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12/17/02 - POWELL ON IRAQ - 2002-12-18

The United Nations has determined that Iraq must destroy its weapons of mass destruction and prohibited ballistic missiles. As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “We know from previous inspection regimes that [Saddam Hussein] has developed these kinds of weapons. He had them in his possession. He denied it, but he was found out. And then he created circumstances which caused the [U-N] inspectors to be pulled out four years ago.”

The weapons inspectors are now back in Iraq. As Mr. Powell said, “We’ll see now whether [Saddam Hussein] decides that the cost of lying is too great. The cost of lying now might result in his regime being destroyed by the armed forces of the international community.” If Saddam Hussein cooperates, said Secretary of State Powell, “then war can be avoided. If he doesn’t is an obligation of the international community to see that its will is imposed on Saddam Hussein by removing the regime and removing the weapons of mass destruction.”

“Should there be a conflict,” Mr. Powell said, “it will be to remove this regime because the regime can’t be dealt with. And [the U.S.] would be removing the regime for the purpose of getting rid of the weapons of mass destruction.”

The United States believes the Iraqi people deserve a representative government that respects their rights, wishes, and aspirations. A government that does not develop weapons of mass destruction. A government that would use Iraq’s oil wealth to educate and provide health care to the Iraqi people. “That would be an obligation that we would pick up,” said Mr. Powell. “We would try to help Iraq get onto a path that would lead to a peaceful Iraq, living in peace with its neighbors...and is no longer a threat to anybody in the world.”

As Mr. Powell said, “if Iraq now, in light of the pressure being brought to bear on it, decides to cooperate and get rid of its weapons of mass destruction, they are, in effect, changing their approach; it is a changed regime, and therefore we do not require a military change of regime... whether war comes or not, it’s up to Saddam Hussein.”