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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability Following HASC Testimony

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 05, 2003

(Remarks to the Hill Press Corps)

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon.

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: I saw a portion of Secretary Powell's presentation today and I've been involved in it and I'm aware of most of what he said. First of all, it's debatable as to whether or not some of those facilities are or are not in Saddam Hussein's control and what his interest in them is. So I think the main assertion to made to your question is at a minimum debatable and possibly (inaudible).

Q: Secretary Powell's presentation was (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: Out of his control? Yeah. There are parts of the country that are, particularly the Kurdish area in the North. So I'm afraid I can't answer your question about the particular facilities (inaudible).

Q: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) North Korea (inaudible) restarted the nuclear facility. (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: Who said that?

Q: The Prime Minister of Korea.

Rumsfeld: Which Korea?

Q: North Korea.

Rumsfeld: Announced today that?

Q: According to the wire service they indicated that they have (inaudible) platform (inaudible). I want to know if you believe (inaudible) and if you're worried about that.

Rumsfeld: I've been in that room over there testifying for I don't know how many hours.

Victoria Clarke [assistant secretary of defense for public affairs]: Three and a half.

Rumsfeld: Three and a half hours. If somebody said that, I don't know it.

The answer to your question of 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 Non-Proliferation Treaty and the like is a worrisome thing.

Is it 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 very short period of time they would have the ability to produce nuclear materials for additional nuclear weapons.

They have a choice then. They can either make additional nuclear weapons for themselves or they can sell the nuclear material and/or the nuclear material inside a warhead to another country, any country. That is something that the world has to take very seriously.

Q: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: What prompted it is that each time we have forces in a circumstance where they could be in conflict we address the question of non-lethal use of force (inaudible). We sit down, we work combatant commanders and 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 troops might be in would need that, then we do it. We do it not infrequently. That's part of what our jobs are.

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: The laws and treaties and procedures, and I was trying to be careful in there -- there may even be some executive orders, but certainly a treaty, create a situation where under certain circumstances we need a specific presidential waiver. In other words, if I'm authorized to use lethal force and authorize 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 (inaudible) which is an anomaly. One would think that we would prefer that, which we would.

What we've been able to do thus far is 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.

Q: (inaudible)

Gen. Richard Myers [chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff]: (inaudible) as the Secretary said. One of the other things we try to do in these meetings, and we've met over the past year on rules of engagement. One of the things we want to make sure is the person that's on the pointy end of any operation the President may authorize that it is clear in his/her mind what their authorities are and what their responsibilities are. That's why we discuss it. U.S. forces (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: The United States military would always prefer to use a minimal amount of force. To the extent you can use a non-lethal agent as opposed to a lethal agent, it's preferable. And it's just strange the way the treaties and the laws evolved, that that is more difficult in some instances and requires much higher authority.

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: I've asked and received it to the extent we can delegate it.

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: Needless to say no decision has been made about whether or not force would be used in Iraq.

Q: In the event that we do attack is that a concern?

Rumsfeld: Sure, it's always a concern.

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: 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.