CNN BREAKING NEWS
Mohammad Elbaradei Speaks on Capitol Hill
Aired January 10, 2003 - 11:20 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're going to from New York to Washington D.C. That is Mohammad ElBaradei, head of the IAEA. He has been meeting with senators on Capitol Hill. Let's listen in to Mr. Elbaradei.
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MOHAMMAD ELBARADEI, HEAD OF IAEA: ... The international community -- and I hear it from every concerned party -- is ready to engage North Korea into dialogue, but North Korea had to take the first step.
Once that first step is taken, I think there's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. There's readiness to discuss security concerns. There's readiness to provide them economic assistance. But they have, first, to show that they are willing to sit, negotiate without that threat of nuclear brinkmanship.
QUESTION: Mr. El-Baradei, a question about Iraq, please. How does the Bush administration threat of war help or hamper the work of the inspectors?
ELBARADEI: Well, I think the international community has clearly demonstrated that it is fed up with a process which has been going on for 12 years, trying to disarm Iraq from its weapons of mass destruction. So applying pressure through the Security Council, through the new Resolution 1441, I think was very helpful to send a powerful message to Iraq that now is the time, this is the last opportunity for you to come into compliance, otherwise as the Security Council resolution says, there will be serious consequences. So continued attention by and pressure by the international community, I think, is very helpful for us to be able to succeed in achieving our mission.
QUESTION: How much more intelligence do you need than you are getting from American authorities?
ELBARADEI: I think we are getting intelligence, but as I have been saying in the last few days, we need more actionable information. We need specific information on where to go and where to inspect.
But we have a good process of dialogue with the U.S. and with other intelligence agencies. And I hope in the next few weeks that this process will intensify and that we'll get additional information that can accelerate our job in the field.
QUESTION: Could you tell us about your visit to Iran in February? What exactly are you planning to accomplish and which nuclear reactor centers (OFF-MIKE) planning to visit?
ELBARADEI: Well, I'm supposed to go to Iran on the 25th of February. I'm scheduled to meet with President Khatami. And I'm supposed to visit the facilities that are being constructed there. I've discussed with them two facilities which we have known -- that are being built right now in Iran. They indicated to me that they are ready to show maximum transparency, that they will take us to these two facilities and others.
ELBARADEI: So I hope when I go there that we will be able to visit all nuclear-related facilities. I also would like to impress on them the importance of maximum transparency, the importance of joining what we call our additional protocol which gives us additional authority to visit sites and visit -- and receive more information. So the key goal is to satisfy the international community concern that Iran nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.
QUESTION: Do you think by January 27 that you'll have enough information in that report that the Security Council will be able to make a decision on military action?
ELBARADEI: No, and I think we made that clear yesterday at the Security Council, Hans Blix and I, that 27th of January report is a status update report, is a status report. That's not the end of our work. We have been saying to Security Council that we need still much more time before we come to a conclusion.
But as long as we are making progress, as long that we are getting information from member states, as long as we are getting cooperation from Iraq -- and this is a point I'd like to underline, that we still need not only cooperation from Iraq with regard to process but also with regard to substance. I'd like to see more cooperation in interviewing Iraqi scientists in private. I'd like to see Iraq not talking about the inspection being spies would like to see more forthcoming Iraqi attitude, which would help us to achieve our goal.
But the 27th is a progress report. And this is just one milestone in a long process.
QUESTION: Senator, can I get your assessment of the danger of the situation in North Korea now? And is this a form of nuclear blackmail we are seeing here? What is this...
LUGAR: Well, I would simply reiterate what our -- El-Baradei has pointed out that essentially diplomatically and the United States needs with its allies to visit with the North Koreans. Secretary Powell has indicated we are prepared to do that. And I buy the point that there has to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the North Koreans to see really what is out there as they declare that they're out of the nuclear game, which has to happen.
But I think the -- our negotiators were prepared to do that when they went over to North Korea. That conversation was truncated by North Korean's admission they were into a highly enriched uranium program. So we never got to the rest of the agenda.
At some point, we need to do that in a multilateral way. And the conference this week with the South Koreans and the Japanese has been extremely helpful, and undoubtedly, China and Russia can play roles. And in a multilateral way, it seems to me that communication will proceed.
So I see a constructive program going on, even as provocative comments are made by the North Koreans.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the intelligence hearing with the United States on Iraq? And also, are you going to take the matter of North Korea to the Security Council?
ELBARADEI: As I mentioned, we are satisfied with the intelligence we are getting from the U.S., but would like to get more from the U.S. and from others.
On North Korea, I fully share Senator Lugar's assessment that we need to diffuse the crisis. I don't think it is helpful at this stage to think of escalation. I think both North Korea and the U.S. are in agreement that what is needed is a political solution.
