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1/3/03 - CLEAR SIGNAL TO IRAQ - 2003-01-03

Under the terms of the cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Iraq was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction and end all programs to develop such weapons. The United Nations, including the United States, expects the Iraqi regime to disarm.

But Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, has defied the U-N. President George W. Bush said, “We’ve brought the world together to send a clear signal: we expect him to disarm, to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction.”

So far, there is little evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime has heard the international community’s clear message that Iraq has been provided a last chance to disarm voluntarily. In providing a full declaration of their weapons programs -- a key test of compliance with U-N Security Council Resolution fourteen-forty-one -- the Iraqis fell well short. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “The Iraqi declaration may use the language of Resolution fourteen forty-one, but it totally fails to meet the resolution’s requirements.”

The Iraqi declaration was a catalogue of recycled information and flagrant omissions. That wasn’t the first time. On many other occasions Saddam Hussein has attempted to sow confusion and buy time. The Iraqi dictator hopes the world will lose interest. This time, Saddam Hussein’s deceptions will not work.

The U.S. continues to support the weapons inspections process in Iraq. But the burden of full and active cooperation and compliance falls squarely on the Iraqi regime. The U.S. is continuing to discuss with members of the U-N Security Council how to compel Iraq’s compliance. At the same time, the U.S. and its coalition partners are continuing to put pressure on the Iraqi regime by encouraging broader and more active inspections, and by building up a troop presence in the region.

The U.S., as Mr. Bush put it, “will continue to lead a vast coalition of freedom-loving countries to disrupt terrorist activities [and] to hold dictators accountable, particularly those who ignore international norm[s].”

The U.S. seeks the peaceful disarmament of Iraq. But Saddam Hussein must understand that the international community is resolved to see Iraq disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction as demanded by U-N Security Council resolutions. As President Bush said, “The choice is his to make as to whether or not the Iraqi situation is resolved peacefully.”