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Rumsfeld Warns Iraq Not to Threaten U.N. Inspectors

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Iraq not "to take or threaten hostile action against inspectors or coalition aircraft upholding U.N. inspections" under the U.N. Security Council resolution signed today.

"The Iraqi regime has a choice to make. (Saddam Hussein) can give up his weapons of mass destruction or, as (President Bush) has said, he will lose power," Rumsfeld said.

The secretary was speaking to American and German media during a Pentagon press conference with German Defense Minister Peter Struck. The two met this evening to discuss the upcoming NATO summit in Prague, Czech Republic; NATO modernization; the war on terrorism; and the new resolution on Iraq.

Rumsfeld spoke at length about the new U.N resolution. He explained that Iraq now has seven days to confirm its intent to cooperate with the tenets of the resolution. Then, within 30 days, "Iraq must fully and truthfully declare all of its weapons of mass destruction capabilities, its programs and stockpiles," he said.

The secretary also described what actions the United States would take during this period. He said Americans would still patrol the skies over Iraq and continue working with friends and allies to keep pressure on Iraq to comply.

"The only way to finish the job facing the U.N. today is that Iraq be disarmed," Rumsfeld said, "and to do that, it's necessary to keep the pressure up."

Rumsfeld said the United States will continue supporting Iraqi opposition groups to be prepared in the event Hussein doesn't meet all the requirements of the resolution. Along that line, the United States will still work on humanitarian relief and reconstruction plans "for a post- Saddam Hussein Iraq."

Struck said through a translator that he welcomed the unanimous decision by the Security Council to approve the resolution. He praised Bush's decision to work through the United Nations on a multilateral approach to the issue.

"The Security Council has lived up to its responsibility for international peace and security," Struck said.

Rumsfeld said now it's up to Iraq to decide whether to cooperate or not. "Saddam Hussein needs to understand that this is his regime's chance to come into compliance with all U.N. Security Council resolutions," he said. "The choice does not rest in Washington. It does not rest in New York. It rests in Baghdad."

He then added: "For the sake of peace, let's hope that the Iraqi regime chooses wisely."

Relations between Germany and the United States were strained recently when German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin allegedly suggested in September that Bush's tactics over Iraq were reminiscent of those of Adolf Hitler. She later said she had been misquoted.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer called the comments "outrageous and inexplicable." U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said there was a "poisoned atmosphere" regarding relations between the two countries.

Rumsfeld today described the relationship between the two countries as "unpoisoned." Germany has supported the war on terrorism with 1,800 troops in the Operation Enduring Freedom region. The country also has five ships and several aircraft operating out of Djibouti and other areas in Africa.

Both leaders today noted Germany will work with the Netherlands to take over the lead of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul "early next year." However, Struck said he believes NATO should be ultimately responsible for the force. Turkey currently commands the force.

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