of State Colin Powell
En Route to Washington, D.C. from Shanghai, China
October 21, 2001
QUESTION: Did you give formal or informal notification of intent to withdraw
from the ABM?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, we did not give formal or informal notification of an
intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. But the President has said repeatedly
to President Putin and the Kremlin that we have to get beyond the constraints
of the ABM Treaty, and he reinforced that again to President Putin last night,
but he did not give, to answer your question precisely, either informal or formal
notification of an intent to withdraw.
QUESTION: But was it a talking point?
SECRETARY POWELL: The only talking points that count were the ones that came
out of the President last night. Look, talking points are prepared for officials
all the time, everywhere. I get them all the time. Sometimes I even read them.
But what the President said was that he did not give any formal or informal
notification of the United States intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty
under the provisions of the treaty. But, he reinforced to President Putin as
he has done repeatedly, once again, that we've got to get beyond the constraints
of the ABM Treaty because it keeps us from doing things that we need to pursue
QUESTION: Do you expect that you will give formal notification during the summit
in Washington, in Crawford?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have not made a decision on that because, as both Presidents
said last night, both sides are working in earnest to see if there is a way
that we can go forward. That is what we are doing. My colleague, he's flying
home right now, today is Monday? We'll talk sometime Monday and see how we follow
up with our respective staffs. I'm sure Mr. Rumsfeld's staff will be doing the
same thing. So I cannot tell you where we will be at Crawford. As Mr. Putin
has said in the past, a unilateral withdrawal from our part is certainly an
option for us, and he acknowledges that that's our option, an option that's
on the table. But as both Presidents said last night, we are continuing to talk
to each other and pursue a process.
QUESTION: Mr. Putin has said, as he is apparently telling his own people, that
the treaty can stretch and he's ready to accommodate President Bush on the whole
testing program. Does that mean the treaty could survive this process as he's
arguing it should?
SECRETARY POWELL: I haven't quite heard him say that. Although -- but I have
had discussions with some Russian colleagues of mine who suggest we can probably
do more testing than we think we can under the treaty, or the 1997 New York
protocol as it is called. We are looking at all of that. The important point
in all of this, the President will not allow our missile development program
to be constrained artificially by a treaty that he believes no longer serves
a useful purpose in the 21st century.
SECRETARY POWELL: Elaine's asking if I can give an estimate of the range of
times when it will come in conflict, and I can't. I really do have to defer
on that because I'm really not into the technology of it all. Nor am I watching
it as closely as I used to in my previous life.
Very often it becomes a matter of differing groups of lawyers making a legal
interpretation of what the treaty permits you to do and not do. They have their
lawyers. We have our lawyers. The State Department lawyers all have fascinating
debates with the Defense Department lawyers. That's one of the reasons that
we think that this treaty has outlived its usefulness. Some of you who have
been around as long as Robin remember back in the eighties, when we used to
argue over physical principles, remember that one, Robin? You were around then,
too, Pat. We used to have these (inaudible) arguments about physical principles
which can be used which are or not permitted. Those of you who were around that
long will remember that we used to argue over broad versus narrow interpretations.
Remember how my beloved friends, Cap Weinberger and George Shultz, used to go
on about that month after month after month.
So the treaty, even though it is really easy to read -- you can read it in just
a few moments -- it is subject to enormous interpretation. That's why we think
that it is time to move beyond it, and we had a long discussion about it last
QUESTION: President Putin's comments to the contrary, do you all sense any give
on the Russian side, and do you think that this discussion of drawing down offensive
weapons is perhaps a way to give the Russians an ABM out as working?
SECRETARY POWELL: What I am trying to give them an out -- we are trying to persuade
them that in this new -- we are not enemies. We are all in the 21st century.
There is no Soviet Union. There is no evil empire. There is no Iron Curtain.
We really do need a basic strategic framework that involves a number of pieces.
One is a significant reduction in the number of strategic offensive weapons
and we expect our colleagues at the Pentagon will provide the President with
a number in the very near future that will serve as the basis for that part
of the framework.
