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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

23 January 2003

"Why We Know Iraq Is Lying," by Condoleezza Rice

(Op-ed column from The New York Times) (980)
(begin byliner)
(This byliner by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice first
appeared in the New York Times January 23, 2003, and is in the public
domain. No republication restrictions.)
Why We Know Iraq Is Lying
Condoleezza Rice
(Condoleezza Rice is the national security adviser.)
Washington -- Eleven weeks after the United Nations Security Council
unanimously passed a resolution demanding - yet again - that Iraq
disclose and disarm all its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
programs, it is appropriate to ask, "Has Saddam Hussein finally
decided to voluntarily disarm?" Unfortunately, the answer is a clear
and resounding no.
There is no mystery to voluntary disarmament. Countries that decide to
disarm lead inspectors to weapons and production sites, answer
questions before they are asked, state publicly and often the
intention to disarm and urge their citizens to cooperate. The world
knows from examples set by South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan what
it looks like when a government decides that it will cooperatively
give up its weapons of mass destruction. The critical common elements
of these efforts include a high-level political commitment to disarm,
national initiatives to dismantle weapons programs, and full
cooperation and transparency.
In 1989 South Africa made the strategic decision to dismantle its
covert nuclear weapons program. It destroyed its arsenal of seven
weapons and later submitted to rigorous verification by the
International Atomic Energy Agency. Inspectors were given complete
access to all nuclear facilities (operating and defunct) and the
people who worked there. They were also presented with thousands of
documents detailing, for example, the daily operation of uranium
enrichment facilities as well as the construction and dismantling of
specific weapons.
Ukraine and Kazakhstan demonstrated a similar pattern of cooperation
when they decided to rid themselves of the nuclear weapons,
intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers inherited from
the Soviet Union. With significant assistance from the United States -
warmly accepted by both countries - disarmament was orderly, open and
fast. Nuclear warheads were returned to Russia. Missile silos and
heavy bombers were destroyed or dismantled - once in a ceremony
attended by the American and Russian defense chiefs. In one instance,
Kazakhstan revealed the existence of a ton of highly enriched uranium
and asked the United States to remove it, lest it fall into the wrong
Iraq's behavior could not offer a starker contrast. Instead of a
commitment to disarm, Iraq has a high-level political commitment to
maintain and conceal its weapons, led by Saddam Hussein and his son
Qusay, who controls the Special Security Organization, which runs
Iraq's concealment activities. Instead of implementing national
initiatives to disarm, Iraq maintains institutions whose sole purpose
is to thwart the work of the inspectors. And instead of full
cooperation and transparency, Iraq has filed a false declaration to
the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200-page lie.
For example, the declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq's
efforts to get uranium from abroad, its manufacture of specific fuel
for ballistic missiles it claims not to have, and the gaps previously
identified by the United Nations in Iraq's accounting for more than
two tons of the raw materials needed to produce thousands of gallons
of anthrax and other biological weapons.
Iraq's declaration even resorted to unabashed plagiarism, with lengthy
passages of United Nations reports copied word-for-word (or edited to
remove any criticism of Iraq) and presented as original text. Far from
informing, the declaration is intended to cloud and confuse the true
picture of Iraq's arsenal. It is a reflection of the regime's
well-earned reputation for dishonesty and constitutes a material
breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, which set
up the current inspections program.
Unlike other nations that have voluntarily disarmed - and in defiance
of Resolution 1441 - Iraq is not allowing inspectors "immediate,
unimpeded, unrestricted access" to facilities and people involved in
its weapons program. As a recent inspection at the home of an Iraqi
nuclear scientist demonstrated, and other sources confirm, material
and documents are still being moved around in farcical shell games.
The regime has blocked free and unrestricted use of aerial
The list of people involved with weapons of mass destruction programs,
which the United Nations required Iraq to provide, ends with those who
worked in 1991 - even though the United Nations had previously
established that the programs continued after that date. Interviews
with scientists and weapons officials identified by inspectors have
taken place only in the watchful presence of the regime's agents.
Given the duplicitous record of the regime, its recent promises to do
better can only be seen as an attempt to stall for time.
Last week's finding by inspectors of 12 chemical warheads not included
in Iraq's declaration was particularly troubling. In the past, Iraq
has filled this type of warhead with sarin - a deadly nerve agent used
by Japanese terrorists in 1995 to kill 12 Tokyo subway passengers and
sicken thousands of others. Richard Butler, the former chief United
Nations arms inspector, estimates that if a larger type of warhead
that Iraq has made and used in the past were filled with VX (an even
deadlier nerve agent) and launched at a major city, it could kill up
to one million people. Iraq has also failed to provide United Nations
inspectors with documentation of its claim to have destroyed its VX
Many questions remain about Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons programs and arsenal - and it is Iraq's obligation to provide
answers. It is failing in spectacular fashion. By both its actions and
its inactions, Iraq is proving not that it is a nation bent on
disarmament, but that it is a nation with something to hide. Iraq is
still treating inspections as a game. It should know that time is
running out.
(end byliner)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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