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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

20 February 2003

Trusting Saddam Hussein Not an Option, Bush Says

(Administration concerned by Iraq's continued "defiance" of U.N.
demands) (940)
By Wendy S. Ross
Washington File White House Correspondent
Washington -- If Saddam Hussein does not disarm Iraq of its weapons of
mass destruction as required by the United Nations, the United States
with other willing nations will act to "defend the peace against an
aggressive tyrant," President Bush said February 20.
"If war is forced upon us, we will liberate the people of Iraq from a
cruel and violent dictator," Bush told a gathering of small business
owners in Kennesaw, Georgia, where he stopped to discuss his tax
reform proposals before continuing on to his ranch in Texas.
"Military action is this nation's last option," Bush said, but
"trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not an
option. Denial and endless delay in the face of growing danger is not
an option," he said.
"America and our allies are called once again to defend the peace
against an aggressive tyrant, and we accept this responsibility," he
said.
"The Iraqi people today are not treated with dignity," Bush declared,
"but they have a right to live in dignity. The Iraqi people today are
not allowed to speak out for freedom, but they have a right to live in
freedom.
"We don't believe freedom and liberty are America's gift to the world;
we believe they are the Almighty's gift to mankind," Bush said, "and
for the oppressed people of Iraq, people whose lives we care about,
the day of freedom is drawing near."
Meanwhile, en route to Georgia, White House Press Secretary Ari
Fleischer told reporters on Air Force One that the Bush administration
continues to be "concerned about Iraqi defiance on the ground and
their refusal to comply with the United Nations."
Six days after chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix requested that
Iraq provide a list of individuals who oversaw and were involved in
the destruction of Iraq's biological and chemical weapons, Iraq has
provided the United Nations "with nothing," Fleischer said.
In addition, "Private interviews with inspectors have dried up,"
Fleischer said, and Iraq "has insisted on a 48-hour advance
notification of the U-2 flights, making U-2 spy missions, designed to
determine what is happening, predictable, thereby diminishing the
value of such flights, which, per [U.N. Security Council
Resolution]1441, are supposed to be unconditional rights to fly the
U-2."
"And, of course, Iraq has indicated that it will not destroy the
LSUB-II missiles, which Hans Blix reported to the United Nations are,
in fact, proscribed weapons. So the situation on the ground is not
good, which is a cause for concern," Fleischer said.
And State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said at his daily press
briefing that "the situation is quite clear at this point. Iraq has
failed to comply. All the evidence is that Iraq is continuing to
deceive the Security Council and failing to comply.
"Many of the things that were promised last week to the inspectors
have not come through. No more scientists have appeared for private
interviews. The famous Iraqi commission that was scouring the
countryside for documents and weapons hasn't produced a thing. The
Iraqis haven't produced any new documents.
"It turns out the decree that they issued on weapons of mass
destruction, when you actually read it, it says that private
individuals and companies can't have weapons of mass destruction; it
doesn't mention the government, doesn't mention any cooperation by
government officials, doesn't require any effort on the part of
government officials to come clean about all their holdings of
dangerous weapons," Boucher said.
"So I think we're at a point now a week or so from Iraq's last set of
promises, and as with Iraq's previous promises and the promises before
that, even the little that they promised on process has not come
true," he said.
Asked whether any progress is being made on an additional U.N.
resolution on Iraq, to back up Resolution 1441 that was approved
unanimously by the council in November, Boucher said "We're working
with other countries about the wording of the resolution, the timing
of the resolution. We would expect a resolution soon, probably next
week.
"We want to see a resolution that, as the president said, makes clear
that the council stands by its demands; that the U.N. Security Council
will stand up for itself and for its own resolutions, its previous
resolutions. "
On the question of whether Turkey will permit U.S. forces to use its
bases for military action in Iraq, Boucher said, "We've been talking
to Turkey about how to proceed together in terms of military
preparations and also economic assistance ... but we're not there
yet."
And Fleischer said, "There is nothing new to report on Turkey, except
for the passage of time, and there is not a lot of time that can pass.
This is not a bluff. The United States is preparing for war in case a
decision is made to go to war. We have to deal with realities, and we
will. And if basing is not allowed in Turkey, we have no choice, we
will pursue other options."
According to news reports, Turkey is asking for an increase in the
economic aid package the United States is proposing it. The U.S. has
said it will not alter the original figure, which reports say amounts
to $6 billion in grants and guarantees for $20 billion in loans.
Turkey is reported to be seeking a package of more than $30 billion.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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