Iraq 'a Grave and Gathering Danger,' Bush Tells U.N.
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2002 President Bush called Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq a "grave and gathering danger" during a speech today to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Bush said the world must make a choice between fear and progress. He said the United States will take action against Saddam's brutal regime and urged the members to help. "By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand," Bush said. "And delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand as well."
Bush said terrorism is the greatest threat to world peace today. He said outlaw groups and outlaw regimes follow no laws of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions. He said the terrorist threat is in many nations, including the United States.
He said these groups are plotting other attacks. "Our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale," he said. "In one place, in one regime, we find all these dangers in their most lethal and aggressive forms, exactly the kind of aggressive threat the United Nations was born to confront."
Bush told the delegates that even before the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was a danger to regional and world peace. He said the Iraqi dictator used chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988. Saddam then turned these weapons of mass destruction on his own people. Right now, Bush said, Iraq has stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents.
Bush said Iraq has a robust biological weapons program. Only after a senior official defected did Iraq admit to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud missile warheads, aerial bombs and aircraft spray tanks, Bush said. Further, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities used for production of biological weapons, he said.
Bush said that if not for the Gulf War, "the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993." He said Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program, weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data and accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance.
He said Iraq has capable nuclear scientists and technicians, and it has the physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon, he added.
"Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year," Bush said.
Further, Iraq possesses numbers of Scud missiles capable of hitting many cities in the region and beyond.
The president said Saddam Hussein has ignored or subverted every agreement he signed following the Persian Gulf War. "To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble," he said. "This is a risk we must not take."
Bush listed the number of times the United Nations has demanded Iraq live by its agreement. He said the international organization has been more than patient.
"We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil-for- food and the stick of coalition military strikes," he said. "But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one.
"We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming," he said.
Bush said that if Iraq wants peace and an end to U.N. sanctions, it must take a number of steps:
- Immediately and unconditionally foreswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long- range missiles and all related material.
- Immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it.
- Cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds and others.
- Release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. U.S. Navy pilot Cmdr. Jeffrey Speicher is one of those still missing.
- Immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for- food program. Accept U.N. administration of funds from that program to ensure the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
Bush said that if Iraq takes these steps, it will "signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq." But if Saddam Hussein thumbs his nose at the United Nations, he said, "the world must move deliberately, decisively, to hold Iraq to account."
The president said the United States will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions, but the purposes of the United States should not be doubted.
"The Security Council resolutions will be enforced, the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable, and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power," Bush said.