Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2002
(Media stakeout at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium. Also participating was Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns.)
Burns: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It is a great pleasure to welcome the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, again to NATO. He had a very good meeting with Secretary General Robertson, and then one hour and fifteen minutes with the North Atlantic Council. He will have a statement and will be glad to take 3 questions. Thank you.
Wolfowitz: Thank you. This was supposed to be the first stop on my trip, but as you may know we had some airplane problems, so we switched things around.
I've now been to London and Ankara, two of our very important Allies. Let me just say very briefly, since the discussions in Turkey were very important, that we talked about more than just Iraq there. We talked about the future of Turkey's integration with Europe and a future of continued Alliance cooperation and close cooperation with the United States. We discussed with Turkish officials, and I continue that discussion today about how to deal with the threat posed by Iraq's arsenal of terror. In Turkey, we reached agreement on the next concrete steps and military planning and preparations and we have chartered a course for the way forward, working together.
So now it should be clearer, I think, than ever that the international community surrounds Saddam Hussein. That is vitally important, because the most likely route to achieving a peaceful resolution is through the prompt and total disarmament of Iraq's most horrible weapons of terror. That I would say is the basic theme of what I continue to talk about here, although, it was also, an occasion to congratulate all the members of NATO and the Secretary General personally for what has been a truly successful summit in Prague.
It would be an historic summit under any circumstances, to have reached out to 7 new democracies of central Europe and to do so at the same time that we are building a new and unprecedented relationship between NATO and Russia. But, it was also a time to thank the Allies for the very strong statement that came out of Prague about the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 1441.
Again, it can't be said often enough the only hope of persuading the Iraqi regime to give up these weapons that they have worked so hard to build, and have paid such a high price to hang on to over 11 years, is to convince them that that is their only alternative if they wish their regime to survive. By making that very strong statement at Prague, NATO has, I think, contributed in an important way to sustaining international pressure on the Iraqi regime.
I heard many statements around the table from allied ambassadors this afternoon, re-emphasizing their understanding about the importance of keeping that pressure on Saddam. One of them, if I might say, quoted in Latin, "Civis pace para bellum," and his colleague next to him said, "well you took the Latin words right out of my mouth."
We also talked this afternoon about ways in which NATO as an Alliance -- in addition to what individual allies are doing -- ways in which NATO as an Alliance might be able to contribute, not only if there is a use of force, but also, in order to avoid a use of force, to building up the pressure on Iraq. We are hoping to consult with our Allies in coming days and weeks to see if any of those ideas make sense. But, I think the most important thing to me is the large number of Allies who have indicated that they will be with us no matter what.
And I think that message should get to Baghdad. Saddam Hussein should understand that we already have a very strong coalition assembled, if we have to, and I believe that that coalition is only going to grow. If it does become necessary to use force, we will have the world with us.
Q: You said that the war would be avoided if Iraq did cooperate very well with the inspectors. But who will judge if they cooperated with the inspectors well or not? The second is: is the US willing to accept the result of the inspectors, however it is? Thank you.
Wolfowitz: Judgments about the use of force in our country, and I think in every country are judgments that are reserved for highest levels of government. In our case it is a judgment that the President of the United States will have to make and I am quite sure that he is not going to make it simply on the basis of one single piece of information. He is going to make it, I think, based not only on the pattern of information, but also, in close consultation particularly with our Allies but indeed with the international community.
Resolution 1441 does call for another meeting -- a meeting, not another resolution. It calls for another meeting of the Security Council. When the President makes a decision that is necessary to act, I am sure it will be based on close consultations with the international community and particularly with our Allies. Let me emphasize, the issue here is not inspections, the issue is disarmament.
One of our colleagues in the meeting just now cited an inspector from an earlier period saying if the inspectors have to find things in Iraq, it will be like trying to find something under the snows of Siberia. It is not their job to go through every square inch of Iraq and find what is there. It is Saddam Hussein's job to come forward with a full and complete disclosure of all the programs that he has. Then what inspectors can do is to help verify that we have had a full disclosure. But he knows what he has; he has to disclose it and he has to get rid of it.
Q: If the Iraqis, as it seems probable, come to you at the deadline and say that they don't have any weapons of mass destruction, that is our disclosure, what will be your reaction?
Wolfowitz: If we get a dishonest statement, that is clearly going to have be a major consideration of non- cooperation. What our reaction will exactly be is again something that goes to the highest level of our government and in consultation with our allies. I think time for one more.
Q: Is it true that the German government, prior Prague, made a substantial commitment for a post- or reconstructive post-war Iraq?
Wolfowitz: I am honestly not aware, but I do think it is one of the points that I have been making, if it comes to the use of force and a change of government in Iraq and a liberation of the Iraqi people, they are going to need a great deal of assistance from the international community. I believe that the international community will respond in a strong and generous way.
The stakes of building a peaceful, prosperous Iraq that treats its own people decently and is at peace with its neighbors, the stakes are enormous. It would be a positive influence economically throughout the region. It would end a lot of misery that the people of southeastern Turkey have been suffering through ten years of the ongoing crisis. And it would produce an Iraq that spends the great wealth of that country on the welfare of its people instead of on building chemical and biological nuclear weapons. That kind of an Iraq, I think, could be a real force for peace and prosperity and progress throughout the Middle East.