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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Comments on North Korea's Weapons Admissions

Aired October 21, 2002 - 15:51   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: There are other things to talk about in Washington besides this sniper.
President Bush has just met with NATO Secretary General George Robertson. They're just wrapping up their meeting and they talked about, of course, the United States' proposed resolution to the United Nations on Iraq. Let's listen.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... including NATO expansion. And he's soliciting the views of the administration.

I told him that we would give him a definite answer about our views on expansion in a couple of weeks. And that timetable seems satisfactory with him. But, George Robertson, welcome back. I appreciate you being here. Thanks for your strong leadership.

GEORGE ROBERTSON, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I'm delighted to be again in the oval office, Mr. President. The president has shown, not just by meetings with me, but in every other way possible, his and his administration's commitment to NATO and to the strength of this transatlantic alliance that has bound together these democratic and freedom-loving states over all of the years.

We're now a month to the day away from the Prague summit. Probably the most important summit meeting in NATO's history. A transformation summit, where NATO has to transform itself to deal with the threats and the challenges of the 21st century. And I believe we'll have a good package (ph) on new members, a robust and large one, new capabilities to deal with terrorism and to deal with the other challenges and nightmares that we may face ahead in the future. And new relationships with Russia, with Ukraine, with our partner countries, building the world's largest permanent alliance, and one which the world can rely on.

BUSH: Three (ph) questions, Forne (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, is North Korea an imminent threat to the United States? And what consequences, if any, were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for hiding his nuclear program?

BUSH: We had a bit of troubling news when we discovered the fact that, contrary to what we had been led to believe, that they were enriching uranium with the idea of developing a nuclear weapon. I say troubling news, obviously, because we felt like they had given their word they weren't going to do this.

I view this as an opportunity to work with our friends in the region and work with other countries in the region to ally against the proliferation of serious weapons and to convince Kim Jong Il that he must disarm. To this end, I'm going to be talking to Jiang Zemin at Crawford. I look forward to a good discussion with the president of China about how we can work together to take our relationships to a new level in dealing with the true threats of the 21st century.

I will see the leaders of Japan and South Korea and Russia the next day in Mexico. I intend to make this an important topic of our discussions. This is a chance for people who love freedom and peace to work together to deal with a -- to deal with an emerging threat.

I believe we can deal with this threat peacefully, particularly if we work together. So this is an opportunity to work together and I intend to seize it.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BUSH: You know that's an operative word. We view this very seriously. It is a troubling discovery and it's a discovery that we intend to work with our friends to deal with.

And I believe we can do it peacefully. I look forward to working with peel people to encourage them that we must convince Kim Jung Il to disarm for the sake of peace. And the people that have the most at stake, of course, in this posture, are the people who are his neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can you explain so the boys in Lubbock can understand...

BUSH: Crawford or Lubbock?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lubbock or Crawford.

BUSH: Lubbock is a little more sophisticated than Crawford, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Or Scotland, for that matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) military action against Iraq, but you believe Korea's nuclear weapons...

BUSH: Absolutely. Saddam Hussein is unique in this sense. He has thumbed his nose at the world for 11 years. The United Nations has passed 16 resolutions to deal with this man and the resolutions are all aimed at disarmament, amongst other things.

And for 11 years he said, no, I refuse to disarm. Now, what makes him even more unique is the fact that he's actually gassed his own people. He's used weapons of mass destruction on neighboring countries and he's used weapons of mass destruction on his own citizenry.

He wants to have a nuclear weapon. He has made it very clear he hates the United States and, as importantly, he hates friends of ours.

We've tried diplomacy. We're trying it one more time. I believe the free world, if we make up our mind to, can disarm this man peacefully. But if not -- if not, there is -- we have the will and the desire, as do other nations, to disarm Saddam.

It's up to him to make that decision. It's up to the United Nations. And we'll determine here soon whether the United Nations has got the will. And then it's up to Saddam to make the decision - Stretch (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, again, for the good people of Crawford...

BUSH: Yes, it's been a big day for Crawford.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can explain this in a way they and the rest of us will understand. There were some hints over the weekend the possibility that taking weapons of mass destruction out of Iraq is our goal, raising the possibility and the indication that he could somehow remain in power.

BUSH: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say authoritatively and declaratively whether we can achieve, you can achieve your aims there the way that...

BUSH: The stated policy of the United States is regime change because for 11 years Saddam Hussein has ignored the United Nations and the free world. For 11 years he has -- has said, look, you passed all these resolutions. I could care less what you passed.

And that's why the state of policy of our government, the previous administration and this administration, is regime change, because we don't believe he is going to change. However, if he were to meet all the conditions of the United Nations, the conditions that I've described very clearly in terms that everybody can understand, that, in itself, will signal the regime has changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all. Thank you all very much.

BUSH: It's too many (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

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