July 19, 2012
TRANSCRIPT: AMBASSADOR SUSAN RICE DISCUSSES RUSSIA AND CHINA’S DECISION TO VETO THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL’S RESOLUTION THREATENING NON-MILITARY SANCTIONS AGAINST SYRIA ON "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS"
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NEW YORK—JULY 19, 2012— U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told Andrea Mitchell today that Russia and China’s decision to triple veto the UN Security Council Resolution is “outrageous and what it does is consign the people of Syria to continued and intensified conflict and risks this conflict spilling further over into the region.” In the interview on MSNBC, Ambassador Rice reacted to the attack on the Syrian national security headquarters and told Mitchell that, “The longer the international community, as evidenced today by the Security Council, is unable to act, the more likely it is that this will get more and more dangerous for the people of Syria and for the region.”
A transcript of the interview is below, if used please credit “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
Link to embeddable clip: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/48246191#48246191
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome back. Joining me now to discuss the latest developments in Syria and today's veto of a UN
resolution by Russia and China, Susan Rice, Ambassador to the United Nations, joining us from
New York. Thank you very much, madam ambassador. First of all, your reaction to this third triple veto, for the third time, by Russia and China.
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Well, it's outrageous. And what it does is consign the people of Syria to continued and intensified conflict and risks this conflict spilling further over into the region. The Russians and Chinese decided yet again that they would rather protect Assad to the bitter end, even though the bitter end is coming and this is manifestly not in their long-term interests, rather than support the United Nations' mission, support what joint special envoy Annan and
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban urged the council to do which was to make it clear that there will be consequences on the government for its failure to implement its commitments. And instead they vetoed yet again.
MITCHELL: And does this mean the end of the road for the U.N.'s role here and the Annan mission?
RICE: Well, Andrea, that's not clear. What it certainly means is that the small observer mission which has been on the ground and over the last six weeks confined to its hotel rooms because of the declining security situation, will wind down. It may take a few more weeks for it to wind down and the council may yet agree to a brief extension for a matter of a few weeks or days to enable it to redeploy safely. But that part of it is definitely done.
Whether Kofi Annan can continue his political efforts, we hope so, because we continue to believe that the best outcome, even if it's not the most probable outcome, is for there to be a peaceful political transition. Assad steps aside. And there is a new government put in place that can lead to a democratic dispensation for the people of Syria
MITCHELL: If there's no give from Russia's position, and it's clear that China will follow Russia's lead on this, but if Russia is not going to change, and Vladimir Putin was on the phone with the president yesterday and we were told there were strong disagreements. So even that conversation did not patch things up. So if Russia's not going to change its position, do we now have to find other allies and other recourses if we have no option in the U.N. Security Council to help the people of Syria?
RICE: Well, certainly Andrea, today's action by the Russians and the Chinese puts a punctuation mark on their refusal to allow the Security Council to play an effective role in trying to stop the violence there. As I said when I spoke before the Security Council today, for the United States' part, we will continue to work toward a peaceful political transition. We'll continue to support the peaceful opposition in Syria and to provide nonlethal support to the military opposition. We'll continue to provide robust humanitarian support. And we will work with other countries outside of the security council increasingly to put further pressure on Assad.
MITCHELL: What about a no-fly zone or some other steps that have been demanded by John McCain, by Lindsey Graham, by others, by critics in the Senate in both parties?
RICE: Well, a no-fly zone, implemented quite clearly it would have to be outside of the scope of the security council, is one of many options that some have booted (ph) about. But I think they have oversimplified what they entail. We have not ruled out any options, but our strong view is the best resolution of this is the situation be resolved through peaceful political means.
A no-fly zone, though, Andrea, is no small matter in this instance. It would require putting boots on the ground and significant international forces. And I think that one should not underestimate the complexity of that, the danger of that, and if there is a possibility, and we think there still is however remote, that this can be resolved through a process that doesn't entail additional militarization, that is certainly preferable for our national security interests and for those of the people of Syria.
MITCHELL: Madam ambassador, how do you read what happened yesterday with the attack on the national security headquarters, the killing of three top defense officials including the defense
minister, and Assad's brother-in-law? Is this the tipping point?
RICE: It was a dramatic attack, Andrea. And it underscores how rapidly the security situation is deteriorating. This conflict, as some of my colleagues have said, is clearly spinning out of control. The longer the international community, as evidenced today by the Security Council, is unable to act, the more likely it is that this will get more and more dangerous for the people of Syria and for the region.
Whether this proves to be a tipping point or not, somebody with a better crystal ball than I may be able to answer that, but it was certainly a major jolt to regime and it underscores the opposition, the militarized portion of the opposition is becoming more sophisticated and that this conflict has every potential to worsen and deepen which is why it's quite ironic and incredibly unfortunate that Russia and
China, who along with others have a stake in the opposite, in security and stability in Syria, would block the only viable political process, the only viable political means in the international community to try to mitigate this situation.
MITCHELL: How concerned are you about Syria's stockpile, the regime's stockpiles of chemical weapons?
RICE: Well, we're well aware that they have a large stockpile of chemical weapons and that it's the government's responsibility come what may to secure those stockpiles and not transfer them and in any case obviously not use them against its own people. I raised this concern in the Security Council today, noting that as the situation deteriorates, there is concern, reason for concern, that the Syrian authorities might consider such use. And if they do, they ought to be very clear that they will be held accountable by the United States and others in the international community. And so one certainly would underscore that that should not occur.
MITCHELL: And what about concerns that some have expressed that there are al Qaeda elements trying to take advantage and work with some members of the opposition?
RICE: Well, I think it's been clear for a long time that there are elements of al Qaeda, al Qaeda in Syria. This is not new. Their relationship to the opposition is a subject of some question, but definitely there has been and there is still an al Qaeda presence that's been in Syria, it's been in Iraq, it may have -- some portion from Iraq may have moved back into Syria. And it is in part responsible for some of the violence that we've seen.
MITCHELL: And short -- a brief, let's say a brief extension for the monitors who are on the ground so they can get safely out, what is the next step now for the diplomatic community?
RICE: Well, Russia and China have put a road block in front of the Security Council to support the continuation of the monitoring mission and to provide full diplomatic support to what Kofi Annan is trying to achieve.
Let's be clear, Andrea, about what the resolution was that they vetoed today. It simply would have made the Annan six-point plan and the Geneva outcome document which all five permanent members of the security council have multiple times endorsed, more binding on the parties under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter. And it would have said that if the government fails to stop the use of heavy weapons and others massive violence against its own people within ten days, then the council would be prepared to implement sanctions against the Syrian government.
It was a threat of sanctions, Andrea, nothing more. It was just codifying and reinforcing what the council members have already committed themselves to. That the Russians and the Chinese would veto something that incremental, that basic and not provide those monitors who are on the ground with the most minimal political support they need to have a fighting chance to do their job is really the death knell for the monitors over time and makes what Kofi Annan trying to do all but impossible.
He has asked the council to make it clear that there would be consequences for non-compliance by the government and indeed by the opposition. And the Russians and the Chinese ensured that that would not be possible today.
MITCHELL: Susan Rice, UN ambassador, thank you very much.
RICE: Thank you, Andrea.