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Transcript: Rice's Speech on Transatlantic Ties

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I would like to ask you a question about chemical and biological proliferation. Because we are lacking a multilateral system similar to the imperfect but at least existing system in the nuclear field, the IAEA and the NPT.

And here, what steps do we intend to take to have multilateral verification systems on chemical and biological weapons, knowing that all these efforts have stalled since the beginning of your administration four years ago?

RICE: Well, thank you.

In fact, we have been very active in trying to deal with the problems of chemical and biological weapons but, as you know, it's not easy.

You mentioned the problem of verification. The problem of verification is particularly severe and difficult with biological and chemical weapons because very often the very same means that one uses to make a biological weapon or a chemical weapon can be for completely innocent means: so-called dual-use products.

So that, for instance, the chlorine that can be used to purify a swimming pool can also be the basis for a chemical weapon. The same laboratory that can be used to find a cure for cancer can be used to make biological weapons.

And these are made in very small spaces that can be easily concealed.

It's especially difficult when you're dealing with very closed states that are making an effort to deceive and prevent verification from taking place.

I have no doubt that verification, for most of the world -- for European countries, for the United States, for many of our friends and allies around the world -- is much less of a problem because, of course, these are open societies.

And when they declare that they are not going to build something, there is La Monde or the New York Times or somebody that is going to make certain that the information gets out about what is being done.

RICE: The problem is with closed dictatorial societies that are trying to deceive.

So we have been party to the conventions and we have been active in the conventions. We need to redouble our efforts to make certain that, for instance, when we find some evidence that we believe points to biological or chemical weapons programs, that we are prepared to act to hold accountable those states in which it's found. It's a very serious problem.

It is also a serious problem for terrorism, because biological weapons or chemical weapons would be much easier for a terrorist organization. We in the United States experienced what just a little anthrax could do. And so it is a very serious problem.

It's a huge intelligence problem, given the closed nature of some of these societies.

But we do have the international conventions and we continue to work within them.

MODERATOR: As you may imagine, Secretary Rice has a very full schedule, so we have time for only one last question. Please, one short last question.

QUESTION: I'm teaching economics here in Sciences Po. Let me ask you why you have chosen this very country to deliver your highly interesting speech.

RICE: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

Well, first of all, France has a great tradition of debate, of intellectual ferment. This is a wonderful institution that fosters that debate. And it is no secret that the United States and France have sometimes disagreed in the past about how to proceed on a common agenda.

The good news is that while France and the United States have disagreed from time to time and everybody has paid attention to that, the United States and France have continued to cooperate on a wide, wide range of efforts.

I sometimes say that U.S.-French relations are far better in practice than they are in theory.

(LAUGHTER)

Because if you look at what we've done on Lebanon, if you look at our cooperation in Afghanistan, if you look at the Kosovo work that we've done, earlier in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the Balkans more generally, if you look at the Proliferation Security Initiative -- I can go on and on and on -- the fight against terrorism, the intelligence and law enforcement work that we do together, this is a deep, broad, active relationship that is very effective on behalf of world peace.

When we disagreed, we still disagreed as friends. And as long as we remember that we have not just common values, but a common future built on those values, I think we are going to see an even stronger relationship; if you will, a kind of rebirth of energy in the U.S.- French and the U.S.- European relationship, because we have great things ahead of us.

If I could just close with a personal reflection in this regard, I was lucky enough in 1989 -- and by the way, I said in my speech at one point it was my first visit to Paris.

RICE: My first visit to Paris was actually in 1979 on my way to language training in Russia, and I love coming here.

But I was here in 1989 for the bicentennial. It was a remarkable year.

And I was lucky enough to be the White House Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War. So I got to participate in the liberation of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany, the beginnings of the peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union: things that I never thought I would see let alone have a chance to participate in.

You know, I realized that I was just lucky enough to be harvesting good decisions that had been taken in 1946 and in 1947 and in 1948 and in 1949, when those leaders at the end of World War II faced a dizzying array of threats -- strategic threats to the progress of freedom and liberty.

When you think about the fact that in 1946 much of Europe lay in ruins and there were real concerns about the importation of communism into Europe from the Soviet Union; if you think about in 1947 there was civil wars in Greece and Turkey; in 1948, we experienced the Czechoslovak crisis and the collapse of that democratic government; in 1948, the Berlin crisis split Germany for what seemed to be permanently; in 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule and the Chinese communists won the civil war, now, how did they do it? How did they form NATO? How did they support a united Europe?

How did they move forward on an agenda that 50 years later produced the circumstances in which Germany could be unified, the rest of Europe could be freed of tyranny, and we could be talking about a NATO that includes not just France and Germany and the United States, but Poland and the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the Baltic states?

RICE: How did they do it? They did it because they remained united as an alliance of values.

And I know it looks really hard to talk about the spread of freedom and liberty into places where it has never been. I know it looks really hard, when we see the pictures from Iraq of the suicide bombers, to think that the Iraqi people are going to build a free and stable democratic state. I know it looks hard when we look at Afghanistan and how far it has to go.

But this last month or so -- little more than that -- has been something else. How could you not be impressed with the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and with Palestinian people going to elect a leader who says that it is time to give up the armed intifada and live in peace with Israel?

And how could you not be impressed by the Afghans really in a very underdeveloped society standing along dusty roads to vote, where women used to hide their faces and couldn't even have medical care without a male relative, and now they stand and they vote and they run for office?

And how could not be impressed with the Iraqi people and their facing down fear?

So much is changing in our world. So much is changing in the Middle East. And if we, in this great alliance, put our values and our efforts and our resources to work on behalf of this great cause, we've only just begun to see what freedom can achieve.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

END


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