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Rumsfeld: Iraq Lying About Not Having WMD

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

MANAMA, Bahrain, June 10, 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld summarily dismissed Iraq's June 9 statement that it doesn't have weapons of mass destruction and isn't developing them.

"They're lying. It's just false, not true, inaccurate and typical," Rumsfeld said of the Iraqi statement in response to a reporter's question shortly before leaving Kuwait this morning. He said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and continues to "weaponize" chemical weapons and to work to develop biological and nuclear weapons.

"I don't know what other kinds of weapons would fall in the group of weapons of mass destruction," he said. "But if there are more, I suspect (the Iraqis are) working on them as well."

The secretary said it's up to Kuwait to decide how seriously to take Iraq's recent pledges on nonaggression and recognition of Kuwaiti sovereignty. He offered his own opinion on that issue.

"It'd be like a lion inviting a chicken into an embrace. What good, in the past, have the Iraqi representations of good will (been) to their neighbors?" he said. "Should hope spring eternal? Maybe not. I think it depends on the risks. How much does one want to bet on that?"

Rumsfeld said he hopes to see Hussein ousted during his tenure as defense secretary. "I would think most of the people in the region and in the world recognize that the world would be a better place without that regime," he said.

The Bush administration has repeatedly said it favors a change of regime in Iraq. Toward that end, Rumsfeld said, the United States and other coalition nations are working to enforce sanctions and no-fly zones in the north and south of the country.

He wouldn't, however, discuss military action against Iraq. "What might take place prospectively is not for me to be talking about," Rumsfeld said. "But clearly, the policy of our country is that the regime of Saddam Hussein is a destabilizing factor."

Rumsfeld is in the Middle East to visit American allies in the region. After Bahrain, he will stop in Qatar before heading to India and Pakistan to further try to ease tensions between those two countries. The secretary is winding down a 10-day trip abroad that took him to London, Belgium, Germany and Estonia before the Middle East. He is scheduled to return to Washington later this week.

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