CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN
Discussion with Gov. Bill Richardson
Aired February 18, 2003 - 08:09 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: On to our next story, what is next in the diplomatic battle over Iraq? Well, the European Union has called for full and effective disarmament, but without talk of any deadlines. Meanwhile, Washington and London are working on a second U.N. resolution would could lead to military action.
For more analysis now, let's turn to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
He joins us on an early morning, indeed, from Sante Fe, New Mexico.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: So, Governor Richardson, based on what you know has happened to the European Union, based on the debate that continues at the U.N., what are the chances that the U.S. will go to war against Iraq?
RICHARDSON: Well, I think the chances are very good. Now, the next step has to be, I believe, continuing our efforts at the United Nations to get a resolution, a second resolution that says that Iraq is in material breach, and secondly, that there will be serious consequences.
Now, I read again a French statement today that did not mention the word veto, which gives me some hope. But at the same time, I think it's very important that the United States probably agree to some kind of a deadline, maybe two weeks, where we concentrate on seeing if Saddam is going to disarm. I think the odds are that he won't, but that we move ahead and see if we can get additional reconnaissance flights, if some of those missiles with excessive range can be destroyed. And, third, if we can interview some of the Iraqi scientists outside of Iraq with the presence of administration officials.
I think for that, all of that to happen, Paula, I think it's probably not going to happen. So I think the odds are pretty strong that we will go to war, but it won't be probably for the next three weeks.
ZAHN: According to the "Washington Post" this morning, President Bush may support a deadline for Saddam Hussein to visibly destroy his chemical and biological weapons within a specified number of days, leading to what one of his senior administration officials called actual disarmament.
What are the chances of that working?
RICHARDSON: Well, I think the chances of that working are good because France and Russia and many others in the Security Council and the secretary general want inspections to keep going. Now, I think there is such intensive pressure on both sides that only one more deadline, only one more chance for Saddam Hussein is going to be allowable. So I think the administration is wise in pursuing this course that says OK, total disarmament in two weeks and that's it.
Now, the United Nations is going to be in a very tough position, the Security Council. Here the United States has gone twice for a U.N. Security Council resolution. It's willing to put out another deadline. International pressure is such where the European countries are starting very slowly to move our way. And so the U.N. credibility is at stake.
So this boxes the U.N. and the Security Council in. So I think it's a wise move. I, that makes sense. Give him one more chance to disarm. I think the odds are not very strong that he will. And after that period, you take action and you've got Security Council approval for what you're going to do next.
So I would suggest that course of action that you mentioned. I haven't seen that report. It makes sense.
ZAHN: You mentioned, too, at the top of our interview, that you had seen some language coming from the French that suggested that they had not used the word veto and yet French President Jacques Chirac used the word oppose any such second resolution. Do you think there's some wiggle room there? Is that what you're saying, that he didn't use the word veto, he used the word oppose?
RICHARDSON: Definitely, Paula. There is a big difference. I was engaged in all that. You can oppose a resolution and you can oppose it also by abstaining. So by not using the word veto, and, in fact, there is one quote I saw by the French official this morning where he says, well, veto is too strong a word, that the next kind of scenario that we might create is for to say to France, OK, we know you're opposed, but at least don't veto so therefore abstain.
In the end, France has always been with us. And this is a moment of glory for France. They are right now the center of attention in Europe, around the world. They're the center of a peace movement. So they love this kind of great press that they're getting. So we have to watch the domestic politics, too, here. I'm sure President Chirac is getting enormous poll numbers favorable to him by taking these positions.
So domestic politics are taking, I think, a very important role in this Iraq debate in Europe and throughout the world, and certainly in our country, too. ZAHN: We're going to have to leave it there this morning.
Governor Bill Richardson, as always, good of you to join us.
RICHARDSON: Thank you.
ZAHN: Thanks for spending a small part of your morning with us today.
RICHARDSON: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Just a reminder, the speeches at the U.N. get under way at 3:00 Eastern.
Wolf Blitzer will preview the meeting on "Showdown Iraq" here on CNN and Governor Richardson will be back to provide some analysis. And that will get under way at 12:00 Eastern, 9:00 a.m. Pacific.
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