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1/11/03 - OIL AND IRAQ - 2003-01-13

Some people say that oil is the main reason that the United States and other countries are concerned about Iraq. In fact, as U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “the problem with Iraq is not oil; the problem with Iraq is [its possession of] chemical and biological weapons today and the danger of nuclear weapons tomorrow.”

As a condition of the cease-fire that ended the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq was required by a United Nations Security Council resolution to give up all its weapons of mass destruction programs and long-range missiles. To ensure compliance, U-N weapons inspectors were sent to Iraq. But after years of deception and obstruction, Iraq made it impossible for the inspectors to do their job, and forced them to leave in 1998. Only after the unanimous passage of U-N Security Council Resolution fourteen-forty-one in November, and the clear determination of the international community to see Iraq disarmed of its prohibited weapons, were inspectors able to return. One way or another, the U.S. is committed to ensuring that Iraq will no longer pose a threat to peace in the Middle East and the world. The U.S. is also committed to helping Iraq return to being a prosperous nation that respects the rights of all its people. Iraqis are fortunate to live in a country rich with human talent and natural resources, including oil. But those resources should be used to benefit all of Iraq’s citizens, not just to lavish riches on small clique led by Saddam Hussein. Over two decades, the Saddam Hussein regime has squandered Iraq’s wealth on war, weapons programs, and a brutal security apparatus.

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “if a coalition of forces goes into [the Iraqi] oil fields, we would want to protect those fields and make sure that they are used to benefit the people of Iraq and are not destroyed or damaged by a failing regime on the way out the door. And you can be sure,” said Mr. Powell, “that. . .the revenue generated from any such oil fields would be used in accordance with international law and to benefit the people of Iraq.”

As President George W. Bush told the United Nations, the people of Iraq have “suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it.”