ELBARADEI: North Korea has to take the first step into coming with compliance, but as Senator Lugar again mentioned, that we need to articulate what would be the next step. If North Korea were to show good behavior, they need to get some assurance as what to expect in return for good behavior, and I think that's very important in articulation of what to expect in case of compliance. And we need also to make sure that there is a lot of diplomatic activities at different levels to diffuse the situation and get the process back where it used to be, a diplomatic process.
QUESTION: And what's the next step if they don't come into compliance?
ELBARADEI: Well, I'd rather wait and see how things will go.
QUESTION: Senator Lugar, on Iraq, can you envision, Senator, a scenario in which the Bush administration with or without your support would launch a military action even when inspectors say they need more time and war isn't warranted and without the approval of the Security Council?
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, INDIANA: I think that our government is going to continue to work with the United Nations. We're going to continue to work with the IAEA and other international organizations, that we wish the timetable was more clear. We wish that was true with North Korea. That may not be the case. But we have to work very cooperatively with a multinational group of people.
KAGAN: It has been a very busy morning indeed in terms of dealing what is taking place with North Korea. Right before this news conference, we were listening to the IAEA head Mohammed Elbaradei talk meeting with people on Capitol Hill about the situation in North Korea, and also in Iraq. We were listening to the U.N. ambassador from North Korea address the United Nations, pointing the finger, saying it is the fault simply of the United States, how it's handling the situation, blaming the U.S. for the escalation of what is taking place on the Korean peninsula. Obviously, those in the United States having a very different view of what is taking place in North Korea.
Our team of correspondents ready to give you complete coverage, and we have Andrea Koppel at that the State Department, Suzanne Malveaux at the White house, and Richard Roth at the U.N.
Andrea, we're going to start with you at the State Department. The comments coming from Pak Gil Yon about what he believe the United States is responsible for I'm sure will not be received well at the State Department.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: No, you're absolutely right, Daryn. I just spoke with a senior State Department official who was also watching, and he said this is not an issue between the United States and North Korea, but rather between the international community and North Korea. The IAEA this week making clear the North Koreans had to take the first step before there could be any sort of negotiations.
Now having said this, one official I spoke with said that he could not remember in his memory whether or not the North Koreans had ever given a press conference before. This is highly unusual, and remember, it's taking place against the backdrop of talks that are taking place not between the North Koreans and the U.S., but between Governor Bill Richardson, who has spoken with Secretary of State Colin Powell about what the U.S. message to the North Koreans will be.
KAGAN: Yes, it is an interesting twist and that brings us to the White House. As you point out, the one set of talks taking place, taking place between a member of the former Clinton administration, who is now the governor of New Mexico.
With more on that, let's go to Suzanne Malveaux at the White House -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, the Bush administration's position on a number of these accusations, first of all, the International Atomic Energy Agency being a tool of the U.S., the Bush administration has been very sensitive about that, saying that this is an organization that represents 35 different countries. It's also one of the reasons why the administration says it has not pushed that organization to bring North Korea before the U.N. Security Council, and it could face economic sanctions.
On the point here of the fact at that time U.S. is the one that had abandoned that 1994 agreement, and therefore, North Korea can abandon the treaty, the Bush administration says exactly the opposite, that North Korea has been making these nuclear weapons and engaged in this weapons program, and that they are taking away the fuel oil as a result. They do not want to reward North Korea for bad behavior. It's another reason why they're not engaged in direct talks at this time.
And finally, that last point, when the North Korean ambassador said that he believes that it could have been a preemptive attack, that the United States wants to invade North Korea. This is something that the Bush administration has responded to time and time again. The president, as early as this morning, on the phone with China's Ziang Jemin, saying no, that the U.S. has not intention of invading North Korea, that the administration wants to use diplomatic and economic pressure to change North Korea's course -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Suzanne, thank you. And now back to New York City, where that very interesting news conference took place.
And Richard Roth, who we usually find at the United Nations, he's inside our New York bureau this morning -- Richard.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, a couple of quick points. Pak Gil Yon, North Korea's ambassador to the U.N., has held press conferences before. It is quite rare, though, and usually, the tone is quite bellicose when he does appear in the U.N. press room. And if you look under the dictionary, we often hear brinkmanship; you'll probably find Kim Jong Il's picture, the leader of North Korea.
North Korea has sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a letter which in fact notes that they are just lifting a moratorium on its decision not to stick with the NPT, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a moratorium which really started March 12th 1993, when the last difficulties and crisis started with the United States. There are 187 countries that are part of this significant treaty, the most significant nuclear treaty in the world. Four countries, Cuba, Israel, India and Pakistan, are not members -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Richard Roth, in New York City, thank you so much. Also our thanks to Suzanne and Andrea as well.
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