Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Bush, Kerry... Iran and Korea

>Mr. Bush A free Iraq will set a powerful example in the part of the world that is desperate for freedom. A free Iraq will help secure Israel. A free Iraq will enforce the hopes and aspirations of the reformers in places like Iran.

Mr. Kerry Thirty-five to 40 countries in the world had a greater capability of making weapons at the moment the president invaded than Saddam Hussein. And while he's been diverted with 9 out of 10 active duty divisions of our army, either going to Iraq, coming back from Iraq or getting ready to go, North Korea has gotten nuclear weapons and the world is more dangerous. Iran is moving towards nuclear weapons. And the world is more dangerous.

Mr. Kerry The president always has the right and always has had the right for pre-emptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the cold war. ... So what is at test here is the credibility of the United States of America and how we lead the world. And Iran and North Korea are now more dangerous. Now whether pre-emption is ultimately what has to happen or not I don't know yet. But I'll tell you this as president I'll never take my eye of that ball.

Mr. Lehrer New question, Mr. President. Do you believe that diplomacy and sanctions can resolve the nuclear problems with North Korea and Iran, taking them in any order you would like?

Mr. Bush North Korea first, I do. Let me say I certainly hope so. Before I was sworn in the policy of this government was to have bilateral negotiations with North Korea. And we signed an agreement with North Korea that my administration found out that was not being honored by the North Koreans.

And so I decided that a better way to approach the issue was to get other nations involved, just besides us. And in Crawford, Tex., Jiang Zemin and I agreed that the, a nuclear-weapons-free North Korea peninsula was in his interest and our interest and the world's interest. And so we began a new dialogue with North Korea, one that included not only the United States but now China. And China's got a lot of influence over North Korea. In some ways more than we do.

As well we included South Korea, Japan and Russia. So now there are five voices speaking to Kim Jong Il, not just one. And so if Kim Jong Il decides again to not honor an agreement he's not only doing injustice to America, be doing injustice to China as well.

And I think this will work. It's not going to work if we open up a dialogue with Kim Jong Il. That's what he wants. He wants to unravel the six-party talks or the five-nation coalition that's sending him a clear message.

On Iran, I hope we can do the same thing: continue to work with the world to convince the Iranian mullahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions. We've worked very closely with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Great Britain, who have been the folks delivering the message to the mullahs that if you expect to be part of the world of nations, get rid of your nuclear programs. The I.A.E.A. is involved. There's a special protocol recently been passed that allows for instant inspections. I hope we can do it. And we've got a good strategy.

Mr. Kerry With respect to Iran, the British, French and Germans were the ones who initiated an effort, without the United States regrettably, to begin to try to move to curb the nuclear possibilities in Iran. I believe we could have done better. I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal then we could have put sanctions together. ...

With respect to North Korea, the real story: We had inspectors and television cameras in the nuclear reactor in North Korea. Secretary Bill Perry negotiated that under President Clinton. And we knew where the fuel rods were. And we knew the limits on their nuclear power. Colin Powell, our secretary of state, announced one day that we were going to continue the dialogue and work with the North Koreans. The president reversed him, publicly, while the president of South Korea was here. And the president of South Korea went back to South Korea bewildered and embarrassed because it went against his policy. And for two years, this administration didn't talk at all to North Korea. While they didn't talk at all, the fuel rods came out, the inspectors were kicked out, the television cameras were kicked out and today there are four to seven nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea.

Mr. Lehrer I want to make sure ... that the people watching here understand the differences between the two of you on this. You want to continue the multinational talks. Correct?

Mr. Bush Right.

Mr. Kerry Both. I want bilateral talks which put all of the issues from the armistice of 1952, the economic issues, the human rights issues, the artillery disposal issues, the D.M.Z. issues and the nuclear issues on the table.

Mr. Bush The minute we have bilateral talks, the six-party talks will unwind. It's exactly what Kim Jong Il wants. And by the way, the breach on the agreement was not through plutonium. The breach on the agreement is highly enriched uranium. That's what we caught him doing. That's where he was breaking the agreement. [I thought North Korea had broken the agreement on plutonium and made some bombs from it.]

Secondly he said - my opponent said he'd work to put sanctions on Iran. We've already sanctioned Iran. We can't sanction them anymore. There are sanctions in place on Iran.

And finally, we were a party to the convincing - to working with Germany, France and Great Britain to send their foreign ministers into Iran.

Mr. Kerry ...but I first want to say something about those sanctions on Iran. Only the United States put the sanctions on alone. And that's exactly what I'm talking about. In order for the sanctions to be effective, we should have been working with the British, French and Germans and other countries.

Mr. Bush Back to Iran just for a second. It was not my administration that put the sanctions on Iran. That happened long before I arrived in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Kerry Weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation. But again, the test of the difference between us: the president's had four years to try to do something about it. And North Korea's got more weapons. Iran is moving toward weapons. ... I'm going to do it in four years and I'm going to immediately set out to have bilateral talks with North Korea.

Mr. Bush Yeah, I, again, I can't tell you how big a mistake I think that is to have bilateral talks with North Korea. It's precisely what Kim Jong Il wants. It'll cause the six-party talks to evaporate. It means that China no longer is involved in convincing, along with us, for Kim Jong Il to get rid of his weapons. It's a big mistake to do that. We must have China's leverage on Kim Jong Il, besides ourselves. And if you enter bilateral talks, they'll be happy to walk away from the table. I don't think that'll work.

Mr. Kerry Now, I'd like to come back for a quick moment if I can to that issue about China and the talks because that's one of the most critical issues here - North Korea. Just because the president says it can't be done, that you'd lose China, doesn't mean it can't be done.

I mean this is the president who said there were weapons of mass destruction, said mission accomplished, said we could fight the war on the cheap; none of which were true. We can have bilateral talks with Kim Jong Il and we can get those weapons at the same time as we get China because China has an interest in the outcome too.

First presidential debate, transcript as recorded by The New York Times. My emphasis.

I think Kerry is right about Iran, but Bush is right about North Korea, though as Kerry points out, he might not have got in this mess in the first place if he'd followed Powell's line.

'European governments are lobbying the Bush administration to change course over Iran before next month's presidential election, urging Washington to adopt an incentive-driven policy that Senator John Kerry has already pledged, according to diplomats and US politicians.
According to unnamed diplomats and a Kerry adviser, senior officials from Germany and the Netherlands - which currently holds the European Union presidency - had high-level meetings on Iran with both the White House and the Kerry camp in recent days.

"The European message was that we cannot let weeks pass before the next deadline without doing something," one diplomat said. "We need a last-ditch approach, not more pressure, but a mix with a package and incentives." Several sources said the White House officials responded with considerable scepticism to the European initiative, but did not reject it outright.
The US refuses to speak to Iran directly, but [the EU3]  have held talks with Iran over the past year, focused on persuading the clerical regime to give up development of the whole nuclear fuel cycle. "Kerry and the European positions are close in a number of ways," said Robert Einhorn, a proliferation expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has been involved in the discussions over Iran.

The European proposal would offer Iran guaranteed and closely monitored supplies of nuclear fuel for its civilian reactors in exchange for an end to Iran's development of the full fuel cycle - specifically the enrichment of uranium that can be used to make nuclear weapons. But senior Iranian officials have told the Financial Times that this is not acceptable. Diplomats believe the issue is still negotiable with more flexibility from the US.'

'EU urges Bush to adopt Kerry line on Iran' ,Guy Dinmore, Washington, October 1 2004 19:47 (Sorry, link is no longer free.)


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