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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Secretary of State Powell Says Regime in Iraq Must be Changed

Aired February 13, 2002 - 07:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Colin Powell was back on Capitol Hill yesterday saying the regime in Iraq must be changed, and that the Bush administration is working on ways to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

And last night, the White House found an unexpected ally in former Vice President Al Gore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even if we give first priority to the destruction of terrorist networks, and even if we succeed, there are still governments that could bring us great harm. And there is a clear case that one of these governments in particular represents a virulent threat in a class by itself: Iraq. As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: For his take on all of these anti-Iraq comments, we turn to Richard Butler, our ambassador-in-residence -- good morning.

RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER U.N. CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Good morning, Paula.

ZAHN: So he has talked twice in one day.

BUTLER: He did indeed.

ZAHN: We saw Secretary of State Colin Powell...

BUTLER: Yes.

ZAHN: ... say now is the time to talk about getting rid of Saddam Hussein.

BUTLER: Yes.

ZAHN: He's not clear exactly how this will be done diplomatically or militarily, and then you have later that day the former vice president saying the same thing.

BUTLER: Exactly. ZAHN: What is the significance of the timing of both of these gentlemen's comments?

BUTLER: Both sides of politics speaking with one voice. That's the inner message, and it's about Iraq. First of all, Al Gore, as you said I was there last night, was uncompromising about this. He spoke about -- quote -- "the final reckoning" -- unquote -- with Saddam Hussein. He made it very, very clear that this is unfinished business. It would be good for the Iraqi people, good for the whole world, good for the United States for us to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

He had another agenda in other areas of foreign policy, naturally somewhat different than that of the administration, but no daylight between them on the issue of Iraq.

ZAHN: I am wondering (UNINTELLIGIBLE) another part of the agenda was setting the stage for a potential run for the presidency. What kind of vibe did you get last night, before we move back to Iraq?

BUTLER: Well, yes, I think everyone in the room was asking themselves that question. No one asked him out loud.

ZAHN: I'm surprised at you.

BUTLER: Well...

ZAHN: That would have been such an obvious question coming from you.

BUTLER: Yes, I think so.

ZAHN: Was it (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

BUTLER: I think everyone, though, would have expected a fairly obvious answer, which is no answer, not at the present time. What was my assessment? Obviously he is giving it very, very serious thought.

This was not an intellectual speech. This was -- although it had a very high intellectual content, but it wasn't just for people's academic interest. This was a test run of the sort of agenda that he would pursue as a candidate, as a future president in the foreign policy arena. And it was detailed and clear. I thought he did a good job.

ZAHN: Let's come back to the secretary of state for a moment. Is it clear now that Colin Powell is on the same page as everybody else in the administration?

BUTLER: Absolutely, and he has done something truly important, I think, Paula. Remember in the axis of evil concept, there were three countries: Iran, North Korea and Iraq, not necessarily in that order, but they were the three. What Colin Powell did in the Congress was make very, very clear that there is one that's at the top of the list. That's Iraq. He said, we're not going to go war anytime soon with Iran or North Korea, but Iraq is a different matter. And he made it absolutely clear that the administration is planning, and in fact, very quickly -- very quickly to identify the military and diplomatic means by which Saddam Hussein can be removed from power.

ZAHN: There is some speculation this morning that you are talking about a six-month waiting period here just on the diplomatic front, where you talk about maybe bettering relations between the United States and the Iraq National Congress, which brings the question of will the U.S. ever arm members of the Iraq National Congress? Would there be any kind of military aid?

BUTLER: That's not clear yet, Paula. The way I think it's going to evolve is this way. Vice President Cheney...

ZAHN: We should make clear that's the opposition.

(CROSSTALK)

BUTLER: Yes, that's right. That's the opposition. Vice President Cheney will go to the region in a couple of weeks' time. He will talk to all of the countries around Iraq, and he will also go to Britain, for example. And he will make clear to those neighboring countries and to our allies that we are serious about this, and we will want their cooperation.

Now, the next move after that is that we'll be getting towards May, when the U.N. will review again the sanctions on Iraq. Sometime between now and then, it's very likely on the diplomatic front that the administration will try to get support for a very strong resolution in the Security Council that absolutely demands that those weapons inspectors go back or else. Now...

ZAHN: Well, Saddam Hussein has made it quite clear how he feels about that.

BUTLER: Exactly.

ZAHN: He's not likely to change his mind about that, is he?

BUTLER: I think that's right. And I suspect that some people in Washington would be a bit appalled if he did, because I don't think they see weapons inspections as the solution. I think, you know, they want to see the man removed.

Now, when that draft resolutions gets discussed, NATO, the French and the Russians, will they allow the U.N. to take a strong decision, an ultimatum to the Iraqis? Have those inspectors back or else? I suspect...

ZAHN: What do you think?

BUTLER: I suspect they won't.

ZAHN: Right.

BUTLER: I suspect they won't. I mean, if you think these politics are pretty extraordinary, look at the politics of the ice skating. I'm serious.

ZAHN: Yes.

BUTLER: You know, with the French and the Russians, and I think it will...

ZAHN: The Cold War returns, doesn't it?

BUTLER: Yes. So I don't know that there is going to be much diplomatic joy there. In the meantime, the administration is clearly planning military action to remove Saddam Hussein. In the next few months, I think we will see developments in that direction.

ZAHN: That's Richard Butler...

BUTLER: OK.

ZAHN: ... as always, thanks for your time.

BUTLER: Good to see you.

ZAHN: See you tomorrow morning.

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