Rumsfeld Discusses Iraq Inspections, WMD Capabilities
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2002 The United States would like to see inspectors back in Iraq, but the inspections for weapons of mass destruction would be so intrusive that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld doubts Saddam Hussein would agree.
During a Pentagon briefing today, Rumsfeld said it would be preferable for inspectors to have "anytime-anyplace" access to sites in Iraq. This would give at least some additional knowledge about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.
But, he said, Iraq has shown no inclination to live up to the agreements it signed following the Persian Gulf War. Further, he called recent statements out of Baghdad a ploy that plays "the international community process like a guitar -- plucking the right string at the right moment to delay something."
He said for Iraq to live up to the U.N. resolutions and give neighboring states some confidence that Iraq is actually fulfilling its responsibilities "would require an inspection regime of such intrusiveness that it is thus far unlikely for those folks to agree to even half of it."
Rumsfeld gave a few more details to Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Iraq is close to building a nuclear weapon. Following the Gulf War, the full extent of Saddam's nuclear weapons program became apparent. "We know they were a lot closer (to developing a nuclear weapon) than any of the experts had estimated," Rumsfeld said.
Since Iraq threw the inspectors out, it is tough to ascertain what Iraq is doing. "We know they've kept their nuclear scientists together and working on these efforts," he said. "One has to assume they've not been playing tiddlywinks, that they've been focusing on nuclear weapons."
He said this plus the general proliferation environment and Iraq's porous borders adds to U.S. and world concern about Iraq's nuclear weapon program.
Rumsfeld said President Bush would release more details about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program in the coming weeks or months.
Rumsfeld said there are no differences among President Bush's national security team, despite press reports to the contrary. He said any differences among the members are minor and can be explained by a different institutional view.
He said Bush and the national security team is focusing on the fact that times have changed. In the past, terrorists had conventional weapons and could inflict hundreds or possibly thousands of casualties. "The focus today must be unconventional weapons," he said. "Weapons that could kill not hundreds of people, but tens of thousands of people."
He said America and the world must debate this new world and realize that if "there are risks to acting in any instance, there are also risks of not acting."
Rumsfeld said he welcomed the debate. He said the people of the world ought to ask themselves how they should be thinking of this new threat and how should they change their behaviors.
In regards to terrorism, he said, people must realize that it is not always possible to have evidence that will stand up in a court of law. He said it is seldom possible to have intelligence that will prove intentions beyond a reasonable doubt. Rumsfeld said operating on less than perfect evidence might be necessary.
"You may not have that type of certain knowledge," he said. "You may want that kind of knowledge in a law enforcement case, where we're interested in protecting the rights of the accused. You may have a different conclusion if you're talking about the death of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. We're not talking about combatants here, we're talking about the kinds of people who were killed on Sept. 11."