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Target: Terrorism: National Security Adviser Rice Briefs Press

Aired November 1, 2001 - 11:47   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Now Condoleezza Rice.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I would like to take a few minutes just to talk a little bit about the president's activities over the next week, including a series of speeches that he will make updating the American people and our coalition allies on the progress on the war on terrorism. And then, of course, I'll be happy to take your questions. The president thinks it's vitally important to make certain that the American people are kept informed about the nature of the threat that we face and the progress of our response.

I'm going to leave the timing and logistics of the exact timing of the president's speeches and briefings to Ari, but let me just give you a sense of what he plans to do.

Next week, the president will address the American people about homeland defense and security and our status and progress on this front, the home front, on the war on terrorism. He will speak to the American people about the ways in which our everyday lives have changed, necessarily, since the horrific events of September 11, and his optimism and resolve that despite these changes American values are constant and impermeable.

The president will also take an opportunity next week to announce new progress on the financial front against terrorism.

Concerning the war abroad, the president will consult with the members of the coalition. He does this regularly in phone calls each morning, but he'll have a couple of special opportunities next week. He will speak to a gathering in Warsaw, Poland, of Central European states that have gathered to talk about how they can best support the war on terrorism. And he wants very much to thank the Polish government for arranging this gathering.

He will talk about the importance of world leaders and coalition allies. He will define the nature of the global response to terrorism and update the progress on the war on terrorism, talking about the responsibilities of those who have joined the coalition.

The president will also have several heads of state here next week. He will visit with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, who will come here with President Chirac of France, with Prime Minister Vajpayee of India. He will also meet with President Cardoso of Brazil and Ahern of Ireland, and also, Bouteflika from Algeria.

Finally, the president will deliver his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday. So it's going to be a very busy week, both in talking about the home front, and in talking with members of the coalition about the progress in the war on terrorism.

And now, I'd be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: To follow up, the homeland defense speech, are you saying (inaudible) or Oval Office, or congressional address?

RICE: I'm going to let Ari address the logistics with you. But the president is going to take an opportunity next week to update the American people on homeland defense.

QUESTION: Assuming Poland is a satellite speech, by satellite?

RICE: That's right, he's not going to Poland, that's right. He's going to be on satellite.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) agreement on missile defense?

RICE: The president has been very consistent, going all the way back to the time that he was elected, that he had certain principles that he believes should guide us as we thought about the new environment in which we find ourselves with Russia at the end of the Cold War. Those principles have not changed.

First of all, he said that he believes very strongly that the United States ought to do a strategic nuclear review, a review of its offensive forces and bring those forces to a level consistent with our own deterrence needs, not as a matter of negotiation, but as a matter of restructuring our nuclear forces.

Secondly, the president has made clear that he believes that we're going to have to move beyond the ABM treaty for two reasons. First of all, because it constrains our ability to fully explore the possibilities for missile defense and, secondly, because he believes that it is not representative of the kind of relationship that we have with the Russians.

Now, obviously, we've been talking with the Russians at the head of state level, at the ministerial level and at the expert level for a number of months now. We believe that we are understanding each other better, that we're making progress, but I would caution against expecting any particular deal at any particular time.

We have a series of meetings that we've been having with the Russian President in Lubiana, Genoa, the recent meeting in Shanghai, and as you know, President Putin will be here shortly. So I would caution against expecting any particular deal at any particular time. But we do believe that we and the Russians are making progress on redefining our new relationship. QUESTION: Are you denying that there's been a tentative agreement on the range of nuclear arms...

RICE: I'm just saying that I would caution against expecting any particular deal at any particular time. As I have said to you many, many times, let's not try to keep score, that it's 1-0 or 2-0 or that it's the ninth inning. We are building this relationship over a long period of time with the Russians, and we're making steady progress.

QUESTION: May I follow on that, Dr. Rice? There was a sense out of one of the meetings that Secretary Powell had while he was in Shanghai that the Russians had indicated to us that there's a lot more that we can do in terms of testing within the framework of the ABM Treaty than we think we can do. Did this sort of notion of -- not an agreement, but some sort of understanding that followed those conversations?

RICE: Well, I think that we are getting to understand each other better over this long period of time. I think that the expert discussions have really told the Russians precisely the kinds of things that we're thinking about doing.

We've said that we're going to be transparent in our testing program. We've said that the Russians should know precisely what we're doing to move toward limited defenses. And so I don't think that it should be surprising to anyone that there is a better understanding and perhaps more comfort with how we're going to move forward.

