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U.S. Says Tough Resolution Needed Despite Iraq's OK to Inspections

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2002 – The only way to make sure Iraq does not repeat the past is to craft a U.N. Security Council Resolution with tough standards, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday.

The United States and the international community put enormous pressure on Iraq last week, Powell said, and Iraqi officials responded by sending a letter agreeing to allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return.

"Let's reflect on what we saw yesterday with this letter from Iraq," Powell told reporters at the United Nations in New York. "We didn't see Iraq suddenly acknowledging the error of its ways of the past 12 years or suddenly realizing that they had been in the wrong.

"What we saw was Iraq responding to what happened last week when the president of the United States came before the international community and laid out the indictment clearly," he said. "What has changed in the last few days is not the letter that came in yesterday. It's the full will of the international community being directed to this problem."

U.N. inspectors have not been in Iraq for the past four years, Powell said, and the Security Council needs to consider the circumstances under which they might return and the consequences for Iraqi inaction or failure to abide by U.N. rules.

"We have seen this game before," he said. In the past, the Iraqis made it impossible for the inspectors to do their work, he said, and, "That's why they're not there now." The one-and-a-quarter page letter signed by Iraq's foreign minister is not the end of this matter, Powell said. The issue is not inspectors; the issue is disarmament.

The U.N. Security Council should not say everything is right because of one short letter from the Iraqi foreign minister, Powell said. Along with disarmament, a number of other issues remain to be resolved, including the treatment of minorities, ties to global terrorism and the return of prisoners taken during the Gulf War.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called the Iraqi letter "a beginning, not an end; as a beginning in our efforts to return the inspectors who are going to disarm Iraq."

Between 1991 and 1996, he noted, U.N. inspectors did an "incredible job" destroying Iraq's weapons. "So the only way to disarm effectively," he said, "is to have the inspectors back." But given Iraq's history, he said, some member states feel the U.N. "should not return to business as usual, and that we should take steps to ensure that the inspectors are able to go about their work unimpeded and with the full cooperation of Iraq."

Speaking in Davenport, Iowa, on Monday, President Bush repeated his position on Iraq. He said Saddam Hussein is an international problem.

"This is a man who poisoned his own people, poisoned his neighbors," Bush said. "He's invaded two countries. He signed agreements that said he would develop no weapons of mass destruction, wouldn't hold any weapons of mass destruction. Yet, for 11 years, he's totally ignored what he said he would do. He basically told the United Nations, your deal doesn't mean anything to me."

U.S. officials want the United Nations to be "relevant" and "part of a framework of peace in the 21st century," the president said. To do so, the organization must take action.

"And if Iraq's regime continues to defy us, and the world," he said, "we will move deliberately, yet decisively, to hold Iraq to account."

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