Rumsfeld Discusses Iraqi Threat
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 30, 2002 Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq has chemical and biological weapons and is seeking to develop nuclear capabilities, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said July 30.
Rumsfeld said the U.S. government has been explaining to people at home and abroad what this capability plus Iraq's ties to organizations like al Qaeda mean to the security of the world.
He said Iraq's efforts at concealing weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them are indicative of the problem worldwide. He said Iraq and other countries are "burrowing underground" to conceal these facilities. They are also building mobile facilities, which make them difficult to find and hit.
Further complicating the situation is dual-use technologies. These are technologies that have a benign civilian use and a military use. Examples are technologies that can make medicines, but also can be used to make biological weapons.
Finding all these facilities is difficult. "Think back to Iraq, and the number of inspectors that were milling about that country for a good, long period and the difficulty they had -- except when prompted by defectors -- to know where things were," Rumsfeld said.
He opined about having U.N. inspectors back in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction, missiles and factories to make such weapons. "It would take such a thoroughly intrusive inspection regime, agreed to and then lived up to by Iraq, that it's difficult to even begin to think they might accept such a regime," he said.
He said any inspection regime in Iraq would have to be without notice. Inspectors must have the freedom to go anywhere at anytime. "I still suspect it would require the assistance of defectors and insiders simply because of the ease of hiding things," he said.
Rumsfeld said it is no secret a regime change in Iraq has been U.S. policy for some time. The policy started in the Clinton administration, is approved by Congress and is supported by the Bush administration. He said the United States is addressing this in a variety of ways including through diplomatic, economic and military means.
He said operations in Afghanistan are going well. He cited the number of refugees returning to the country as a positive step. He said reports from nongovernmental agencies support the idea that the country is getting safer.
Still, a great amount of work has to be done in the country. More than 20 years of war and civil war topped by drought have placed an enormous burden on the country. "It is important that people recognize the magnitude of the job being faced by the transitional government," he said.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Afghanistan is still a dangerous environment. "Over the weekend, five U.S. soldiers were wounded and two friendly Afghan fighters were killed," he said.
Three ambushers were killed with two other possibles and two detainees picked up. "As we continue to patrol, as we continue to expand the security environment, we're going to continue to run into pockets of al Qaeda and Taliban," he said.