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Hussein Has Had Enough Time to Disarm, Rice Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2003 – History has shown that when democracies wait too long to confront dictators, more people die, said National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Rice spoke on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" show today. She said Saddam Hussein has been given enough time to disarm.

"Enough is enough," she said. "It's time to bring this to a close."

Rice said the United States is still engaged in diplomacy with members of the U.N. Security Council. She said the council must exercise its responsibilities.

"If the Security Council cannot act when it is facing the 'serial abuse' of its resolutions by Saddam Hussein, it is going to be weakened as a body," Rice said.

In the past, she said, the Security Council has not been able to act. In Kosovo, council inaction forced the United States and United Kingdom to work though NATO to thwart Serbian ethnic cleansing.

"It was unable to act on Rwanda, which meant that almost a million people died," she said of the 1984 civil war. "So the Security Council needs to show it can act."

Rice said Hussein wants to delay and deceive the world so the coalition arrayed against him falls apart. The people of the world need to focus on the danger Hussein poses and not allow him to get away with that ploy, she said.

The United Nations has "lost ground in finding a diplomatic solution" because of disagreement among nations, Rice said.

"I ask everybody to remember that there is a dictator in Iraq that cuts peoples' tongues out if they protest against the regime," she said. "Protest is fine, but the message needs to be, 'We don't want war, so Saddam disarm' -- not 'We don't want war, so let's give him more time.'"

Confronting Saddam now is the right choice, she stressed. Waiting until he develops nuclear weapons or gives chemical and biological weapons to terrorist groups will be too late.

"That's why after 9/11 we're not prepared to let this cancer continue to grow," she said. "It is why the president of the United States, if Saddam Hussein does not disarm, will discharge his responsibilities with a coalition of the willing to disarm Saddam Hussein by force."

Rice commented on a British proposal to put another deadline on Hussein to disarm. She said the Iraqi dictator has had enough deadlines and that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, unanimously passed in November, was the final opportunity for Hussein.

"Now some four-plus months later, we're still hearing from the weapons inspectors that there are many, many outstanding issues unresolved because the Iraqis are not actively cooperating," she said.

The United Kingdom is still working to fashion a U.N. Security Council resolution that would get the requisite nine votes for passage. The British first suggested a March 17 deadline for disarmament, but now say that deadline might be extended.

During Question Time in the House of Commons today, Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of conditions that Saddam Hussein must meet if he wishes to avoid war.

Blair, who took some severe criticism from fellow Labor Party members of Parliament, said that one condition is for the Iraqi dictator to go on television and renounce his weapons of mass destruction programs. Other conditions included:

o Iraq must allow its scientists involved with weapons of mass destruction programs to be interviewed outside the country.

o Hussein must surrender stocks of anthrax and other biological and chemical agents or produce the documents that prove what happened to them.

o Hussein must destroy all banned missiles and account for all remotely piloted vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical and biological agents.

o Iraq also must promise to hand over all mobile biological production labs.

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