Secondly, moving beyond the ABM Treaty so that we can develop missile defense,
which at the new lower numbers on both sides will not be a threat to either
side. And third, you have to consider all of the proliferation issues that are
involved in this so that we are not creating other ballistic missile armed nuclear
entities that could upset the balance. So we think -- I would not couch it as
we are trying to give the Russians an out -- we are trying to show them what
we think is the correct way, how to look at it at this point. To look at this
problem right now.
But as you have heard from them, repeatedly, and Mr. Putin said it again yesterday
in his meeting with President Jiang Zemin, that they still view the ABM Treaty
as one of the cornerstones of this strategic framework. We think it no longer
serves that role. The Russians have been forthcoming enough to say yeah, we
do realize it is an audible environment and let's continue to talk about this
and let the process continue. That's what we are trying to help make happen.
We are under, and I don't want to use the word deadline, we are under no constraints
with respect to our thinking. We'll see where we are in three weeks' time in
QUESTION: That's the Russians. Let's talk about the Chinese who still on missile
defense have strong concerns. Can you explain how missile defense doesn't erode
the Chinese deterrent and how any attempt they make to build up a response to
that does not signal an arms race, doesn't set off an arms race between Pakistan
SECRETARY POWELL: The Chinese have always kept a relatively small amount of
intercontinental ballistic missiles and they have never viewed them the same
way as the United States and Soviet Union. The Soviet Union did during the years
of the Cold War where we were constantly building up. You know, if we put them
in SSBNs, they'd put them in SSBNs. If we moved, they moved. If we had a triad,
they had a triad. It was this competition. The Chinese were never a part of
that competition in the same way. We tried to have treaties with the Russians,
not the Chinese. They built a relatively small number of (inaudible) first strike
intercontinental ballistic missiles that had in the theology of this steel (inaudible).
They were not designed to go after somebody else's nuclear forces to keep those
forces from striking you. They were designed to go after something of enormous
value, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and as long as they could do that,
their nuclear forces were serving their purpose. It is expected that over time,
we would modernize, one would modernize such a force. Can't keep an old force
around forever. The Chinese have been working to modernize that force. Modernizing
also tends to make it way more stable and safe (inaudible).
I have seen nothing to suggest that the Chinese are so concerned about missiles
defense that they are poised for a breakout in the sense that they would significantly
by factors of two, three, four, or five, increase the numbers of their intercontinental
ballistic missiles in order to get through a shield, not to go to a counter
for strategy, but to get through a shield. We have been talking to the Chinese
(inaudible). It came up again this trip, but it wasn't a lingering conversation.
Even when I was here in July and I had a long conversation over the long lunch
table with Foreign Minister Tang, I took him through all what I'm giving you
now and he listened, and they all listened, and when I finished, they said thank
you. So they are taking it all aboard and I'm sure they are making their calculations
and we will try to give them every assurance that we can that this is not directed
against them. We are directing it against others in their neighborhood who are
pursuing this kind of capability that we're worried about. People who are not
under what we would consider responsible leadership, and we will continue to
make that case with the Chinese government. If I were a Chinese general, I would
still have to have one small part of my brain continuing to look at that capability
and wondering no matter what they say it is for, perhaps it can be a way of
defending against my missiles as well. We will have to see what they do with
this whole calculus, but frankly, they have been rather subdued about it in
recent months in my discussions with the (inaudible). They listen. They want
to learn more. We send briefers over. But they have been rather subdued. Yesterday,
Jiang Zemin reaffirmed the ABM Treaty to which he is not a signatory.
QUESTION: But what if you were an Indian general?
SECRETARY POWELL: If I was an Indian general, it wouldn't trouble me because
they are really, the Indians and the Pakistanis, are really concerned about
the problems in their neighborhood. I don't think any of the nations, China,
India, Pakisan, in light of this new 21st century world, view America as the
kind of nation they are likely to get into conflict with. Bu nonetheless, I
can't really speak for an Indian or Pakistani general, or for that matter, I
don't speak for American generals anymore, either.
QUESTION: Following up in India and Pakistan, that group of I's and P's, you
have another group of I's and P's that are at each other's throats now. The
tensions rose quite significantly, during your time away next week in both places.
How do you see that calming down, if you do, and what's the effect of that on
SECRETARY POWELL: You know, this was not a good week in the Middle East. It
started out as a promising week. The first day was the most promising day I
had seen in many months with the Israelis opening up some crossing sites, pulling
back their forces from Hebron or a number of other places. You may recall Mr.
