Iraq Part of Global War on Terrorism, Rumsfeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2002 Iraq is not separate from the global war on terrorism, it is part of it, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
The secretary and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, returned to Capitol Hill for the second time in two days to discuss the Bush administration's position on Iraq.
Rumsfeld said stopping rogue states from developing and using weapons of mass destruction is a key aspect of the global war on terrorism. "We can fight the various elements of the global war on terror simultaneously," he said.
He stressed that Bush has not made a decision on use of force against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. But he said the administration continues to believe that Iraq is a "grave and growing danger" to the United States and the world.
Rumsfeld said that while other nations are dangerous and are looking at weapons of mass destruction, no terrorist state in the world poses a more immediate threat to the security of America than the regime of Saddam Hussein.
He urged the senators to work with the president and members of the House to craft a resolution insisting that Iraq comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. He said delay would signal Hussein that he can continue to violate the will of the world -- expressed through the United Nations -- with impunity.
Rumsfeld said that the Iraqi letter delivered Sept. 16 to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is no excuse for the United States or United Nations to stop pressing for resolutions against Iraq.
"Some people have asked the question now that Iraq has agreed to unconditional inspections, why does Congress need to react?" he asked. "If we want to measure the depth of (Iraq's) so-called change of heart, I suggest we watch what they do, not what they say."
Immediately after Iraq delivered its letter to Annan pledging cooperation with U.N inspectors, its air defense gunners and missileers began firing on coalition patrol aircraft, Rumsfeld said.
He told the senators two inspection regimes are in play -- ground inspections and air inspections. Iraq threw ground inspectors out in 1998.
"The air inspections -- operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch -- have been flying at the risk of their lives," he said. "Since delivering the letter promising unconditional access, (the Iraqis) have fired at coalition aircraft somewhere between 15 and 20 times -- a considerable increase from the period before the letter."
Further, Iraqi officials are setting conditions for the "unconditional" inspection regime. Rumsfeld said the Iraqi foreign minister suggested in a speech to the United Nations "that the inspections must operate within guidelines in a manner that respects Iraqi sovereignty and security."
He said this is a further example of Iraqi willingness to play with the international community. "When it's the right moment to lean forward, they do," he said. "When it's the right moment to lean back, they do. It's a dance. They go on for months and, indeed, they've gone on for years jerking the U.N. around. When they find things are not going their way, they throw out a proposal like this."
Rumsfeld said the issue is not inspections, the issue is disarmament and the problem is a lack of compliance. "As the president made clear in his U.N. address, we require Iraq's compliance with all 16 U.N. resolutions," he said.
He said there is a place for inspections, but not with this regime. Inspections are effective if the country being inspected cooperates and wants to prove to the world it is complying.
"They tend not to be as effective in uncovering deceptions and violations, when the target is determined not to be disarmed," he said. "Iraq's record of the last decade is that it wants weapons of mass destruction and that it is determined to develop them."
Iraq already has offensive biological and chemical weapons, and it's working to develop a nuclear capability, Rumsfeld said. Saddam's regime also maintains ties to a number of terrorist groups. The combination of a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction and terrorist groups that wish to use those weapons is a danger the United States and the United Nations cannot ignore, he said.
"Since Sept. 11 we have seen a new means of delivering these weapons -- terrorist networks," Rumsfeld said. "To the extent that they might transfer (weapons of mass destruction) to terrorist groups, they could conceal their responsibility for attacks on our people."
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred with the secretary's remarks on the dangers of Iraq. He assured the senators that the U.S. military is prepared to do whatever President Bush requires of it.
"Today we have sufficient forces to continue our ongoing operations, meet our international commitments and continue to protect the American homeland," Myers said.