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Wolfowitz: Disarming Iraq 'Crucial' to Winning War on Terror

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2003 – international help in recent years, and Iraq's actions are not consistent with cooperative disarmament, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said today.

South Africa agreed to end its nuclear weapons program in 1989 and allowed U.N. atomic energy experts to verify compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Ukraine and Kazakhstan asked for U.S. help to remove and destroy military materiel they inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"South Africa allowed U.N. inspectors complete access to both operating and defunct facilities, provided thousands of current and historical documents, and allowed detailed, unfettered discussions with personnel involved in the South African program," Wolfowitz said to the Council of Foreign Relations in New York today.

He noted that Ukraine asked the United States to help it destroy bombers and missiles, while Kazakhstan asked the United States to safely remove more than 500 kilograms of enriched uranium.

"Each of these cases was different, but the end result was the same: The countries disarmed while disclosing their programs fully and voluntarily," Wolfowitz said.

Not so with Iraq, he said. U.S. government officials at all levels have maintained inspectors shouldn't have to play "cat-and-mouse games" to confirm disarmament. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said often and loudly that inspections only work when a country intends to cooperate.

"As in the case of South Africa and the others, inspection teams can do a great deal to verify the dismantling of a program when working with a cooperative government that wants to prove to the world it has disarmed," Wolfowitz said today.

He called Iraq's 12,000-page declaration of its weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs false. The country is also blocking reconnaissance flights, which were called for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441.

Wolfowitz quoted a former chief U.N. weapons inspector as saying the confirming a voluntary disarmament should be relatively fast and easy to do. Iraq has had 12 years to prove it is cooperating with U.N. resolutions, he continued, and it hasn't provided suitable proof yet.

Instead of a commitment to disarm, Iraq has shown "a high-level commitment to concealing its weapons of mass terror," Wolfowitz said. He cited several methods Iraq has used to thwart U.N. inspections, including concealing and frequently moving records and equipment, threats and coercion, and "cyber intrusions."

"A process that begins with a massive lie and proceeds with concealment, penetration, intimidation and obstruction cannot be a process of cooperative disarmament," he said. "The purpose of Resolution 1441 was not to play another game of 'hide and seek' or 'cheat and retreat' for another 12 years. The purpose was to achieve a clear resolution of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass terror."

The deputy secretary stressed that disarming Iraq is a crucial part of the war on terrorism. "The threat posed by the connection between terrorist networks and states that possess weapons of mass terror presents us with the danger of a catastrophe that could be orders of magnitude greater than Sept. 11," he said.

He also noted the United States is assisting the inspectors in several ways, including providing intelligence information. It has provided inspectors with the names of individuals who should be interviewed, information about sites suspected of being involved with weapons storage or production, an analysis of Iraq's weapons programs, and aerial surveillance support. The United States has also provided some of the most advanced technical support in the world in the form of laboratory equipment and services, sampling equipment, secure communications equipment, and ground-penetrating radar, Wolfowitz said.

"However," he added, "in the absence of full cooperation - particularly in the absence of full disclosure of what Iraq has actually done - it is unreasonable to expect that the U.N. inspectors have the capacity to disarm an uncooperative Iraq, even with the full support of American intelligence and the intelligence of other nations."

The decision on whether the international community will have to disarm Iraq by force "rests entirely with Saddam Hussein," Wolfowitz said, adding that the dangers of confronting such a tyrant will only grow over time.

"For people who cherish freedom, these are difficult times," he said, "But such times can deepen our understanding of the truth, and this truth we know: The single greatest threat to peace and freedom in our time is terrorism."

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Transcript: Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Speech on Iraq Disarmament

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