CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Press Conference: Donald Rumsfeld Speaks on North Korea
Aired February 5, 2003 - 17:33 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We understand the Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld is speaking right now. We want our viewers to listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... case that they have restarted their nuclear facility. Number one, do you believe them?
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Who said that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The foreign minister of Korea.
RUMSFELD: Of which Korea?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea, sir.
RUMSFELD: Announced today that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a wire story saying that they indicated that they have put a normal setting or normal platform for nuclear facilities. So you obviously are just hearing this. I want to know if you believe it and number two, should we be worried about that?
RUMSFELD: I've been in that room over there testifying for, I don't know how many hours. How many? Three and a half hours. If somebody said that I don't know it.
The answer to your question, should we be concerned? Certainly, we should be concerned. It's a regime that is a terrorist regime. It's a regime that has been involved in things that are harmful to other countries. And the fact that they have announced that they are going to breach three or four agreements, international agreements, the North-South Agreement, the Nonproliferation Treaty and the like, is a worrisome thing.
It is possible -- we have assessed that they have one or two nuclear weapons. It's possible they could announce that they have that. They have not yet to my knowledge. It's certainly possible that they could announce that they're starting up their nuclear facility. If that's the case, then, obviously, within a relatively short period of time they would have the ability to produce nuclear materials for additional nuclear weapons. They have a choice then. They can even make additional nuclear weapons for themselves or they can sell their nuclear material and/or the nuclear material inside a warhead to another country, any country. And that is something that the world has to take very seriously.
RUMSFELD: What prompted is that each time we have forces in a circumstance where it -- where they could be in conflict, we addressed the question of non-lethal use of force, generally, riot agents. We sit down, we work with the combatant commanders to fashion a rule of engagement for those forces. Generally and one of the elements of it frequently is do they need authority for non-lethal use of force? To the extent -- the circumstance that if troops might be in would need that, then we'd do it. We'd do it not infrequently. I mean that's part of what our jobs are.
RUMSFELD: The laws and treaties and procedures -- and I'm not -- I was trying to be careful in there, it may be even some executive orders, but certainly a treaty, create a situation where under certain circumstances we need a specific presidential waiver. In other words, it is -- I'm authorized to use lethal force and authorized troops to shoot somebody, but I'm not authorized in some instances without a presidential waiver under the treaty or under the agreements to authorize the use of non-lethal riot agents, which is an anomaly in life. One would think that we would prefer that, which we would.
RUMSFELD: What we've been able to do thus far is to try to fashion the rules of engagement in a way that we believe is appropriate. Where we can't, I go to the president and get a waiver. I have not gone to the president and said let's change a treaty or change a law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I think it's just as the secretary said. And one of the things we try to do at the meetings and we'd be -- I mean we've met a lot in the last year on rules and engagement.
RUMSFELD: That's for sure.
GENERAL RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS: It's one of the things we want to make sure is that the person that's off the point end, any operation the president may authorize, it's clear in his or her mind what their authorities are and their responsibilities are. And that's why we discuss these sorts of things and U.S. forces will not begin (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
RUMSFELD: We would always -- the United States military would always prefer to use the minimal amount of force until the extent you can use a non-lethal agent as opposed to a lethal agent it's preferable. And it's just strange that the way the treaties and the laws have evolved that that is more difficult in some instances and requires much higher authority.
(OFF MIKE) RUMSFELD: I have asked and received it to the extent he can delegate.
RUMSFELD: I'm sorry. Needless to say, no decision has been made about whether or not force would be used in Iraq.
RUMSFELD: Oh, sure, it's always a concern.
RUMSFELD: Well, my goodness, I wouldn't say that at all. He's already used them on his own people and used them on his neighbors. He didn't need an attack by us to cause him to use chemical weapons. Thank you very much.
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