But I'm not going to put words in the Russians' mouths as to precisely what they think of our testing program. We'll see how the discussions go over the next several months.


QUESTION: Can you at least say or perhaps explain that it's acceptable to lower the overall number of warheads?

RICE: The president has said from the very beginning -- in fact, he said during the campaign that he believed that American offensive nuclear force levels were probably too high for the tests of post-Cold War deterrence.

And he launched, upon becoming president, a strategic nuclear review. That review is moving toward conclusion. And the president's also made very clear that he believes the restructuring of American nuclear forces and numbers that are consistent with the deterrent mission is a matter of military planning. It's not a matter of negotiation. And so sooner or later, those talks will done internally.

QUESTION: Just to explain to the American people -- I mean, you apparently are exploring going below 2000 now.

RICE: What we're doing is looking at the level. RICE: And this is an internal review. This is not a review with the Russians that says we have to match warhead for warhead. We really believe the old arms control agreements in which you had to match warhead for warhead, system for system, ignoring geography, ignoring history, ignoring the threats around you, was the old way of thinking about this.

We think think that the best way to do this, and the president said it several times, is to ask the Pentagon to review America's needs for deterrence and move America's forces to a level that is appropriate to our deterrent needs. And we would expect that the Russians would do the same.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, it seems to me that your phraseology of moving beyond the ABM treaty has been purposely vague all along. Are you willing to accept amending the ABM treaty? Or, are you determined to scrap it entirely?

RICE: We have said all along that we need to find a way to achieve two goals. One is to give ourselves maximum flexibility for exploring the technologies that might give us the chance of an effective limit to defense. The ABM treaty is constraining.

The president has also made clear that he does not believe that this treaty is appropriate to this period of time. And that we need a new strategic framework with the Russians that is appropriate to this time. This was a treaty with the Soviet Union signed in 1972.

Now, we are working with the Russians and trying with the Russians to come to a better understanding of what that might mean, how it is we move beyond the ABM treaty. But that's what's going on here. The president's views have not changed.

QUESTION: So you can accept either amending it or scraping it and that's still (inaudible).

RICE: I've said that there are -- this is not a matter of negotiation, it's a matter of principle. But there are two reasons that the ABM treaty is problematic. One has to do with testing. The other has to do, however, with the nature of the relationship. And I think that both presidents have made clear that they want to come to agreement, that they want to move forward together. But we haven't come to an agreement on what the form of that should be.

QUESTION: Condi, pursuing that same point, could you take your two different issues. One of them is an immediate one, the testing one. You need to move forward with the testing in a relatively short period of time if you're going to meet your own schedules. The new strategic framework is a longer term issue. Could you foresee a situation in which you had a two-phase agreement in which the first phase has to do with testing, but keeps in place the ABM treaty? The second phase deals with the ultimate disposition of the ABM treaty and your framework?

RICE: I think we just have to continue to explore with the Russians how we meet these two goals that the president set out some time ago. I do think that all of the time that we've spent in discussions with the Russians, all of the time that they've spent with us, that we are understanding better each other of what our own constraints and demands are.

But I would not jump to any conclusions about precisely how this is all going to come out or when there is going to be an agreement. I think that would be a mistake.

QUESTION: The administration has said that the military campaign in Afghanistan is going according to plan. Yet some in Afghanistan, some in Pakistan and some even in Europe are confused as to what the plan is. Why hasn't more been achieved through the air campaign? When is the ground campaign going to begin in earnest? And there is some concern that this isn't going as well as the administration originally advertised or led the American people to believe. It's even caused anxiety in the stock market causing, in some cases, share prices to go down.

What can you tell the American people about the plan, why it's going so well and deal with those skeptical voices not only in the region, but amongst some of our European allies?

RICE: Well, I'd say several things. The first is that the military portion of this -- and I want to be very clear -- that the president made very clear early on that military power was only one element in the war on terrorism. And, in fact, "This is a different kind of war," he said, "Don't expect this to look like the Gulf War." This is going to take time to achieve the objectives that he laid out.

Those objectives are: to make certain that the Al Qaeda organization and its leadership are not capable of carrying out the kind of training, financing of terrorists that they've been carrying out for the last several years; to root them out -- to room them out wherever they might be; to make certain that, secondly, Afghanistan, which has been a country that they hijacked for their own purposes, to harbor terrorism, that Afghanistan can no longer be a sanctuary for terrorism; and that the Taliban understands that it made the wrong choice in continuing to harbor terrorists; and, thirdly, that we have to think about there's a broader war on terrorism. You can't be in favor of one set of terrorists and continue to harbor other terrorists.




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