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1/24/03 - ARMITAGE ON IRAQ - 2003-01-27

The discovery in Iraq of sixteen empty chemical weapons warheads raises some questions. Where are the other warheads that Saddam Hussein has never accounted for? Where are the artillery shells filled with mustard gas? Where are the other chemicals and the anthrax that the United Nations says the Iraqi regime possesses?

“We don’t know,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, “because Saddam Hussein has never accounted for any of it.” Saddam Hussein is not cooperating with U-N weapons inspectors. He is not disclosing the biological and chemical weapons and nuclear capabilities he has. As Mr. Armitage said, “The [U-N] inspectors are not in the country on a scavenger hunt for weapons. They are there to confirm that Iraq has destroyed and dismantled the weapons that we know exist. And that is entirely unlikely -- given that Saddam Hussein has not offered any evidence that he has done so.” The inspection process was meant to confirm Iraqi disarmament, not to prove Iraqi noncompliance with U-N Security Council resolutions.

Instead, the Iraqi regime shows reporters facilities with nothing in them. It stages supposed “spontaneous” demonstrations. It places military facilities alongside schools, mosques, and civilian bomb shelters.

As Mr. Armitage said, “For twelve years we have seen far too many [U-N] resolutions and far too little resolve.” The U.S., said Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, always prefers “a solution short of war. That is why we agreed to a cease-fire with Saddam Hussein twelve years ago. That is why we have given him all the years since to comply. But that does not...mean that this nation –- or the international community –- should stand by with blind faith that Saddam Hussein will do the right thing. Because he never has.”

President George W. Bush has said that time is running out. Options are just about exhausted. But one thing should be clear. Saddam Hussein must be disarmed.