Sharon, also that same day, once again, indicated in due course the existence
of a Palestinian state. We had security meetings going on (inaudible) getting
So for the first time in a long time, I was seeing some progress toward the
Mitchell plan and I was very encouraged. But the very next day, we had a terrorist
attack, killed a minister who had just left government. He would have been out
of the government in another hour and he left the government because Mr. Sharon
had been asking actions that were starting to move in a direction of trying
to get the process going. So it could not have been a more tragic incident as
a personal matter of course for the minister and his family, but for the region.
So, as a result, we had a deterioration all week long with the Israelis feeling
the need to go back into a number of these Zone A cities and towns and making
demands on the Palestinians with respect to arresting the perpetrators. Mr.
Arafat is trying to find the perpetrators.
New demands have been placed on the table. I spent most of yesterday working
on this. I spoke to Prime Minister Sharon. I spoke to Mr. Arafat, Foreign Minister
Maher, King Abdullah, Igor Ivan, of course, maybe a couple of others that Richard
can get to you. And trying to see, not forget where we have been a week before.
Mr. Sharon had indicated he felt it absolutely necessary to go in and arrest
those who are planning terror and he did not want to remain in those zones and
would be coming out as soon as he could. I encouraged him to exercise all the
restraint that he could because we have to think about the day after. I also
encouraged Chairman Arafat to do all he could in order to arrest those who are
responsible for this latest act of terror and to continue to do all that he
could to reduce the violence to hopefully zero, the lowest level possible. So
it was not a great four days. So far today, there's been violence but it hasn't
been as bad as yesterday. We will see where we are tomorrow. It's a day by day
thing, I regret to say.
QUESTION: Did the Palestinian party just outlaw the armed group of the PFLP?
SECRETARY POWELL: I heard they were getting ready to do that, and I think that
is a good move. I think the (inaudible) have given instructions to his various
organizations to implement a cease-fire. If they don't follow his instructions
and violate that, it's a challenge to his authority. I'm glad to see that he's
responding to that challenge.
SECRETARY POWELL: I would hope that both sides would make whatever reciprocal
moves they can in order to reduce tension. As I said a moment ago, Mr. Sharon
said he does not want to stay into these occupied areas, so as the violence
is ended in those areas, in the Zone A areas he went into(inaudible). As soon
as the violence has gone down and he has done whatever arresting he planned
to do, he wants to come back out. He also gave me his assurance that he is still
committed to the Mitchell committee process. I look forward to my conversations
with Foreign Minister Peres. I can't give you a specific yes, if they do that,
they should do that. I can just give you a general, I hope both sides will look
for every opportunity to go back down the ladder of escalation and try to do
everything they can to reduce tensions.
SECRETARY POWELL: I do that; I do that almost every day. I do it in a way, in
different ways, in different methods, in different channels, and this isn't
one of the channels that I want to use today.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, I don't know nearly as much arms control as you
do, so please explain to me what the difference is when you say the Chinese
have a small arsenal that's meant to go after all the cities you mentioned.
No, I know the Chinese have said that in the past. So what is the difference
between a small Chinese arsenal that targets American cities and a rogue state,
whether it be North Korea, Iraq or Iran, that has a small arsenal? How is our
missile defense system not something that might spark China to build in a more
expansive way than they might have otherwise?
SECRETARY POWELL: It is a possibility, as I tried to answer Bill's question.
I'm sure part of their calculus, they wonder if that is appropriate. But I think
they are all speculating to see how our program develops and make a judgment
as to whether or not they still feel secure with the level they have now and
the strategy they have now. I hope as they see our program develop, and see
how it is being developed against certain rather specific kinds of threats,
very limited in nature, they will not find the need to explode the size of their
arsenal. I don't think they'll find such a need or see such a need.
QUESTION: While we were refueling, my desk said that Javier Solana had come
out and said he hoped that the Afghan King would soon be able to form a new
government. You just spoke with him. Did he say anything that specific that
the former king would be able to form a new government? That sounded a little
odd to me. I know that we're never saying that we have an (inaudible) and the
Afghans have to choose. Do you know whether or not -- have you heard?
