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12/4/02 - BUSH ON IRAQ - 2002-12-05

The Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein has a history of aggression. In the 1980s Iraq engaged in a war against Iran. In 1990, the Saddam Hussein regime attacked and occupied Kuwait. A U.S.-led coalition drove the Iraqis out.

In 1991, the United Nations required Iraq to disarm. U-N weapons inspectors were sent to Iraq to ensure that chemical and biological weapons were destroyed and that Iraq stopped its nuclear weapons program. But Baghdad’s systematic refusal to cooperate with the inspectors forced them out in 1998.

Now the world has told Saddam Hussein that the game is over. As a result of a new unanimous U-N resolution, weapons inspectors have returned to Iraq.

The burden is on Iraq to cooperate. As President George W. Bush has said, “The inspectors are not in Iraq to play hide and seek with Mr. Saddam Hussein. It is Saddam Hussein, said President Bush, “who has the responsibility to provide that evidence as directed, and in full. Any delay, deception, or defiance will prove that Saddam Hussein has not adopted the path of compliance and has rejected the path of peace.”

A regime that fires upon American and British pilots in the no-fly zones of Iraq is not taking the path of compliance. A regime that sends letters filled with falsehoods about the inspection process is not taking the path of compliance.

As President Bush said, “The United States will be making one judgment: Has Saddam Hussein changed his behavior in the last eleven years? Has he decided to cooperate willingly and comply completely, or has he not? So far,” said Mr. Bush, “the signs are not encouraging.”

Iraq must comply with the U-N resolutions requiring it to disarm. War is the last option for confronting threats. “Yet,” said Mr. Bush, “the temporary peace of denial and looking away from danger would only be a prelude to broader war and greater horror. America will confront gathering dangers early, before our options become limited and desperate. By showing our resolve today, we are building a future of peace.”

The international community, through the passage of Security Council Resolution 1441 has spoken with one voice. As President Bush said, “Saddam Hussein will fully disarm himself of weapons of mass destruction. And if he does not, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm him.”