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Rumsfeld Speaks on North Korea, Iraq, Possible Casualties

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told members of the foreign press here today that there is no dichotomy in the U.S. approaches taken for Iraq and North Korea.

The secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers spoke at the Foreign Press Center. Reporters asked Rumsfeld if there was a double standard in the treatment of the two rogue nations.

"In the case of North Korea, we're on a diplomatic path," Rumsfeld said. In late 2002, North Korea revealed it had a secret nuclear program and said it was going to restart industrial plants to produce bomb-grade material. Earlier this month, the North Koreans said they were withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Rumsfeld said the United States is working with regional powers to persuade North Korea to stop its nuclear programs. At present, efforts to persuade the North Koreans are on the diplomatic front. "Whether they'll be successful on the diplomatic path, I don't know," he said.

With Iraq, he continued, the United Nations has used every conceivable approach to get Saddam Hussein to carry out his agreements to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction program.

"(The world community) used diplomacy. They've used economic sanctions. They've used 'carrots,' with the oil- for-food program. They've used limited military activity, in the Northern and Southern No-fly zones," he said.

So, for 11 years the international community has tried to get Iraq to honor the 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions it agreed to. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, passed unanimously last Nov. 8, gives Iraq its last chance to come clean and disarm.

But there is no dichotomy; the United States believes weapons of mass destruction are a danger to the world and nations like Iraq and North Korea shouldn't have them, he said.

Rumsfeld said the world must act together today to stop the spread of these weapons. He said people today do not fear weapons of mass destruction. Yet the proliferation of these weapons is so pervasive that there will be three to five more nuclear powers in five to 10 years.

"And they're not going to be countries like the United Kingdom or France or the United States. They're going to be countries like North Korea. They're going to be terrorist states, and they're going to be states that have relationships with terrorist organizations," he said.

He said developing, transporting and using weapons such as biological agents that can kill hundreds of thousands of human beings is easy. "Now, that is not a problem for the United States only," he said. "It's a problem for the whole world."

Finally, Rumsfeld commented on U.S. casualties if President Bush decides that force is the only alternative. "There is no way to know in a conflict - war is so unpredictable - whether it would last four days or four weeks or four months," he said. "And there's no way to know precisely what the Iraqi regime might do. In the last conflict, tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers switched sides. They just surrendered and said they did not want to support the Iraqi regime. To the extent that's the case, and one would think it could very well be, then obviously the casualties are much less."

The United States has indicated to Saddam Hussein's inner circle that any order to use of weapons of mass destruction should be disobeyed. "In the event force has to be used, any person who is in any way connected with the use of weapons of mass destruction would be treated and tried as a war criminal," he said.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcripts: Secretary Rumsfeld Briefs at the Foreign Press Center, Jan. 22, 2003

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