SECRETARY POWELL: I talked to Javier yesterday as he was getting ready to travel.
He is heading to the Middle East. We talked about Afghanistan, in general terms,
about the need for a new government to be considered and work to be done to
put one together in a post-Taliban regime to be ready. I don't think we've gone
so far so to say that it is the king that would be the head of this country.
I think we all recognize that the king has unique authority and unique ability
to perhaps convene the different parties (inaudible).
SECRETARY POWELL: Until I hear what he says, until I've heard what he's said
and see it myself, I don't think that I would wish to characterize it as strange.
QUESTION: You've talked about trying to go to the next stage -- building, reconstruction,
humanitarian aid and so forth. Now that you've got this strategy in place, can
you tell us about what you're going to be doing about that? And, secondly, on
the force that may be going in, there are two very different kinds of ideas
- an Islamic force, and a UN force. Can you tell us?
SECRETARY POWELL: On the first question, what I will be doing this week is getting
a report from Richard Haass, who had good discussions last week, not only on
the political piece of it, but also some of the ideas with respect to rebuilding.
Many of the APEC nations or APEC economies, as they euphemistically prefer to
call them, were very interested in participating in the reconstruction effort.
I think there will be solid support for that, and a number of them said, and
I think it was Prime Minister Koizumi said at one point, this is not a country
that needs to have its industry rebuilt. It isn't a huge Marshall Plan kind
of investment. We are talking about an agrarian society, some extracted industries,
some oil and gas potential, but fairly modest investment could do wonders, and
we're looking at that. I think that part will fall into place fairly quickly
once there is stability. There seems to be a solid understanding within the
coalition, where we say APEC, NATO, EU and OIC, that we all have to get together
to help with this rebuilding, reconstruction, whatever one chooses to call it.
On the military force, I don't have the view on it, but the alternatives are
pretty straightforward. You can put in something under Blue Helmet, a UN force,
or you can try to assemble willing nations who might put in a force, not necessarily
under the UN but will work with whatever UN presence is in the region. That
is another way to do it.
Another alternative is, just to exhaust them all, is to just see if you can
rapidly put together an Afghan force. That seems to be tricky until you've established
some form of government and some form of understanding among the various groupings
as to how they will share power and authority before you can really put an army
together or a police establishment in place.
So right now, it is not that there is a fight going in. It's that we are trying
to debate it, trying to figure out what the right answer is. Some reporting
last week suggested that we were at odds with Mr. Brahimi in the UN. I think
a better way to characterize it is that we're looking at alternatives to see
what would be best supported.
QUESTION: Do you think your trip to Pakistan and India did more than just buy
time for the war on terrorism? Given India's continued deep mistrust of Musharraf,
how would you assess the stability of Musharraf as a leader and both the relations
between India and Pakistan in general?
SECRETARY POWELL: I found President Musharraf to be very much in charge. I think
he has a very good understanding of the situation that he's in, and he has good
support for the decisions that his government has taken. He has also popular
discontent with respect to the military actions in Afghanistan and, as he said
several times during our press conference, he would like to see those actions
go on for as short of a period as possible. So would we all. But it is more
important to make sure that we accomplish the mission, and he also understands
that. So I found him to be in secure position. But nevertheless, we are trying
to do whatever we can to help him with respect to economic aid, which is what
he wanted more than anything else. He emblazoned two words on me, which I think
that I have used, which is debt relief, so we're going to try to get him all
the assistance we can.
Obviously, there's tension between India and Pakistan still and that flared
up on my last night in Pakistan on my way to India the next morning when we
saw the firing over the line of control. At the same time, I think both sides
are realizing, even though this is a very difficult issue for them, they can't
let it get out of control. The stakes are too high. Both sides are committed
to the coalition. Both sides are helping the United States and other coalition
members. Both sides are working with us on a future for Afghanistan, and both
sides realize that for peace and stability in their part of the world, they've
got to get this right. So I sense that even though there's tension, I understand
that they have to act with enormous restraint. Both sides said that they are
anxious to get a dialogue started. They are having a little difficulty getting
that dialogue started. I will try to be helpful in that regard. I think they
are both committed to the campaign against terrorism, and I was pretty satisfied
with the trip.