an independent mission?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, he talked to Secretary Powell a couple of times before he first took the mission; second, before he went out on the mission; and he's already both written and telephonically communicated with the Secretary upon his return from this first of what will be three separate missions.
MR. WILLIAMS: Let's change the subject again. What about the U.S. relationship with the Russians and Mr. Putin in the wake of questions that have arisen about recent elections and the jailing of a major oil baron in Russia?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah, the relationship with the Russian Federation is a bit troubled right now. I think anybody who wouldn't agree with that is not keeping their eye on it. We do think that this is still an evolving strategic relationship and we have an awful lot of places where we agree, and we have problem areas such as trade disputes and Chechnya and some that you referred to, democracy and human rights.
MR. WILLIAMS: And but there's no step, there's no step being contemplated to somehow express our concern to Mr. Putin?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we've expressed it publicly. The Secretary of State has done it in some of his recent pronouncements. We do it privately through our Ambassador and, if necessary, higher level contacts. And we keep pressure on where we think it's necessary. We're watching closely the Yukos affair and the Khodorkovsky case.
Mr. Putin has emphasized that all people are equal before the law, and we want to make sure that there is no sort of selective application of law.
MR. WILLIAMS: In Iran there is concern about a democratic reform movement. Senator Brownback has proposed setting aside money to support the opposition seeking to make reforms in Iran. Does State support this idea?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we support the development of democratic movements in Iran. But I was very moved by the Nobel Peace Prize winner's comments, the famous lawyer Shirin Ebadi, where she said to be really effective these movements have to be in and of Iranians themselves within the country, and not a function of outside assistance and outside string-pulling. And that's kind of where we are.
MR. WILLIAMS: So you do support Senator Brownback's idea, or don't?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, we've told Senator Brownback, with whom I've had many discussions on this, that this is a very good idea, parts of it we support, parts we don't. It's very difficult, I think, from outside to pick the winners and the losers inside a country such as Iran, and I think that we are of the position that Iranians are the people who have a right to determine their own destiny, and we do support their aspirations to live in freedom. And to that extent, we support Senator Brownback.
MR. WILLIAMS: Okay, now one last question on Israel.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sure.
MR. WILLIAMS: The wall seems to have stirred up even more controversy in recent days, but even so, Prime Minister Sharon says he's going to go ahead with sort of unilateral steps towards creating peace, withdrawing some settlements as well as dealing with the wall.
What is the U.S. policy at the moment?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, some unilateral steps might be helpful to the peace process and other unilateral steps would be harmful. And I think Prime Minister Sharon indicated he was going to give a bit of time before he made these decisions to see if the Palestinians could get their act together.
But in that same speech, Mr. Williams, I would note that Prime Minister Sharon embraced fully the roadmap as the real answer to the problems of -- or the search for peace in the Middle East.
MR. WILLIAMS: So the U.S. State Department sticks by the roadmap. But is there a next step? Is there something that we could signal in the future as a next logical meeting place or event to take place to advance the roadmap?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I met yesterday with the Minister of Finance of the Palestinian Authority to discuss some of these matters. We're not ready to have a next meeting place.
But I would note that there is a lot going on inside of Israel and inside the territories. Secretary Powell has met with the framers of the Geneva accord. We laterally met with Sari Nusseibeh, a professor, a Palestinian professor, both of whom are representing grassroots organization of Israelis and Palestinians who are crying out ever more loudly about the need for a solution. And I think this is a very positive development and can only be complementary to the roadmap.
MR. WILLIAMS: Well, I'm thinking that the Geneva accord was never fully embraced by the Administration, although Secretary Powell did meet with its authors. Has that attitude changed?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, it wasn't a matter of embracing it. We do find it complementary to the roadmap. What we did embrace, however, was the fact that Israelis and Palestinians were coming together of their own accord seeking a way forward, and we think that can only be helpful towards peace.
MR. WILLIAMS: All right. Happy holidays, Deputy Secretary Armitage.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And to you, Mr. Williams. Nice to chat with you again.
MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you. Bye-bye. http://usinfo.state.gov/utils/printpage.html?PHPSESSID=3588219cd6ff29f57a6de9e01712b8c0