Threat of Force Key in Getting Inspectors into Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2002 U.N. weapons inspectors are back on the job in Iraq only because the world presented a united front and increased pressure on Saddam Hussein, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today during a Pentagon press briefing.
He said the coalition's credible threat of force was key to Hussein's decision to acquiesce with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, passed Nov. 8. For almost 12 years, Iraq has flouted 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions including the one to renounce weapons of mass destruction.
The secretary stated that it was only after President Bush got strong endorsement from the U.S. Congress and a unanimous vote from the U.N. Security Council and made it clear the United States was prepared to lead "a coalition of the willing" if Iraq refused to disarm that Hussein allowed the inspectors to return.
"I think it's useful to keep that sequence in mind," he said. "They didn't just decide one day to invite back the inspectors." Rumsfeld noted Hussein choices: disarm, or face the possibility of being disarmed.
But he said the members of the United Nations also face a choice. Iraq has until Dec. 8 to turn in a declaration on what weapons of mass destruction it has.
"When the Iraqis send in their declaration, if it is false, will the United Nations continue the pattern of the past of allowing Iraq to ignore U.N. resolutions, or will the members countries hold Iraq to its obligations?" the secretary asked.
Rumsfeld stressed that Iraq bears the burden of proof to show it is disarming. "It is not U.N. inspectors' duty to uncover Iraqi weapons," he said. "The responsibility of the inspectors is to confirm evidence of voluntary and total disarmament."
The secretary opined on another -- often-overlooked portion of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 -- that Iraq must stop the abuse and terror it inflicts on its own people. Rumsfeld pointed to a British report that says that the Iraqi regime has murdered 100,000 Kurds in the northern part of the country. He stated that Iraq has systematically attacked its Shiite population. More than 7 million Iraqis live outside Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, according to U.S. State Department figures.
"Torture is systematic in Iraq and the most senior officials are involved," Rumsfeld said. "Electric shock, eye-gouging, acid baths, lengthy confinement in small metal boxes are only some of the crimes committed by this regime."
The Iraqi regime's willingness to use these brutal methods and its known stocks of weapons of mass destruction should concern countries around the world.
"A regime with weapons of mass destruction and such contempt for human life, even the lives of its own people, ought to be considered what it is, namely a particular kind of danger," Rumsfeld said.
He told reporters that the United States will do all it can to provide intelligence and support to the U.N. weapons inspectors. As usual, the secretary would not discuss hypothetical situations. He emphatically stated that much hinges on the Iraqi declaration.
In answer to a question about possible smallpox vaccinations for U.S. service members, he said he has been briefed on the situation and is not ready to announce a decision.
The secretary deferred many "what if" questions to President Bush. He said the president would make decisions only after careful review of whatever declaration Iraq makes.