Rumsfeld Dismisses Iraqi Claims of Innocence Regarding WMDs
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today dismissed Iraq's claims that it has no weapons of mass destruction.
"I'll just say they do have weapons of mass destruction," he said in a Pentagon media briefing with Kazakhstani Defense Minister Col. Gen. Mukhtar Alytnbayev.
Rumsfeld said he had received a copy of the letter Iraq sent to the U.N. Security Council grudgingly agreeing to allow weapons inspectors into the country. The letter reportedly claims Iraq has no such weapons and that Saddam Hussein's regime will "deal with" the Security Council resolution approved Nov. 8.
Rumsfeld said he had not read the letter carefully but indicated there may be some differences between the English version he has and an Arabic version. Experts are comparing the two.
Rumsfeld and Alytnbayev met briefly today in the Pentagon and discussed military-to-military cooperation between the two countries and modernizing Kazakhstan's armed forces. The two have met twice before, the secretary noted.
Alytnbayev said through a translator that his country is working to improve their armed forces. "We're trying to bring our military close to the Western standards," he said. "We're trying to learn from the United States in terms of building up the armed forces."
He noted U.S. instructors have taught in Kazakhstani military schools, and Kazakhstani officers have received training in American military institutions.
Rumsfeld said he appreciated Kazakhstan's support of the war on terrorism. Kazakhstan was one of the first countries to voice support for the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan. The country has allowed coalition pilots overflight rights and has allowed transport vehicles to pass through Kazakhstan en route to U.S. troops stationed in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, defense officials said.