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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Stakeout after CNN Late Edition

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 04, 2003

Rumsfeld: You bet.

Q: I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about North Korea. There have been reports that they have an arsenal of nuclear weapons that could hit American interest some say over 100. I’m wondering if a military strike on North Korea is going to end up being an option?

Rumsfeld: It is a dictatorship and a closed system, and therefore we have to face the reality that it’s hard to know what’s actually going on in there, because there’s so few people who move in and out freely and we don’t have a free press there. There’s not the opportunity to know with what ground truth is. So all I can say is that the intelligence community of the world have tended to believe that North Korea may have a few, small number, single digit 1-2-3 nuclear weapons. May have. And that it they reprocess they could probably have 4, 5 or 6 more in a relatively short, nuclear material sufficient for 3, 4 additional weapons. I have not seen the report that you are referring to, but if someone is saying that they have hundreds, I have never seen anything that would suggest that.

Q: Mr. Secretary.

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Q: Am I told correctly that you said this morning that finding Saddam Hussein is not important?

Rumsfeld: No I didn’t say that. I’m glad you asked.

Q: What is the situation?

Rumsfeld: We have not found him. We have no hard evidence that he is alive or dead, we just don’t know. If he is alive, he’s hiding someplace, he clearly is not in charge of Iraqi and that’s for sure, and we very likely will not just trip over him someplace in a tunnel or underground someplace. What will happen I suppose is that we’ll find somebody who has a scrap of information that leads us to him, if he is alive, but I certainly said nothing like what you asked.

Q: Mr. Secretary about the division of Iraq into 3 military zones of guidance or control (Inaudible.). Are there more details that you can provide on that, or how that maybe done?

Rumsfeld: I haven’t seen the report that you are asking about so I don’t know how to comment on it but the country is Iraq is divided into provinces, and they did that. Our position is that Iraq should continue to be a single country it should not be divided up into elements. On the other hand as General Franks deploys forces, he may -- he has the British forces down in the southeastern portion near Basra and he has some other units up north and he has some still other unit out west. If that’s what that means, but no body is talking about dividing up that country into pieces at all.

Q: But the different interest area that suggested by the divisions that Iraq had for it’s own (Inaudible.) administration of the country, would that pose a ultimate difficulties for the United States in how it organizes Iraq?

Rumsfeld: Not at all.

Q: Mr. Secretary what can you tell us about the looting at the Baghdad nuclear research facility. Who conducted the survey on the site, and what did or did they not find?

Rumsfeld: I don’t know who did go to the site. I know we have a number of teams that are interagency teams that are out looking for the suspect sites, and on the other hand we also have forces that are moving around the country and I don’t know if it was just some forces that came upon this site, or if it was a team that was there specifically for that purpose but as with many things, when there’s a war people in the area go in and take things, we’ve seen that after a football games and soccer games in different countries and it occurred I guess in Turkey in the wake of the earthquake. It’s a natural, apparently a not infrequent behavior pattern for human beings, it’s unfortunate, but it appeared from the first reports, first reports often being wrong, that there were people that went into that site and may have taken things. What they might have taken I don’t know.

Q: You can’t confirm that it was in fact a looting?

Rumsfeld: I can’t. Thank you.

Q: One more questions about Pvt. 1st Class Jessica Lynch and reports about her.

Rumsfeld: I believe that’s a matter for her doctors and her family and not for others to be talking about.

Q: Mr. Secretary are you concerned at all about or suggestion of that question (Inaudible.).

Rumseld: See I don’t know anything about this statement about division of Iraq. All I know is that one of the fundamental principles of the United States of America is that Iraq will remain a single country, whole, without a division - that I know.

Q: My question is about ultimate acceptance of the Iraqis of the designs or ideas for Iraq or on how this government is now being discussed and planned. (Inaudible.) Whether there is some possible or is concern in the U.S. government about acceptance of this unitary idea among the barriers or interest groups in Iraq?

Rumsfeld: I’m having trouble following it but I think, set the question aside because the premise is fallacious. The Iraqi people will figure out what the government of Iraq will do. The Iraqi people will ultimately decide on a constitution, the Iraqi people will be the ones to decide what the form of that government might be. There will be an interim, meaning temporary, short-lived authority of some kind, there will be people who will like it, and there will be people who don’t like it just as in the United States of America. That’s what democratic people do. They say they like this or I don’t like that and that’s fine, but the interim will be interim, it will be temporary, it will not be permanent and that process, people - Iraqis will figure out what the next step ought to be, and then Iraqis will approve or disapprove or modify what that final government will look like. Therefore, how can they reject it, if it will be theirs and it will be an Iraqi solution to a circumstance in Iraq? Now take the United States, are there people here who don’t like this form of government? Sure. Are there people who don’t like what our government does from time to time? Sure. And do they appear on television? Sure, because it’s news, someone’s against something let’s get right up there and they will talk about. And my guess is when that interim government, correction - interim authority begins to stand up, you will hear people say, Ahh it’s too big, it’s too small, it’s too slow, it’s too fast, it’s this, it’s that and the answer to that will be, fair enough. It’s not perfect, it’s temporary it’s interim, get into it, make it what you want because what’s important isn’t the interim authority, what’s important is what follows it and that’s going to be for the Iraqi people. Fair enough?

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