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1/29/03 - URGING SADDAM TO COOPERATE - 2003-01-31

The United Nations has given Saddam Hussein one last chance to disarm. The U-N Security Council passed a unanimous resolution in November requiring the Iraqi dictator to submit an accurate and complete declaration of his weapons of mass destruction programs.

Saddam promised to comply, but submitted an incomplete and fraudulent declaration. The U-N has put the burden of proof on Iraq to prove that it is disarming by showing the U-N weapons inspectors where the weapons are. So far, Saddam has not cooperated.

Six of Iraq’s neighbors are now urging Iraq to cooperate. The foreign ministers of Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have issued a joint communique calling on Iraq to “confirm its commitment under relevant Security Council resolutions,” and to “embark on the policy that will unambiguously inspire confidence [in} Iraq’s neighbors.”

Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia want to avoid war by having the Iraqi regime change its behavior, and as they put it, “We therefore solemnly call on the Iraqi leadership to move irreversibly and sincerely toward assuming their responsibilities in restoring peace and stability in the region.” The six countries ask Iraq to “take firm steps toward national reconciliation that would preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.”

The U.S., said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, likewise continues “to hope that the Iraqi regime will change course and disarm peacefully and voluntarily. But,” said Mr. Rumsfeld, “the choice between war and peace will not be made in Washington, D.C. It will not even be made at the United Nations. It will be made in Baghdad by Saddam Hussein. Either he decides to cooperate or he decides to continue not cooperating.... Our goal,” said Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, “is peace, not war.... We hope [Saddam Hussein] will choose wisely.”