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Rumsfeld: Only 'Certainty' on Iraq Is Saddam Not Cooperating

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2003 – People are looking for certainty in respect to Iraq, but the only certainty now is that Iraq is not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld spoke today on the Fox News Sunday show. He told interviewer Tony Snow the U.S. intelligence community has information that Saddam Hussein has chemical and biological weapons and an active nuclear weapons program. He said that if the United States must go to war to disarm Iraq that the case against Hussein is one "the American people will be comfortable with."

"What we have is a great deal of information about what they have bought and what they have," Rumsfeld said. "A good deal of information about their systematic efforts to try to deceive and deny us the ability to know precisely where things are."

This is the key to the whole matter, according to Rumsfeld. The burden of proof is not on the United Nations to find these weapons. Iraq has been ordered by the U.N. Security Council to account for its weapons of mass destruction and prove it has none. The test should be (whether) Saddam Hussein cooperating with the United Nations, he said.

"That is what the U.N. said: file a correct declaration, open things up and show the world what you have," Rumsfeld said. "He's not doing that."

Rather, he said, Iraq is dispersing the weapons to underground bunkers, possibly hiding biological weapons labs in trucks and dispersing documentation in private homes. "People don't do that unless they are trying to hide what they are doing," he said. But there is no "smoking gun" to date. If the United Nations could point to a spot and say weapons were there, they would not be there when the inspectors arrived, Rumsfeld said.

"There is always a degree of uncertainty," the secretary said. "Until you get into the country and onto the ground and are able to talk to everybody and literally go out and find things that he's been hiding, that's the only time the full picture will be clear."

He said there has been great effort at trying to piece together information on the Sept.11 attacks. What the U.S. government is trying to do is piece the information together before an attack. That is always more difficult, he said.

The secretary stressed that President Bush has not made a final decision on Iraq, although the president himself said that Saddam Hussein is running out of time. "He's made the decision that Saddam Hussein should be disarmed," Rumsfeld said. "His hope is that it can be done through peaceful means. His hope is, if it can't, ... that Saddam Hussein will leave the country.

(President Bush) has said, however, that this will be resolved and he will, if necessary, use a coalition of the willing (to do it). And there are a lot of countries lined up."

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