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Time Will Tell on Iraqi Inspections, Rumsfeld Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2002 – What ultimately happens in reference to the U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq is up to the member states and the Security Council itself, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Nov. 19.

Reporters asked the secretary to comment on U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan's comment about continuing Iraqi fire on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones. "I don't think the Security Council will think this is a contravention of the resolution," Reuters reported Annan as saying.

Rumsfeld said Annan's comments did not come as a surprise to him. "Whenever resolutions are crafted they tend to be compromises and there tends to be calculated ambiguities to gain votes," he said.

The secretary said no one knows how Saddam Hussein will react to the United Nations resolution. "(We don't know) whether or not he'll come to a conclusion that it's all over and go ahead and disarm," Rumsfeld said. Nor does anyone know, he added, whether Hussein will stay in Iraq, try to hold his weapons of mass destruction and fight.

Rumsfeld said another unknown is that no one knows how the United Nations will react. "The United Nations sat there for years with 16 resolutions being violated," he said. "Just as we've seen a pattern of behavior with Saddam Hussein, we've also seen a pattern of behavior on the part of the United Nations. Only time will tell what the membership will conclude. I have no idea what it is."

Rumsfeld said he didn't know if Annan's thinking represented "the center of gravity" of the Security Council. "He's certainly the secretary-general and he has a voice and a role," Rumsfeld said. But the tenor of the assembly can change also. The secretary said the organization seemed "quite happy" to continue with the status quo until President Bush addressed the United Nations Sept. 12. After that speech and concerted diplomatic pressure, the vote for the Security Council resolution was unanimous.

The secretary also noted that DoD is getting responses from allies regarding possible use of force against Iraq. He said they fall into five general groups:

  • Allies who want to start planning now for possible use of force with or without the U.N. resolution.

  • Those who would like to be helpful and begin planning now, but who would only go along if they have a U.N. resolution sanctioning the use of appropriate force by member states.

  • Allies would be willing to provide other assistance to a U.S.-led coalition -- such as hosting forces, overflight rights, backfilling American units and so on.

  • "A fourth category might be, 'We don't want to help,'" Rumsfeld said.

  • Several countries have indicated they would be willing to cooperate with coalition humanitarian assistance efforts in Iraq in the event force is used and Saddam Hussein falls from power.

Rumsfeld said many countries are participating because they realize the coalition buildup taking place and the cooperative arrangements being fashioned create a better environment for the United Nations. "It ought to persuade the Iraqis that the United Nations and the coalition countries are serious," he said.

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